Monday, September 8, 2014

Jezebel: Gone to the Dogs (II Kings 9:35-37)

Who got thrown out of the window and eaten by the dogs? Jezebel (II Kings 9:30-37)

Jezebel is one of the quintessential biblical villains. From the time she debuts in the biblical text (I Kings 16:31) until her excessively gruesome death (II Kings 9:30–37), the wicked queen is depicted operating antithetically to the aims of Yahweh. The arch-nemesis of the prophet Elijah actively promotes the worship of the false god Baal in Israel and is deemed personally responsible for the death of many of God’s prophets (I Kings 18:4, 13; II Kings 9:7).

When Jezebel incriminates innocent Naboth to secure his coveted vineyard (I Kings 21:1-16), her fate is sealed. Elijah pronounces a death sentence against the queen (I Kings 21:17-29). In spite of her ghastly ruination (II Kings 9:30-37), Jezebel has resonated throughout history and continues to be typecast as the villain, her name having become synonymous with debauchery.

Josey Bridges Snyder (b. 1983) observes:

Jezebel is one of the few biblical characters treated almost uniformly negatively both in the biblical text and in the subsequent interpretive tradition. The daughter of a Pheonician king, Jezebel becomes queen over Israel through her marriage to Ahab (I Kings 16:31). From this introduction, we know that the Deuteronomistic editor thinks poorly of Jezebel. The fact of her marriage is sandwiched between two negative statements: first, that King Ahab’s sins exceeded those of Jeroboam and, second, that Ahab served Baal. The biblical text does not indicate direct causality between Ahab’s taking Jezebel as a wife and his sinfulness or worship of Baal. Still, the proximity of the statements in I Kings 16:31 creates the association in the mind of the reader—an association strengthened by a later verse that does directly blame Jezebel for Ahab’s misdeeds (I Kings 21:25)...After her death [II Kings 9:30-37], Jezebel is neither mourned nor buried, and the text never speaks of her again. And yet her character is not silenced. Her influence, perhaps greater than any other woman’s in the course of Israelite political history, continues to live on (for better or worse!) in the course of interpretive history. (Carol A. Newsom [b. 1950], Sharon H. Ringe [b. 1946] and Jacqueline E. Lapsley [b. 1965], “Jezebel and Her Interpreters”, Women’s Bible Commentary: Revised and Updated, 180)
Tina Pippin (b. 1956) acknowledges:
The image of Jezebel is difficult to identify iconographically; her portrait and scenes of her life are rare. Still, she is imaged as the temptress. Both men and women are drawn to her. Even though II Kings 9:37 pronounces that “no one can say, This is Jezebel,” the irony is that “This is Jezebel” is exactly what people said ever since this Deuteronomic proverb. (Pippin, Apocalyptic Bodies: The Biblical End of the World in Text and Image, 35)
Timothy K. Beal (b. 1963) characterizes:
Elijah’s archenemy and the Deuteronomist’s quintessential other, or “not us,” is Jezebel, a powerful woman, from another land, representing and serving other gods (hundreds of the prophets of Baal and Asherah eat at her table; I Kings 18:19). As the other within, a strong woman married to an often weak and insecure Israelite king [I Kings 16:31], she stands for admixture and emasculation, the ultimate embodiment of threat to Israel’s identity. (Stephen R. Haynes [b. 1958], “Teaching the Conflicts, For the Bible Tells Me So”, Professing in the Postmodern Academy: Faculty and the Future of Church-Related Colleges, 188)
Denise Lardner Carmody (b. 1935) understands:
The biblical authors especially stigmatized her [Jezebel] because she was a foreigner and a woman. Under both headings, they saw her a seducer. By the time the Deuteronomistic history entered the biblical canon Israel was trying to reconstitute its national life after return from exile. Foreign elements seemed to threaten its historic relationship with God, so the reformers Ezra and Nehemiah proscribed marriage with foreigners [Ezra 9:1-15; Nehemiah 13:1-3]. Jezebel, like the foreign wives of Solomon [I Kings 11:1-8], made useful propaganda. Representing femininity turning all its wiles against God and luring Ahab (her obvious inferior in intelligence and will) to his doom, Jezebel encapsulated in one word the worst scenario the reformers could envision. Thus, she greatly helped their cause. (Carmody, Biblical Woman: Contemporary Reflections on Scriptural Texts, 50)
Despite her decidedly negative image, some interpreters have gleaned some positives from the queen’s life. Jill L. Baker (b. 1964) appreciates:
Although Jezebel had effectively ruled a part of Israel for a short time, she is not recognized as such in the king lists. Her official standing would have been that of queen mother, upon the accession of her son, Ahaziah [I Kings 22:40]. Jezebel serves as an excellent example of a woman serving in the highest position possible. She was educated and cunning; she demanded and obtained the respect of the military, religious leaders, and most of the people. She was, for the most part, a great leader. Her failure was her unwillingness to worship only God, maintaining the Baal and Asherah cults. Because of this she was condemned to death, denied a traditional burial, and her memory defiled [I Kings 21:23; II Kings 9:10, 30-37]. Jezebel serves as both a positive and negative example to women in leadership positions. (Catherine Clark Kroeger [1925-2011] and Mary J. Evans [b. 1949], The Women’s Study Bible: New Living Translation Second Edition, 441)
Jezebel’s death is especially remarkable for its sensational gore (II Kings 9:30-37). The queen is mutilated with only her skull, feet and hands surviving (II Kings 9:35).
They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they returned and told him [Jehu]. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.”’” (II King 9:35-37 NASB)
Emboldened by being anointed king (II Kings 9:1-10), the revolting Jehu is on the war path. After killing Joram (II Kings 9:23-26) and Ahaziah (II Kings 9:27-29), he sets his sights on Jezebel (II Kings 9:30-37). The coup d’état will be complete with the death of the queen.

A. Graeme Auld (b. 1941) contextualizes:

The last words of this chapter (II Kings 9:30-37) belong to Jezebel who has overshadowed the whole narrative ever since I Kings 16:31. She had dared threaten the great man from Tishbe (I Kings 19:1-2) and her death appropriately occurs now just as predicted by Elijah (I Kings 21:23-24). (Auld, I & II Kings (Daily Study Bible), 185)
The queen’s demise is startlingly graphic (II Kings 9:30-37). Paul R. House (b. 1958) summarizes:
As when killing Joram [II Kings 9:23-26] and Ahaziah [II Kings 9:27-29], Jehu wastes no time. He identifies two or three “eunuchs,” or “court officials,” willing to betray her and orders them to throw her down [II Kings 9:32-33]. They comply. She bounces against the wall, lands in the street, and dies when horses trample her [II Kings 9:33]. Satisfied that she is dead, Jehu goes to eat [II Kings 9:34]. Almost as an afterthought and contrary to the prophet’s word (II Kings 9:10), he orders some men to bury her, since she was a king’s daughter [II Kings 9:34]; but they find “nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands” [II Kings 9:35]. Dogs have eaten the rest of her. Jehu recognizes that Elijah’s predictions about Ahab and Jezebel have finally all come true [II Kings 9:36-37]. Naboth’s death has been avenged [I Kings 21:11-16]. The only remaining prediction of Elijah regards the fate of Ahab’s descendants [I Kings 21:20-24]. (House, 1, 2 Kings (New American Commentary), 291)
Keith Bodner (b. 1967) interprets:
With an alliance in mind, Jezebel arranges her hair and paints her eyes [I Kings 16:30], only to skydive without a parachute courtesy of a couple of nearby eunuchs who throw her down [II Kings 9:32-33]...Consequently, Jezebel ends up as food for rabid dogs [II Kings 9:35] and fertilizer for the fields of Jezreel [II Kings 9:37] more or less as the student prophet declares as he creatively expands the terse words of Elisha into an oracle of queenly doom [II Kings 9:36-37]. (Bodner, Elisha’s Profile in the Book of Kings: The Double Agent, 141)
The exchange between Jehu and Jezebel is revealing (II Kings 9:30-37). T.R. Hobbs (b. 1942) praises:
The details of the death of Jezebel show remarkable dramatic skill and character development [II Kings 9:30-37]. Both Jezebel and Jehu are revealed in their cynicism and callousness. (Hobbs, 2 Kings (Word Biblical Commentary), 118)
Robert L. Cohn (b. 1947) characterizes:
The character of Jehu comes alive...When he first denies to his military comrades he has been anointed, they call him a liar, a fitting prophetic epithet for a man who is exposed to the reader as someone who selectively conceals information [II Kings 9:11-12]. Even when he finally admits the truth to his men, for instance, he omits mention of the oracle against the house of Ahab and proceeds on his own to Jezreel to surprise the unsuspecting Joram [II Kings 9:12-14]. Identified by the lookout as crazed (II Kings 9:20), Jehu verbally evades the messengers of the king. Then, bearing out the messenger’s identification, he slays not only Joram [II Kings 9:23-26] but Ahaziah as well [II Kings 9:27-29]. His subsequent meal within Jezebel’s house while the dogs outside eat Jezebel herself underscores his coldly calculating character [II Kings 9:34-35]. With equal ruthlessness he bullies the protectors of Joram’s descendants to behead their own charges and then slaughters them as murderers, proclaiming his actions the fulfillment of prophecy (II Kings 10:1-11). And the innocent kinsmen of Ahaziah walk into his line of sight, so he commands, “Take them alive!” (II Kings 10:14). In both cases he expresses his vengefulness in his own words. In the case of the annihilation of the followers of Baal the narrator reveals Jehu’s duplicity (“Jehu was acting with guile,” II Kings 10:19). Despite the writer’s clear distaste for Jehu’s conniving and violent character, he has Yhwh praise Jehu’s acts of violence (II Kings 10:30) even as the narrator condemns his cultic sins (II Kings 10:29, 31). (André Lemaire [b. 1942], Baruch Halpern [b. 1953] and Matthew Joel Adams [b. 1979], “Characterization in Kings”, The Books of Kings: Sources, Composition, Historiography and Reception, 102-03)
Jehu has a singular focus which Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) presumes is misguided:
What Elisha says to the young man is this: “Lead Jehu to an inner chamber, anoint him with the oil of kingship, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel,’ then flee, do not tarry” [II Kings 9:2-3]. There is nothing more, no address. The message to Jehu is both radical and also very terse. But this is not the way the young man delivers it. Instead of fleeing at once, he gives an address (as the church often does), and he adds on his own invention: “You shall strike down the house of Ahab...I will avenge on Jezebel the blood of the prophets...the whole house of Ahab shall perish, every male, bond or free...The dogs shall eat Jezebel...” [II Kings 9:6-10] In sum, the young man outlines a program of action for Jehu, which is undoubtedly using the prophecies of Elijah (I Kings 21:19-24), but Elisha does not tell him to do this. It is on this false transmission that the whole career of Jehu is based. We are usually struck by the fierce and bloodthirsty character of Jehu, and this is clear enough. But another and no less decisive element should not be missed, namely, that all Jehu’s work is done in a situation of ambiguity and misunderstanding. (Ellul, The Politics of God and the Politics of Man, 98)
Jezebel knows her assassin is en route and prepares: “She painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window” (II Kings 9:30 NASB). The queen faces her fate by applying makeup.

Patrick T. Cronauer researches:

When Jehu entered the city we are told that Jezebel heard about it and that, עיניה בפוך ותשם (“she put eye-shadow on her eyes”) [II Kings 9:30]. The noun, פוך, is defined as “antimony, stibium, black paint, eye-shadow.” It is a very rare term in the Old Testament, occurring only five times and it is considered to be a Late Biblical term. In I Chronicles 29:2 and Isaiah 54:11 it appears with the meaning of antimony or stibium, that is, a type of dark or black precious stones. In Job 42:12 it is found as part of a proper name, הפוך קרן. In its remaining two occurrences [II Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30]...it appears with the meaning of “eye shadow.” (Cronauer, The Stories about Naboth the Jezreelite: A Source, Composition and Redaction Investigation of 1 Kings 21 and Passages in 2 Kings 9, 55-56)
Matthew B. Schwartz (b. 1945) and Kalman J. Kaplan (b. 1941) consider:
Even in facing the coup that would topple Ahab’s family from rule, Jezebel remains astonishingly cool — every inch the queen. She dresses well, puts on her makeup, and stands defiantly at an upper-story window [II Kings 9:30]. Perhaps, with this show of queenly disdain, she hopes to retain the loyalty of her own people and to face down Jehu. As Jehu approaches the palace, she calls out to him, reminding him of the failed plot of Zimri [I Kings 16:9-20] against King Elah years before [II Kings 9:31]. (Schwartz and Kaplan, The Fruit of Her Hands: A Psychology of Biblical Woman, 153)
Robert L. Cohn (b. 1947) informs:
Some critics have suggested that both eye-painting and hair-arranging were preparations for love-making and that Jezebel intended to seduce Jehu [II Kings 9:30]. The word zimrî they take as a common noun meaning “hero” [II Kings 9:31]. But the parallel between Jehu’s treason and Zimri’s is too strong to be ignored [I Kings 16:9-20] and the epithet “murderer of his master” [II Kings 9:31] is hardly designed to flame Jehu’s desire. Jezebel adorns herself because in her own eyes she is still the queen mother, the power behind the throne. From that regal position, looking down from her window, she challenges the authority of the traitor Jehu. (Cohn, 2 Kings (Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry), 70)
Like billionaire Benjamin Guggenheim (1865-1912) donning his best clothes knowing the ill-fated RMS Titanic was sinking and purportedly claiming, “We've dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen”, Jezebel dresses for the occasion of her death.

Patricia Dutcher-Walls (b. 1952) discerns:

As one who grew up in a royal household and lived all her life in the courts of kings she would have been familiar with the brutal ways in which power could be transferred in agrarian monarchies. She does not fail to understand the implications of Jehu’s actions and greets him using the name of a previous traitor, Zimri [II Kings 9:31], who had murdered the king who was his master [I Kings 16:9-20]. Sociologically we must also imagine that she understands that her fate as queen and queen mother of the ousted dynasty is final. She too will die. This would suggest that her makeup and adornment are not preparation to seduce the new king, but to meet him in a full regal fashion [II Kings 9:30]. (Dutcher-Walls, Jezebel: Portraits of a Queen, 135)
Jezebel is defiant until the bitter end. Tikva Frymer-Kensky (1943-2006) critiques:
The story of her [Jezebel’s] death reveals a woman of courage. Facing the murderer of her husband’s family, the queen makes herself up to look her best and calls Jehu a murderer, comparing him to a long-ago royal assassin who ruled only a week before being assassinated himself [II Kings 9:30-31]. She speaks with dignity, defiance, and grace. Nevertheless, we readers almost cheer when her servants throw her out the window to be eaten by dogs [II Kings 9:33-35]. Her motives may have been pure, but Jezebel has done everything wrong. She is not evil herself, but she is the embodiment of Evil, and the arch-villain of Israel. (Frymer-Kensky, Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories, 214)
Jezebel’s well groomed body is thrown from a window by her attendants where she is then trampled (II Kings 9:33). August H. Konkel (b. 1948) clarifies:
Though the versions say she is trampled by the horses, the Masoretic text is singular, indicating that she is trampled by Jehu (II Kings 9:33). Jehu goes on to celebrate (II Kings 9:34), possibly a meal in which he secures the support of the leaders at Jezreel and assures them of his goodwill. (Provan, 1 & 2 Kings (NIV Application Commentary), 478-79)
Unfazed by his murderous carnage, Jehu enters Jezebel’s home where he proceeds to dine (II Kings 9:34). Robert L. Cohn (b. 1947) assesses:
Jehu’s cold resoluteness is expressed in his reaction to Jezebel’s death: “He went (inside), he ate, and he drank” (II Kings 9:34). While her blood is splattering on the wall, (an allusion to the idiom for the males of the house of Ahab, “pissers against the wall” [II Kings 9:8]), Jehu is filling his stomach. As his horses trample Jezebel, he drinks in her house. When he does order her burial, it is with heavy irony, for he calls her both “an accursed thing” and “a king’s daughter” [II Kings 9:34]. The irony deepens when she cannot be found, and only the skull, feet, and hands remain (II Kings 9:35); the body of Jezebel has been devoured while Jehu himself was devouring her food in her house. (Cohn, 2 Kings (Berit Olam: Studies in Hebrew Narrative & Poetry), 70)
While eating Jehu orders Jezebel buried on account of her status as “a king’s daughter” (II Kings 9:34). Patricia Dutcher-Walls (b. 1952) considers:
In referring to Jezebel’s royal status not as queen or queen mother, her status in Israel, but as a “king’s daughter” [II Kings 9:34], he [Jehu] may be recognizing the international connections that came with Jezebel when she married into Israel’s royal house [I Kings 16:31]. Jehu is radically and abruptly turning Israel away from those connections in taking over the thrown and eliminating the faction that supported them, but he may be cognizant of not deliberately adding insult to his actions by debasing the queen’s body. (Dutcher-Walls, Jezebel: Portraits of a Queen, 136)
As Jehu is now a king, it is in his best interests to accommodate monarchs. Richard D. Nelson (b. 1945) appraises:
Already showing a king’s solidarity with royalty (cf. Saul with Agag [I Samuel 15:1-34] and Ahab with Benhadad [I Kings 20:1-43]) in ordering her burial, his evaluation, “accursed woman” [II Kings 9:34], agrees with that of God and the narrator. (Nelson, First and Second Kings (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching), 203)
Matthew James Suriano (b. 1970) directs:
On the political implications of this passage (as related to burial), note the brief quote: “Royalty, even if of foreign origin, including the royal women, were awarded special treatment in death.” From Norma Franklin, “The Tombs of the Kings of Israel,” 2. (Suriano, The Formulaic Epilogue for a King in the Book of Kings in Light of Royal Funerary Rites in Ancient Israel and the Levant, 127)
In the meantime, Jezebel’s body has been devoured by dogs (II Kings 9:35). Iain W. Provan (b. 1957) comments:
Unmindful of the prophecy (cf. II Kings 9:10), or perhaps simply aware of the stereotypical nature of much prophetic utterance (cf. I Kings 14:11, 16:4) and not taking his part quite literally, Jehu (some time later) orders her burial [II Kings 9:34]. While he has been eating and drinking, however, the dogs have also been at their dinner (II Kings 9:34-36; cf. the link with Ahab’s end in I Kings 22:38). Most of Jezebel is gone. Prophecy has again been fulfilled; it is just as Elijah said (I Kings 21:23; cf. II Kings 9:10). (Provan, 1 & 2 Kings (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series))
Walter Brueggeman (b. 1933) questions:
Does Jehu, now royalty himself, begin to ponder that royalty must respect royalty, for she is “a king’s daughter” (see I Kings 16:31) [II Kings 9:34]? Or does he cynically know beforehand that with trampling horses and hungry dogs it is much too late for royal honors? (Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary), 388)
Dogs have a recurring presence in the story arc of the Book of Kings. Iain W. Provan (b. 1957) catalogs:
Dogs feature prominently throughout: licking up Ahab’s blood instead of Naboth’s (I Kings 21:19); devouring Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel (I Kings 21:23); eating Ahab’s family (with the birds, I Kings 21:24). Ahab’s house is to suffer the same fate as the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha (I Kings 21:22; cf. I Kings 14:10-11, 16:3-4), because Ahab, like them, provoked the LORD to anger and caused Israel to sin (cf. I Kings 14:9, 15-15, 16:2, etc.). (Provan, 1 & 2 Kings (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series))
Janet Howe Gaines (b. 1950) analyzes:
When the death of Ahab...dogs (הכלבים) lick his blood [I Kings 21:19]. Now when Jezebel’s decomposing body is left in the Jezreel streets, dogs again appear on the scene to consume the corpse [II Kings 9:35], which is an intentional insult to the memories of both monarchs, for in the Middle East, dogs were not the pampered pets of today’s Western nations...Dogs were thought to be dirty animals in biblical times. They were the scroungers and refuse eaters of Israelite society and both The Iliad (book 24) and The Odyssey (book 3) indicate that Homer [800-701 BCE]’s Greece also regarded dogs as animals assigned to chewing the rotting corpses of cursed people. Yet there is an even more disturbing, albeit highly improbable, interpretation of the biblical “dogs,” A homonym for the Hebrew word for “dog” means “servant” and is used in biblical days to denote a temple functionary who attends to religious rituals. In the Mount Carmel contest, Jezebel’s priests serving Baal ritually cut themselves during their ecstatic dancing around the altar [I Kings 18:28]. Perhaps, then, the dogs that lick Ahab’s blood and eat Jezebel’s body are really Baal’s temple servants who consume raw flesh as part of their religious ritual (Othniel Margalith [1916-2013] 230). The moral of the story then becomes a warning to those who condone Baal worship practices, including the blood rituals, that they may become victims of those pagan customs. (Gaines, Music in the Old Bones: Jezebel Through the Ages, 88-89)
There may also be some irony at work. William Barnes (b. 1950) records:
Deborah Appler [b. 1959] (2008) has recently suggested that since dogs served as healers and guides to the afterlife in Canaanite myth, the present account acts also as an Israelite parody of that tradition. (Barnes, 1–2 Kings (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)
Lesley Hazleton (b. 1945) adds:
Dogs, the animals that in Phoenecian tradition heal the sick and lead the dead safely into the afterlife, have instead turned on Jezebel. The very creatures she believed would protect her have devoured her [II Kings 9:35]. (Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen, 186)
The dogs ravage the queen’s corpse (II Kings 8:35). This is not an isolated incident. The Zondervan Dictionary of Biblical Imagery surveys:
The behavior of the wild dog most frequently noted by the Bible’s authors is its propensity to lick blood from the dead or dying and to consume carrion. When a person is the object of this behavior, it is considered to be a sign of grave disrespect, because no one has stepped in to prevent this unclean animal from delivering this unseemly service. The disobedience of kings can mean that they and their families will experience this indignity. Both the house of Jeroboam and Baasha are told that their remains will be consumed by dogs (I Kings 14:11, 16:4). A bit later in Kings, Ahab and Jezebel conspire to execute the innocent Naboth and allow the dogs to lick up his blood [I Kings 21:18]. Consequently, the wanton disrespect experienced by Naboth would come home to roost on the day of their deaths, for dogs would lick up the blood of Ahab and devour the remains of Jezebel (I Kings 21:19-24, 22:38; II Kings 9:10,36). The Lord taps into this same behavior of the feral dogs when delivering a prophecy against his chosen people. He will send the “sword to kill and the dogs to drag away” (Jeremiah 15:3). Thus to be eaten or licked by this unclean animal is, in the Bible’s perspective, to be abandoned by all who might otherwise care to save one from this indignity. In the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus, the latter’s pitiful condition is clearly marked by these words: “Even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:21). (John A. Beck [b. 1956], Zondervan Dictionary of Biblical Imagery)
Burke O. Long (b. 1938) supports:
Her [Jezebel’s] body will suffer the curse of nonburial, ignobly eaten by dogs; cf. I Kings 14:11, 16:4, 21:23-24; note similar language in ancient Near Eastern treaty curses, e.g. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 538, § 47; Delbert R. Hillers [1932-1999], Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets [Biblica et Orientalia 16; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964]. (Long, 2 Kings (Forms of the Old Testament Literature), 118)
Jezebel’s mutilation is the culmination of this motif. T.R. Hobbs (b. 1942) reviews:
The reference to her scant remains bring to a ghoulish conclusion the prophecies against Jeroboam (I Kings 14:11), Baasha (I Kings 16:4), and Ahab (I Kings 21:19-24). Her husband also had dogs present at his death (I Kings 22:38). (Hobbs, 2 Kings (Word Biblical Commentary), 118)
The phenomenon is not unique to the Hebrew Bible. Burke O. Long (b. 1938) notes:
The motif of dogs eating a desecrated and abandoned corpse, II Kings 9:10 (also I Kings 14:11, 16:4, 21:24), is found regularly in the maledictory sanctions attached to international treaties, primarily Assyrian, from the ancient Near East; see Moshe Weinfeld [1929-2005], 131-38; Othniel Margalith [1916-2013]. (Long, 2 Kings (Forms of the Old Testament Literature), 124)
Peter J. Leithart (b. 1959) compares:
She [Jezebel] is a feast for dogs [II Kings 9:35], like the harlot of Revelation (Revelation 19:1-2, 19-21), and is reduced to refuse (II Kings 9:37). Her blood “sprinkles” the wall (הקיר-אל מדמה ויז) (II Kings 9:33), a verb normally used for sprinkling atoning blood on the altar. Having offered his “peace” sacrifice, Jehu goes to eat and drink [II Kings 9:34], celebrating the “supper of the Lamb” now that the harlot is destroyed (Revelation 19:6-10). (Leithart, 1 & 2 Kings (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible), 221)
The dogs leave only Jezebel’s skull, hands and feet (II Kings 9:35). Joseph Robinson (b. 1927) comments:
The skull, the feet, and the palms of the hands [are]...the parts of the body that were inedible. (Robinson, The Second Book of Kings (Cambridge Bible Commentary), 91)
Veterinarian David Paxton speculates:
Given the short span of time between her death and Jehu’s order to bury her body [II Kings 9:33-35], it seems more likely that the dogs dragged parts of Jezebel off to be eaten in peace, rather than devouring her on the spot. It also seems likely that, had the dogs not been disturbed, her extremities also would have disappeared. (Paxton, Why It’s OK To Talk To Your Dog: Co-evolution of People and Dogs, 121)
The dogs leave Jezebel’s skull (II Kings 9:35). Patrick T. Cronauer examines:
The term הנלנלח means “the skull” [II Kings 9:35]. The lemma, הנלנל, occurs twelve times in the Old Testament. This is another Late Biblical Hebrew term that might even be an Aramaism. The root can also mean, “a census, poll, count, a shekel,” and these are the senses found in the majority of the cases. It is found only three times as the object of a verb—in Judges 9:35, II Kings 9:35 and I Chronicles 10:10. It is only in these three cases that it also has the meaning of skull. In Judges 9:35 it refers to “the skull” of Abilmelech whose head was crushed by a millstone dropped from above. In both II Kings 9:35 (Jezebel) and I Chronicles 10:10 (Saul) the term refers to heads which have been detached from the rest of the body. That this is a probably a late usage is seen by the fact that in the older parallel account to the story of Saul’s death and dismemberment in I Samuel 31:10, the text does not speak of dismemberment of the head and of its being attached to the city wall, but rather, it speaks of his entire body being stuck to the wall. (Cronauer, The Stories about Naboth the Jezreelite: A Source, Composition and Redaction Investigation of 1 Kings 21 and Passages in 2 Kings 9, 59)
Regarding Jezebel’s hands and feet (II Kings 9:35), Patrick T. Cronauer scrutinizes:
The plural form כפות occurs a total of nineteen times. Of these, it is in reference to a ritual utensil ten times (see Numbers 7:84, 86, etc.) It is used in reference to the “soles” of the feet, six times, and it is found three times with reference to the “palms” of the hands (I Samuel 5:4; II Kings 9:35; Daniel 10:10). Only twice does it occur in the sense of hands, or palms of the hands, which have been cut off—in I Samuel 5:4...and II Kings 9:35...The fact that the only two texts that recount the palms of the hands being dismembered from the body are texts dealing with “foreigners” is significant. In I Samuel 5:4 it happens to be Dagon, one of the gods of the Philistines, and in II Kings 9:35 to Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians [I Kings 16:31]. In the mind of the anti-Jezebel redactor, the issue of Jezebel’s “foreignness” is crucial, and he alludes to it throughout his redaction. (Cronauer, The Stories about Naboth the Jezreelite: A Source, Composition and Redaction Investigation of 1 Kings 21 and Passages in 2 Kings 9, 59)
Though Jezebel is seemingly desecrated beyond recognition, there is enough left of the queen to make a positive identification (II Kings 9:35). In his landmark 1892 book on fingerprints, Sir Francis Galton (1822-1913) cites Jezebel’s case:
We read of the dead body of Jezebel being devoured by the dogs of Jezreel [II Kings 9:35], so that no man might say, “This is Jezebel” [II Kings 9:37] and that the dogs left only her skull, the palms of her and, and the soles of her feet [II Kings 9:35]; but the palms of the hands and the soles of her feet are the very remains by which a corpse might be most surely identified, if impressions of them, made during life, were available. (Galton, Finger Prints, 113)
There has been speculation as to why these particular anatomical parts are left as a remnant (II Kings 9:35). Lesley Hazleton (b. 1954) theorizes:
When Jezebel asked her attendants to prepare her to meet her assassin, they painted her with henna as the sign of rank used regularly at the time by high-status women, especially for ritual events such as temple festivals and royal celebrations [II Kings 9:30]. In the Phoenician epics, henna was the war paint of the warrior goddess Anat, who applied it before she went to do battle with Mot, and it must have been in that spirit that Jezebel had it applied on her forehead, her hands, and her feet for the ritual of her own coming death. Today, henna is still used in many parts of Asia and the Middle East, especially for brides; but it is never used around the mouth since its active agent—a tannin dye—is intensely bitter to the taste, so strong that some people claim they can tell when food has been prepared by someone with hennaed hands...Dogs with their highly developed sense of smell and taste, would certainly never touch anything with henna on it, which is why the wolf-dogs of Jezreel left precisely what they did [II Kings 9:35]. (Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen, 187)
Janet Howe Gaines (b. 1950) considers:
Jezebel’s death scene is an excellent example of the Bible’s application of talion laws. When Jehu rides into Jezreel to kill the queen, a great deal of attention is paid to her body parts [II Kings 9:35]. When interment is finally ordered, nothing but a few odd bones—skull, feet, palms—can be located. It is possible that, in preparing to meet Jehu at the window, the queen had just rubbed her face, feet and hands with henna, a reddish dye often used in cosmetics of the day [II Kings 9:30]. The natural scent of henna serves as an animal repellent (L.J.A. Loewenthal [1903-1983] 21) and could explain why those particular body parts are not consumed by dogs. Furthermore, the Talmud suggests that the one good thing Jezebel did during her reign was to use her hands and feet while fulfilling the commandment of dancing with a gladdened heart before a bride. Ergo, God did not allow those body parts to be devoured by dogs. Traditionally, the fate of the queen’s mutilated remains is inexorably linked to Naboth’s mangled corpse [I Kings 21:19]. The talion law demanding life for life has literally been fulfilled. (Gaines, Music in the Old Bones: Jezebel Through the Ages, 87-88)
The Bible does not record the fate of Jezebel’s limited remains. Lesley Hazleton (b. 1945) laments:
We still have no idea what happened to Jezreel’s heads, hands, and feet (II Kings 9:35). Were they left where they were to rot? Were they gathered up and buried? Were they thrown outside the city walls as trash? The Kings account never tells us. They float dreamlike in history, uneaten and unaccounted for. The ancients were right: unburied, they haunt us still. (Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen, 187)
What cannot be denied is that much more of Jezebel is gone than survives (II Kings 9:35). Liz Curtis Higgs (b. 1954) amplifies:
Her [Jezebel’s] wicked heart was history. Ditto with her evil smirk. Everything that made her female was destroyed. The only parts that remained were unidentifiable as belonging to Jez...Today we could check fingerprints and dental records. But back then, hands, feet, and skulls were a dime a dozen. (Higgs, Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them, 186)
The result is that Jezebel’s carcass rests as “dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel” (II Kings 9:37 NASB). Gail Corrington Streete (b. 1949) judges:
Almost gloatingly, the text describes the once-powerful queen reduced to an unidentifiable collection of disjecta membra, a skull, soles of feet, palms of hands, “like dung on the field” (II Kings 9:35-37). Her daughter Athaliah meets an end that echoes Jezebel’s; she is dragged from the Temple in Jerusalem to the palace, where she is killed at the “horses’ entrance” (II Kings 11:15-16). (Streete, The Strange Woman: Power and Sex in the Bible, 65)
Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. (b. 1943) interjects:
Dogs devoured her flesh; hence, her corpse would be like dung (NIV “refuse”) in the plot at Jezreel [II Kings 9:37]. The “plot” was the area surrounding the city wall, the place where everyone deposited trash and digestive waste. There, all dung looked alike. Future generations would be unable to say “This is Jezebel” [II Kings 9:37]. (Hubbard, First & Second Kings (Everyman’s Bible Commentary), 174)
There may also be wordplay involved in this remark (II Kings 9:37). John Gray (1913-2000) notates:
There is, as James A. Montgomery [1866-1949] recognizes (International Critical Commentary, p. 407), possibly a word-play between ‘dung’ (dōmen [II Kings 9:37] and zebel (meaning also ‘dung’ as in the Arabic cognate) in the Hebrew parody of an original element zebūl in the name of the queen (Gray, I & II Kings: A Commentary, Second, Fully Revised Edition (Old Testament Library), 551)
Lesley Hazleton (b. 1945) editorializes:
Jehu’s judgment reaches for a perfect fit, with Jezebel at last made to match the Hebrew corruption of her name: -zevel, “woman of dung.” One would almost call it poetic perfection, and indeed it was doubtless intended to be exactly that, were the image no so deliberately crude [II Kings 9:37]. (Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen, 188)
Jezebel’s “god” will soon suffer the same fate as its devotee. James Richard Linville (b. 1959) follows:
As Jezebel was reduced to dung [II Kings 9:37], so the house of Baal has become a latrine (II Kings 10:27). (Linville, Israel in the Book of Kings: The Past as a Project of Social Identity, 193)
The depiction of Jezebel’s demise is unequivocally excessive (II Kings 9:30-37). Carey Walsh (b. 1960) exclaims:
In Jezebel’s case, what a death [II Kings 9:30-37]! After having been thrown out of the window by eunuchs [II Kings 9:32-33], Jezebel was eaten by dogs [II Kings 9:35]. Only her skull, feel, and palms remained (II Kings 9:35)...With Jezebel’s death, the dogs did more than lick up her blood. In fact, it first splashed around on the wall and next on the horses, which trampled her (II Kings 9:33). The dogs then devoured her corpse, leaving only the skull, feet, and palms (II Kings 9:35-36). It is genuinely hard to imagine a scene of greater overkill than this death in Israel’s cultural memory. There is perhaps a faint allusion to Jezebel’s death by having Athaliah killed in ‘the horses’ entrance’ (II Kings 11:16), but otherwise, the text mentions no burial for her. (Diana V. Edelman [b. 1954] and Ehud Ben Zvi [b. 1951], “Why Remember Jezebel?”, Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods, 327-329)
Walter Brueggeman (b. 1933) agrees:
The narrative is at pains to portray the death of Jezebel dismissively with as much shame and humiliation as can be mustered [II Kings 9:30-37]. Her death contrasts with that of Ahaziah who is accorded the honors befitting a king (II Kings 9:28). (Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary), 388)
The overkill is almost comical. It parallels Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montalbon [1944-2007])’s death in the slapstick farce The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) in which the villain is hit with a stunning cufflink dart and falls from a baseball stadium before being run over in succession by a bus, a steamroller and the USC marching band.

Lesley Hazleton (b. 1945) recounts:

Jezebel has been submitted to abjection not once, but three times: she has been thrown to the dogs, then eaten by them, then excreted by them [II Kings 9:35, 37]. The degradation has finally reached its limits. What the individual body rejects is rejected by the body politic; Jezebel is beyond the pale. Now the dogs’ dung will dry in the sun, to be eroded by the wind into dust, invisible to the human eye. There will be nothing left of Jezebel—no tomb, no monument, no shrine. (Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen, 189)
Perhaps Jezebel’s greatest degradation is that her scant remains prevent a proper burial (II Kings 9:35). Volkmar Fritz (1938-2007) discusses:
The burial is thwarted when only parts of her corpse are found [II Kings 9:35]. There is no mention of what happened to the rest. It is assumed, rather, that the reader will still remember Elisha’s pronouncement in I Kings 21:24, which was already repeated in the redactional verse II Kings 9:10a. Elisha prophesied that Jezebel would have no burial so that her spirit would wonder restlessly forever. Thus she has received the most severe punishment that was imaginable in ancient Israel...This redactional addendum clearly states the fulfillment of the prophecy: without burial Jezebel is “like the dung of the field” [II Kings 9:36-37]. This fate amounts to the destruction of a human life that can no longer exist in the shadowy realm of the dead. (Fritz, 1 & 2 Kings: A Continental Commentary, 287)
Walter Brueggeman (b. 1933) connects:
The contrast is that the body of the despised queen is not only dishonored and turned over to the most brutalizing and ignoble of all animals, but is left without a trace for any possible funeral rite [II Kings 9:35]. Her “burial,” or one like it, is perhaps a basis for Jeremiah’s anticipation for a disgraced king in Jerusalem [Jeremiah 22:18-22]. (Brueggemann, 1 & 2 Kings (Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary), 388)
Burial was especially important in Hebrew culture. Joseph Robinson (b. 1927) reports:
The Hebrews did not regard death as meaning the separation of the spirit and the body. The spirit was still linked with the body, and its existence in the afterworld of Sheol was dependent upon the continuing existence of the body or at least the bones. Hence proper burial was a matter of great importance, and for a body to be left unburied and, therefore, a prey for birds and wild beasts, was regarded as being the greatest curse that could fall upon any person or family. (Robinson, The Second Book of Kings (Cambridge Bible Commentary), 91)
Throughout history, failure to bury the dead has often been deemed demeaning. Lesley Hazleton (b. 1945) chronicles:
In both Greece and Rome, suicides and criminals would be deliberately left unburied, to be eaten as carrion, and later still, in medieval England, the bodies of executed traitors would be drawn and quartered, and the pieces strung up to rot. (Hazleton, Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen, 186)
Carey Walsh (b. 1960) philosophizes:
Graves...are important markers of cultural memory used to advance a sense of social continuity. Jezebel was denied this quite explicitly: ‘so that no one can say, “This is Jezebel” (II Kings 9:37). She did not receive a burial because there was not enough of her left to bury. She is then denied the security of a grave and the cultural memory it occasioned, of resting with her people, like Ahab had in Samaria...The grave of Moses was also unmarked, but unlike Jezebel, he had one (Deuteronomy 34:1-6). In his case, there presumably was an intact corpse for burial. The cultural memory of Moses was thereby not erased or desecrated in any way. Instead, it was circumscribed to Israel’s past. Moses remained in an unmarked grave in sight of the Promised Land so that the people could continue to their future in that Promised Land. In this way, Joshua could lead the people into the land without the overwhelming memory of Moses hindering their new chapter. The detail of Moses’ grave also served an important ideological function for the post-exilic community...Those living in Yehud could draw comfort from the notion that Moses’ grave, though unmarked, was in sight of the Promised Land, and so symbolically watched over it...With Jezebel, there was no grave marked or unmarked: ‘so that no one can say, “This is Jezebel”’ [II Kings 9:37]. The imagined utterance is itself a shaped memory whereby the story located the loss of reaction subsequent generations would have. It was, in other words, a memory of how she would not even be remembered. She was denied a place in the land of Israel she sought to tamper with as queen. Jezebel was literally dismembered, not to be remembered, yet the Deuteronomistic History’s gory spectacle in fact rendered her unforgettable. The unintentional message was that there is real pleasure to remembering wickedness, and this undercuts the scribal ideological agenda to quell it. Jezebel’s memory flies well beyond Samaria where her husband Ahab was buried [I Kings 22:37] and is vividly recalled in the Deuteronomistic History’s account of her disgraceful, effacing end. There, Jezebel is more memorable than any grave could ever have rendered her. Gore and ignominy guarantee it. (Diana V. Edelman [b. 1954] and Ehud Ben Zvi [b. 1951], “Why Remember Jezebel?”, Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods, 327-28)
Jezebel serves as a cautionary tale. Carey Walsh (b. 1960) evaluates:
Clearly, the social memory fashioned in Jezebel’s death was about the horrors of exclusion and erasure with the denial of customary burial. Her death would have been understood by people in the Persian period and beyond as a disgraceful and desecrating end [II Kings 9:30-37]. The social memory constructed around Jezebel’s death was admonitory to subsequent generations, to avoid this at all costs...The scribal aim of finishing Jezebel off was shaped for greatest effect for remembering rather than forgetting her. Jezebel was so hated that she would have been better off forgotten by the community. (Diana V. Edelman [b. 1954] and Ehud Ben Zvi [b. 1951], “Why Remember Jezebel?”, Remembering Biblical Figures in the Late Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods, 329)
Jezebel’s death supplies one of the most graphic scenes in all of scripture (II Kings 9:30-37). Though difficult to read, the Israelites see the queen’s ignominious death as the end of a reign of terror. The implication is clear: Though evil may win some battles, it does not pay off in the end.

Why does the Bible document all of the gory details of Jezebel’s death (II Kings 9:30-37)? What is the worst aspect of the wicked queen’s obliteration? Historically, who died the worst death? How important is the way in which one dies? Why do the dogs specifically leave Jezebel’s skull, feet and hands (II Kings 9:35)? Do you care what becomes of your body after you die; why? What does it say of Jehu that he can eat immediately after the assassination of Jezebel (II Kings 9:34)? Are Jehu and Jezebel more alike than different? Is Jehu a hero?

Jezebel’s death closes the book on her in more ways than one (II Kings 9:30-37). Patricia Dutcher-Walls (b. 1952) resolves:

Jezebel’s death scene narratively completes the story of the queen both by “ending” her life and by bringing to a close the prophetic judgments against her [II Kings 9:30-37]. (Dutcher-Walls, Jezebel: Portraits of a Queen, 135)
Jehu declares that Jezebel’s downfall marks the fulfillment of prophecy (II Kings 9:36-37). Richard D. Nelson (b. 1945) elucidates:
Jehu interprets this circumstance as a fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy [II Kings 9:36-37]. This is the second time Jehu himself has interpreted his own actions as prophetic fulfillment [II Kings 9:25-27]. The reader will find out in II Kings 10:17 and II Kings 10:30 that both God and the narrator agree. There is no insistence on an exact mechanical correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment; dung was not mentioned at all in I Kings 21:23. (Nelson, First and Second Kings (Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching), 203)
Jehu’s reading of the day’s events has generated debate (II Kings 9:36-37). Iain W. Provan (b. 1957) concedes:
The end of the chapter throws up a particularly difficult problem, even as it is claiming...fulfillment [II Kings 9:36-37]. The majority of Hebrew manuscripts at I Kings 21:23 have Elijah saying that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs “by the wall” (Hebrew hēl) of Jezreel.” The Masoretic Text at II Kings 9:36 (and also II Kings 9:10) has her eaten on the plot of ground (Hebrew hēleq) at Jezreel. This is most puzzling, when so much is being made here of the link between the two texts. An easy way out of the difficulty would be to argue that I Kings 21:23 has suffered textual corruption. Although a few Hebrew manuscripts do read hēleq there, however, the accidental omission of a q is very difficult to understand in the context. Did the authors mean us to understand, then, that Elijah used both words in talking of Jezebel? (Provan, 1 & 2 Kings (Understanding the Bible Commentary Series))
This alleged discrepancy is not as trivial as it appears on the surface (II Kings 9:36-37). Janet Howe Gaines (b. 1950) corrects:
Actually, I Kings 21:23 predicts that the dogs will consume Jezebel’s body בחל, in the “moat of Jezreel” (JPS translation) and “within the bounds” of Jezreel (NRSV translation). Moving to the II Kings description of where the event actually occurs, the Hebrew word is spelled one consonant different, בחלק, which means “plot of ground” [II Kings 9:36]. In other words, the two texts indicate a slight difference of opinion about where the retribution against Jezebel occurs. Since it is important that Elijah’s prophecy be carried out exactly, this small point matters. It is appropriate for dogs to devour Jezebel “within the bounds” of Jezreel, for therein lies Naboth’s vineyard. (Gaines, Music in the Old Bones: Jezebel Through the Ages, 88)
Gina Hens-Piazza (b. 1948) accuses:
Jehu is quick to define this dreadful destiny as fulfillment of divine oracle (I Kings 21:23). However, his citation of the word of the Lord far exceeds the judgment and punishment of Jezebel specified in the original oracle [II Kings 9:36-37]. One begins to think this sounds more like someone covering his own tracks. (Hens-Piazza, 1–2 Kings (Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries), 293)
The results of Jehu’s actions comply with the spirit of Elijah’s prophecy (II Kings 9:36-37). Thomas L. Constable (b. 1939) defends:
Jehu’s commentary on the prophecy (II Kings 9:37) is in harmony with Elijah’s words [I Kings 21:17-29]. The king’s complete lack of respect for Jezebel in her death reflects how he and God, as well as the godly in Israel, viewed this callous sinner who had been directly and indirectly responsible for so much apostasy and wickedness among God’s people. (John F. Walvoord [1910-2002] and Roy B. Zuck [1932-2013], The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, 557)
The link to prophecy justifies the killing and places it squarely within the auspices of God’s will. Marvin A. Sweeney (b. 1953) situates:
The sixth episode [II Kings 9:31-37] portrays Jehu’s killing of Jezebel with combination of contempt and irony in its efforts to demonstrate that Jehu acts with the authorization of YHWH [II Kings 9:36-37]...It...provides the occasion to illustrate the fulfillment of Elijah’s oracle that the dogs would eat the flesh of Jezreel in the property of Naboth the Jezreelite (see I Kings 21:23). The citation reminds the reader that Jehu acts on the basis of YHWH’s will as communicated by Elijah. (Sweeney, I & II Kings: A Commentary (Old Testament Library), 336)
In referencing Elijah’s oracle, Jehu asserts that justice has been served (II Kings 9:36-37). Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. (b. 1943) presumes:
Though horrifying to modern readers, Jehu apparently viewed Jezebel’s death as the just, inevitable end of her defiant life [II Kings 9:36-37]...Jehu explained that Elijah had predicted Jezebel’s disappearance (II Kings 9:36; I Kings 21:23). (Hubbard, First & Second Kings (Everyman’s Bible Commentary), 174)
Denise Lardner Carmody (b. 1935) concurs:
Jezebel finally came to a bad end, her flesh eaten by dogs [II Kings 9:35]...In the sight of the biblical authors, her death was simple justice, as it was simple justice for priests of the false foreign gods to be slain...Jezebel died...as she had lived a robust hater. (Carmody, Biblical Woman: Contemporary Reflections on Scriptural Texts, 50)
Jill L. Baker (b. 1964) grants:
Jezebel suffered a death that was commensurate with her great disobedience to the LORD. (Catherine Clark Kroeger [1925-2011] and Mary J. Evans [b. 1949], The Women’s Study Bible: New Living Translation Second Edition, 441)
This sense of retributive justice complies with the book’s theology. Alice L. Laffey (b. 1944) positions:
Jehu’s response to this news is to remark that the word of the Lord through Elijah the prophet concerning Jezebel’s death has been fulfilled (I Kings 21:23) [II Kings 9:36-37]...According to Deuteronomistic theology, one could only expect that Jezebel’s evil behavior would result in evil consequences. (Laffey, First and Second Kings (New Collegeville Commentary), 116)
Cameron B.R. Howard (b. 1980) pronounces:
This scene [II Kings 9:30-37] marks the ultimate triumph of the anti-Jezebel vitriol that has permeated the book of Kings, a release of violent rage not simply by the eunuchs or Jehu, but by the narrative itself. It is as if, by her evisceration, her mutilation, the erasure of her very face, the Deueteronomists could erase the apostasies Jezebel represents from the unfolding history of the fall of Israel and Judah. Yet the idolatry, like the memory of Jezebel herself, persists. (Carol A. Newsom [b. 1950], Sharon H. Ringe [b. 1946] and Jacqueline E. Lapsley [b. 1965] Women’s Bible Commentary: Revised and Updated, 177)
As gruesome as Jezebel’s death unfolds, in Jehu’s mind it is justified (II Kings 9:36-37). The queen has merely reaped what she has sown (Galatians 6:7). And the gory consequences of what she has sown leave Jezebel forever etched in the tradition’s collective memory.

Do you think that Jehu fulfills Elijah’s prophecy the way that God intended (I Kings 21:17-29)? Have you ever thought you were on a mission from God? Is justice served in Jezebel’s death? Is it ever our place to dole out God’s justice?

“Deserves death! I daresay he [Gollum] does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice...Even the wise cannot see all ends.” - J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), The Lord of the Rings, Part Two: The Two Towers, p. 246

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