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Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen by Lesley Hazelton: A Book Review

Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen
Author: Hazelton, Lesley
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History, Religion
Release Date: 2007
Pages: 272
Publisher: Doubleday
Source: Personal Collection
Synopsis: There is no woman with a worse reputation than Jezebel, the ancient qeen who corrupted a nation and met one of the most gruesome fates in the Bible. But what if this version of her story is merely one her enemies wanted us to believe? What if Jezebel, far from being a conniving harlot was, in fact, framed?

     In this remarkable biography, Lesley Hazelton shows exactly how the proud and courageous queen of Israel was vilified and made into the very embodiment of wanton wickedness by her political and religious enemies. The epic and ultimately tragic confrontation between sophisticated mentalism, and is, without exaggeration, the original story of the unholy marriage of sex, politics, and religion. 


     Here at last is the real story of the rise and fall of this legendary woman a radically different portrait with startling contemporary resonance in a world mired once again in religious wars.

      My Review: History is written by the victors, and Jezebel is no exception. Throughout all of history, Jezebel is known as a promiscuous and villainous Israelite queen, whom we all despise, and we feel that she was given her just desserts when Jehu threw her out her palace window and her body was fed to the dogs. If any woman is the most hated, it is indeed Jezebel, for her name alone is the very symbol of a femme fatale. However, Hazelton presents Jezebel as a victim, for because of her different religious beliefs, she was propagandized by her enemies to ensure their victory was a just cause.


     This biography begins with Jezebel as a Phoenician princess who lives in the capital city of Tyre, a prosperous coastal town. She grows up in an polytheistic culture, where the principal deity was Baal. She has an arranged marriage with the Israelite king, Ahab. What is ironic is even though she is so despised in The Book of Kings, Jezebel's wedding song is Psalm 45. This psalm is filled with joy, welcome, and celebration, and the narrator is happy that Jezebel is married to the Israelite king. Unlike the dominant Christian belief, Jezebel was faithful to her husband. She begins to have influence over her husband, and when she becomes queen regent, she exerts her control and authority.

     The real reason why she caused dissent among her enemies is because of her polytheistic religion. She was faithful to the polytheistic religion because of her cultural upbringing. With her marriage, she brought pagan priests, priestesses, and deities that created uproar in the monotheistic Israel. Her main rival is Elijah, who fights to make monotheism Israel's only religion. It becomes a war against Jezebel and Elijah, polytheism against monotheism, but Elijah and monotheism wins. Jezebel ultimately lost both in battle and coincidentally in history.

     Overall, Jezebel is a much maligned and misunderstood woman, who because she lost a religious battle was given a bad reputation. She is portrayed as an intelligent, faithful, and capable ruler. I also liked how Hazelton has given us a view of how Jezebel is portrayed in the past to the present. For instance, Jezebel's grandniece is Dido, queen of Carthage, who in Virgil's Aeneid throws herself into the funeral pryre when she finds out that Aeneas had abandoned her. We also learn that Jezebel's Phoenician name is transformed into Isabella, which means lover of Baal. Therefore, this novel reveals the true story of the Bible's most hated queen. Read this book, and you will never see Jezebel in the same light again.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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