Question: "What is the story of Ahab and Jezebel?"
Answer: King Ahab and Queen Jezebel served as leaders of the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of much evil in the land. King Ahab was an Israelite king who married a Sidonian woman named Jezebel and became involved in worshiping Baal, the god of her people. Ahab built a house to Baal in the capital city of Samaria and made an Asherah pole as a tool of pagan worship. We are told, “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).
Jezebel was likewise known for her evil actions. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. After her marriage to Ahab, her first recorded action was cutting off the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4). Obadiah, a God-fearing officer in Ahab’s court, noted that Jezebel killed many prophets, despite Obadiah’s efforts to save them: “Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?” (1 Kings 18:13–14).
It was during the time of Ahab and Jezebel that Elijah was the prophet in Israel. Satan had his couple on the throne, but God had His man in the field, performing miracles and leading a revival against Baal-worship. The three-and-a-half-year drought that Elijah prayed for was part of God’s judgment on the wickedness of the nation and its leaders.
When Elijah confronted Ahab near the end of the drought, the king said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). But Ahab had it wrong. Elijah was not the one bringing trouble on the land. The prophet corrected the king: “I have not made trouble for Israel . . . but you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals” (verse 18).
After Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal and had them killed at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), Jezebel issued a death threat against him (1 Kings 19:2). The queen went on to plot against Naboth, the innocent owner of a vineyard that Ahab coveted. Jezebel had Naboth killed so the king could confiscate his land (1 Kings 21), and she prodded her husband into many other wicked acts besides: “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited” (1 Kings 21:25).
Ahab’s death was predicted by the prophets Elijah and Micaiah (1 Kings 21:19; 22:28). Jezebel’s gruesome death was also predicted by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23). True to the prophecy, Ahab was killed in a battle with Syria. Later, Jezebel was thrown from a tower, “and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her” (2 Kings 9:33). Then, “when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands” (2 Kings 9:35). Just as Elijah had said, the dogs ate Jezebel.
In Revelation 2:20 Jezebel’s reputation lives on as Jesus speaks against the church at Thyatira: “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” The woman’s name in Thyatira was probably not literally “Jezebel,” but her immorality and idolatry in preying upon God’s people was very Jezebel-like.
Both Ahab and Jezebel were leaders of God’s people who forsook the Lord and served other gods. The royal couple earned a reputation for sin and violence, and they both suffered violent deaths as part of God’s judgment on their actions.