12 Jezebel, Hagar

Frymer-Kensky, Tikva   Reading the Women of the Bible: A new Interpretation of their Stories.  (Shocken Books, New York, 2002).

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

JEZEBEL

Judgment on Ahab     1 Kings 16:29-33

29 Ahab, son of Omri, became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa, king of Judah.  Ahab, son of Omri, reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty-two years.   30 Ahab, son of Omri, did what was evil in the LORD’s sight more than any of his predecessors. 31 It was not enough for him to follow the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He even married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal, and worship him. 32 Ahab set up an altar to Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria, 33 and also made an asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than any of the kings of Israel before him.

 

Patrimony      1 Kings 21:1-3

1 Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria. Some time later, 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it is close by, next to my house. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or, if you prefer, I will give you its value in money.” 3 Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you my ancestral heritage.”

 

Jezebel to the rescue     1 Kings 21:4-7

4 Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer Naboth the Jezreelite had given him: “I will not give you my ancestral heritage.”  Lying down on his bed, he turned away and would not eat. 5 His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him, “Why are you so sullen that you will not eat?” 6 He answered her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard, or, if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.’  But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”        

 

7 Jezebel his wife said to him, “What a king of Israel you are! Get up! Eat and be cheerful. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

 

A trial for treason      1 Kings 21:8-15

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and, having sealed them with his seal, sent them to the elders and to the nobles who lived in the same city with Naboth. 9 This is what she wrote in the letters: “Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10 Next, set two scoundrels opposite him to accuse him: ‘You have cursed God and king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”  

 

11 His fellow citizens—the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city—did as Jezebel had ordered in the letters she sent them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 13 Two scoundrels came in and sat opposite Naboth, and the scoundrels accused him in the presence of the people, “Naboth has cursed God and king.” And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”  15 When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to sell you, because Naboth is not alive, but dead.”

 

A prophecy of doom     1 Kings 21:16-19

16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he started on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. 17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 Go down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, who is in Samaria. He will be in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. 19  Tell him: “Thus says the LORD: After murdering, do you also take possession?” And tell him, “Thus says the LORD: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.”

 

 

 

 

Doom delivered      2 Kings 9:22-26

22 When Joram recognized Jehu, he asked, “Is everything all right, Jehu?” Jehu replied, “How could everything be all right as long as all the harlotry and sorcery of your mother Jezebel continues?” 23 Joram reined about and fled, crying to Ahaziah, “Treason, Ahaziah!” 24 But Jehu had drawn his bow and he shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow went through his heart and he collapsed in his chariot. 25 Then Jehu said to his adjutant Bidkar, “Take him and throw him into the plot of ground in the field of Naboth the Jezreelite. For remember when you and I were driving teams behind Ahab his father, the LORD delivered this oracle against him: 26 As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons—oracle of the LORD—I will repay you for it in that very plot of ground—oracle of the LORD. So now take him and throw him into this plot of ground, in keeping with the word of the LORD.”

 

 

Death of Jezebel    2 Kings 9:30-36

30 Jehu came to Jezreel, and when Jezebel heard of it, she shadowed her eyes, adorned her hair, and looked down from her window. 31 As Jehu came through the gate, she cried out, “Is all well, you Zimri, murderer of your master?” 32 Jehu looked up to the window and shouted, “Who is on my side? Who?” At this, two or three eunuchs looked down toward him. 33 “Throw her down,” he ordered. They threw her down, and some of her blood spurted against the wall and against the horses. Jehu trod over her body 34 and, after eating and drinking, he said: “Attend to that accursed woman and bury her; for she was the daughter of a king.” 35 But when they went to bury her, they found nothing of her but the skull, the feet, and the hands. 36 They returned to Jehu, and when they told him, he said, “This is the word the LORD spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: In the confines of Jezreel the dogs shall devour the flesh of Jezebel.

 

 

HAGAR

The Problem and plan    Genesis 16:1-3

1 Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no children. Now she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. 2 Sarai said to Abram: “The LORD has kept me from bearing children. Have intercourse with my maid; perhaps I will have sons through her.” Abram obeyed Sarai.  3 Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.

 

The Plot thickens    Genesis 16:3-6

3 Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. As soon as Hagar knew she was pregnant, her mistress lost stature in her eyes.   5  So Sarai said to Abram: “This outrage against me is your fault. I myself gave my maid to your embrace; but ever since she knew she was pregnant, I have lost stature in her eyes. May the LORD decide between you and me!”  6 Abram told Sarai: “Your maid is in your power. Do to her what you regard as right.” Sarai then mistreated her so much that Hagar ran away from her.

 

An angel in the desert    Genesis 16:7-14

7 The LORD’s angel found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur,  8 and he asked, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answered, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarai.” 9 But the LORD’s angel told her: “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority. 10 I will make your descendants so numerous,” added the LORD’s angel, “that they will be too many to count.” 

 

 

 

 

 

11 Then the LORD’s angel said to her:

 “You are now pregnant and shall bear a son;

 you shall name him Ishmael,

For the LORD has heeded your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild ass of a man,

 his hand against everyone,

 and everyone’s hand against him;

 Alongside all his kindred

 shall he encamp.”

13 To the LORD who spoke to her she gave a name, saying, “You are God who sees me”;  she meant, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after he saw me?” 14 That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi.  It is between Kadesh and Bered.

 

The birth      Genesis 16:15-16

15 Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram named the son whom Hagar bore him Ishmael.  16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

 

 

Ishmael leaves   Genesis 21:8-13

8 The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great banquet on the day of the child’s weaning.  9 Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing with her son Isaac; 10 so she demanded of Abraham: “Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!”  11 Abraham was greatly distressed because it concerned a son of his. 12 But God said to Abraham: Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. Obey Sarah, no matter what she asks of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants will bear your name. 13 As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, since he too is your offspring.

 

 

 

 

Redemption of Ishmael    Genesis  21:14-21

14 Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away. As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, 15 the water in the skin was used up. So she put the child down under one of the bushes, 16 and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, “I cannot watch the child die.” As she sat opposite him, she wept aloud. 17 God heard the boy’s voice, and God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven: “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not fear; God has heard the boy’s voice in this plight of his. 18 Get up, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.

 

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert bowman. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

NOTES / JEZEBEL

Judgment on Ahab     1 Kings 16:29-33

An “asherah” – statue of a “mother goddess”

 

 

 

 

Sidon was to the north, on the Mediterranean Sea.

 

F-K p. 209: “Jezebel herself tried to spread the worship of her gods Baal and Asherah, killing the prophets of the LORD and subsidizing Canaanite priests so that the prophet Elijah confronted “four hundred prophets of Baal and four hundred fifty prophets of Asherah who ate at Jezebel’s table’ (2 Kings 18:19).”

 

Patrimony      1 Kings 21:1-3

One could sell one’s land – to settle debts, to move away, if one could not use it fully, etc.  But the custom and the desire expressed in the Law was to not do so.  In this time period the prophets condemned the situation of ever-growing estates of the rich – a situation that was coupled with the decreasing property and increasing desperation of the poor.  Naboth was not a poor man, however.

 

Is it ever wise to tell an absolute ruler “no”??

 

Jezebel to the rescue     1 Kings 21:4-7

She acts in the way that she thinks a king should act.

 

A trial for treason      1 Kings 21:8-15

F-K p. 212: “Placing Naboth in a situation in which he will be convicted for ‘blessing’ the king, a euphemism for cursing the king, is an act of treason.  Her plan rests on the widely held convention that the king can confiscate the lands of those executed for treason.”

 

A prophecy of doom     1 Kings 21:16-19

F-K p. 212: “Perhaps her view is like that of Egypt or later Persia: the word of the king is law, and if the king commands, his subjects must obey.  Tut the results of her ideas are abhorrent to Israel, where divine demands about law and land override royal wishes.”

 

 

 

Doom delivered      2 Kings 9:22-26

“harlotry” of Jezebel refers (probably) to her worship of gods other than the LORD.

 

This is the beginning of the revolt.

 

Death of Jezebel    2 Kings 9:30-36

Jehu goes on to execute all of the royal family in rather barbaric ways.  Things are not good in the kingdom with her or without her.

 

NOTES / HAGAR

The Problem and plan    Genesis 16:1-3

Sarah and Hagar both struggled for Abraham’s attention and favor.  F-K p. 226: “Biblical co-wives, even blood sisters like Rachel and Leah, are such rivals that the Hebrew for “co-wife”, s,arah, is also the word for “trouble.”

 

In Islam (and some rabbinic traditions) Hagar was an Egyptian princess by birth

 

Hagar’s consent to the plan is neither required nor sought.

 

The Plot thickens    Genesis 16:3-6

Becoming a co-wife means being less than the first full wife but more than a slave.  Sarah perceives this to be a threat to her own status and she desires to humiliate Hagar.  Simply treating her as a slave, with Abraham’s permission, does the trick.

 

An angel in the desert    Genesis 16:7-14

F-K p. 231: “Seeing is important to Hagar and to the narrator.  When she saw that she was pregnant, her mistress was diminished in her eyes, but Abram told Sarai, “Do to her what is good in your eyes.”  Hagar’s vision and Sarai’s vision have brought her to this spring, itself a play on the word for “eye.”  Now the mutual “seeing” between God and Hagar points to a solution.”

 

 

 

The birth      Genesis 16:15-16

The “shema” is the great prayer of Israel: Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is Lord alone.”  This is the imperative of the word to listen.  Ishmael = God listens.

 

Ishmael leaves   Genesis 21:8-13

Abraham is reluctant to send away his first-born son but listens to God who emphasizes that the promise of descendants would come through Sarah / Isaac and not through Hagar / Ishmael.

 

Redemption of Ishmael    Genesis  21:14-21

F-K p. 237: “The story of Hagar as the archetype of Israel and of the coming and leaving of her son Ishmael depicts the destinies of Israel and Ishmael as parallel and presents of model of separation without denigration.  But separation, nonetheless.”

Comments are closed.