Jezebel 1.

A thought on Jezebel that just occurred to me arising from this discussion.  She wouldn’t have had to be beautiful.  She was political cement.  She was an alliance.  She was needed, not necessarily wanted.  We don’t really know that much about her. She could have been butt ugly for all we know.  And it would be fascinating to know better than we ever can what her actual role in the Omiride palace really was.
Was she The Big Gun?  Just another wife?  Head of the harem?  Did she actually have Ahab’s ear?  Her reputation is that she did.  It’s almost as if she was the only wife except for the brief mention of others in one paragraph of Kings.

1. Jezebel.  At the time of her confrontation with Jehu, she is now “Queen Mother”; a new generation is in charge and her time as the pinnacle of the court has passed.

2. Jehu.  I sent you one scenario for him where he rose thru the ranks.  Another, equally good and perhaps more plausible, is that he came from one of the tribes and was a ranking member.  That’s why he was a trusted commander in the first place.

This goes back to my earlier profile of her.  As I said there, we have no indication from any of the sparse records we have of her that she was anything but a devoted wife.  There is no hint of infidelity.  She did what, in her own eyes, was right to help her husband get control of land he wanted for his building program.  She was in every way we can tell, fulfilling her role in the treaty she was part of.

She appears immoral – has become the paradigm of immorality – in the Judeo-Christian tradition b/c she is a significant marker of what those values were formed against- but from her own ethic she was true to her convictions and an effective queen after her own lights.
By her own lights, she was born to power.  She was trained to wield power and expected to do so.  To me it’s hard to see this person become a quaking coward at the moment of her confrontation with the future.
This is a huge turn around from what I did with her.
I may or may not be able to re-align her in my thinking.
Either way, thank you!

If she is resigned to her fate, I don’t see her fighting them in her final moments.  But maybe I don’t have a clear picture of her.  To me she’s surrendered to the powers that have overwhelmed her, but not given in to fear or panic.  In this whole scene I see reluctant eunuchs bowing to the new reality that has suddenly come upon them and a stoic queen meeting her inevitable fate with all the dignity she can muster.

In a second-floor window, Queen Jezebel appeared in a blue bodice. Fresh curls formed a blue corona around her face, and she smirked through layers of powder and paint.

Yedidah whispered into the shutters, “That woman is determined to go out like a queen.”

Jezebel called to Jehu, “Greetings, General. Remember Zimri the chariot commander? He murdered his master but found no peace.”

I don’t know how much you intend to develop Jehu and his story, but this whole scene is important in revealing who he is.  This scene is a climax.  In a way this is the culmination of the contest of forces you’ve been writing about for two books now.  Jehu is YHWHist thru and thru.  He’s tolerated Ahab b/c Ahab was a good commander and an effective king.  Jehu respected him even if he didn’t like everything Ahab did, certainly didn’t like everything he stood for, but he did enough right to overlook what he came in light on.

Even though we have a good rendering in Kings of what transpires between Jezebel and Jehu in this incredibly dramatic scene, there is even more that can be brought into the interplay between the two of them.  Jezebel is the past and she knows it.  She has nothing left but her pride and her scorn for this upstart usurper who is about to bring everything she and Ahab have worked for coming to ruin.  I hope you can bring this to your readers and make them feel what a giant turning point this is, both politically in these two characters’ worlds and theologically in Jehu’s triumph over Jezebel and what she stands for.

<snip> Another dozen chariots rolled through the gate. Three stopped by the bakery, and words drifted through the shutter. “…not live through the night.”

General Jehu yelled toward the queen’s window. “Is anybody up there on my side?” He backed his team up until they stood facing the pavement beneath Jezebel.

I think you can make more of this if you want to.  Yes, we have a bare-bones account of the event in Kings, but it probably played with more rhetorical flourish than in that account.  For example:

Jehu rides up under the window and glares at Jezebel. She glares right back. Behind her are a lot of frightened officials and house servants, afraid of her, afraid of Jehu, not sure what’s going down.  Jezebel taunts Jehu with the one insult that she knows will bite b/c it’s actually true.  He is usurping the throne held by the man they both respected.  There is pain and recognition and understanding in what’s going on between the two of them in this moment.  They have always been equals of a sort and they are now too here.  The amount of drama in this confrontation is really quite Shakespearean.

In windows right and left, three eunuchs appeared out of nowhere. Strong men.

Yes, strong.  But quaking in their boots.  In an instant they have to decide where their loyalties lie.  And they have always till this moment lain with this beautiful, powerful, decisive woman who has controlled the palace and their place in it.  And they have chosen.  They are about to betray her.  There is a lot of feeling here worthy of exposition.

Jehu laughed. “Throw her down!”

Although she held her chin high, she screeched, “Don’t touch me! Animals!”

I hope you’ll bring this out more. Defiant to the end, haughty, royalty that she is, Jezebel refuses to surrender her royalty or her rights clear to the end,etc.

When the eunuchs converged on her and seized her arms, she screamed and tore at their tunics. They tried to push her through the window, but she splayed her legs against the jamb and bit at their wrists. One embraced her flailing arms and torso while another wrapped his arms around her legs.

If she is resigned to her fate, I don’t see her fighting them in her final moments.  But maybe I don’t have a clear picture of her.  To me she’s surrendered to the powers that have overwhelmed her, but not given in to fear or panic.  In this whole scene I see reluctant eunuchs bowing to the new reality that has suddenly come upon them and a stoic queen meeting her inevitable fate with all the dignity she can muster.

Blue curls appeared in the window, then Jezebel shot out headfirst onto the pavement.

Jehu whipped his horses forward and pranced them in place over her, squashing her chest and flattening her hair. Hoofs stomped her arms and legs. The snap of bones carried across the plaza and into the bake shop.

Depending on what else you’re going to do with him, I think there’s more to come on Jehu.  And poor Obidiah has come to the end of the road.  I’m fascinated to see what you do with him from here.

I would think Jehu will have some real conflict in dispatching O if they’ve worked together in the past and if he knows, as he surely must, that O, like him, is a YHWHist. Did O help him get that new stable built up in Dan? See that he got the troops he needed when the Philistines surprised them? Did he help O hide all those prophets in the caves back in the day?  And help O feed them?  Did he (surely!) know what O was up to?  I think Jehu is on the horns of a dilemma here.  It may not be easy for him to take O out even if he feels he has to.

Steve Abbott

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