Jehu responds, “Who is on my side?” Responding to his call, Jezebel’s own eunuchs throw her out the window, her blood splattering as she hits the ground. Jehu’s now bespattered horses then trample her. The image of an adorned woman at a window suggests not only royal power but also goddesses (especially Hathor, Asherah, and Astarte), who are also depicted looking out windows. In this way, the death of Jezebel is not just the death of a Phoenician princess who became queen of Israel but also the symbolic death of the goddesses she worships and represents. It is not enough simply to kill her; she must be violently expelled from the political and religious community.
Jezebel’s body mangled and lifeless, Jehu goes inside for dinner. Almost as an afterthought, he commands her burial. But while he has been inside eating, the dogs outside are feasting as well—on Jezebel’s body. Dogs are powerful symbols in Canaanite religion, especially associated with the goddesses Anat and Astarte and the god Baal. There is a deep irony here. She who was devoted to these deities is devoured by them, all to the triumph of Israel. Only her palms, feet, and skull remain. A further reference to Anat may explain why only these fragments of her body are unconsumed. According to Canaanite mythology, Anat wore a necklace and belt of human skulls and hands. The religious rituals and images of ancient Near Eastern religions are inverted, perverted, and overturned in the death of Jezebel.
Consumed by animals, Jezebel becomes an animal; her dehumanization is complete. She is a foreign woman, a powerful queen, and a worshiper of deities other than Yahweh. She is ethnically and religiously different, transgresses proper gender roles, and is therefore a danger. The death and destruction of Jezebel eradicates the Other in order to protect and preserve the proper Israelite community.
- McKinlay, Judith E. “Negotiating the Frame for Viewing the Death of Jezebel.” Biblical Interpretation 10 (2002): 305–22.
- Appler, Deborah A. “From Queen to Cuisine: Food Imagery in the Jezebel Narrative.” Pages 55–72 in Food and Drink in the Biblical Worlds. Edited by Athalya Brenner and Jan Willem van Henten. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1999.
- Beach, Eleanor Ferris. The Jezebel Letters: Religion and Politics in Ninth-Century Israel. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 2005.
- Newsom, Carol A., Sharon H. Ringe, and Jacqueline E. Lapsley, eds. Women’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 2012.