Near East: Jezebel - General Information

Essay by viv October 2007

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(a)Briefly explain the benefits Jezebel brought to IsraelThe marriage of Jezebel and Ahab was a political alliance which cemented ties between Israel and the lands of Sidon and Tyre ruled over by Jezebel’s father Ethbaal.

Firstly the alliance ensured military protection for both Israel and Phoenicia against hostile enemies, particularly the growing power of Aram. Closer ties with Phoenicia also meant that Israel was able to establish military links with the other Near Eastern Cultures aligned with Israel’s ally.

Secondly as the Phoenicians were widely established trade people, the Israelites were able to access valuable trade routes. The trade links created strong economic growth in Israel from the new markets opened up and allowed inflows of rare resources and skilled craftsmanship. The growing economy was partially responsible for a strengthening building policy that correlated with the advances in technology, particularly in the military field.

Furthermore through the influence of Jezebels own religious inclinations, Ahab expanded his religious policy to Israel’s Canaanite population as he built a temple for Baal in the capital Sumeria, creating a wider religious acceptance.

(b)Explain the importance of the incident of Naboth’s vineyardThe incident of Naboth’s vineyard was an integral element of the biblical account to demonstrate the supposed cruelty of Jezebel. As Gain elaborates, “The story of Naboth…provides an excellent occasion for the Dueteronomist to propose that Jezebel is not only the foe of Israel’s God, but an enemy of the government.”The bible emphasized how Jezebel had violated what Heaton describes as “the strictly defined and sacrosanct boundaries surrounding the deep attachment of the small farmers to their ancestral property.” Thus through this incident Jezebel is portrayed as the evil figure who exploits the poor and wrecks “ruinous disturbance to the well-established traditions of society.” (Grant.)The moderate view questions the reliability of the biblical judgment,