Monday, November 19, 2007

Queen Jezebel

Recently, a Dutch researcher, Dr. Marjo Korpel, identified an ancient seal as being that of Queen Jezebel. In an article for, writer Cnaan Liphshiz reported that the opal signet on display at the Israel Museum did not come from an approved excavation, so its actual origins remain shrouded in mystery. Marjo Korpel, however, claims that the seal's symbolism, unusual size and shape, and antiquity, all point to it being the official seal of one of the most reviled women in Biblical history.

An article in AlphaGalileo reports that:
"In Israel in 1964, archaeologist Nahman Avigad found a seal engraved with the name yzbl in ancient Hebrew. It was initially assumed that the seal had belonged to Queen Jezebel (Izebel), the Phoenician wife of the Israelite King Ahab (9th century B.C.). However, because the spelling of the name was erroneous and the personal seal could just as easily have belonged to another women of the same name, there was uncertainty regarding the original owner. A new investigation by the Utrecht Old Testament scholar Marjo Korpel demonstrates that the seal must have belonged to the infamous Queen Jezebel. Korpel reached this conclusion after more careful investigation of the symbols that appear on the seal.

Seal Characteristics
The seal not only bears symbols that indicate a woman but also symbols that designate a royal female owner. Furthermore, the seal is exceptionally large compared to the seals commonly possessed by ordinary citizens. With regard to the name, Korpel demonstrates through comparison with similar seals that the upper edge of the seal must have carried two broken-off letters that point to Jezebel as owner and lead to a correct spelling of Jezebel’s name (in mirror image). The seal is included in the ‘Israel Antiquities Authority Collection’ of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, which thus vouches for the authenticity of the object.

Queen Jezebel
Jezebel was the Phoenician (and therefore foreign, and according to the Bible also pagan) wife of the Israelite King Ahab (9th century BCE). The Bible portrays Queen Jezebel as a woman who, in the background, exerted enormous influence, including on her husband (1 Kings 21:25). She sees the opportunity to bend the country's affairs to her will by devious means, including using her husband's seal (1 Kings 21:8) to forge letters. Nonetheless, she now appears to have possessed her own seal, which enabled her to deal with matters independently of Ahab. Eventually, Jezebel came to a bad end. The prophets of Israel accused her of prostitution, murder, idolatry and sorcery. She is made to suffer a horrific death."

It will be interesting to see what becomes of Dr. Korpel's research, and the reaction to this from the Archaeological community. It would be a shame for such interesting and possibly valuable research to be discounted solely on the basis that Dr. Korpel is not an archaeologist by profession.

Further Note: as at 1st December 2007.
I found the following article in "LiveScience" which goes into more detail regarding the Seal of Jezebel.

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