Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible's Harlot Queen
by Lesley Hazleton

Published: 2007-10-16
Hardcover : 272 pages
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There is no woman with a worse reputation than Jezebel, the ancient queen who corrupted a nation and met one of the most gruesome fates in the Bible. Her name alone speaks of sexual decadence and promiscuity. But what if this version of her story, handed down to us through the ages, is ...
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There is no woman with a worse reputation than Jezebel, the ancient queen who corrupted a nation and met one of the most gruesome fates in the Bible. Her name alone speaks of sexual decadence and promiscuity. But what if this version of her story, handed down to us through the ages, is merely the one her enemies wanted us to believe? What if Jezebel, far from being a conniving harlot, was, in fact, framed? In this remarkable new biography, Lesley Hazleton shows exactly how the proud and courageous queen of Israel was vilified and made into the very embodiment of wanton wickedness by her political and religious enemies. Jezebel brings readers back to the source of the biblical story, a rich and dramatic saga featuring evil schemes and underhanded plots, war and treason, false gods and falser humans, and all with the fate of entire nations at stake. At its center are just one woman and one man—the sophisticated Queen Jezebel and the stark prophet Elijah. Their epic and ultimately tragic confrontation pits tolerance against righteousness, pragmatism against divine dictates, and liberalism against conservatism. It is, in other words, the original story of the unholy marriage of sex, politics, and religion, and it ends in one of the most chillingly brutal scenes in the entire Bible.
Here at last is the real story of the rise and fall of this legendary woman—a radically different portrait with startling contemporary resonance in a world mired once again in religious wars.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt from Chapter One


in which Jezebel is homesick

She is not conventionally beautiful. She is, rather, utterly striking. The long aquiline nose, the heavy shaped eyebrows, the proud, almost disdainful set to her mouth, all speak of a young woman born to wield authority, used to being obeyed. Except by sleep. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Hazleton writes on page 2,“There is a magic in names.” What connotation did the name “Jezebel” hold for you prior to reading the book? Has this new vision of the “harlot queen” changed this understanding?
2. “Strip away the seven veils, and what we find is a startlingly contemporary story,” (page 10). In what ways can Jezebel’s story be considered modern?
3. Hazleton incorporates vivid descriptions of the modern-day Middle East into her account of Jezebel’s life and death. Which locales stood out for you? Why?
4. “The two women, Jezebel and Lady Macbeth, are almost twin images; indeed it is quite likely that Shakespeare took his cue for Macbeth from Kings,” (page 113). Can you think of other women in myth or literature who share similarities with Jezebel?
5. Hazleton describes Jezebel’s rise to power and ultimate murder as “the foundation story of modern radical fundamentalism,” (page 6). What parallels can be drawn between Jezebel’s story and radicalized religion in our age?
6. Proposing that if Jezebel hadn’t been persecuted and killed, the path of Israelite history would have been completely altered, Hazleton writes, “Whether this is a matter of irony or justice I leave to the reader to decide.”(page 13). What do you think? Was the aftermath of Jezebel’s death a cruel twist of fate, or was it the inevitable result?
7. Discuss prominent historical male figures in Jezebel’s story. How did they help or hinder her?
8. Hazleton periodically employs “the historical imagination” (page 13) in her re-creation of Jezebel’s point of view. What did you think of this device? Did it enhance your understanding of Jezebel’s perspective?
9. Discuss the violent nature of Jezebel’s death, as well as other instances of violence that the author notes in the book. Does the cruelty exhibited to Jezebel come as a surprise to you? Why or why not?
10. What defines a feminist to you in today’s era? Would you consider Jezebel

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Book Makes you think"by Kimberly M. (see profile) 03/29/09

Jezebel is not an easy read but it a great discussion book. The book makes you think and also questions a few things that you thought were in the bible. Jezebel is a interesting story if you can get through... (read more)

  "Jezebel was an excellent read"by Jacqueline C. (see profile) 11/04/08

The members of ANI was very surprised at how the author conveyed the story of Jezebel. Not only was Lelsey Hazleton informative regarding the surrounding cultures and religion(s), she also included her... (read more)

  "Lesley Hazleton has written a scholarly work that reads like fiction. Her account of the life and death of Jezebel brings together the old prejudices of the ancient world with the radical movements o"by Kate M. (see profile) 03/12/08

I enjoyed this book tremendously.  Our group focused on the role of women, both ancient and modern, and how women and power have been played out over the years.  Hazleton brings a wealth o... (read more)

  "Too much geographical history and not enough story."by Angela S. (see profile) 03/10/08

We found this book a bit dry. While the story of Jezebel was very interesting, there was too much talk about the physical elements of the area. We wanted to read more about Jezebel. It seemed that the... (read more)

  "Interesting Historical Non Fiction account of Jezebel."by Lorraine H. (see profile) 03/08/08

THis is not a fictional book, but rather a weaving of history and opinion from the Author. OK as a history read if that is what you are expecting, as opposed to fictional representation.

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