Jezebel, like many a powerful woman, has a bad reputation. The only information available about her life is found in the Books of Kings in the Bible. Lesley Hazleton, formerly a psychologist and a journalist who reported on the Middle East for Time magazine, works to provide a more balanced picture of this foreign woman who became queen of ancient Israel by marriage. Using history, historical fiction, and sociological and anthropological studies, she paints a picture of life during the time that Jezebel lived. As a foreigner, a polytheist, and a powerful woman, Jezebel had three strikes against her. Hazleton examines the stories that label her a “harlot queen” as well as the roles of Elijah and Elisha in creating this image. In fact, Jezebel was not sexually promiscuous and the word harlot refers to her unfaithfulness to the God of Israel. She remained faithful to her gods. This is an entertaining and enlightening look at a classic biblical story. The author includes detailed notes and an extensive bibliography for further study. It is a good choice for collections in public and synagogue libraries. It would be a good choice for book clubs, too.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.