Is there such a thing as Jezebel spirit?

Marko Joensuu         1 comment
The short answer is that, yes, there might be a spirit called 'Jezebel spirit', but if it exists, most things you have heard about it are almost certainly wrong. If you read the story about the Queen Jezebel in the Bible closely, it becomes clear that King Ahab and Israel were never seduced by Queen Jezebel's sensuality but because of their greed for money.

And because of that, the questions the charismatic church should be asking when it comes to Jezebel are quite different from the questions the books about the 'Jezebel spirit' the charismatic entertainment industry churns out each year keep on asking.

Unless you are a charismatic Christian, you might never have heard about a Jezebel spirit, but if you are, the chances are that you have an impression in your mind about what a Jezebel spirit could be up to, no matter if you believe in its existence or not—and that impression is almost certainly a false doctrine—no matter if you believe in it or not. And it is in the interests of the credibility of the present-day prophetic ministry that we renounce that false doctrine.

Jezebel in the Bible

The Bible doesn't mention a 'Jezebel spirit', so conjecturing its existence is speculation at best. Being a prophet doesn't give you the license to read anything you like into the Bible, but the Spirit of God in you should help you to see more clearly what is already in the Bible. Prophets aren't exempt from proper Bible study, but they should be more diligent in that than the others, due to their creativity and ability to imagine that often accompany the prophetic gift.

Queen Jezebel's story that any theory about a 'Jezebel spirit' would be based on is told in 1st and 2nd Kings. She was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre. Jezebel married King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom (i.e. Israel during the time when ancient Israel was divided into Israel in the north and Judah in the south). Ahab was the son of King Omri, who had brought the northern Kingdom of Israel to great power, established Samaria as his capital, and whose historical existence is confirmed by ancient inscriptions on the Mesha Stele and the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III.

According to the biblical account, Ahab and Jezebel supported the worship of the deities Baal and Asherah, erecting shrines to them in Samaria, which was "evil in the sight of the Lord".

1 Kings 18 says that Jezebel had commanded that all the prophets of Yahweh in the kingdom of Israel be killed, while entertaining "four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of Asherah" at her royal table. Elijah, prophet of Yahweh, had escaped Jezebel's persecution, however, and confronted King Ahab, demanding that all the prophets of Baal and Asherah meet him at Mount Carmel for a competition. The prophets of the pagan gods and Elijah met before "all the people"and Elijah had two altars set up, one dedicated to Baal, one to Yahweh, and a bull sacrificed upon each altar. The supporters of Baal called upon their god to send fire to consume the sacrifice, but nothing happened. When Elijah called on Yahweh, fire came down from heaven immediately and consumed the offering, whereupon the crowd fell to the ground, crying "The Lord, he is the God." Elijah ordered the people to seize the prophets of Baal, and they were all slaughtered on his orders. Jezebel swore to kill Elijah in revenge.

It is from this story where the mythology about the Jezebel spirit as some sort of spirit of intimidation and the arch enemy of the prophets comes from. It is not difficult to see the attraction of a theory about the raging Jezebel spirit to modern-day prophets who often face opposition when they rise in the church. It seems that many prophets can identify with Elijah!

Who do they say Jezebel is?

The biblical account of Queen Jezebel is rather short, and many charismatic writers have a lot more to say about the Jezebel spirit than that. It seems to me that many prophetic figures project their own bad experiences into 'a Jezebel spirit' who becomes some sort of Satan's associate minister No 1, doing Satan's bidding when he is otherwise obstructed.

One author, endorsed by many leading charismatic prophetic figures, says about Jezebel,

“Jezebel is essentially a spirit of seduction that woos people into sexual immorality and idolatry. Jezebel comes to kill, steal and destroy by tempting you and then escorting you, willingly, into immorality and idolatry…. Pastors and others will keeping falling into immorality and idolatry until the church understands the spirit that preys on these sins and refuses to tolerate it any longer…. Jezebel is gaining demonic momentum in the body of Christ.”

Up to this point, the teaching sounds quite sensible. Surely, we want to flee from sexual immorality and idolatry, and we should take all the possibly precautions to stay away from them.

But then the author seeks to spiritualise the eunuchs that served Queen Jezebel,

“If you discern one of Jezebel’s eunuchs in your midst—someone who seems to be on assignment for someone flowing in this wicked spirit—take caution. Remember, eunuchs are Jezebel’s servants and have a somewhat intimate relationship with her. Whatever their motivation or however they got trapped in Jezebel’s witchcraft, eunuchs may be deceived or may be looking for a way of escape…. Take the situation to God in prayer and seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit. You could be the Jehu that gives them the boldness to throw Jezebel down. In other words, by reaching out with bold truth in love to one who is serving the Jezebel spirit’s purposes, you could help them break free from this evil influence. Amen.”

Reader, if you aren’t a charismatic Christian, I can only apologise! I have been a charismatic most of my adult life, worked in a charismatic church for 14 years, and I still have absolutely no clue about what the author says here!

Another charismatic writer tells,

“Understanding the dormant Jezebel spirit will save you lots of pain. The Jezebel spirit is not always active. It hides, it sleeps, it’s there buried deep within the confines of the soul. When the Jezebel spirit wakes up things change, as a matter of fact everything changes and all hell breaks loose. Christ stands ready to help. Did you have a close friend that was a wonderful companion until one day the Jezebel spirit started to manifest? The Jezebel spirit can lay dormant within a person for a long time until something or someone triggers its awakening.”

According to this author, demonic spirits can lay dormant in someone’s soul, waiting to strike when the time is right!

Another author writes,

“Some of you who are reading this have been made eunuchs, slaves to this evil spirit. Today, right now, God is giving you the privilege of participating in the eternal judgment against Jezebel. You cast her down! Side with God, and let the judgments of God come forth. It is time for the prophets to unite against this spirit. Even now, we wash ourselves in the precious Blood of Jesus. Under the anointing of Elijah, in the power of the Holy Spirit, let us arise in the indignation of Jehu and cast Jezebel down!”

At least one author is gender-neutral, as he adds,

“Although the Jezebel spirit seems to be more prevalent in women, there is no doubt that it functions just as proficiently through men.”

So many other authors have written about the Jezebel spirit that it is unpractical to quote them all. But so what, there is no harm done, you may say. Surely it is good for us to stay away from both physical and spiritual adultery that the Jezebel spirit seems to symbolise.

There are three main reasons why the current understanding in the charismatic church about the Jezebel spirit is harmful to us.

1. It bestows the Jezebel spirit godlike qualities of omnipresence. 

The Holy Spirit is the only spirit that can be everywhere at the same time. Claiming that a demonic spirit has the same capacity glorifies Satan.We should be careful not to bestow demonic spirits any godlike qualities. That's what Lucifer thought about himself but then he was thrown out of heaven. Why should the prophets ever work as hell's PR agents?

2. Jezebel spirit has been used to oppress women in the church.

Other people have covered this point extensively, and I can add very little to that. But over centuries many women have been quashed by referring to them as Jezebels.

3. It is based on misreading the Bible.

To understand what went on between King Ahab, Queen Jezebel and Elijah we need to ask an important question.

Why did Ahab marry Jezebel?

1 Kings 16:29-33 says,

“In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”

Ahab didn't become evil after he married Jezebel. It was because he was evil that he married her. In ancient times kings rarely married princesses because they fell in love with them. After all, they had concubines and mistresses for that. It seems clear that, like most kings of his time, Ahab never married for love. Instead, Ahab married Jezebel as he wanted to make an alliance with Tyre. 

It was all about the money.

Tyre was one of the wealthiest cities on earth. Isaiah prophesied about Tyre in Isaiah 23:7-9,

“Is this your joyous city, whose antiquity is from ancient days, whose feet carried her far off to dwell? Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traders are the honorable of the earth? The Lord of hosts has purposed it, to bring to dishonor the pride of all glory, to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.”

It was the money of Tyre that attracted Ahab to make an alliance with Tyre rather than Jezebel’s beauty. And it was the money of Tyre that caused Ahab to worship baals. And it was the demonic beings behind these baals rather than the Jezebel spirit that energised Jezebel’s rage.

In my book Five Movements: Winning the Battle for Your Prophetic Gift I touch on the historical background of the battle between Queen Jezebel and Elijah. (Sorry, there had to be a plug for my book in this article.)

The story about Elijah and Jezebel’s confrontation becomes even more poignant when you learn that the god of the city of Tyre Queen Jezebel worshipped was a storm god. Phoenician inscriptions discovered by archaeologists include a curse in the treaty between Esarhaddon and King Baal II of Tyre. The treaty invoked three baals—Baal Shamem, Baal-Malaga and Baal-Saphon—to bring an evil wind upon King Baal II if he violated the treaty. The inscription says,

“May Baal Shamem, Baal Malaga and Baal Saphon raise an evil wind against your ships, to undo their moorings, tear out their mooring pole, may a strong wave sink them in the sea, a violent tide... against you.”

Elijah challenged the false god of Tyre in his own game, demonstrating that although Baal might have been called storm god it was Yahweh who had the final say over weather. So, the battle between Jezebel and Elijah was never a battle between a Jezebel spirit and Elijah, but a battle between Elijah and the spiritual principalities behind worshiping the baals of Tyre.

And, it seems that the battle was still continuing in the time of Jesus.

The Temple coin and the coin of Ceasar

There is a story in Mark 12:13-17 where Jesus is asked about paying taxes to Ceasar. He asks the Pharisees and Sadducees to give him a denarius. It has the image of Ceasar on it. Jesus says,

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

There is a subtext the Sadducees and Pharisees would have been aware of but which we miss easily. There was another coin with another portrait that they would have been aware of.

The temple tax could be paid in one currency only, and when you came to the temple, you had to exchange your money to acquire that currency. 

The payment could be made only in Tyrian currency, the tetra drachma. It had the highest percentage of silver, and therefore it was the most inflation-resistant currency available.

Jews used the Tyrian coins for sacred purposes despite the images of the god Melqart and the eagle on the coins (and the inscription declaring Tyre a holy city of asylum). This is the same baal that Jezebel served!

No wonder that Jesus turned the tables of moneylenders and said that the Temple had become a den of robbers! Like Ahab who had been deceived by the riches of Tyre, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' time had been deceived by the mammon of Tyre. They had even come up with a theory that God was OK with an image of a false god on the coin, as it wasn't the image of Jahveh.

Now, lets look at the reference to Jezebel in Revelation. 

Money and the church in Thyatira

Revelation 2:18-29 makes a reference to Jezebel as Jesus speaks to the church in Thyatira.

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their  deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

On surface level, this seems like a clear-cut case about seduction by sensuality and sexuality, but when you understand the historical context, you begin to see that the Christians in Thyatira weren't seduced by sex in the pagan temples at all. No, they were being seduced by the money.

In most Greek cities, the pagan temple and the temple area were the places where people did business, and Thyatira wouldn’t have been an exception. If you didn’t participate in the pagan temple cult you were effectively a second class citizen, and unable to be part of the trade guilds. And Thyatira was a city defined by trade guilds.

The only group that managed not to go to the pagan temple and still did good business were the Jews, but by now even the Jewish Christians had been shut out of the synagogue. 

When you know that, it seems clear that a historical figure John refers to as Jezebel had come up with a ‘theology’ that justified taking part in trading that took place within the pagan temples.

Her theology, as spread by her counterparts in the Thyatira church, would be especially attractive to members who were in workers’ guilds. To reject guild membership would cause one to suffer economic deprivation. However, to be part of a guild required participation in its pagan religious festivities. The temptation to compromise one’s Christian beliefs must have been strong for many church members.

So, the Christians in Thyatira were willing to compromise in the area of their sexuality and worship because of money. And if we miss that, we miss the whole point of what Jesus was saying to the Christians in Thyatira.

Today, parts of the charismatic church are chasing a semi-imaginary spirit of Jezebel that isn't even mentioned in the Bible, but they have no issues with the many spirits of mammon that they are in bed with. Like the Christians in Thyatira, we have far too often compromised the gospel for the sake of money. We have even created the theology of prosperity gospel to justify it.

Love of money is a root of all kinds of evil

How often have you heard a charismatic preacher say that money isn't the root of all evil? He might be right, but why do we talk so little today about the dangers and temptations that come with wealth? It seems we lack a basic understanding about the spiritual dynamics around money.

Today's church is entirely comfortable with a theology that accommodates serving money and God even when Jesus said that it's not possible. It seems that we believe in what money says rather than in what Jesus says. But if Jesus truly was the Son of God, shouldn't there be just a tiny, weeny possibility that He would have been right about money? But we refuse to listen to Him in that.

And many Christian leaders fail to see the connection between money and sexual sin, the connection that has been so clearly illustrated through the story about Jezebel.

In 1 Timothy 6:6-10 Paul says,

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

The charismatic church of today has pierced herself through with many sorrows, and become weak because we love money. And because we love money, many lusts rule over us, and we remain vulnerable to many demonic influences. We are firefighting against those lusts through battling a semi-imaginary Jezebel spirit, but until we leave the slavery to mammon behind, we will never be truly strong. Until we learn to serve one Master only, money will be our curse.

Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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