Ancient Israel’s Queen Jezebel possessed enormous power, reveals seal

November 14th, 2007 - 10:18 am ICT by admin  

Scrutiny of a stone document seal discovered in Israel in 1964; reveals and confirms markings characteristic of royal objects.

“The lion-sphinx with female head and female Isis-Hathor crown, which is unique, this clearly points to a queen,” said Marjo Korpel, an Old Testament scholar at the University of Utrecht who conducted the research.

The seal confirms that Queen Jezebel, who eventually met a gory demise, was a powerful figure in the ancient world.

Jezebel, whose life in the 9th century B.C. is chronicled in the Bible, was married to King Ahab of Israel. As a Phoenician, she was considered pagan and attempted to sway the people of Israel to abandon their God and accept her chief deity Baal, partly through forging her husband’s seal on documents, according to the scriptures.

The Bible says nothing of her own seal, but archaeologists have long believed that the stone discovered in 1964 was Jezebel’s, despite the ambiguity of the symbols and the name depicted on it.

Multiple icons on the seal, as well as its above-average size, indicate that it belonged to a queen, reports Live Science

“The lotus (below the Horus falcon) was a symbol of gender definition and refers to a female owner,” Korpel told LiveScience, adding that the winged sun disk was a well-known symbol of royalty in and outside Israel.

Other symbols on the seal also reinforce the connection to a monarch, such as the Horus and double-cobra, a figure probably adopted from Egypt, she said.

A misspelling of the name “yzbl”-the queen’s moniker in ancient Hebrew-also had archaeologists confused. However, by comparing the seal to similar examples from the time, Korpel found that an upper edge that had broken off likely contained the two missing letters that would have correctly spelled Jezebel’s name.

With her own seal, Queen Jezebel was able to exert a powerful influence upon people around her, much like the Egyptian queens, Korpel said.

Unlike Egypt, however, Biblical Israel did not look favourably upon powerful women. Jezebel was ultimately perceived as a threat and foreign idol worshipper, accused of prostitution, murder and sorcery, and tossed from her window to be ravaged by dogs.

Complete results of the University of Utrecht study are published in a recent volume of the Journal for Semitics. (ANI)

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