Too Late for Jezebel

Scholars Debate “Jezebel” Seal

Back to Scholars Debate “Jezebel” Seal
Amihai Mazar, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

Marjo Korpel’s identification of the name on the seal published by Nahman Avigad in 1964 as that of Queen Jezebel is, in my view, very doubtful. Jezebel lived during the first half of the ninth century B.C.E. We don’t have a single example of an inscribed seal found in a reliable archaeological context dating to that century. All the inscribed seals from reliable contexts are dated to the eighth century B.C.E. and later. Seals and seal impressions from ninth-century B.C.E. contexts are always uninscribed. Such are about 20 seals and seal impressions from the tenth and ninth centuries at Tel Rehov, about 150 seal impressions and a few actual seals from the excavations directed by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron in the City of David (Jerusalem) dated to the late ninth century B.C.E., as well as sporadic seals found at Jezreel and other sites that can be dated securely to the ninth century B.C.E. If Korpel is right, this seal would be unique and the oldest of its kind.

The only way to accept Korpel’s interpretation would be to claim that the seal was produced in Phoenicia, and that the Phoenicians started to produce inscribed seals already in the ninth century B.C.E., earlier than their appearance in Israel, Judah and Transjordan. Yet we have no proof for such an assumption.

Read Janet Howe Gaines’s article “How Bad Was Jezebel?” online for free as it appeared in Bible Review.

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