From Cyrus to Jezebel: Conservative evangelicals have a biblical character for every political occasion

Over the past four years, conservative evangelicals have compared Donald Trump to King Cyrus, Queen Esther, Daniel, David, and Sampson.

And now they have a biblical character for vice-president Kamala Harris: Jezebel.

For those unfamiliar with this biblical character, she appears in the books of Kings and is referenced in the book of Revelation.

In 1 Kings 16 we are introduced to Jezebel, the Phoenician wife of Ahab, the king of the northern kingdom of Israel. According to the text, Ahab “did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.” He was a Baal worshipper and thus aroused the “anger of the LORD.”

Ahab’s immorality results in the prophet Elijah’s confrontation at Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal. This is described in 1 Kings 18. Here we also learn that Jezebel was responsible for “killing off the Lord’s prophets” and entertaining the prophets of the pagan god Asherah.

After Jezebel learned that Elijah had killed the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, she threatened Elijah’s life. Elijah fled into the wilderness where an angel ministered to him.

In 1 Kings 21, Jezebel arranged for the stoning death of Naboth, a man who refused to give-up his vineyard to Ahab. After Naboth’s death, Elijah confronted Ahab in the vineyard and told him that “dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” This prophecy was fulfilled in 2 Kings 9.

Before she was killed by Jehu, a commander in Joram’s (the new king of Israel) army, Jezebel “put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of the window of the palace.” Two eunuchs threw her out the window. Her blood splattered on the wall of Jezreel and horses “trampled her underfoot.” After Jehu took a break to eat, he ordered his soldiers to bury Jezebel’s body. But as prophesied by Elijah, it had already been devoured by dogs. The book of 2 Kings ends with these words: “Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot of Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say ‘This is Jezebel.'”

In the New Testament, Jezebel is mentioned in Revelation 2. It is unclear to me whether the “Jezebel” mentioned here is an actual person in the Thyatira church or is a reference to the Old Testament character, but I am not sure it really matters for this discussion. The angel of the Christian church in Thyatira writes:

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.  I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

So who is comparing Kamala Harris to Jezebel?

Just for the record, the first American “Jezebel” was 17th-century Massachusetts Bay troublemaker (good trouble, to echo the words of the late John Lewis) Anne Hutchinson. Massachusetts governor John Winthrop called herthis American Jezebel,” an “instrument of Satan,” and the “enemy of the people” for resisting the political authority and theological certainty of the colony’s officials and ministers.

Some fundamentalist churches used to call women “Jezebels” if they wore too much makeup or jewelry. As southern fundamentalist John R. Rice wrote in his 1941 book Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers:

Surely we all agree that a Christian woman who does not live as the world lives and does not follow the world’s ideals should not make too much effort to look like worldy women. Of wicked Queen Jezebel we are told that “she painted her face, and tired her head…(II Kings 9:30). The Bible does not give detailed instructions about lipstick and rouge and painted fingernails. But the most spiritual Christians among women usually feel that they cannot go to the extremes that wordly women follow in painting the face, in use of lipstick, in plucking eyebrows, and in other unnatural fads. Great numbers of the most spiritual women feel that to follow such a pattern is worldliness and hinders a Christian women’s influence. Besides, the women of the best taste know that they are only temporary fads and do not aid real beauty.

As far as I can tell, the charismatic “prophet” Lance Wallnau was the first to compare Kamala Harris to Jezebel. In August 2020, Wallnau said that Harris had a “Jezebel spirit.” He described her as a “chameleon” who was secretly working as an “Obama surrogate.” (I don’t see a Kamala Harris/Jezebel commemorative coin coming anytime soon). The so-called “Jezebel spirit” is often used in charismatic circles to describe a man or a woman who is a false prophet and, as Revelation 2 says, seduces God’s people “into sexual immorality.” These charismatic prophets have been writing books about the “Jezebel spirit” for years.

Today, thanks to the twitter feed of Washington Post religion journalist Sarah Pulliam Bailey, I learned that Tom Buck, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas, has also played the Jezebel card:

Here is more from Buck’s twitter feed:

Thanks to Pulliam-Bailey for this response:

Maybe Buck believes Biden is the Ahab to Harris’s Jezebel.

I took the liberty (Southern Baptists believe in liberty, right?) to look at more of Buck’s tweets over the last month or so:

Tom Buck. What a guy!