Friday, November 16, 2007

The Seal of Jezebel

After nearly 3,000 years, Jezebel still makes the grade. But what about Athaliah, her daughter? Seems unfair -- Jezebel ruled Israel and Athaliah ruled Judah. Because they preferred Phoenician religion to Jewish, they were both overthrown (well, Jezebel was literally thrown out a window, according the the Bible). I guess Jezebel just sounds better -- or more wicked.

Jezebel's seal surfaced in the news recently. Her royal seal underscores that yes, Virginia, she carried power like a mini-pharaoh. And when her husband Ahab died, she ruled. Until the coup d'état. The Bible paints her as wicked, a depraved follower of the evil Ba'al, but common sense and critical distance would suggest she merely lost a power struggle between rival socio-economic groups. Like the kind of ones still going on just about everywhere you look.

Birthday: Chinua Achebe (77 today). A Man of the People (1966) is one of many of his novels, set in Africa.

Birthday: Lilakoi Moon (formerly Lisa Bonet, b. Lisa Michelle Boney). She turned 40 today.

Birthday: Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (b. 1964).

Yesterday: Virginie Ledoyen.

Today's Rune: The Self.


the walking man said...

Ba'al was a pretty fucked up god to worship requiring the sacrifice of a human baby by throwing it into the arms of a super heated statue. But yes the grab for power has ever been with us maybe it wasn;t eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil tree that fucked man up but rather that we decided that evil was easier to chart the ship of state with.



Erik Donald France said...

From the Catholic encyclopedia available online (including Ba'al Zebub, "Lord of the Flies"):

When applied to a deity, the word Baal retained its connotation of ownership, and was, therefore, usually qualified. The documents speak, for instance, of the Baal of Tyre, of Harran, of Tarsus, of Herman, of Lebanon of Tamar (a river south of Beirut), of heaven. Moreover, several Baals enjoyed special attributions: there was a Baal of the Covenant (Bá`ál Berîth (Judges 8:33; 9:4); cf. 'El Berîth (ibid., ix, 46}; one of the flies (Bá`ál Zebub, 2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6, 16); there also probably was one of dance (Bá`ál Márqôd); perhaps one of medicine (Bá`ál Márphê), and so on. Among all the Semites, the word, under one form or another (Bá`ál in the West and South; Bel in Assyria; Bal, Bol, or Bel in Palmyra) constantly recurs to express the deity's lordship over the world or some part of it. Not were all the Baals -- of different tribes, places, sanctuaries -- necessarily conceived as identical; each one might have his own nature and his own name; the partly fish shaped Baal of Arvad was probably Dagon; the Baal of Lebanon, possible Cid "the hunter"; the Baal of Harran, the moongod; whereas in several Sabean Minaean cities, and in many Chanaanite, Phoenician, or Palmyrene shrines, the sun was the Baal worshipped, although Hadad seems to have been the chief Baal among the Syrians. The diversity of the Old Testament intimates by speaking of Baalim, in the plural, and specifying the singular Baal either by the article or by the addition of another word.

Charles Gramlich said...

So Jezebel needed a better PR person? Or maybe a sympathetic historian? I can buy that.

t said...

I haven't read Achebe's "Man of the People" - I don't think so.
Things Fall Apart is really one of the most delicious, compact, short-worded novels ever. The day I read it, I lamented that I had waited so many years in life before reading it. Subsequently I read "No Longer at Ease" which was NOT magical at all. At least nothing matching my expectation after reading Things Fall Apart.