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What are some characteristics of a jezebel?

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Quick Answer

A jezebel is defined as a shameless and evil woman, often conjuring up the image of a malicious schemer or a pagan seductress. The term is derived from the Hebrew story of Jezebel found in the biblical books of 1 and 2 Kings.

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Full Answer

According to Christian and Hebrew tradition, Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab of northern Israel, was a pagan princess. She is best known for her persecution of the Hebrew people and religion. After marrying King Ahab, Jezebel convinced her husband to abandon his god, Yahweh, in favor of Baal and Asherah. Over the course of her life, she struggled with the Hebrews of Israel, and she was eventually killed by Jehu, who went on to become the king of Israel after he killed Jezebel's son.

The term jezebel was initially used to describe false prophets and non-believers, but eventually came to be associated with promiscuous women who use seduction or manipulation to turn people, especially men, away from God and Christianity.

Depictions of jezebels in modern culture include Bette Davis' starring turn in the 1939 film "Jezebel," in which she played a spoiled Southern belle who loses the man she loves when she violates a social norm. In Margaret Atwood's novel "A Handmaid's Tale," the brothel that the main character visits is called Jezebel's and the prostitutes are referred to as "jezebels."

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