Archaeologists working at the site of the ancient city of Jezreel in Israel are wondering if they have found the remains of a vineyard connected with Israel’s most wicked Queen, Jezebel.
For those not familiar with Jezebel, she was the daughter of the King of Phoenicia who married King Ahab, probably as part of a peace treaty between the two nations. In the process, Jezebel gained control of both Ahab and the nation of Israel leading it down a path of sin and destruction.
According to the Biblical account, King Ahab noticed a vineyard near his house in Jezreel owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab offered Naboth a deal he couldn’t refuse. However, Naboth refused stating that this land was part of God’s inheritance given to his family.
King Ahab returned to his house and sulked, which is where Jezebel found her husband (1 Kings 21:1-4). When Ahab told his wife what had happened, Jezebel took matters into her own hands, and she seized the vineyard. We will discuss this in more detail later.
Archaeologists have been working at the Jezreel Tel since 2012 and believed they have now discovered the remains of Naboth’s vineyard.
In the Biblical account, Naboth’s vineyard was located near Ahab’s house (1 Kings 21:1). It is uncertain what this building was because the word can describe either a palace or important government building.
In their excavation of Tel Jezreel, archaeologists discovered what was obviously a key government building in the city that seemed to have a military use. It was uncertain if this was the building referred to in 1 Kings, but it was dated to the 9th century BC, within the time frame of King Ahab’s rule (871 BC – 852 BC).
But a second discovery suggested this was in fact the building mentioned in the Bible, because down below it, the archaeological team discovered a large 40-square-foot building that contained a wine press.
This included all the elements of an ancient wine press such as deep vats and a treading floor to crush the grapes.
Similar to today, wine presses in ancient Israel were typically built in vineyards to avoid unnecessary transportation. So, its presence suggests a vineyard was nearby.
More importantly, the wine press did not contain a wine screw which was a later invention used to squeeze the juice out of grapes and this along with its floor style, again from ninth century, puts it firmly in the days of Ahab and Jezebel.
As well, soil sample tests revealed that the land east of Jezreel, where the wine press was located, was best suited for growing grapes rather than olives.
The archaeologists noted that the building did not have a plaque stating that it was owned by Naboth, but basically it fits the style, dating and location of the one mentioned in the bible.
When Ahab married Jezebel, she brought with her 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. This is evidence, that her reign was fortified by a satanic spirit that became known as the Jezebel spirit.
This satanic spirit that empowered Jezebel was substantiated by a verse in the Book of Revelation, when the Apostle John talked about another woman named Jezebel that was involved in the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29).
Because John was describing a vision he saw of what would be taking place in the end times, many believe John’s letters to the seven churches are a prophetic indicator of what churches would be going through leading to Christ’s second coming.
Now was John talking about a woman who was actually named Jezebel that displayed similar characteristics, attack on the prophetic and immorality, to the ancient Jezebel? No, most believe John was suggesting that the same spirit that was behind the Old Testament Jezebel would make an appearance in the end times. In fact, the person that John was talking about could have easily been a man.
So if the spirit of Jezebel will make an appearance in the end times, what should we expect? The first thing we notice in both 1 Kings and the book of Revelation is that the spirit of Jezebel attacks leadership, both at a national and church level. It wants to gain control.
But the story of Naboth’s vineyard provides more details on how this spirit attacks a country as Jezebel employed several tactics to gain control of the vineyard:
So she [Jezebel] wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.” (1 Kings 21:8-14 NASV)
As we read this story, we notice several things.
- Jezebel used Ahab’s seal, basically usurped the authority of the king, to seize control. She had some authority as Ahab’s wife, but took more. People will try to usurp authority that doesn’t belong to them.
- She took control of city governments by ordering the elders of the city of Jezreel to join her in taking down Naboth. City governments will be compromised.
- She took control of the Judicial system. This next point is similar to the first, but also different. In today’s society, our judicial system is separate from government, but in ancient Israel the elders of the city also functioned as the Judges. The judicial system will be attacked.
- She raised up false witnesses to make false accusations against Naboth, that resulted in him being stoned to death. Many false accusers will rise up.
Some believe there are similar thing happening today. Maybe it is just a coincidence that the vineyard owned by Naboth has been discovered at this time in modern history.
And on a final note, I want to briefly discuss the man that God raised up to take down Jezebel. He was a general named Jehu who commanded Ahab’s chariot division. I add this because, he wasn’t some refined politician, he was a warrior. Jehu, who would become King of Israel, killed Jezebel at Jezreel (2 Kings 9:30-10:36)