2 Kings 9:30
And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.
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(30) And when Jehu was come.—Rather, And Jehu came—i.e., after the slaughter of Ahaziah, as the Hebrew construction implies.

Jezebel heard of it.—Rather, Now Jezebel had heard—scil., the news of the death of the two kings. There should be a stop after Jezreel.

And she painted her face.—Rather, and she set her eyes in painti.e., according to the still common practice of Oriental ladies, she painted her eyebrows and lashes with a pigment composed of antimony and zinc (the Arabic kohl). The dark border throws the eye into relief, and makes it appear larger (Bähr). Pliny relates that in his day this pigment (stibium) was called platyophthalmon (comp. Jeremiah 4:30), because it dilates the eye (Plin. Hist. Nat. xxxiii. 34).

Tired.—An old English word, meaning adorned with a tire or head-dress. (Comp. Isaiah 3:18.) Tire might seem to be the Persian tiara, but is much more probably connected with the German zier and zieren. (See Skeaťs Etym. Dict., s.v) Jezebel put on her royal apparel in order to die as a queen. Comp. the similar behaviour of Cleopatra:—

“Show me, my women, like a queen. Go fetch

My best attires. I am again tor Cydnus,

To meet Marc Antony . . . Bring our crown, and all.


Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have

Immortal longings in me.”

Antony and Cleop., Acts 5, scene 2.

A window.The window, looking down upon the square within the city gate. Others think of a window looking down into the courtyard of the palace.

Ewald’s notion (after Ephrem Syrus), that Jezebel thought to captivate the conqueror by her charms, is negatived by the consideration that she was the grandmother of Ahaziah, who was twenty-two years old when Jehu slew him, and the fact that Oriental women fade early.

2 Kings 9:30. Jezebel heard of it, &c. — She had heard that Jehu had slain her son, and slain him for her murders, idolatries, and other crimes, and thrown his dead body into the portion of Naboth, according to the word of the Lord; and now she learned he was come to Jezreel, where she could not but dread falling herself next a sacrifice to his revenging sword. Here we see how she meets her fate. She painted her face — Rendered in the margin, put her eyes in painting. The word פוךְ, puch, translated painting, signifies a mineral substance, stibium, otherwise called plumbago, or black- lead, a kind of ochre of very fine and loose parts. The word occurs again, Jeremiah 4:30, and both there and here is mentioned as somewhat with which women coloured their eyes. It made them look black, and also larger, by dilating their eye-brows; both which circumstances were thought to give them additional beauty. At this day the women, in many parts of the East, tinge their eyes with black to heighten their beauty. And tired her head — That is, dressed and adorned it, as the word תישׂב, theteb, here used, signifies. These things she did, hoping that, by her majestic dress and demeanour, she should strike Jehu and his followers with such awe, that they would be intimidated, and thereby prevented from offering her any personal injury; or rather, because, perceiving her case to be desperate, and that she would not be suffered to live, she was resolved to die with honour and gallantry. And looked out at a window — She placed herself at a window at the entering of the gate of the king’s palace, to affront Jehu, and set him at defiance.

9:30-37 Instead of hiding herself, as one afraid of Divine vengeance, Jezebel mocked at fear. See how a heart, hardened against God, will brave it out to the last. There is not a surer presage of ruin, than an unhumbled heart under humbling providences. Let those look at Jezebel's conduct and fate, who use arts to seduce others to commit wickedness, and to draw them aside from the ways of truth and righteousness. Jehu called for aid against Jezebel. When reformation-work is on foot, it is time to ask, Who sides with it? Her attendants delivered her up. Thus she was put to death. See the end of pride and cruelty, and say, The Lord is righteous. When we pamper our bodies, let us think how vile they are; shortly they will be a feast for worms under ground, or beasts above ground. May we all flee from that wrath which is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.Painted her face - literally, "put her eyes in antimony " - i. e., dyed the upper and under eyelids, a common practice in the East, even at the present day. The effect is at once to increase the apparent size of the eye, and to give it unnatural brilliancy. Representations of eyes thus embellished occur on the Assyrian sculptures, and the practice existed among the Jews (marginal reference; and Jeremiah 4:30).

Tired her head - Dressed (attired) her head, and no doubt put on her royal robes, that she might die as became a queen, in true royal array.

A window - Rather, "the window." The gate-tower had probably, as many of those in the Assyrian sculptures, one window only.

30. Jezebel painted her face—literally, "her eyes," according to a custom universal in the East among women, of staining the eyelids with a black powder made of pulverized antimony, or lead ore mixed with oil, and applied with a small brush on the border, so that by this dark ligament on the edge, the largeness as well as the luster of the eye itself was thought to be increased. Her object was, by her royal attire, not to captivate, but to overawe Jehu. Either hoping that by her majestic dress and carriage she might strike Jehu or his followers with such an awe, that they should not offer any injury to her person; or rather, because perceiving her case to be desperate, and that she could not live, was resolved to die with honour and gallantry.

And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it,.... And of what he had done to Joram:

and she painted her face; or put "stibium" on her eyes; a sort of paint, to make them look beautiful perhaps the same with powder of lead ore, the Moors now use to tinge their eyebrows with, and make them look black, which they reckon graceful; see Gill on Ezekiel 23:40, this custom now obtains among the white Indians, who, to heighten the lustre of their complexion, and render their eyes more languishing, put a little black about them (n):

and tired her head; dressed her head in the most elegant manner; not with a view to tempt Jehu, which she could not expect, being an aged woman; but for grandeur and majesty, and in the pride and haughtiness of her spirit, which she retained to the last, and resolved to keep up and show in her extremity and calamity:

and looked out at a window; in a bravado, as fearless of Jehu, and to dash him out of countenance if she could; or she might hope, by such a graceful and majestic appearance she made, that he would be moved to spare her life; though this does not so well agree with what follows as the former.

(n) Agreement of Customs between East Indians and Jews, art. 15. p. 65.

And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and {l} looked out at a window.

(l) Being of a harsh and cruel nature, she would still retain her royal state and dignity.

30–37. The fate of Jezebel (Not in Chronicles)

30. when Jehu was come to Jezreel] Very little time could have elapsed between the slaying of Joram and the advance from Naboth’s vineyard to the palace. But the news of what Jehu had done had already been brought to Jezebel, for she knows that he has murdered the king her son. As queen-mother she lived in the royal city, and probably in the royal palace. On the position of the queen-mother and her influence in Eastern courts see on 1 Kings 2:19. Her action Bp Hall thinks was with the hope ‘to daunt the courage of a usurper with the sudden beams of majesty’.

and she painted her face] R.V. eyes. The A.V. gives a wrong idea, though placing the literal rendering on the margin ‘put her eyes in painting’. The process is common still in the East. The preparation used is made from antimony, which gives when applied to the eyelashes and eyebrows, a dark outline, as a setting to the eyes, which while making them look larger adds also to their brilliancy.

and tired her head] Putting on some ornamental diadem or insignia of royalty. As she was to die, and she could expect no less, she would look the queen to the last.

and looked out at a window] Josephus (Ant. IX. 6. 4) describes her as ‘standing upon the tower’. It is clear that the building in which she was formed part of the city wall, and that the gateway by which the city was entered was close by. So the window may have been in some lofty part.

Verse 30. - And when Jehu was come to Jezreel. Some commentators suppose that Jehu did not engage personally in the pursuit of Ahaziah, but, leaving that to a portion of his retinue, pushed on with all haste to Jezreel, where Jezebel was, "the originator of all the mischief." But it is certainly more natural to understand (with Keil and Josephus) that Jehu himself pursued. The pursuit to Ibleam, where Ahaziah was mortally wounded, and the return to Jezreel, need not have occupied more than about three hours. Jezebel heard of it. She would naturally be the first to hear. On the death of her son, which must have been plainly seen from the walls of Jezreel, she become practically the chief authority in the place, and indeed in the kingdom. Jehoram's sons were probably minors. And she painted her face; literally, and she put her eyes in antimony; i.e. she adorned her eyes with the dark dye which has always been fashionable in the East, and which is still used at the present day. The dye is spread both on the upper and the lower eyelids. It at once increases the apparent size of the eye, and gives it unnatural brilliancy. The Oriental nations, Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, were acquainted with the practice from very early times; and it is not surprising that it was known to Jezebel. What was her exact object in applying it is more doubtful. The older commentators, who are followed by Ewald, suppose that she intended to "summon up all her seductive fascinations in order to tempt and conquer Jehu;" but more recent writers (Bahr, Keil, and others) argue that her probable age renders this incredible, since she had already a grandson who was twenty-three years of age (2 Kings 8:26), and must therefore have been herself at least fifty. But, if we remember that Cleopatra was forty when She held Antony as her slave and hoped to captivate Augustus, it would seem to be not altogether beyond the bounds of possibility that a Phoouician princess of fifty may have thought that, by the use of art, she might reader herself a captivating personage. There is, at any rate no evidence that "putting the eyes in antimony" was an ordinary or a fitting preparation for meeting death in a way worthy of a queen. Ewald's view has, therefore much to commend it to our acceptance. Jezebel, trusting in the charms and the fascination which had been so potent over Ahab, may have imagined that she had still enough beauty left to capture Jehu, provided she increased her natural attractions by a careful use of all the resources of art. And tired her head. Phoenician statues of goddesses have their hair arranged in long pendent curls, and bear on their heads a small conical cap with a ribbon wreathed round the base. The artists probably had queens and princesses as their models. There is no evidence that false hair was worn in Phoenicia, either by men or women. And looked out at a window. Windows, sometimes open, sometimes latticed, were common in Oriental houses from the earliest times. They mostly looked into the court round which a house was commonly built; but some few were in the external wall of the building; and through these new arrivals might be reconnoitered. Jezebel "looked out," partly to see, but perhaps still more to be seen. 2 Kings 9:30Death of Jezebel. - 2 Kings 9:30. When Jehu came to Jezreel and Jezebel heard of it, "she put her eyes into lead polish (i.e., painted them with it), and beautified her head and placed herself at the window." פּוּך is a very favourite eye-paint with Oriental women even to the present day. It is prepared from antimony ore (Arab. khl, Cohol or Stibium of the Arabs), which when pounded yields a black powder with a metallic brilliancy, which was laid upon the eyebrows and eyelashes either in a dry state as a black powder, or moistened generally with oil and made into an ointment, which is applied with a fine smooth eye-pencil of the thickness of an ordinary goose-quill, made either of wood, metal, or ivory. The way to use it was to hold the central portion of the pencil horizontally between the eyelids, and then draw it out between them, twisting it round all the while, so that the edges of the eyelids were blackened all round; and the object was to heighten the splendour of the dark southern eye, and give it, so to speak, a more deeply glowing fire, and to impart a youthful appearance to the whole of the eyelashes even in extreme old age. Rosellini found jars with eye-paint of this kind in the early Egyptian graves (vid., Hille, ber den Gebrauch u. die Zusammensetzung der oriental. Augenschminke: Deutsch. morg. Ztsch. v. p. 236ff.). - Jezebel did this that she might present an imposing appearance to Jehu and die as a queen; not to allure him by her charms (Ewald, after Ephr. Syr.). For (2 Kings 9:31) when Jehu entered the palace gate, she cried out to him, "Is it peace, thou Zimri, murderer of his lord?" She addressed Jehu as Zimri the murderer of the king, to point to the fate which Jehu would bring upon himself by the murder of the king, as Zimri had already done (vid., 1 Kings 16:10-18).
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