Jezebel is more often used as a slur for a wanton or evil woman than it is to refer to the actual historical leader of Israel. In modern times, Jezebel has been reclaimed by some feminists leading to publications like Jezebel Magazine. In the Bible, Jezebel was a queen of Israel who led the country astray from its religion. Reportedly a worshipper of Baal, a rival god, she exerted her influence to shape the religion and culture of her nation. It was Jezebel, not her husband Ahab, who was looked to as the religious and political leader of the country.
The Old Testament depicts Jezebel paying a high price for her supposed idolatry. Her body is thrown from a window and torn apart by dogs. Despite her brutal end and the ongoing legacy of her name to disparage women, Jezebel rose to high power in a time where it was challenging for a woman to wield even a small amount of influence. Through her force of will and strong character, she shaped the culture of Israel for decades. Interestingly, the historical bias against “painted women” in makeup may be due to Jezebel’s purported love of makeup and wigs.