October 23, 2007 / 4:10 PM / 10 years ago

Dutch scholar traces ancient seal to Bible's Jezebel

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch scholar has traced an ancient royal seal back to the biblical figure Queen Jezebel, based on a study of its engravings and symbols.

After close scrutiny of the images on the seal, which dates from the 9th century BC, Utrecht University Old Testament scholar Marjo Korpel concluded that it must have belonged to Queen Jezebel, she told Reuters on Tuesday.

“Because of the symbolism on the seal, which has to do with royalty, and the date of the seal, there is a great possibility that it is the real seal of Queen Jezebel,” said Korpel.

“There is a sphinx on the seal, which stands for royalty or king. But this sphinx has a female crown, which I suppose has to do with a female owner.”

Other symbols include two cobras and a falcon, which she said have also been associated with royalty. The size and the image quality of the seal, located in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, also led Korpel to her conclusion.

An ancient letter seal, which was discovered in 1964, is displayed in this University of Utrecht handout released October 23, 2007. A Dutch scholar has traced the ancient royal seal back to the biblical figure Queen Jezebel, based on a study of its engravings and symbols. REUTERS/Handout

“It’s twice as big as normal seals and also the iconography is very nicely engraved,” Korpel said.

Archaeologist Nahman Avigad found the seal in Israel in 1964. Although it was assumed that it belonged to Jezebel as it was engraved with the name “yzbl” in ancient Hebrew, there was lingering uncertainty because some of the letters were missing.

By comparing the seal with other similar relics, Korpel showed that its upper edge must have included two missing letters that complete the spelling of Jezebel’s name.

Korpel said that owning her own seal confirms the biblical image of Queen Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, as a woman of influence.

“If she had her own seal she was able to seal documents and so on. Egyptian queens also had great influence because of their seals,” she said. “It might point to the fact that she was a very intellectual woman.”

Jezebel’s story is told in the Books of Kings. She is portrayed as a foreign idol worshipper, who dominated her husband Ahab and ruled through her sons after his death. She met her death when she was thrown from a window and eaten by dogs.

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