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Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew BibleA Subversive Collaboration$
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Melissa Jackson

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656776.001.0001

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(p.171) 8 Jezebel
Comedy and Feminist Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible

Melissa A. Jackson

Oxford University Press

Jezebel, wife of Ahab, is a primary actor in the plot to seize Naboth's vineyard (1 Kgs 21) and in her confrontation with Jehu (2 Kgs 9). Evidence of the comic exists in these narratives through devices such as wordplay, irony, and trickery. In reading ‘her story’, one seems to encounter Jezebel, the character — strong‐willed, courageous, defiant — and Jezebel, the caricature — foreigner, seducer, permanently and quintessentially ‘the other’. In the case of Jezebel, the Hebrew Bible's comedy draws lines, making a joke of the one who is on the ‘other’ side of it. For feminist critique, reading against the grain to imagine Jezebel outside the constraints of the Hebrew Bible's theological concerns offers another view of the queen, a view that is boosted by comedy's subversive force. With the perspective shifted, the caricature gives way to a character with the strength to withstand the barbs hurled at her from every direction.

Keywords:   1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ahab, comedy, Jehu, Jezebel, Naboth, the other

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