Jehu and Jezebel

tapestry (363 × 462 cm) — c. 1450 - 1460 Museum Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

This work is linked to 2 Kings 9:30

Tags: Kings

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Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. She was of Phoenician descent. Under her influence Ahab made the worshipping of Ba'al the official religion.

After Ahab's death the prophet Elisa sent king Jehu to Jezreel, where Jezebel held her court. His mission was to destroy the house of Ahab and to put an end to Izebel's wild practices. Outside the city he was encountered by Joram, who had succeeded his father Ahab as king of Israel. Jehu killed him with an arrow from his bow.

Inside the city Jezebel stood before a window and mocked Jehu as "killer of a king". Jehu called on her servants to throw her out of the window, which they did. After this defenestration Jezebel's corpse was crushed under Jehu's horse.

In this Flemish tapestry several episodes from the story of Jehu and Jezebel are shown. The focus is on the window scene where Jehu and Jezebel meet. Jehu is the man with the scepter. To the right he is shown once more, watching a basket. In the basket were the heads of seventy sons of Ahab's, that had been sent to Jehu from Samaria on his request.

The tapestry was probably made in Brussels, possibly after a design made in the workshop of Rogier van der Weyden. It has been damaged and cut above, below and left.

It is also known as The Fulfillment of the Curse on Ahab. During Ahab's reign the city walls of Jericho were rebuilt, against an explicit command of Joshua.

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