Elephantine is an island opposite the city of Aswan in Egypt. In the late 1800s, 175 Jewish manuscripts found there began illegally appearing for purchase into Western collections. They are the oldest Jewish papyri found to date, going back to the fifth century BCE.
These manuscripts predate what we know as the written Torah by about 600 years (1000 CE). In the ruins of the community of soldiers there, stationed on the border of Nubia, were found evidence in Jewish households of altars to Anath or Anat-Yaou (YHWH, Yahweh). This is another historical marker that suggests that the early Hebrew people were not monotheistic from the beginning. Thus, as Christians we worship a complete God of incalculable attributes, and many are seen as maternal: Nurturing, replenishing, fertile, gentle, feminine in nature.
Given this, we should consider the latest slings at women of African descent on the North American continent for 500 years: Calling Vice President Kamala Harris a “Jezebel.” Point in well-known fact, Jezebel was King Ahab’s wife, daughter of Ethbaal, ruler of Tyre and Sidon, two powerful coastal Phoenician cities and a worshipper of many gods.
This was mainly because she remained faithful to her Phoenician-Sidonian religion that was polytheistic and nature worshipping. This was common among dominant religions in the ancient Near East and not unlike all other ancient civilizations: Paying homage to gods who would ensure safe crops, continuation of kingdoms, and children to keep the wheels of society moving.
As has often occurred in ancient and modern history, politically arranged marriages were decided by male rulers. Hagar is another royal princess given to a foreigner, Sarah, wife of Abraham. Interestingly, we remember her as a positive model, especially for Black women.
Like Hagar, Jezebel had no say, but of all of Ahab’s wives, she clearly remains the most remembered. She is portrayed as a seductress, wanton, pagan, orgiastic and well, in modern terms, slutty. Then, we have Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, who presented her body to Boaz as property to save a destitute Hebrew matron and this Moabite polytheist. But we hold up Ruth and Naomi’s story as virtuous.
“It has been suggested that Jezebel in fact countered the norms of women. She was a powerful consort, queen and queen mother who wielded her own influence and power.”
It has been suggested that Jezebel in fact countered the norms of women. She was a powerful consort, queen and queen mother who wielded her own influence and power (see the story of Namoth’s vineyard and the controversy of her own royal seal). Thus, it might be suggested that in the Bible we remember those Hebrew and Gentile women who worked for the nation of Israel positively but those who worked against Israel and its God, we remember much less so. And thus, the archetype of evil Jezebel.
As a modern Christian (follower of Jesus the Christ), I worship one God who is all-loving, all-powerful, unknowable in entirety, boundary-less. The God I worship is multifaceted.
Ancient people knew only what they saw and divined what they couldn’t, and often it was divided as they lived, male and female. To cut off the attributes of either was to truncate, limit and deride the deity(ies), essentially to render God unproductive and nonprocreative.
Beyond God-insulting, the most fascinating aspect of the slander against our newest vice president is that by calling her a “Jezebel,” these critics have, in fact, reinforced the very nature of her power and emasculated themselves.
Jezebel was a fierce, powerful, politically savvy woman of her time who wielded her influence as strategically as any male ruler of her day and more so because she was a woman. Her unknowing and calculated mistake was not realizing that the God of Israel was on the way up and her polytheistic gods were on their way down. No one approves of the slaughter of Yahweh’s prophets or her pursuit of Elijah, but when Israel’s kings followed God’s orders, thousands upon thousands were righteously killed.
I would offer that the self-emasculation of white men (in this case, Southern Baptists) rests in their own hands, literally. Cutting off the nurturing, life-giving, life-sustaining, rhythmic attributes of God is to slander Elohim and son, Christ Jesus.
“To frame a powerful woman as hateful, wily, sexually promiscuous, ambitious and ultimately irresistible is to say more about your powerlessness than her prowess.”
To frame a powerful woman as hateful, wily, sexually promiscuous, ambitious and ultimately irresistible is to say more about your powerlessness than her prowess. In fact, the silence from white women about this most recent defaming of another prominent, internationally respected and exceptional Black woman (See Michelle Obama, for an earlier example) is deafening.
The internecine gender war between whites about who deserves power always has used the female Black body as its battlefield and Black men as the ammunition. The Christian Church in the 21st century no longer will be defined by emasculated white men and the conflict with white women about who’s on top.
America never was a white Christian nation. When ragtag European colonists landed on the fringes of this continent, there were 500-plus indigenous nations who knew who the Great Spirit is. This country always has been a multi-faith, multinational continent: It is you who is the usurper, the intruder, the weakened brother and sister, the profligate.
I offer up Vice President Kamala Harris, the most politically powerful woman on the planet. Rest assured that the God who put her there will unclog your vision one way or another: Jan. 6, 2021. You can make it easy or you can make it hard. The choice is yours.
Lokelani Wilson is a master of divinity student at United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities. She was born and raised in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in social-clinical psychology from The Wright Institute, a master of arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. She is a longtime member of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Calif.