Why Can Jezebel Tire Her Hair But Not Wear Paint?

And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window. (2 Kings 9:30)

Here we read that Jezebel, in the pride of her office as Queen and Priestess of Baal, painted her face and tired or adorned her head. This was the mark of her pagan and royal identity. She sought to disarm Jehu, with her royal majesty, who had come to enact the wrath of God upon the house of Ahab.

We often condemn Jezebel for “painting her face”, but we leave out the last part that was mentioned in the same breath and that is she “tired her head.” That is she adorned her head. Notice it does not say she put her hair up in braids or anything to that effect. It says that she “adorned” her head. It was the custom of royalty and priestesses to wear elaborate headdresses to express their exalted and proud position.


So, it was not that she braided her hair that was spoken of, rather, she put on a headdress, much like what you see pictured here in the movie Cleopatra. She adorned herself as the Queen Mother who possessed royal authority. She wanted to die in her proud position as royalty and she reminded Jehu that those who rebel against royal authority and seize that authority themselves often die in the same manner.

The Queen Mother, Jezebel, was not seeking to seduce Jehu, rather she was decorating herself as a woman of royal authority in her pride, arrogance and rebellion against the word of Yahweh. To use a parallel, the Queen of England does not dress in her full royal apparel every day. Normally she dresses like the picture on the left below, but on special occasions of state she dresses as the picture on the right.


Jezebel adorned herself for a special occasion and dressed as a Queen in royal splendor to show her rank and position. This painting the eyes and wearing of an elaborate headdress is not becoming for a woman of godly character. Rather, it speaks of pride and vanity, nothing a Christian woman would desire to be characterized by.



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