A Defenestration Site at Jezreel

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Samaria and the Center, Israel

After Moses met God at the burning bush, Moses went a number of times to visit the pharaoh, presumably at the pharaoh’s palace. In Exodus 10, the pharaoh told Moses to not come back. “Pharaoh said to Moses, Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”

In 1 Kings, Jeroboam ben Nebat led the tribes to secede from Rehoboam’s kingdom to form the northern Kingdom of Israel, while King Rehoboam was left with the much reduced Kingdom of Judah. After a series of coups, Omri took hold of the Kingdom of Israel.

Omri built his palace at Samaria in 9th century BCE, but his dynasty appears to have also established a royal residence further north at Jezreel.

In 1 Kings 21 Omri’s son Ahab sought to take control of Naboth’s vineyard at Jezreel, and the Queen Jezebel devised a plan to allow him to seize the land. In 2 Kings 8, Ahab’s son Joram was wounded in battle against the Arameans and Joram went to Jezreel to recover. When Jehu overthrew Omri’s dynasty, Ahab’s widow Jezebel was thrown from the window at Jezreel.

At Jezreel, archaeologists discovered a large fortified and enclosed area. The area was surrounded by a wall with earthen ramparts, towers in the corners, and further encircled by a moat. The site was short lived, with little in the way of remains after the Iron IIA period that ends in the late 9th century BCE.

The dating of the structure touches on issues in the High Chronology-Low Chronology debate. Proponents of the High Chronology argue that the Iron IIA period began in the early 10th century BCE and lasted throughout the 9th century BCE, while the Low Chronology supports an Iron IIA period lasting mainly through the 9th century BCE. Despite the differences, both schools of thought argue for a 9th century BCE dating of this large structure. Thus both would agree that the large structure at Jezreel is the likely site of the royal residence of the Omride dynasty featured in the biblical story, and thus the site of the biblical story of the defenestration of Jezebel at Jezreel.

The image above is of the Jezreel Valley from the archaeological site of Jezreel.