Jez'reël (Heb. Yizreel, יזרעֶאל, once יַזרעֵאל, 2Ki 9:10; sown by God; Sept. Ι᾿εζραήλ, but sometimes Ι᾿εζρεήλ, Ι᾿εζριήλ, Ι᾿εζράελ, or Ι᾿εζραέλ; Josephus Ι᾿εσράηλα, Ant. 8, 13, 6; Ι᾿εσράελα, Ant. 9, 6, 4), the name of two places and of several men.
1. A town in the tribe of Issachar (Jos 19:18), where the kings of Israel had a palace (2Sa 2:8 sq.), and where the court often resided (1Ki 18:45; 1Ki 21:1; 2Ki 9:30), although Samaria was the metropolis of that kingdom. It is most frequently mentioned in the history of the house of Ahab. "In the neighborhood, or within the town probably, was a temple and grove of Astarte, with an establishment of 400 priests supported by Jezebel (1Ki 16:33; 2Ki 10:11). The palace of Ahab (1Ki 21:1; 1Ki 18:46), probably containing his 'ivory house' (1Ki 22:39), was on the eastern side of the city, forming part of the city wall (comp. 1Ki 21:1; 2Ki 9:25,30,33). The seraglio, in which Jezebel lived, was on the city wall, and had a high window facing eastward (2Ki 9:30). Close by, if not forming part of this seraglio (as Josephus supposes, Ant. 9, 6, 4), was a watchtower, on which a sentinel stood, to give notice of arrivals from the disturbed district beyond the Jordan (2Ki 9:17). This watchtower, well known as 'the tower in Jezreel,' may possibly have been the tower or migdal near which the Egyptian army was encamped in the battle between Necho and Josiah (Herod. 2, 159). An ancient square tower which stands amongst the hovels of the modern village may be its representative. The gateway of the city on the east was also the gateway of the palace (2Ki 9:34). Immediately in front of the gateway, and under the city wall, was an open space, such as existed before the neighboring city of Bethshan (2Sa 21:12), and is usually found by the walls of Eastern cities, under the name of 'the mounds' (see Arabian Nights, passim), whence the dogs, the scavengers of the East, prowled in search of offal (2Ki 9:25). SEE JEZEBEL. A little further east, but adjacent to the royal domain (1Ki 21:1), was a smooth tract of land cleared out of the uneven valley (2Ki 9:25), which belonged to Naboth, a citizen of Jezreel (2Ki 9:25), by a hereditary right (1Ki 21:3); but the royal grounds were so near that it would have easily been turned into a garden of herbs for the royal use (1Ki 21:2). Here Elijah met Ahab (1Ki 21:17)" (Smith). Here was the vineyard of Naboth, which Ahab coveted to enlarge the palace grounds (1Ki 18:45-46; 1Ki 21), and here Jehu executed his dreadful commission against the house of Ahab, when Jezebel, Jehoram, and all who were connected with that wretched dynasty perished (2Ki 9:14-37; 2Ki 10:1-11). These horrid scenes appear to have given the kings of Israel a distaste for this residence, as it is not again mentioned in their history. It is, however, named by Hosea (Ho 1:4; compare 1:11; 2:22); and in Judith (1:8; 4:3; 7:3) it occurs under the name of
Esdraelon (Εσδρηλών), near Dothaim. In the days of Eusebius and Jerome it was still a large village, 12 R. miles from Scythopolis and 10 from Legio, called Esdraela (Εσδράηλα, Onomast. s.v. Ιεζραιέλ, Jezrael); and in the same age it again occurs as Stradela (Itin. Hieros. p. 586). Nothing more is heard of it till the time of the Crusades, when it was called by the Franks Parvum Gerinum, and by the Arabs Zerin (an evident corruption of the old name); and it is described as commanding a wide prospect on the east to the mountains of Gilead, and on the west to Mount Carmel (Will. Tyr. 22, 26). But this line of identification seems to have been afterwards lost sight of, and Jezreel came to be identified with Jenin. Indeed, the village of Zerin ceased to be mentioned by travelers till Turner, Buckingham, and others after them again brought it into notice; and it is still more lately that the identification of Zerin and Jezreel has been restored (Raumer, Palästina, p. 155; Schubert, 3, 164; Elliot, 2, 379; Robinson, 3, 164).
Zerin is seated on the brow of a rocky and very steep descent into the great and fertile valley of Jezreel, which runs down between the mountains of Gilboa and Hermon. Lying comparatively high, it commands a wide and noble view, extending down the broad valley on the east as far as the Jordan (2Ki 9:17) to Beisan (Bethshean), and on the west quite across the great plain to the mountains of Carmel (1Ki 18:46). It is described by Dr. Robinson (Researches, 3, 163) as a most magnificent site for a city, which, being itself a conspicuous object in every part, would naturally give its name to the whole region. In the valley directly under Zerin is a considerable fountain, and another still larger somewhat further to the east, under the northern side of Gilboa, called Ain Jalud. There can, therefore, be little question that as in Zerin we have Jezreel, so in the valley and the fountain we have the "valley of Jezreel" and the "fountain of Jezreel" of Scripture. Zerin has at present little more than twenty humble dwellings, mostly in ruins, and with few inhabitants. (See De Saulcy, 1, 79; 2, 306 sq.; Schwarz, p. 164; Thomson, 2, 180.)
The inhabitants of this city were called JEZREELITES (Heb. Yezreëli', יַזרעֵאלַי, 1Ki 21:1,4,6-7,15-16; 2Ki 9:21,25).