Original bad girls? Getting to know Jezebel, Salome, and Lilith

Temptation. Seduction. Coercion. Demons. Dancing. Grisly deaths. There was never a dull moment for Jezebel, Salome, or Lilith.

Some call them bad girls of the Bible. Others see them as historical icons that deserve reexamination. Whether you’ve read their stories as gospel or fiction, we think these women are fierce and fascinating. Here are just a few takes on who they were and why they’re still present in pop culture today.


  • Modern day associations: Up until recently, Jezebel was a term used to describe a loose or immoral woman. But these days it has been reclaimed and used to describe women who are strong, sly, and sexually liberated.

  • Backstory: The Bible portrays Jezebel as forceful, selfish, savage, corrupt, and manipulative. As a queen, she’s held responsible for turning her king, children, and locals into heathens (by encouraging their worship of foreign gods and goddesses, which gets most of them killed). Her story also includes murder.

  • A different perspective: This article reexamines Jezebel’s bad girl reputation to see if she was really as depraved as they say.

  • Her death: She knows she is about to be killed. Instead of running, she puts on makeup and does her hair. Then she’s thrown out a window by servants, trampled by a horse, and eaten by dogs. (The only things left being her skull, feet, and the palms of her hands. Gross.)

  • Pop culture shout out: Jezebel is the moniker of a super popular website on sex, fashion, celebs, and tons of other stuff we love to read about.


  • Modern day associations: Dance of the seven veils (as demonstrated by Rita Hayworth in the film Salome). The play by Oscar Wilde. One hell of an opera.

  • Backstory: Salome’s mom was pissed at John the Baptist for criticizing her marriage. Salome’s stepdad was a little too eager to have Salome perform a sultry dance for him, so he promised her anything if she entertained him. That’s when her mom suggested that Salome ask for John the Baptist’s head on a plate. Her stepdad obliged. Some think her story is incestuous.

  • A different perspective: Do most of us get Salome’s story wrong? This article explains how often it’s mistranslated and this one doubts that she danced at all.

  • Her death: While crossing some frozen water, she fell through ice and was decapitated. #irony

  • Pop culture shout out: Look for Salome references in Tom Robbins’ book Skinny Legs and All and True Blood season 5.


  • Modern day associations: Feminist scholars appreciate Lilith for her independence, rebelliousness, and assertiveness.

  • Backstory: One story says that she was Adam’s first wife. She didn’t come from his rib, like Eve. She was made the same way he was. But they fought all the time. Over stuff like sex positions. (Supposedly she wanted some on-top action.) Sick of being subservient, she left him. And even though she is ordered back to the Garden of Eden by God, she refuses. (And while she was away she might have slept with an archangel.)

  • A different perspective: Was Lilith the bitter ex-wife serpent that enticed Eve to take a bite out of the forbidden fruit?

  • Her death: She doesn’t really die, but instead becomes immortal. Some legends say she ends up a succubus. Others believe she becomes Queen of Demons and eats babies.

  • Pop culture shout out: A character on Cheers and Frasier. A vampire goddess on True Blood. An insanely successful concert tour popular in the 90s. All Lilith references.

We know there’s much more to these stories, so feel free to shed more light on these ladies in the comments.


P.S. Back by popular demand: New Guy’s Guide videos! Laugh and learn, people. Laugh. And. Learn.

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