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Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 21

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And it came to pass after these things, [that] Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which [was] in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

And it came to pass after these things. — After the two victories over the Syrians; not before, as Josephus will have it.

Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard. — But better he had not, as it proved; for it took away the life of the owner thereof. Many a man’s wealth is his undoing; as it befell the Templars, after whose possessions Philip king of France sorely longed, and wrought their extirpation.

Hard by the palace of Ahab. — And so in his eye: hence his covetousness - called by St John the lust of the eye 1 John 2:16 - concerning which Ambrose hath written an excellent Treatise, well worth the reading of all rich men. Into this palace it is probable that wounded Joram was carried to be cured, 2 Kings 8:29 and that through a window thereof Jezebel was cast down. 2 Kings 9:30

Verse 2

And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it [is] near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; [or], if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.

That I may have it for a garden of herbs. — He longed for a salad out of Naboth’s vineyard, saith one: he had taken an excess, saith another, of Naboth’s grapes, which marreth his appetite, and threateneth his life.

Because it is near unto my house. — Hence some make Naboth to have been Ahab’s uncle; but that is uncertain: the contiguity stirred up his concupiscence, which had no sooner "conceived, but it brought forth sin; and the sin when finished brought forth death." James 1:15 Principiis obsta. This coveting of other men’s possessions hath been noted as a great fault in our nation. Because holdeth, but falsely, that the English were called Angli, because they were good anglers, and had skill to lay various baits when they fished for other men’s livings.

And I will give thee for it a better vineyard. — Covetousness is always cloaked, as here with the pretext of a lawful contract, 1 Thessalonians 2:5 and is seldom without feigned words. 2 Peter 2:3

I will give thee the worth of it in money. — Hence we may give an answer to that question, An omnia sint regum? and, An in facultates subditorum involare liceat Principibus? Whether the king hath right to all? and, May he pillage his subjects at his pleasure? As for that place, 1 Samuel 8:14 . See Trapp on " 1 Samuel 8:14 "

Verse 3

And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

The Lord forbid it me. — The Lord had indeed forbidden it him. Leviticus 25:23 Numbers 36:7 Ezekiel 46:18 And hence his loathness; for he feared God in that corrupt time, and this made him a martyr; and for this his blood cried the louder against Ahab and Jezebel.

Verse 4

And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.

And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased.Abalienatus et indignabundus; off the hooks, as we say, and in a great discontent; his heart did more afflict and vex itself with greedy longing for that bit of earth, than the vast and spacious compass of a kingdom could counter comfort. So Haman could say, All this availeth me nothing, … And Alexander, the monarch of the world, was grievously troubled, because ivy would not grow in his gardens at Babylon. The devil of discontent, whomsoever it possesseth, it maketh his heart a little hell, ταραττειν , exinde ταρταρος . saith one.

And he laid him down upon his bed. — Sick of the sullens.

And turned away his face. — As not caring to see any, or to be seen of any one: he was totus in fermento.

And would eat no bread. — As if he would starve himself.

Verse 5

But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?

But Jezebel his wife came to him. — This was well enough. Woman was first given to man for a comforter; but if sometimes for a counsellor, yet not at all for a controller, as this wicked woman took upon her to be.

Verse 6

And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee [another] vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.

And he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. — It is more than probable that Naboth, so good a man, as he refused to satisfy the desire of his sovereign herein, so also he humbly presented him with the reasons why he durst not do it; and that Ahab doth not faithfully relate Naboth’s answer.

Verse 7

And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, [and] eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?q.d., What a king of clouts art thou! It is not for a king to beg or buy, but to command and call for what he pleaseth, without control. And such afterwards was the speech of wicked Julia to her son-in-law Antonius Caracalla, soliciting him to incestuous marriage; when he answered, Vellem si liceret, I would if I might; she replied impudently, Si libet licet; thou mayest do whatsoever thou wilt: knowest thou not that thou art an emperor, and that it is thy part to give laws to others, and not to receive laws from any one living? So Caligula said to his grandmother Antonia, Memento omnia mihi licere, et in omnes. You must know that I may do whatsoever I wish. Jezebel would persuade Ahab here, that he is lawless, and that since he knew not how to improve his kingly power, she would do it for him.

Let thine heart be merry. — Sing care away for this matter.

I will give thee the vineyard. — Thus the hen crowed, the wife ruled; being impio marito impientior, avaro avarior, crudile crudelior, rapace rapacior, cupido cupidior, as one saith, A Lapide. the worse of the twain, if worse might be. Ambrose Cap. 9. maketh her a type of covetousness, which promiseth her clients wealth without right. Another saith truly that she was fax malorum omnium, et quasi furia quaedam inferni, a firebrand of all mischief, a very hell-hag.

Verse 8

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed [them] with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that [were] in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal. — She was king, and he queen, as was afore noted; she wrought upon his impotencies, and did what she listed. The he-viper putteth his head into the she-viper’s mouth, and she biteth it off: so the uxorious person parteth with his authority.

Unto the elders. — Who were her creatures likely, and therefore so morigerous.

Verse 9

And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:

Proclaim a fast. — On fast days they were wont to execute heinous offenders, and thereby to get reconciliation with God. Numbers 25:7-8 Psalms 106:30 But what damnable dissimulation was it in this devilish creature to do her feats under pretext of a fast! This was like that Italian new device of a pocket stone bow which, held under a cloak, shooteth needles with such force to pierce a man’s body, yet leaveth a wound scarce discernible: or, rather, that other, more detestable, of a pocket church book with a pistol hid in the binding, which turning to such a page dischargeth, - a plot to entrap him you hate, whilst you are at your devotions together, when there is less suspicion. Il. Merc. Italico, introduc. If Jezebel proclaim a fast, let Naboth look to his life. If Herod, "that fox," pretend to worship Christ, there is mischief towards. The Jesuits enjoined a fast, and set forth a sevenfold psalmody for the good success of the gunpowder plot: wherein, Rabshakeh-like, they would persuade the world that they came not up against us without the Lord.

And set Naboth on high. — Bring him before the judges.

Verse 10

And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And [then] carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.

And set two men, sons of Belial. — Two such as she pointed out, and well knew to be for her purpose: knights of the post, as we call them, devils incarnate.

Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. — Heb., Thou didst bless: Euphemismus per antiphrasin. The Hebrews, saith Martyr, did so far abominate blasphemy, that they would not once name it, when the blaspheming of God was to be spoken of. See on Job 2:9 .

And then carry him out. — As a καθαρμα , or public pest; not fit to breathe out his spirit in the city.

Verse 11

And the men of his city, [even] the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, [and] as it [was] written in the letters which she had sent unto them.

Did as Jezebel had sent unto them. — So wretched were those times, that whatsoever pleased the prince, pleased all. But, oh, how miserable is that people whose rulers, instead of punishing, plot and encourage wickedness! When a distillation of evil falleth from the head upon the lungs of any state, there must needs follow a deadly consumption.

Verse 12

They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.

They proclaimed a fast. — See on 1 Kings 21:9 .

Verse 13

And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, [even] against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.

And stoned him with stones. — Among many others - for treason was ever unicum crimea eorum qui crimine vacabant Tacit. - we read in the martyrologies of one John Cowper, who, like another Naboth, was hanged in Queen Mary’s days for a traitor, upon false accusation. But if Naboth had been guilty, what reason was there that his sons should also suffer death with him? as it appeareth they did, 2 Kings 9:26 against an express law. Deuteronomy 24:16 Was it because Jezebel would never suffer a rub to lie in the way, that might hinder the true running of her bowl?

Verse 14

Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Then they sent to Jezebel. — She is certified of by all these servile souls, whose lavishness was wrought upon by her imperiousness. It is likely that the news was no less welcome to her, than was the news of the bishops burnt at Oxford to Stephen Gardiner, who came out rejoicing to the Duke of Norfolk, and said, Now let us go to dinner; but ere he had dined, the sudden stroke of God’s terrible hand fell upon him, so that he was taken from the table, and soon after died in despair. Act. and Mon., 1611.

Verse 15

And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.

For Naboth is not alive, but dead. — He and all his heirs are dead, and the vineyard doth confiscate to thee.

Verse 16

And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Ahab rose up to go down — But better sit still than rise and fall. Josephus saith that he leaped for joy of the good news, and forthwith went to take possession. And yet Ambrose, Sulpitius, and some Greek copies have it that Ahab, hearing it, rent his clothes and put on sackcloth. This is not so likely.

Verse 17

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

And the word of the Lord came to Elijah. — The day after Naboth’s death came Elijah to Ahab with this sad message, as Tostatus noteth from 2 Kings 9:26 . "The triumphing of the wicked is short."

Verse 18

Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which [is] in Samaria: behold, [he is] in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.

Which is in Samaria. — There was Ahab when the message was given in charge to Elias; but in the vineyard at Jezreel when Elias met him.

Verse 19

And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.

Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? — So Chrysostom thundered against Eudoxia the Empress for seeking after the vineyard of Callitrope, a widow; for the which she banished him, and punished him with hunger and thirst, and various other vexations, to the loss of his life: so that he may well be reckoned among the martyrs.

And thou shalt speak unto him. — Not secretly, and in his ear, but openly, and in the hearing of his servants and courtiers; which also he did. 2 Kings 9:25-26

In the place where dogs licked, … — So Aristobulus, king of Jewry, vomited abundance of blood - and therewith soon after breathed his last - in the very place where he had slain his brother Antigonus, and acknowledged it to be the just hand of God upon himself. Joseph., Antiq., lib. xiii. cap. 19. So Selymus, the great Turk, struck with a most loathsome and incurable disease, ended his days at Chiurlus with an untimely and tormenting death, where he had joined battle with his own father Bajazet, A.D. 1511; God, as is to be thought, saith the historian, in the same place with revenging hand taking just punishment for his former disloyalty toward his aged father. Turk. Hist. So the Lady Rochford - who, as it is said, had forged a letter against her own husband and Queen Anne Boleyn, his sister, accusing them of incest, for the which they were both beheaded - was afterwards herself also beheaded in the same place with Queen Katharine Howard, for her deserts, Act. and Mon., fol. 1104. So Babington’s confederates were executed in Lincoln’s-Inn-fields, even in the fields where they had often conferred for the execution of their treasons against Queen Elizabeth. Speed, 1181. So Henry III, king of France, was stabbed to death by a Jacobin friar in that very chamber where he and his bloody brother, Charles IX, had, some few years before, plotted the Parisian massacre. Thus the Jews who had sold Christ for thirty pence - "a goodly price!" Zechariah 11:13 - were, at the sack of Jerusalem, sold for thirty a penny, ad illudendum, saith Hegesippus; De Excid. Hieros., p. 680. and in the place where they had cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him," they were miserably cut in pieces by the Roman soldiers. And thus, as one observeth, the Lord Hastings was beheaded at London that very selfsame day twelve months later, yea, the same hour, yea, the same minute, wherein he had conspired the death of the queen’s children, at Pomefret Castle. Sclat., on Judges v. 31.

Shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine,sc., As it runneth in the veins of thy son Joram. 2 Kings 9:25

Proiece tela manu sanguis meus … hoc est, O fill mi Iule. ” - Virg. Aeneid, lib. vi.

Or else we must hold that the pool of Samaria reached as far as Jezreel; so that Ahab’s blood, running out of his chariot, was carried down to Jezreel, and there licked by dogs. Piscat. in loco.

Verse 20

And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found [thee]: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? — And why an enemy, but because he told him the truth? See Micah 2:7 . See Trapp in " Micah 2:7 " Truth breedeth hatred, as the fair nymphs are feigned to have done the foul fauni and satyrs.

An expectas ut Quintilianus ametur? ” - Juvenal.

Because thou hast sold thyself to work evil. — Though thou art sure to rue the bargain; as at length all those shall that abandon themselves to wicked practices, see 2 Kings 17:17 ut fiant pabulum morris et fomentum Gehennae. Such dustheaps are to be found in every corner - men that work "all uncleanness with greediness." Ephesians 4:19

In the sight of the Lord. — And, as it were, in despite of him.

Verse 21

Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,

Behold, I will bring evil. — Here the prophet resumeth and prosecuteth his interrupted speech to Ahab, telling him what to trust to. And the like boldness was used by Athanasius, Hilary, and Lucifer Calaritanus to Constantine, the Arian emperor, whom they spare not to call Herod, Nero, Antichrist, … John of Salisbury dealt as plainly also with the Pope, A.D. 1159. Thou hast made a match with mischief, and now thou shalt have thy bellyful of it. "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways," saith Solomon.

And will take away thy posterity. — Which yet Ahab thought to prevent by his begetting seventy sons. 2 Kings 10:1

Verse 22

And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked [me] to anger, and made Israel to sin.

Like the house of Jeroboam, and of Baasha. — By whose utter ruin thou wouldst not be warned. He who will not take example shall be made an example.

Verse 23

And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

The dogs shall eat Jezebel. — So the Donatists that threw the sacramental bread to dogs were themselves afterwards devoured of dogs.

Verse 24

Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

Him that dieth. — See 1 Kings 14:11 .

Verse 25

But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

But there was none like unto Ahab. — A very non-such, as is before noted, bipedum nequissimus, non scelestus sed ipsum scelus.

Which did sell himself, …, whom Jezebel, … — She held him in such slavery, that, for a quiet life with her, and to enjoy her love, he was wholly at her service, not daring to deny anything that she would have done. This γυναικοκρατεια is a great mischief.

Verse 26

And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all [things] as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

And he did very abominably. — All idolatries are abominable, 1 Peter 4:3 both pagan and papagan.

Verse 27

And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.

When Ahab heard these words, — viz., Concerning the utter excision of his wife and posterity, Aυτος ακι παιδες, και παιδων ουκετι παιδες . this troubled him more than the loss of his own life forethreatened.

And fasted and lay in sackcloth. — So do the Turks still in their greatest fears and distresses. This wicked men do, not out of hatred of sin, as it is offensivum Dei, et aversivum a Deo, but for fear of punishment.

Verse 28

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

And the word of the Lord. — Who had soon seen this - though but feigned and forced - humiliation, and sent words of comfort. O felix poenitentia, quae ad se Dei traxit oculos, saith Jerome. Surely if the leaves of repentance be so medicinal, much more the fruit; - if the shadow of it be so sovereign, what the substance!

Verse 29

Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: [but] in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

I will not bring the evil. — I will recompense his temporary repentance with a temporary deliverance. Thus noble captains have honoured their enemies that have fought valiantly, to put some spirits into their own soldiers. And thus parents reward their servants’ dutifulness, to provoke their own children.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/1-kings-21.html. 1865-1868.
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