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The Murder of Naboth
v. 1. And it came to pass after these things, when the Lord had given Ahab such rich evidences of His bounteous blessing in defeating the dreaded enemy twice, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria, in its immediate neighborhood, so that it was always before the king's eyes.
v. 2. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard that I may have it for a garden of herbs, a vegetable garden, 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. This sounded innocent enough, but it conflicted with one of the fundamental laws of the Lord's people.
v. 3. And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. The Lord had plainly commanded that the children of Israel were not to dispose of the property allotted to them, and even such lands as were sold on account of poverty reverted to the original owners in the year of jubilee, Numbers 36:1-1 Chronicles :; Leviticus 25:10-Hosea :; Exodus 34:9. The only consideration in this case was the whim of the king; he had set his heart upon that garden and would be satisfied with nothing else.
v. 4. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased, in a peevish and angry mood, 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, staring fixedly at the wall, and would eat no bread. It was a childish and despicable manner of showing his displeasure over the refusal of Naboth, indicating, at the same time, that Ahab, with all his wickedness, lacked the energy to carry out his designs.
v. 5. But Jezebel, his wife, came to him and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad that thou eatest no bread?
v. 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.
v. 7. And Jezebel, his wife, said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? It is a question charged with the deepest irony: Thou, dost thou now exercise authority over Israel? He was a fine king to be lying in bed over such a matter; he was a fine ruler even to think of asking any of his subjects for something he desired. Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry; I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. Since he did not dare to act the man and the king, in her opinion, she would see to it that he obtained his heart's desire.
v. 8. So she, taking the matter in her own hands and assuming an authority which was not hers, wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, which she probably coolly took from him for her purpose, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, the local magistrates, Deuteronomy 16:18, dwelling with Naboth, and therefore presumably acquainted with his whole Life.
v. 9. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, such as were customary in cases of a national calamity, and set Naboth on high among the people, indicating before the entire city that he was under accusation and had brought a heavy guilt upon the whole community;
v. 10. and set two men, Sons of Belial, worthless rascals, before him, the show of justice being maintained throughout, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king, for the king represented God and ruled in His name. And then carry him out and stone him that he may die, for that was the punishment set upon blasphemy, Deuteronomy 13:11; Deuteronomy 17:5; Leviticus 24:14.
v. 11. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, probably out of slavish fear of the tyranny of Jezebel, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
v. 12. They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
v. 13. And there came in two men, children of Belial, conscienceless scoundrels, and sat before him, as his accusers; 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.
v. 14. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned and is dead. All of which shows that the corruption of the royal court was found in all states of society at that time. The magistrates of Jezreel were just as much guilty of murder as Jezebel, who was a tyrant seeking the blood of the just. Naboth must be considered a martyr in a noble cause, who gave up his life for the sake of God's Word.
The Prophecy of Ahab's Doom
v. 15. And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned and was dead, his sons having been forced to share his fate, 2 Kings 9:26, that Jezebel said to Ahab, who had persisted in his stubborn, childish behavior, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to give thee for money; for Na-both is not alive, but dead.
v. 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. Although he had not personally conducted the case against Naboth, and probably did not know what means Jezebel actually employed to get possession of his vineyard, yet he was fully as guilty as she, for he had known that she had contrived to get Naboth out of the way, by fair means or foul.
v. 17. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, who now appears on the scene once more, saying,
v. 18. Arise, go down, namely, from the mountain district in which he was then staying, 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.
v. 19. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed and also taken possession? The question was not put to cause a confession of guilt, but to accuse the king outright of murder and of robbery. He had probably tried to quiet his conscience with the excuse that the property of a blasphemer who had suffered the penalty of death was taken over by the crown. 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. His was to be a similar disgraceful death, that of a criminal.
v. 20. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? The implication was that Elijah was always endeavoring to oppose the king and to thwart his purposes. And he, with all the frank fearlessness of God's messenger, answered, I have found thee, because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Ahab had so abandoned himself to wickedness that he had become its slave.
v. 21. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, the sentence of doom upon the families of apostate kings, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, all the male descendants of the king; even the minors were included in the curse. Cf 1 Kings 14:10.
v. 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, whose families were eradicated by divine decree, 1 Kings 15:29; 1 Kings 16:3-:, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked Me to anger and made Israel to sin.
v. 23. And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Cf 2 Kings 9:10-Zephaniah :.
v. 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; they would, by the Lord's curse, he denied even an honorable burial.
v. 25. But there was none like unto Ahab, a note inserted by the historian, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel, his wife, stirred up, their union being an unusually striking example of warning against the evil of mixed marriages.
v. 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, the reference being to all the Canaanitish nations.
v. 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, all signs of deep mourning and penitence. For a while at least his sorrow was sincere.
v. 28. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
v. 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. Thus the punishment was deferred, and the misdeeds of the father were borne by the children, who followed him in his evil ways. It is a terrible thing to despise and reject the goodness and the severity of God, for the end is bound to be death, everlasting destruction.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30