Lectionary Calendar
Friday, September 29th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Take our poll

Bible Commentaries
1 Kings 21

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1


1. The Jezreelite He was so identified with the place where the inheritance of his fathers lay that he was naturally called the Jezreelite.

Hard by the palace of Ahab Its location so near the palace enhanced its value, and made it as much an object for Na-both to retain as for Ahab to acquire. Ahab seems to have divided his residence between Samaria and Jezreel, part of the time dwelling at one place and part of the time at the other. See note on 1 Kings 18:45.

Verse 2

2. Give me thy vineyard Well did Samuel forewarn the people when they clamored for a king, “He will take your fields and your vineyards, and your olive yards, even the best of them.” 1 Samuel 8:14.

Garden of herbs Both a vegetable and flower garden, in which all sorts of plants and flowers might be grown. Many allusions to horticulture are made in the Old Testament, (compare, especially, Song of Solomon 4:12-16,) and indicate that among the Hebrews much attention was given to the cultivation of plants, fruits, and flowers.

Near unto my house Near the palace. This confirms the Hebrew text in 1 Kings 21:1, where, instead of palace of Ahab, the Septuagint reads threshingfloor of Ahab.

Verse 3

3. The Lord forbid it me Literally, Accursed to me from Jehovah from giving the inheritance of my fathers to thee. That is, I should be accursed or alienated from Jehovah by giving this inheritance away, or parting with it so as never to recover it again. So Naboth refused to sell his inheritance on religious grounds, for the law (Leviticus 25:23) said, “The land shall not be sold forever,” that is, so as to be cut off forever from the claim of the original possessor. For even if, through poverty, a man was obliged to sell a part of his possession, it would return to him again at the next jubilee.

Leviticus 25:25-28. But Ahab evidently wished to have Naboth make a final and irrecoverable disposal of his estate.

Verse 4

4. Heavy and displeased Sulky and sour, just as he was after receiving the word of the Lord from one of the sons of the prophets. Chap. 1 Kings 20:43. His going to bed, and turning away his face, and refusing to eat, shows up most vividly his mean passions and the childish fretfulness of his disposition.

Verse 7

7. Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel Some take these words, not as a question, or as spoken in irony, but as a command or summons for the king to exercise his royal power, thus: Do thou now govern; that is, exercise now thy sovereign power, and show that thou, not thy subjects, rulest in Israel. But it best suits the connexion to take the words as an ironical exclamation, designed to reproach and censure the imbecile conduct of Ahab: Thou dost now marvellously wield the sovereignty over Israel! That is, thou, surely, art become now a mighty king to be thus set at naught! A powerful ruler to be thus sent to bed disheartened by an obstinate subject!

I will give thee the vineyard I, the wife, since thou hast not the courage to act as a man and a king.” Thenius.

Verse 8

8. Sealed them with his seal “In giving validity to documents, names were not in those days, nor are they now in the East, signed by the hand in writing, but impressed by a seal on which the name is engraved. Hence the importance which is attached to the signet throughout the sacred books.” Kitto.

Verse 9

9. Proclaim a fast Not merely to furnish an opportunity to proceed with charges against Naboth, but to show that the city was under condemnation because of guilt, and should do some kind of penance. Fasts were proclaimed to show humiliation after defeat in battle, (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 31:13,) or in case of threatened calamities, (2 Chronicles 20:2-4; Joel 1:14; Joel 2:12; Joel 2:15,) or as an acknowledgment of great sins. 1 Samuel 7:6; Jonah 3:5. Jezebel would make the people believe that she piously humbled herself in view of the great crime of blasphemy with which Naboth was charged, and from which the whole city might suffer if no such repentance were manifest.

Set Naboth on high In a conspicuous place, where the proceedings against him might have the utmost publicity and the proper semblance of religion and justice. If his guilt should be shown by a sufficient number of witnesses, this publicity of his trial would expose him all the more to popular indignation and fury.

Verse 10

10. Two men The law required at least two witnesses to convict a man of murder or any great crime. See Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15. So, says Wordsworth, “even Jezebel bears witness to the Pentateuch.”

Sons of Belial Literally, sons of worthlessness; that is, worthless, good-for-nothing fellows. See note on 1 Samuel 1:16.

Thou didst blaspheme God and the king The word rendered blaspheme is ברךְ , which usually means to bless, and is often used in the farewell blessing of one departing from the presence of another. Compare Genesis 47:10; 1 Kings 8:66. “To this latter signification,” says Furst, “belongs the meaning, to give the parting salutation to one in a bad sense, that is, to wish away, to imprecate upon one, to curse, to revile. Job 1:5; Job 2:5. Analogy in the Semitic dialects admits of directly opposite meanings in a word.” So, also, Gesenius in his Hebrews Lexicon. Some think that blasphemy of God and the king was so shocking to the Hebrew mind that it was expressed by this word euphemistically.

Stone him According to Leviticus 24:16, the blasphemer of Jehovah is to be stoned to death; and according to Exodus 22:28, cursing of the ruler is a kindred crime. The first martyr, Stephen, was stoned on the charge of blasphemy. According to 2 Kings 9:26, Naboth’s sons were also put to death with him. They were, perhaps, the only heirs that could rightly claim the inheritance; or, like Achan’s children, they may have been regarded and treated as involved in the parent’s guilt. See note on Joshua 7:24.

Verse 15

15. Take possession of the vineyard As confiscated property.

Verse 18


18. Which is in Samaria Or, who reigns in Samaria. The words merely designate the seat of Ahab’s government, and his usual place of residence; not that the prophet is to meet Ahab in Samaria, or that Naboth’s vineyard was in Samaria.

Verse 19

19. Hast thou killed This interrogative form of expression is here equivalent to an emphatic affirmation.

In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth Because of Ahab’s repentance and humiliation, (1 Kings 21:29,) this prophecy was not literally fulfilled in him, though at the pool of Samaria dogs did lick up his blood that fell on his chariot; (1 Kings 22:38;) but it was afterwards fulfilled in his son, on whom Jehovah laid the burden. See 2 Kings 9:25.

Verse 20

20. Hast thou found me Probably Ahab was trembling with alarm and terror as he uttered these words. He could not but have a profound fear of Elijah.

Mine enemy He charges him with being an enemy in order to weaken the force of his words, and to quiet, somewhat, his own conscience.

Because thou hast sold thyself to work evil Not because I am an enemy, and wish to persecute thee, but because thou hast made thyself a slave of sin, it is that I have found thee. To sell one’s self to do evil is to become so utterly abandoned to sin and crime as to lose all moral principle and power to resist evil.

Verse 21

21. I will bring evil See note on 1 Kings 14:10.

Verse 23

23. Dogs shall eat Jezebel See the fulfilment of this in 2 Kings 9:30-37.

By the wall The wall of her palace, according to 2 Kings 9:33.

Verses 25-26

25, 26. These two verses are parenthetically added by the writer of this history to intensify the thought of Ahab’s extreme wickedness, and to show the reason of the bitter judgments that were pronounced against him.

Verse 27

27. Went softly Walked in the slow and silent manner of a mourner. So he put on every appearance of humiliation and penitence. Many have supposed that Ahab’s repentance was altogether false and hypocritical. But Jehovah considered it as sufficiently genuine to cause him to modify the sentence he had previously passed upon him. For a time, doubtless, his repentance was deep and genuine, but it soon passed away, and, like many previous convictions, was lost by reason of the evils to which he had made himself a slave.

Verse 28

28. In his son’s days will I bring the evil Jehovah makes this announcement, not because he will punish the son for the sins of his father, but because he foresees that the son will also do evil in the sight of the Lord, and will, therefore, like his father, deserve punishment.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-kings-21.html. 1874-1909.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile