Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 21:10

and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.' Then take him out and stone him to death."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Accusation, False;   Confiscation;   Conspiracy;   Covetousness;   Dishonesty;   Falsehood;   Government;   Homicide;   Indictments;   Jezebel;   Judge;   King;   Naboth;   Perjury;   Punishment;   Slander;   Usurpation;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Base Fellows;   Fellows, Base;   Jezebel;   Queens;   Women;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Injustice;   Murder;   Titles and Names of the Wicked;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Blasphemy;   Jezebel;   Jezreel;   Justice;   Naboth;   Vine;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Blasphemy;   Jezebel;   King;   Lie;   Steal;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Lie, Lying;   Punishment;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Blasphemy;   Fast;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Blasphemy;   Fasting;   Judges;   Pentateuch;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Crimes and Punishments;   Esdraelon;   Festivals;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Letter;   Naboth;   Queen;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Belial (Beliar);   Blasphemy;   Government;   Jezebel;   Justice;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Scorn;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jezebel ;   Jezreelite, Jezreelitess ;   Naboth ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Naboth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elijah;   Jezebel;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Blasphemy;   Law of Moses;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Blasphemy;   Jezebel;   Judge;   Naboth;   Punishments;   Text of the Old Testament;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Belial;   Euphemism;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Set two men - For life could not be attainted but on the evidence of two witnesses at least.

Sons of Belial - Men who will not scruple to tell lies and take a false oath.

Thou didst blaspheme God and the king - Thou art an atheist and a rebel. Thou hast spoken words injurious to the perfections and nature of God; and thou hast spoken words against the crown and dignity of the king. The words literally are, Naboth hath Blessed Clod and the king; or, as Parkhurst contends, "Thou hast blessed the false gods and Molech," ומלך אלהים ברכת And though Jezebel was herself an abominable idolatress; yet, as the law of Moses still continued in force, she seems to have been wicked enough to have destroyed Naboth, upon the false accusation of blessing the heathen Aleim and Molech, which subjected him to death by Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 17:2-7. The first meaning appears the most simple.

Many think that the word ברך barach signifies both to bless and curse; and so it is interpreted in most Lexicons: it is passing strange that out of the same word proceedeth blessing and cursing; and to give such opposite and self-destructive meanings to any word is very dangerous. Parkhurst denies that it ever has the meaning of cursing, and examines all the texts where it is said to occur with this meaning; and shows that blessing, not cursing, is to be understood in all those places: see him under ברך , sec. vi.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Sons of Belial - i. e., “worthless persons” (Deuteronomy 13:13 note). Witnesses must be two in number according to the Law Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15.

The word rendered “blaspheme” is that which commonly means “bless.” The opposite sense of “cursing,” seems, however, to be required here and in Job 1:5, Job 1:11; Job 2:5. Perhaps the best explanation of the bad sense of the original word is to be found in the practice of blessing by way of salutation, not only on meeting, but also on taking leave Genesis 47:7, Genesis 47:10. From the latter custom the word came to mean “bidding farewell to,” and so “renouncing,” “casting off,” “cursing.”

Carry him out and stone him - Naboth‘s offence would be twofold, and in both cases capital; blasphemy against God being punishable with death by the Law (marginal reference), and blasphemy against the king being a capital offence by custom 1 Kings 2:8; 2 Samuel 16:9; 2 Samuel 19:21. The punishment would be stoning, since the greater crime would absorb the lesser, and the Law made stoning the punishment for blasphemy against God. As stoning always took place outside the city (see Acts 7:58), Jezebel told the elders to “carry Naboth out.”

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-kings-21.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him,.... Worthless wretches, that have cast off the yoke of the law, as Belial signifies, lawless abandoned creatures, that have no conscience of anything; "knights of the post", as we call them, that will swear anything; these were to be set before Naboth, right against him to confront him, and accuse him to his face, and charge him with crimes next mentioned:

saying, thou didst blaspheme God and the king: and so was guilty of death for the former, if not for both, and of confiscation of estate for the latter, which was the thing aimed at; and Jezebel was willing to make sure work of it, and therefore would have him accused of both:

and then carry him out, and stone him, that he die; immediately, without requiring the witnesses to give proof of their charge, and without giving Naboth leave to answer for himself.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
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Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-21.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Blaspheme God and the king — Indeed his blaspheming God would only be the forfeiture of his life, not his estate. Therefore he is charged with treason also, that his estate may be confiscated, and so Ahab have his vineyard.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-kings-21.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A VILLAINOUS COMPACT

‘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.’

1 Kings 21:10

Ahab is akin, both in his sin and his recovery, to the mass of mankind. He has neither sinned like Saul, nor will he mourn like David. He has been pusillanimous in his sin, and he will not be other than faint-hearted in his return to God. He moves, on the whole, in that middle sphere of moral life which is at best never heroic, and at worst something better than detestable, and which is, after all, the sphere of the mass of humankind.

I. Observe, first, that the repentance of Ahab, so far as it went, was a real repentance.—(1) There is evidently in him a measure of that fear of God which is the beginning of true spiritual wisdom. (2) He does not attempt to palliate his sin. He is silent, not because he has nothing to acknowledge, but because he knows himself to be so simply and altogether wicked that he has nothing to say.

II. Wherein was Ahab’s penitence deficient?—At what point does he cease to be an example and become a terrible warning?

There is nothing in Ahab’s subsequent conduct to show that he had attained to anything deeper than a fear of God’s judgments and an acknowledgment of his own guilt. He feared the consequences of sin, but that by loving God he hated sin itself is more than we can venture to suppose. For: (1) A true hatred of past sins will at all cost put them away and cut off the occasions which led to them. (2) The contrite sinner is concerned for the glory of God, which he has obscured. But with Ahab self was the centre still. He trembled at judgments which would light upon himself; and, on the same principle, he was unequal to sacrifices which were painful to self, however necessary to his Master’s honour.

III. The paramount influence upon Ahab’s mind came from without, and not from within him.—Jezebel stands behind him as an incarnation of the evil one. If Ahab ever struggled to maintain his fear of God, he soon sank vanquished by the more than human energy of his foe, to await his final reprobation.

Canon Liddon.

Illustration

‘Compared with Ahab’s palace gardens the property of Naboth’s was a quite insignificant detail. Yet that little piece of land was Ahab’s ruin. It was small, yet it was large enough to wreck him. He set his heart on it with such desire that everything else seemed valueless without it. And it was not the great possessions which he owned, nor the great dreams of conquest which he cherished—it was not these, but a few roods of land, that brought Ahab in dishonour to his grave. It does not need a blow to destroy eyesight. A grain will do it, or the prick of a fine needle. You may silence the lute by breaking it in twain, but a little rift “makes all the music mute.” Whenever Christ is crucified afresh, great sins are like the spear that wounds His side, but little sins—what we call little sins—are like the nails that pierce His hands and feet.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-kings-21.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 21:10 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.

Ver. 10. 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.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-21.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Kings 21:10

Ahab is akin, both in his sin and his recovery, to the mass of mankind. He has neither sinned like Saul, nor will he mourn like David. He has been pusillanimous in his sin, and he will not be other than faint-hearted in his return to God. He moves, on the whole, in that middle sphere of moral life which is at best never heroic, and at worst something better than detestable, and which is, after all, the sphere of the mass of humankind.

I. Observe, first, that the repentance of Ahab, so far as it went, was a real repentance. (1) There is evidently in him a measure of that fear of God which is the beginning of true spiritual wisdom. (2) He does not attempt to palliate his sin. He is silent, not because he has nothing to acknowledge, but because he knows himself to be so simply and altogether wicked that he has nothing to say.

II. Wherein was Ahab's penitence deficient? At what point does he cease to be an example and become a terrible warning?

There is nothing in Ahab's subsequent conduct to show that he had attained to anything deeper than a fear of God's judgments and an acknowledgment of his own guilt. He feared the consequences of sin, but that by loving God he hated sin itself is more than we can venture to suppose. For: (1) A true hatred of past sins will at all cost put them away and cut off the occasions which led to them. (2) The contrite sinner is concerned for the glory of God, which he has obscured. But with Ahab self was the centre still. He trembled at judgments which would light upon himself; and, on the same principle, he was unequal to sacrifices which were painful to self, however necessary to his Master's honour.

III. The paramount influence upon Ahab's mind came from without, and not from within, him. Jezebel stands behind him as an incarnation of the evil one. If Ahab ever struggled to maintain his fear of God, he soon sank vanquished by the more than human energy of his foe, to await his final reprobation.

H. P. Liddon, Oxford Lent Sermons; 1858, No. 10.

References: 1 Kings 21:13.—J. M. Ashley, A Festival Year with Great Preachers, p. 30. 1 Kings 21:19, 1 Kings 21:20.—C. Kingsley, Town and Country Sermons, p. 317.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/1-kings-21.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 21:10. Thou didst blaspheme God and the king It was death by the law of Moses to blaspheme God; Leviticus 24:16 and by custom it was death to revile the king, Exodus 22:28. Now, in order to make sure work, the witnesses, as they were instructed, accused Naboth of both these crimes, that the people might be the better satisfied to see him stoned. There is this difference, however, to be observed between these two crimes, that if a man had blasphemed God, his goods came to his heirs; whereas when a man was executed for treason, his estate went to the exchequer, and was forfeited to him against whom the offence was committed; for this reason it was that they accused Naboth of this crime likewise, that his estate might be confiscated, and Ahab might by that means get possession of the vineyard. See Patrick, and Selden, De Succes. cap. 25: Note; 1. Perjury is among the most deadly sins, and most dangerous to society; no man's life or property is safe against a lying tongue. 2. Injustice committed under the pretext of law is the most insupportable kind of oppression. 3. No innocence can protect a man from the power of oppressors. 4. There is a day, when the blood of innocence, and the tears of the oppressed, will come into remembrance; and then woe to the murderer and the oppressor.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-kings-21.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Thou didst blaspheme, Heb. bless. Blessing is put for cursing and blaspheming, as Job 1:5 2:9, so also here, as is apparent, because his blessing God and the king had been no crime. It is a figure called euphemisms. God would have blasphemy so much abhorred, that it should not easily and unnecessarily be named by its proper name. Compare Psalms 16:4.

Carry him out, to the place where malefactors were punished, which was out of the city, Leviticus 24:23 Joshua 7:24 Mark 15:20 Hebrews 13:12, partly to show that they were unworthy of all human society, and abhorred by all the people; and partly because the place where they were killed was thereby ceremonially polluted.

Stone him; the proper punishment of blasphemers, Leviticus 24:15,16.

That he may die; as one that cursed his God, and his political father, his king. See Exodus 21:17 12:28.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-kings-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-21.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Kings 21:10. And set two men before him to bear witness — It was the Roman custom also; and was most rational, that the accused should have the accusers face to face, Acts 25:16. Thou didst blaspheme God and the king — Hebrew, ברכת, beracta, thou didst bless. Blessing is here put for cursing and blaspheming, as in Job 1:5; Job 2:9, as is apparent, because his blessing God and the king would have been no crime. It was death by the law of Moses to blaspheme God, Leviticus 24:16; and by custom it was death to revile the king, which was forbidden, Exodus 22:28. Now, in order to make sure work, the witnesses, as they were instructed, accused Naboth of both those crimes, that the people might be the better satisfied to see him stoned. There is, however, this difference to be observed between these two crimes, that by blaspheming God, a person only forfeited his life, not his estate, which went to his heirs; whereas, when a man was executed for treason, his estate was forfeited to him against whom the offence was committed. For this reason it was that Naboth was charged with this crime also, that his estate might be confiscated, and Ahab might, by that means, get possession of the vineyard. And then carry him out — Not merely out of the assembly, but out of the city, 1 Kings 21:13. For while they were in the wilderness, and before the conquest of Canaan, they executed punishments without the camp, Leviticus 24:23; Joshua 7:24; but afterward without the gates of their cities. By this they intended to signify, that they would take the evil out of the midst of them, and not suffer wickedness to remain among them.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-kings-21.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Belial, without restraint or conscience. --- Blasphemed. Hebrew, "blessed." --- Elohim, (Haydock) or god, the gods, magistrates, &c. (Calmet) --- Blessing is equally put, to avoid the horrible sound of blaspheming. (Worthington) (Job i. 5., and ii. 9.) --- Martin de Roa (i. 9.) maintains, that the word implies to "bid adieu," or quit; as if Naboth had relinquished the service both of God and of the king. He was accused as a traitor. The law did not condemn the person to death who had spoken ill of the prince, Exodus xxii. 28. But the wicked judges complied with the intimation of Jezabel; (Calmet) as she pretended that he had also blasphemed God. (Haydock) --- Josephus introduces three witnesses, which was more conformable to the practice of the Jews. (Grotius) --- But the text specifies two; and that number would suffice. (Haydock) --- All Naboth's family were involved in his ruin; (4 Kings ix. 26.; Tirinus) as it was necessary for Achab's purpose. So Achan's children perished with him, Josue vii. 25. (Haydock) --- What a complication of crime! (Tirinus) --- "They proclaimed a fast, in order to commit murder." (St. Chrysostom, ser. 68.) Hypocrisy, falsehoods, perjury, perversion of justice, all are employed to take away the life, honour, and property of the innocent. See St. Ambrose, Seneca Benef. ii. 27. (Tirinus)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

two. Compare Deuteronomy 17:6.

sons of Belial. Compare Deuteronomy 13:13. 1 Samuel 1:16; 1 Samuel 2:12, &c.

blaspheme. The current Hebrew text reads "bless". In spite of this the Authorized Version and Revised Version render it "blaspheme". It is one of the emendations of the Sopherim (App-18), and is correctly rendered "blaspheme", but should have had a marginal note of explanation.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-kings-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

God and the king. This order is always observed when God is spoken of as the supreme head or ruler of the theocracy, and the king his vicegerent (cf. 1 Chronicles 29:20).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-21.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) Two men—in accordance with Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6.

Sons of Belial.—See Judges 19:22; Judges 20:13; 1 Samuel 1:16; 1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Samuel 25:17; 1 Samuel 25:25; 1 Samuel 30:22; 2 Samuel 16:7; 2 Samuel 20:1, &c.; properly, “children of lawlessness, or worthlessness.”

Blaspheme.—The word is the same used in Job 1:5; Job 1:11; Job 2:5, there rendered “curse.” It properly signifies “to bless;” thence, to “part from with blessing;” finally to part from, or “disown.” It is, rather, therefore, “to renounce” than “to blaspheme.” The punishment, however, was stoning, as for positive blasphemy. (See Leviticus 24:16; Deuteronomy 13:9-10.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-kings-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
two men
Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 26:59,60; Acts 6:11
sons of Belial
Deuteronomy 13:13; Judges 19:22
Thou didst blaspheme
Some, with Parkhurst, would render the original, bairachta elohim wamailech, "Thou hast blessed the gods and Molech;" a sense, however, which seems extremely forced, and is not acknowledged by any of the ancient versions, though the LXX. and Vulgate render bairachta by [eulogese] benedixit, "blessed." It is no unusual thing for a word to have opposite senses.
Exodus 22:28; Leviticus 24:15; Matthew 26:59-66; John 10:33; Acts 6:13
Reciprocal: Exodus 20:16 - GeneralExodus 23:1 - an unrighteous witness;  Leviticus 19:16 - stand;  Leviticus 24:11 - blasphemed;  Leviticus 24:16 - blasphemeth;  Deuteronomy 19:16 - a false witness;  1 Samuel 2:12 - sons of Belial;  1 Samuel 25:17 - a son of Belial;  1 Samuel 30:22 - wicked;  2 Samuel 16:7 - man of Belial;  2 Samuel 19:21 - Shall not;  2 Kings 6:32 - son of a murderer;  2 Chronicles 13:7 - the children of Belial;  Job 1:5 - cursed;  Proverbs 6:19 - A false;  Proverbs 7:14 - this;  Proverbs 19:28 - An ungodly witness;  Isaiah 32:7 - lying;  Ezekiel 22:9 - men that carry tales;  Matthew 26:65 - He;  Matthew 27:31 - and led;  Matthew 27:32 - as;  Mark 14:55 - sought;  Luke 5:21 - blasphemies;  Luke 23:2 - forbidding;  John 8:17 - that;  2 Corinthians 13:1 - In;  Hebrews 11:37 - stoned

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-21.html.