Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Kings 21:2

Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Covetousness;   Dishonesty;   Indictments;   King;   Money;   Naboth;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Agriculture-Horticulture;   Covetousness;   Gardens;   Liberality-Parsimony;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Covetousness;   Gardens;   Herbs, &C;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Gardens;   Jezebel;   Jezreel;   Naboth;   Vine;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ahab;   Jezebel;   Jezreel;   King;   Steal;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Gardens;   Naboth;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Garden;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Grass;   Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Food;   Garden;   Government;   Herb;   Jezebel;   Justice;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jezreelite, Jezreelitess ;   Naboth ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Naboth;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ahab;   Elijah;   Garden;   Jezebel;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Garden;   Na'both;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Babylonish Captivity, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Food;   Garden;   Herb;   Jezebel;   Judge;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Agrarian Laws;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Give me thy vineyard - The request of Ahab seems at first view fair and honorable. Naboth's vineyard was nigh to the palace of Ahab, and he wished to add it to his own for a kitchen garden, or perhaps a grass-plat, ירק גן gan yarak ; and he offers to give him either a better vineyard for it, or to give him its worth in money. Naboth rejects the proposal with horror: The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to thee. No man could finally alienate any part of the parental inheritance; it might be sold or mortgaged till the jubilee, but at that time it must revert to its original owner, if not redeemed before; for this God had particularly enjoined Leviticus 25:14-17, Leviticus 25:25-28; : therefore Naboth properly said, 1 Kings 21:3, The Lord forbid it me, to give the inheritance of my fathers. Ahab most evidently wished him to alienate it finally, and this is what God's law had expressly forbidden; therefore he could not, consistently with his duty to God, indulge Ahab; and it was high iniquity in Ahab to tempt him to do it; and to covet it showed the depravity of Ahab's soul. But we see farther that, despotic as those kings were, they dared not seize on the inheritance of any man. This would have been a flagrant breach of the law and constitution of the country; and this indeed would have been inconsistent with the character which they sustained, viz., the Lord's vicegerents. The Jewish kings had no authority either to alter the old laws, or to make new ones. "The Hindoos," says Mr. Ward, "are as strongly attached to their homesteads as the Jews were. Though the heads of the family be employed in a distant part of the country, and though the homesteads may be almost in ruins, they cling still to the family inheritance with a fondness bordering on superstition.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-kings-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I will give thee the worth of it in money - literally, “I will give thee silver, the worth of it.” Money, in our sense of the word, that is to say, coins of definite values, did not yet exist. The first coin known to the Jews was the Persian daric, with which they became acquainted during the captivity. (1 Chronicles 29:7 note).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "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 Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs,.... For a kitchen garden to produce eatables of the vegetable kind for his household, or for a flower garden; and perhaps for both, as Kimchi observes, it being customary to have such in court yards, or behind the house; perhaps he might take his notion of an herb garden from his neighbours the Syrians, who were very diligent and laborious in cultivating their gardens, as PlinyF26Nat Hist. l. 20. c. 5. ; hence

"multa Syrorum olera',

the many herbs of the Syrians, became a proverb with the Greeks:

because it is near unto mine house; lay very convenient for him:

and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seemeth good unto thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money; which seems very well spoken, that he would either give him a better in exchange, or purchase it at its full value; he did not pretend to take it by usurpation, by force, against his will, as it was represented by Samuel kings would do, 1 Samuel 8:14 as yet such oppression and tyranny was not exercised.

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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
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-kings-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, a 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.

(a) Though Ahab's tyranny is condemned by the Holy Spirit, yet he was not so rigorous that he would take from another man his right without full recompense.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-kings-21.html. 1599-1645.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Kings 21:2 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.

Ver. 2. 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"}

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-kings-21.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Kings 21:2. Ahab spake unto Naboth, &c.— The account of Ahab's coveting Naboth's vineyard is immediately set after his treatment of Ben-hadad, to shew his extreme great wickedness in sparing him, as Saul did Agag king of the Amalekites, and killing Naboth that he might get possession of his vineyard; for this was a high aggravation of his crime, that he basely murdered a just Israelite, and suffered an impious enemy to escape. It appears however, from this request of Ahab, that, though the kings of Israel ruled their subjects in a very arbitrary and despotic manner, they did not take the liberty to seize on their land and hereditaments; and, therefore, what Samuel prophesies of the kings of Israel, 1 Samuel 8:14 does not extend to any true and lawful, but a presumed and usurped right only in their kings. See Calmet and Patrick.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-kings-21.html. 1801-1803.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

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.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-kings-21.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Herbs. The taste of eastern nations is very different from ours. The Syrians delight in seeing gardens filled with melons, onions, &c., and they cannot conceive what pleasure we can find in rambling round our long walks for the sake of exercise. --- Money. Hence we perceive that, notwithstanding the despotic power of the kings of Israel, they did not imagine that they had a right to take their subjects' lands, 1 Kings viii. 14. (Calmet) --- Naboth's conduct is therefore here applauded; and St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 9.) styles him a martyr, (Worthington) and a great saint. (Tirinus) --- Maluit periculum cum honestate, quam utilitatem cum opprobrio.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-kings-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Give me. Compare 1 Samuel 8:14, of which this is a fulfilment.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "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 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. Whether Ahab thought that the vineyard of a subject might properly enough be converted into a kitchen garden for a king, or he set, as the Hebrews generally did, a high value on the possession of such a garden, at all events one chief reason for his eager desire to possess the vineyard of Naboth was its contiguity to the palace grounds. The herbs cultivated in such a garden as Ahab wished to form, were of course those indigenous to the country and the climate: the culinary vegetables of the Hebrews comprising gourds, cucumbers, melons; onions, leeks, and garlic; rice, anise, and cumin; mustard, cassia, and cinnamon; the former class being prized for their refrigerating qualities, tending to allay thirst as well as cool and refresh in the hot season, which prevailed during the greater part of the year; while the latter were useful as condiments, in seasoning viands, and serving tonics.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-kings-21.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
Give me
The request of Ahab, at first view, appears fair and honourable. But, as he most evidentially wished Naboth to alienate it finally, which was expressly forbidden and provided against in the law of God, (Le 25:14-28,) it was high iniquity in Ahab to tempt him to do it, and to covet it showed the depravity of his soul.
Genesis 3:6; Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; 1 Samuel 8:14; Jeremiah 22:17; Habakkuk 2:9-11; Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:9; James 1:14,15
a garden of herbs
2 Kings 9:27; Deuteronomy 11:10; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Song of Solomon 4:15
seem good to thee
Heb. be good in thine eyes.
Genesis 16:6; 1 Samuel 8:6; 29:6
Reciprocal: Genesis 41:37 - good;  Joshua 7:21 - 1coveted;  1 Kings 21:6 - Because;  1 Chronicles 21:22 - Grant;  Psalm 101:3 - set;  Micah 2:2 - they covet;  Zechariah 11:12 - ye think good

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Kings 21:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-kings-21.html.