- 1 Kings 21 (Contemporary English Version)
- Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel near King Ahab's palace.
- One day, Ahab said, "Naboth, your vineyard is near my palace. Give it to me so I can turn it into a vegetable garden. I'll give you a better vineyard or pay whatever you want for yours."
- Naboth answered, "This vineyard has always been in my family. I won't let you have it."
- So Ahab went home, angry and depressed because of what Naboth had told him. He lay on his bed, just staring at the wall and refusing to eat a thing.
- Jezebel his wife came in and asked, "What's wrong? Why won't you eat?"
- "I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or to let me give him a better one," Ahab replied. "And he told me I couldn't have it."
- "Aren't you the king of Israel?" Jezebel asked. "Get out of bed and eat something! Don't worry, I'll get Naboth's vineyard for you."
- Jezebel wrote a letter to each of the leaders of the town where Naboth lived. In the letters she said: Call everyone together and tell them to go without eating today. When they come together, give Naboth a seat at the front. Have two liars sit across from him and swear that Naboth has cursed God and the king. Then take Naboth outside and stone him to death! She signed Ahab's name to the letters and sealed them with his seal. Then she sent them to the town leaders.
- (SEE 21:8)
- (SEE 21:8)
- After receiving her letters, they did exactly what she had asked.
- They told the people that it was a day to go without eating, and when they all came together, they seated Naboth at the front.
- The two liars came in and sat across from Naboth. Then they accused him of cursing God and the king, so the people dragged Naboth outside and stoned him to death.
- The leaders of Jezreel sent a message back to Jezebel that said, "Naboth is dead."
- As soon as Jezebel got their message, she told Ahab, "Now you can have the vineyard Naboth refused to sell. He's dead."
- Ahab got up and went to take over the vineyard.
- The LORD said to Elijah the prophet,
- "King Ahab of Israel is in Naboth's vineyard right now, taking it over.
- Go tell him that I say, 'Ahab, you murdered Naboth and took his property. And so, in the very spot where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, they will lick up your blood.' " When Elijah found him,
- Ahab said, "So, my enemy, you found me at last." Elijah answered: Yes, I did! Ahab, you have managed to do everything the LORD hates.
- Now you will be punished. You and every man and boy in your family will die, whether slave or free.
- Your whole family will be wiped out, just like the families of King Jeroboam and King Baasha. You've made the LORD very angry by sinning and causing the Israelites to sin.
- And as for Jezebel, dogs will eat her body there in Jezreel.
- Dogs will also eat the bodies of your relatives who die in town, and vultures will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.
- When Ahab heard this, he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth day and night. He was depressed and refused to eat. Some time later, the LORD said, "Elijah, do you see how sorry Ahab is for what he did? I won't punish his family while he is still alive. I'll wait until his son is king." No one was more determined than Ahab to disobey the LORD. And Jezebel encouraged him. Worst of all, he had worshiped idols, just as the Amorites had done before the LORD forced them out of the land and gave it to Israel.
- (SEE 21:25)
- (SEE 21:25)
- (SEE 21:25)
- (SEE 21:25)
To this point the Lord had extended grace and mercy toward Ahab who is described as the most evil king Israel has had: "there was no one like Ahab, who devoted himself to do what was evil in the LORD's sight, because his wife Jezebel incited him." (21:25) Despite his evil the Lord had come to his aid on multiple occasions to defeat his enemies, demonstrating His power over the idols that Ahab worshipped. This was evidently to win over Ahab. But even if Ahab were inclined to turn to the Lord, which he evidently was not, he would be influenced against doing so by his wife, Jezebel.
The "last straw" for Ahab, however, was the murder of one of his subjects over his petty desire for the man's land. The evil for which Ahab was known was his worship of Baal and complete turning away from the Lord. Nothing prior to this account describes him as an unjust ruler, though he may have been. In this case, a man living in Jezreel by the name of Naboth owned a vineyard which was adjacent to the king's palace. Ahab wanted it for a vegetable garden. He did, however, offer to pay for it or exchange it for another vineyard. But the vineyard was Naboth's inheritance from his father. The Lord's covenant with Israel required that when the land of Canaan was assigned to the tribes and clans of Israel it was to remain in the family. According to this law, Naboth was prohibited from selling the land to Ahab. But Ahab was not concerned about God's laws, only what he wanted.
Like a spoiled child, Ahab pouted, laying on his bed with his face to the wall and not eating. Though he was upset over Naboth's refusal, his first inclination was not to take the land by force. Not so for Jezebel. When she questioned her husband about his behavior he told her of Naboth's refusal. She didn't understand the problem. Ahab was the king and he wanted the land. Kings get what they want. She told Ahab to cheer up. She would take care of getting the land. This she did by plotting with the leaders of the city of Jezreel to have Naboth stoned to death. When she learned that Naboth was dead, Jezebel announced to Ahab that he could take possession of the land because Naboth was no longer alive.
As Ahab was on his way to take possession of Naboth's vineyard, the Lord sent the prophet Elijah to him with a message. Because he had "murdered and also taken possession," the Lord said to him, "In the place where the dogs licked Naboth's blood, the dogs will also lick your blood!" (21:19) Furthermore, the Lord said, "I will eliminate all of Ahab's males, both slave and free, in Israel," (21:21) Ahab's response to this catches us by surprise. "he tore his clothes, put sackcloth over his body, and fasted. He lay down in sackcloth and walked around subdued." He was repentant. At least superficially. But it was sufficient that the Lord said to Elijah, "I will not bring the disaster during his lifetime, because he has humbled himself before Me." (21:29)
In God's dealings with Ahab, we can see the truth of His words in Ezekiel: "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live." (33:11)