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1 Kings 21

Ahab covets Naboth’s vineyard. (1-4) Naboth murdered by Jezebel. (5-16) Elijah denounces judgments against Ahab. (17-29)

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Ahab covets Naboth’s vineyard

1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

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.

3 And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased 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, and would eat no bread.

Naboth murdered by Jezebel

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?

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.

7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.

9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:

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.

11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.

12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.

13 And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: 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.

14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.

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.

Elijah denounces judgments against Ahab

17 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

18 Arise, go down 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.

19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? 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.

20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.

21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,

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, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.

23 And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

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.

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

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.

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.

28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Who was. Heb. Chal. &c. place this after vineyard, and read which, referring it to the ground; which we might naturally suppose would be the place of Naboth’s nativity, as it was his parental estate, 4 K. ix. 21. Josephus calls the place Azari, and says it was a field contiguous to the king’s palace. Sept. alo, “threshing-floor.”

Ver. 2. 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 K. viii. 14. C. — Naboth’s conduct is therefore here applauded; and S. Ambrose (Off. iii. 9.) styles him a martyr, (W.) and a great saint. T. — Maluit periculum cum honestate, quam utilitatem cum opprobrio.

Ver. 3. Fathers. He would have deemed it a mark of disrespect and a crime, as he was not in a state of indigence; which alone could authorize him to sell his property, and then only till the year of jubilee; (Lev. xxv. 23.) and as his field was to be turned into a royal garden, and the law was disregarded by the king, there was no prospect of his regaining it at that period. The law of Moses was till in force; and there were some, like Naboth, who were resolved to comply with it, (C.) even at the hazard of their lives. T.

Ver. 4. Fretting. The Heb. terms are the same as C. xx. 43. What weakness in Achab! Riches and honours are not capable of ensuring content. C. — “Who, thinkest thou, is poor; the man who is content with his own, or he who covets another’s property?” S. Amb. Naboth ii. — Wall, as Ezechias did afterwards, in very different dispositions; though both were oppressed with grief. Isai. xxxviii. 2. Sept. “he covered his face.” H.

Ver. 7. Israel. Heb. simply, “Now thou wilt make the kingdom of Israel.” C. — Prot. “Dost thou now govern the?” &c. H. — Thou art a fit person indeed to establish a kingdom! Ought not a king to take what he has a mind to? Syr. “Are you fit to reign?” Arab. “You do not deserve to govern.” C. — Sept. “Dost thou now act the king over Israel, in this manner?” H.

Ver. 8. Chief men. Heb. chorim, “those in white,” the usual colour of magistrates and noblemen. Eccle. ix. 8. Dan. vii. 9. The angels generally appear arrayed in white. Among the Egyptians and the Greeks, the rich were remarkable for the whiteness of their robes. Herod. ii. 36. Odys. z.

Ver. 9. Fast, as in a case of the greatest importance, where the welfare of the king and of the state are concerned. We have frequent mention of such extraordinary fasts. 2 Par. xx. 3. 1 Esd. viii. 21. Joel i. 14, &c. Some would translated, “Call the assembly.” Vatab. — But the Chal. &c. are for the fast. Josephus joins both. All the people were collected, (C.) and Naboth was (Heb.) “set on high, or at the head, as president, on account of his riches and nobility, (H.) that he might be unprepared, and afterwards be more disgraced. M. — Abulensis (q. 4.) thinks that the judges were accustomed to fast, to shew their pity for the criminal, and that they were moved only by a zeal for justice.

Ver. 10. Belial, without restraint or conscience. — Blasphemed. Heb. “blessed.” — Elohim, (H.) or god, the gods, magistrates, &c. C. — Blessing is equally put, to avoid the horrible sound of blaspheming. W. 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. Ex. xxii. 28. But the wicked judges complied with the intimation of Jezabel; (C.) as she pretended that he had also blasphemed God. H. — Josephus introduces three witnesses, which was more conformable to the practice of the Jews. Grot. — But the text specifies two; and that number would suffice. H. — All Naboth’s family were involved in his ruin; (4 K. ix. 26. T.) as it was necessary for Achab’s purpose. So Achan’s children perished with him. Jos. vii. 25. H. — What a complication of crime! T. — “They proclaimed a fast, in order to commit murder.” S. Chrys. ser. 68. Hypocrisy, falsehoods, perjury, perversion of justice, all are employed to take away the life, honour, and property of the innocent. See S. Amb. Seneca Benef. ii. 27. T.

Ver. 13. Devil. Heb. Belial, v. 10. Prot. “and the men of Belial witnessed against him.” — City, as was requisite. C. — Stoned him, for blasphemy. Lev. xxiv. 16. and 23.

Ver. 16. Of it, on the title of confiscation, as Naboth had been condemned for high treason; (see 2 K. ix. 7. M.) or because there was no heir left, v. 10. Some assert, that Naboth was Achab’s uncle. But this wants proof. C. — Achab only waited one day, and the Elias met him to denounce to him a similar fate after he was dead. 4 K. ix. 26. Sept. have, “he tore this garments, and put on sackcloth; and it came to pass afterwards, that Achab arose,” &c. This addition would intimate that the king pretended to be sorry. They repeat the same thing, v. 27. “he had put on sackcloth, on the day when he slew Naboth, and went along cast down.“ It is probable that Achab might assume this garb, to make people suppose that he had no hand in the death of Naboth; but this was all hypocrisy, and Elias boldly accused him of guilt. Thou hast slain, &c. v. 19. H. — He knew, at least, of his wife’s machinations. Salien.

Ver. 19. Possession, by desire; though he was yet only on the road. M. — Perhaps he had sent his servants before. H. — Place, not precisely, as Achab was slain in Samaria. M. — But Naboth’s vineyard, perhaps, was not far distant from the pool, where dogs licked the blood of the king. H. — On account of Achab’s repentance, the sentence was (v. 29. C.) rather changed, and his son Joram was substituted in his stead. 4 K. ix. 25. Jehu, and his captain, Badacer, were present, when Elias denounced this sentence upon the family of Achab; and they concluded that the prediction regarded Joram. He had, perhaps, taken part with his impious parents, and promoted the same crimes. H.

Ver. 20. Thy enemy. Have I done thee any harm, whenever thou hast appeared before me? Heb. and Sept. “O my enemy.” H. — To find, often means to attack or take by surprise. Art thou come thus, to fall upon me on the road? C. — Sold. That is, so addicted to evil, as if thou hadst sold thyself to the devil, to be his slave to work all kind of evil. Ch. W. S. Greg. in Ezec. hom. 10. — The expression strongly marks the empire of the passions. Achab was sovereignly wicked, without any restraint. C. — So Vitellius was: Luxui saginæque mancipatus, emptusque. Tacit. Hist. ii. — Sold, or “abandoned,” are used in the same sense. Ps. xliii. 13.

Ver. 21. Wall. See 1 K. xxv. 22. — Israel. C. xiv. 10. M.

Ver. 22. Sin. God frequently inculcates the enormity of the crime of public scandal. M.

Ver. 23. Field. Heb. “wall,” or “before the wall.” This was exactly fulfilled, 4 K. ix. 32. Jezabel was hurled from a window over the gate or wall of the city. C.

Ver. 24. Eat him. Yet God remitted something from the severity of this sentence; and Achab was buried in Samaria. C. xxii. 37. But his son was deprived of burial. T. 4 K. ix. 26. — According to the Hebrew, the prediction related to Achab’s posterity, as the Chal. Sept. Syr. &c. have understood it. C. — Prot. “him that dieth of Achab in the city,” &c.

Ver. 25. Now. Sept. “Moreover, Achab was foolishly sold, a man who was sold, &c. since Jezabel….changed him:” metetheken. His natural disposition was not perhaps so bad. But his unfortunate connexion with a most wicked wife involved him in ruin. Even when he began to relent, and was on the point of reforming his life, (v. 27.) her influence spoiled all. H. — He was sold to her, and she exercised a most severe tyranny over him, using his seal at pleasure, and treating him with indignity, v. 7, 8. T.

Ver. 26. Amorrhites. The Sidonians still adored the idols Baal and Astaroth, with the utmost exertions of cruelty and lust. This was the religion which Achab wished to establish, more than any of his predecessors. C.

Ver. 27. Down. Heb. “uncovered,” (Malv. 2 K. xv. 30.) or “barefoot,” (Chal. Syr.) or “softly,” (Vat. Prot.) or “he walked bent down.” Sept. This variety shows that the signification or at (H.) is not well known. The repentance of Achab is not more certain. Some believe that it was insincere, and only external: yet God was pleased to reward it iin this life, (Lyran. Theod. &c.) as if might have some influence on the people. H. — Others suppose that Achab really repented for what he had done, but presently relapsed at the instigation of Jezabel; so that his reward was equally of a temporal nature; though S. Chrysostom (ad Theod. laps.) seems to be convinced that he “obtained the remission of all his sins, and entirely changed his life.” ser. 68, et hom. 5. ad Antioc. — But here lies the difficulty. C. — “His groans would have found favour, if the lurking envy had not increased his offence.” S. Amb. in Ps. xxxvii. de Naboth. C. iv. See v. 25. — A relapse renders the sincerity of the former conversions doubtful; and the more so, when no radical change, but only external sorrow, has appeared.

Ver. 29. Sake. Heb. “before me,” publicly. H. — The threat of the prophet caused Achab to invest his son with the royal dignity, and Josaphat followed his example. Salien, A.C. 916. — But some call this in question. H.