1 Kings – Chapter 21

The Bible – Old Testament

 1 Kings

Chapter 21


Some time after this, as Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria,


Ahab said to Naboth, «Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it is close by, next to my house. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or, if you prefer, I will give you its value in money.»


«The LORD forbid,» Naboth answered him, «that I should give you my ancestral heritage.»


Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer Naboth the Jezreelite had made to him: «I will not give you my ancestral heritage.» Lying down on his bed, he turned away from food and would not eat.


His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him, «Why are you so angry that you will not eat?»


He answered her, «Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard, or, if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.’ But he refused to let me have his vineyard.»


«A fine ruler over Israel you are indeed!» his wife Jezebel said to him. «Get up. Eat and be cheerful. I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.»


So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and, having sealed them with his seal, sent them to the elders and to the nobles who lived in the same city with Naboth.


This is what she wrote in the letters: «Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.


Next, get two scoundrels to face him and accuse him of having cursed God and king. Then take him out and stone him to death.»


His fellow citizens – the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city – did as Jezebel had ordered them in writing, through the letters she had sent them.


They proclaimed a fast and placed Naboth at the head of the people.


Two scoundrels came in and confronted him with the accusation, «Naboth has cursed God and king.» And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death.


Then they sent the information to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned to death.


When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, «Go on, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to sell you, because Naboth is not alive, but dead.»


On hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.


But the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite:


«Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be in the vineyard of Naboth, of which he has come to take possession.


1 This is what you shall tell him, ‘The LORD says: After murdering, do you also take possession? For this, the LORD says: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.'»


2 «Have you found me out, my enemy?» Ahab said to Elijah. «Yes,» he answered. «Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the LORD’S sight,


I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab’s line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel.


I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin.»


(Against Jezebel, too, the LORD declared, «The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.»)


«When one of Ahab’s line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him.»


Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil in the sight of the LORD as did Ahab, urged on by his wife Jezebel.


He became completely abominable by following idols, just as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD drove out before the Israelites.


When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued.


Then the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite,


«Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son.»

1 [19] The response of Ahab to this divine judgment is described in ⇒ 1 Kings 21:27, and the consequences are given in ⇒ 1 Kings 21:28-29; ⇒ 2 Kings 9:21-26.
2 [20-26] In these verses the Judean editor of the Books of Kings substitutes, for the message of Elijah prepared for in ⇒ 1 Kings 21:19 a sweeping and definitive judgment against the whole family of Ahab in the same terms as were used against the families of Jeroboam I (⇒ 1 Kings 14:9-11) and Baasha (⇒ 1 Kings 16:2-4). This judgment is the fruit of later theological reflection; it is not occasioned directly by the crime against Naboth, but by the idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel. The judgment on Jezebel herself (⇒ 1 Kings 21:23) may have been uttered by Elijah during the Naboth episode; it finds its fulfillment in ⇒ 2 Kings 9:36-37. Still another theological explanation for the death of Ahab is given by the North Israelite writer of ⇒ 1 Kings 20:35-42 above.


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