1 Kings 21
Jezebel kills for Vegetables
Ahab tries to buy a vineyard1Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel, next to King Ahab’s getaway palace.  2Ahab met with Naboth and told him, “I’d like to buy your vineyard and use it to grow vegetables, since it’s so close to my palace. I’ll give you a better vineyard for it, or I’ll pay you whatever it’s worth.”
3Naboth said, “Heavens no. I can’t give you the land that has been in my family for so many generations.” 4Ahab went home bummed, depressed, and mad because Naboth wouldn’t give up his inherited land. The king lay in bed and sulked. He refused to eat.
5His wife, Jezebel, came in and said, “What’s going on here? What has you pouting like this and refusing to eat?” 6He said, “Oh, it’s that Naboth. I offered to buy his vineyard outright or upgrade him to a better vineyard. He wouldn’t take either offer. He said, ‘No. You can’t have my vineyard.’”
7Jezebel said, “Is this how a king get things done here in Israel? Get out of bed, eat, and cheer up. I’ll get Naboth’s vineyard for you.”
Jezebel orders Naboth stoned8Jezebel wrote letters to each of Jezreel’s city leaders. She sealed the messages closed by using the king’s royal seal.  9She told them, “Declare a time of fasting.  I don’t want anyone to eat anything until you call a meeting and seat Naboth in front of everyone. 10Seat two men across from him—men who will do whatever you say. Tell them to say this: ‘Naboth curses  God and the king. We’ve heard him do it.’ Then take Naboth outside and stone him to death.”
Jezreel citizens stone Naboth11Jezreel city leaders did as the king’s letter directed. 12They declared a city-wide fast, called a meeting, and sat Naboth up front. 13Two accusers  sat opposite him and brought charges. They said, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” The people led Naboth outside the city walls and stoned him to death. 14City leaders sent a message to Jezebel: “Naboth is dead. We stoned him.”
Ahab confiscates Naboth’s land15When Jezebel heard Naboth was dead, she went to Ahab and said, “Go and seize Naboth’s vineyard. Tell everyone it now belongs to the king. He wouldn’t take your money, but that’s okay. He’s dead now.”
16That’s all Ahab needed to hear. He was out the door and on his way to claim the vineyard.
Elijah condemns Ahab and Jezebel17The LORD sent a message to Elijah, a prophet from the town of Tishbe.  18“Go to Ahab, king of Samaria.  You’ll find him in Naboth’s vineyard. 19Give him this message: What I’m about to tell you comes from the LORD. Wasn’t it enough to murder a man? Did you have to steal from him, too? The LORD says that dogs will lick up your blood at the same place they licked up the blood of Naboth.”
20Ahab said, “Well, well. It looks like my enemy has cornered me.” Elijah said, “You’ve got that right. You’re my enemy because all you seem to do is make evil and selfish decisions.
Dogs will lick Jezebel’s blood21The LORD says: 'I’m going decimate your family. I will end every one of your male descendants,  including anyone taken captive. 22I am so angry with you that I am going to erase your entire family from the world. I’ll do to you what I did to the royal families of Jeroboam and Baasha.
23As for Jezebel, dogs will eat her body inside the walled city of Jezreel. 24Dogs will do the same to anyone else in your family who dies in town there. Birds will feed on those who die in fields outside the city.'”
25(No other king in Israel chased idols as aggressively as Ahab did. 26And what he did when he worshiped idols of the Amorites was repulsive. Amorites were so bad that God drove them out of the land before Israelites got there.)
27When Elijah stopped talking Ahab, ripped his clothes in horror. He dressed in scratchy sackcloth, a burlap fabric he wore against his bare skin. He stopped eating, too, and he grew depressed while he skipped meals in fasting.
Mercy for Ahab28The LORD told Elijah: 29“Did you see Ahab’s remorse? For that, I will delay the punishment. It’s still coming. I will end his family dynasty. But I won’t do it in his lifetime. However, his male descendants will die.”
Israel’s capital was in the city of Samaria. That’s where the king lived in the main palace.
Messages this important were often written on a scroll that was rolled up and tied shut with string. Then a plug of clay was pressed into the string and stamped with the king’s signet ring or seal. Anyone reading the message had to break the clay plug, which dried quickly.
“Fasting” can mean humble, self-denial as in fasting all day. To atone for sin in the face of God, fasting might seem most appropriate because that’s what people of faith often do when they’re afraid of what’s coming, or when they ask for forgiveness.
A “curse” is the opposite of a blessing. Instead of praising God and the king and wishing them the best, Naboth is wrongly accused of condemning them and wishing them the worst.
Jewish law said, “Don’t execute someone on the testimony of just one person. You need at least two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 17:6).
If Tishbe was a town, its location was somewhere in the boonies of Gilead, which was mostly an unsettled territory with forests and grazing fields. Though it was east of the Jordan River, it still belonged to Israel—to the tribe of Manasseh. Some scholars say tishbe is similar enough to the word for “settler,” that the term in the Bible could mean Elijah was a settler from Gilead. The name also appears in 17:1.
It’s not clear which Samaria the writer was talking about. Was it the capital city? Or was it the territory that includes the city but that extends up north to the Carmel Mountains and to the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley beyond it? At the time of this story, Ahab seemed to have been staying in his getaway palace at Jezreel, a wall-protected town in the southern part of the Jezreel Valley. Best guess: it was the territory of Samaria. Bible writers sometimes used the term as a nickname for the northern Jewish nation of Israel. Samaria—city and territory—lay in the heart of what was Israel.
A more literal and visually descriptive translation would be that God is going to kill every descendant of Ahab who “ pisseth against the wall” (King James Version). Bible writers used that phrase from time to time to distinguish men, who can target a bullseye on wall, from women, who target the ground.
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