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Study Of Elijah #5
By James L Thornton
In this Study #5, Ahab covets Naboth's vineyard and when Naboth would not sell his vineyard to him Jezebel schemes to have him killed so that Ahab could have it. The story details how the Elders of Jezreel were also involved in the death of Naboth.
2. Ahab Covets Naboth's Vineyard
3. The Power And Dangers Of Covetousness
4. Ahab's Disappointment And Displeasure
5. Sin's Friendships And What They Lead To
6. Jezebel Schemes To Slay Naboth
7. The Corruption Of The Elders Of Jezreel
8. The Trial Of Naboth
9. The Death Of Naboth
10. Ahab Possesses The Vineyard
11. "Thou God seeth me"
The events described in this chapter (1 Kings 21) sealed Ahab’s fate, along with the fate of Jezebel, in fact, all of Ahab’s house.
After the call of Elisha there is a blank of as much as five years in Elijah’s history. We can readily gather that these years were neither unprofitable nor idle, but were spent in one or more of the Schools Of The Prophets.
These ”Sons Of The Prophets,” as they were called, are first mentioned in scripture in (1 Kings 20:35). Though the prophetic schools probably owed their existence to Samuel, and, most certainly, their development.
Yet Elijah can be found when wanted, and is ready for any work to which God may appoint him. At last the occasion comes, and along with the occasion comes the stern Desert Prophet.
Ahab has been occupied with war with Syria (1 Kings 20), the arch enemy of Israel, in which he suffered humiliating consequences at the first, and only the miraculous intervention of Jehovah saved them. (1 Kings 20:28-30)
After the war with Syria, Ahab busies himself with improving his many vineyards and gardens he has bought or confiscated during his reign.
He had built himself a palace in Jezreel, a beautiful retreat, a sort of, “get away,” twenty two miles from the main palace in Samaria. A place where he liked to go and relax or carouse.
2. Ahab Covets Naboth’s Vineyard:
The chapter opens with Ahab on a visit to this retreat and looking out from an upper terrace he spies a neighboring vineyard which he immediately covets.
History records few crimes more flagitious, nor more cruel and cold-bloodied than the one recorded in (1 Kings 21). and just as the crime has few parallels, so has the historian. There are few equals in his description and pathos of it.
It is like one of those paintings by the hand of a master who with stroke after stroke of the brush reveals every detail of the scene before him. Or like a Greek Tragedy which holds one spellbound on the edge of their seat as scene after scene unfolds before them.
There Are Four Scenes which we will discuss and let God speak to our hearts as we read the story.
The First Scene finds Ahab looking out with covetous eyes upon one of his subject’s vineyard, and making overtures to the owner who rejects the offer, and he reacts like a spoilt child.
1 Kings 21:1. 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.
3. The Power And Dangers Of Covetousness:
“In vain our fields and flocks increase our store, if our abundance makes us wish for more.” (Sir. John Denham)
Covetousness = “An insatiable desire for wealth or possessions, or for another’s possessions."
"A thirst for power or dominion over others.
"A desire to acquire more that one needs or deserves."
Exodus 20:17. (The Tenth Commandment) “Thou shalt not covet ………”
Luke 12:15. (Jesus’ warning) “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (KJV)
Paul Tells Us That Covetousness Excludes One From,
Sacred Offices, (1 Timothy 3:13;)
God’s Kingdom, (Ephesians 5:5.)
Bible Examples Of Covetousness
Scriptures are filled with examples, and warnings against the awful consequences of covetousness. (We will mention four)
1. Laban, An Older Brother Of Rebekah.
Genesis 24:29. And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.
30a. And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, …. (KJV)
Laban’s eye was upon the golden rings and bracelets that were upon his sister Rebekah, which had been given to her by Abraham’s servant. This was an indication that greed and covetousness had started early in his life.
The second scripture (Genesis 31:36-43), lets us see how this awful vice has come to full fruit in Laban’s old age, in his dealings with his Nephew, Jacob, fifty years later.
Genesis 31:36. And Jacob was wroth, and chode with Laban: and Jacob answered and said to Laban, what is my trespass? What is my sin, that thou hast so hotly pursued after me?
37. Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? Set it here before my brethren and thy brethren that they may judge betwixt us both.
38. This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten.
39. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night.
40. Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.
41. Thus have I been twenty years in thy house; I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters, and six years for thy cattle: and thou hast changed my wages ten times.
42. Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight. (KJV)
Esther 5:13. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. (KJV)
These were the words of Haman, Prime Minister of Ahasuerus king of Persia.
By some royal favor Haman had been exalted to the highest dignity in the kingdom. Before him daily, hundreds bowed, if not in sincere, at least in servile homage.
To many men of power and authority this is of more value and importance to them, than all their wealth and monetary compensation. Even an exclusive seat at the Queen’s table was his.
Esther 5:9. (Haman as he was leaving the Queen’s banquet) Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.
10. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife.
11. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king.
12. Haman said moreover, yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
13. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. (KJV)
Yet there was one thing which was enough to poison the cup of his joy, the Jew, Modicai, at the king’s gate, refused to do reverence to the Amalekite at the side of the king’s throne.
Esther 3:5. And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. (KJV)
It seemed a small matter; nevertheless, in public confession to his wife and friends, Haman avows, that, while in the opinion of thousands he was the happiest man in Persia, his life was actually miserable, because one knee would not bow before him as he went in and out of the king’s gate.
What a poor thing is worldly rank, or wealth, when it cannot tolerate one disappointment. How little to be envied are those who, having no real annoyances, invent them.
And what an awful thing is the retributive justice of God, when Haman ends his ambitions and guilty career on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordicai. (Esther 7:9-10)
3. The third example we have in Achan’s own words.
Joshua 7:20. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done:
21. When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. (KJV)
The sin of covetousness cost Achan, not only his own life, but the lives of his entire family.
4. The fourth example as told by Jesus himself.
Luke 12:15. And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
16. And He spake a parable unto them, saying, the ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17. And he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18. And he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19. And I will say to my soul, soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20. But God said unto him, thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.(KJV)
In the light of the aforementioned incidents let us turn our attention back to Ahab and his covetous attitude towards Naboth’s vineyard and the resulting consequences which cost, not only Naboth his life, but the lives of all of Ahab’s house.
1. First scene Ahab covets Naboth vineyard.
Ahab, while on a visit to his summer palace, is planing to enlarge and beautify his gardens; but space is limited.
The object of his desire was to acquire the land nearest to the palace with the intent of converting it into a garden.
What such a garden might bear, and what a pleasant view could be enjoyed from the windows of the palace when he looked out upon it in the early morning.
What really caught Ahab’s eye was a vineyard that joined hard against the Palace wall. This was not the first time that he had cast his covetous eyes upon this nice piece of land.
This vineyard was owned by a long time citizen of Jezreel, in fact Naboth could trace his ancestral roots back to the conquest of Canaan by Joshua.
Naboth, according to Josephus (antiq., book viii, Ch. 13, sec. 8), was of an illustrious family, and evidently, more illustrious still by being one of the "seven thousand" who had not bowed unto Baal. (1 Kings 19:18)
Yet this vineyard though, Ahab must have at whatever cost, the Palace grounds are incomplete without it.
One of the arguments used by Samuel to discourage the people from desiring a king, he said, "He will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive-yards, even the best of them, …" (1 Samuel 8:14)
Naboth is sent for. We then hear the king making overtures to the owner. There is a smile upon Ahab’s face. His words are smoother than butter.
Surely Naboth will do well to sell or exchange on such liberal terms. He is offered, in exchange, either land or money, even "a better vineyard." (1 Kings 21:2)
Naboth, doubtless, in things lawful would have been happy to gratify the king’s desire.
But no! Naboth shrinks back from Ahab in horror at the idea. He cannot, he will not, do this thing and sin against God.
1 Kings 21:3. And Naboth said to Ahab, the Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. (KJV)
"I will not sell, not only for my family’s sake, but it is a religious duty. The land belongs to God."
Leviticus 25:23. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. (KJV)
God did grant to them the option of sell part of the land in cases of extreme poverty. But, even in these cases they could redeem the land when they could afford it, and if not, the land was to be returned to the original owners in the year of Jubilee. (Leviticus 25:24-28)
A scowl comes upon Ahab’s face, a look in which suppressed rage and bitter disappointment clouds his features. He turns away quickly and mounts his chariot, his day is ruined, and he rides back to Samaria. (vs. 14; 16; 18)
Naboth, strong in the conviction of his consciousness of right, but, no doubt, wondering about the outcome of the issue, goes to his house to tell the story to his wife and children.
It would have been lawful for Ahab to have purchased a "lease" of the vineyard of Naboth at a fair price, leaving it in the power of Naboth to have redeemed it; and, if not, for it to revert back to Naboth, or his heirs, in the year of Jubilee. (Levit. 25:23-28)
We have two instances of the sale of land to the king. In (2 Samuel 24:24)David bought the threshing floor of Araunah, but he was a Jebusite.
In 1 Kings 16:24) Asa, king of Judah, bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city and called it by the name of the former owner.
Naboth had his entitlement from the Lord, he was aquainted with the will of God. He looked upon his earthly inheritance as a pledge of a Heavenly.
It is important for us to be acquainted with the will of God. This requires the study of God’s Word, because He has revealed His will in the scriptures. In the cases of transgression we cannot plead ignorance when we have the Bible in our hands.
4. Ahab's Dissappointment & Displeasure:
1 Kings 21:4a. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased ……..
4c.………..And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. (KJV)
(Josephus adds) "Neither would he wash himself."
Here lay the king of Israel, in a room in the palace, in a fit of dejection.
What had happened? Had some invader overcome his army? No, his soldiers were still flushed with victory over the Syrians.
Had his false prophets suffered another massacre? No, the worship of Baal had recovered from the terrible ordeal on Carmel.
Had his royal consort been smitten down by the hand of death? No, Jezebel was very much alive, and about to lead him into further evil.
What then had brought about his melancholy?
The answer to this question is found in the middle of the verse. (v. 4b)
1 Kings 21:4b. …. 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. (KJV)
Ahab was greatly displeased by Naboth’s refusal to sell his inheritance, and in thwarting his desire his pride was wounded.
And so vexed was he to meet with this denial that he sulked like a spoiled child when he is crossed. The king so took to heart his disappointment that he became miserable, took to his bed, turned his face to the wall, and refused to eat.
What a picture of the poor rich! A king at that millionaires and those in high office are not to be envied, for neither material wealth nor worldly honors can bring contentment to the heart.
Solomon proved that: he was permitted to possess everything the natural man craved, and then found it all to be nothing but "vanity and vexation of the spirit." (Eccles. 2:1-11)
5. Sins Friendships And What It Leads To:
In the next few verses we see how the sinful find many helpers. (1 Kings 21:5-14)
Ahab seems to have done all that he was able or cared to do. He had tempted Naboth and failed, and the matter seemed to have come to an end.
But where Ahab stops, Satan’s servants meet him and carry on the work.
Jezebel prevails on him to tell the story, and the elders of Jezreel and it’s sons of Belial are ready to do their part also, to give him his desire and steep his soul in crime.
Any man who is casting away morals and character and health and eternal life will find friends to take the part of his worse side against his better self, and agents enough to aid him in accomplishing his sinful will.
Jezebel enters the picture.
1 Kings 21:5. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? (KJV)
It seems that the queen missed Ahab from the banqueting hall and went to his bedroom to inquire the reason.
It also seems that Jezebel was so dominating over the king that she needed no invitation or even permission to enter his private quarters as was the custom of oriental kingdoms of that day. (See Esther 4:11)
1 Kings 21:6. 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. (KJV)
Notice that Ahab said that Naboth said "I will not give thee my vineyard." How easy it is to misrepresent the just and upright.
Ahab does not mention the reason Naboth gave for refusal, but Naboth’s reasons were nothing to him, and he had hardly given them a second thought.
Ahab leaves the impression that Naboth acted only with insubordination and obstinacy.
1 Kings 21:7a. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? … (KJV)
This is to be understood as being an ironical question. In other words Jezebel is saying, "Do thou now exert authority over the Kingdom of Israel?" "Do thou now play the King? Make thy power felt. Give me the requisite authority. I will, &c."
1 Kings 21:7b. …. Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. (kjv)
"Get up go to the banquet hall, feast and make yourself merry, I will give you the vineyard you crave."
6. Scene Number Three, Jezebel's Schemes:
1 Kings 21:8. 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. (KJV)
In this scene Jezebel, having obtained the royal signet, returns to another part of the royal residence. The king may keep his bed if he will, but the queen is up and doing.
The royal scribes are writing at her command. She it is who dictates the words, who also stamps the writings with the king’s seal.
The use of the kings seal gives a strong presumption that he was privy to her intentions, but of this we cannot be absolutely certain.
The scribe’s hand may well tremble as he pens the infamous decree, for the letters consigns Naboth to death.
Note in this verse the word "Letters" is used indicating more than one letter was written. Let us explain why.
The old Mosaic civil order still continued in Israel by which jurisdiction, even in matters of life and death, lay, in the first instance, with the "judges and officers" of a place (Deut. 16:18-20).
Jezebel knew this only too well, and with terrible frankness wrote to each member of that senate what would seem to be the king’s directions. By this each recipient of the letter would become a fellow-conspirator, and each feel bound to keep the edict.
It was as if some great sin rested upon the city (comp. 1 Samuel 7:5-6), in consequence of it, some heavy judgment could be averted (2 Chronicles 20:2-4; Jeremiah 36:6-9), if the eldership of the city gathered the people to a solemn fast.
If it had been so, and some great sin had been committed or even suspected, it would have been the duty of the city thus to purge itself of guilt or complicity.
1 Kings 21:9a.( let us examine what she wrote.) And she wrote in the letters, saying, proclaim a fast, …
The object of this ordinance was to give the impression that the city was laboring under, or threatened with a curse, because of some unresolved sin.
We have indications of such in the following scriptures, (Deuteronomy 21:1-9; Joshua 9:23-27; 2 Samuel 21:1.) this curse, Jezebel is saying, must be removed or averted by public humiliation.
1 Kings 21:9b. …, And set Naboth on high among the people: (KJV)
Josephus says that it was because of his high birth that this position was assigned to him. The reason for this is obvious, viz., to give impression of impartiality to the proceedings.
It would also agree with the popular idea of retributive justice of that era that Naboth should be denounced in the very hour of his triumph and exaltation.
1 Kings 21:10a. And set two men, … (KJV) (Josephus speaks of three)
This was in accordance to the law.
Deuteronomy 17:6. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
7. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you. (KJV)
This shows even Jezebel knows the law.
1 Kings 21:10b. … , Sons of Belial (worthless men), before him (confronting him), to bear witness against him, saying, thou didst blaspheme (curse) God and the King. (KJV)
These worthless men were paid to testify. remember two false witnesses testified against our Lord (Matthew 26:60). To curse the king was practically to curse him whose vicegerent he was. (Matthew 23:18-22)
Hence such cursing is called blasphemy and was punishable with death. (Deuteronomy17:5; 2 Samuel 16:9)
1 Kings 21:10c. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. (KJV)
The terrible power accorded to "Two Or Three Witnesses," of denouncing a man to death, accounts for the prominence given to the sin of bearing false witness. (Exodus 20:16; 23:1)
Great as Ahab’s guilt was in this hideous crime, it was altogether eclipsed by that of his wife. At her door lies the real sin of murder. The hands that committed it were not so guilty as the heart that suggested it and the mind that planned it.
Was ever such black-hearted ingenuity as hers? Ahab broke the tenth, Jezebel the sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth commandment.
Here was a woman who sowed sin with both hands. She not only led Ahab deeper into iniquity, but she dragged the elders and nobles of Jezreel into the mire of her devil-inspired crime. She made the son’s of Belial, the false witnesses, even worse than they were before.
She became both a robber and a murderess, stealing from Naboth both his good name and heritage.
The Elders and Nobles of Israel were base enough to carry out her orders--sure sign was this that the kingdom was ripe for judgment; when those in high places are godless and conscienceless, it will not be long before the wrath of God falls on those over whom they preside.
The letters are dispatched, the royal postman carry the sealed orders to Jezreel in the late evening hours, the murderess sits down with the king to eat drink, and rise up to play.
7. Scene Number Four -The Corruption Of The Elders:
It would have taken 1½ to 2 hours for the royal post to travel the 18 miles to Jezreel and the letters would have been delivered immediately, so the following scene could possibly have taken place that very night, as many notable Bible scholars think.
1 Kings 21:11a. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, … (KJV)
These were men who knew Naboth personally, next door neighbors, men who had day by day contact with him. Men who bought and sold goods to him, men who knew his fidelity and honesty.
Naboth was not tried before an alien court, by justices ruling who were hardened and unacquainted with him. They were men of his city, friends the day before Jezebel’s letter arrived.
They could not have embarked on that course of crime without many qualms of conscious and secret (inward) self- remonstration.
But the name Jezebel terrified the citizens of Jezreel, and they dared not resist her will. I’m sure that the royal post filled them in verbally that the orders were from Jezebel.
1 Kings 21:11. 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. (KJV)
Their ready compliance shows the deep moral degradation of the Isralites at this period, and also the terror which the name Jezebel inspired.
Their sin was, first, that they feared man more than God. It was unbelief foremost; they had more faith in the finger of the queen than in the arm of the Almighty. They argued, as many have done, that the queen was near and God was a long was off.
It was, secondly, that they abused their office. In defiance of the law (Exodus 23:2,6), They wrested judgment and condemned the innocent (Deuteronomy 27:19,25), And so they share with Jezebel the guilt of murder.
They should have died rather than slay the innocent.
One might reasonably expect elders—the "Judges and Officers" of the land (Deut. 16:18) to answer, "We ought to obey God rather than man." (Acts 4:19)
I’m sure that if, as a body, they had rose up against the edict, that Jezebel would have been stymied and Naboth would have been vindicated.
History tells us of many judges who have withstood the corrupt commands of their sovereign. It would have been better for them to have died with Naboth than to forfeit morals and go down in history as being involved in one of the most heinous crimes in human history.
They will stand in judgment along side Jezebel, Ahab, Judas, Hitler, Stalin, and a host of other infamous people.
8. The Trial Of Naboth:
1 Kings 21:12. They proclaimed a fast, and set naboth on high among the people. (KJV)
The scene is taking place in a village convocation. The elders of Jezreel, the officers and judges (Deut. 16:18) of the village, have proclaimed a fast. Their town has incurred the wrath of God, and they must find out and expiate the sin.
Naboth is there. He, no doubt, fears this meeting bodes him no good, he is compelled to attend. He finds himself, to his great surprise, set "At The Head Of The People."
Sons Of Belial Are There
1 Kings 21:13a. 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. … (KJV)
Can we picture the astonishment and pain in Naboth’s face, when there rose up in that assembly two miserable villains who swear that he, Naboth, the humble servant of the Lord, the man who has honestly striven to keep the Law of God, has blasphemed God and the anointed of God.
There seems to have been no difficulty in procuring men so lost to truth and mercy that they would readily swear away the life of a God fearing citizen.
Nor is this to be wondered at when the whole magistracy are sons of Belial, no better than those they suborned. The elders and nobles of Jezreel saw nothing wrong with procuring such men.
What will not some men stoop to for gain? What will they hazard for eternity? And for what a trifle?
No Voice Is Raised
Naboth thinks, perchance, at the first, that the charge is so utterly reckless and improbable, that none of these, his neighbors, who know him so well, and have known him from his youth up, will believe it for a moment.
No one stood up. Not a voice was raised on his behalf.
One can think of such a trial 900 years later when another "Just Man" stood, being condemned by false witnesses and not a voice was raised on his behalf.
Then another man "Full Of Faith, and the Holy Ghost," Stephens, was condemned and stoned to death by a mob (Acts 7:59).
Naboth has no hearing in his defense. He finds that he has not a chance with them, they all steel their faces and hearts against him.
In vain he protests his innocence; In vain he appeals to his blameless life. His cries and those of his wife and children go unheeded.
In a moment he is condemned to die the death of a blasphemer.
9. Naboth Is Stoned To Death:
1 Kings 21:13b. …. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. (KJV)
Naboth is hurried along by a tumultuous crowd with each bearing torches, and passing through the city gate, until they reached the space outside of the city walls into Naboth’s own vineyard (2 Kings 9:25-26).
So suddenly has this thing come upon him that Naboth can hardly realized that they are in earnest. Naboth sees them making preparations for his execution. They are going to stone him on the spot.
"O God In Heaven!" he thinks, "Is it for this I have kept thy law?" "Is this agony and death the reward of mine integrity?" "Is there no power to rescue me out of the jaws of death?" "Has God Forgotten Me?"
It is true that history says nothing of any such thoughts, of any prayers, appeals, entreaties, threatening; but the history is but an outline and that outline is left for us to fill up.
We cannot doubt that Naboth had some such thoughts as these, but whatever they were, they were speedily brought to a close.
The witnesses, men of Belial, lay down their clothes at the feet of the elders; they take up stones and rush upon him. As witnesses they had to cast the first stone to take the principal part in the execution.
At the first blow he quivers from head to foot with a great throb of pain, but blow follows blow; he sinks senseless; the blood streams from his wounds; the life is crushed out of him.
Naboth’s name and the names of his sons (2 Kings 9:26) are added to those on the glory roll of the noble army of martyrs.
It appears from 2 Kings 9:26 that the children of Naboth, who otherwise might have laid a claim to their inheritance, were put to death at the same time, and probably in the same way.
The witnesses share with the elders the guilt of violating the sixth and ninth commandments. But they were "Sons of Belial" to begin with.
They are not ministers of God; still less were they "The Lord’s Anointed." and they were but instruments in the hands of others.
The Elders Were The Hand; The Queen The Head.
Naboth Is Dead
It is clear from (1 Kings 21:19) that the corpses both of Naboth and his children were left to be devoured by dogs.
1 Kings 21:14. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. (KJV)
The Elders of Jezreel lost no time in sending a dispatch to Samaria to inform Jezebel that they had complied with her orders and Naboth Is Dead.
It is significant that this announcement was made to her and not to Ahab.
Let us take another look at the evil wrought by these elders. There is nothing to relieve the baseness of the Elders and Nobles of Jezreel.
The elders could not plead ignorance. They were behind the scenes and arranged for the trial. It was murder of the deepest hue. Murder under the guise of zeal for the offended majesty of God.
They had one of the grandest opportunities of shielding an innocent person and rebuking wickedness in high places.
They had only to say they could not lend themselves to such a deed, and Jezebel would have possibly been stymied.
But the Elders of Jezreel will not stand alone in judgment, some of the most atrocious crimes in history have been committed in this way. Is there no place today over which "Jezreel" might well be written?
There may be no crime wrought now in this land such as was then done in Israel; but should the time come, these are the men who will do as the Elders and Nobles did then.
The spirit is the same, and in like circumstances it will bear the same fruit.
Jezebel Informs Ahab That Naboth Is Dead.
Immediately upon receiving the news from Jezreel, Jezebel wasted no time in telling Ahab that Naboth was dead and the vineyard he craved was his.
1 Kings 21:15. 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. (KJV)
There is bitter, as well as haughty, irony in the words of Jezebel, as if she felt herself, as well as her wishes and commands, above the law, human and divine, and could not be resisted by God or man.
"Take Possession." the possessions of a person executed for treason were forfeited to the crown. There was no law prescribing this, but it followed the principals of the Mosaic Law.
Just as the goods of the idolater were devoted as belonging to the Lord, so those of the traitor or blasphemer reverted to the king. In both cases all the sons or heirs were executed along with the guilty one so that there would be no legal claims against the property. (2 Kings 9:26)
It is interesting to note that Jezebel never told Ahab how Naboth died, simply. "Naboth is not alive, but dead."
Did the king stop to ask how this death had been brought about? Did he know the shameful crime that had been committed in his name, and behind his palace walls?
He must have known something of it, if not all. Even if he thought it prudent to ask no questions, still he would remember Jezebel’s promise of giving him the vineyard. (v.7)
He would have some suspicions of the purpose for which the royal seal was required. And it would be clear to him, even if he did not know the exact circumstances, that somehow Jezebel had masterminded Naboth’s death.
It was clear to him that this vineyard was bought at the price of Naboth’s blood. But he will not let such considerations as these hinder his enjoyment of it.
All he thinks of, or cares for, is this, that the vineyard is his and he can enter upon it at once.
10. Scene # 5 … Possessing The Vineyard:
In this scene we find Ahab joyfully taking possession of the vineyard he coveted, and is walking through it, admiring the trellises which held the fruit of Naboth’s hands, and thinking of the changes which he will make to the grounds.
But now back to the royal palace in Samaria, Ahab is up, and refreshed upon hearing that the vineyard is his. He will enter upon it at once. His chariot shall bear him to the vineyard. He will view his new property that day. He will begin his garden of herbs at once.
1 Kings 21:16. 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. (KJV)
The royal chariot is ordered out immediately, Ahab is in a happy frame of mind, he mounts the chariot along with his two captains, Jehu and Hidkar (2 Kings 9:25), probably riding in the back part of the chariot, and hurries off to Jezreel. It was apparently on the morning after the murder. (2 Kings 9:25)
The whole ordeal, Ahab coming to Jezreel, and bargaining with Naboth, then riding back to Samaria in disgust, Jezebel dispatching the death warrant, which probably was carried out that night, news came back to Samaria that Naboth was dead, then Ahab riding back to Jezreel, could all have been done in twenty-fours hours.
The citizens of Jezreel, the "Elders," and "Children Of Belial" amongst them, see the royal chariot crossing the plain, toping the hill, and entering the city.
They know full well what is its destination. There is none in the city but guesses the king’s errand.
But they shall learn, and through them all Israel shall learn, that there is a just God in Heaven, that even the king is responsible to a higher power.
And they shall know that God himself is against the evildoer, and shall render to every man according to his works. (Prov. 24:12; Matt. 16:27)
In the Old Testament dispensation judgment was expected to be handed out in this life and only a time
Ahab should have realized this because Solomon had already written a passage in Ecclesiastes which was in the process of being fulfilled in his life.
Ecclesiastes 12:13. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (KJV)
The men of Jezreel had not seen the last act in the tragedy.
They must learn that "No reckoning (bill) is brought in the midst of the meal; the end pays for all." they must be taught to count no man happy before his death.
They must be reminded that there is a Prophet in Israel.
And so Elijah, the great restorer of the law, is summoned to stand forth to avenge the death of Naboth.
11. "Thou God Seest Me"
In all this dark and horrendous business there was an invisible spectator, whose presence does not seem to have been sufficiently taken into account.
Genesis 16:13. (Hagar) and she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, thou God seest me: for she said, have I also here looked after him that seeth me? (KJV)
Proverbs 15:3. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. (KJV)
Ecclesiastes 8:11. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
12. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: (KJV)
God is an Omniscient observer. He inspects all human actions.
"Thou God Seest Me:"
He was present in the garden when Ahab made overtures to Naboth.
He listened and smiled when Naboth refused to sell on the grounds of Divine Law.
He was present in the palace looking upon the King of Israel as he sulked and sickened upon his bed.
"Thou God Seest Me:"
His eye was full upon Jezebel as she proposed to cure the monarch’s ills by giving him the vineyard of Naboth.
He was present in the court of injustice when the honest and morale Naboth was "Set On High Among The People."
He witnessed the son’s of Belial as they swore away the life of a worthy family.
"Thou God Seest Me:’
He looked into the faces of the "Nobles" and "Elders" of Jezreel who suborned these perjurers.
He was a spectator at the place of execution.
He saw the steadiness of Naboth’s steps, and noted well the bearing of his sons as they came forth to suffer for righteousness.
The tightening of every muscle of those who hurled the stones was measured by his piercing vision.
He Surveys All human Motives.
1 Samuel 2:3b.. … For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. (KJV)
He clearly discerned the hypocrisy of Jezebel’s fast.
He knew why the sons of Belial publicly perjured themselves, and accurately weighed the price for which they sold the lives of honorable men.
"By Him Actions Are Weighed."
He also gauged the cowardly fear which the "Elders" displayed of Jezebel’s wrath, when they carried out her wicked instructions, rather than fearing God.
He weighed the motives which nerved the muscle of every man who lifted a stone against the life of Naboth.
Nothing Is Forgotten By Him.
God sees the end from the beginning , so does He see the beginning for the end. Let us never forget that God can never forget, every action of our lives is always present with him. So every word, so every thought, and intent of the heart is there.
Hebrews 4:12b. …, And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (KJV)
God Will Finally Judge The World.
Naboth and his family have yet to be vindicated. God has vindicated their reputation; but they have to be vindicated in person also.
To this end all parties concerned in their murder will have to stand face to face with their hearts exposed to the clear light and sensible presence of Omniscient Justice.
What defense can the sons of Belial then set up?
The Magistrates and Elders?
What a day of confusion to all the wicked. (Rev. 6:12-17)
Everything will be righteously adjusted in that final sentence. (Matt. 25:34, 41, 46)
We will continue this Study in Elijah #6 where Elijah confronts Ahab in Naboth's vineyard.
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James L Thornton