Queen Jezebel steals Naboth’s field
v1 King Ahab of Samaria had a palace in Jezreel. Near the palace, there was a field. Naboth who lived at Jezreel owned it. He used it to produce *grapes. v2 One day Ahab spoke to Naboth. ‘Give me your field. It is close to my palace. I want to use the land for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better one instead of it. Or, if you prefer, I will pay you its value.’
v3 But Naboth replied, ‘The *Lord does not allow me to do such a thing! I received this field from my *ancestors, so I cannot give it to you.’
v4 Ahab went home in a bad temper. He was angry about Naboth’s statement, ‘I received this field from my *ancestors, so I cannot give it to you.’ Ahab lay on his bed in a bad temper. He would not eat.
v5 His wife Jezebel came in. She asked him. ‘Why are you so sad? Why will you not eat?’
v6 He replied to her, ‘It is because Naboth refused to let me have his field. I offered to buy it from him or to give him another one. But he replied, “I cannot give my field to you.” ’
v7 Jezebel said ‘But you are the king! Get up and eat. Be cheerful! I will get you Naboth’s field.’
The law said that nobody must make a permanent sale of his land. People must not pass land from *tribe to *tribe. (See Leviticus 25:23; Numbers 36:7.)
Naboth was right to refuse the king. If Naboth sold the field to the king, he (Naboth) would not be obeying God’s law. So this was not merely a business matter or an ordinary argument. Naboth could not obey the king, because such an action would be against God’s law. So Naboth firmly refused Ahab’s request. Naboth chose to stand for God.
Ahab was angry. He had everything that he needed. But he was not happy without Naboth’s *vineyard. Jezebel promised to get the land for him. She thought that the king should be like a god. If Ahab did not behave like one, she would!
v8 So Jezebel wrote letters and she signed them with Ahab’s name. She put his mark on them. She sent them to the leaders and officials of Naboth’s city. v9 This is what she wrote. ‘Announce that there will be a day for people to go without food. Call the people together. Give Naboth the place of honour. v10 Make two wicked people sit opposite him. Tell them to say that he spoke badly about God and the king. Then take him out of the city. Throw stones at him until he dies.’
v11 So the leaders and officials of Naboth’s city did what Jezebel had ordered. v12 They told people to go without food. They gave Naboth the place of honour among the people. v13 Then two wicked people came and sat opposite him. They accused Naboth in front of the people. They said that Naboth had spoken badly about God and the king. So the people took Naboth outside the city. They threw stones at him until he died. v14 Then they told Jezebel, ‘We threw stones at Naboth. Now he is dead.’
v15 As soon as Jezebel heard this she spoke to Ahab. ‘Go. Take possession of the field that Naboth refused to give you. He is no longer alive, but dead.’ v16 Ahab heard that Naboth was dead. Then he got up. And he went to take possession of Naboth’s field.
Jezebel plotted Naboth’s death. She used the king’s name and his mark. He did not know that she had done this. She organised a *religious meeting. She suggested that God was angry with the people because of some *sin. Two wicked people said that Naboth was responsible. They pretended that he had spoken badly about God and the king. When anyone spoke badly about God or the king, the punishment was death. The people killed Naboth and his sons. (See 2 Kings 9:26.)
When Ahab heard about this, he went down to take possession of Naboth’s field. By this action, Ahab showed that he approved of Jezebel’s deeds.
Naboth’s *trial was like the *trial of Jesus. In both cases, false witnesses said that they had spoken against God and the king. (See Luke 22:70-71; 23:1-3.) So, although Naboth was innocent, people killed him.
We can see that Ahab and Jezebel were becoming even more wicked. They were ready to use false (lying) witnesses to accuse people who upset them. And they were not afraid to kill an innocent man. But God knew about their *sin.
Elijah *prophesies the end of Ahab’s rule over *Israel
v17 Then the *Lord spoke to Elijah from Tishbe. v18 The *Lord said, ‘Go down to meet Ahab king of *Israel who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s field. He is taking possession of it. v19 Say to him, “This is the message from the *Lord. You have murdered a man and taken his property.” Tell him that the *Lord says to him, “In the place where the dogs *licked Naboth’s blood, they will *lick your blood.” ’
v20 Ahab said to Elijah, ‘You have found me, my enemy.’
‘Yes, I have’, replied Elijah. ‘You have given yourself completely to do what the *Lord considers to be evil. v21 (So the *Lord says,) “I will bring *disaster upon you. I will kill you and every male in your family, both young and old. v22 Your family will become like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah. This is because you have made me angry. You have led *Israel into *sin.” ’
v23 Elijah added, ‘And the *Lord also says this about Jezebel. “The dogs will eat her body by the wall of Jezreel. v24 Dogs will eat the bodies of the relations of Ahab who die in the city. Vultures (birds that eat dead animals) will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.” ’
v25 Nobody else was as bad as Ahab. He did what the *Lord considered to be evil. His wife Jezebel urged him to do this. v26 He *worshipped *idols in the same disgusting way as the *Amorites did. The *Lord had forced them to leave as the *Israelites advanced.
v27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes. He put on rough cloths and he refused to eat. He lay in rough cloths and he was very sad in front of everyone.
v28 Then the *Lord spoke to Elijah from Tishbe. v29 ‘You see how humble Ahab has become! Because he has done this, I will not bring *disaster upon him during his life. I will bring it on his family during the rule of his son.’
Elijah went to meet Ahab again. This time he came to tell Ahab that God would punish him. Ahab considered Elijah as his enemy.
Elijah told Ahab that all his family would die. They would not continue as kings. Their deaths would be awful and they would not even have proper graves.
Ahab then showed *sorrow for what he had done. He was not sorry enough to stop his *worship of *idols or to give back Naboth’s field. Still, God was willing to make his punishment less. *Disaster would not happen until after Ahab’s death. God will answer if people change their ways. He will do this even if their change is not perfect. God does not want anybody to suffer *everlasting death (2 Peter 3:9). He wants everyone to have life. But later, Ahab died as Elijah *prophesied. The wages of *sin is death (Romans 6:23). The punishment on his family happened later.
Ahab was a very wicked king. But in fact his wife, Jezebel, was responsible for many of his worst *sins. In these matters, Ahab was evil not because of his own cruelty, but because he was weak. We must never allow wicked people to control our actions. John wrote to a church where an evil woman was controlling some people. He warned the members of that church about her. They would suffer greatly if they continued to obey her. He called that woman by the name ‘Jezebel’ (Revelation 2:20-25).