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1Ki 21:1 It happened after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, right next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria-
Josephus and the LXX have chapters 20 and 21 the opposite way around. It was Ahab's incredibly selfish behaviour over the vineyard which led to the judgment at the hand of the Syrians described in 1 Kings 20.


1Ki 21:2 Ahab spoke to Naboth saying, Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near to my house; and I will give you for it a better vineyard than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money-
"House" is LXX "threshingfloor". Ahab is acting exactly as Samuel predicted the kings of Israel would act, in taking away vineyards and inheritances from God's people (1 Sam. 8:14).  "Naboth" means 'fruitful' so he was identified with the fruitfulness of his vineyard. To take it from him was to take him away from who he was as a person. But Ahab didn't care for that. Ahab comes over as the spoilt child who never grew up. We recall how Ahab loved horses, for he personally had gone around Israel during the drought seeking for fodder for them. For him, the worst thing about the drought was the damage done to his horses. And this demand for a vineyard next to his own house seems to reflect the same characteristics. The Divinely inspired record presents his character in an absolutely consistent and realistic way, unheard of in contemporary national histories.


1Ki 21:3 Naboth said to Ahab, May Yahweh forbid me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!-
Naboth was a worshipper of Yahweh, obedient to the relevant parts of the Mosaic law about inheritances. "The inheritance of my fathers" is clearly alluding to the law (Lev. 25:27,28; Num. 36:7,8). This yet again shows how wrong Elijah had been to insist that he was the only true worshipper of Yahweh left. He maybe knew Naboth, for he was told to go to Naboth as if he knew the place and man (:18). But Elijah judged him to be unfaithful to Yahweh, for this or that petty reason. The record brings before us several individuals who were faithful to Yahweh at this time, yet Elijah considered none of them genuine. And yet despite his arrogance and wrong sense of spiritual superiority, God still works through Elijah and seeks to bring him to the humility which is the acme of spiritual maturity.  


1Ki 21:4 Ahab came into his house-
Ahab returned to Samaria from his other home in Jezreel. It's clear the vineyard was in Jezreel not Samaria (2 Kings 9:16,26).

Sullen and angry because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers. He laid himself down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread-
The character portrayal of Ahab is consistent, as we would expect from a Divinely inspired record. There is a clear connection with how he "came into his house sullen and angry" because Naboth would not sell him his vineyard (1 Kings 21:4). We get the impression of an overgrown spoilt child. He sulked over Naboth's vineyard because he wasn't obedient to God's word. And in 1 Kings 20:43 again Ahab "went to his house sullen and angry" because he was condemned for not having obeyed God's word. The LXX puts 1 Kings 20 and 21 the other way around. The experience with Naboth was intended to teach him obedience to God's word. He failed, so he "went to his house sullen and angry". He didn't learn from that lesson. And so he does the same again, when he fails to be obedient on an even more significant level.


1Ki 21:5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, Why is your spirit so sad, that you eat no bread?-
Ahab comes over as pathetically weak and dominated by his wicked but far stronger wife. Away from her, he appears to have more potential for spirituality. The Divinely inspired record achieves perfect and credible characterization of the individuals.


1Ki 21:6 He said to her, Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it’. He answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard’-
LXX adds "the inheritance of my fathers. Such argument from the law of Moses (see on :3) was of no value to Jezebel, who was a Gentile idolater.

1Ki 21:7 Jezebel his wife said to him, Do you really now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be merry. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite-
She could have phrased this another way. But the way she puts it, she seeks to put herself above God and to play God. For the whole argument in :3 and :6 LXX was that God had given specific inheritances to His people, and they were not to be sold or traded. But she claims to be able to give Naboth the vineyard. Perhaps too her emphasis is upon the way she had a plan to "give" Naboth the vineyard for free, without him even needing to pay for it. We are left with the question as to what Ahab ought to have done or said at this stage. He surely knew his wife was going to hatch a plan which was wrong. But he says nothing, and is happy to go along with inheriting the vineyard. Jezebel totally doesn't understand that being the king of Israel meant ruling only as representative of God, Israel's true king. She wrongly assumed that the leadership position meant power to have what you wanted. 


1Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and to the nobles who were in his city, who lived with Naboth-
Presumably at Jezreel, not Samaria. Ahab was deeply upset that he couldn't have the vineyard next to his holiday home in Jezreel; it wasn't even next to his palace in Samaria. That the "elders and nobles" went along with her evil plan shows their fear of her and their deep moral weakness.


1Ki 21:9 She wrote in the letters saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people-
The wicked hypocrisy was that a fast was proclaimed because of the realization of sin (1 Sam. 7:6; Joel 2:12). Naboth was apparently held in high repute, and was to be given a prominent seat at the ceremony for repentance. Some evidence was to be given that things weren't going well in the town, and there needed to be repentance. Naboth was given a place of high honour and prominence because Jezebel knew that when a person in high public visibility is convicted of sin, especially sin which has made others suffer, there is an immediate upsurge of public anger against them. And this would allow Naboth to be killed without undue public protest.  


1Ki 21:10 Set two men, base fellows, before him, and let them testify against him saying, ‘You cursed God and the king!’ Then carry him out, and stone him to death-
To curse God's representative was seen as cursing God (1 Kings 21:10; Ex. 22:28). And so to curse "Yahweh's anointed" was seen as cursing Yahweh (2 Sam. 19:21) and worthy of death. The two witnesses were supposed to be enough to convict someone. In this case, the fact Naboth was known as a Yahweh worshipper and could prove it... was willingly ignored. It was to be a kangaroo court knowingly set up to prove a man guilty of death from the start.


1Ki 21:11 The men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, according as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them-
Their careful obedience to this woman rather than to God is an allusion to Dt. 16:18, where such elders were to "judge just judgment", and they did the very opposite.


1Ki 21:12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people-
To "proclaim a fast" is a phrase used specifically for calling a fast and special meeting for repentance. The idea was that someone had sinned and everyone in town was suffering because of it. It is the term used in Is. 58:5 for how God was intensely angry with the proclamation of such fasts for sinful agendas.


1Ki 21:13 The two men, the base fellows, came in and sat before him. The base fellows testified against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people saying, Naboth cursed God and the king! Then they carried him out of the city, and stoned him to death with stones-
There was a semblance of obedience to the Mosaic law, as there was in the condemnation and execution of the Lord Jesus. There were two witnesses (Dt. 17:6; 19:15); and stoning was indeed the punishment for blasphemy (Lev. 24:16), and was conducted outside the city according to the spirit of Lev. 24:14, just as the Lord Jesus died "outside the camp". Naboth's sons were also killed, so that there could be no possibility of any argument in future about the inheritance (2 Kings 9:26). 


1Ki 21:14 Then they sent to Jezebel saying, Naboth has been stoned, and is dead-
Ahab immediately and eagerly took possession of the vineyard, riding to Jezreel along with Jehu and Bidkar (2 Kings 9:25). We should not therefore think that he was merely manipulated by Jezebel, he was willing and eager himself.


1Ki 21:15 It happened, 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 you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead-
The taking possession was apparently in the sense of permanently having the vineyard registered in his name. For he could have leased it from Naboth until the next Jubilee year. And possibly renewed the lease after that. But Ahab was so obsessive about what he wanted. He wanted the vineyard as his permanent possession. This was why Naboth had to be killed, along with his sons (2 Kings 9:26) so that they would not have any argument for inheriting it later. Ahab is reasoning in a very long term manner, forgetting his own mortality. He 'just loved the idea' not only of the vineyard, but of adding it to his inheritance. And so Naboth and his sons had to die, and the people and leaders of Jezreel led into major sin. And yet legally it is hard to see how he could have added it to his inheritance, unless he was some relative of Naboth. So all the drama was to obtain a piece of legal documentation that was always going to be questionable as to its validity. Therefore he did this evil "in vain" (:20 LXX).

1Ki 21:16 It happened, 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-
Ahab "tore his clothes and put on sackcloth, in sorrow for what he had done" (1 Kings 21:16 LXX- omitted in the AV). See on :27. He repented and yet continued in his sin at the same time. This is psychologically credible. Men do this all the time. But in :27 it seems he did come to true repentance.


1Ki 21:17 The word of Yahweh came to Elijah the Tishbite saying-
"The Tishbite" is perhaps added in accordance with the theme developed here. Naboth is repeatedly called the Jezreelite, and Ahab, we are reminded, was from Samaria (:18). Israel were to abide in the inheritances they had been given, and not do what Ahab had done, and covet those of others. 


1Ki 21:18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who dwells in Samaria. Behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone down to take possession of it-
The idea was that Ahab was from Samaria but had taken possession of property in Jezreel. "Go down" may mean Elijah was then in Carmel. Perhaps Elijah was being directed back to Gideon (Jud. 7:9), David (1 Sam. 23:4) and Moses, who were addressed by God with the same words (Dt. 9:12). He would have earlier seen Moses as Judaism does today, the unreachable acme of spirituality and closeness to God. But now he was being taught, as we are, that no Biblical character is a mere Sunday School figure; but rather our real practical inspiration. But as discussed on 1 Kings 19, Elijah was set up with the possibility of being like Moses, but ultimately failed to rise up to his humility.


1Ki 21:19 You shall speak to him saying, ‘Thus says Yahweh, Have you killed and also taken possession?’-
The sin of taking possession (see on :15 for what it involved) is seen as separate to the murder. We note that Ahab is held as culpable for the murder. Even if Jezebel was likewise responsible. The guilt for sins like this never rests with just one person. Neither Ahab nor ourselves can wriggle out of responsibility by complaining we were manipulated into it. Otherwise human behaviour becomes of no real value before God, and man is reduced to a mere puppet of others and situations with no real individual personality and election in how we live life. 

You shall speak to him saying, ‘Thus says Yahweh, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs will lick your blood, even yours’-
According to 1 Kings 22:38 the dogs [LXX "the swine and the dogs"] licked Ahab's blood in the pool of Samaria, just outside the gate of Samaria; not in Jezreel. It could be argued that "the place" refers not to a geographical locality, but rather to the place where the garbage was thrown outside a city gate. The Lord uses 'Gehenna' to describe such a place as a figure for condemnation. The way 1 Kings 22:38 triumphs in the fulfilment of the prophecy suggests there was no perceived gap between the prediction and its fulfilment. But another possibility is that because of Ahab's repentance, the sentence was modified, just as that upon Adam was (for he didn't die in the day he sinned, although he did die). This reflects God's openness to human repentance in response to His stated judgments. In the gap between statement and fulfilment, there can be repentance and a change of outcomes. This is what gives intensity to our living in that gap. LXX adds to 1 Kings 21:19 "and the harlots shall wash in thy blood". 1 Kings 22:38 LXX says that this was fulfilled. Perhaps the idea is that they washed themselves in a spring in the rubbish dump where Ahab's blood as it were was eternally present.


1Ki 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, Have you found me, my enemy? He answered, I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of Yahweh-
What appeared to be mere manipulation of a weak minded man by his wicked, dominant wife was in fact judged as a selling of himself to do evil. Weak mindedness was indeed Ahab's problem, but it did not thereby make him less culpable for what he actually did. Selling oneself is the language of prostitution. The implication is that Ahab was in covenant relationship with Yahweh, but had prostituted himself to do evil. The reasons he did this aren't allowed to ameliorate that judgment- his spoilt upbringing, the dominance of his wicked wife over his naturally weak mind, all these factors were weighted in God's judgment of him, but didn't finally ameliorate what he had done. LXX adds that he sold himself "in vain". I explained on :15 that the whole obsession of "taking possession" of the vineyard probably didn't even work out for Ahab in legal terms as he so coveted.


1Ki 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil on you, and will utterly sweep you away and will cut off from Ahab every male, and him who is shut up and him who is left at large in Israel-
Elijah simply announces to Ahab: “Behold I will bring evil on you...”. We expect this to be prefaced by a “Thus says the Lord”- but Elijah was so close to God he assumed he was speaking directly from Him. And yet Elijah doesn’t repeat what God had told him to say in :19. Was he too familiar with God? Assuming he knew God’s will and words? But it must be said that he improves- in 2 Kings 1:6 he says that what he says is the word of Yahweh, and he repeats verbatim what he was told to say. We too know God’s word. We know the Bible text well. But this can lead to an assumption that we speak for God; that we must be right in all our attitudes and positions we adopt on issues.

The destruction of Ahab's children, including those "shut up" as too young to go outdoors alone, and those "at large" and independent, matches how Ahab had murdered the sons of Naboth in order to ensure the inheritance would be unquestionably his (2 Kings 9:26). All his obsession with getting "possession" of the vineyard (see on :15) were to be "in vain" (:20 LXX) because his descendants would all be destroyed. 


1Ki 21:22 I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah for the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and have made Israel to sin-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

The charge that Ahab made Israel to sin refers not just to his idolatry, but specifically in this context to what he did to Naboth. He had involved the elders and people of Jezreel in this sin, and set an example to others that they could despise God's principles about inheritance (see on :3). 


1Ki 21:23 Yahweh also spoke of Jezebel saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel-
The "rampart" of Jezreel where Jezebel was to be eaten (1 Kings 21:23) is s.w. "trench" in 2 Sam. 20:15. It would refer to the trench immediately below the city wall. Jezebel was in a house on the city wall when she was thrown out of it (2 Kings 9:36,37), and her body would have landed in the drainage ditch which was probably dry. Dogs wandered there looking for scraps of food thrown out of the windows of the houses on the city wall. 


1Ki 21:24 The dogs will eat him who dies of Ahab in the city; and the birds of the sky will eat him who dies in the field-
This repeats the judgment upon Jeroboam in 1 Kings 14:11. Ahab was another example of how Jeroboam made subsequent generations to sin, and thereby to share his judgment. Ahab was intended to have learnt from the history of Jeroboam, and we who have far more Biblical history available to us than he did... are intended to do the same from the biographies which the Bible is full of. Our responsibility is thereby the greater.


1Ki 21:25 But there was none like Ahab, who sold himself to do that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh-
See on :20.

Whom Jezebel his wife stirred up-
The idea may be that there was no man who did so much evil at the stirring up of his wife. So many turn down the call of Christ because their partner is against it. We see here for all time the call to brave individuality, to totally personal response to God's principles. The word "stirred up" means to persuade or entice, suggesting Ahab was resistant, but allowed himself to be persuaded against his basic conscience. And his naturally weak minded personality was no excuse. Zedekiah likewise was persuaded against his basic conscience (Jer. 38:22 s.w.), and was still judged for allowing himself to be persuaded. 

Chronicles says "Ahab persuaded Jehoshaphat to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead", just as Jezebel persuaded Ahab to do wickedness (1 Kings 21:25 Heb.). It is a story of sin leading to sin, and sinful attitudes and behaviour spreading through wrong and unwise associations.


1Ki 21:26 He did very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did, whom Yahweh cast out before the children of Israel-
The idea is that they followed the idols just as the Amorites did. And that may be a general term referring to the local Canaanite population. The idea is that a worship of their gods was revived by Ahab. He did exactly what people did who were driven out of the Kingdom for doing those things. He utterly refused to learn from Biblical history.  

1Ki 21:27 It happened, when Ahab heard those words, that he tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly-
"They that will be rich... have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through  with many sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:9,10). The Greek translated "pierced themselves through" is related to the verb 'to crucify'. We are asked to crucify ourselves, to give up the brief materialism of this life. Yet if we refuse to do this, we still pierce ourselves through, we crucify ourselves, with the pain which comes from a mind dedicated to materialism and self-fulfilment, a life devoted to reaching the end of a rainbow. So what is the logical thing to do? It's crucifixion either way. The idea of piercing self through with sorrow is actually a direct quote from the LXX of 1 Kings 21:27, where Ahab was pierced with sorrow as a result of his coveting of Naboth’s vineyard. And yet when Naboth was dead, Ahab tore his clothes and put on sackcloth, in sorrow for what he had done (1 Kings 21:16 LXX- omitted in the AV); but these very words are used in describing how when Ahab heard the words of his condemnation, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth (21:27). His sin brought him to tare his clothes, just as he did when his condemnation was pronounced. In his seeking for happiness he pierced himself through with the sorrow of condemnation.

I suggested on :19 that his repentance at least ameliorated the nature of the judgment upon him, and :29 says the same. If as suggested on :1, 1 Kings 21 should come before 1 Kings 20, then Ahab's subsequent failure to be obedient in 1 Kings 20 is the more tragic. His repentance here was genuine, so much so that God did take note of it, although He knew that the weak minded Ahab would again fail to retain that intensity.  


1Ki 21:28 The word of Yahweh came to Elijah the Tishbite saying-
There is no evidence Elijah spoke the words of mercy to Ahab of :29. If he did, we can imagine they would have gone right against the grain of his judgmental nature. He would have been the first to point out reasons to think Ahab's repentance wasn't complete or even genuine. But Elijah was being taught God's extreme sensitivity to human repentance, even if it is incomplete and the intensity of it may not be maintained. 

1Ki 21:29 See how Ahab humbles himself before Me? Because he humbles himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days; but in his son’s days will I bring the evil on his family
-
And God kept His word about this (2 Kings 9:25), although if 1 Kings 20 follows 1 Kings 21 (see on :1), then Ahab's repentance was not totally maintained. God knew all Elijah’s weakness as He knows ours, and He perceives them far better than we do. And He actively worked with Elijah to bring him to a greater perception of Him. Elijah was told by God that Ahab “humbles himself before Me”. Yet Elijah also lived a life “before the Lord” (1 Kings 17:1); it’s as if God was trying to get Elijah to see himself in a similar position to Ahab. Living “before the Lord” is not only about faith in prayer and being aware of God. It’s also about being contrite before our Father, aware of our own very personal spiritual desperation. And it was this humility which Elijah lacked. And the Father sought to teach him it by drawing a similarity between Elijah and the man whom he spiritually despised- Ahab. In many Christian lives, we are much more spiritual than others around us. Yet we may be led to perceive that actually we are in essence no better than those to whom we consider ourselves so spiritually superior. See on 1 Kings 19:11.