1 Kings Chapter 21

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, and queen of the northern kingdom of Israel. She was a follower of Baal and had led many away from the Lord. She hated the prophets, and had sought to kill Elijah after her priests had been destroyed. She was a wicked ruler and had brought a lot of trouble to the land and people of Israel. This chapter begins as follows:

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.

There was a vineyard near the palace of Ahab in Jezreel. It was owned by a man named Naboth. Ahab wanted to have the vineyard for a garden, so he asked that Naboth give it to him and offered to give him a better vineyard, or to pay him for the land. Naboth declined because this had been the inheritance of land given to his family. Ahab returned home upset, laid down and would not eat anything.

In biblical times, an inheritance meant a great deal. The Lord had inspired the division of land, and each family had been given a portion. Despite all the personal apostasy and wickedness that had taken over among the people, they still held fast to the idea of a promised land of inheritance. It is unknown to us, what kind of a man Naboth had been, but it seems like he was trying to be a good man. A man who recognized that the land he had was a gift from God, which he should not give up for any man, even the king of Israel.

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
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.
7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
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.
9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
10 And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
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.
12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
13 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. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.

Jezebel asked Ahab what was wrong because she noticed he was sad and not eating. Ahab told her what had happen. Jezebel asked him if he was not the king of Israel. She told him to get up, eat and be happy, because she would give him the vineyard he wanted. Jezebel sent letters to the elders and nobels of Jezreel, as if they were from Ahab. She wrote that the men were to fast and put Naboth in front of the people, with false witnesses to say that Naboth had blasphemed God and the king. She wrote that they were to stone him to death. The men followed the orders and stoned Naboth. Then they sent word to Jezebel, that Naboth was dead.

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.
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.

Jezebel told Ahab that Naboth was dead and that Ahab could claim the vineyard in Jezreel. So, Ahab went down to the vineyard and took it for his own.

17 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
19 And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
20 And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord.
21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
22 And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
23 And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
24 Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.

Elijah received revelation from the Lord, and was commanded to go to Ahab in the vineyard of Naboth, and prophesy to him. The Lord commanded him to ask if he had killed and taken possession of the land, and then he was to prophesy to Ahab that he would die where Naboth had been killed. When Elijah had done this, Ahab asked how he had found him there, and Elijah told him he found him because he had sold his soul to do evil. Elijah prophesied that Ahab and his posterity would be destroyed and cut off from Israel. He would be destroyed just as those who had done evil before him. He prophesied that Jezebel would die by the wall of Jezreel, and that all who died from their house, would be eaten by wild animals.

25 But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
26 And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.
27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.

Ahab had been more wicked then any other king in Israel because his wife had led him away, but when he heard the prophecy against his family, he mourned and fasted. The Lord told Elijah that Ahab humbled himself, and because of this he would not destroy him, but that his posterity would be destroyed in the days of his son.

Ahab was a selfish man, who had a fit over not getting his way. He refused to eat when he was denied what he wanted. His enabling and wicked wife, was willing to do all that she could to give him what he wanted, even if it meant killing someone. This was done for ownership of a piece of land, which was most likely not truly needed by the king. I find it interesting to read of Ahab’s reaction after the prophecy from Elijah. Even though he had become a grossly wicked man, he sincerely humbled himself, when he realized what he would be done to himself and his family. Because of his humility, he was not going to be destroyed, but there were still consequences because a man was killed for him. It says nothing specifically of the prophesy against Jezebel here, but she had not humbled herself. She had planned the death of a man, and even though she did not carry it out herself, she had killed him. Her wickedness would bring her eventual destruction and the prophesy of her death would be fulfilled.

A lesson from this chapter, is that God knows if we are truly humbled. He is merciful, and will extend that mercy to those who are humble. None of us is perfect. We may not live as wickedly as Ahab did, but we do make choices that separate us from God. We need the mercy of the Lord. All men need to be humble and repent of those things that they know they have done against God, if they do not want to realize the promise of their own personal destruction. I am so grateful for God’s love and mercy. I am grateful that He knows me perfectly and will help me to become a better person.

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