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Naboth's Vineyard (1 Kings 21) January 24

Technically, all land in ancient Israel belonged to God, who granted it to be permanently held by each Israelite tribe and family (Leviticus 25:23-28). Thus the property was clearly Naboth's (compare Numbers 36:2-9). Even the king, a constitutional monarch, was required to obey the law (1 Samuel 10:25).

"In reminding Ahab that he was king and could do as he pleased, Jezebel reflected her Canaanite background where kings ruled absolutely (see Deut. 17:14-20; 1 Sam. 8:11-18)" (Nelson Study Bible, note on 21:7). Regarding 1 Kings 21:7, The Bible Reader's Companion explains: "The Heb[rew] reads literally, 'You now; you are going to perform majesty over Israel.' The saying seems to indicate that she will show Ahab how to magnify himself by having his way in Israel. Her use of the king's seal indicates that she had his authority for her plot against Naboth. Ahab lent her his full support" (Lawrence Richards, 1991, note on 21:7-14).

Jezebel's murderous plot then unfolds. "Some suggest that the charge made by the two 'scoundrels' was that Naboth went back on a pledge made in God's name to sell his land to the king. Failure to keep an oath made in God's name would be blasphemy. In that case, after Naboth's execution, the king could legally have taken possession of the property in dispute. Second Kings 9:26 adds that Naboth's sons were killed at the same time. With no heir left alive, there seemingly was no one left to dispute Ahab's claim to the land" (same note).

Ahab and Jezebel's behavior regarding Naboth prompts the return of Elijah—this time to pronounce the termination of Ahab's rule and the extermination of his dynasty similar to the warning given earlier to Jeroboam and Baasha. This will be carried out by Jehu son of Nimshi, a military leader, as God had previously told Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-17). Yet Ahab's expression of remorse results in God postponing some of the punishment, illustrating His tremendous mercy.

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