1Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel near King Ahab's palace.
2One day, Ahab said, “Naboth, your vineyard is near my palace. Give it to me so I can turn it into a vegetable garden. I'll give you a better vineyard or pay whatever you want for yours.”
3Naboth answered, “This vineyard has always been in my family. I won't let you have it.”
4So Ahab went home, angry and depressed because of what Naboth had told him. He lay on his bed, just staring at the wall and refusing to eat a thing.
5Jezebel his wife came in and asked, “What's wrong? Why won't you eat?”
6“I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or to let me give him a better one,” Ahab replied. “And he told me I couldn't have it.”
7“Aren't you the king of Israel?” Jezebel asked. “Get out of bed and eat something! Don't worry, I'll get Naboth's vineyard for you.”
8-10Jezebel wrote a letter to each of the leaders of the town where Naboth lived. In the letters she said:
Call everyone together and tell them to go without eating today. When they come together, give Naboth a seat at the front. Get two liars to sit facing him and swear that Naboth has cursed God and the king. Then take Naboth outside and stone him to death!
She signed Ahab's name to the letters and sealed them with his seal. Then she sent them to the town leaders.
11After receiving her letters, they did exactly what she had asked.12They told the people that it was a day to go without eating, and when they all came together, they seated Naboth at the front.13The two liars came in and sat facing Naboth. Then they accused him of cursing God and the king, so the people dragged Naboth outside and stoned him to death.
14The leaders of Jezreel sent a message back to Jezebel that said, “Naboth is dead.”
15As soon as Jezebel got their message, she told Ahab, “Now you can have the vineyard Naboth refused to sell. He's dead.”16Ahab got up and went to take over the vineyard.
17The LORD said to Elijah the prophet,18“King Ahab of Israel is in Naboth's vineyard right now, taking it over.19Go and tell him that I say, ‘Ahab, you murdered Naboth and took his property. And so, in the very spot where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, they will lick up your blood.’ ”
When Elijah found him,20Ahab said, “So, my enemy, you've found me at last.”
Yes, I have! Ahab, you have managed to do everything the LORD hates.21Now you will be punished. You and every man and boy in your family will die, whether slave or free.22Your whole family will be wiped out, just like the families of King Jeroboam and King Baasha. You've made the LORD very angry by sinning and causing the Israelites to sin.
23And as for Jezebel, dogs will eat her body there in Jezreel.24Dogs will also eat the bodies of your relatives who die in town, and vultures will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.
25-29When Ahab heard this, he tore his clothes and wore sackcloth day and night. He was depressed and refused to eat.
Some time later, the LORD said, “Elijah, do you see how sorry Ahab is for what he did? I won't punish his family while he is still alive. I'll wait until his son is king.”
No one was more determined than Ahab to disobey the LORD. And Jezebel encouraged him. Worst of all, he had worshipped idols, just as the Amorites had done before the LORD forced them out of the land and gave it to Israel.
Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1995 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
Even though our dog Katie is deaf and nearly blind, there’s nothing wrong with her sense of smell. Open a jar of peanut butter and she starts panting. We’re well trained! She always gets a spoonful of her favourite snack.
The literal meaning of the word “coveting” is “panting after.” Maybe that’s why God’s punishment for Ahab seizing Naboth’s vineyard was that the dogs would eat the bodies of his relatives!
Discontent fuels coveting. Ahab had an ivory palace in Samaria and a pleasure garden near his summer palace in Jezreel, but he wanted more. His covetous eye fixated on Naboth’s vineyard and when he couldn’t buy it, he went into a funk.
Ahab knew that Naboth was not at liberty to sell him the vineyard. To protect a family’s inheritance the purchase of land was illegal according to God’s law. But still Ahab sulked like a spoiled child. Enter Jezebel. Disregarding the law she takes matters into her own hands. In short order she arranges Naboth’s liquidation. A contrived blasphemy charge is backed by the statutory number of witnesses, and Naboth is condemned and stoned.
Coveters only care about getting what they want and will ignore accepted moral imperatives to satisfy their desires. Ahab wastes no time in taking possession of the vineyard. His wife’s crime becomes his responsibility. He finishes what was started by killing Naboth’s sons (compare 2 Kings 9:26) so there are no descendants left to claim the land.
Enter Elijah. A confrontation ensues in the stolen vineyard. Elijah proclaims the word of the Lord; there would be blood for blood (compare 1 Kings 22:38). Judged and found wanting, Ahab is devastated. He rips his clothes, fasts and mourns. Was Ahab’s remorse sincere? Maybe, maybe not. God nonetheless sees Ahab’s humility and extends a modicum of mercy by delaying his punishment.
Lord help me not to “want anything that belongs to someone else … their house, wife or husband … or anything else.” Amen.