Stories From The Hebrew Bible

King Ahab’s home was at Samaria, the capital of the kingdom. But he also had a palace at Jezreel, which overlooked the great plain of Esdraelon. And beside Ahab’s palace at Jezreel was a vineyard, belonging to a man named Naboth. Ahab wished to own this vineyard and he said to Naboth,

Let me have your vineyard, which is near my house. I would like to make of it a garden for vegetables. I will give you a better vineyard in place of it, or I will pay you the worth of it in money.

But Naboth answered the king, “This vineyard has belonged to my father’s family for many generations and I am not willing to give it up or to leave it.”

Ahab was very angry when he heard this. He came into his house and refused to eat; but he lay down on his bed and turned away his face. His wife, Jezebel, came to him and said, “Why are you so sad? What is troubling you?”

And Ahab answered her, “I asked Naboth to sell me his vineyard or to let me give him another vineyard for it, and he would not.”

Then Jezebel said to him, “Do you indeed rule over the kingdom of Israel? Rise up and eat your dinner and enjoy yourself. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth.” Then Queen Jezebel sat down and wrote a letter in Ahab’s name and sealed it with the king’s seal. And in the letter she wrote,

Let the word be given out that a meeting of the men of Jezreel is to be held, and set Naboth up before all the people. Have ready two men, no matter how worthless and wicked they may be, who will swear that they heard Naboth speak words of cursing against God and against the king. Then take Naboth out and stone him with stones until he is dead.

Because all the people feared Queen Jezebel, they did as she gave command. They held a meeting and set Naboth up in presence of the people; then they brought in two men, who told lies, declaring that they had heard Naboth speak words of cursing against God and against the king; and then they dragged Naboth out of the city and stoned him and killed him. Afterward they sent word to Queen Jezebel that Naboth was dead, and Jezebel said to Ahab, “Now you can go and take as your own the vineyard of Naboth in Jezreel; for Naboth is no longer living; he is dead.”

Then Ahab rode in his chariot from Samaria to Jezreel, and with him were two of his captains, one named Jehu and another named Bidkar. Just as they were riding in the vineyard that had been Naboth’s, suddenly Elijah, the prophet, with his mantle of skin, stood before them.

Ahab was startled when he saw Elijah, and called out, “Have you found me, O my enemy?”

Elijah replied,

I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Just as the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick up your own blood. I will bring evil upon you and will sweep you away; and I will cut off every man child from Ahab; and I will make your family like the family of Jeraboam, who made Israel to sin. And because your wife, Jezebel, has stirred you up to sin, she shall die, and the wild dogs of the city shall eat the body of Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.

When Ahab heard these words of Elijah, he saw how wickedly he had acted and he felt sorrow for his sin. He put on sackcloth and fasted and sought for mercy. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me and shows sorrow for his sin? Because of this, I will not bring the evil in his lifetime, but after he is dead, I will bring it upon his children.”

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