1 Kings 21


Ahab covets the vineyard of Naboth, and wishes to have it either

by purchase or exchange, 1, 2.

Naboth refuses to alienate it on any account, because it was his

inheritance from his fathers, 3.

Ahab becomes disconsolate, takes to his bed, and refuses to eat,


Jezebel, finding out the cause, promises to give him the

vineyard, 5-7.

She writes to the nobles of Jezreel to proclaim a fast, to

accuse Naboth of blasphemy, carry him out, and stone him to

death; which is accordingly done, 8-14.

She then tells Ahab to go and take possession of the vineyard;

he goes, and is met by Elijah, who denounces on him the

heaviest judgments, 15-24.

Ahab's abominable character, 25, 26.

He humbles himself; and God promises not to bring the threatened

public calamities in his days, but in the days of his son,



Verse 1. After these things] This and the twentieth chapter are

transposed in the Septuagint; this preceding the account of the

Syrian war with Ben-hadad. Josephus gives the history in the same


Verse 2. Give me thy vineyard] The request of Ahab seems at

first view fair and honourable. Naboth's vineyard was nigh to the

palace of Ahab, and he wished to add it to his own for a kitchen

garden, or perhaps a grass-plat, gan yarak; and he

offers to give him either a better vineyard for it, or to give him

its worth in money. Naboth rejects the proposal with horror: The

Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my

fathers to thee. No man could finally alienate any part of the

parental inheritance; it might be sold or mortgaged till the

jubilee, but at that time it must revert to its original owner,

if not redeemed before; for this God had particularly enjoined

Le 25:14-17, 25-28: therefore Naboth properly said, 1Ki 21:3,

The Lord forbid it me, to give the inheritance of my fathers.

Ahab most evidently wished him to alienate it finally, and this is

what God's law had expressly forbidden; therefore he could not,

consistently with his duty to God, indulge Ahab; and it was high

iniquity in Ahab to tempt him to do it; and to covet it showed the

depravity of Ahab's soul. But we see farther that, despotic as

those kings were, they dared not seize on the inheritance of any

man. This would have been a flagrant breach of the law and

constitution of the country; and this indeed would have been

inconsistent with the character which they sustained, viz., the

Lord's vicegerents. The Jewish kings had no authority either to

alter the old laws, or to make new ones. "The Hindoos," says Mr.

Ward, "are as strongly attached to their homesteads as the Jews

were. Though the heads of the family be employed in a distant part

of the country, and though the homesteads may be almost in ruins,

they cling still to the family inheritance with a fondness

bordering on superstition."

Verse 4. He laid him down upon his bed] Poor soul! he was lord

over ten-twelfths of the land, and became miserable because he

could not get a poor man's vineyard added to all that he

possessed! It is a true saying, "That soul in which God dwells

not, has no happiness: and he who has God has a satisfying

portion." Every privation and cross makes an unholy soul unhappy;

and privations and crosses it must ever meet with, therefore:-

"Where'er it goes is hell; itself is hell!"

Verse 7. Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?] Naboth,

not Ahab, is king. If he have authority to refuse, and thou have

no power to take, he is the greater man of the two. This is the

vital language of despotism and tyranny.

Verse 8. She wrote letters in Ahab's name] She counterfeited his

authority by his own consent; and he lent his signet to stamp that


Verse 9. Proclaim a fast] Intimate that there is some great

calamity coming upon the nation, because of some evil tolerated in


Set Naboth on high] Bring him to a public trial.

Verse 10. Set two men] For life could not be attainted but on

the evidence of two witnesses at least.

Sons of Belial] Men who will not scruple to tell lies and take a

false oath.

Thou didst blaspheme God and the king.] Thou art an atheist and

a rebel. Thou hast spoken words injurious to the perfections and

nature of God; and thou hast spoken words against the crown and

dignity of the king. The words literally are, Naboth hath BLESSED

God and the king; or, as Parkhurst contends, "Thou hast blessed

the false gods and Molech," And though Jezebel was

herself an abominable idolatress; yet, as the law of Moses still

continued in force, she seems to have been wicked enough to have

destroyed Naboth, upon the false accusation of blessing the

heathen Aleim and Molech, which subjected him to death by

De 12:6; 17:2-7. The first meaning appears the most simple.

Many think that the word barach signifies both to bless

and curse; and so it is interpreted in most Lexicons: it is

passing strange that out of the same word proceedeth blessing and

cursing; and to give such opposite and self-destructive meanings

to any word is very dangerous. Parkhurst denies that it ever has

the meaning of cursing, and examines all the texts where it is

said to occur with this meaning; and shows that blessing, not

cursing, is to be understood in all those places: see him under

, sec. vi.

Verse 13. And stoned him with stones] As they pretended to find

him guilty of treason against God and the king, it is likely they

destroyed the whole of his family; and then the king seized on his

grounds as confiscated, or as escheated to the king, without any

heir at law. That his family was destroyed appears strongly

intimated, 2Ki 9:26;

Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, AND THE BLOOD

OF HIS SONS, saith the Lord.

Verse 15. Arise, take possession] By what rites or in what forms

this was done, we do not know.

Verse 18. Go down to meet Ahab] This was the next day after the

murder, as we learn from the above quotation, 2Ki 9:26.

Verse 19. In the place where dogs licked, &c.] It is in vain to

look for a literal fulfillment of this prediction. Thus it would

have been fulfilled, but the humiliation of Ahab induced the

merciful God to say, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in

the days of his son, 1Ki 21:29. Now dogs did lick the blood of

Ahab; but it was at the pool of Samaria, where his chariot and his

armour were washed, after he had received his death wound at

Ramoth-gilead; but some think this was the place where Naboth was

stoned: see 1Ki 22:38. And how literally the prediction

concerning his son was fulfilled, see 2Ki 9:25, where we find

that the body of Jehoram his son, just then slain by an arrow that

had passed through his heart, was thrown into the portion of the

field of Naboth the Jezreelite; and there, doubtless, the dogs

licked his blood, if they did not even devour his body. There is a

similar idea of the propriety of punishment overtaking the culprit

in the place where he had committed the crime, expressed by

Orestes to AEgisthus, SOPH. Elect. 1495.

______ χωρειδενθαπερκατεκτανες


______ Go where thou slew'st my father,

That in the self-same place thou too may'st die.

Verse 20. Thou hast sold thyself to work evil] See a similar

form of speech, Ro 7:14. Thou hast totally abandoned thyself to

the service of sin. Satan is become thy absolute master, and thou

his undivided slave.

Verse 23. The dogs shall eat Jezebel] This was most literally

fulfilled; see 2Ki 9:36. The carcasses of poor

Hindoos, and of persons who have received public punishment, are

thrown into the rivers, and floating to the side, are devoured by

dogs, vultures, and crows.

Verse 25. Did sell himself to work wickedness] He hired himself

to the devil for this very purpose, that he might work wickedness.

This was to be his employment, and at this he laboured.

In the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.] A

good wife is from the Lord; a bad wife is from the devil: Jezebel

was of this kind; and she has had many successors.

Verse 27. He rent his clothes] He was penetrated with sorrow,

and that evidently unfeigned.

Put sackcloth upon his flesh] He humbled himself before God and


And fasted] He afflicted his body for his soul's benefit.

Lay in sackcloth] Gave the fullest proof that his repentance was


And went softly.] Walked barefooted; so the Chaldee, Syriac,

and Arabic. The Vulgate has demisso capite, "with his head

hanging down." Houbigant translates went groaning. Jarchi says

that the word at, used here, signifies to be unshod. This is

its most likely sense. All these things prove that Ahab's

repentance was genuine; and God's approbation of it puts it out of

doubt. The slow and measured pace which always accompanies deep

and reflective sorrow is also alluded to by AEschylus, where the

Chorus are thus shortly addressed on the defeat of

Xerxes.-AESCH. Pers. 1073.


"With light and noiseless step lament."

Verse 29. Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself] He did abase

himself; he did truly repent him of his sins, and it was such a

repentance as was genuine in the sight of God: He humbleth himself


The penitent heart ever meets the merciful eye of God;

repentance is highly esteemed by the Father of compassion, even

where it is comparatively shallow and short-lived. Any measure of

godly sorrow has a proportionate measure of God's regard; where it

is deep and lasting, the heart of God is set upon it. He that

mourns shall be comforted; thus hath God spoken, and though

repentance for our past sins can purchase no favour, yet without

it God will not grant us his salvation.

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