1 Kings 21

Ahab Murders Naboth

1After this the following episode took place.
Heb “after these things.” The words “the following episode took place” are added for stylistic reasons.
Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel adjacent to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.
King Ahab of Samaria. Samaria, as the capital of the northern kingdom, here stands for the nation of Israel.
For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1.
2Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard so I can make a vegetable garden out of it, for it is adjacent to my palace. I will give you an even better vineyard in its place, or if you prefer,
Heb “if it is good in your eyes.”
I will pay you silver for it.”
The Old Greek translation includes the following words: “And it will be mine as a garden of herbs.”
3But Naboth replied to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should sell you my ancestral inheritance.”
Heb “Far be it from me, by the Lord, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you.”

4 So Ahab went into his palace, bitter and angry that Naboth the Jezreelite had said,
Heb “on account of the word that Naboth the Jezreelite spoke to him.”
“I will not sell to you my ancestral inheritance.”
Heb “I will not give to you the inheritance of my fathers.”
He lay down on his bed, pouted,
Heb “turned away his face.”
and would not eat.
5Then his wife Jezebel came in and said to him, “Why do you have a bitter attitude and refuse to eat?” 6He answered her, “While I was talking to Naboth the Jezreelite, I said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard for silver, or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not sell you my vineyard.’”
Heb “While I was talking…, I said…, he said….” Ahab’s explanation is one lengthy sentence in the Hebrew text, which is divided in the English translation for stylistic reasons.
7His wife Jezebel said to him, “You are the king of Israel!
Heb “You, now, you are exercising kingship over Israel.”
Get up, eat some food, and have a good time.
Heb “so your heart [i.e., disposition] might be well.”
I will get the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”

8 She wrote out orders,
Heb “scrolls.”
signed Ahab’s name to them,
Heb “in the name of Ahab.”
and sealed them with his seal. She then sent the orders
Heb “scrolls.”
to the leaders
Heb “elders.”
and to the nobles who lived in Naboth’s city.
Heb “to the nobles who were in his city, the ones who lived with Naboth.”
9This is what she wrote:
Heb “she wrote on the scrolls, saying.”
“Observe a time of fasting and seat Naboth in front of the people.
10Also seat two villains opposite him and have them testify, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 The men of the
Heb “his.”
city, the leaders
Heb “elders.”
and the nobles who lived there,
Heb “and the nobles who were living in his city.”
followed the written orders Jezebel had sent them.
Heb “did as Jezebel sent to them, just as was written in the scrolls which she sent to them.”
12They observed a time of fasting and put Naboth in front of the people. 13The two villains arrived and sat opposite him. Then the villains testified against Naboth right before the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they dragged him
Heb “led him.”
outside the city and stoned him to death.
Heb “and they stoned him with stones and he died.”
14Then they reported to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
Heb “Naboth was stoned and he died.” So also in v. 15.

15 When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she
Heb “Jezebel”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“she”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
said to Ahab, “Get up, take possession of the vineyard Naboth the Jezreelite refused to sell you for silver, for Naboth is no longer alive; he’s dead.”
16When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead,
The Old Greek translation includes the following words here: “he tore his garments and put on sackcloth. After these things.”
he got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

17 The Lord told Elijah the Tishbite:
Heb “the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite.”
18“Get up, go down and meet King Ahab of Israel who lives in Samaria. He is at the vineyard of Naboth; he has gone down there to take possession of it. 19Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Haven’t you committed murder and taken possession of the property of the deceased?”’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: “In the spot where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood they will also lick up your blood – yes, yours!”’”

20 When Elijah arrived, Ahab said to him,
Heb “and Ahab said to Elijah.” The narrative is elliptical and streamlined. The words “when Elijah arrived” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
“So, you have found me, my enemy!” Elijah
Heb “he”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
replied, “I have found you, because you are committed
Heb “you have sold yourself.”
to doing evil in the sight of
Heb “in the eyes of.”
the Lord.
21The Lord says,
The introductory formula “the Lord says” is omitted in the Hebrew text, but supplied in the translation for clarification.
‘Look, I am ready to bring disaster
Disaster. There is a wordplay in the Hebrew text. The word translated “disaster” (רָעָה, raah) is similar to the word translated “evil” (v. 20, הָרַע, hara’). Ahab’s sins would receive an appropriate punishment.
on you. I will destroy you
Heb “I will burn after you.” Some take the verb בָּעַר (baar) to mean here “sweep away.” See the discussion of this verb in the notes at 14:10 and 16:3.
and cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated.
Heb “and I will cut off from Ahab those who urinate against a wall, [including both those who are] restrained and let free [or “abandoned”] in Israel.” The precise meaning of the idiomatic phrase עָצוּר וְעָזוּב (’atsur veazuv, translated here “weak and incapacitated”) is uncertain. For various options see HALOT 871 s.v. עצר and M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB), 107. The two terms are usually taken as polar opposites (“slaves and freemen” or “minors and adults”), but Cogan and Tadmor, on the basis of contextual considerations (note the usage with אֶפֶס (’efes), “nothing but”) in Deut 32:36 and 2 Kgs 14:26, argue convincingly that the terms are synonyms, meaning “restrained and abandoned,” and refer to incapable or incapacitated individuals.
22I will make your dynasty
Heb “house.”
like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah because you angered me and made Israel sin.’
Heb “because of the provocation by which you angered [me], and you caused Israel to sin.”
23The Lord says this about Jezebel, ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the outer wall
A few Hebrew mss and some ancient versions agree with 2 Kgs 9:10, 36, which reads, “the plot [of ground] at Jezreel.” The Hebrew words translated “outer wall” (חֵל, khel, defectively written here!) and “plot [of ground]” (חֵלֶק, kheleq) are spelled similarly.
of Jezreel.’
24As for Ahab’s family, dogs will eat the ones
“Dogs will eat the ones who belonging to Ahab who die in the city.”
who die in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat the ones who die in the country.”
25(There had never been anyone like Ahab, who was firmly committed
Heb “who sold himself.”
to doing evil in the sight of
Heb “in the eyes of.”
the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel.
Heb “like Ahab…whom his wife Jezebel incited.”
26He was so wicked he worshiped the disgusting idols,
The Hebrew word used here, גִלּוּלִים (gillulim) is always used as a disdainful reference to idols. It is generally thought to have originally referred to “dung pellets” (cf. KBL 183 s.v. גִלּוּלִים). It is only one of several terms used in this way, such as אֱלִילִים (’elilim, “worthless things”) and הֲבָלִים (havalim, “vanities” or “empty winds”).
just like the Amorites
Heb “He acted very abominably by walking after the disgusting idols, according to all which the Amorites had done.”
whom the Lord had driven out from before the Israelites.)

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted. He slept in sackcloth and walked around dejected. 28The Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite,
Heb “the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite.”
29“Have you noticed how Ahab shows remorse
Or “humbles himself.” The expression occurs a second time later in this verse.
before me? Because he shows remorse before me, I will not bring disaster on his dynasty during his lifetime, but during the reign of his son.”
Heb “I will not bring the disaster during his days, [but] in the days of his son I will bring the disaster on his house.”

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