Ahab Murders Naboth

1 After this the following episode took place.1 Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel adjacent to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.2 2 Ahab 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,3 I will pay you silver for it.”4 3 But Naboth replied to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should sell you my ancestral inheritance.”5

4 So Ahab went into his palace, bitter and angry that Naboth the Jezreelite had said,6I will not sell to you my ancestral inheritance.”7 He lay down on his bed, pouted,8 and would not eat. 5 Then his wife Jezebel came in and said to him, “Why do you have a bitter attitude and refuse to eat? 6 He 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.’9 7 His wife Jezebel said to him, “You are the king of Israel!10 Get up, eat some food, and have a good time.11 I will get the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”

8 She wrote out orders,12 signed Ahab’s name to them,13 and sealed them with his seal. She then sent the orders14 to the leaders15 and to the nobles who lived in Naboth’s city.16 9 This is what she wrote:17 “Observe a time of fasting and seat Naboth in front of the people. 10 Also 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 the18 city, the leaders19 and the nobles who lived there,20 followed the written orders Jezebel had sent them.21 12 They observed a time of fasting and put Naboth in front of the people. 13 The 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 him22 outside the city and stoned him to death.23 14 Then they reported to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”24

15 When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she25 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.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead,26 he got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

17 The Lord told Elijah the Tishbite:27 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. 19 Say 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,28So, you have found me, my enemy!” Elijah29 replied, “I have found you, because you are committed30 to doing evil in the sight of31 the Lord. 21 The Lord says,32 ‘Look, I am ready to bring disaster33 on you. I will destroy you34 and cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated.35 22 I will make your dynasty36 like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah because you angered me and made Israel sin.’37 23 The Lord says this about Jezebel, ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the outer wall38 of Jezreel.’ 24 As for Ahab’s family, dogs will eat the ones39 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 committed40 to doing evil in the sight of41 the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel.42 26 He was so wicked he worshiped the disgusting idols,43 just like the Amorites44 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. 28 The Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite,45 29 Have you noticed how Ahab shows remorse46 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.”47

121:1tn Heb “after these things.” The words “the following episode took place” are added for stylistic reasons. 221:1sn King Ahab of Samaria. Samaria, as the capital of the northern kingdom, here stands for the nation of Israel.map For location see Map2-B1; Map4-D3; Map5-E2; Map6-A4; Map7-C1. 321:2tn Heb “if it is good in your eyes.” 421:2tc The Old Greek translation includes the following words: “And it will be mine as a garden of herbs.” 521:3tn Heb “Far be it from me, by the Lord, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you.” 621:4tn Heb “on account of the word that Naboth the Jezreelite spoke to him.” 721:4tn Heb “I will not give to you the inheritance of my fathers.” 821:4tn Heb “turned away his face.” 921:6tn 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. 1021:7tn Heb “You, now, you are exercising kingship over Israel.” 1121:7tn Heb “so your heart [i.e., disposition] might be well.” 1221:8tn Heb “scrolls.” 1321:8tn Heb “in the name of Ahab.” 1421:8tn Heb “scrolls.” 1521:8tn Heb “elders.” 1621:8tn Heb “to the nobles who were in his city, the ones who lived with Naboth.” 1721:9tn Heb “she wrote on the scrolls, saying.” 1821:11tn Heb “his.” 1921:11tn Heb “elders.” 2021:11tn Heb “and the nobles who were living in his city.” 2121:11tn Heb “did as Jezebel sent to them, just as was written in the scrolls which she sent to them.” 2221:13tn Heb “led him.” 2321:13tn Heb “and they stoned him with stones and he died.” 2421:14tn Heb “Naboth was stoned and he died.” So also in v. 15. 2521:15tn Heb “Jezebel”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“she”) in the translation for stylistic reasons. 2621:16tc The Old Greek translation includes the following words here: “he tore his garments and put on sackcloth. After these things.” 2721:17tn Heb “the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite.” 2821:20tn Heb “and Ahab said to Elijah.” The narrative is elliptical and streamlined. The words “when Elijah arrived” are supplied in the translation for clarification. 2921:20tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity. 3021:20tn Heb “you have sold yourself.” 3121:20tn Heb “in the eyes of.” 3221:21tn The introductory formula “the Lord says” is omitted in the Hebrew text, but supplied in the translation for clarification. 3321:21sn 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. 3421:21tn 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. 3521:21tn 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 vÿazuv, 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. 3621:22tn Heb “house.” 3721:22tn Heb “because of the provocation by which you angered [me], and you caused Israel to sin.” 3821:23tc 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. 3921:24tn “Dogs will eat the ones who belonging to Ahab who die in the city.” 4021:25tn Heb “who sold himself.” 4121:25tn Heb “in the eyes of.” 4221:25tn Heb “like Ahab…whom his wife Jezebel incited.” 4321:26tn 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”). 4421:26tn Heb “He acted very abominably by walking after the disgusting idols, according to all which the Amorites had done.” 4521:28tn Heb “the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite.” 4621:29tn Or “humbles himself.” The expression occurs a second time later in this verse. 4721:29tn 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.”