Naboth the Jezreelite
Naboth the Jezreelite was a contemporary of Elijah. He lived in the city of Jezreel in the plain of Esdraelon, to the north of Mt. Gilboa. King Ahab’s palace was on the same side of his vineyard (1 Kings 18:45), overlooking the great view all the way toward Jordan.
And it came to pass that King Ahab said to Naboth “Give me your vineyard” (1 Kings 21:2). But Naboth refused and answered, “the Lord forbid it” (verse 3). To Naboth, it seemed wrong to give up his vineyard because the Levitical code allowed that “the inheritance of the children of Israel” might not “remove from tribe to tribe,” but that everyone should “keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers” (Numbers 36:7–9). And if the property was sold, certain rules were set forth providing for its intermittent return to the children of the original owners (Leviticus 25:13–28).
Jezebel’s Plan to Murder Naboth
Ahab was very angry because he couldn’t obtain the vineyard. He had a selfish heart and his attitude was like that of a spoiled child who when he didn’t get his way he refused to eat and threw himself on his bed (1 Kings 21: 4). His whole kingdom seemed to mean nothing to him as long as he did not have the vineyard of Naboth. So Jezebel, his wife, told him “let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite” (verse 7).
To Ahab it didn’t matter how Jezebel intended to get the vineyard, so long as he took it. So, she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth. And she raised two evil men (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6) to bear false witness against Naboth, saying, “You have blasphemed God and the king. Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die” (1 Kings 21:10).
The ready consent of the rulers of the city in carrying out this evil plan is typical in ancient tyranny. Evil murder would be carried out under the fabrication of justice. This quick submission of the elders displayed a deep moral corruption. According 2 Kings 9:26 not only Naboth but also his sons were stoned. With Naboth’s sons killed there would be no heirs to claim to the vineyard. Thus, the crime became doubly dreadful. And all the property of Naboth became the possession of the king.
God’s Punishment to Jezebel and Ahab
Jezebel thought she had everything flawlessly planned, but she overlooked that there is a God in heaven. The Lord saw her evil deed. And the terrible crime of Ahab and his wife could not be allowed to go unpunished. God sent Elijah with the message that He will bring calamity upon Ahab, Jezebel and their house. “Behold, I will bring calamity on you. I will take away your posterity, and will cut off from Ahab every male in Israel, both bond and free. And concerning Jezebel … ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel…” (1 Kings 21:21, 23, 24, 29).
Sin filled Ahab’s heart, but Jezebel caused it to burn. It was through the influence of Jezebel that Ahab worshiped Baal (1 Kings 16:31), killed the prophets of God (ch. 18:4), driven Elijah to exile (ch. 19:2), and finally murdered Naboth and stole his land (1 Kings 21:7, 15). And the words of the Lord came to pass upon Ahab for he was wounded in war and lost his life (1 Kings 22:34,35) and on Jezebel for she fell from her window and died and was eaten by dogs (2 Kings 9:30-37).
In His service,