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Ahab Murders Naboth

21 After this the following episode took place.[a] Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel adjacent to the palace of King Ahab of Samaria.[b] 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,[c] I will pay you silver for it.”[d] But Naboth replied to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should sell you my ancestral inheritance.”[e]

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

She wrote out orders,[l] signed Ahab’s name to them,[m] and sealed them with his seal. She then sent the orders[n] to the leaders[o] and to the nobles who lived in Naboth’s city.[p] This is what she wrote:[q] “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 the[r] city, the leaders,[s] and the nobles who lived there[t] followed the written orders Jezebel had sent them.[u] 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 him[v] outside the city and stoned him to death.[w] 14 Then they reported to Jezebel, “Naboth has been stoned to death.”[x]

15 When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she[y] 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,[z] he got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.

17 The Lord’s message 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. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “Haven’t you committed murder and taken possession of the property of the deceased?”’[aa] Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord has said: “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,[ab] “So, you have found me, my enemy!” Elijah[ac] replied, “I have found you, because you are committed[ad] to doing evil in the sight of[ae] the Lord. 21 The Lord says,[af] ‘Look, I am ready to bring disaster[ag] on you. I will destroy you[ah] and cut off every last male belonging to Ahab in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated.[ai] 22 I will make your dynasty[aj] like those of Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah because you angered me and made Israel sin.’[ak] 23 The Lord says this about Jezebel, ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the outer wall[al] of Jezreel.’ 24 As for Ahab’s family, dogs will eat the ones[am] 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[an] to doing evil in the sight of[ao] the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel.[ap] 26 He was so wicked he worshiped the disgusting idols,[aq] just as the Amorites[ar] 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’s message came to Elijah the Tishbite, 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab shows remorse[as] 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.”[at]


  1. 1 Kings 21:1 tn Heb “after these things.” The words “the following episode took place” are added for stylistic reasons.
  2. 1 Kings 21:1 sn King Ahab of Samaria. Samaria, as the capital of the northern kingdom, here stands for the nation of Israel.
  3. 1 Kings 21:2 tn Heb “if it is good in your eyes.”
  4. 1 Kings 21:2 tc The Old Greek translation includes the following words: “And it will be mine as a garden of herbs.”
  5. 1 Kings 21:3 tn Heb “Far be it from me, by the Lord, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you.”
  6. 1 Kings 21:4 tn Heb “on account of the word that Naboth the Jezreelite spoke to him and he said.”
  7. 1 Kings 21:4 tn Heb “I will not give to you the inheritance of my fathers.”
  8. 1 Kings 21:4 tn Heb “turned away his face.”
  9. 1 Kings 21:6 tn 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.
  10. 1 Kings 21:7 tn Heb “You, now, you are exercising kingship over Israel.”
  11. 1 Kings 21:7 tn Heb “so your heart [i.e., disposition] might be well.”
  12. 1 Kings 21:8 tn Heb “scrolls.”
  13. 1 Kings 21:8 tn Heb “in the name of Ahab.”
  14. 1 Kings 21:8 tn Heb “scrolls.”
  15. 1 Kings 21:8 tn Heb “elders.”
  16. 1 Kings 21:8 tn Heb “to the nobles who were in his city, the ones who lived with Naboth.”
  17. 1 Kings 21:9 tn Heb “she wrote on the scrolls, saying.”
  18. 1 Kings 21:11 tn Heb “his.”
  19. 1 Kings 21:11 tn Heb “elders.”
  20. 1 Kings 21:11 tn Heb “and the nobles who were living in his city.”
  21. 1 Kings 21:11 tn Heb “did as Jezebel sent to them, just as was written in the scrolls which she sent to them.”
  22. 1 Kings 21:13 tn Heb “led him.”
  23. 1 Kings 21:13 tn Heb “and they stoned him with stones and he died.”
  24. 1 Kings 21:14 tn Heb “Naboth was stoned and he died.” So also in v. 15.
  25. 1 Kings 21:15 tn Heb “Jezebel”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“she”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  26. 1 Kings 21:16 tc The Old Greek translation includes the following words here: “he tore his garments and put on sackcloth. After these things.”
  27. 1 Kings 21:19 tn The words “of the property of the deceased” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  28. 1 Kings 21:20 tn Heb “and Ahab said to Elijah.” The narrative is elliptical and streamlined. The words “when Elijah arrived” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
  29. 1 Kings 21:20 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Elijah) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  30. 1 Kings 21:20 tn Heb “you have sold yourself.”
  31. 1 Kings 21:20 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”
  32. 1 Kings 21:21 tn The introductory formula “the Lord says” is omitted in the Hebrew text, but supplied in the translation for clarification.
  33. 1 Kings 21:21 sn Disaster. There is a wordplay in the Hebrew text. The word translated “disaster” (רָעָה, raʿah) is similar to the word translated “evil” (v. 20, הָרַע, haraʿ). Ahab’s sins would receive an appropriate punishment.
  34. 1 Kings 21:21 tn Heb “I will burn after you.” Some take the verb בָּעַר (baʿar) to mean here “sweep away.” See the discussion of this verb in the notes at 14:10 and 16:3.
  35. 1 Kings 21:21 tn 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 (ʿatsur veʿazuv, 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 (ʾefes), “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.
  36. 1 Kings 21:22 tn Heb “house.”
  37. 1 Kings 21:22 tn Heb “because of the provocation by which you angered [me], and you caused Israel to sin.”
  38. 1 Kings 21:23 tc 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.
  39. 1 Kings 21:24 tn “Dogs will eat the ones who belonging to Ahab who die in the city.”
  40. 1 Kings 21:25 tn Heb “who sold himself.”
  41. 1 Kings 21:25 tn Heb “in the eyes of.”
  42. 1 Kings 21:25 tn Heb “like Ahab…whom his wife Jezebel incited.”
  43. 1 Kings 21:26 tn 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 (ʾelilim, “worthless things”) and הֲבָלִים (havalim, “vanities” or “empty winds”).
  44. 1 Kings 21:26 tn Heb “He acted very abominably by walking after the disgusting idols, according to all which the Amorites had done.”
  45. 1 Kings 21:29 tn Or “humbles himself.” The expression occurs a second time later in this verse.
  46. 1 Kings 21:29 tn 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.”