1 Kings 21:8
So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
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(8) Sealed them with his seal—with the name, or token, of the king, engraved on stone, and impressed (see Job 38:14) on a lump of clay attached to the letter. The sealing (as the modern sense of “signature” implies) was the pledge of authenticity and authority. (See Genesis 38:18; Nehemiah 9:38; Nehemiah 10:1; Esther 3:10; Esther 3:12, Daniel 6:17, &c.) The use of the seal—ordinarily worn or carried on the person—implies Ahab’s knowledge that something is being done in his name, into which he takes care not to inquire.

In his city.—This would be most naturally interpreted as Jezreel; but if Naboth dwelt or sojourned at Samaria, it may be Samaria. Jezebel naturally desires that neither Ahab nor she herself, though close at hand, should appear in the matter; but gives the necessary authority in writing, because without it the deed could not be done.

1 Kings 21:8. She sent the letters unto the elders and nobles — Whom she very well knew to be fit for her purpose; that were in his city — In Jezreel. Thus she seeks to destroy him with a pretence of justice, and with as little reflection on Ahab as might be.

21:5-16 When, instead of a help meet, a man has an agent for Satan, in the form of an artful, unprincipled, yet beloved wife, fatal effects may be expected. Never were more wicked orders given by any prince, than those Jezebel sent to the rulers of Jezreel. Naboth must be murdered under colour of religion. There is no wickedness so vile, so horrid, but religion has sometimes been made a cover for it. Also, it must be done under colour of justice, and with the formalities of legal process. Let us, from this sad story, be amazed at the wickedness of the wicked, and the power of Satan in the children of disobedience. Let us commit the keeping of our lives and comforts to God, for innocence will not always be our security; and let us rejoice in the knowledge that all will be set to rights in the great day.Seal - The seal is a very ancient invention. Judah's signet and Pharaoh's signet-ring are mentioned in Genesis Gen 38:18; Genesis 41:42. Signets of Egyptian kings have been found which are referred to about 2000 B.C. Sennacherib's signet, and an impression of Sargon's, are still extant. There can be no doubt that in the East, from a very remote antiquity, kings had seals and appended them to all documents which they set forth under their authority. (Compare also Esther 3:12; Esther 8:8; Daniel 6:17). The Hebrew mode of sealing seems to have been by attaching a lump of clay to the document, and impressing the seal thereupon Job 38:14.

His city - i. e., Jezreel 1 Kings 21:1. The mode in which it is spoken of here, and in 1 Kings 21:11, seems to imply that it was not the city from which Jezebel wrote. The court was evidently at this time residing at Samaria 1 Kings 20:43; and Ahab may either have met Naboth there, or have gone down (compare 1 Kings 21:16) to Jezreel to make his request, and then, on being refused, have returned to Samaria. The distance is not more than seven miles.

8. So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal—The seal-ring contained the name of the king and gave validity to the documents to which it was affixed (Es 8:8; Da 6:17). By allowing her the use of his signet-ring, Ahab passively consented to Jezebel's proceeding. Being written in the king's name, it had the character of a royal mandate.

sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city—They were the civic authorities of Jezreel, and would, in all likelihood, be the creatures and fit tools of Jezebel. It is evident that, though Ahab had recently been in Jezreel, when he made the offer to Naboth, both he and Jezebel were now in Samaria (1Ki 20:43).

Whom she very well knew to be fit for her purpose.

In his city, i.e. in Jezreel. So she seeks to destroy him with a pretence of justice, and with as little reflection upon Ahab as might be.

So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal,.... He giving her leave, no doubt, to take his seal; though she might not communicate her scheme to him, lest he should object to it:

and sent the letters unto the elders, and to the nobles that were in his city dwelling with Naboth: to the chief magistrates of the city of Jezreel, where Naboth dwelt.

So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth.
8. she wrote letters in Ahab’s name] She was the real ruler, he only king in name. The letters would be prepared for her by the royal secretaries. Jezebel’s part was to take the signet ring of her husband, and therewith affix the royal seal that the document might go forth with authority. Apparently Ahab asked no question about the means which his wife meant to employ.

the elders and to the nobles] The law ordered (Deuteronomy 16:18) that there should be judges appointed in every city, and we cannot doubt the existence of such a tribunal in a place so important as Jezreel, where the elders and nobles would form the bench of magistrates. The sequel shews that for such an offence as that charged against Naboth they had the power of life and death. But the whole proceeding is very Oriental. The royal letter dictates the sentence, and how it is to be obtained, and the persons to whom it is addressed make no scruple about obeying, although the last words of this verse increase the enormity of their proceeding by telling that they ‘were in his city, dwelling with Naboth’, and so it would seem well acquainted with his character.

The words ‘in his city’ are omitted in the LXX.

Verse 8. - So she wrote letters [Heb. writings] in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal [The use of the seal, for the purpose of authentication, is of great antiquity. Some of the Egyptian signets are more than 4,000 years old. Their use in the age of the patriarchs is attested by Genesis 38:15 and Genesis 41:42; their importance is proved by the text, by Esther 3:10; Esther 8:2, 8, 10 (cf. "Herod," 3:128); Daniel 6:17; Jeremiah 32:10, 54; Haggai 2:23, etc. Whether this seal - which does not necessarily prove that those who used it could not write - was impressed upon the writings themselves according to the modern practice of the East, or upon a piece of clay (Job 38:14), which was then attached to the letter by strings, we have no means of knowing. The use of Ahab's seal affords a strong presumption that he was privy to her designs (Bahr), but of this we cannot be absolutely certain], and sent the letters unto the elders [see Deuteronomy 16:18] and to the nobles [same word Nehemiah 2:16; Nehemiah 4:13; Ecclesiastes 10:17] that were in his city, dwelling [or inhabitants, as in ver. 11] with Naboth. 1 Kings 21:8The shameless woman then wrote a letter in the name of Ahab, sealed it below with the royal seal, which probably bore the king's signature and was stamped upon the writing instead of signing the name, as is done at the present day among Arabs, Turks, and Persians (vid., Paulsen, Reg. der Morgenl. p. 295ff.), to give it the character of a royal command (cf. Esther 8:13; Daniel 6:17), and sent this letter (the Chethb הסּפרים is correct, and the Keri has arisen from a misunderstanding) to the elders and nobles of his town (i.e., the members of the magistracy, Deuteronomy 16:18), who lived near Naboth, and therefore had an opportunity to watch his mode of life, and appeared to be the most suitable persons to institute the charge that was to be brought against him. The letter ran thus: "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people, and set two worthless men opposite to him, that they may give evidence against him: Thou hast blasphemed God and king; and lead him out and stone him, that he may die." Jezebel ordered the fasting for a sign, as though some public crime or heavy load of guilt rested upon the city, for which it was necessary that it should humble itself before God (1 Samuel 7:6). The intention was, that at the very outset the appearance of justice should be given to the legal process about to be instituted in the eyes of all the citizens, and the stamp of veracity impressed upon the crime of which Naboth was to be accused. העם בראשׁ...הושׁיבוּ, "seat him at the head of the people," i.e., bring him to the court of justice as a defendant before all the people. The expression may be explained from the fact, that a sitting of the elders was appointed for judicial business, in which Naboth and the witnesses who were to accuse him of blasphemy took part seated. To preserve the appearance of justice, two witnesses were appointed, according to the law in Deuteronomy 17:6-7; Deuteronomy 19:15; Numbers 35:30; but worthless men, as at the trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:60). אלהים בּרך, to bless God, i.e., to bid Him farewell, to dismiss Him, as in Job 2:9, equivalent to blaspheming God. God and king are mentioned together, like God and prince in Exodus 22:27, to make it possible to accuse Naboth of transgressing this law, and to put him to death as a blasphemer of God, according to Deuteronomy 13:11 and Deuteronomy 17:5, where the punishment of stoning is awarded to idolatry as a practical denial of God. Blaspheming the king is not to be taken as a second crime to be added to the blasphemy of God; but blaspheming the king, as the visible representative of God, was eo ipso also blaspheming God.
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