1 Kings 21:9
And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
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(9) Proclaim a fast.—This might be only to cover all that was to be so foully done with a cloak of religious observance, or, perhaps more probably, to imply that some secret sin had been committed, which would draw down vengeance on the whole city, and so to prepare for the false accusation. There is a like ambiguity as to the explanation of the command, “set Naboth on high,” as either an exaltation of pretended honour, or the “lifting up his head” (Genesis 40:20) for accusation. It may be noted that the whole scheme implies a return of the people to at least the outward observance of the Law of the Lord.

1 Kings 21:9. She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast — As if there had been some grievous crime committed, or some great calamity had befallen them, which all the people were to bewail, and purge themselves from, lest they should become guilty; and consequently they were to see the crime punished very severely; for such days of fasting were spent in punishing offenders, doing justice, and praying to God for pardon. She intended also, by taking this step, to remove all suspicion of evil design in Ahab, and to beget a good opinion of him among his people, as if he were grown zealous for God’s honour, and careful of his people’s welfare, and therefore was desirous to inquire into all those sins which provoked God against them. And set Naboth on high — On a scaffold, or high place, where he might be seen and heard by the people; for persons accused and arraigned were wont so to appear before the judges, that all the people might see them, and hear what was alleged against them, and the proofs of it, and their defence.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.The object of this fast was at once to raise a prejudice against Naboth, who was assumed by the elders to have disgraced the town; and at the same time to give an air of religion to the proceedings, which might blind persons to their real injustice.

Set Naboth on high among his people - This was not an order to do Naboth any, even apparent, honor; but simply a command to bring him forward before a court or assembly, where he might be seen by all, tried, and condemned.

9. Proclaim a fast, &c.—Those obsequious and unprincipled magistrates did according to orders. Pretending that a heavy guilt lay on one, or some unknown party, who was charged with blaspheming God and the king and that Ahab was threatening vengeance on the whole city unless the culprit were discovered and punished, they assembled the people to observe a solemn fast. Fasts were commanded on extraordinary occasions affecting the public interests of the state (2Ch 20:3; Ezr 8:21; Joe 1:14; 2:15; Jon 3:5). The wicked authorities of Jezreel, by proclaiming the fast, wished to give an external appearance of justice to their proceedings and convey an impression among the people that Naboth's crime amounted to treason against the king's life.

set Naboth on high—During a trial the panel, or accused person, was placed on a high seat, in the presence of all the court; but as the guilty person was supposed to be unknown, the setting of Naboth on high among the people must have been owing to his being among the distinguished men of the place.

Proclaim a fast, to remove all suspicion of hatred or evil design in Ahab, and to beget a good opinion of him amongst his people, as if his afflictions had done him good, and as if he were grown zealous for God’s honour, and careful of his people’s welfare, and therefore desirous to prevent the further displeasure of God against his city and kingdom; and in order thereunto, to inquire into all those sins which provoked God against them, and effectually to purge them out.

Set Naboth on high; in a scaffold, or some other high place, where malefactors were usually and fitly placed, that they might be seen, and their defence heard by all the people. And she wrote in the letters, saying, proclaim a fast,.... Pretending fears of some dreadful calamity coming upon the nation, and therefore fasting and humiliation were necessary to avert it, and it would be right to inquire what crimes were committed by men among them, and punish them for them; and intimated to them that Naboth should be chosen as the great offender, and be accused, condemned, and put to death, R. Joseph Kimchi (a) thinks the phrase signifies "call an assembly or congregation"; convene a court of judicature, from the use of the word in the Talmudic language (b); and so it is thought it is used in Jeremiah 36:6 and indeed it can hardly be thought that Jezebel should have much notion of fasting; and besides, if it was a public fast, why should it be proclaimed only in Jezreel, and not throughout the kingdom?

and set Naboth on high among the people; the court being set, bring him to the bar and arraign him; perhaps in their courts of judicature there was a high place above the heads of the people, where criminals accused used to stand when they took their trials, that they might be seen and heard by all in court.

(a) Apud David. Kimchium in loc. (b) Vid. Buxtorf. Talmud. Lexic. in rad

And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a {d} fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:

(d) For then they used to enquire of men's faults: for no one could truly fast if he was a notorious sinner.

9. Proclaim a fast] Let a day of humiliation be appointed, for it must be represented that a great wrong has been committed both against God and the king. Cf. 1 Samuel 7:6 where the people gathered at Mizpeh fasted, saying, ‘We have sinned against the Lord’. The command of God (Joel 2:12) by His prophet is, ‘Turn ye to me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping’. Hence the action is to express the popular sorrow for some wrong done, by which the whole city is contaminated.

and set Naboth on high among the people] Lit. ‘at the head of the people’. The LXX. has ἐν ἀρχῇ τοῦ λαοῦ. He was to be put in a prominent place, as one who had hitherto held an honourable position. Josephus speaks of him as γένους ἐπιφανοῦς ‘of a family of note’. By thus, at the beginning of the process, treating Naboth with honour they would seem to make it plain that, but for the evidence against him, they would have been glad to think him innocent.Verse 9. - And she wrote in the letters, saying Proclaim a fast [The object of this ordinance was to give the impression that the city was labouring under, or threatened with, a curse, because of some undiscovered sin (2 Samuel 21:1; Joshua 9:11; Deuteronomy 21:9), which must be removed or averted by public humiliation. Cf. Joel 1:14; Joel 2:12; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Chronicles 20:3)], and set Naboth on high among the people. [Heb. at the head of the people. Keil, al. interpret, bring him into the court of justice, as defendant before all the people." And certainly הושִׁיבוּ here, and in the next verse - where it is used of the witnesses (cf. ver. 13) - means, make to sit; which looks as if judicial procedure were intended. But "at the head of the people "rather suggests that in the public assembly, which marked the fast (Joel 2:15), Naboth was assigned the most distinguished place. The reason for this is obvious, viz., to give a colour of impartiality to the proceedings. As Grotius, Ne odio damnasse crederentur, quem ipsi honoraverunt. It would also accord with the popular idea of retributive justice that Naboth should be denounced in the very hour of his triumph and exaltation. Josephus, however, says that it was because of his high birth that this position was assigned him.] Naboth refused to part with the vineyard, because it was the inheritance of his fathers, that is to say, on religious grounds (חלילה כּי מיהוה), because the sale of a paternal inheritance was forbidden in the law (Leviticus 25:23-28; Numbers 36:7.). He was therefore not merely at liberty as a personal right to refuse the king's proposal, but bound by the commandment of God.
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