Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Who was. Hebrew, Chaldean, &c., place this after vineyard, and read which, referring it to the ground; which we might naturally suppose would be the place of Naboth's nativity, as it was his parental estate, 4 Kings ix. 21. Josephus calls the place Azari, and says it was a field contiguous to the king's palace. Septuagint Greek: alo, "threshing-floor."
Herbs. The taste of eastern nations is very different from ours. The Syrians delight in seeing gardens filled with melons, onions, &c., and they cannot conceive what pleasure we can find in rambling round our long walks for the sake of exercise. --- Money. Hence we perceive that, notwithstanding the despotic power of the kings of Israel, they did not imagine that they had a right to take their subjects' lands, 1 Kings viii. 14. (Calmet) --- Naboth's conduct is therefore here applauded; and St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 9.) styles him a martyr, (Worthington) and a great saint. (Tirinus) --- Maluit periculum cum honestate, quam utilitatem cum opprobrio.
Fathers. He would have deemed it a mark of disrespect and a crime, as he was not in a state of indigence; which alone could authorize him to sell his property, and then only till the year of jubilee; (Leviticus xxv. 23.) and as his field was to be turned into a royal garden, and the law was disregarded by the king, there was no prospect of his regaining it at that period. The law of Moses was till in force; and there were some, like Naboth, who were resolved to comply with it, (Calmet) even at the hazard of their lives. (Tirinus)
Fretting. The Hebrew terms are the same as [in] chap. xx. 43. What weakness in Achab! Riches and honours are not capable of ensuring content. (Calmet) --- "Who, thinkest thou, is poor; the man who is content with his own, or he who covets another's property?" (St. Ambrose, Naboth ii.) --- Wall, as Ezechias did afterwards, in very different dispositions; though both were oppressed with grief, Isaias xxxviii. 2. Septuagint, "he covered his face." (Haydock)
Israel. Hebrew simply, "Now thou wilt make the kingdom of Israel." (Calmet) --- Protestants, "Dost thou now govern the?" &c. (Haydock) --- Thou art a fit person indeed to establish a kingdom! Ought not a king to take what he has a mind to? Syriac, "Are you fit to reign?" Arabic, "You do not deserve to govern." (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "Dost thou now act the king over Israel, in this manner?" (Haydock)
Chief men. Hebrew chorim, "those in white," the usual colour of magistrates and noblemen, Ecclesiastes ix. 8., and Daniel vii. 9. The angels generally appear arrayed in white. Among the Egyptians and the Greeks, the rich were remarkable for the whiteness of their robes. (Herodotus ii. 36.) (Homer, Odyssey z.)
Fast, as in a case of the greatest importance, where the welfare of the king and of the state are concerned. We have frequent mention of such extraordinary fasts, 2 Paralipomenon xx. 3., 1 Esdras viii. 21., and Joel i. 14, &c. Some would translated, "Call the assembly." (Vatable) --- But the Chaldean, &c., are for the fast. Josephus joins both. All the people were collected, (Calmet) and Naboth was (Hebrew) "set on high, or at the head, as president, on account of his riches and nobility, (Haydock) that he might be unprepared, and afterwards be more disgraced. (Menochius) Abulensis (q. 4.) thinks that the judges were accustomed to fast, to shew their pity for the criminal, and that they were moved only by a zeal for justice.
Belial, without restraint or conscience. --- Blasphemed. Hebrew, "blessed." --- Elohim, (Haydock) or god, the gods, magistrates, &c. (Calmet) --- Blessing is equally put, to avoid the horrible sound of blaspheming. (Worthington) (Job i. 5., and ii. 9.) --- Martin de Roa (i. 9.) maintains, that the word implies to "bid adieu," or quit; as if Naboth had relinquished the service both of God and of the king. He was accused as a traitor. The law did not condemn the person to death who had spoken ill of the prince, Exodus xxii. 28. But the wicked judges complied with the intimation of Jezabel; (Calmet) as she pretended that he had also blasphemed God. (Haydock) --- Josephus introduces three witnesses, which was more conformable to the practice of the Jews. (Grotius) --- But the text specifies two; and that number would suffice. (Haydock) --- All Naboth's family were involved in his ruin; (4 Kings ix. 26.; Tirinus) as it was necessary for Achab's purpose. So Achan's children perished with him, Josue vii. 25. (Haydock) --- What a complication of crime! (Tirinus) --- "They proclaimed a fast, in order to commit murder." (St. Chrysostom, ser. 68.) Hypocrisy, falsehoods, perjury, perversion of justice, all are employed to take away the life, honour, and property of the innocent. See St. Ambrose, Seneca Benef. ii. 27. (Tirinus)
Devil. Hebrew Belial, ver. 10. Protestants, "and the men of Belial witnessed against him." --- City, as was requisite. (Calmet) --- Stoned him, for blasphemy, Leviticus xxiv. 16., and 23.
Of it, on the title of confiscation, as Naboth had been condemned for high treason; (see 2 Kings ix. 7.; Menochius) or because there was no heir left, ver. 10. Some assert, that Naboth was Achab's uncle. But this wants proof. (Calmet) --- Achab only waited one day, and the Elias met him to denounce to him a similar fate after he was dead, 4 Kings ix. 26. Septuagint have, "he tore this garments, and put on sackcloth; and it came to pass afterwards, that Achab arose," &c. This addition would intimate that the king pretended to be sorry. They repeat the same thing, ver. 27., "he had put on sackcloth, on the day when he slew Naboth, and went along cast down." It is probable that Achab might assume this garb, to make people suppose that he had no hand in the death of Naboth; but this was all hypocrisy, and Elias boldly accused him of guilt. Thou hast slain, &c., ver. 19. (Haydock) --- He knew, at least, of his wife's machinations. (Salien)
Possession, by desire; though he was yet only on the road. (Menochius) --- Perhaps he had sent his servants before. (Haydock) --- Place, not precisely, as Achab was slain in Samaria. (Menochius) --- But Naboth's vineyard, perhaps, was not far distant from the pool, where dogs licked the blood of the king. (Haydock) --- On account of Achab's repentance, the sentence was (ver. 29.; Calmet) rather changed, and his son Joram was substituted in his stead, 4 Kings ix. 25. Jehu, and his captain, Badacer, were present, when Elias denounced this sentence upon the family of Achab; and they concluded that the prediction regarded Joram. He had, perhaps, taken part with his impious parents, and promoted the same crimes. (Haydock)
Thy enemy. Have I done thee any harm, whenever thou hast appeared before me? Hebrew and Septuagint, "O my enemy." (Haydock) --- To find, often means to attack or take by surprise. Art thou come thus, to fall upon me on the road? (Calmet) --- Sold. That is, so addicted to evil, as if thou hadst sold thyself to the devil, to be his slave to work all kind of evil. (Challoner) (Worthington) (St. Gregory, in Ezec. hom. 10.) --- The expression strongly marks the empire of the passions. Achab was sovereignly wicked, without any restraint. (Calmet) --- So Vitellius was: Luxui saginæque mancipatus, emptusque. (Tacitus, Hist. ii.) --- Sold, or "abandoned," are used in the same sense, Psalm xliii. 13.
Wall. See 1 Kings xxv. 22. --- Israel, chap. xiv. 10. (Menochius)
Sin. god frequently inculcates the enormity of the crime of public scandal. (Menochius)
Field. Hebrew, "wall," or "before the wall." This was exactly fulfilled, 4 Kings ix. 32. Jezabel was hurled from a window over the gate or wall of the city. (Calmet)
Eat him. Yet God remitted something from the severity of this sentence; and Achab was buried in Samaria, chap. xxii. 37. But his son was deprived of burial. (Tirinus) (4 Kings ix. 26.) --- According to the Hebrew, the prediction related to Achab's posterity, as the Chaldean, Septuagint, Syriac, &c., have understood it. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "him that dieth of Achab in the city," &c.
Now. Septuagint, "Moreover, Achab was foolishly sold, a man who was sold, &c., since Jezabel....changed him:" Greek: metetheken. His natural disposition was not perhaps so bad. But his unfortunate connexion with a most wicked wife involved him in ruin. Even when he began to relent, and was on the point of reforming his life, (ver. 27.) her influence spoiled all. (Haydock) --- He was sold to her, and she exercised a most severe tyranny over him, using his seal at pleasure, and treating him with indignity, ver. 7, 8. (Tirinus)
Amorrhites. The Sidonians still adored the idols Baal and Astaroth, with the utmost exertions of cruelty and lust. This was the religion which Achab wished to establish, more than any of his predecessors. (Calmet)
Down. Hebrew, "uncovered," (Malvenda; 2 Kings xv. 30.) or "barefoot," (Chaldean; Syriac) or "softly," (Vatable; Protestants) or "he walked bent down." (Septuagint) This variety shows that the signification or at (Haydock) is not well known. The repentance of Achab is not more certain. Some believe that it was insincere, and only external: yet God was pleased to reward it iin this life, (Lyranus; Theodoret, &c.) as if might have some influence on the people. (Haydock) --- Others suppose that Achab really repented for what he had done, but presently relapsed at the instigation of Jezabel; so that his reward was equally of a temporal nature; though St. Chrysostom (ad Theod. laps.) seems to be convinced that he "obtained the remission of all his sins, and entirely changed his life." (ser. 68, et hom. 5. ad Antioc.) --- But here lies the difficulty. (Calmet) --- "His groans would have found favour, if the lurking envy had not increased his offence." (St. Ambrose, in Psalm xxxvii., de Naboth. chap. iv.) See ver. 25. --- A relapse renders the sincerity of the former conversions doubtful; and the more so, when no radical change, but only external sorrow, has appeared.
Sake. Hebrew, "before me," publicly. (Haydock) --- The threat of the prophet caused Achab to invest his son with the royal dignity, and Josaphat followed his example. (Salien, the year before Christ 916.) --- But some call this in question. (Haydock)