1 Kings 21
Matthew Poole's Commentary
And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
Ahab coveteth to buy Naboth’s vineyard; which is denied him, and he is grieved, 1 Kings 21:1-4. Jezebel writeth letters against Naboth; he is condemned of blasphemy, and stoned, 1 Kings 21:5-14. Ahab possesseth the vineyard, 1 Kings 21:15,16. Elijah denounceth judgment against Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings 21:17-26. He repenting, God deferreth the judgment, 1 Kings 21:27-29.

In Jezreel; where one of Ahab’s palaces was, as the other was in Samaria.

And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
For God hath expressly, and for divers weighty reasons, forbidden the alienation of lands from the tribes and families to which they were allotted, Leviticus 25:15,23,25 Num 36:7 Ezekiel 46:18. And although these might have been alienated till the jubilee, yet he durst not sell it to the king for that time; because he supposed that if once it came into the king’s hand, especially to be made a garden of pleasure, and affixed to his palace, neither he nor his posterity could ever recover it again; and so he should both offend God, and wrong his posterity; which being, as it seems, a pious man, he durst not do.

And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.
Turned away his face from the light, and company which either then were with him, or might come to him to the wall, as Hezekiah did under a like dejection of spirit, Isaiah 38:2.

Would eat no bread; refused to eat meat in his usual time.

But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread?
No text from Poole on this verse.

And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? art thou fit to be king, that canst put up such affronts from thy subjects, and hast not the courage to use thy absolute power to dispose of them and theirs as seemeth good unto thee?

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.
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.

And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people:
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 set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.
Thou didst blaspheme, Heb. bless. Blessing is put for cursing and blaspheming, as Job 1:5 2:9, so also here, as is apparent, because his blessing God and the king had been no crime. It is a figure called euphemisms. God would have blasphemy so much abhorred, that it should not easily and unnecessarily be named by its proper name. Compare Psalm 16:4.

Carry him out, to the place where malefactors were punished, which was out of the city, Leviticus 24:23 Joshua 7:24 Mark 15:20 Hebrews 13:12, partly to show that they were unworthy of all human society, and abhorred by all the people; and partly because the place where they were killed was thereby ceremonially polluted.

Stone him; the proper punishment of blasphemers, Leviticus 24:15,16.

That he may die; as one that cursed his God, and his political father, his king. See Exodus 21:17 12:28.

And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
The elders and the nobles did as Jezebel had sent unto them; which is not at all strange in them who had for a long time cast off the fear and sense of God, and prostituted their consciences and religion to please their king, and sold themselves to all manner of wickedness, and could not now make a safe and honourable retreat, and durst not disobey Jezebel’s command, by whom they knew the king was wholly governed, and who could easily have taken away their lives in the same manner, if they had refused to kill Naboth.

They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
And his sons with him, as may be thought from 2 Kings 9:26, that so the king might have an undisturbed possession; for which they might pretend those examples, Numbers 16:32 Joshua 7:24. But these were examples of extraordinary vengeance, and by special warrant from God; and the law of God was positively contrary to it, Deu 24:16.

Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
They sent to Jezebel; by whom they knew the affairs of the kingdom were managed, and this design contrived.

And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
Take possession of the vineyard of Naboth; either, first, By right of confiscation, to repair the injury which he did to the king by blaspheming him. Or, secondly, By tyrannical usurpation. Or, thirdly, By right of inheritance; for some say that Ahab was his next kinsman, his sons being dead; which they judge more likely, because his land was next to the king’s.

And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
No text from Poole on this verse.

Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
Which is in Samaria; either who now is there, and about to depart thence to Jezreel; or who commonly dwells there.

He is in the vineyard, or rather, he will be; by that time that thou comest thither thou shalt find him there.

And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? Thou hast murdered an innocent and righteous man; and instead of repenting for it, thou hast added another piece of injustice and violence to it, and art going confidently and cheerfully to reap the fruit of thy wickedness. He ascribes Jezebel’s fact to Ahab, because Jezebel did it by his connivance, and consent, and authority, and for the satisfaction of his inordinate appetite.

Quest. How was this prophecy fulfilled, when Ahab’s blood was not licked in Jezreel, which was in the tribe of Issachar, but in the pool of Samaria, 1 Kings 22:38, which was in the tribe of Ephraim?

Answ. First, This was done, though not in the same individual place, yet in the same general place, i.e. in the territory of Samaria, within which Jezreel was; and in a place of the same nature, a public and common place; for such was both the place of Naboth’s execution, and the pool of Samaria. Secondly, This was particularly accomplished in his son Joram, as is affirmed, 2 Kings 9:25,26; whose blood is not improperly called Ahab’s blood, because children are said to be born of their parents’ blood. See John 1:13 Acts 17:26.

Object. These words,

thy blood, even thine, show that it is meant of Ahab’s person.

Answ. True, the threatening was so directed and designed at first; but afterwards, upon his humiliation, the punishment was transferred from him to his son, as is expressed, 1 Kings 21:29.

Object. This is said to be fulfilled in Ahab’s person, 1 Kings 22:38.

Answ. Either that may be referred to some other prediction or commination not elsewhere mentioned; or rather, it intimates that it was in part and in some sort fulfilled in him, though not so severely and opprobriously, nor with such characters of the curse, as it was in his son; whence he there mentions only the thing, without any regard unto the place here designed. But it may further be observed, that although upon Ahab’s humiliation the curse here threatened might seem to be wholly translated from his person to his posterity; yet upon Ahab’s return to sin, in the next chapter, he brings back the curse upon himself, and so it is no wonder if it be in some sort fulfilled in him also. Thirdly, The Hebrew word, rendered in

the place where, may be, and is by some learned men, otherwise rendered; either thus instead of this that; that being frequently said to be done in another’s place which was only done in his stead; or, like as; or, because that. So it doth not design the place, but the cause and reason of this judgment. And in this sense the same word is used Zechariah 2:1.

And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD.
Ahab said to Elijah; upon and after his delivery of the message last mentioned, which it was needless to repeat.

Hast thou found me? Dost thou pursue me from place to place? Wilt thou never let me rest? Art thou come after me hither with thy unwelcome messages?

O mine enemy; that art always disturbing, threatening, and opposing me, and expressing not so much God’s mind as thy own hatred and enmity against me. Compare 1 Kings 22:8.

I have found thee; the hand of God hath found and overtaken thee in the very act of thy sin.

Thou hast sold thyself; thou hast wilfully and wholly resigned up thyself to be the bond-slave of the devil, or Baal, and of wicked Jezebel, to do whatsoever they persuade thee to do; as a man that sells himself to another is totally in his master’s power, and must employ all his time and strength for his service. Compare 2 Kings 17:7: See Poole "Romans 7:14".

In the sight, i.e. impudently and contemptuously. Withal he minds him, that although his sin was in a great measure hid from the eyes of men by Jezebel’s cunning contrivance, yet it was evident and known to God, who would require it at his hands.

Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,
See Poole "1 Kings 14:10"

And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.
Or, by the ditch, or fort; or, in the portion, as it is explained 2 Kings 9:36; the Hebrew chel here being put for chelek, used there by an apocope of the last Hebrew letter, which is not unusual in the Hebrew tongue.

Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.
No text from Poole on this verse.

But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
There was none like unto Ahab; none among all the kings of Israel which had been before him.

Whom Jezebel his wife stirred up: this is added to show that temptations to sin are no excuse to the sinner.

And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
The Amorites, i.e. the seven nations of Canaan, all called by this name, as Genesis 15:16 48:22 Amos 2:9,10.

And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.
i. e. Slowly and silently, after the manner of mourners, or those who are under a great consternation, and in deep consideration.

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
No text from Poole on this verse.

Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.
Before me, i.e. in my presence, and upon my threatening. But this humiliation or repentance of Ahab’s was only external and superficial, arising from the terror of God’s judgments; and not sincere and serious, proceeding from the love of God, or a true sense of his sin, or a solemn purpose of amendment of his life, as appears, because all the particulars of his repentance here, 1 Kings 21:27, are external and ritual only; nor is there the least intimation of any one sign or fruit of his true repentance, as that he restored Naboth’s land, or reproved his infamous wife; but in the very next chapter you find him returning to his former vomit, hating and threatening the Lord’s prophets, &c.

The evil, i.e. the judgment threatened, both that 1 Kings 21:19, which was not inflicted upon Ahab with so much ignominy, and with that particular signature of God’s vengeance, that it was to be done in the same place, as it was upon his son Joram; and especially that 1 Kings 21:21,22, which was wholly suspended until his son’s days.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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