Bible Reference: 1 Kings chapter 21
Heart of the Story: The story of how Queen Jezebel connived to get Naboth’s vineyard for her husband showed her depravity.
Back Story: Queen Jezebel was an idol worshiper. She was the daughter of the king of Sidon on Israel’s northern border. King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom married her in a political marriage. After Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah, the Bible drops content about Jezebel for a few chapters. Then, her influence over Ahab is revealed again in 1 Kings chapter 21.
Story Line: King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were at their palace in Jezreel. There, King Ahab attempted to purchase a vineyard owned by Naboth of Jezreel. The vineyard was part of Naboth’s ancestral inheritance. Rather than understanding that Naboth followed Israelite law when he declined to sell the vineyard to King Ahab, the king went back to the Jezreel palace, laid on his bed sulking, and refused to eat.
When Jezebel heard that Ahab took to his bed and refused to eat, she went to Ahab’s chamber and asked what occurred to make him act that way (1 Kings 21:5-7). Ahab admitted his behavior was the result of Naboth’s refusal to sell him a certain vineyard. Jezebel responded that Ahab should act like a king, i.e., to get up, cheer up, and eat. She promised to get King Ahab the vineyard.
Jezebel had little patience with Ahab’s childish behavior. Further, she did not know or did not care about Israelite inheritance laws. Jezebel brought with her from Sidon a firm belief that a king could have anything and everything he wanted.
What Jezebel did next demonstrated her ruthless behavior. She wrote a letter to the elders and nobles in Naboth’s city (1 King 21:8-18). The letter was written in King Ahab’s name and his seal was placed on it. In the letter Jezebel instructed the elders/nobles to have two men accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king. The penalty for this cursing was stoning the culprit to death. Indeed, Jezebel’s plan was successful; soon Naboth and his sons were dead. Because none of Naboth’s sons remained alive, King Ahab took possession of the vineyard.
Pondering Relationships: King Ahab got more than Naboth’s vineyard; he got a curse from Elijah. Elijah told King Ahab that God would bring disaster on him and wipe out Ahab’s (and Jezebel’s) descendants plus dogs would devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel (1 Kings 21:22-29). King Ahab was petrified by God’s words spoken through Elijah. He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted. He lay in sack cloth, became very meek, and repented his sinful ways. Ahab’s behavior was so changed that God told Elijah that he would not bring disaster on Ahab during his lifetime; however, the disaster would occur while his sons (Ahaziah then Joram) ruled.
Reflection: King Ahab got Elijah’s message and Ahab repented. God forgave him despite his previous despicable behavior. Why do you think that Jezebel did not repent? Go back and read the previous blog if you are not sure.
Copyright November 7, 2016; Carolyn A. Roth