1 Kings 21:1-16
Jezreel was the winter capital of King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel. It was a large, bustling city.
Naboth's vineyard, the cause of so much trouble, was close to its walls, on the eastern side.
King Ahab wished to buy the land on which the vineyard stood to turn it into a vegetable garden. It would be a reliable source of fresh food for the palace.
On the face of it this seems a reasonable enough request, but there was a hidden sub-text. Ahab was trying to drag Israel into line with the 'modern' world, where land could be bought and sold rather than held in perpetuity by a single family.
One of the king's subjects, Naboth, was resisting him, not because the price was too low - King Ahab told him to name his own price - or even because he wanted to hold on to a vineyard he was proud of. He refused to seel because he was making a stand against Ahab's modernization plans.
As far as Naboth was concerned, the land had been allocated to his clan in ancient times as part of the Israelites' covenant with God.
It was his duty to keep the land and pass it down to his descendants - he did not 'own' the land, but merely held it in trust, a trust given by God. So he refused to sell.
This was a major problem for Ahab. Kings hold power only as long as they are obeyed. If Naboth did not hand over the vineyard, Ahab might be judged unfit to rule.
Ahab feared Naboth's defiance was only the tip of the iceberg. There might be more resistance in the future from other sources.
The king went into a deep depression, hiding in his room, unable to eat or drink.
At this point Ahab's queen, Jezebel, stepped up. She was a princess from the coastal city of Tyre, where the King's word was law, and she did not understand her husband's reticence in dealing with Naboth.
She arranged to have Naboth falsely accused of treason, held a show trial, and speedily executed the troublesome vineyard-owner.
In Tyre this was the accepted method of dealing with a trouble-maker.
In Israel, it was not.
Go to SHOWDOWN AT JEZREEL to see what happens....
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