1 Kings Chapter 21
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Go to Bible: 1 Kings 21
“Jezreel.” Jezreel in the Megiddo Valley was the northern place of Ahab and Jezebel.
“next to the palace.” This is not the normal word for “palace,” which is just the word “house.” It is often used for a temple. However, 1 Kings 21:2 says “house.”(top)
|1Ki 21:2||- (top)|
“Yahweh forbid me from giving the inheritance of my fathers to you!” The Law of Moses forbids people from selling their land to others outside the family (Num 36:7).(top)
“So Ahab came into his house sullen and angry.” Ahab had the same emotional response to the word of the prophet (1 Kings 21:42-43) and what Naboth had said to him based on the Law. King Ahab was not humble and wanted to do things his way, not God’s way.(top)
“Why is your spirit so sullen.” Here we see the word “spirit” referring to one’s attitude and emotions.(top)
|1Ki 21:6||- (top)|
“Now you exercise your kingship.” This phrase can be a question or command, and a command seems to fit better with Jezebel’s personality. The tense of the verb is future, “Now you will exercise….” The word “kingship” is Ahab and Jezebel trying to prove they had dynastic authority, but their view of kingship was different than Yahweh’s. They were supposed to reign with humble obedience to Yahweh, but instead, they elevated themselves above Yahweh and did immoral and illegal things.(top)
“nobles.” The more literal is “freemen,” but in this context, it refers to those free men who were higher up in society.(top)
“Proclaim a fast.” It was common that if some kind of disaster was coming, or had come but the cause was unknown, or if there was some offense to God that had become known, rulers would proclaim a fast to seek the will of God and reconciliation with Him. Esther proclaimed a fast to avert the disaster that Haman’s proclamation would bring up the Jewish people (Esther 4:16). That Jezebel proclaimed a fast would get people thinking, “What have Jezebel’s prophets revealed to her about someone offending God or about an upcoming disaster in the kingdom?” Jezebel’s plan was very sly, because if Jezebel was asked why a fast was being proclaimed she only had to say, “It has come to my attention that someone has offended God, and I want to protect the kingdom from His wrath.” At that point, when two men accused Naboth of cursing God and the king, Jezebel, or her evil stooges, could point at Naboth and say, “He is our problem,” and have him executed.(top)
“sons of Belial.” This is a designation of sons of the Devil.
[For more on sons of Belial, see commentary on 1 Sam. 2:12. For more on the unforgivable sin and children of the Devil, see commentary on Matt. 12:31.]
“You cursed God and the king!” This is quite the irony. Jezebel accuses Naboth of cursing God and the king when in fact she is the one cursing God by her actions and words. Also, ironic is the false witnesses’ use of the word “curse,” which is actually the Hebrew word “bless,” but is sometimes used euphemistically for “curse” as we see here, sort of in the same way that in today’s culture the word “bad” is sometimes used for something good, as in “O, that’s bad!” [meaning, “O that is very good”].a Also, to “bless” sometimes meant to send away, such as a person would send someone away from him with a blessing, so it can mean “dismiss” (or curse) and that is the underlying meaning it has here, Naboth supposedly cursed God and thus dismissed Him. The word “bless” is used to mean “curse” in other places in the Bible as well (cp. Job 1:5, 11; 2:5, 9).
Cp. HALOT Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
|1Ki 21:11||- (top)|
|1Ki 21:12||- (top)|
“Naboth cursed God and the king!” It was not just Naboth that was stoned, but his sons as well, because if only Naboth died his sons would inherit his property. So Jezebel murdered Naboth and his sons, but we don’t know how many sons Naboth had (2 Kings 9:26). The accusation was that Naboth cursed God and the king (see commentary on 1 Kings 21:10).(top)
|1Ki 21:14||- (top)|
|1Ki 21:15||- (top)|
|1Ki 21:16||- (top)|
|1Ki 21:17||- (top)|
|1Ki 21:18||- (top)|
“even yours.” Interestingly, the Septuagint has, “and the prostitutes will wash in your blood,” which is what happened (1 Kings 22:38), even though that phrase is not in the original text here.(top)
“you have sold yourself.” Ahab wanted certain things in the flesh, and he “sold himself” to get those things, and it also seems to have the connotation of having given himself totally to the flesh in the sense that he was “sold out” to the flesh.(top)
“will utterly burn up.” The Hebrew is more literally “burn up” meaning eradicate (cp. 1 Kings 14:10).
“those coming after you.” The Hebrew is literally, “burn up after you,” but the rest of the verse and the context indicates that those coming after are descendants and those who would have been part of the dynasty of Ahab. They were all killed.
“who pisses against a wall.” A crass idiom and cultural way of referring to the men.
“slave or free in Israel.” The meaning of this phrase is uncertain, and there are at least six different possibilities that have been postulated by scholars. The same phrase is used in 1 Kings 14:10 (see commentary on 1 Kings 14:10).(top)
“house.” In this context, “house” refers to the dynasty, not just the immediate household of Ahab.
“like the house of Jeroboam...and Baasha.” Both of those dynasties were wiped out by rivals (see commentary on 2 Kings 9:9).(top)
“Yahweh also spoke about Jezebel.” Yahweh spoke via the prophet (cp. 1 Kings 21:19). He did not speak directly Himself. This is a case of the Jewish custom of author-agent.
“The dogs will eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel.” In a culture where family ties were strong and family tombs common, to not have anyone bury your dead body was considered a terrible curse. In fact, many people believed (falsely, but it was a very widely held belief) that a proper burial was important for a comfortable existence in the afterlife. Thus the threat of not being buried but having one’s dead body eaten by animals, birds, and vermin was a horrifying threat of unspeakable loneliness and rejection, both on this earth and in the afterlife (see commentary on Jer. 14:16).
“rampart.” In this case, the “rampart” was the outer wall of the city, often associated with a moat (cp. Darby and JPS, “moat”). Here it more likely just means outer wall. It makes sense that Jezebel would have her personal quarters in the outer wall of the city which would give her a good view of the area around the city, and when she was pushed out the window she would fall to her death at the base of the wall.(top)
“the dogs will eat.” In a culture where family tombs and burial plots were common and family and community ties were strong, to not have family or friends bury one’s dead body was considered a terrible curse. In fact, many people believed (falsely, but it was a very widely held belief) that a proper burial was important for a comfortable existence in the afterlife. Thus the threat of not being buried but having one’s dead body eaten by animals, birds, and vermin was a horrifying threat of unspeakable loneliness and rejection, both on this earth and in the afterlife.
[For more on the curse of not being buried, see commentary on Jer. 14:16.]
“the heavens.” In Hebrew, the word “heaven” is always plural, i.e., “heavens.” The birds “of the heavens” is perhaps more commonly stated in English as “the birds of the air,” but it is important to note that to the Hebrew mindset, any space above the earth was “the heavens.”(top)
|1Ki 21:25||- (top)|
“idols.” This is not the standard word for “idol” but a derogatory word related to dung.
“from the presence of the children of Israel.” Although most English versions say “before the children of Israel” that makes it sound like Yahweh removed the Amorites before the Israelites got there, which was not the case. The Israelites removed them from their presence by defeating them in battle and killing them off. In this verse, God uses the idiom of Author-agent by saying that Yahweh removed them when it was the Israelites, the agents of Yahweh, who defeated them in battle, with God’s help of course.(top)
“softly.” Ahab walked around “softly,” without pride or arrogance. Although nuances such as “depressed” and “dejected” have been suggested, and may be partially true, the Hebrew reads “softly” or “gently,” and indicates a meekness brought about by the prophecy of a terrible future.(top)
|1Ki 21:28||- (top)|
“Because he is humbling himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days.” God responds to repentance even for the most egregious of sinners.
“but in his son’s days.” See 2 Kings 9.
“house.” In this context, “house” means “dynasty.”(top)