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A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown [1882] at

3 Kings (1 Kings) Chapter 21

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:1

kg1 21:1


Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel--Ahab was desirous, from its contiguity to the palace, to possess it for a vegetable garden. He proposed to Naboth to give him a better in exchange, or to obtain it by purchase; but the owner declined to part with it. In persisting in his refusal, Naboth was not actuated by any feelings of disloyalty or disrespect to the king, but solely from a conscientious regard to the divine law, which, for important reasons, had prohibited the sale of a paternal inheritance [Lev 25:23; Num 36:7]; or if, through extreme poverty or debt, an assignation of it to another was unavoidable, the conveyance was made on the condition of its being redeemable at any time [Lev 25:25-27]; at all events, of its reverting at the jubilee to the owner [Lev 25:28]. In short, it could not be alienated from the family, and it was on this ground that Naboth (Kg1 21:3) refused to comply with the king's demand. It was not, therefore, any rudeness or disrespect that made Ahab heavy and displeased, but his sulky and pettish demeanor betrays a spirit of selfishness that could not brook to be disappointed of a favorite object, and that would have pushed him into lawless tyranny had he possessed any natural force of character.

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:4

kg1 21:4

turned away his face--either to conceal from his attendants the vexation of spirit he felt, or, by the affectation of great sorrow, rouse them to devise some means of gratifying his wishes.

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:7

kg1 21:7


Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?--This is not so much a question as an exclamation--a sarcastic taunt; "A pretty king thou art! Canst not thou use thy power and take what thy heart is set upon?"

arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard--After upbraiding Ahab for his pusillanimity and bidding him act as a king, Jezebel tells him to trouble himself no more about such a trifle; she would guarantee the possession of the vineyard.

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:8

kg1 21:8

So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal--The seal-ring contained the name of the king and gave validity to the documents to which it was affixed (Est 8:8; Dan 6:17). By allowing her the use of his signet-ring, Ahab passively consented to Jezebel's proceeding. Being written in the king's name, it had the character of a royal mandate.

sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city--They were the civic authorities of Jezreel, and would, in all likelihood, be the creatures and fit tools of Jezebel. It is evident that, though Ahab had recently been in Jezreel, when he made the offer to Naboth, both he and Jezebel were now in Samaria (Kg1 20:43).

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:9

kg1 21:9

Proclaim a fast, &c.--Those obsequious and unprincipled magistrates did according to orders. Pretending that a heavy guilt lay on one, or some unknown party, who was charged with blaspheming God and the king and that Ahab was threatening vengeance on the whole city unless the culprit were discovered and punished, they assembled the people to observe a solemn fast. Fasts were commanded on extraordinary occasions affecting the public interests of the state (Ch2 20:3; Ezr 8:21; Joe 1:14; Joe 2:15; Jon 3:5). The wicked authorities of Jezreel, by proclaiming the fast, wished to give an external appearance of justice to their proceedings and convey an impression among the people that Naboth's crime amounted to treason against the king's life.

set Naboth on high--During a trial the panel, or accused person, was placed on a high seat, in the presence of all the court; but as the guilty person was supposed to be unknown, the setting of Naboth on high among the people must have been owing to his being among the distinguished men of the place.

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:13

kg1 21:13

there came in two men--worthless fellows who had been bribed to swear a falsehood. The law required two witnesses in capital offenses (Deu 17:6; Deu 19:15; Num 35:30; Mat 26:60). Cursing God and cursing the king are mentioned in the law (Exo 22:28) as offenses closely connected, the king of Israel being the earthly representative of God in His kingdom.

they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him--The law, which forbade cursing the rulers of the people, does not specify the penalty for this offense but either usage had sanctioned or the authorities of Jezreel had originated stoning as the proper punishment. It was always inflicted out of the city (Act 7:58).

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:14

kg1 21:14

Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession--Naboth's execution having been announced, and his family being involved in the same fatal sentence (Kg2 9:26), his property became forfeited to the crown, not by law, but traditionary usage (see Sa2 16:4).

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:16

kg1 21:16

Ahab rose up to go down--from Samaria to Jezreel.

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:17

kg1 21:17


Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?--While Ahab was in the act of surveying his ill-gotten possession, Elijah, by divine commission, stood before him. The appearance of the prophet, at such a time, was ominous of evil, but his language was much more so (compare Eze 45:8; Eze 46:16-18). Instead of shrinking with horror from the atrocious crime, Ahab eagerly hastened to his newly acquired property.

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:19

kg1 21:19

In the place where dogs licked, &c.--a righteous retribution of Providence. The prediction was accomplished, not in Jezreel, but in Samaria; and not on Ahab personally, in consequence of his repentance (Kg1 21:29), but on his son (Kg2 9:25). The words "in the place where" might be rendered "in like manner as."

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:20

kg1 21:20

thou hast sold thyself to work evil--that is, allowed sin to acquire the unchecked and habitual mastery over thee (Kg2 17:17; Rom 7:11).

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:21

kg1 21:21

will make thine house, &c.--(see on Kg1 15:29 and Kg1 16:3-12). Jezebel, though included among the members of Ahab's house, has her ignominious fate expressly foretold (see Kg2 9:30).

3 Kings (1 Kings) 21:27

kg1 21:27

Ahab . . . rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly--He was not obdurate, like Jezebel. This terrible announcement made a deep impression on the king's heart, and led, for a while, to sincere repentance. Going softly, that is, barefoot, and with a pensive manner, within doors. He manifested all the external signs, conventional and natural, of the deepest sorrow. He was wretched, and so great is the mercy of God, that, in consequence of his humiliation, the threatened punishment was deferred.

Next: 3 Kings (1 Kings) Chapter 22