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What Ahab wants, his wife Jezebel steals.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

When Spit Turns Sour, part one

Probably it’s a poor idea for me, King Ahab’s bodyguard, to call him a jerk, but he deserves that name. Yesterday I listened to him try to steal Naboth’s property.

“Naboth, you have land I want. It’s by my palace where you have your vineyard. I want my vegetable gardens there. You can sell your land to me or I’ll trade you land for it. You can cultivate another vineyard on your new land.”

“But, King Ahab, I’m not interested in selling or trading my land. It belongs to me. It has been in my family for many generations. My dad worked on it and his father passed it to him. My great-grandfather received it from his father. The land is part of our family, who we are, and how we live.”

I watched the despair in Naboth’s face. Ahab has zero concern for Naboth and his family inheritance. You never have to wonder if Ahab cares about his people. He doesn’t. He ought to care that he is a thief, if he takes the land without Naboth’s consent. One of the first

commandments he should have learned as a child is: You shall not steal.

It looks like he’s going to his bedroom to grump. You can bet that what Ahab wants he will get, regardless of the law. He may need his wife’s trickery. Jezebel is an accomplished manipulator. I hear her voice now.

“Ahab, what’s the matter with you? Why are you refusing to eat?”

“Naboth won’t sell his vineyard land to me or trade land for it.’

“Are you the king of Israel?! Get out of bed and eat. You have no problem. I’ll get the land for you.”

With no hesitation she wrote letters, signed them with Ahab’s name, and closed them with Ahab’s seal. This woman is so ruthless that my spit tastes sour when she’s around.

She ordered, “Send these letters to the official leaders in Naboth’s city.”

When the officials opened the letters they found a command. “Call the citizens of the city together. Tell them they are to pray and fast. Put Naboth in a seat of honor. Then find two scoundrels who will lie. They are to accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king. Follow the law for those offenses. Drag Naboth out of the city. Stone him until he dies.”

The gutless officials followed Jezebel’s orders and sent her a message. “Naboth is dead as you ordered.”

Jezebel told her husband, “You can have the land which Naboth’s vineyard was on. He’s dead.”

I thought Ahab might ask Jezebel how that happened. No! He immediately went to the vineyard to claim his property.

Fortunately, we have a man who takes orders from God. God told the prophet Elijah, “Go to Naboth’s vineyard. King Ahab is there. Give him this message:

“Ahab, isn’t killing Naboth enough evil? Must you rob him of his land? You will receive more than land. When you die, dogs will lick your blood outside of the city, just as they licked Naboth’s blood when he lay dead from stoning.’”

“So Elijah, my enemy, you have found me.”

“Yes, Ahab, you’ve sold yourself to do what is evil in God’s sight. None of your family, slave or free, will survive in Israel.”

I’ve been taught our history since I was a little boy. I know that Ahab is the worst king we have ever had and his wife is no better.

To my surprise Ahab began wanting God’s forgiveness. God told Elijah, “Because Ahab is genuinely sorry, the removal of his family will happen after Ahab dies.”

I don’t know how God could forgive Ahab.

This is Barbara Steiner with a story from the history of the Israelite kings found in I Kings 21 of the Bible. The bodyguard is fictitious. Please visit:

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