And then, to top it off, came this: Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel that bordered the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
One day Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, "Give me your vineyard so I can use it as a kitchen garden; it's right next to my house - so convenient. In exchange I'll give you a far better vineyard, or if you'd prefer I'll pay you money for it."
But Naboth told Ahab, "Not on your life! So help me God, I'd never sell the family farm to you!"
Ahab went home in a black mood, sulking over Naboth the Jezreelite's words, "I'll never turn over my family inheritance to you." He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.
Jezebel his wife came to him. She said, "What's going on? Why are you so out of sorts and refusing to eat?"
He told her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite. I said, 'Give me your vineyard - I'll pay you for it or, if you'd rather, I'll give you another vineyard in exchange.' And he said, 'I'll never give you my vineyard.'"
Jezebel said, "Is this any way for a king of Israel to act? Aren't you the boss? On your feet! Eat! Cheer up! I'll take care of this; I'll get the vineyard of this Naboth the Jezreelite for you."
She wrote letters over Ahab's signature, stamped them with his official seal, and sent them to the elders in Naboth's city and to the civic leaders.
She wrote "Call for a fast day and put Naboth at the head table.
Then seat a couple of stool pigeons across from him who, in front of everybody will say, 'You! You blasphemed God and the king!' Then they'll throw him out and stone him to death."
And they did it. The men of the city - the elders and civic leaders - followed Jezebel's instructions that she wrote in the letters sent to them.
They called for a fast day and seated Naboth at the head table.
Then they brought in two stool pigeons and seated them opposite Naboth. In front of everybody the two degenerates accused him, "He blasphemed God and the king!" The company threw him out in the street, stoned him mercilessly, and he died.
When Jezebel got word that Naboth had been stoned to death, she told Ahab, "Go for it, Ahab - take the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for your own, the vineyard he refused to sell you. Naboth is no more; Naboth is dead."
The minute Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite and claimed it for his own.
Then God stepped in and spoke to Elijah the Tishbite,
"On your feet; go down and confront Ahab of Samaria, king of Israel. You'll find him in the vineyard of Naboth; he's gone there to claim it as his own.
Say this to him: 'God's word: What's going on here? First murder, then theft?' Then tell him, 'God's verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth's blood, they'll lap up your blood - that's right, your blood.'"
Ahab answered Elijah, "My enemy! So, you've run me down!"
'I will most certainly bring doom upon you, make mincemeat of your descendants, kill off every sorry male wretch who's even remotely connected with the name Ahab.
And I'll bring down on you the same fate that fell on Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah - you've made me that angry by making Israel sin.'"
As for Jezebel, God said, "Dogs will fight over the flesh of Jezebel all over Jezreel.
Anyone tainted by Ahab who dies in the city will be eaten by stray dogs; corpses in the country will be eaten by carrion crows."
Ahab, pushed by his wife Jezebel and in open defiance of God, set an all-time record in making big business of evil.
He indulged in outrageous obscenities in the world of idols, copying the Amorites whom God had earlier kicked out of Israelite territory.
When Ahab heard what Elijah had to say, he ripped his clothes to shreds, dressed in penitential rough burlap, and fasted. He even slept in coarse burlap pajamas. He tiptoed around, quiet as a mouse.
Then God spoke to Elijah the Tishbite:
"Do you see how penitently submissive Ahab has become to me? Because of his repentance I'll not bring the doom during his lifetime; Ahab's son, though, will get it."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)