Ahab Covets Naboth's Vineyard

The signs of mercy and kindness which G‑d had shown Ahab, did not cause him to return to G‑d. Jezebel's influence over him was as strong as ever.

Adjoining Ahab's palace in Jezreel was a beautiful vineyard, belonging to a man named Naboth. One day Ahab asked Naboth to sell him the vineyard because it was very near the palace and he wanted to change it into a vegetable garden. But Naboth refused to give up his property for any money, or even for better land elsewhere. He had inherited this piece of land from his fathers and he was determined to hold on to it as long as he could. Angry and in a bad mood over this refusal, Ahab returned to his palace and went to bed without eating anything. Jezebel saw that something had upset the king and she pressed him to tell her what troubled him. When Ahab told her of his request and of Naboth's refusal, Jezebel exclaimed indignantly: "Dost thou not govern the Kingdom of Israel? Arise, eat, and be happy, for I shall procure Naboth's vineyard for you!"

Jezebel's Crime

According to custom, the Fast Day was a signal for self-searching, and the correction of any sin or evil in private or public life.

The vile queen planned to use it for her own ends.

In the name of King Ahab, Jezebel addressed a letter to the Elders of Jezreel and sealed it with the royal seal. In the letter she requested that the council of the Aldermen proclaim a fast and elect Naboth their leader. She further commanded that they should then hire two men to testify that Naboth had blasphemed both G‑d and the king, for which he was to be stoned. The Elders of Jezreel carried out the queen's wishes and informed her that Naboth was dead. When the queen heard this, she went to Ahab and cheerfully told him to take possession of Naboth's vineyard.

Elijah's Admonition

The covetous king went into his ill-gotten vineyard. Suddenly he was confronted by the prophet Elijah and heard a message that chilled his blood: "Hast thou murdered and taken possession also? Thus says G‑d: 'In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall the dogs lick thy blood... Behold, I will bring evil upon you... I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam, and like the house of Baasha, for you have provoked my anger, and induced Israel to sin. And Jezebel also shall be eaten by the dogs in Jezreel."

When Ahab heard these words he tore his clothes, dressed himself in sackloth, and put ashes on his head, fasting and mourning. G‑d saw his genuine repentance and told Elijah that because Ahab had returned to G‑d, he would be spared the evil in his own days; but in his son's days misfortune would overtake the house of Ahab, as G‑d had decreed.