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9. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people :
10. And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst 1 blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and a stone him, that he may die.
11. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them.
12. 3 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.
1 Ex. 22 : 28. Lev. 24: 15, 16. Acts 6:11.
2 Lev. 24: 14.
of a royal mandate. 7., F. and B. Unto the elders and to the nobles. The elders and nobles constituted without doubt the city tribunal (Deut. 16:18), and would, in all likelihood, be the creatures and fit tools of Jezebel. They were indeed chosen by the people, but by a people under her influence and power. In his city. Jezreel.
Scene IV.,- The Trial of Naboth. – Vers. 9–14. 9. Proclaim a fast. As was customary in the event of national calamities (Joel 1:14), after great sins (1 Sam. 7:6; Joel 2:12), or for the turning away of apprehended misfortune (2 Chron. 20:3). It was not merely to furnish occasion for the procedure against Naboth (Thenius), but rather “ to publish the fact that a grievous fault was resting upon the city, which must be expiated.” — Keil. Jezebel would make the people believe that she piously humbled herself in view of the great crime of blasphemy with which Naboth was charged, and from which the whole city might suffer if no such repentance were manifest. - Whedon. Set Naboth on high. Bring him before the people for trial. Put him in a conspicuous place, as a criminal is placed before the court.
10. And set two men. They were to find two men who were willing to perjure themselves. According to Deut. 17:6 and 19:15, every crime punishable by death must be testified to by at least two witnesses, who also must at the stoning make the beginning. Lange, Sons of Belial. Belial is not to be regarded as a proper name in the Old Testament. Its meaning is worthlessness, recklessness. “Sons of Belial ” means simply worthless, lawless fellows. In the New Testament, Belial stands for Satan. — Smith's Bible Dict. Thou didst blaspheme God. To blaspheme is to revile, to speak reproachfully of, to abuse. Blame is a shortened form of blaspheme. — Imperial Dict. Jezebel did not believe in God, but Naboth did, and was an acknowledged servant of God (see under ver. 4), and the people were nominally living under the law of Jehovah. Jezebel made use of this fact, and would seem unusually favorable to the God of Israel in executing the law against those who spoke evil of the true God. And the king. It would be easy to find some faint foundation for this charge in a pious man whose whole soul was opposed to the course of the king in introducing idolatry. Such a man could not help protesting against the evil done by Ahab. — P. And carry him out. A stoning always took place outside the city (see Acts 7:58). — Cook. And stone him. The legal punishment of blasphemy was indeed death by stoning (Lev. 24: 16), and Naboth would have perished justly had he been guilty of the crime. — Van Lennep. That he may die. It appears from 2 Kings 9: 26, that Naboth's sons were put to death at the same time. This was forbidden by the law (Deut. 24:16); but the practice of all the surrounding nations, however, was the very opposite of this, and Jezebel availed herself of the fact, in order to remove Naboth's heirs oui of the way. According to still prevailing Oriental usage, the property of a criminal reverts to the crown, certain portions excepted, which are the perquisites of the executioner; and this is easier done when the law of inheritance has no chance to come into play. Van Lennep.
11-14. “And the men of his city ... did as Jezebel had sent unto them. They were so corrupted by the surrounding influences, and so under the power of the king and queen, that they performed her unrighteous commands. The proceeding against Naboth is a combination of the heaviest crimes, for by it are trodden under foot the three divine commands: Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. - Lange. Naboth thinks, perchance, at the first, that the charge is so utterly reckless and improbable, that none of his neighbors, who know him so well, and have known him from his youth up, will entertain it for a moment. But he is speedily undeceived. He finds that he has not a chance with them, that all steel their faces and
13. And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him ; and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died.
14. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
15. And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money : for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
16. And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
17. 2And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
18. Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, 3 which is in Samaria : behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.
19. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession ? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, 4 In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.
12 Kings 9:26.
31 Kings 13: 32. 2 Chron. 22:9.
• 1 Kings 22:38.
hearts against him. He perceives that there is a conspiracy against him. In vain he protests his innocence; in vain he appeals to his blameless life. His cries and those of his wife and children are alike unheeded. In a trice he is condemned to die the death of the blasphemer. And now we find ourselves hurried along by a tumultuous crowd. We pass through the city gate; we reach the open space outside the walls. The witnesses speedily divest themselves of their abbas; they lay them down at the feet of the elders; they take up stones and rush upon him. At the first blow he quivers from head to foot with a great throb of pain, but blow follows fast upon blow; he sinks senseless; the blood streams from his wounds; the dear life is crushed out of him, and Naboth's name and the names of his sons are added to those on the glory roll of the noble army of martyrs. — A. Rowland.
Scene V.,- Ahab in his lll-gotten Possession. — Vers. 15-19. 15. When Jezebel heard. She received the news with undisguised satisfaction. It was nothing to her that God's name had been profaned; that religion had been dishonored; that justice had been outraged; or that innocent blood had been shed. - Taylor. Which he refused to give thee for money. There is a proud, malicious triumph in these words. “He refused, simple fool, to sell it. Now thou canst have it for nothing. I have discovered a better plan than buying it.” – Pulpit Com.
16. When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead ... Ahab rose up (According to the LXX., his first act was to rend his clothes and put on sackcloth. Afterwards “he rose up," etc.) to go down (The“Great Plain, on the margin of which Jezreel stands, is at a much lower level than Samaria, which is in the mountain district of Ephraim ") to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it. “Behind him, probably in the back part of his chariot, - or they may have been on horseback, - ride his two pages, Jehu and Bidkar” (2 Kings 9:25). This was apparently (2 Kings 9:26) on the day after the murder. — Pulpit Com.
18. Arise, go down. Bähr hence concludes that Elijah was at this time in a mountain district. But wherever he might be, this word would probably be used of a journey to the plain of Esdraelon. — Spence. Ahab, king of Israel, which is in Samaria, i.e., whose home is in Samaria. Samaria was the capital, and the king belonged there. He is in the vineyard of Naboth. He was trying to enjoy his ill-gotten possession, soothing his conscience by the thought that Jezebel, not he, was to blame for the way it was obtained, and planning how he could use the spot for his palace gardens. But the avenging Nemesis was close at hand, and smote him like a flash of lightning from a clear sky. - P.
19. And thou shalt speak unto him. It is implied that Elijah found Ahab - strode into his presence in the vineyard; not that he was there already when the royal chariot entered it. — Pulpit Com. As in the most pathetic of Grecian dramas, the unjust sentence has no sooner been pronounced on the unfortunate Antigone than Tiresias rises up to pronounce the curse on the Theban king, so, in this grander than any Grecian tragedy, the well-known prophet is there to utter the doom of the House of Ahab. He comes, we know not whence. — Stanley. Hast thou killed, etc. The question served to sharpen his conscience, since Ahab was obliged to admit the fact. - Keil. In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood. Thenius contends that there is a contradiction between this verse and chap. 22: 38 (together with 2 Kings 9:25, 26) which is absolutely insuperable. But as Bähr observes, "How thoughtless our author must have been if in two consecutive chapters — i.e., on the same leaf, as it were — he had inadvertently inserted direct contradictions.” And the following considerations will show that the discrepancy is only apparent. (1) The sentence here pronounced against Ahab was, on his repentance, stayed in its execution. God said distinctly, “I will not bring the evil in his days," and as distinctly added that he would “ bring the evil in his son's days, upon his house" (1 Kings 21 : 29). And (2) with the prophecy, as thus modified, the facts exactly accord. The body of Jehoram was “ cast into the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite ” (2 Kings 9:25, 26). And if it be objected (3) that our historian sees a fulfilment of this prophecy in the death of Ahab in Samaria, when the dogs licked up the blood that flowed from his wounds into the chariot in which he fled from the battle-field (1 Kings 22: 34-38), the answer is that that death was a partial fulfilment of Elijah's words. The repentance of Abab, having secured him immunity from this sentence, his subsequent folly and sin (chap. 22:27) nevertheless brought down upon him a judgment of God strikingly similar, as we might expect it would be, to that originally denounced against him, which was now reserved for his son. In other words, the prophecy was fulfilled to the letter in the person of his son, but it had a secondary fulfilment in its spirit on himself. — Pulpit Com. The same retribution also fell on Jezebel (2 Kings 9: 30–35), for her crime was greater even than Ahab's. At her door lies the real sin of the murder. The hands that accomplished it were not so guilty as the heart that suggested it and the mind that planned it. Ahab broke the tenth, Jezebel the sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth commandments. Covetousness, false witness, murder, confiscation, she stands convicted of them all. — Pulpit Com, Ahab was also guilty of all by permitting the crimes and enjoying the fruits.
Years afterwards, long after Ahab and Elijah had gone to their account, two of that same group found themselves once again on that same spot; and a king, the son of Ahab, lay dead at their feet; and Jehu turned to Bidkar and said, “Remember how that thou and I rode behind Ahab his father, when the Lord laid this burden upon him. Surely yesternight I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, saith Jehovah, and I will requite thee in this plat, saith Jehovah” (2 Kings 9:25, 26). — Stanley.
PRACTICAL. 1. Vers. 4-6. Covetousness is the source of many evils and crimes. Like the love of money, it is a root of all evil.
2. No amount of possessions will free us from the temptation to covet more. 3. No amount of wealth or honors or pleasures will keep us from discontentment.
Many, like Ahab, grieve and fret because they do not obtain some perishing good, but feel no sorrow because they do not possess an inheritance in heaven. - N. Hall."
5. It is proper to stand up for our rights against the whims of the rich or great. The rights of the poorest are as sacred as the rights of a king.
6. Ahab's sins: (1) avarice, (2) discontentment, (3) oppression, (4) impiety, (5) abject moral weakness, (6) base hypocrisy, (7) robbery, (8) lying, (9) murder.
7. The origin of these sins dated long before they were committed, in the acts that made his character so bad.
8. Ver. 8. We are responsible for what we permit to be done for us, and doubly so if we enjoy the results of the crime. By so doing, we only add weakness, hypocrisy, and meanness to the crime our hearts commit.
9. Vers. 10-14. Mark the progress of sin from covetousness to discontent, to evil counsel, to lying, to robbery, to murder, to retribution on self, to ruin of family.
10. Vers. 15-19. Transient is the enjoyment in possessions obtained by fraud and crime.
11. The punishment of sin is certain. "Be sure your sin will find you out." 12. The results of sin fall not only on ourselves, but on our families.
13. The punishment of Ahab's sin was (1) certain. (2) It corresponded to the crime. (3) It was delayed by repentance. (4) It came at last because the repentance was not deep and true.
14. The sinner imagines that God and good people are his enemies, but he is his own great enemy.
15. The law of retribution in the judgments of Providence is not limited to sacred history. Orestes recognized it when he said to Ægisthus, –
“Go where thou slew'st my father,
That in the selssame place thou too may'st die." It may be read in every full and accurate history,
SUGGESTIONS TO TEACHERS. A brief notice of the Intervening History.
The lesson may be taught by a series of pictures, as suggested by the headings in the notes above; or this plan may be combined with another, taking for its
SUBJECT, THE PROGRESS OF Sin. I. COVETOUSNESS. As illustrated in Ahab's case. No amount of possessions can keep from the unjust desire for what others possess.
Illustration. Trying to satisfy thirst by drinking the salt waters of the sea, which only increase the thirst. Out of covetousness grow many sins and crimes.
Illustration. The water for cities is often drawn from some large reservoir, and distributed to all parts by means of iron pipes. If the reservoir be poisoned or polluted, then all the water drawn from the various faucets in the houses will be poisoned and polluted. If the heart is polluted with covetousness, the deeds from the hands and the words from the mouth will be evil.
Illustration. Lightning flashes are but the visible manifestation of far larger amounts of electricity in the air, almost imperceptible. Crimes are the visible flashes from a pervading state of the heart.
II. COVETOUSNESS LEADING TO DISCOXTENTMENT (ver. 4). Kingly possessions and an ivory palace cannot bring contentment.
Illustration. The Greek story of Midas and the gold touch, best given for children in Hawthorne's " Tanglewood Tales."
III. DISCONTENT LEADING TO CONNIVANCE WITH CRIME (vers. 5-8). Enforce the truth that “the partaker is as bad as the thief.”
Illustration. (1) Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth. (2) Pilate trying to avoid the guilt of crucifying Christ by throwing it upon the people. He washed his hands in vain.
IV. CONNIVANCE WITH CRIME LEADING TO LYING AND HYPOCRISY (vers. 9-13). V. LYING AND HYPOCRISY LEADING TO ROBBERY AND MURDER (vers. 13, 14).
VI. ALL THESE CRIMES followed by retribution (vers. 15-19). Explain the after history; Ahab's sorrow, and God's forgiving love; the repentance proving false, and the retribution following.
Illustration. Robespierre beheaded by the same guillotine to which he had consigned so many in the French revolution.
Illustration. The French Catholics persecuted, martyred, and drove into exile the Huguenots, the Protestant Christians of France. When Germany, but a few years ago, conquered France, some seventy of the German officers were descendants of those exiled Huguenots. For practical at the close, review the lesson by dwelling on
THE VOICES FROM NABOTH's VINEYARD.
LESSON X. - SEPT. 6. ELIJAH TRANSLATED. — 2 KINGS 2:1-15. GOLDEN TEXT. - And Enoch walked with God: and he was not ; for God took him. -GEN. 5: 24.
TIME. – B.C. 896-890. The exact date is uncertain, but it is inferred from 2 Chron. 21: 12 that it was after the accession of Jehoram, in Judah, B.C. 897; and from 2 Kings 3: 11 that it was before the death of Jehoshaphat, B.c. 889. Smith places it about B.c. 896.
PLACE. – Elijah went from Gilgal in Ephraim, to Bethel and to Jericho, and then to the eastern shore of the Jordan, where he was translated.
ELISHA (God his salvation) was the son of Shaphat, and belonged in Abel-Meholah (1 Kings 19:16), a place somewhere in the Jordan valley, between the Sea of Galilee and
the Dead Sea. Here Elijah, after his Horeb experience, and on his way to Damascus, found the young man plowing, and bade him become his attendant, and prepare to be a prophet. He went with Elijah for about eight years, till his translation, and after that became the great prophet of Israel. He exercised the prophetic office for 60 years, 896–838. — Schaff.
INTRODUCTION. After his meeting with Ahab in Naboth's vineyard (B.C. 900), Elijah appears but twice in the history, before his ascent to heaven. Once he is sent with a message to the sick Ahaziah, son of Ahab; once he is mentioned as sending a letter of warning to Jehoram, king of Judah (2 Chron. 21:12). Ahab died, as prophesied; his son Ahaziah succeeded to the throne, but lived only two years, when his brother Jehoram ascended the throne.
I. And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a 2 whirlwind, that Elijah went with 3 Elisha from Gilgal.
2. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the 4 LORD hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, 5 As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el. 1 Malachi 4: 5. ? Job 38: 1. Ezek. I: 4. Zech. 9:14. 3 1 Kings 19:19, 21. 2 Kings 3:11.
* 1 John 13:1. 5 Judges 8:19. Ruth 3:13. 1 Sam. 1 : 26; 20: 3.
EXPLANATORY. I. The Vigil. — Vers. 1-10. 1. When the Lord would take up (when Fehovah caused Elijah to go up, or ascend) Elijah. This anticipates the conclusion of the story. - Barry. Those long wanderings were now over. No more was that awful figure to be seen on Carmel, nor that stern voice heard in Jezreel. For the last time he surveyed, from the heights of the western Gilgal, the whole scene of his former career, - the Mediterranean Sea, Carmel, and the distant hills of Gilead, — and went the round of the consecrated haunts of Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho. — Stanley. When. His end was a plan of God, no less than his life had been, and his times were in God's hands. He went to meet it submissively, for he had fought a good fight, and kept the faith. Into heaven. That is, the sky, into which he was seen to enter: all beyond is the province of faith. - Smith. By a whirlwind. In a tempestuous storm, such as was frequently the herald of the divine self-revelations. — Keil. Elijah went with Elisha. (See Introduction.) One faithful disciple was with him, the son of Shaphat, whom he had first called on his way from Sinai to Damascus (1 Kings 19: 19-21), and who, after the manner of Eastern attendants, stood by him to pour water over his hands in his daily ablutions. — Stanley. From Gilgal. Not the famous place of this name near the Jordan, on the spot where the Israelites first pitched their camp on entering the land of Canaan (Josh 4:19), but another place of the same name on the western slope of the Ephraim hills. A school of the prophets was located here as well as at Bethel and Jericho. It appears, from a comparison of this verse with 2 Kings 4:38, that Elijah and Elisha had been for some time making their home at Gilgal. Todd. (See under ver. 31.)
2. Tarry here. As this mysterious change approached, he desired to end his life, as he had spent its greater portion, in solitude with God. — Smith. He did not wish to have any one present to witness his glorification without being well assured that it was in accordance with the will of God. - Keil. It may be he would test Elisha's devotion, or he would escape the pain of parting. The Lord hath sent me. By an impulse received from the Spirit of God, he visited once more the schools of the prophets (see under ver. 3) which he had founded, to strengthen the disciples in their consecration to God, and to rouse them to the old fidelity from which the order was fast sinking. — Geikie. That which Elijah had labored at throughout his life, that he also pushed forward in his last hours. - Lange. This is one of the excellences of religious service, that the work gives abundant satisfaction to the end of life. — Lowrie. As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth. An oath by the eternity of God and the immortality of the soul. It seems to connect the divine, eternal existence with the human existence as the joint ground of certainty: as much as to say, as sure as the one, as sure as the other, as sure as both in their inseparable conjunction, is the fact or the event thus attested. - Tayler Lewis. I will not leave thee. For once, he ventures to decline obedience to one whose wish had hitherto been a law to him. - Kitto. True love cannot forsake its object while neighborhood is possible. — Geikie. So they