Virtual Kollage: The story of Naboth's Vineyard

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The story of Naboth's Vineyard

Purple Grapes, Vineyard, Napa Valley
THE STORY OF NABOTH'S VINEYARD
Ahab was the king of the Northern Kingdom. He was married to Jezebel from Phoenicia. He had a palace in Jezreel. Naboth was from Jezreel. He had a vineyard in that town and Ahab, the king was interested in the vineyard. The king wanted the vineyard to use as a vegetable garden because it was near his palace.

The king approached Naboth and requested the land. He offered to pay for the land or give another land in another part of the city in exchange for the vineyard. Naboth refused to sell the vineyard to King Ahab because, according to the land tenure system at that time, it was forbidden to sell family land. It was a family property and must never be sold out under any circumstance.

Ahab went home very sad because Naboth refused to sell the land to him. He refused to eat and was inconsolable. When the wife asked why he was sad, he said it was because earlier in the day, he had asked Naboth to sell his vineyard to him or give it out in exchange for another, but he refused to sell to him. Where Jezebel came from, the king was an absolute king who ruled according to his will. No subject could challenge him the way King Ahab was challenged by Naboth. She asked if Ahab was not the king. She told him to be happy, promising to deliver Naboth’s vineyard to him.

Jezebel wrote a letter in the name of the king, sealed it with the royal seal and sent it to the elders and nobles in Jezreel, the city where Naboth lived. In the sealed letter, the elders and nobles were commanded to proclaim a national fast and set up Naboth high among the people. They should find two useless men to accuse Naboth of cursing the king and God. Then they should take Naboth to the outskirts of the city and stone him to death. The instruction was carried out and Naboth was killed.

Jezebel told Ahab to go and take possession of Naboth’s land for free, that which he refused to release for money. Immediately, Ahab arose to go and take possession of the vineyard but there stood Elijah the prophet, on the site and who accused him of killing Naboth and coming to take possession of his land. Elijah cursed Ahab that he would die at the very place where Naboth died and his blood would be licked by dogs just like Naboth’s blooded was licked. Jezebel was also cursed to die in a similar fashion.

Ahab became sorry for what he had done and for that reason alone, the punishment was transferred to his children.

Landscape, Rebhaus, Vineyard, Summer
SIGNIFICANT POINTS RELATING TO THE STORY OF NABOTH’S VINEYARD
1. The event occurred at a time when Israel had a peculiar land tenure system. It was believed that all lands belonged to God. Anybody who held land did so, on behalf of God for the dead, the living and the generation yet to be born. In short, the land was a family property and must be held within the family and not sold.

2. There was nothing Ahab could do about the situation except to go home sad. In Israel, the king was a steward of God and therefore expected to govern according to the laws of God. Under the covenant law, the king of Israel was not an absolute king so Ahab could not do anything to Naboth.

3. Jezebel was a Phoenician. By her action, she was introducing oriental despotism into the political culture of Israel. In the orients, where she came from, the king was an absolute Monarch. He could do anything he wanted. That was why she could write a letter in the name of the king instructing that Naboth be killed.

4. In Israel, a fast was proclaimed during a national crisis or emergency, especially when a serious crime was committed.

5. The crime Naboth was accused of was punishable by death. He was accused of cursing the king and God, two grievous sins. It must be noted that at least two witnesses were required for the crime to have been proven.

6. The story must not be taken as an isolated episode. It should rather be seen as a reflection of the social injustice that had taken over Israel during the reign of Ahab.

7. The role of a prophet was manifold. Elijah acted as the spokesman of God and at the same time the defender of the rights of defenseless citizens. That was why Elijah the Prophet could condemn the king directly in the face without any fear of repercussions.

Field, Grass, Sky, Sunrise, Sunset
SAMPLE QUESTION(S)
1. a. Narrate the story of Naboth’s vineyard.
    b. Mention three disadvantages of the land tenure system in your country.
2. a. What circumstances led to the death of Naboth?
    b. Explain three land tenure systems in your locality.
3. a. How did King Ahab’s quest for a vegetable garden lead to the death of Naboth the Jezreelite?
    B, Explain any three points of significance in the account.
4. a. Describe the role played by Jezebel in the death of Naboth.
   b. In which three ways can a husband be negatively influenced by his wife?
5. a. What led to the encounter between King Ahab and Prophet Elijah concerning the death of Naboth?
    b. Which three important roles do the religious leaders of today play in the governance of your country?
6. a. Give an account of the death of Naboth.
    b. What three lessons can leaders of today learn from this account?
7. a. What led to the death of Naboth?
    b. Name three rights of Naboth that were violated in the episode.
    c. In which three ways can the rights of individuals be protected in your country?

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