In the good book, the Lord almost always spoke through men. So it happened in the matter of King Ahab of Samaria, Naboth the Jezreelite and his vineyard (1 Kings 21 - NIV.)
Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel was close to the palace of King Ahab. Ahab approached Naboth and said to him: “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange, I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” For those town rats who don’t know about farming we could simplify it into something like a seemingly weak person refusing a juicy offer to sell their vote or to vote for someone they don’t like.
King Ahab returned to the palace, sulked and refused to eat. When his wife Queen Jezebel found out why he husband was lugubrious, she replied “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
She wrote letters to the elders and Nobles of the city in which Naboth lived and signed off as King Ahab. This is what in modern speak we call orders from above.
In the letters, she asked them to frame Naboth for having cursed the God and the King. Jezebel tasked them to stage a charade in which a day of fasting was proclaimed. Then Naboth would be placed in the city center between two scoundrels. These, in a stage managed ploy, serving as reliable witnesses, would accuse Naboth of the abomination of cursing God and the King – the equivalent of treason.
With this evidence tabled, Naboth was stoned to death.
Ahab then took up the vineyard. But before long, Elijah the Tishbite was sent by God to deliver a message to King Ahab in his newly acquired vineyard.
The Lord’s message was stern and clear. Elijah went on, ‘…this is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood - yes, yours!” Elijah went on, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.
He says: “I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel - slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’ Elijah was not done yet, “and also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’
It is written that “there was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites, the Lord drove out before Israel.
Many years later, the Lord called upon the descendants of Elijah to go and speak to the King. You see, the Lord was concerned that those who did not agree with the King; others say those who had overwhelmingly rejected him and his overtures recently, were being subjected to abduction, disappearance and torture.
Some were killed and damped in swamps where their bodies were found later is various stages of decomposition.
Scoundrels hanging around like drones in the air, were pressuring them to serve as witnesses to pin some people on charges of desiring to burn the city and fight the King as their Plan B.
The Lord waited for his Elijahs to speak his message in clear terms but to no avail. All he heard was the call for peace. One even put on a brave face and urged (those who were being killed) not to die for politicians. The Lord read their minds. Some of them were thinking about their young children. Others about their comfortable means of transport and their own lives for they lived in the Land where a King had killed an Elijah 44 years earlier.
The Lord lost his patience and said, “I am the Lord who works in mysterious ways, my wonders to perform. Let me speak through the King for the spoken word is still the spoken word. It makes no difference who speaks it.”
So the King said on rainy morning, “there is no need to kill people who have divergent views. The killer does not have enough confidence that he will win the argument, therefore the shortcut is to silence this person for good so that the person does not speak again. The one who kills cannot convince anyone anymore. He is insecure and is guilty. So he has to be violent to cow his opponents and finish them off.”
The Elijahs then pulled their heads out of the sand and dusted them.