Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 21

Naboth refuses to sell his vineyard to Ahab

1 Kings 21:3-4

Ahab wanted to buy Naboth’s vineyard (fruit garden). He offered a good price for it. If Naboth preferred, Ahab would give him a ‘better’ vineyard instead of it. By ‘better’, Ahab probably meant a larger vineyard, from which Naboth would make greater profits. Naboth’s present vineyard already had excellent soil; otherwise Ahab would not have wanted it to grow vegetables for his palace.

However, Naboth refused Ahab’s offer. Unlike Ahab who served the false god Baal, Naboth was loyal to the true God. He gave an oath (a serious promise) to the true God that he would definitely not sell his vineyard.

Naboth’s reason was that God had given land to every family in Israel. That piece of land was their permanent possession (Leviticus 25:23-28). Therefore, they could not sell it to someone else. If they became too poor, someone else could pay for the use of that land until a special year called the Jubilee. However, in that year, that land would return to the original family. It gave each family a permanent connection to the country that God promised to Israel’s people.

That answer upset Ahab deeply. It upset him in the same way that God’s judgment of death against him had upset him (20:43). In both situations, Ahab was angry because the true God had authority over him. As Israel’s king, Ahab wanted to claim absolute authority. However, the king of Israel was the servant of God and so he had to obey God’s law. Ahab hated both God and his (God’s) law.

Next part: Jezebel promises to get Naboth's vineyard (1 Kings 21:5-8)


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