THE LESSON BACKGROUND.
In the preceding chapter 20, we have the history of a war between Ben-hadad king of Syria and Ahab king of Israel, in which Ahab was, once again, victorious. First we find Ben-hadad’s descent upon Samaria in Israel and his insolent demand. In verses 12-21, Ben-hadad was defeated by Ahab who was encouraged and directed by a prophet. After this defeat of Ben-hadad, the Syrians again came against Israel and Ahab defeated them a second time After this defeat, Ahab had mercy on Ben-hadad and also made a peace treaty with him for which Ahab was reproved and threatened by a prophet. At some point after this, while Israel was at peace, we are introduced to a man named Naboth. He had a vineyard that was close to King Ahab’s palace in Jezreel. Because of the location of Naboth’s vineyard, Ahab decided that he wanted it for himself. But obeying the Hebrew laws of inheritance, Naboth refused to sell his vineyard to the king. Depressed and disappointed, Ahab went home moping and refused to eat anything. When Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, learned what was bothering him, she told him to get himself together and she would get the vineyard for him. So, Jezebel came up with an evil way to get rid of Naboth by having him killed so that Ahab could take possession of the vineyard. She had two worthless men lie and accuse Naboth of blaspheming against God and the king before the people who in turn stoned Naboth to death. When Jezebel received word that Naboth was dead, she told Ahab and also advised him to go take possession of Naboth’s vineyard and he did. Ahab didn’t know anything about Jezebel’s scheme, but he was just as guilty as she was because he took possession of the vineyard that was not rightly his. The murder of Naboth and the taking of his property led to Elijah appearing before the king telling him what the consequences would be for him and his wife. It’s ironic that the name Jezebel means “unmarried.” Considering all she did, it would have been better for Ahab if she had remained that way—unmarried. This is where our lesson begins.