Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab King of Samaria.
And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.”
But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him… And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face, and would eat no food.
But Jezebel his wife came and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?”
And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, if it please you, or else I will give you another vineyard for it,’ and he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard!'”
And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal; and she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people; and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying ‘You have cursed God and the King.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”
And the men of his city, the elders and nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it written in the letters which she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying “Naboth cursed God and the King.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”
As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboath had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise; take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”
And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying “Arise, go down to meet Ahab King of Israel, who is in Samaria. Behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and taken possession?”‘ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”‘”
Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?”
He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon you; I will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeoboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel. Any one belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and any one of his who dies in the country the birds of the air shall eat.'”
(There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He did very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel.)
And when Ahab heard these words, he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted and lay in sackcloth, and went about dejectedly.
And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but in his son’s days I will bring the evil upon his house.”
One day he got into a boat with his disciples and said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” So they put out; and as they sailed along he went to sleep.
Then a heavy squall struck the lake; they began to ship water and were in grave danger. They went to him, and roused him, crying, “Master, Master, we are sinking!”
He awoke, and rebuked the wind and the turbulent waters. The storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked.
In fear and astonishment they said to one another, ‘Who can this be? He gives his orders to wind and waves; and they obey him!”
His mother and brothers arrived but could not get to him for the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, and they want to see you.”
He replied, “My mother and my brothers– They are those who hear the word of God and act upon it.”
Ben-hadad the King of Syria gathered all his army together; thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots; and he went up and besieged Samaria, and fought against it.
And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab King of Israel, and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your fairest wives and children also are mine.'”
And the King of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king. I am yours, and all that I have.”
The messengers came again, and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad, ‘I sent to you, saying “Deliver to me your silver and gold, your wives and your children.” Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants, and lay hands on whatever pleases them, and take it away.'”
Then the King of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, “Mark now, and see how this man is seeking trouble. For he sent to me for my wives and my children; and I did not refuse him.”
And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not heed or consent.”
So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the King, ‘All that you first demanded of your slave I will do; but this thing I cannot do.'”
And the messengers departed and brought him word again. Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”
And the King of Israel answered him, “Tell him, ‘Let not him that girds on his armor boast himself as him that puts it off.'”
When Ben-hadad was drinking with the kings in their booths, he heard this message, and said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.
And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab King of Israel, and said, “This says the Lord, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”
And Ahab said, “By whom?”
He said, “Thus says the Lord, By the servants of the governors of the districts.”
Then he asked, “Who shall begin the battle?”
He answered, “You.”
Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were two hundred and thirty-two; and after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand. And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, with his thirty-two kings.
The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, who reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.”
He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”
So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts, and the army which followed them. And each killed his man; the Syrians fled and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad escaped on a horse with horsemen. And the King of Israel went out, and captured the horses and the chariots, and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.
Then the prophet came near to the King of Israel, and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do; for in the spring the King of Syria will come up against you.”
And the servants of the King of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
“And do this, remove the kings, each from his post; and put commanders in their places; and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse and chariot for chariot; then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he hearkened to their voice, and did so.
In the spring Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
And the people of Israel were mustered, and were provisioned, and went against them; the people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country.
And a man of God came near and said to the King of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.'”
And they encamped before each other another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the people of Israel smote of the Syrians a hundred thousand foot soldiers in one day. And the rest fled into the city of Aphek; and the wall fell upon twenty-seven thousand men that were left.
Ben-hadad also fled, and entered an inner chamber in the city. And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings; let us put sackcloth on our loins and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the King of Israel; perhaps he will spare your life.” So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and went to the King of Israel and said, “Your slave Ben-hadad says, ‘Pray let me live!'”
And he said, “Does he still live? He is my brother.” Now the men were watching for an omen; and they quickly took it up from him, and said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.”
Then Ben-hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot. And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities which my father took from your father I will restore; and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” [!]
And Ahab said, “I will let you go on those terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.
And a certain man of the prophets said to his fellow, at the command of the Lord, “Strike me, I pray!”
But the man refused to strike him.
Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, behold; as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall kill you!”
And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and killed him.
Then he found another man, and said, “Strike me, I pray!”
And the man struck him, smiting and wounding him.
So the prophet departed, and waited for the King by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. And as the King passed, he cried to the King, and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle; and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me, and said, ‘Keep this man; if by any means he be missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver!’ And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone!”
The King of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgement be; you yourself have decided it!”
Then he made haste to take the bandage away from his eyes; and the King of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. And he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people!'”
And the King of Israel went to his house resentful and sullen, and came to Samaria.
We call what we’re studying here “Scripture”, which means “written stuff.”
People have gone from an overly-reverent attitude towards scripture, to effective neglect. “There’s some very inspiring and ethically-instructive material in all that, and you can read it if you like, but we want to rush out and make a difference in the world.”
One thing you can say about that position: Anyone who adopts it is unlikely to “make a difference in the world.” If you want to know what’s really going on today, and will be going on tomorrow–Don’t read the news; read the histories. People are cheating, bullying, lying, stealing, murdering; and the histories will show you how people used to cheat, bully, lie, steal, murder, while earnestly proclaiming that they were doing something else. Oh, and blundering; we mustn’t forget blundering!
What seldom shows up in the news or the histories is that God is teaching, and people can learn.
Friends aka Quakers traditionally call this process “continuing revelation.” “Continuing”, to emphasize that God hasn’t stopped talking. “Revelation” to say that what we are learning comes from God.
We’ve traditionally thought of Scripture as ~what was revealed in the past. Logically, if it was Revealed, it must be true; and we must be able to use it for an authenticity check on current revelations. So much for logic.
Still, you can make surprising progress from that position. Practicing Jews, and Christians of liturgical denominations, collectively reread a collection of sacred writings every year– and every year, someone will find something he’d read many times, but never realized before. These writings are called ‘sacred’ because they lend themselves to personal revelations.
But they are not ‘Revelation’; they are tracks of the revelatory process.
A good tracker is someone who can study the ground, then tell you what’s been happening here. That’s the kind of tracks I mean. The ground is not a foolproof message from God; it’s a sketch of who’s been here and what they were doing.
The Bible contains many assertions about God and what God intended. People wrote them, and people have often been mistaken.
But these people knew that God was revealing ‘Himself’ to them, through them. The same process of living under God’s care and teaching, that’s been going on for a very long time, and if you want to understand how it’s working, you can look at how it’s worked in the past. God put a lot of work into teaching Israel, and a lot of work into teaching the Christian sects– and shouldn’t have to start from scratch with us.
What is being revealed to you? What do you want to know?
“Take care, then, how you listen; for the man who has will be given more; while the man who has not will lose even what he thinks he has.”
And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thy altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword. And I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be King over Syria; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be King over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.
“And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with 12 yoke of oxen before him; and he was with the 12th.
Elijah passed by him and cast his mantle upon him.
And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother; and then I will follow you.”
And he said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?”
And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen, and gave it to the people; and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah, and ministered to him.
“For there is nothing hidden that will not become public, nothing under cover that will not be made known and brought out into the open.”
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword.
Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”
Then he was afraid, and he arose and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying “It is enough, now, O Lord; take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.”
And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again.
And the angel of the Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you.”
And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mountain of God.
And there he came to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thy altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left. And they seek my life, to take it away.”
And He said, “Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by; and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and stood at the entrance to the cave.
“Nobody lights a lamp and then covers it with a basin or puts it under the bed. Instead, he puts it on a lamp stand so that those who come in may see the light.”