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Posts Tagged ‘Jezebel’


1 Kings 21: Naboth’s Vineyard

Thursday, September 19, 2019

This is a powerful story about how King Ahab and his wife Jezebel collude with scoundrels to trump up charges against the good man Naboth in order to take a vineyard which they coveted.  It is dreadful in its deep deception; it is horrendous in its horrible depiction of the violent frenzy of a plotting, conniving perseverance of evil.  It is human interaction in its basest form.

The prophet Elijah responds to God’s call but fears for his life when Ahab and Jezebel conduct a campaign with the goal of annihilating all prophets who speak with God’s voice; and in Chapter 19 Elijah even tries to run from the whispering voice of Yahweh.  In Chapter 20 we see how Yahweh brings success to the Israelites and favors them in battle.  Then Ahab wants something which Naboth has, a lovely beautiful vineyard.  Jezebel and Ahab conspire to attain it . . . so the innocent Naboth must die.

Yahweh steps in and we watch as he vindicates the faithful. We also watch as he delivers punishing blows to the wicked ones.  Ahab repents, and Yahweh softens the sentence he is about to deliver.  Jezebel does not . . . and if we read a bit further we discover Jezebel’s evil end.

Dear God, protect me from family and friends who would lead me to destruction as Jezebel did.  Remind me that repentance heals the mind and soul.  Bring me contentment rather than envy, humility rather than pride, love rather than hatred, restoration rather than destruction, and reaping of blessings rather than an arid life of self-gratification.  Surround me with holy people, God-fearing people, people who do not hide the light of the lampstand, people who honor, as Naboth did, their ancestral heritage.

Keep us from pride which inverts to shame.  Keep us from anger which turns inward to become melancholy.  Keep us from deception which leads to delusion.  Keep us from coveting Naboth’s Vineyard. 

Bring us peace, bring us joy, bring us hope, bring us your Spirit.  Amen.


First written on September 7, 2007 , re-writtten and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://thedailychapter.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/1-kings-21-%E2%80%9Cnaboths-vineyard%E2%80%9D/

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1 Kings 19God is in the Whisper of the Wind

Monday, February 11, 2019

Elijah’s Cave

Written on February 8, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Elijah has just served as God’s instrument in the destruction of the gods of Baal.  Jezebel and Ahab are furious with him and they seek revenge in the most ruthless of ways . . . and Elijah knows this.  As we read Jezebel’s words at the opening of the chapter we can see that she throws her entire existence into seeking the end of Elijah.  The prophet, exhausted, pleads to his God for his own end.  He is drained.  He has done as God has asked, and now he feels empty.  But even as he seeks escape, Elijah turns to God . . . and God sustains him with cakes and water.  Elijah rests and sleeps in the shade offered by a desert broom tree.  An angel of God abides with him.  The angel bids him to rise and go and so he walks for forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Mt. Horeb, Mt. Sinai where Yahweh spoke to Moses.  And there Elijah curls into a cave to await his end.  But the unexpected happens.  Yahweh does speak to this tired prophet . . . not in the fierce and thrusting wind, not in the powerful and destructive earthquake, not in the consuming and searing fire.  The Lord speaks in the tiny whispering wind, and he brings news of restoration and legacy.  His words bring hope.

We must still our over-active lives; find a space of quiet in our hyper-speed days.  We must each day seek out a broom tree in the desert whose roots sink deep into the earth to find the rivers that flow beneath the sun-baked and wind-blown dryness.  We must find daily sanctuary in a small cave on God’s holy mountain of our busy world.  That is where we are fed, that is where we will tune ourselves to the voice that speaks in the whisper of the wind, the voice that speaks within, the voice that calls us to unity with the creator and creation.


A re-post from February 11, 2012. 

Image from: http://www.elijahscave.org/

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Mark 7:24-30Rejection

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jean Germain Drouais: Christ and the Canaanite Woman

I am always impressed by the persistence of this woman who urges Christ to heal her sick daughter.  Mark, writing to a mainly non-Jewish audience, describes her patient belief in this new message of hope and healing.  If we were as unrelenting as this woman in asking for justice and redemption, might not the entire world benefit from our prayers?  She is reminiscent of the persistent widow in Luke 18 who badgers the corrupt judge into giving her what she is due.  Her continual plea became an embarrassment for this man, and so he gave in . . . to do what ought to have been done in the first place.

How do we react to rejection?  Do we cave in to harsh criticism?  Do we evaluate the words and actions we have heard and seen?  Do we put our experience in a proper context to measure its validity?  Do we ask God for advice?  Do we ignore what has been said entirely without giving it further thought?

Jesus has gone to Tyre, the city of Jezebel, a pagan center out of reach of the influence of the Jews; and here he encounters a woman who challenges him with his own good news, reminding him that even the lowest of the low deserve respect and fair treatment.  What I like about this Greek woman, this Syrophoenician by birth, is that she enters into a dialog with the master and is not cowed by his authority.  Perhaps she has lived so long in subjugation she has nothing to lose.

There is something to be learned here: that when we experience rejection we ought to evaluate it, and take it apart to discover its origin.  Once satisfied that we have heard and understood, and once we have established that we come in justice and peace . . . then we must pursue justice.  We must be bold, we must be constant.  We must enter into a conversation with Christ to further our argument.  And if – as in the story of Job about which we thought yesterday – we bring an innocent heart to the healer, we may find that which our own heart seeks . . . justice and peace . . . in place of the offered rejection.


Image from: http://floscarmelivitisflorigera.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

A re-post from January 13, 2019.

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2 Chronicles 18:14 – 27: Ignoring Truth

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Books of Chronicles, Samuel, Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah all record the events of the rise and fall of the Kingdom of Israel from its founding with Saul and David through to the Babylonian Exile. The point on the timeline where we find today’s reading is after the ten northern tribes secede to form the Northern Kingdom of Israel, leaving the two southern tribes to form the remnant Southern Kingdom of Judah with the old capital of Jerusalem. Today’s confrontation between king and prophet takes place just after the division of the kingdom and just before the death of Ahab. The Chronicler writes with a particular emphasis on Yahweh’s fidelity to the faithful – even when the faithful turn away and fall to worshiping idols. The writer wants the people to remember their heritage, to remember that they would be successful as a nation only if they were faithful to the covenant they had with God, and to remember that truth has a way of revealing itself.

Ahab and his wife Jezebel hunt down prophets to exterminate them; they cannot withstand the truth their own seers bring to them. As we recall from our reflection on Naboth’s Vineyard, we know that Ahab and Jezebel use any means to take what is not theirs. They lie, bribe, coerce, plot, scheme, and murder. And with all their attempts to ignore and hide the truth, they end their days in violence that kicks back on them. They suffer the consequences they have wished on others.

It is with a certain amount of irony that we hear Ahab say, “When you speak to me in the name of the Lord, tell the truth! How many times do I have to tell you that?” Ahab and Jezebel lie, believing they can bend reality to their will. They scheme, believing they control the universe. They bribe and suborn, believing they hold ultimate power.

King pits himself against Prophet . . . Ahab versus Micaiah . . . deceit in competition with light . . . damnation against resurrection. We remind ourselves that when we turn away from a truth we do not want to hear, we take our first step onto a path of sure destruction. If we twist and spin truth to fit our perspective, we walk away from the very lesson that will bring us redemption, union, and happiness.

This is the lesson of the prophets, that when we ignore truth, we only postpone the lessons we come to this world to learn. When we avoid truth, we refuse to walk the way of resurrection and light.


Adapted from thoughts recorded on February 25, 2007.

Image from: https://www.business2community.com/branding/using-social-listening-discover-truth-brand-01051545 

Reprise the story of Naboth’s Vineyard on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/08/26/naboths-vineyard/

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1 Kings 21: Naboth’s Vineyard

Monday, May 21, 2018

Near King Ahab’s palace in Jezreel there was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth.

We know the goodness of the well-tended vineyard. The Master maintains a sturdy wall to protect the vines from those who would plunder the fruit of sun and soil. The crop flourishes under the caring hands of the workers who gather in the harvest in due time. Jesus uses the metaphor of the grapevine to explain to us the nature of our relationship with him; and yet, Jesus also knows the familiar story of how Naboth’s vineyard aroused envy and later fury in those who held power.

John Liston Byam Shaw: Queen Jezebel

One day Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard; it is close to my palace, and I want to use the land for a vegetable garden. I will give you a better vineyard for it or, if you prefer, I will pay you a fair price.”

We hold on to that which we hold dear; we cling to the beliefs that support us as we engage in our work and play.

“I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors,” Naboth replied. “The Lord forbid that I should let you have it!”

My father always advised us that the better we became at our work, the more enemies we would have. He also reminded us that there is a difficult line to walk between minding our own business and speaking up about injustice. My mother advised us to stay away from gossip and squabbles, and always, no matter the circumstance, to “kill your enemies with kindness”. My parents knew that these adages would not keep us safe from the world; but they also knew that in living with Christ, we would survive calamity with the more valuable gift: unity with Christ, transformation, redemption.

The officials and leading citizens of Jezreel did what Jezebel had commanded. They proclaimed a day of fasting, called the people together, and gave Naboth the place of honor. 

The schemes of Ahab, Jezebel, and their powerful friends are insidious; these corrupt leaders strike at the heart of Naboth’s industry; they mock his fidelity, and ignore his goodness. They lure him to the feast only to betray him on the deepest level. When we put aside our negative emotions to read this story with patience, we see Ahab ride to his death in battle. Later, in 2 Kings 9; and we witness Jezebel’s gruesome end. We might be tempted to gloat over these outcomes that feel like divine justice. We may want to join in the chaos of war or the crowd’s frenzy; but rather than seek revenge, we might instead focus on Naboth’s goodness that despite the fact that it has the capacity to bring out the worst in his enemies, it also delivers redemption.

Thomas Matthew Rooke: Naboth Refuses King Ahab his Vineyard

During Eastertide, we heard several times the words Jesus speaks to his followers, words we will want to hear again today as we read about Naboth: If the world hates you, just remember that it has hated me first. If you belonged to the world, then the world would love you as its own. But I chose you from this world, and you do not belong to it; that is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

Be ready, Dad would say, to find that enemies accompany your successes. Be ready, Mother would remind us, to kill your enemies with kindness. This is our work in the vineyard. No matter the circumstances, we must cling to the vine that sustains us; we must produce good fruit in good time; and we must remain always in Christ who saves, transforms and redeems.


Tomorrow, Jesus is the alpha and the omega.

Compare the GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION with others for a better understanding of these verses.

For more reflections on Naboth, Ahab, Jezebel, or vineyard enter the words into the blog search bar and explore.  

How bad was Jezebel? Visit: https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/how-bad-was-jezebel/

Images from: https://929chapters.com/2010/03/18/1-kings-21-%E2%80%9Cnaboths-vineyard%E2%80%9D/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jezebel and https://thetorah.com/the-story-of-naboths-vineyard-and-the-ancient-winery-in-jezreel/ 

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2 Kings 9: Deception – Part V

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Willy Pogani: Ahab and Jezebel (detail)

Willy Pogani: Ahab and Jezebel (detail)

Death

“Here the death of Ahab is not grounded only in the Naboth’s vineyard incident (1 Kings 21:21-24) but is related to retribution against Jezebel for killing God’s prophets (1 Kings 18:4; 19:10, 14).  (Meeks 573-574)

These are very scary stories indeed.  Scarier still because this violence is a result of people’s individual and collective actions.  Ahab and Jezebel took God’s people in an ugly direction, and today we see their ugly end at the hands of God’s warrior, Jehu.  We do not like to have these images before us because they remind us of the darkest part of ourselves, and they demand that we make an accounting of our own actions before God.  Many of us use the strategy of denial when we are asked to look in the mirror. We put away what we wish did not exist. But this does not result in anything good.  Many of us wish to re-write reality without making any change in ourselves, but of course this only delays the inevitable.  And this is what we see today . . . the inevitable finally takes place.  In the earlier parts of this story, the wicked Ahab and Jezebel have things all their way.  Today that ends, and they are fully rewarded for their actions.

Williy Pogany - ''Ahab and Jezebel'' (300)

Willy Pogani: Ahab and Jezebel

We have come through Lent to rejoice in Easter light and the gift of eternal life as God’s promise against the clutches of eternal death. Today we have an invitation to avoid a fate like the one we read here.  Rather than hiding and hoping to have our own way, we will want to open ourselves to the healing light of Christ and ask for change. A change in our hearts. A change in our way of being. A change from death to life.

During the time of the prophets, Christ walked among his people through the hands and feet of his prophets as they carried out Yahweh’s promises. The sweet promise of eternal life in Christ is announced even during the dark days when Ahab and Jezebel hunted down those who spoke and healed in God’s name.  Through the prophets, Christ dwelt among us even before his birth in the stable, and Christ will continue to dwell among us.  When those who worship our modern Baals beset us, let us turn to Christ. Let us ask for God’s guidance and rescue in any darkness or sadness of the present time when the prophets among us are being murdered.  Let us turn to Christ who is the only hope of the world, the only antidote to death, the only life that is eternal. And let us make good on our Lenten promise to open ourselves to transformation. Let us receive the healing light that is the Easter promise. Let us receive the healing indwelling of the Spirit.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.  (Meeks)

Adapted from a reflection written on April 5, 2011.

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1 Kings 18: Deception – Part IV

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel

The Prophets of Baal

Today’s Noontime is a story we hear read out to us at least once during the liturgical cycle; it is the story of the people’s relationship with God that takes place during a time when Yahweh’s prophets were being persecuted.  It is also a time of high political intrigue when the kingdom brought together under David’s leadership has split in two.  Ahab, Jezebel, Obadiah, and Elijah find themselves caught up in the kind of turmoil that guarantees suffering.

Elijah, the only surviving prophet of Yahweh, appeals to the people, and allows God to work through him to remind the split nations that despite their petty squabbles God is in charge.  The prophets of Baal bring all of their power and influence to bear and still they cannot best Elijah and Yahweh.  This is a good story and it deserves enough reading that we can apply it to our own lives.

What or who might be the Baal prophets in our lives?  Who is it we believe more than God who created us and cares for us beyond all human capacity?  Who is it we follow more eagerly than Jesus who redeems and saves us daily?   And who is it we love more intensely than the Spirit who guides us and counsels us every minute of our day and night?

The humor with which Elijah pits the Baal gods and their prophets against Yahweh makes today’s reading entertaining and authentic.  We may want to look for the humor in our own struggle to survive the droughts and famines of our days.  And we may want to ask ourselves the same question that Elijah asks his audience:  How long will you straddle the issue?  If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him. 

Written on June 14, 2010.

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2 Kings 10:1-11: Deception – Part III

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Metropolitan Museum: Etsucan Chariot detail

The Metropolitan Museum: Etruscan Chariot detail

The Wise and the Foolish

We have reflected on Ahab and Jezebel and their fall into corruption caused by their envy of Naboth’s vineyard. Today we see what happens to the seventy princes, their legacy.  There is no plan, no ally, no fortification that can withstand truth, light and life.

It is unsettling to read about the terrible events that take place as retribution for evil or of the clearing away of what follows upon the heels of deception.  Today we read about the end of an evil reign and if we celebrate love as Jesus teaches, there is no joy at the downfall of former foes.  He shows by example how to ask intercession for those who both love him and jeer at him.  Jesus is willing to speak to the wise among us who hear his words, believe, and act.  Jesus also speaks to the foolish among us who hear his words and continue to ignore his call.

Ahab and Jezebel lived a life governed by self; their end and the end of their children is certainly a lesson in how our best laid plans go awry when God is not a part of them.  We might look at two verses in particular: [They] have the chariots, the horses, a fortified city, and the weapons . . . The seventy princes were in the care of prominent men of the city, who were rearing them.  Ahab and Jezebel laid every possible plan, made every conceivable provision. They “hard-wired” their legacy; yet all disappears because the walls of their city were an illusion and their strategies futile.  They thought of themselves, their whims and their comfort first and only.  They believed that they had built their legacy on thinking and behavior that was everlasting.  Today we see that their plans were finite; they and their children came to an ugly end.  We might also remember two verses from Psalm 20: Some rely on chariots, others on horses, but we on the name of the Lord our God.  They collapse and fall, but we stand strong and firm.  (Psalm 20:8-9)

To be wise, to be foolish: the choice always lies before us.  To build on a firm foundation, to build on sand: the work is always before us.  To act out of self-interest, to act out of love for others: the action is always before us.  We may choose the path of Ahab and Jezebel and see our princes slaughtered.  Or we may act like Christ to be open and vulnerable to suffering . . . to be open to eternal joy and hope.

Adapted from a favorite written on December 4, 2008.

For more reflections on Jezebel, enter her name into the blog search bar and explore. 

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1 Kings 21: Deception – Part II

Thursday, June 9, 2016tota_vineyard-rows-russel

Oh what tangled webs we weave, when first we practice to deceive!

My mother’s quoting of Walter Scott’s words peppered our growing-up years. Her use of Scott’s poetic words was her method of teaching the lesson of Ahab and his temper tantrum.

Ahab wants something which someone else cherishes and does not wish to give up.  Ahab goes home, puts his face to the wall and refuses to eat.  His unfortunate wife, Jezebel, colludes with him to get the coveted vineyard from their neighbor, and if we read the entire story, we see what kind of an end these two come to.  They both pay a heavy price for their egregious crimes of trumping up false charges, conniving, lying, stealing, inciting a crowd to stone to death an innocent man. Naboth’s mistake or error is merely the cherishing of something that someone else wants.

We hear Yahweh’s words through the prophet Elijah in verse 20: You have given up yourself to do evil in the Lord’s sight.

Frederick Leighton: Jezebel and Ahab met by Elijah

Frederick Leighton: Jezebel and Ahab met by Elijah

Since my childhood, and because of the wisdom of my mother, my family has not worried about belonging to a particular group.  When my family opens our home party, all are welcome. Universal hospitality, bridge building to fringe groups, invitations to include all at the table have grown out of my mother’s teaching about Naboth, Ahab and Jezebel.

In this year of presidential politics in the U.S., we have become aware of many Naboths, many Ahabs and many Jezebels in the public eye. As we take in the daily news, we recall more words Mother and Dad recited from scripture: The measure that you measure with is measured out to you.  Ostracizing others says more about you than it does about the others.  There is really nothing that can be kept secret.  The truth always comes out in the end. I hope you can stand it when it hits you in the face.

What a wonderful gift we are given in the friends and neighbors God sends to us.  What a wonderful treasure is the vocation of building community to which we are called.  What a blessing to work, play and live beside people with whom we hold things in common, and people with whom we hold little in common. We learn more from our enemies than we do from the people with whom we feel most comfortable.  We are all God’s creatures, made in God’s image.  What do our daily actions say about the relationship we have with our Creator?  Do we turn away in anger when we covet something someone else has? When we open our hearts and homes, are all welcome?  Do we extend invitations with ulterior motives?  Do we interact with only a select few and bully others to bow to our wants? And when God asks us to invite the faithful to the table, whom are we willing to invite?

From a reflection written on June 1, 2008.

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