1 Kings 21

Naboth's Vineyard


Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel (1 Kings 21:1).

Jezreel is located at the eastern end of the Jezreel Valley, where it meets the Harod Valley. The location is strategic, as it guards traffic moving along the Harod Valley, between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean coast. Jezreel is also located at the western end of Mount Gilboa, where Saul was killed by the Philistines (1 Sam 31). The place where Gideon had his men drink water, Ein Harod, is also nearby.

Ahab's House

Ahab came into his house sulking and displeased because of the word of Naboth the Jezreelite (1 Kings 21:4).

The location of Ahab’s house in this verse is unclear, and arguments have been made for locating it at Jezreel or Samaria (cf. 1 Kgs 20:43). Few remains at Jezreel have survived. Towers on four corners of the rectangular enclosure at Jezreel strengthened the site. Two on the eastern side were fully excavated, and evidence for one on the northwest corner has also been found. The towers are approximately 49 feet (15 m) square. These towers and fortification walls probably enclosed the king’s palace.

Writing Letters

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name (1 Kings 21:8).

It is likely that Jezebel would have used a scribe to write the letters she wished to send, and the letters would almost certainly have been written on papyrus that had been imported from Egypt. This relief depicts two Assyrian scribes; the one at the back is writing on a papyrus roll, while the one in the foreground is writing on a wax tablet. This relief was photographed at the British Museum.


“The dogs will eat Jezebel by the rampart of Jezreel” (1 Kings 21:23).

The rampart was part of the outer fortifications of a city, and it is often mentioned elsewhere in connection with the city wall (e.g., Isa 26:1; Nah 3:8; Lam 2:8; cf. 2 Sam 20:15). At Jezreel, the square area enclosed by the city walls were further buttressed by a large moat that was cut on three sides (unique in this period), and both interior and exterior ramparts strengthened the city walls. The moat is now filled with later debris.


When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted (1 Kings 21:27).

Sackcloth was rough fabric that was usually used to make sacks, not clothing. It is somewhat similar to modern burlap. It is also interesting that the Hebrew word is saq, a word that has been borrowed into the English language. Ancient fabrics are rarely preserved over thousands of years. This example of ancient sackcloth was photographed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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