Ahab and Naboth's Vineyard
21 1 And then, to top it off, came this: Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard in Jezreel that bordered the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 One day Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, "Give me your vineyard so I can use it as a kitchen garden; it's right next to my house - so convenient. In exchange I'll give you a far better vineyard, or if you'd prefer I'll pay you money for it." 3 But Naboth told Ahab, "Not on your life! So help me God, I'd never sell the family farm to you!" 4 Ahab went home in a black mood, sulking over Naboth the Jezreelite's words, "I'll never turn over my family inheritance to you." He went to bed, stuffed his face in his pillow, and refused to eat.
5 Jezebel his wife came to him. She said, "What's going on? Why are you so out of sorts and refusing to eat?" 6 He told her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite. I said, 'Give me your vineyard - I'll pay you for it or, if you'd rather, I'll give you another vineyard in exchange.' And he said, 'I'll never give you my vineyard.'" 7 Jezebel said, "Is this any way for a king of Israel to act? Aren't you the boss? On your feet! Eat! Cheer up! I'll take care of this; I'll get the vineyard of this Naboth the Jezreelite for you." 8 She wrote letters over Ahab's signature, stamped them with his official seal, and sent them to the elders in Naboth's city and to the civic leaders. 9 She wrote "Call for a fast day and put Naboth at the head table. 10 Then seat a couple of stool pigeons across from him who, in front of everybody will say, 'You! You blasphemed God and the king!' Then they'll throw him out and stone him to death." 11 And they did it. The men of the city - the elders and civic leaders - followed Jezebel's instructions that she wrote in the letters sent to them. 12 They called for a fast day and seated Naboth at the head table. 13 Then they brought in two stool pigeons and seated them opposite Naboth. In front of everybody the two degenerates accused him, "He blasphemed God and the king!" The company threw him out in the street, stoned him mercilessly, and he died. 14 When Jezebel got word that Naboth had been stoned to death, she told Ahab, "Go for it, Ahab - take the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for your own, the vineyard he refused to sell you. Naboth is no more; Naboth is dead." 15 16 The minute Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out for the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite and claimed it for his own.
17 Then God stepped in and spoke to Elijah the Tishbite, 18 "On your feet; go down and confront Ahab of Samaria, king of Israel. You'll find him in the vineyard of Naboth; he's gone there to claim it as his own. 19 Say this to him: 'God's word: What's going on here? First murder, then theft?' Then tell him, 'God's verdict: The very spot where the dogs lapped up Naboth's blood, they'll lap up your blood - that's right, your blood.'" 20 Ahab answered Elijah, "My enemy! So, you've run me down!" 21 'I will most certainly bring doom upon you, make mincemeat of your descendants, kill off every sorry male wretch who's even remotely connected with the name Ahab. 22 And I'll bring down on you the same fate that fell on Jeroboam son of Nebat and Baasha son of Ahijah - you've made me that angry by making Israel sin.'" 23 As for Jezebel, God said, "Dogs will fight over the flesh of Jezebel all over Jezreel. 24 Anyone tainted by Ahab who dies in the city will be eaten by stray dogs; corpses in the country will be eaten by carrion crows." 25 Ahab, pushed by his wife Jezebel and in open defiance of God, set an all-time record in making big business of evil. 26 He indulged in outrageous obscenities in the world of idols, copying the Amorites whom God had earlier kicked out of Israelite territory. 27 When Ahab heard what Elijah had to say, he ripped his clothes to shreds, dressed in penitential rough burlap, and fasted. He even slept in coarse burlap pajamas. He tiptoed around, quiet as a mouse. 28 Then God spoke to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 "Do you see how penitently submissive Ahab has become to me? Because of his repentance I'll not bring the doom during his lifetime; Ahab's son, though, will get it."
Micaiah Prophesies the Defeat of Ahab and Jehoshaphat
22 1 They enjoyed three years of peace - no fighting between Aram and Israel. 2 In the third year, Jehoshaphat king of Judah had a meeting with the king of Israel. 3 Israel's king remarked to his aides, "Do you realize that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us, and we're sitting around on our hands instead of taking it back from the king of Aram?" 4 He turned to Jehoshaphat and said, "Will you join me in fighting for Ramoth Gilead?" 5 He then continued, "But before you do anything, ask God for guidance." 6 The king of Israel got the prophets together - all four hundred of them - and put the question to them: "Should I attack Ramoth Gilead? Or should I hold back?" "Go for it," they said. "God will hand it over to the king." 7 But Jehoshaphat dragged his heels: "Is there still another prophet of God around here we can consult?" 8 The king of Israel told Jehoshaphat, "As a matter of fact, there is still one such man. But I hate him. He never preaches anything good to me, only doom, doom, doom - Micaiah son of Imlah." "The king shouldn't talk about a prophet like that," said Jehoshaphat. 9 So the king of Israel ordered one of his men, "On the double! Get Micaiah son of Imlah." 10 Meanwhile, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat were seated on their thrones, dressed in their royal robes, resplendent in front of the Samaria city gates. All the prophets were staging a prophecy-performance for their benefit. 11 Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had even made a set of iron horns, and brandishing them called out, "God's word! With these horns you'll gore Aram until there's nothing left of him!" 12 All the prophets chimed in, "Yes! Go for Ramoth Gilead! An easy victory! God's gift to the king!" 13 The messenger who went to get Micaiah said, "The prophets have all said Yes to the king. Make it unanimous - vote Yes!" 14 But Micaiah said, "As surely as God lives, what God says, I'll say."
15 With Micaiah before him, the king asked him, "So Micaiah - do we attack Ramoth Gilead, or do we hold back?" "Go ahead," he said. "An easy victory. God's gift to the king." 16 "Not so fast," said the king. "How many times have I made you promise under oath to tell me the truth and nothing but the truth?" 17 "All right," said Micaiah, "since you insist. I saw all of Israel scattered over the hills, sheep with no shepherd. Then God spoke: 'These poor people have no one to tell them what to do. Let them go home and do the best they can for themselves.'" 18 Then the king of Israel turned to Jehoshaphat, "See! What did I tell you? He never has a good word for me from God, only doom." 19 Micaiah kept on: "I'm not done yet; listen to God's word: I saw God enthroned, and all the angel armies of heaven Standing at attention ranged on his right and his left. 20 And God said, 'How can we seduce Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead?' Some said this, and some said that. 21 Then a bold angel stepped out, stood before God, and said, 'I'll seduce him.' 'And how will you do it?' said God. 22 'Easy,' said the angel, 'I'll get all the prophets to lie.' 'That should do it,' said God. 'On your way - seduce him!' 23 "And that's what has happened. God filled the mouths of your puppet prophets with seductive lies. God has pronounced your doom." 24 Just then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah came up and punched Micaiah in the nose, saying, "Since when did the Spirit of God leave me and take up with you?" 25 Micaiah said, "You'll know soon enough; you'll know it when you're frantically and futilely looking for a place to hide." 26 The king of Israel had heard enough: "Get Micaiah out of here! Turn him over to Amon the city magistrate and to Joash the king's son 27 with this message, 'King's orders: Lock him up in jail; keep him on bread and water until I'm back in one piece.'" 28 Micaiah said, "If you ever get back in one piece, I'm no prophet of God." He added,"When it happens, O people, remember where you heard it!"
29 The king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah attacked Ramoth Gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Wear my kingly robe; I'm going into battle disguised." So the king of Israel entered the battle in disguise. 31 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had ordered his chariot commanders (there were thirty-two of them): "Don't bother with anyone, whether small or great; go after the king of Israel and him only." 32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat they said, "There he is! The king of Israel!" and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, 33 and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man - it wasn't the king of Israel after all. They let him go. 34 Just then someone, without aiming, shot an arrow randomly into the crowd and hit the king of Israel in the chink of his armor. The king told his charioteer, "Turn back! Get me out of here - I'm wounded." 35 All day the fighting continued, hot and heavy. Propped up in his chariot, the king watched from the sidelines. He died that evening. Blood from his wound pooled in the chariot. 36 As the sun went down, shouts reverberated through the ranks, "Abandon camp! Head for home! 37 The king is dead!" 38 They washed down the chariot at the pool of Samaria where the town whores bathed, and the dogs lapped up the blood, just as God's word had said. 39 The rest of Ahab's life - everything he did, the ivory palace he built, the towns he founded, and the defense system he built up - is all written up in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. 40 He was buried in the family cemetery and his son Ahaziah was the next king.
The Reign of Jehoshaphat
41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king and he ruled for twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 43 He continued the kind of life characteristic of his father Asa - no detours, no dead ends - pleasing God with his life. But he failed to get rid of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines. People continued to pray and worship at these idolatrous shrines. 44 And he kept on good terms with the king of Israel. 45 The rest of Jehoshaphat's life, his achievements and his battles, is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. 46 Also, he got rid of the sacred prostitutes left over from the days of his father Asa. 47 Edom was kingless during his reign; a deputy was in charge. 48 Jehoshaphat built ocean-going ships to sail to Ophir for gold. But they never made it; they shipwrecked at Ezion Geber. 49 During that time Ahaziah son of Ahab proposed a joint shipping venture, but Jehoshaphat wouldn't go in with him. 50 Then Jehoshaphat died and was buried in the family cemetery in the City of David his ancestor. Jehoram his son was the next king.
The Reign of Ahaziah of Israel
51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. He ruled Israel for two years. 52 As far as God was concerned, he lived an evil life, reproducing the bad life of his father and mother, repeating the pattern set down by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin. 53 Worshiping at the Baal shrines, he made God, the God of Israel, angry, oh, so angry. If anything, he was worse than his father.