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The Death of Ahab

The king of Syria, named Ben Hadad, gathered all his men together and went up to besiege Samaria, the capital of Israel, and to make war against Ahab and his people. He sent messengers to Ahab to tell him that all the silver and gold that he had and the wives and the children and everything else that was good in his land belonged to the king of Syria and that he was going to take it.

The hosts of Ahab and the hosts of Ben Hadad then gathered for war and for three years there was strife between Syria and Israel.

There was a man named Naboth who lived in Jezreel, near the palace of Ahab in Samaria. This man had a vineyard which Ahab greatly desired.

Ahab sent word to Naboth, saying: "Give me your vineyard that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near my house and I will give you a better vineyard or I will give you its worth in money."

But Naboth did not wish to sell his vineyard and sent word back to Ahab: "The vineyard is an inheritance of my father and I would not part with it."

When Ahab received his reply he was much displeased and laid down upon his bed and turned away his face and would not eat. Jezebel, his wife, came to him and said: "Why is your spirit so sad that you eat no bread, my lord?"

"I spoke unto Naboth, of Jezreel, and asked him to give me his vineyard or else to sell it to me. He would neither give it to me nor sell it to me," replied Ahab to his wife.

"Do you not govern this kingdom of Israel? Why should you be displeased for such a small matter? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be merry. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite," said Jezebel to Ahab.

Now Jezebel was a wicked woman and was always stirring up her husband to evil deeds. She never hesitated to do evil things to gain her way, so she wrote letters in Ahab's name and put his seal upon them. She sent these letters to the elders and nobles that were in Jezreel where Naboth lived and told the elders to proclaim a feast and set Naboth on high among the people and to get two men who were willing to bear false witness against Naboth and to say that he blasphemed against God and the king.

The elders and nobles did as Jezebel directed. They proclaimed a feast and set Naboth on high among the people. The two men came in and sat before him. They then rose and declared that Naboth had blasphemed God and the king. Then the elders and the nobles took Naboth out of the city and stoned him with stones until he died, even as Jezebel had told them to do.

When Jezebel had received word that Naboth was dead she went to Ahab and said to him: "You may take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you or to sell you, for now he is dead." And Ahab went down to the vineyard and took possession of it.

When Elijah heard how the wicked Jezebel had acted and that Ahab had taken possession of Naboth's vineyard, he went down to Samaria and found Ahab in possession of the vineyard. The prophet then spoke to him harshly:

"You have killed Naboth and taken his vineyard. I tell you in the name of the Lord that in the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall the dogs also lick your blood, you wicked king."

Ahab was overcome with the words of Elijah and cried out: "Have you found me, oh, my enemy?" Elijah answered: "Yes, I have found you. You have worked an evil in the sight of the Lord and I will bring evil upon you and upon Jezebel. The dogs shall eat the flesh of the wicked Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel and calamity shall befall all of your house." Ahab was so overcome by the words of the prophet that he tore his clothes and put sack-cloth upon his body for he knew that Elijah was a prophet and the words that he spoke would some day come true.

The war between Syria and Israel was going on. In the third year of the war Jehosaphat, the king of Judah, came down to help Ahab, the king of Israel. Together with their men they went up to Rehmoth, in Gilead, to give battle to the hosts of the Syrians.

Now the king of Syria had commanded all his captains to kill Ahab and Ahab knew that the king of Syria had told this to his captains, therefore, was Ahab much afraid of his life. So he said to Jehosaphat: "I will disguise myself and enter into the battle so that they will not know who I am. You put on my robes so that they will think you are Ahab." And Jehosaphat put on the robes of Ahab and went forth to battle.

When the captains of the Syrians saw Jehosaphat in battle they said: "There is the king of Israel, whom we are commanded to kill," and they pursued Jehosaphat. As they pursued him Jehosaphat cried out that it was he and not Ahab, whom they sought. Then the captains ceased from pursuing Jehosaphat and turned again to find Ahab.

Ahab was fighting in a distant part of the field in disguise and he was in his chariot. A soldier of the Syrians drew his bow and shot at a venture and his arrow went between the joints of the armor of King Ahab and wounded him. Ahab said to the driver of his chariot: "Take me out of the battle, for I am sorely wounded."

The battle was going on furiously and the driver of the chariot held King Ahab up in his arms but the blood ran out of his wound and covered the floor of the chariot. At last, about the time the sun went down, the battle went against Israel. Word came that every man should flee to his own home and Israel fled, every man to his own city and to his own country.

Ahab died of his wound and was brought to Samaria and there they buried him. They took the king's chariot to the pool of Samaria and washed it and as they were washing it the dogs came and licked the blood off the chariot and from the king's armor, even as the prophet had spoken.