Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

Naboth's Vineyard

By the sacrifice upon Mount Carmel Elijah had publicly made known the power and majesty of the God whom he served. When the massacre of the priests of Baal was ended, he turned to Ahab, who had watched all these deeds in awestruck silence, and told him that plenty of rain would soon fall.

This news pleased Ahab so much that he went into his tent to hold a great feast, while Elijah climbed up the mountain, and sat there, his head bowed down upon his knees, in silent prayer. His servant, in the meantime, had orders to watch the sky closely so as to tell him of the first signs of rain.

Six times the servant came back to the place where Elijah was sitting, and reported that the sky was as blue as ever; but the seventh time, he came back, saying: "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand."

This small sign of coming rain was quite enough for Elijah. He now sent word to the king to prepare his chariot and hasten home. The skies quickly grew black with clouds, and the rain fell in torrents, all over the parched and thirsty land, as Ahab drove quickly back to his home at Jezreel, accompanied by Elijah, who ran ahead of him every step of the way.

Arrived at the palace, the story of the day’s happenings was told to Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, who flew into a terrible rage when she heard that Baal’s priests had all been slain. She threatened Elijah, saying: "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."

Thus warned that he was in great danger, Elijah managed to escape, followed only by his young servant. They fled without stopping until they had crossed the kingdom of Judah and reached the furthest southern boundary of Palestine.

Then, leaving his servant there, Elijah went on alone into the wilderness of Sinai, where he sank to the ground, fainting and ready to die. But an angel of the Lord came to him here and touched him on the shoulder. The prophet then looked up and saw a fire, with a cake of bread baked upon it, and near it stood a jar of water.

This food gave Elijah strength enough to spend forty days and forty nights in the wilderness of Sinai. Here he talked with God, whom he was very curious to see. After finding out that the Lord was neither in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, Elijah discovered that he was in the "still small voice," called conscience, which spoke to him, giving him directions as to what he should do next.

Elijah and Ahab


Soon after this, Ahab, the King of Israel, wanted to make his palace gardens bigger; so he asked Naboth, a poor man, to give up his vineyard. Naboth was offered a good price for this little piece of land, but he did not wish to sell it. He had inherited it from his father, and, in the eyes of a true Israelite, such a sale was considered a sin.

When Jezebel heard that this poor man had dared to refuse to sell his vineyard to Ahab, she made up her mind to take the little piece of land by fraud, since it could not be obtained by fair means.

At first the queen did not know exactly how to do this, but someone told her that, according to Israelite law, a man who spoke ill of God was punished by being stoned to death, and that his property was given to the king. Jezebel was delighted when she heard this, and she immediately hired false witnesses to say that Naboth had spoken against the Lord.

These men swore before the judges that Naboth was guilty; so Naboth was killed, and the vineyard which the king had longed for became part of the palace garden. But the story of Naboth’s death soon became publicly known, and it finally came to the ears of Elijah.

Once more the tall and thin prophet appeared unexpectedly before the eyes of the king; and this time his stern voice was heard proclaiming: "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs also lick thy blood, even thine. . . .” And of Jezebel also spake the Lord, saying, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." These were awful prophecies, but you will soon see how exactly they were fulfilled.