Chapter 21: Achav & the vineyard of Navos HaYizraeili

Chapter 21: Achav & Navos Hacarmeli

1.      Achav desires the vineyard of Navos:

  • Achav asks Navos to sell him his vineyard: After the above event, the following event occurred [which brought the death of Achav even closer[1]]. Navos the Yizraelite had a vineyard in Yizrael, next to the palace of Achav, the king of Shomron. Achav approached Navos with the following proposition: “Give me your vineyard so I can use it for a vegetable garden since it is near my house, and in exchange for it I will give you a vineyard which is of even better quality, and if you want money instead, I will give you money.”
  • Navos declines the offer: Navos replied to Achav, “Heaven forbid that I should give up the inheritance of my forefathers to you.”
  • Izevel persuades Achav to take the vineyard by force: Achav arrived home very upset due to the response of because of Navos the Yizraelite. He lay on his bed and turned his face away, and did not eat bread [due to the state of sadness]. Izevel his wife came to him, and asked him as to why he seems so down and as to why he is not eating any bread. Achav told her of the proposition that he gave to Navos the Yizraelite and the fact that he refused it. Izevel his wife said to him, “Why don’t you exercise your kingly power over Israel? Get up and eat bread and let your heart be merry, I will give you Navos the Yizraelite’s vineyard.”

2.      Navos is framed and promptly killed, and Achav takes possession of his vineyard:

  • A letter is sent instructing for false witnesses to testify against Navos: Izevel wrote letters in Achav’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the officials of the city of Yizrael, where Navos lived. The letter stated that the elders should proclaim a fast day [on which it was accustomed to search for the sins of the people[2]] and place Navos in the forefront of the people. It instructed them to set up two wicked men opposite him for them to testify against him that he had cursed God and the king, in order so they can put him to death through stoning.
  • Navos is killed due to the false testimony: The men of the city, the elders and the officials that dwelled in his city, did as they were instructed in the letter that was sent to them by Izevel. They proclaimed a fast, and they set Navos at the head of the people. Two wicked men came forward and sat opposite him, and the wicked men testified against Navos in front of the people saying, that Navos had cursed God and the king. They took him out of the city and stoned him and he died.
  • Achav takes possession of the vineyard of Navos: Messengers were sent to Izevel informing her that Navos had been stoned and has died. When Izevel heard the news that Navos was stoned and killed she told Achav that he should get up and take possession of the vineyard of Navos the Yizraelite, being that he is now dead [and the assets of those killed by capital punishment go to the king, as well as that Navos was the nephew of Achav, and Izevel had him and all of his sons killed making Achav the heir[3]]. When Achav heard that Navos had died, he got up and went to the vineyard of Navos the Yizraelite to take possession of it.

3.      Eliyahu prophesizes to Achav of the annihilation of him and his descendants:

  • Eliyahu receives a prophecy to confront Achav with: Hashem spoke to Eliyahu the Tishbite saying, “Arise and go down toward Achav the king of Israel, who is in Shomron. Behold! he is in Navos’s vineyard where he has gone down to take possession of it. You shall confront him by saying, So said Hashem: “Haratzachta Vegam Yarashta/Have you murdered and also inherited?” You shall then say to him: In the place that the dogs have licked the blood of Navos, so shall the dogs lick your blood.”
  • Eliyahu confronts Achav and relates the prophecy of his demise: [Eliyahu went down to the vineyard and met Achav] and Achav said to him: “Have you found me even here, my enemy?” Eliyahu replied to him saying, “I have found you because you have sold yourself to do what is bad in the eyes of Hashem. I will bring disaster upon you, and I will obliterate you and your descendants. I will cut off from Achav every male child. I will make your house as the house of Yeravam, the son of Nevat, and the house of Baasha the son of Achiyah, because of the anger which you have angered Me, and that you have caused Israel to sin.”
  • A prophecy of the demise of Izevel: Also regarding Izevel, Hashem gave Eliyahu a prophecy saying that “The dogs will eat Izevel in the valley of Yizrael. The corpses of Achav which are in the city will be eaten by the dogs, and the corpses which are in the fields will be eaten by the fowl of the sky.
  • The prophecy recounts the evil of Achav: “There was none like Achav who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of Hashem, as a result of Izevel his wife who instigated him. Achav was performed many abominations and went after the idols as did the Emorites whom Hashem had expelled from before the children of Israel.”

4.      Achav repents his evil ways and is saved:

  • When Achav heard the above words of prophecy from Eliyahu, he tore his garments and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted. He lay in the sackcloth and walked slowly and barefoot [similar to a mourner].
  • A prophecy to Eliahu to spare Achav: Hashem again spoke to Eliyahu the Tishbite saying: “Have you not seen that Achav has become submissive to me? Due to this, I will not bring the disaster of which you prophesized in his days, but rather I will bring it in the days of his son.”

[1] Rashi 21:1

[2] Rashi 21:9

[3] Rashi 21:15; Sanhedrin 48b

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