“Thus says Yahweh of hosts,
The God of Israel,
The son of Kolaiah,
As well as Zedekiah,
The son of Maaseiah.
‘They were prophesying a lie
To you in my name.
I am going to deliver them
Into the hand
Of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
He shall kill them
Before your eyes.
On account of them,
This curse shall be used
By all the exiles from Judah
‘Yahweh makes you
Whom the king of Babylon
Roasted in the fire.’
Because they have
They have committed adultery
With their neighbors’ wives.
They have spoken in my name
That I did not command them.
I am the one who knows.
I bear witness.
Yahweh talked about two prophets whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon roasted in a fire. These two prophets were Ahab, the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah, the son of Maaseiah. There was a king of northern Israel in the 9th century (874-853 BCE) named King Ahab with his wife Jezebel, who had confrontations with the prophet Elijah, as found in 1 Kings, chapters 16-22. However, this Ahab is only mentioned here. Zedekiah has the same name as the current king of Judah. His father Maaseiah was also the father of the priest Zephaniah, mentioned in chapter 21. This Zedekiah is not mentioned elsewhere either. These two prophets were prophesying lies that Yahweh had not commanded, so that they deserved to be killed by the king of Babylon. We do not know exactly what lies they were telling, but they also were adulterers. They may have tried to rebel against the king. Thus their names would be a curse.
“Ahab said to Elijah. ‘Have you found me, O my enemy?’ He answered. ‘I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of Yahweh. I will bring disaster on you. I will consume you. I will cut off from King Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. I will make your house like the house of King Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of King Baasha son of Ahijah. You have provoked me to anger. You have caused Israel to sin. Also concerning Jezebel Yahweh said. ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’ Anyone belonging to King Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat. Anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.’”
King Ahab certainly recognized Elijah since he called him his enemy. They have had many disagreements. Elijah responded that King Ahab had done evil in the sight of Yahweh. Interesting enough he is getting the same punishment as King Jeroboam and King Baasha in chapters 14 and 16. All the males of King Ahab were to be cut down. When anyone died in the city, dogs would eat their bodies. If they died in the country, the birds would eat their bodies. Apparently dogs were in towns but not in the open country. Somehow this was considered a disgrace since the bodies would not get a proper burial.
“As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, she said to King Ahab. ‘Go and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money. Naboth is not alive, but dead.’ As soon as King Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.”
Everything was all clear for King Ahab to take possession of the vineyard. Jezebel brought the good tidings to King Ahab that Naboth was dead. Even though he refused money for it, now King Ahab could have the vineyard. He did exactly that as he went and took possession of the vineyard. It is interesting to note that Naboth does not seem to have children or family to pass on this vineyard. At least there is no indication in the texts. This becomes a very symbolic space of land.
“The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast. They seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him. The two scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying. ‘Naboth cursed God and the king.’ So they took him outside the city. They stoned him to death. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying. ‘Naboth has been stoned. He is dead.’”
The elders of his city, presumably Jezreel, did as Jezebel had asked. The biblical author implies that these people realized that it was really Jezebel and not Ahab who sent the request since at the end they reported back to her that Naboth had been stoned and died. These elders proclaimed a fast. They put Naboth in the first seat leading the assembly. Then the 2 scoundrels, a word that is often used to imply dishonest people, came into the assembly to sit opposite him. They accused Naboth of cursing God and the king. The word of 2 people was good enough to convict Naboth. They then stoned him to death. Finally they sent word back to Jezebel that the deed had been done.
“Obadiah went to meet King Ahab. He told him what had happened. King Ahab then went to meet Elijah. When King Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him. ‘Is it you, you trouble maker of Israel?’ He answered. ‘I have not troubled Israel. However, you have, and your father’s house, because you have forsaken the commandments of Yahweh and followed the Baals. Now therefore, have all Israel assemble for me at Mount Carmel, with the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’”
When Obadiah met King Ahab he told him what had happened. How Elijah wanted to meet with him. When they finally met, King Ahab called Elijah a trouble maker. Elijah turned the tables on King Ahab calling him and his father’s house the trouble maker in Israel. They had forsaken Yahweh and followed the Baal. Elijah proposed that all the various prophets should meet at Mount Carmel. He wanted all the prophets from Jezebel and King Ahab there.
“As Obadiah was on his way, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him. He fell on his face and said. ‘Is it you, my lord Elijah?’ He answered him. ‘It is I. Go tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ Obadiah said. ‘How have I sinned, that you would hand your servant over to King Ahab, to kill me? As Yahweh your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom to which my lord has not sent to seek you. When they would say, ‘he is not here,’ he would require an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. But now you say. ‘Go tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ As soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of Yahweh will carry you I know not where. So, when I come and tell KIng Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have revered Yahweh from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of Yahweh, how I hid a hundred of Yahweh’s prophets, fifty to a cave. I provided them with bread and water? Yet you now say. ‘Go tell your lord that Elijah is here.’ He will surely kill me.’ Elijah said. ‘As Yahweh of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.’”
Obadiah and Elijah met. Immediately Obadiah showed reverence to Elijah by prostrating before him. Obadiah was reluctant to have his king meet with Elijah. King Ahab had been looking for Elijah near and far. King Ahab would kill Obadiah if he went to the king, since the Spirit of Yahweh would protect Elijah by bringing him elsewhere. He reminded Elijah about how he had helped the prophets of Yahweh when Jezebel had tried to kill them. Despite all this, Elijah wanted Obadiah to go tell King Ahab that he wanted to meet with him.