Prof. Moshe Garsiel, Bar-Ilan University
Beit Mikra - Volume 60 (2015), No. 1, The Bialik Institute
|The Bialik Institute|
This article deals with various kinds of repetitions interwoven into the story cycle of Naboth’s execution and its aftermath. The changes between the repetition’s members indicate differences between individuals and points of view. The first comparative structure is evident in the negotiations between King Ahab and Naboth. It shows that Ahab offers a very fair deal to purchase the vineyard of Naboth. But the latter responds in an insolent refusal. The implied author creates a delicate balance between the king and his subject. However, when the king reflects the refusal and later recounts the incident to Queen Jezebel, the changes expose a gradual deterioration of the king's attitude toward the event and attest that he also fears his wife.
The second repetition structure focuses on Jezebel’s plot to liquidate Naboth and confiscate his vineyard. Jezebel sends signed letters to Jezreel notables to convene a meeting, stage false accusations against Naboth, and execute him. The narrator repeats the event almost word for word which attests that the dignitaries feared Jezebel. Yet, some minor changes attest that they also loathed being part of this falsified trial.
The third remarkable comparison is interwoven within the punishment descriptions. God instructs Elijah to go down to the vineyard to meet Ahab, to chastise him for his two sins. Yet, Elijah renders the prophecy differently the prophet chastises Ahab of being addictive to evil doing, therefore evil will come upon him. Elijah adds that Jezebel will be eaten by dogs, and similar punishments will befell to all of Ahab’s offspring. In these significant changes, Elijah demonstrates an independent stand very much opposed that of God.
The last inquiring is which prophecy was fulfilled? Ahab indeed was killed, but his blood was licked by dogs in Samaria, not in Jezreel as stated by God. The changes suggest that God accepted partially Elijah’s stand. However, Ahaziah, the son of Ahab and Jezebel, passed away in his palace bed; but dogs have not devoured his corpse as prophesized by Elijah. Elijah himself was ordered by God’s angel to announce the king about his fate. It was a lesson for the prophet to carry out God’s order without any distortion. Other repetitions of the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecies show more changes. Elijah’s prophecy is also repeated by the young prophet sent by Elisha to anoint Jehu, and in the prophetic dream story of Jehu as told to his military aide. These changes highlight the different points of interest in the descriptions of the young prophet and Jehu.