This is from a 19th century commentary compiled by Father Leo Haydock; it is very basic in nature. The spelling of names and places is somewhat archaic today but I have chosen to maintain them except where biblical references are used (e.g., “Isaias” has been changed to “Isaiah”; “2 Paralipomenon” has been changed to 2 Chronicles, etc.).
1Ki 21:1 And after these things, Naboth the Jezrahelite, who was in Jezrahel, had at that time a vineyard, near the palace of Achab, king of Samaria.
Who was. Hebrew, Chaldean, &c., place this after vineyard, and read which, referring it to the ground; which we might naturally suppose would be the place of Naboth’s nativity, as it was his parental estate, 2 Kings 9:21. Josephus calls the place Azari, and says it was a field contiguous to the king’s palace. Septuagint Greek: alo, “threshing-floor.”
1Ki 21:2 And Achab spoke to Naboth, saying: Give me thy vineyard, that I may make me a garden of herbs, because it is nigh, and adjoining to my house; and I will give thee for it a better vineyard: or if thou think it more convenient for thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money.
Herbs. The taste of eastern nations is very different from ours. The Syrians delight in seeing gardens filled with melons, onions, &c., and they cannot conceive what pleasure we can find in rambling round our long walks for the sake of exercise. — Money. Hence we perceive that, notwithstanding the despotic power of the kings of Israel, they did not imagine that they had a right to take their subjects’ lands, 1 Sam 8:14. (Calmet) — Naboth’s conduct is therefore here applauded; and St. Ambrose (Off. iii. 9.) styles him a martyr, (Worthington) and a great saint. (Tirinus) — Maluit periculum cum honestate, quam utilitatem cum opprobrio.
1Ki 21:3 Naboth answered him: The Lord be merciful to me, and not let me give thee the inheritance of my fathers.
Fathers. He would have deemed it a mark of disrespect and a crime, as he was not in a state of indigence; which alone could authorize him to sell his property, and then only till the year of jubilee; (Leviticus 25:23.) and as his field was to be turned into a royal garden, and the law was disregarded by the king, there was no prospect of his regaining it at that period. The law of Moses was till in force; and there were some, like Naboth, who were resolved to comply with it, (Calmet) even at the hazard of their lives. (Tirinus)
1Ki 21:4 And Achab came into his house angry and fretting, because of the word that Naboth, the Jezrahelite, had spoken to him, saying: I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And casting himself upon his bed, he turned away his face to the wall, and would eat no bread.
Fretting. The Hebrew terms are the same as [in] 1 Kings 20:43. What weakness in Achab! Riches and honours are not capable of ensuring content. (Calmet) — “Who, thinkest thou, is poor; the man who is content with his own, or he who covets another’s property?” (St. Ambrose, Naboth ii.) — Wall, as Ezechias did afterwards, in very different dispositions; though both were oppressed with grief, Isaiah 38:2. Septuagint, “he covered his face.” (Haydock)
1Ki 21:5 And Jezabel, his wife, went in to him, and said to him: What is the matter that thy soul is so grieved? and why eatest thou no bread?
1Ki 21:6 And he answered her: I spoke to Naboth, the Jezrahelite, and said to him: Give me thy vineyard, and take money for it: or if it please thee, I will give thee a better vineyard for it. And he said: I will not give thee my vineyard.
1Ki 21:7 Then Jezabel, his wife, said to him. Thou art of great authority indeed, and governest well the kingdom of Israel. Arise, and eat bread, and be of good cheer; I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezrahelite.
(verse 7)~Governest well the kingdom of Israel. Hebrew simply, “Now thou wilt make the kingdom of Israel.” (Calmet) — Protestants, “Dost thou now govern the?” &c. (Haydock) — Thou art a fit person indeed to establish a kingdom! Ought not a king to take what he has a mind to? Syriac, “Are you fit to reign?” Arabic, “You do not deserve to govern.” (Calmet) — Septuagint, “Dost thou now act the king over Israel, in this manner?” (Haydock)
1Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Achab’s name, and sealed them with his ring, and sent them to the ancients, and the chief men that were in his city, and that dwelt with Naboth.
Chief men. Hebrew chorim, “those in white,” the usual colour of magistrates and noblemen, Ecclesiastes 9:8., and Daniel 7:9. The angels generally appear arrayed in white. Among the Egyptians and the Greeks, the rich were remarkable for the whiteness of their robes. (Herodotus ii. 36.) (Homer, Odyssey z.)
1Ki 21:9 And this was the tenor of the letters: Proclaim a fast, and make Naboth sit among the chief of the people;
Fast, as in a case of the greatest importance, where the welfare of the king and of the state are concerned. We have frequent mention of such extraordinary fasts, 2 Chron 20:3., Ezra 8:21., and Joel 1:14, &c. Some would translated, “Call the assembly.” (Vatable) — But the Chaldean, &c., are for the fast. Josephus joins both. All the people were collected, (Calmet) and Naboth was (Hebrew) “set on high, or at the head, as president, on account of his riches and nobility, (Haydock) that he might be unprepared, and afterwards be more disgraced. (Menochius) Abulensis (q. 4.) thinks that the judges were accustomed to fast, to shew their pity for the criminal, and that they were moved only by a zeal for justice.
1Ki 21:10 And suborn two men, sons of Belial, against him. and let them bear false witness; that he hath blasphemed God and the king: and then carry him out, and stone him, and so let him die.
Belial, without restraint or conscience. — Blasphemed. Hebrew, “blessed.” — Elohim, (Haydock) or god, the gods, magistrates, &c. (Calmet) — Blessing is equally put, to avoid the horrible sound of blaspheming. (Worthington) (Job 1:5., and Job 2:9.) — Martin de Roa (i. 9.) maintains, that the word implies to “bid adieu,” or quit; as if Naboth had relinquished the service both of God and of the king. He was accused as a traitor. The law did not condemn the person to death who had spoken ill of the prince, Exodus 22:28. But the wicked judges complied with the intimation of Jezabel; (Calmet) as she pretended that he had also blasphemed God. (Haydock) — Josephus introduces three witnesses, which was more conformable to the practice of the Jews. (Grotius) — But the text specifies two; and that number would suffice. (Haydock) — All Naboth’s family were involved in his ruin; (4 Kings ix. 26.; Tirinus) as it was necessary for Achab’s purpose. So Achan’s children perished with him, Joshua 7:25. (Haydock) — What a complication of crime! (Tirinus) — “They proclaimed a fast, in order to commit murder.” (St. Chrysostom, ser. 68.) Hypocrisy, falsehoods, perjury, perversion of justice, all are employed to take away the life, honour, and property of the innocent. See St. Ambrose, Seneca Benef. ii. 27. (Tirinus)
1Ki 21:11 And the men of his city, the ancients and nobles, that dwelt with him in the city, did as Jezabel had commanded them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them;
1Ki 21:12 They proclaimed a fast, and made Naboth sit among the chief of the people.
1Ki 21:13 And bringing two men, sons of the devil, they made them sit against him: and they, like men of the devil, bore witness against him before the people: saying: Naboth hath blasphemed God and the king. Wherefore they brought him forth without the city, and stoned him to death.
(Verse 13)~Devil. Hebrew Belial, ver. 10. Protestants, “and the men of Belial witnessed against him.” — City, as was requisite. (Calmet) — Stoned him, for blasphemy, Leviticus 24:16., and 23.
1Ki 21:14 And they sent to Jezabel, saying: Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
1Ki 21:15 And it came to pass, when Jezabel heard that Naboth was stoned, and dead, that she said to Achab: Arise, and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezrahelite, who would not agree with thee, and give it thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead.
1Ki 21:16 And when Achab heard this, to wit, that Naboth was dead, he arose, and went down into the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezrahelite, to take possession of it.
(Verse 16)~To take possession of it, on the title of confiscation, as Naboth had been condemned for high treason; (see 2 Sam 9:7.; Menochius) or because there was no heir left, ver. 10. Some assert, that Naboth was Achab’s uncle. But this wants proof. (Calmet) — Achab only waited one day, and the Elias met him to denounce to him a similar fate after he was dead, 2 Kings 9:26. Septuagint have, “he tore this garments, and put on sackcloth; and it came to pass afterwards, that Achab arose,” &c. This addition would intimate that the king pretended to be sorry. They repeat the same thing, ver. 27., “he had put on sackcloth, on the day when he slew Naboth, and went along cast down.” It is probable that Achab might assume this garb, to make people suppose that he had no hand in the death of Naboth; but this was all hypocrisy, and Elias boldly accused him of guilt. Thou hast slain, &c., ver. 19. (Haydock) — He knew, at least, of his wife’s machinations. (Salien)