A vegetable garden soaked in blood – Monday, 11th week in ordinary time – 1Kings 21:1-16

A vegetable garden soaked in blood – Monday, 11th week in ordinary time – 1Kings 21:1-16

There is a familiarity with this storyline of today’s text. Lest you strain your brain, 2 Samuel 12:1-5 tells us of the greed and lust of King David in taking Bathsheba for his wife; this, when scripture names eight of his wives while mentioning that he had many more.

 What makes a person believe that they can snatch away even the meagerness of the poor when their coffers are bursting? In Ahab’s case, we might be compelled to attribute it to his nature. Chapter 16 of the same book tells us that he was the worst King of Israel in Yahweh’s eyes. How then do we explain King David, a man handpicked by God himself to be ruler over his people?

At the heart of these narratives lies two realities that find themselves doing a robust tango; power and greed. Even those who sit on a stool of power (much less a chair) begin to think that they are not accountable to anyone, trouble sets in. They falsely come to believe that the power they wield is everlasting. How the mighty have fallen, yet history has taught us so little. But when power gets intoxicated, it pushes its boundaries to poach on any and every area and greed is first on that list.

Ahab had God’s mercy poured all over him. Chapter 20 tells us of two battles which God won for him over Benhadad, King of Aram (Syria). God ensured a total victory for Ahab and Samaria. Benhadad had come against the nation of Israel will a coalition of 32 kings. Israel on the other hand had a rag-tag army of young men who served as district governors. These were no fighting men!

Yet God wanted to make a point; He was the one who would win a victory for Israel and not Ahab. Ahab, could not see the light. For him, this was his victory and he went against the wishes of God and made a treaty with the enemy whom he was told to destroy. Ahab made human alliances rejecting the covenant that he had in place with God.

Now that power has intoxicated him, greed stood next in line. Ahab had the world at his feet and yet he coveted Naboth’s vineyard to cultivate vegetables. Naboth declined the offer of money because the vineyard was his ancestral property. The Lord, the owner of all of the land of Israel, had forbidden Israelite families to surrender ownership of family lands permanently (Leviticus 25:23-28; Numbers 36:7-9). Naboth feared God, not Ahab. This sale of his land was never on the table in the first place.

The text of today tells us of Ahab’s shenanigans. A king with a crown throws a star tantrum. We are told he is ‘resentful and sullen.’ ‘He lays down on his bed, turning away his face, refusing to eat.’  His tantrums come to the attention of Jezebel, his queen and wife.  Her evil was legendary.

Like with Christ, a mock trial is called for at the behest of Jezebel. False witnesses (in this case two scoundrels) bring charges that Naboth has blasphemed against God and the king. These charges are ratified by the ‘men of the city’, the elders and the noblemen. At Jezebel’s bidding, they take Naboth outside the city and stone him. Ahab now has his vegetable garden watered in blood.

So many elements in this narrative and those of 2 Samuel 12:1-5 prefigure the trial and death of Christ, of the proto-martyr Stephen and the many martyrs and confessors. Little has changed today.  It is not some fleeting longing for power or greed that we experience but rather an in-your-face reality that has pervaded our world. The devil continues to use these tools effectively to manipulate the world.

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One thought on “A vegetable garden soaked in blood – Monday, 11th week in ordinary time – 1Kings 21:1-16”

  • A perfect analogy for what happened in our nation with our bulldozer government, in Manipur, in Delhi and yesterday in Cuttack.
    Greed and lust for power & money is ancient as well as contemporary.
    Thanks, @pottypadre for the cryptic explanation of the OT times!
    Victory to our glorious Church!
    Victory to our innocent martyrs in the Universal Church!


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