Organizational Challenges, Moses, I Kings 21

1.  Zosia Zaks, Life and Love: Positive Strategies for Autistic Adults, page 27:

Some autistic people have difficulty managing all the tasks that go into maintaining a home.  What has to be done first?  Where do you begin?  What are the steps involved in cleaning a tub?  Which chores are mandatory?  Which are optional?  And how do you schedule your time so everything is completed thoroughly without sacrificing other life activities?

Zosia offers suggestions.

2.  I watched Moses, a 1995 movie starring Ben Kingsley.  What went through my mind was Moses’ complexity as a character.  Moses was slow of speech, reluctant to be in the spotlight, and meek and humble.  Yet, there were plenty of times when he took bold action: he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew, and he drove away shepherds who were bullying Jethro’s daughters.  I identify with Moses in terms of his shyness, but not as much in terms of his boldness.

Moses depicts Moses as a shy and socially-awkward outcast when he was in Pharaoh’s court, which may have been one reason that Moses felt more comfortable among the Hebrews, even though he was officially the grandson of the Pharaoh.  But Moses gained confidence as the movie went on, to the point that he could give orders and eloquent speeches to the Israelites in the wilderness.

In the 1956 movie, The Ten Commandments, by contrast, Charlton Heston depicts Moses as someone who was loved in the Egyptian court, to the consternation of his cousin, Raamses, who feels overshadowed by Moses.  Moses was a hero because he had conquered Ethiopia and built Sethi a city.  If Moses got to the point where he was slow of speech and lacked confidence, it was because he had become burnt along life’s path, not because he was always that way.  Suffering an identity crisis and being expelled from his home, family, and the woman he loved were what burned him.  But, with God’s help, he found his way.

3.  For my weekly quiet time this week, I studied I Kings 21.  King Ahab of Northern Israel wants Naboth’s vineyard because it is close to his palace in Jezreel, and he desires to make it into an herb garden.  He offers to purchase it from Naboth, but Naboth refuses to sell it, for it is his family’s inheritance.  There are commentators who suggest that Naboth was honoring God’s law through his refusal, for the Torah bans the sale of land in perpetuity, requiring sold land to be returned to its original owner in the Jubilee year (Leviticus 25).  And the Torah is sensitive to keeping tribal land in the tribes (Numbers 36:37-38).  I doubt that the Torah banned Naboth from selling his vineyard, for the Israelites sold land.  But Naboth may have felt that he was honoring the Torah through his refusal to sell it, for, under Ahab, Naboth wouldn’t have gotten his vineyard back.  Ahab probably didn’t enforce the Year of Jubilee.  Consequently, Naboth was honoring the Torah’s principle of keeping land in the family.

Ahab pouts because Naboth won’t sell him his vineyard, and his wife, Jezebel, is baffled because Ahab is the king.  Many commentators contend that Jezebel was accustomed to the monarchy of her home region of Phoenicia, where a king could simply take a subject’s property.  The IVP Bible Background Commentary states that “Israelites believed that all the land was Yahweh’s land, while the Phoenicians would have seen the land as royal fiefdoms—all land was on grant from the king” (383).  And, several years before, the prophet Samuel warned the Israelites who desired a monarchy that a king would take their vineyards (I Samuel 8:14).  As bad as Ahab was, I have to give the Northern Israelite system credit because there was some rule of law, which limited even the leaders.  Ahab couldn’t just take Naboth’s land: he had to purchase it.  And, when Jezebel plotted to take Naboth’s vineyard, she did so by getting two witnesses to testify that he’d blasphemed God and the king, which were capital crimes.  So she couldn’t just take Naboth’s property either: she had to go through legal channels.

VV 9, 12 say that Jezebel ordered the false witnesses to set Naboth high (be-rosh) among the people, before testifying that Naboth blasphemed God and the king, leading to Naboth’s execution by stoning outside of the city.  Jimmy Swaggart says that the false witnesses were pretending as if they were exalting Naboth by setting him high among the people, right before they pulled the rug from under him.  This could be true, for I Samuel 9:22 refers to Saul being placed be-rosh, meaning he was exalted.  If that’s what Jezebel did to Naboth, then that was cruel.  It reminds me of something I heard on Dr. Phil, where a girl said that some bullies called her and pretended to be her friend, right before they proceeded to trash her.  It’s wrong and callous to toy with people’s emotions.

Naboth was stoned to death, and II Kings 9:26 indicates that Jezebel killed Naboth’s sons as well, since they were entitled to Naboth’s vineyard, which was their inheritance.  Jezebel didn’t want Ahab to have any competitors for Naboth’s vineyard!  As Ahab enjoys his vineyard, Elijah the prophet comes to him to deliver God’s stern message.  According to Elijah, Ahab will die, and the dogs will lick Ahab’s blood in the very place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth.  Because Ahab repented, however, this did not literally happen, though it did occur to Ahab’s son, whose blood was licked in the field of Naboth (II Kings 9:21-26).  Still, Ahab’s blood was licked by dogs in another location, at the pool of Samaria, as we will see in the next chapter.  I Kings 22:37-38 treats that as the fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy, so a prophecy doesn’t always have to be fulfilled exactly to be fulfilled.    

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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1 Response to Organizational Challenges, Moses, I Kings 21

  1. jamesbradfordpate says:

    On my blogger blog, John Valade made the following point:

    Very though-provoking post. Unless I am mistaken, properties in Samaria would not have been considered in the Jubilee scheme. City properties in walled cities could be sold in perpetuity and did not have to be redeemed at the Jubilee (Lev. 25:29). That is, of course, assuming that Ahab was actually even pretending to keep Torah.


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