“Who owns that vineyard?” King Ahab pointed at the lush vineyard to his left.
“That one over there? It belongs to Naboth the Jezreelite. It’s been in his family for years. He keeps it well tended, does he not, oh King?”
Ahab continued to examine the vineyard from a distance. Huge bunches of grapes hung from the thick, well-trimmed vines. It is a fine vineyard indeed and would make a very nice addition to the royal gardens, Ahab thought, not to mention it’s conveniently close.
“King Ahab?” his servant leaned over.
“Hmm?” said the king distractedly.
“Shouldn’t we be on?”
“Oh, yes. Just a moment, I have something to say to the owner of the vineyard.” Ahab dismounted and made his way to the gate that led in.
“But, sir...” the servant bit his lip and shrugged. As impulsive as ever, he thought to himself.
“Excuse me, worker,” King Ahab approached one of the harvesters with his hands clasped behind his back, “Where is Naboth the Jezreelite? I wish to speak to him.” The man looked up and his eyes opened wide in surprise.
“King Ahab! Yes, right away. I’ll go fetch him,” the man ran off down the row and Ahab looked after him with a slight smile on his lips.
“Oh, King?” Ahab felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see his servant.
“What does his majesty plan on discussing with Naboth?”
“Oh, ah... Small matters. I find myself quite taken with this vineyard and I was going to buy it from him.” The servant dropped his head down onto one of his hands and sighed.
“Sir, this is his family inheritance. I am quite sure he will not...”
“Oh, do shut up. Ah, here comes Naboth!” Naboth saw King Ahab as he came over a small rise and smiled cheerfully as he walked the last few yards.
“Your majesty, it is a pleasure to have you visit my humble vineyard,” Naboth bowed. “Now what may I do to please my king today?” King Ahab smiled, lifted his chin and cast an “I-told-you-so” look over at his servant.
“Yes, the pleasure is all mine. Now, what you may do to please me. Give me your vineyard, so I can have it as a vegetable garden, since it is right next to my palace. I can give you a better vineyard in exchange, or, if you prefer, I will pay you the price in money.” Naboth took a step back and stared at Ahab,
“The Lord forbid that I give you my fathers’ inheritance! My king, please don’t take this as an insult, but I simply cannot give it to you. This vineyard has been in my family for many, many generations and it would be wrong to sell it to a stranger.” Now it was Ahab’s turn to stare. No one had ever denied him what he wanted so outrightly. He opened his mouth, closed it again, turned and stalked off.
“Sir,” said the servant as they remounted their horses, “don’t be to disappointed. I told you he would never...”
“Silence!” roared the king, “We will not continue with this ride. We are going back to the palace immediately.”
“But, sir! You’ve been waiting to take this tour all week!” objected the servant.
“Yes. But I wanted that vineyard more. And that donkey, Naboth, wouldn’t give it to me.” King Ahab scowled in the general direction he had last seen Naboth, “He has ruined my good mood.”
“Very sorry, sir,” said the servant, noticing that the king’s good moods were very easy to ruin.
The ride back to the palace was gloomy and quiet. When they reached the front steps, the king oozed sullenly off his horse and walked inside, not even bothering to give the stableman special daily instructions for the grooming pattern of horse. He went straight to his bedroom, flopped down on his bed and turned his face to the wall. Hours passed and Ahab still lay there moping about Naboth’s vineyard. Dinnertime came and a servant came in.
“King Ahab?” he said, “It is past time for dinner and Queen Jezebel is wondering where you are. Will you come join us out in the...”
“No,” declared Ahab, not turning to look at the servant, “I’m not hungry. I will never eat anything again. I’ll just lie here and starve to death and it’s all Naboth’s fault. Curse him.”
The servant sighed and walked back to the dining hall. Queen Jezebel sat there, toying with a golden medallion on a chain around her neck. She glanced up at the sound of the servant’s footsteps.
“Well?” she asked, “I see he is not with you; what is the matter?”
“He-he says he’s not hungry, your majesty. Says he’ll never eat anything again and it’s all because of someone named Naboth. He probably dropped an unsightly rock in the king’s path, like the last fellow. Doesn’t take much to set him off, you know.”
Queen Jezebel groaned and let the necklace drop back down onto her dress, “Must I do everything?” she stood up and marched to King Ahab’s room. She pushed open the door and stood by his bed with her hands on her hips.
“Ahab, get up. What in Baal’s name is bothering you now? Why won’t you come eat?” Ahab exhaled loudly and sat up.
“I talked to Naboth the Jezreelite and gave him an offer. I said: ‘Sell me your vineyard for money, or, if you prefer, I’ll give you another vineyard in exchange” but he said: ‘I won’t give my vineyard to you’.” King Ahab scowled again, “I’ve never wanted anything more than that vineyard in my whole life, and Naboth just refused! Like he doesn’t even care I’m king!” Ahab threw himself back into the bed. Jezebel smirked,
“Now is a good time to show that you truly are king. Get up, eat something, and for everyone’s sake, stop pouting. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”