been totally misunderstood by Christians. We think of him as a
wimp, but this is wrong. His father Omri was the commander of the
army, and you only got that job in those days, if you were
physically tough and totally ruthless. Omri killed off all the
opposition to become king, and Ahab was his son.
Kings did not last long in those
times, so Ahab’s twenty-two year reign was a record. He was a
successful warrior-king at time when war was fought hand-to-hand.
Ahab was mean, tough and strong, and had killed his share of men.
He was a bully, not a wimp.
He had married Jez for political
convenience. He needed a peace treaty with her father and their
marriage was part of the deal. She was a real good-looker, so it
did no harm to his image having her around. Most of the time, he
let her do what she wanted, but she knew that he was the boss. She
was also handy round the house, because she dealt with the
Ahab was a hard, tough, mean
political and military operator, who expected to get his own way.
When he asked for something, people would jump to get it. This is
why was sulking over the Nab incident (Naboth’s name was
shortened by everyone, so I will call him Nabs too). Nabs stood up
to Ahab and refused to give him what he wanted. That seldom
happened, so Ahab sulked. Bullies are like that.
The Nabs incident has been
forgotten, so I will tell you what happened. Nabs' great
grandfather owned a large prosperous farm near the capital city.
An earlier king coveted the farm, so it had been confiscated and
added it to the King’s estate. The King did not want the hard
work of a vineyard, so he had left as an inheritance for Nabs’
Nabs was a hard worker and he had
turned the vineyard into a very successful business. With the
increasing demand for Chardonnay, he was doing very well.
In a corner of the vineyard, a
large hole had been cut in the rock. Nabs’ father used it for
pressing grapes, but Nabs had a new mechanical press, so did not
need it. He filled the hole up with water and used it as a
Nabs was a generous fellow, so he
allowed the children of the town to come and swim in his pool. He
enjoyed listening to the fun and laughter of the children
swimming, while he was working in his vineyard. The noise also
kept the birds away from the grapes.
Then one day someone said,
"Wouldn’t it be awful, if Nabs stopped the children from
swimming in the pool. Nabs’ does not need the pool any more. The
king should do something to make sure that our children can swim
in it always." This thought seemed to strike a chord with the
rest of the townspeople and soon all the important people thought
This talk made Nabs very nervous.
His family had already lost most of its inheritance and he did not
want to be the one who lost the rest. He took the record of his
family’s ownership of the vineyard and presented it to the town
judge. He was able to trace his family’s title back to the time
when Joshua divided up the land. The judge agreed to record his
ownership of both the vineyard and the swimming pool.
The townspeople reacted very
negatively to the judge’s decision. People began to say,
"Nabs should not be allowed to stop our children from
swimming. The swimming pool should belong to us all.
The pressure was really coming on
Ahab to do something, and it was hard for a man of action to do
The muck really hit the fan when
Jez went down to Jericho to speak to the local Rotary club. Many
people thought she was manipulating the situation to increase her
own popularity, but her talk got a great response. This is what
This Nabs fellow is getting
too big for his boots. Why should he and his family have
special rights to a swimming pool that other people don’t
have. We are now one nation. Nabs should not have special
privileges, just because his family was around in Joshua’s
Swimming in the summer is now
part of our culture. All children should be able to go and
have a swim, whenever they like. This is a basic right of
everyone in this town.
We need to move out of the
past and into the present. The decisions that Joshua made when
dividing the land are not relevant now. Joshua did not have a
clue about swimming, as it had not been invented in his day.
We cannot let his decisions control the way we do things now.
We need to leave Joshua behind, and find a way to live in the
This speech made Ahab very
afraid. He understood political power and knew that you cannot
trust anyone, even those who are close to you. He had no real
opposition, but Jez might become a threat to his power, if this
carried on for too long.
Ahab consulted his lawyers and
issued a decree. No individual would be allowed to own a swimming
pool. Ownership of Nabs’ pool would be vested in the King
forever. Ahab would be responsible for managing the pool, but
would not be allowed to sell it. Ahab would also allow residents
of the town to swim in the pool, whenever he and Jez were not
The lawyers suggested that Ahab
throw a sop to Nabs to keep him quiet. He would be allowed to
record an "ancestral connection" to the pool. If the
pool were ever affected by the Resource Management Act, Nabs could
sit in the front row at the hearing.
The townspeople were not totally
happy with this decree. They were pleased their children would be
able swim in the pool, but they were annoyed that Nabs had been
given another special privilege. Many agreed with Jez, that he
might use his right of "ancestral connection" to extract
a rent from the pool by threatening to hold up progress.
Nabs tried to look on the bright
side. He would still be able to swim in the pool because he was a
citizen of the town. He would no longer have to pay for the
chlorine for the pool. Better still, he was still alive, not like
his great grandfather.
On the other hand, he felt like
he had been robbed. As he saw it, he did not really own the pool,
but held it in trust for his descendants. It was strange, but he
felt like he had betrayed that trust. Maybe had made a mistake in
putting water in the pool. Perhaps he was wrong in allowing the
children of the town to use it.
Ahab decided that the pool should
have a grand opening to usher in the new management. The band had
just finished playing "Twisting by the Pool" and Ahab
was about to make his speech, when Elijah turned up and confronted
Elijah was very blunt. "This
is what the Lord says: You have stolen this pool from Nabs and his
children. You have done evil, so disaster will come upon you. Just
as you stole the inheritance of Nabs’ children, your reign will
be cut short. None of your children will succeed to your throne….
And by the way Jez, that smug smirk will be wiped from your face,
"Hold on Mate!" said
Ahab. "I didn’t steal the pool. I have made it available
for all the children of the town to use."
"I don’t think so!"
called a boy sitting in the crowd. "We have been swimming in
this pool for years. Nothing has changed, except we are shut out
when Jez and her mates are having a pool party".
That crowd laughed loudly. Ahab
began to sulk, and the rest is history. Well, not actually. I have
twisted the story a little to make a point. I suggest you read 1
Kings 21. You will find that the circumstances are different, but
the truth is the same.
1 May 2004