A King, a Peasant, and a Vineyard

Scripture:   1 Kings 21;  Matthew 22.37-40

‘The story of Naboth is an old one, but it is repeated every day.’    [St. Ambrose]

More than a millennium later, this biblical tale was invoked by the Hawaiian Queen, Lili’ukalani.  In a letter to the American people, written after her arrest in 1898, after the U.S. government in cahoots with local Americans and American business interests had overthrown her traditional rule and annexed the island, the Queen, a devout Christian appealed to the American conscience:   ‘Oh honest Americans, as Christians hear me for my downtrodden people! . . . Quite as warmly as you love your country, so they love theirs. With all your goodly possessions, covering a territory so immense that there yet remain parts unexplored . . . do not covet the little vineyard of Naboth’s, so far from your shores, lest the punishment of Ahab fall upon you, if not in your day, in that of your children.’   Her plea was ignored.

Sadly, invaders and settlers from Europe deprived many of the native Naboth’s of their ancestral homes in North & South America, a legacy we continue to grapple with to this day.

For reflection:

          Why won’t Naboth sell his vineyard?  Ahab’s offer seems fair.

          Note the repeated use of the words ‘take possession’ in the story.

          Why does Elijah refer to Naboth’s vineyard when it has clearly become the property of Ahab and Jezebel?

          Who are the Ahabs and Naboths of our day?

Our movie of the week is Macbeth.  What connections do you see between Shakespeare’s story and the Biblical story?