Fruits, "the Jezreelite," was the owner of a portion of ground on the eastern slope of the hill of Jezreel (2 Ki. 9:25,26
). This small "plat of ground" seems to have been all he possessed. It was a vineyard, and lay "hard by the palace of Ahab" (1 Ki. 21:1,2
), who greatly coveted it. Naboth, however, refused on any terms to part with it to the king. He had inherited it from his fathers, and no Israelite could lawfully sell his property (Lev. 25:23
). Jezebel, Ahab's wife, was grievously offended at Naboth's refusal to part with his vineyard. By a crafty and cruel plot she compassed his death. His sons also shared his fate (2 Ki. 9:26; 1 Ki. 21:19
). She then came to Ahab and said, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard; for Naboth is not alive, but dead." Ahab arose and went forth into the garden which had so treacherously and cruelly been acquired, seemingly enjoying his new possession, when, lo, Elijah suddenly appeared before him and pronounced against him a fearful doom (1 Ki. 21:17-24
). Jehu and Bidcar were with Ahab at this time, and so deeply were the words of Elijah imprinted on Jehu's memory that many years afterwards he refers to them (2 Ki. 9:26
), and he was the chief instrument in inflicting this sentence on Ahab and Jezebel and all their house (9:30-37). The house of Ahab was extinguished by him. Not one of all his great men and his kinsfolk and his priests did Jehu spare (10:11).
Ahab humbled himself at Elijah's words (1 Ki. 21:28,29), and therefore the prophecy was fulfilled not in his fate but in that of his son Joram (2 Ki. 9:25).
The history of Naboth, compared with that of Ahab and Jezebel, furnishes a remarkable illustration of the law of a retributive providence, a law which runs through all history (comp. Ps. 109:17,18).