"COME, NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER, SAYS THE LORD" (ISAIAH 1.18)
—"The one reading, be understanding!" (Mk. 13.14; Mt. 24.15)
Brief studies and devotionals designed to elucidate the meaning of Scripture, increase our faith, and enable us to draw closer to God. To learn more about this column, see: "01—The Bible Was Written To Be Understood."
In Biblical times, Samaria was both a region (1 Kgs. 13.32; Acts 1.8; Jn. 4.3-5), as well as a city (1 Kgs. 16.24), situated about 30 miles north of Jerusalem. Omri, the sixth king of Northern Israel (c. 887-886 B.C), built the city and made it the capital. His son, Ahab, “reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years” (16.29), during which time he constructed a temple for Baal in the city (16.32), making it a “center of idolatrous worship” (ISBE, Vol. IV, 2671).
In this city, “Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard” (1 Kgs. 21.1), which, evidently, was of relatively inferior quality for vines, but suitable enough for a “vegetable garden” (v. 2). King Ahab sought to acquire this plot of land for himself fairly, by giving Naboth a “better” vineyard, or money. Naboth refused. Consequently, Ahab, through Jezebel's legal chicanery, had Naboth killed, confiscating the land forcibly (vv. 3-16).
In the early 1900s, a Harvard University excavation of the city “revealed a building covering 1½ acres of ground” (ibid), which they recognized as “the foundations of Omri's palace” (Halley's Bible Handbook, 197). They found “nothing older than Omri, evidence that he was founder of the city” (ibid). Next to this palace resided Naboth's infamous vineyard (1 Kgs. 21.1).