King and Queen of Vegetables

Vertumnus (Emperor Rudolph II)
Giuseppe Arcimboldo

In 1 Kings 21, Ahab the anti-Christ sees Naboth’s vineyard and his wandering eye wants it (Prov 30:17). But Naboth won’t surrender his family’s land inheritance, and Ahab sulks, sullen and sour. This petulent king wants what another man has, but he doesn’t even know a good thing when he sees it. No, he wants to replace it with his own version: not a well-established vineyard but rather a vegetable garden, cheap and common at that time (Prov. 15:17). And here we encounter the Bible’s foil to the Wise Mother of Israel: Jezebel, woman of folly (Prov 9:13).

Ahab’s chosen partner is not a woman of wisdom and strength but a fool. Unstable (Prov. 5:6), loud and defiant (Prov. 7:11), vicious and violent (Hos. 4:2).

And Ahab, king of vegetables, complains to his witless wife, his hateful henchwoman. Naboth won’t give me what I want! So Jezebel steals the fields from Naboth (Prov. 3:29, 9:13-18), murdering him by proxy (1 Kings 21:13). When Ahab hears of this, the text says that he sits up, tantrum over, and goes to claim Naboth’s vineyard as his own. Job done.

Ahab and Jezebel are a cowardly couple of chumps, full of conflict and brutality. God’s answer to their actions comes through Elijah: They and their inheritance will be destroyed, as they’d tried to do to Naboth. And both exit the world in the same vicious way that they lived in it.

Death of Jezebel/Holburne Museum, Bath, UK/Bridgeman Art Library

But of course Ahab is not just Ahab, nor is Jezebel just Jezebel. Jezebel is not even simply a woman. Of course not.

Ahab and Jezebel are the enemies of God, Satan and his bloody bride Babylon, full of blasphemous names, overflowing with abominations (Rev. 17). Jezebel is everyone who hates God, men and women who lust and do not have. She is those who fight and quarrel over pointless pursuits. She is those who commit murder (James 4:2). Jezebel is every ally of the roaring ruler of this earthly age, whose wandering eye is impatient and ravenous. She is every man and woman who impetuously sacrifices the vineyards of heaven for the pursuit of bargain basement vegetable rewards (James 4:4).

But though Satan and the woman of this world who follows him may seem to share a common purpose, ultimately he will destroy and consume her (2 Kings 9:27-37, Rev 17:14-18).

The anti-Christ cannot love Babylon, city of this earth. The only love, the true love is the love of Jesus Christ for His bride, His chosen people, at His side before time began, His strength and ally, city of heaven, daily His delight.

22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
23 “From everlasting I was established,
From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.
24 “When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no springs abounding with water.
25 “Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills I was brought forth;
26 While He had not yet made the earth and the fields,
Nor the first dust of the world.
27 “When He established the heavens, I was there,
When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep,
28 When He made firm the skies above,
When the springs of the deep became fixed,
29 When He set for the sea its boundary
So that the water would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
30 Then I was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him,
31 Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.

Proverbs 8:22-31


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