King Ahab’s Biblical Kangaroo Court https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/religion-holidays/2016/12/king-ahabs-biblical-kangaroo-court/

December 16, 2016 | Shalom Holtz
About the author:

In the book of Kings, the Israelite monarch Ahab, egged on and assisted by his wife Jezebel, has a man named Naboth tried and executed on trumped-up charges so that Ahab can then inherit his vineyard. As Shalom Holtz notes, the trial, although clearly a sham, follows several procedures of biblical justice:

Jezebel convenes the “elders and nobles” before whom Naboth is to be denounced and Naboth’s accusers testify against him “in the presence of the people” [in keeping with court proceedings described in Numbers and Deuteronomy]. . . .

For an accusation to stick, it must not only be made in a proper venue; it must also follow the proper procedure. To this end, Jezebel specifies that there be two witnesses, not just one, to accuse Naboth. This brings the process into line with biblical laws that explicitly prohibit punishment on the basis of just one accuser’s word. By requiring corroborating testimony, these laws guard against false accusations and a rush to punishment. Thus, Naboth’s two false accusers subvert these laws’ very purpose. . . .

By convicting Naboth in a kangaroo court before his execution, Ahab and Jezebel attempt to launder their corruption in the machinery of justice. Their accusation is rooted in law, but so is the punishment God [eventually] metes out to them. False accusation, according to the Bible and other ancient legal sources, entailed “do to the false witness just as the false witness had meant to do to the other.” Moreover, abuse of royal power, in the Bible and elsewhere, was subject to punishment directly from God, the ultimate judge.

Read more on Bible Odyssey: http://www.bibleodyssey.org/passages/related-articles/naboths-trial.aspx

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now