29b. Rub Out

29b. Rub You Out

858 BC

Naboth’s Vineyard behind Fort Jezreel, Israel

Obadiah marched out the gate, around the far corner of the fort, and past the patch of shrubbery where the city’s merchants had killed Naboth.

At the far side of the vegetable garden, Ahab stood in the first row of Naboth’s vineyard with his head down.

Obadiah closed the gate. “You didn’t have to let your wife kill Naboth.”

“You don’t know her. It does no good for me to protest.”

“Good? You never gave good a chance.” Obadiah curled his lip in a sneer. “While you were pouting, evil took over. Send that witch back where she came from.”

“Ha! And risk an international incident?”

“You’d rather have your friend in Tyre than Naboth still alive.”

The ring of royal guards parted. A guard ushered in Elijah and, several steps behind him, a young boy.

“If it isn’t my old enemy, the walking moth nest.” Ahab smirked. “Who’s the tag-along?”

“The Lord sent this young man, my king.” Elijah approached within spitting distance and jutted his chin toward Ahab. “But the Lord’s message is for you. It doesn’t matter how important you think you are. You murdered a man and took his land. Dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, and dogs wait to lick up yours.”

Obadiah jerked his head back.

Ahab let out a high-pitched laugh. “With a line like that, boy, you should shake a long, bony finger under my nose and stomp in the dirt.”

From a tree beside the vineyard, a whitethroat scolded woid-woid.

Obadiah fell back a step.

Elijah examined his feet a moment while he curled his hands into fists. Then he looked Ahab in the eye. “The Lord’s going to rub you out, sir. You and your entire line to the most distant cousin.”

“Boy, what are you—?”

“Jezebel.” Elijah raised his arm and pointed to a window.

Ahab’s gaze followed.

“Dogs are going to tear your queen apart and devour the pieces by the city wall.”

Ahab gaped at him open-mouthed.

“In tiny villages people talk of your queen’s gowns and hair dressers. Yet she is going to leave them in the palace and become dog dung, my king.” Elijah shook his head. “With nothing left to bury.”

Several guards leaped toward him then retraced their steps as the king waved them back.

Elijah stared off at Mount Tabor. “You’re famous, you know.”

“Hear that, Biah?” Ahab turned toward Obadiah standing with bowed head. “Treat me with more respect.”

“There’s been no one like you, my king.” Elijah raised his voice. “No one who sins with both hands so earnestly. No one who does whatever Jezebel says. No one who sells himself to do evil continually. No one.”

Ahab face darkened. He sucked in a breath.

Obadiah squinted at the spears. Any second now, they would pierce Elijah’s chest.

“My king, everyone wants to be your friend. They hover by you and your powerful cousins.” He glanced at a cloud moving into position over the fort. “Not only has the Lord shown how you will leave this earth—” He glued his gaze to Ahab. “—but he declares everyone in your bloodline is going to die abandoned, alone.”

Ahab’s face lost color, and he looked away, but Elijah touched his arm.

Guards thrust spear points a hand width from Elijah’s throat.

Yet Ahab pushed their spears away.

When Elijah threaded his arm through Ahab’s, the king jerked his chin back but turned with Elijah to face the fort.

The fifty guards turned with them.

“My king, remember the plaza up there? That’s where we first met. It was market day.”

Ahab made one sound. “Wha—?

“Listen. In plazas like this, on many market days, dogs will fight over pieces of your children.” Elijah shuddered, gripped Ahab’s arm and rotated him to look out across the almond trees. The guards turned with them. “In open country, my king, vultures will peck the flesh from the bones of your grandchildren.”

He removed his arm from Ahab’s and edged away. “The Lord has made your end clear.”

Ahab’s eyes shot daggers. A frown formed. The muscles of his jaw worked, and his fists curled at this sides.

Elijah hitched the strap of his pack higher on his shoulder then glanced at the clouds piled over the fort. “It’s going to rain. You should all go inside.”

Ahab and the troops glanced up but stood still.

Elijah bowed his head and turned toward the open field.

Obadiah’s brows drew close. Would the guards let him pass?

Elijah left the cabbages and stepped over rows of beans and peppers. He trudged past the shrubs where the committee killed Naboth. The young man followed.


Yedidah met Obadiah on the threshing floor. “Ahab is tearing his clothes and wearing sackcloth.”

“You’re kidding.”

“You know people open up around me with news you’ll never hear on your own.”

Obadiah rubbed his mouth. “What an act. He’s trying to appease the Lord.”

“Can you see into his heart?”

“Right, but do you think he’s sincere?”

Yedidah stood silent for a moment. “He’s fasting and lost his haughty walk. He tiptoes through his rooms.”

“I see.” Obadiah pursed his lips. “He’s faking. Hoping for a suspended sentence. A month, a year from now, he’ll be back out murdering some poor guy who happens to own the wrong—”

Yedidah put her hand over his mouth. “Know what I think? The Lord is going to hold off and not strike his children and grandchildren until Ahab’s son is on the throne.”

“My friend from across the path. One day he’s slapping the stable boy, and the next he’s stuffing pitas into the cloak of a homeless child.” Obadiah shrugged. “I’ll never figure Ahab out.”


Elisha, the young man who accompanied Elijah – The Boy Who Closed the Sky, p. 273

Ahab wearing sackcloth – 1 Kings 21:27

The Lord holds off his strike – 1 Kings 21:29

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