Naboth before the Supreme Court: A different look at the Kelo decision

[Ed. Note: This article was originally published June 24th, 2005, following the Supreme Court’s decision in the case known as
Kelo v. City of New London. That case involved the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another private owner to further economic development. The original article appears here with only minor modifications.]

The recent decision wherein the Supreme Court gave its approval to a Connecticut municipality violating the Fifth Amendment by taking away the property of private owners and giving it to other private interests bears an eerie resemblance to the biblical account of King Ahab’s seizing the vineyard of Naboth found in I Kings.

Now, Naboth was, by all indications, a righteous man. His only “crime” was having a vineyard near the palace of King Ahab. This vineyard had been passed on to him as an inheritance from his father, and had conceivably been passed down for generations. It was Naboth’s property, clear and free. His intention was to keep it and use it as he saw fit.

Enter Ahab, the King of Israel’s Northern Kingdom during the divided kingdom period. According to the account in I Kings 21, King Ahab found the vineyard to be an attractive piece of real estate and desired to have it for a garden of herbs. He approached Naboth and offered him either another piece of ground equal to it or cash money in exchange for it. Herein lies one of the only good things that may be said about wicked King Ahab—at least he offered Naboth compensation for the vineyard.

Naboth responded to the King’s offer by stating that he inherited the field from his father and therefore he would not part with it.

After being rejected, Ahab returned home and went to sulking. He lay upon his bed, faced the wall, and refused to eat. In came the King’s wife, the similarly-wicked Jezebel. Upon hearing the source of the King’s behavior, she encouraged him with the question, “Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel?” In other words, “Who is Naboth to tell you what to do? Aren’t you the King?” Jezebel was a firm believer in the rights of kings above the rights of their subjects.


We have today a government bent on running roughshod over the rights of its citizens—and judges (complete with witnesses) who are complicit in doing it.


Jezebel had a solution to Ahab’s problem. She wrote letters to key people arranging for a trial. She also wrote letters to two idolatrous men ordering—bribing?—them to witness against Naboth so that his property might be seized. Specifically, she named the charge against Naboth as blasphemy against God and the King, for which he should be put to death.

The letters were sent and the assembly met and heard testimony that Naboth had blasphemed God. He was found guilty and summarily stoned to death. Ahab took possession of the field that very day.

While the particulars in the biblical case of Ahab v. Naboth may not be an exact parallel to Kelo v. City of New London, the overall larger picture is amazingly similar. We have today a government bent on running roughshod over the rights of its citizens—and judges (complete with witnesses) who are complicit in doing it. We now have citizens who have been denied the lawful use of their own property because some other private owner wanted it and had the power to make it so, and in the name of the public good and supposed economic well-being.

You can be guaranteed this isn’t the last we’ve heard about this matter. As we are so eloquently reminded in a famous sermon by Dr. R.G. Lee, “Payday, Someday,” Ahab was met by the prophet of God who told him that the Lord would bring judgment upon him and his wicked wife for their evil deeds. Ahab was to die and the dogs would lick up his blood and eat Jezebel’s body by the wall. You read that correctly: Jezebel’s corpse was to be eaten by dogs, according to the prophecy.

Although judgment did not come swiftly, it did come surely, and exactly as it was foretold. Ahab perished in a battle at Ramoth-Gilead. Some twenty years later, Jezebel was tossed out a window at the wall of the palace where the dogs came and ate up her body, save the head, feet and hands, and just as it was foretold.

We can be sure, based on this biblical account, that everyone involved in wresting the private property from the citizens in this and other related cases will be judged for their deeds. And if that judgment fails to come from the bench of a righteous judge, it will come from the Judge of the universe. As Dr. Lee thundered, “Payday, someday!”

From this account, we may make and apply a few observations:

1. Private property is a God-given right.
2. Government has no authority to take private property.
3. Citizens have no authority to take private property from another, even through the agency of government.
4. Evil deeds committed, even under the name of government or public good are not overlooked by God.
5. God’s judgment will come, though His wheels of justice seem to turn slowly.

One final observation is in order. There doesn’t appear to be any biblical principle by which we may conclude that we are constrained to sit idly by and watch the injustices continue. In other words, we can—and ought—to work against this evil in our land.

So, what can we do?

Enlist with and help a political party whose goals are to return justice and constitutionalism to the benches of our country.

Sign one of the several petitions now circulating which call for the impeachment of the liberal Supreme Court justices for their unconstitutional behavior and violation of citizens’ rights.

Remain informed. Follow the news and information available from alternative (non-mainstream) news sources.

Let your public officials hear from you—phone, write, or email them. Tell them you are fed up with judicial activism and demand a return to constitutional judges.

Recommend these activities to those you know—family, friends, business associates, acquaintances, etc.

It’s a shame that were Naboth to stand before the Supreme Court of our time his field would still be taken from him. May God have mercy on our nation!


  • Michael Harrison
  • Michael Harrison is founder of the Luzerne County Campaign for Liberty group and hosts an online blog at

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