Ahab wanted a land from Nabot. Nabot doesn't want to sell. Well, Ahab is a king.

So Ahab frames Nabot for treason, kills him, and takes his land. G-d gets upset and curses Ahab and his descendants.

If Saul can kill the high priests and is still a tzadik, why can't Ahab?

  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22709/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 16:47
  • I hope you notice that Ahab didn't assert his royal authority but lied and cheated to kill off Naboth. That is not what Saul did when he used his royal authority to quell what was in his eyes a rebellion.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 17:08
  • See Tosfos ד"ה מלך to Sanhedrin 20b
    – b a
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 17:24
  • @ba That looks like an answer.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 17:42
  • It doesn't answer why this case is different from that of Sha'ul (which this question assumes).
    – b a
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


Rambam, The Laws of Kings and Wars, 3:8 (Chabad.org)

Anyone who rebels against a king of Israel may be executed by the king…

Shaul was considered righteous since he believed he was putting down a rebellion.

The king may only execute people by decapitation. ……However, he may not confiscate property. If he does, it is considered theft.

This is why Achav couldn't just take the property.

Rambam ibid. 4:9 (Chabad.org):

The property of all those executed by the king, belongs to the king. Similarly, all the treasures belonging to the kings of the kingdoms which he conquers become the property of the king.

So Achav (or Izevel) thought that by scheming to have Navos framed and killed, they could legally take his property. However, G-d was not fooled, and he punished Achav and Izevel for their evil.

Side note: Achav may not have been considered a king at all, halachicly.

Rambam ibid. 1:8 (Chabad.org)

If a prophet appoints a king from any other tribe of Israel and that king follows the path of Torah and mitzvot and fights the wars of God, he is considered as a king, and all the commandments associated with the monarchy apply to him.

  • But mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt08a08.htm#14
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 18:18
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Good question! Rambam ibid 4:6 "He may take fields, olive groves, and vineyards for his servants when they go to war and allow them to commandeer these places if they have no source of nurture other than them. He must pay for what is taken. This is stated in ibid.:14: 'He shall take your good fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants."
    – HodofHod
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 19:27
  • Yap, he may take fields. In fact, why bother killing Nabot? Why not just go to war somewhere (can't believe I am suggesting this) so he has a legal reason to seize fields? I really got to check Rabam's reasoning. It looks a lot like after the fact justification rather than objective analysis.
    – user4951
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 19:46
  • @JimThio Rambam isn't talking about this story at all. He's talking about the laws of what all Jewish kings may and may not do.
    – HodofHod
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 19:47
  • I guess owning a property must be very dangerous in ancient time. If I am too rich, any king will have plenty of interest to kill me so he can seize my money like contemporary civil forfeiture in US. Oh he needs a probable cause. Well, Saul's probable cause is also pretty slight. If a high priest told me that he doesn't know David is Saul's enemy, that give rise to a lot of reasonable doubt given that Saul hasn't told the Nov.
    – user4951
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 19:48

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