From the Connecticut Courant.
Mr. Editor- Your many readers have felt, doubtless, a glow of indignation at the injustice and cruel oppression, which were exercised upon Naboth and his family by Ahab and Jezebel, his abominable wife, and those Elders, who at her instigation, conspired the death of Naboth; yes, this indignation they have felt as often as they have read the 21st chapter of the first book of the Kings; and for my part, I have always supposed that this deed was incapable of justification, and still believe it to have been so, seeing that the vengeance of heaven pursued the perpetrators of it to their destruction; but never, until the present week, have I seen Ahab's attempt to vindicate himself in that abominable affair of oppression, murder and rapine. It is so extraordinary, I wish you to give it a place, in your valuable paper; and that its merits may be duly appreciated, I wish you to insert in the first place, the chapter at length, so far as through the 25th verse, and then let the vindication follow. The vindication is supposed to be dated at Head Quarters in Samaria on the 7th of Christen, AM 8090, and communicated to the General Assembly of the ten tribes, at which session Ahab expected that his wickedness would undergo a severe scrutiny by the Senate and House of Representatives. The defence is in the mature of a special plea, and is too long for insertion without abridgement, but the whole defence in substance shall be given.
'Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives,
Towards Naboth and his family no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, or would go further in attempting to reclaim them from their idle and visious habits. I endeavored to impress upon them my solemn convictions that the Crown could not interfere with the City authority of Jezreel, and that the Elders of the City were not responsible to this government for the justice of their acts. We might as individuals express our opinions of the acts of these Elders in stoning Naboth; but we had no more right to control them than we had to give law to the Idumcans, of the Midianites. I endeavored to impress my solemn convictions upon Naboth ' his family, how important it was to the Crown the Elders of Jezreel, and to themselves, that they should relinquish their right to their vineyard, the home of their fathers, and if they could not live under the administration of these Elders; to retire into the wilderness, at the west of Mount Lebanon. This would be advantagious to the Crown in a pecuniary point of view: but it would be still more beneficial in removing all ground for collision between the Crown and the City authority of Jezreel. It would make room for a dense population in that part of the valley and for those who were more civilized and industrious that the family of Naboth; it would afford facilities for opening communications with Issachar on the North and Ephraim on the South, and so strengthen the south western frontier that Jezreel herself would be able to repel any future invasion for those of Tyre or Zidon. It would separate the family of Naboth from immediate contact with the Jezreelites; free them from the power of the Elders, enable them to pursue happiness in their own idle and vicious way; and perhaps cause them, under the protection of government, and their own rude institutions, to cast off their savage habits, and become in the wilderness an interesting, civilized, and pious community!! Humanity has often wept over the fate of the Nabothites, and philanthropy has been busily employed in devising means to avert it; but its progress has never for a monent been arrested, and one by one, has this powerful and ancient family almost disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his family, and to tread upon his grave, excites melancholy reflections, it almost breaks my heart; but true philanthropy reconenes the mind to these vicissitudes, as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the ancient monuments spread over this valley of Jezreel we behold the memorials of once powerful tribes, the Canaanites, which were exterminated to make room for the family of Naboth; and this consideration ought to have weight in reconciling Naboth and his family to being sacrificed in their turn. Toward this family no one can indulge a more friendly feeling than myself, but philanthropy could not wish to see this valley restored to the condition in which it was found by Abram when he came from Ur of the Chaldees.--What good man could wish to see this? The Senate and House of Representataives in Israel ought to be apprized, that before the murder of Magoth, I made him a very generous offer,--I proposed to give him a lot in exchange for his, in the wilderness of Lebanon, or if he preferred I would pay him the value of his vineyard in money, but his only answer was, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. Doubtless it was painful to him to leave the graves of his fathers, but what of that? It would be very convenient for me; and in quitting his estate in Jezreel, he would not have done more than his fathers did in leaving Ur or the Chaldees to come into this land; not, nor more than thousands of our children do every year in extending their settltments into the interior. Does humanity weep at these painful separations from every thing animate and inanimate with which the young heart has become entwined? (I shed a tear when I perused this.) Far from it. These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles into Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt and Arabia Felix, purchase new lands nad support themselves at their own expensee. Can it be cruel in this government, when by events it cannot control, that is, when it cannot control the elders of Jezreel, Naboth is made discontented in the possessions of his fathers, to purchase his vineyard, to give him a tract in the wilderness, pay the expense of his removal, and support him one year in his blest retirement? How many thousands in the valley of Jezreel would gladly embrace such an opportunity! And is it to be supposed that these idle and savage Mabothites have a stronger attachment to their home than the civilized and pious Jezreelites, who are striving to expel them from their delightful valley? Is it more afflicting for them to leave the graves of their fathers than it is for our brothers and children to do so? Rightly considered, the policy of the government towards Naboth was not only liberal but generous. He was unwilling to submit to the authority of the Elders in Jezreel, and I proposed to purchase his vineyard, and to plant him in the wilderness. The authority of Jezreel had a right to demand the surrender of his estate, and the Government was bound to aid in the removal of that savage family. May I not hope therefore, that all good citizens will approve of what I have done, and join with me in attempts to convince the remaining members of this family, that it is both their duty and interest to abandon their possessions and seek their safety in the dark recesses of Lebanon or of Syria, and thus relieve themselves from all real or imaginary evils in Jezreel?
King of the ten tribes in Israel.
Now Mr. Editor, I consider this document as eaxtraordinary as it is new; and however it may have affected the ten tribes of Israel, I must confess that to me the attempt at vindication appears frought with tenfold iniquity above that which characterized the original act of oppression and violence. Here we see Ahab acting the consummate hypocrite, and striving in vain to cover his dark purposes by falsehood and deception. In the first place, he endeavored to impress upon the house of Israel the idea that Naboth and his family were a degraded race of beings altogether unworthy of their ancestors, and thus by depressing his victims, he intended to cut off all sympathy for them, and to close the door against an impartial investigation of the case. There was not one fact in regard to that family, which supported his representation of them, but everything went to show that the family was more civilized and virtuous than their persecutors.
2dly. He affected sympathy for Naboth and his family, 'nmo one could indulge a better feeling towards them than he did,' yet the whole tenor of his vindication shows, that his tears for them were the tears of the crocodile, and that his tender mercies were cruel.
3. In order to avert from his own head the just indignation of every honest person in Israel for such high handed wickedness he endeavored to fortify himslef behind the official acts of the elders of Jezreel, pretending that he had no Jurisdiction there, and that they were not amenable at his tribunal, and never once alluded to the fact, that the Kings of Israel had from time immemorial guarantied to the family of Naboth independence and protection from the city authrority of Jezreel, and that he himslef had repeatedly made to them the most solemn asseverations, that he would protect them in their ancient privileges and immunities. The truth was, and it must have been evident to every intelligent mind in Israel, that the elders of Jezreel acted as the mere panders of Ahab in this affair, and that while they condemned and executed an innocent man, in order to put the King in possession of his vineyard, they acted for reward, assured of protection. Time has never effaced, and never will efface this truth.
4. Ahab is driven into the extreme of inconsistencies in his vindication. He admits that Naboth had a right to the estate of his fathers, and this he admitted when he proposed to purchase the vineyard, and yet to screen his guilty elders, he contends that they had a right to demand that estate of the crown, and this he would have received as a palliation, at least, of their violence in destroying Naboth, and in disinheriting his family!
5. He pretended that he was instigated by a benevolent feeling towards Naboth in proposeing to purchase his vineyard in as much as he was oppressed by the elders of Jezreel, and he suggests too, that as Naboth and family were behind their brethren in civilization, a removal into the wilderness might facilitate and accelerate their conversion from a state of barbarism to a civil and religious state; and this is the more readily, under the influence of their own
rude institutions, than when in contact with civilized society. Here it would seem that hypocrisy itself was outraged, and all previous villainy stood aghast!
6. But if crimes like these could be aggravated, it is done in his appeal to the house of Israel to stand by him, and support him in his infernal plot against the lives and liberties of Naboth's family! Not satisfied with carrying on his crusades in oppression and murder himself against an innocent family, he wished to involve his subjects in the same guilt, hoping thereby to diminish his own enormities in the view of others by rendering them partakers of his crimes.- How far he succeeded in bringing the house of Israel into his views and in plunging the nation into guilt and ruin, we are unable to say, but we have reason to apprehend that fear and the hope of reward induced many to enter into that diabolical conspiracy, and that this was the means of accelerating the ruin of the ten tribes, for from this reign their course was only downward to ruin, and it resulted in the subversion of the kingdom, which to this day, has not been restored. But however Ahab might have succeeded in drawing the house of Israel into his designs there was one whom he did not gain; it was the God of Heaven, and the hour of retributive justice did not sleep. God spake to Elijah and commanded him to go directly to Ahab and say--Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? Thus saith the Lord in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood even thine. In the very next chapter, verses 37, 38, this prediction was literally fulfilled. To Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, who sustained so important a part in the murder of Naboth, and the ruin of his family, Elijah was commissioned to say-The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel! 2 Kings, 9th Chap. 35,- this prediction, also, was literally fulfilled, and stands on record for no private interpretation, and like a flaming sword, turns every way to guard the sacred Palladium of civil power from the destructive influence of venality and oppression.