The Bible Says What? ‘Greedy people will be eaten by dogs!’
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The Bible Says What? ‘Greedy people will be eaten by dogs!’

Rabbi Janet Burden takes a controversial topic from Jewish texts and looks at a progressive response

Sephardi Torah scrolls
Sephardi Torah scrolls

“Thus says the Lord: ‘In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Nabot, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.’” (1 Kings: 21:19)

Some of the most powerful stories in the Hebrew Bible are those that illustrate how easy it is to slip into immoral action due to overwhelming desire. David’s passion for Bathsheba is perhaps the best known of these. Nathan’s rebuke to him sends shivers down my spine.

Another such tale is that of Nabot’s vineyard. King Ahab wanted this vineyard for a vegetable garden, as it was near his palace in Samaria.

The king offered Nabot a good price for it and offered to exchange better land for it.

Nabot refused, saying: “The Lord forbid it me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you.”

Out of frustrated desire, Ahab allows his wife Jezebel to plot against Nabot and have him killed.

Averah goreret averah, meaning one transgression will lead to another, sealed the couples’ ignominious downfall.

Both suffered dramatic and humiliating deaths. Ahab’s blood was licked up by dogs, while his wife was devoured by them.

The lesson here is obvious: unilaterally taking something you want because you have the power to do so can never be right.

Like many, I have been following the news about the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank. I love Israel and want the best for its safety and future.

But I believe this proposal constitutes a major threat not only to Palestinian rights, but also to Israel’s democracy.

I fear it will only endanger the state’s long-term peace and security, just like taking what wasn’t theirs did to Ahab and Jezebel.

Rabbi Janet Burden serves Ealing Liberal Synagogue

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