Monthly Archives: February 2016

King Trump v. Naboth’s Vineyard

You know Trump isn’t the first rich man to take the little people’s land to expand his kingdom. It’s a technique as old as time. I was recently reminded of a story from the Old Testament about a man who owned a vineyard. His name was Naboth and he lived in the fertile Jezreel valley. You probably know it better by the ancient fortress city on it’s edge “Har Megeddon” or “Mount of Megiddo”, from which we get “Armageddon” and all kinds of crazy theories. Naboth had a neighbor, who happened to be King Ahab of Samaria. He wanted Naboth’s vineyard, so that he could annex it to his estate and make a vegetable garden. Naboth wouldn’t sell, and rightly pointed out that it wasn’t God’s will. But he didn’t just have a vision or a feeling, God actually did forbid land being sold out of the family(Leviticus 25:23, Numbers 36:7). In addition there was a special command to princes that they were not allowed to take land from his people (Ezekiel 46:17) Because land is life, land is freedom. These things are always connected. Tyrants have historically destroyed property rights. And so they do today.

Elijah Prophesies to Ahab and Jezebel Their End. Thomas Matthews Rooke. c.1879

Elijah Prophesies to Ahab and Jezebel Their End. Thomas Matthews Rooke. c.1879

After this great disappointment, Ahab went into his room to pout. So his loving wife Jezebel, (no it’s not a joke, this is the real Jezebel, from which we get the derogatory term) decides to get it for him, and she tells him as much. She formed a conspiracy to have two men accuse him of slandering God and the King at a banquet. The law required the testimony of two(Deuteronomy 17:6) for putting a man to death. And the penalty for slander was stoning. So she put her plan into action and has Naboth killed. And then Ahab takes the vineyard. It’s almost like God is waiting for Ahab to go through with it, “really you are going to take the land?”. When he does God sends Elijah to curse Ahab. The spot where Naboth died, is where you will die, and your entire house will be cut off. You wanted to wipe out Naboth’s line, well God is going to wipe out Ahab’s posterity.

The same thing happens today, but instead of killing people with land, the rich just got together and invented ‘eminent domain’ so they could do it legally. Similar to how Jezebel had Naboth killed legally. The end of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says “nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This might sound familiar. Though we are more familiar with the introduction to the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These three things were the common mantra of the day. The founders changed “property” to “pursuit of Happiness” because at the time slaves were legally considered property and they didn’t want to ensconce that institution any further as they separated from England. But property rights have been under assault ever since and we continue to give away our freedom. Most of us pay property taxes. Just say it “property tax”. That means they just take part of what you have, for nothing. Even God never does that, he says if you plant a field and make a profit, he wants the first 10%. That’s the first fruits—fruit, bounty, produce. He doesn’t just walk up to you and take what you have, that’s theft, he takes the beginning of your increase. But we put up with the government charging us rent.

A further step beyond property tax is eminent domain, addressed in the last clause of the Fifth Amendment. Taken in the context of the whole document, which was addressed to the federal government, and geared towards restricting it’s abilities, it hardly bears any resemblance to current case law. The intent was that were it absolutely necessary, in the worst case, for the public good, that you had to take some land, that it must go through a legal process and that the person must be paid fairly. Currently as of the Kelo v. City of New London case the government decided that “public good” means that if someone wants to kick you off your land and build something bigger, which will generate more tax revenue, then that benefits the public and is A-OK. And before this case Trump tried to force a lady out of her home to build limo parking. Because, you know, he’s a builder. She refused, it had been her home for 35 years. So he got the city to condemn her property. But a non-profit legal firm stepped in and helped her keep her home. She won the case, but it doesn’t change the fact that Trump was trying to abuse her property rights, and still believes in eminent domain.

It’s interesting that God eventually used Ahab’s own vanity and then Jehu to wipe out the line of Ahab(Two Kings 9:25-27, Two Kings 11). In addition Jehu wipes out the prophets of Baal(2 kings 10:18-27). And initially God commends him for following God’s will(Two Kings 10:30. But he fell away and worshiped idols, and so his earlier actions were seen for what they actually were, political posturing and not serving God. And God punished him for the blood he had shed(Hosea 1:4,5). It reminded me of Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. Who seemed like the perfect candidate, in 2005. But who eventually sold out so he could get into the right clique in DC. He all but rewrote Obamacare so that it could pass Supreme Court scrutiny. And he isn’t the first conservative to turn liberal under DC peer pressure, he’s the fourth after Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, and David Souter. It’s interesting, because Cruz initially supported Roberts, as many did, it seemed like a good idea at the time, he later condemned his liberal actions. But the depravity of man knows no end. Men of character often fall. Let us hope that Cruz is not one of them. But we can be certain that Trump has already fallen. He plays down in the mud and he loves it unapologetically. Woe to us if we make him our representative.