Dr Norma Franklin made a remarkable discovery in the Jezreel Valley. The valley is located in a large, fertile plain in Northern Israel, just south of Nazareth. It has been an important agricultural area in Israel for centuries.
In 2012, using a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanner that is able to see beneath the surface of the earth, Franklin discovered several ancient wine presses including one that is now considered the largest wine-press ever found in Israel. This one was actually found on a side of a hill carved into the bedrock and was about 12 metres square (36 feet).
As well, Franklin’s team discovered several (100) bottle-shaped pits that were probably used to store wine.
In addition to discoveries related to the wine industry, the scanner also picked out several olive presses.
Though it was difficult to determine the date of these finds, Franklin said the construction style is similar to those built in 300 BC. This would fall into the era of King Ahab and his wicked wife Queen Jezebel.
So what Biblical significance do these finds have?
These findings confirmed an incident that took place during the reign of King Ahab:
21 Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” (1 Kings 21:1-2 NASV)
According to the Biblical account, Naboth owned a vineyard in Jezreel near the palace of King Ahab. The king began to covet this vineyard and tried to swing a deal to buy it.
However, Naboth refused saying this vineyard was the inheritance given by the Lord to his family at the dividing of the promised land and could not give up the Lord’s inheritance.
Ahab went into a big pout over this refusal and when Jezebel found out, she found false witnesses, corrupted the judges and elders, accused Naboth of blasphemy and had him stoned allowing Ahab to seize the vineyard.
In an interview with Breaking Israel News, Franklin stated that though she hasn’t found any evidence of a farmer named Naboth her discovery shows that during Ahab’s reign, Jezreel was a popular area for vineyards.
And the size of the winepress and storage areas suggest it was a hive of economic activity and obviously the better producing vineyards, like Naboth’s, would have been coveted.
However, it is interesting that Ahab wanted to convert Naboth’s vineyard into a vegetable garden.
Of course, this makes a person wonder why he would do that?
Some suggest that Ahab was actually lying about his intentions for the land. The value of the land lay in its ability to produce wine and the fact that Ahab was willing to pay top dollar for it suggests he was hiding his true intentions for the land.
Because the vineyard was located near his palace, Ahab may have wanted the land for a major building project. Of course, he would undoubtedly need more land and if other nearby farmers became aware of this project it would drive up the price of the land all around the palace.
So you lie about your intentions.
Even today major corporations making a play for land try to hide their intentions other sellers will not jack up the price.
39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did and the ivory house which he built and all the cities which he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? (1 Kings 22:39 NASV)
- Proof of Biblical Naboth’s vineyard discovered in Jezreel: Breaking Israel News