A Catholic reads the Bible, Week 17: Ahab goes to the dogs

The Book of Kings is interesting history, but is there a larger point the book is trying to make?

Laura Bernardini is director of coverage in CNN's Washington Bureau. The views expressed in this column belong to Bernardini.

Laura Bernardini

(CNN)This is week 17 of an ongoing series: A Catholic Reads the Bible. Read Week One, Week Two and Week Three.

What happens when you read the Bible for a week but witness no big revelations?
That's what happened during first Book of Kings: there wasn't anything spectacular that jumped out at me. There are no characters to love or hate.
    It's just there.
    These chapters are like reading a history class textbook. While I love history, I kept waiting for some big event or overarching point to the chapter.
    So many people have told me have told me "Oh, wait until you get to Kings ..." as a foreboding message foretelling horror or boredom. That hasn't happened.
    I just haven't been dazzled or infuriated.
    Instead, it is king after king chronicled in two books.
    Maybe I should make flashcards to keep them straight? That may be the only way I can remember the names.
    Ahaziah, Baasha, Jehoram and Nadab are some of my favorite names. Who am I kidding? I won't remember them all.
    Rather than be overwhelmed by all the history of the Kings and their repeated mistakes and angering God, I found it pretty fascinating, even if it wasn't revelatory in a religious sense.
    After reading 300 pages of the Bible, I may finally be getting it through my thick skull that this is a process and it's not going to be a lightning bolt every day.
    But, there was one story that did stick out.
    When we were kids and would tease my Mom, she would tell my sister and me not to be "Jezebels." I had no clue that my English-teacher mother was pulling a biblical reference on me.
    Jezebel is the wife of Ahab, King of Samaria. Ahab wants Naboth's vineyard because it borders his property. Naboth won't give it up because it is his ancestral home.
    Jezebel writes letters in her husband's name and sets up a series of events that results in Naboth being stoned to death. Therefore the land can become her husband's property.
    Nothing good comes of these sort of actions. (Remember David and Uriah?)
    God finds out Naboth is killed and tells the prophet Elijah about Ahab, "In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too."
    Now that is bold -- a vivid image that I can't get out of my head.
    Ahab repents and it appears that just his ancestors will be punished. The image of dogs licking blood from a dead body is such an insult, even I get it thousands of years later.
    But, not so fast Ahab. All is not forgiven.
    In the next chapter, Ahab dies in battle "and the blood from his wound flowed to the bottom of the chariot."
    And then ... "When the chariot was washed at the pool of Samaria, the dogs licked up his blood and harlots bathed there, as the Lord had prophesied." (1 Kings 22:38)
    Now, that is a good story.
    I have to tell Mom to stop using Jezebel, though. It just won't be the same.
    There is a lot more of Kings to be read for the next week. Let's hope the Kings have something exciting to share.