“The story of Naboth is an old one, but it is repeated every day.” This is how Ambrose begins the tale of poor Naboth whose death was contrived by King Ahab so that he could take possession of his vineyard. Naboth of Israel, Ahab of Samaria, his wife Jezebel and the prophet Elijah are the characters in the episode that is found in the First Book of Kings. They are the protagonists of the past: the king who is powerful and all-possessing craves a small vineyard that borders on his extensive properties; the wife is the instigator of the crime; then there is the poor man who only has a small vineyard, inherited from his ancestors; and finally, the prophet who denounces the injustice and awakes consciences.
History repeated itself at the time of Ambrose in the then capital of the Western Roman Empire, which was changing profoundly and transforming itself. The powerful had immense wealth that they squandered appallingly, not only in homes decorated with gold and palaces embellished with precious stones, but also in great games to honor their children, or in banquets with hundreds of courses. Their display of wealth clashed with the poverty and the misery of the masses.
From here emerges Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, coming from a family of the senatorial class, wealthy and powerful. As a catechumen he had been prefect of the city and had personally known the games and the dishonest practices of the rich and powerful. Upon becoming a Christian, he donated all his property to the Church. The deacon Paulinus, his biographer, documents how he donated his gold and silver.