ACHISH (ā'kĭsh, Heb. ’ākhîsh). King of Gath, to whom David fled for protection (1Sam.21.10-1Sam.21.15). David became fearful and pretended insanity. Achish repulsed him, and David fled. David again sought refuge with Achish, this time behaving so as to win his confidence (1Sam.27.1-1Sam.27.12). David consented to join Achish against Israel, but when the Philistine lords objected, Achish sent David away (1Sam.29.1-1Sam.29.11). He may be the same Achish to whom Shimei’s servant fled (1Kgs.2.39-1Kgs.2.40). Achish is called Abimelech in the title to Ps.34.1-Ps.34.22. Gen.20.2, 22; Gen.26.1, Gen.26.26 suggest that Abimelech was a dynastic name of Philistine kings.

ACHISH ā’ kĭsh (אָכִ֔ישׁ, the king gives). A king of Gath to whom David went for refuge when fleeing from Saul, after he had received the bread of the presence as food for his men and the sword of Goliath from Ahimelech the priest. When the servants of Achish disclosed who David was, David pretended he was insane and so escaped to Adullam (1 Sam 21:10-15; 22:1). Later, when David had been some time a fugitive from Saul, he again sought asylum with Achish and was well received. Subsequently Achish gave David Ziklag as his home town. Though David raided other towns in the Negev, he informed Achish that his forays were against Judah, so that Achish trusted David (1 Sam 27:2-12).

After the death of Samuel, when the Philistines had gathered their armies to attack Israel, Achish asked David to go with him to battle. When the Philistine commanders saw David and his company, they insisted that David be sent back. Though Achish entreated for David, David and his men were sent back to the S country (1 Sam 28:1, 2; 29:2-9).

The Achish to whom two of Shimei’s slaves fled may be the same Achish, though the time was about forty years later. The Achish in 1 Samuel was called the Son of Maoch, while he was called the Son of Maacah in 1 Kings 2:39. The superscription to Psalm 34 says that David feigned madness before Abimelech rather than before Achish (1 Sam 21:10-15). Abimelech might be another name for Achish.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)