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AHIMELECH (a-hĭm'-ĕ-lĕk, Heb. ’ăhîmelekh, brother of a king)

A priest serving in the priestly center of Nob in the time of Saul. He assisted David, not knowing that he was a fugitive from the king, by giving him Goliath’s sword and allowing him to eat the consecrated bread. Doeg the Edomite denounced him to Saul and, at Saul’s command, massacred all the priests at Nob except Abiathar, who fled to David (1Sam.21.1-1Sam.21.15-1Sam.22.1-1Sam.22.23).Son of Abiathar and grandson of Ahimelech (2Sam.8.17; 1Chr.18.16; 1Chr.24.6).A Hittite who, with Abishai, was asked to accompany David to Saul’s camp (1Sam.26.6).

2. A Hitt. who followed David while he was a fugitive in the wilderness hiding from Saul (1 Sam 26:6).

3. A son of Abiathar is also called Ahimelech (2 Sam 8:17 and 1 Chron 18:16) and a grandson of 1 above. Most scholars regard this as an inadvertent transposition for “Abiathar the son of Ahimelech.” While this is likely enough, the detailed account of 1 Chronicles 24:3, 6, 31 would seem to rule against it. One has only to look at the Phoen. lists of names in C.I.S. for the phenomena of patronymics where father, grandson, and greatgreat-grandson all share the name “A” while son and great-grandson share the name “B,” e.g. the patrilineal pattern of “A” begets “B” begets “A” begets “B” begets “A.”


W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, (1956), 201, 202.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(’achimelekh, "brother of a king," or, "my brother is king," or, "king is brother"):

Many regard "Ahimelech the son of Abiathar" (Mt gives Ahimelech) as an inadvertent transposition for "Abiathar the son of Ahimelech." This is rather plausible in the passage in 2Sa 8 and the duplicate of it in 1Ch 18:16, but it has no application in the detailed account in 1Ch 24. One must accept Ahimelech the son of Abiathar as historical unless, indeed, one regards the testimony of Ch to a fact as evidence in disproof of that fact. See Abiathar.

(3) A Hittite, a companion and friend of David, when he was hiding from Saul in the wilderness (1Sa 26:6).

Willis J. Beecher

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