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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Abiathar (a-bî'a-thar), father of abundance, i.e., liberal. Tenth high priest and descendant of Levi through Eli. Abiathar was the only one of all the sons of Ahimelech the high priest who escaped the slaughter inflicted upon his father's house by Saul, in revenge for his having inquired of the Lord for David and given him the shewbread to eat. 1 Samuel 22:21-23. Abiathar having become high priest fled to David, and was thus enabled to inquire of the Lord for him. 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7; 2 Samuel 2:1; 2 Samuel 5:19, etc. He adhered to David in his wanderings while pursued by Saul; he was with him while he reigned in Hebron, and afterwards in Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 2:1-3. He continued faithful to him in Absalom's rebellion. 2 Samuel 15:24; 2 Samuel 15:29; 2 Samuel 15:35-36; 2 Samuel 17:15-17; 2 Samuel 19:11. When, however, Adonijah set himself up for David's successor on the throne, in opposition to Solomon, Abiathar sided with him, while Zadok was on Solomon's side. For this Abiathar was deprived of the high priesthood. Zadok had joined David at Hebron, 1 Chronicles 12:28, so that there were henceforth two high priests in the reign of David, and till the deposition of Abiathar by Solomon, when Zadok became the sole high priest, thus fulfilling the prophecy of 1 Samuel 2:30. Abimelech, or Abimelech, son of Abiathar, is substituted for Abiathar, son of Ahimelech. 2 Samuel 8:17; 1 Chronicles 18:16; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31. The Lord Jesus, Mark 2:26, names Abiathar as the high priest in whose time David ate the shewbread. Probably the sense is: "In the days of Abiathar, who was afterwards high priest," and under whom the record of the fact would be made. Perhaps too the loaves, being his perquisite, Leviticus 24:9, were actually handed by Abiathar to David. Both father and son, moreover, it seems from the quotations above, bore both names, and were indifferently called by either.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Abiathar'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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