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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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ABIMELECH (‘father is king’ or perhaps ‘Melech is father’). 1 . King of Gerar. According to E [Note: Elohist.] ( Genesis 20:1-18 ) he took Sarah into his harem, but on learning that she was Abraham’s wife, restored her uninjured and made ample amends. Subsequently he entered into a covenant with Abraham ( Genesis 21:22 ff.). J [Note: Jahwist.] ( Genesis 12:10 ff., Genesis 26:1 ff.) gives two variants of the same tradition. The Book of Jubilees, in the section parallel to Genesis 12:10 ff., exonerates Abraham from blame, and omits the other two narratives! 2 . The son of Gideon. His mother belonged to one of the leading Canaanite families in Shechem, although Judges 8:31 calls her a concubine, and Jotham ( Judges 9:18 ) brands her as a maidservant. On Gideon’s decease, Abimelech, backed by his maternal relatives, gathered a band of mercenaries, murdered his seventy half-brothers ‘on one stone,’ and was accepted as king by the mixed Canaanite and Israelite population of Shechem and the neighbourhood. But Jotham sowed the seeds of dissension between the new ruler and his subjects, and the latter soon took offence because the king did not reside among them. At the end of three years they were ripe for revolt, and found a leader in Gaal, son of Ebed. Abimelech defeated him, took the city, and sowed the site with salt, in token that it should not again be built upon. Thebez, the next town attacked by him, fell into his hands, but he was mortally wounded by a woman whilst assaulting the citadel ( Judges 9:50-54 , 2 Samuel 11:21 ). His significance in the history of Israel consists in the fact that his short-lived monarchy was the precursor of the durable one founded soon after. 3 . 1 Chronicles 18:16 : read Ahimelech . 4 . Psalms 34:1-22 (title): read Achish (cf. 1 Samuel 21:13 ).

J. Taylor.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Abimelech'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Thursday, October 29th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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