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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Hebrew Achime'lek, אֲחַימֶלֶךְ, brother [i.e. friend] of the king; Sept. Ἀχιμέλεχ, but Ἀβιμέλεχ in Psalms 52, title; Josephus Ἀχιμέλεχος ), the name of two men.

1. The twelfth high-priest of the Jews, B.C. cir. 1085-1060, son of AHITUB (See AHITUB) (q.v.), and father of ABIATHAR (See ABIATHAR) (q.v.); apparently called also AHIAH (See AHIAH) (q.v.). (See HIGH-PRIEST). (On the difficulties involved in these names see Kuinol, Comment. ad Marc. 2, 26; Korb, in the Krit. Journ. d. Theol. 4, 295 sq.; Fritzsche, Comment. in Marc. p. 72 sq.; Hitzig, Begriff' d. Krit. p. 146; Ewald, Tsr. Gesch. 2, 596; Engstrom, De Ahimeleche et Ahjathare, Lund. 1741; Wolf, Car. 1, 439 sq.) He was a descendant of the line of Ithamar through Eli (1 Chronicles 24:26; comp. Josephus, Ant. 5, 11, 5; 8:1, 3). When David fled from Saul (B.C. 1062), he went to Nob, a city of the priests in Benjamin, where the tabernacle then was, and, by representing himself as on pressing business from the king, he obtained from Ahimelech, who had no other, some of the sacred bread which had been removed from the presence-table (see Osiander, De Davide panes propositionis accipiente, Tub. 1751). He was also furnished with the sword which he had himself taken from Goliath, and which had been laid up as a trophy in the tabernacle (1 Samuel 21:1-9).

These circumstances were witnessed by Doeg, an Edomite in the service of Saul, and were so reported by him to the jealous king as to appear acts of connivance at, and support to, David's imagined disloyal designs. Saul immediately sent for Ahimelech and the other priests then at Nob, and laid this treasonable offense to their charge; but they declared their ignorance of any hostile designs on the part of David toward Saul or his kingdom. This, however, availed them not, for the king commanded his guard to slay them. Their refusal to fall upon persons invested with so sacred a character might have brought even Saul to reason; but he repeated the order to Doeg himself, and was too readily obeyed by that malignant person, who, with the men under his orders, not only slew the priests then present, eighty-six in number, but marched to Nob, and put to the sword every living creature it contained (1 Samuel 22; Psalms 52, title). The only priest that escaped was Abiathar. Ahimelech's son, who fled to David, and afterward became high-priest (1 Samuel 23:6; 1 Samuel 30:7). (See ABIATHAR).

Some have supposed from Mark 2:26, that there was another Ahimelech, a son of Abiathar, and grandson of the preceding, and that he officiated as one of the two high-priests in the time of David (2 Samuel 8:17; 1 Chronicles 24:3; 1 Chronicles 24:6; 1 Chronicles 24:31); but the two may be identified by reading in these passages, "Abiathar the son of Ahimelech," instead of the reverse. In 1 Chronicles 18:16, he is called ABIMELECH (See ABIMELECH) (q.v.). He is probably the same as the Ahiah who officiated for Saul (1 Samuel 14:3; 1 Samuel 14:18). (See AHIJAH).

2. A Hittite, one of David's followers whom he invited to accompany him at night into the camp of Saul in the wilderness of Ziph, but Abishai alone appears to have had sufficient courage for the enterprise (1 Samuel 26:6), B.C. 1055.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ahimelech'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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