The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Abimelech or Avimelech (אֲבִימֶלֶךְ / אֲבִימָלֶךְ "father/leader of a king; my father/leader, a king", Standard Hebrew Aviméleḫ / Avimáleḫ, Tiberian Hebrew ʾĂḇîméleḵ / ʾĂḇîmāleḵ) was a common name of the Philistine kings, much as "Pharaoh" was of the Egyptian kings.)

  1. The Philistine king of Gerar in the time of Abraham (Genesis 20:1-18). By an interposition of Providence, Sarah was delivered from his harem, and was restored to her husband Abraham. As a mark of respect he gave to Abraham valuable gifts, and offered him a settlement in any part of his country; while at the same time he delicately and yet severely rebuked him for having practised a deception upon him in pretending that Sarah was only his sister. Among the gifts presented by the king were a thousand pieces of silver as a "covering of the eyes" for Sarah; i.e., either as an atoning gift and a testimony of her innocence in the sight of all, or rather for the purpose of procuring a veil for Sarah to conceal her beauty, and thus as a reproof to her for not having worn a veil which, as a married woman, she ought to have done. A few years after this Abimelech visited Abraham, who had removed southward beyond his territory, and there entered into a league of peace and friendship with him. This league was the first of which we have any record. It was confirmed by a mutual oath at Beersheba (Gen. 21:22-34).
  2. A king of Gerar in the time of Isaac, probably the son of the preceding (Gen. 26:1-22). Isaac sought refuge in his territory during a famine, and there he acted a part with reference to his wife Rebekah similar to that of his father Abraham with reference to Sarah. Abimelech rebuked him for the deception, which he accidentally discovered. Isaac settled for a while here, and prospered. Abimelech desired him, however, to leave his territory, which Isaac did. Abimelech afterwards visited him when he was encamped at Beer-sheba, and expressed a desire to renew the covenant which had been entered into between their fathers (Gen. 26:26-31).
  3. Abimelech (Judges), a son of Gideon (Judges 9:1), who was proclaimed king after the death of his father (Judges 8:33-9:6).
  4. The son of Abiathar, and high priest in the time of David (1 Chronicles 18:16). In the parallel passage, 2 Samuel 8:17, we have the name Ahimelech, and Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech. This most authorities consider the more correct reading.
  5. The king of Gath, better known as Achish, as it appears in the title of Psalm 34. (See also 1 Samuel 21:10-15.)
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13