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Abimelech

also known as: Abimelek

Hebrew: אֲבִימֶ֫לֶך

Meaning: my father a king, or father of a king

This is the name of 5 biblical men; 4 were kings. This was the common name for Philistine kings, as was the name “Pharaoh” for Egyptian kings.

  1. Abimelech, the Philistine king of Gerar

    He reigned 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, the king 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 practiced 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 apparently ought to have done in that culture.

    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 Beer-sheba (Genesis 21:22-34).

  2. Abimelech, another king of Gerar

    He reigned in the time of Isaac and was probably the son of the preceeding King Abimelech known to his father Abraham (Genesis 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. However, King Abimelech desired that he leave his territory, which Isaac did.

    Later, Abimelech 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 (Genesis 26:26-31).

  3. Abimelech, a son of Gideon

    He was proclaimed king after the death of his father—a judge of Israel (Judges 9:1; Judges 8:33-9:6).

    And all the men of Shechem gathered together, all of Beth Millo, and they went and made Abimelech king beside the terebinth tree at the pillar that was in Shechem. —Judges 9 NKJV

    One of his first acts was to murder his brothers, 70 in number, “on one stone,” at Ophrah. Only 1 escaped; his name is Jotham.

    Abimelech murdered (burned alive) a thousand trapped men and women civilians in Shechem.

    Then Abimelech, son of Gideon, went up to Mount Zalmon, he and all the people who were with him. And Abimelech took an ax in his hand and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it and laid it on his shoulder; then he said to the people who were with him, “What you have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done.”

    So each of the people likewise cut down his own bough and followed Abimelech, put them against the stronghold, and set the stronghold on fire above them, so that all the people of the tower of Shechem died, about a thousand men and women.
    —Judges 9:48-49 NKJV

    He was an unprincipled, ambitious ruler, often engaged in war with his own subjects.

    When engaged in reducing the town of Thebez, which had revolted, he was struck mortally on his head by a millstone, thrown by the hand of a woman from the wall above. Perceiving that the wound was mortal, he asked his armor-bearer to thrust him through with his sword, that it might not be said he had perished by the hand of a woman (Judges 9:50-57).

    At one time he lived in Arumah (Judges 9:41), which is “generally considered to be the same as the modern Jebel el-Urmah.” —Daniel I. Block, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel (Zondervan, 2009). p. 173

  4. Abimelech, the son of Abiathar

    He was high priest in the time of David.

    Zadok the son of Ahitub and Abimelech the son of Abiathar were priests, and Shavsha was secretary… —1 Chronicles 18:16 NASB

    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. Abimelech (aka Achish), king of Gath

    This name appears in the title of Psalm 34.

    A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed.

    David sought refuge with him (1 Samuel 21:10-15).

Article Version: June 5, 2019