Son of Ahimelech, and tenth high priest of the Jews. When Saul sent his emissaries to Nob, to destroy all the priests there, Abiathar, who was young, fled to David in the wilderness, 1Sa 22:11-23, with whom he continued in the character of priest, 1Sa 23:9; 30:7. Being confirmed in the high priesthood on David's accession to the throne, he aided in bringing up the ark to Jerusalem, 1Co 15:11-12, and adhered to David during the rebellion of Absalom, 2Sa 15:35, but afterwards was led to follow Adonijah, thus strangely betraying his royal friend in his old age. Solomon succeeding to the throne, degraded him from the priesthood, and sent him to Anathoth, 1Ki 2:26-27; thus fulfilling the prediction made to Eli 150 years before, 1Sa 2:27-36. Saul, it would appear, had transferred the dignity of the high priesthood from the line of Ithamar, to which Eli belonged, to that of Eleazar, by conferring the office upon Zadok. Thus there were, at the same time, two high priests in Israel; Abiathar with David, and Zadok with Saul. This double priesthood continued from the death of Ahimelech till the reign of Solomon, after which the office was held by Zadok and his race alone.
A difficulty arises from the circumstance that, in 1Ki 2:27, Abiathar is said to be deprived of the priest's office by Solomon; while in 2Sa 8:17; 6'>1Ch 18:16; 24:3,6,31, Ahimelech the son of Abiathar is said to be high priest along with Zadok. The most probable solution is, that both father and son each bore the two names Ahimelech and Abiathar, as was not at all unusual among the Jews. See under ABIGAIL. In this was also we may remove the difficulty arising from Mr 2:26, where Abiathar is said to have given David the showbread, in allusion to
1Sa 21:1-6, where it is Ahimelech.
father of abundance, or my father excels, the son of Ahimelech the high priest. He was the tenth high priest, and the fourth in descent from Eli. When his father was slain with the priests of Nob, he escaped, and bearing with him the ephod, he joined David, who was then in the cave of Adullam (1Sa 22:20-23; 23:6). He remained with David, and became priest of the party of which he was the leader (1Sa 30:7). When David ascended the throne of Judah, Abiathar was appointed high priest (1Ch 15:11; 1Ki 2:26) and the "king's companion" (1Ch 27:34). Meanwhile Zadok, of the house of Eleazar, had been made high priest. These appointments continued in force till the end of David's reign (1Ki 4:4). Abiathar was deposed (the sole historical instance of the deposition of a high priest) and banished to his home at Anathoth by Solomon, because he took part in the attempt to raise Adonijah to the throne. The priesthood thus passed from the house of Ithamar (1Sa 2:30-36; 1Ki 1:19; 2:26-27). Zadok now became sole high priest. In Mr 2:26, reference is made to an occurrence in "the days of Abiathar the high priest." But from 1Sa 22, we learn explicitly that this event took place when Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar, was high priest. The apparent discrepancy is satisfactorily explained by interpreting the words in Mark as referring to the life-time of Abiathar, and not to the term of his holding the office of high priest. It is not implied in Mark that he was actual high priest at the time referred to. Others, however, think that the loaves belonged to Abiathar, who was at that time (Le 24:9) a priest, and that he either himself gave them to David, or persuaded his father to give them.
("father of abundance".) The only son of Ahimelech, the high priest, who escaped the slaughter committed by Saul at Nob, on Doeg's information that Ahimelech had inquired of the Lord for David, and given him the shewbread and the sword of Goliath (1 Samuel 22). Eighty-five persons wearing the priestly linen ephod were killed. Abiathar, with an ephod (the high priest's mystic scarf) in his hand, escaped to David. It is an instance of God's retributive justice that Saul's murder of the priests deprived him thenceforth of their services in inquiring of the Lord (1Ch 13:3); step by step he sank, until, bereft of legitimate means of obtaining divine counsel, he resorted to the illicit course of consulting the witch of Endor, and so filled the measure of his iniquity and brought on himself destruction (1Ch 10:13). David, on the contrary, by sheltering Abiathar was enabled to inquire of the Lord in the ordained way (1Sa 23:6-9; 30:7; 2Sa 2:1; 5:19; 21:1, an undesigned coincidence with Ps 16:7, and so a proof of genuineness).
Abiathar adhered to David during all his wanderings, and was afflicted in all wherein David was afflicted; also when he assumed the throne in Hebron, the Aaronite priestly city of refuge. He bore the ark before David when it was brought up from Obed-Edom's house to Jerusalem (1Ch 15:11-12; 1Ki 2:26). He was loyal in Absalom's rebellion; and, subordinate to Altithophel, was the king's counselor (1Ch 27:34). But in Adonijah's attempt to be David's successor, instead of Solomon, Abiathar, probably from jealousy of Zadok, who was on Solomon's side, took Adonijah's part. David had evidently for some time previous given the first place in his confidence to Zadok, a preference the more galling as Abiathar was the high priest and Zadok only his vicar, or sagan; thus it was to Zadok he gave the command to take the ark back in Absalom's rebellion. Abiathar is mentioned subordinately 1Sa 15:25,29,35.
Perhaps Zadok was appointed high priest by Saul after the slaughter of Ahimelech. David on succeeding, to conciliate his subjects, allowed him conjointly to hold office with Abiathar. Zadok had joined David in Hebron after Saul's death, with 22 captains of his father's house (1Ch 12:28). Abiathar had the first place, with the ephod, Urim and Thummim, and the ark, in the tent pitched by David at Jerusalem Zadok officiated before the tabernacle and brazen altar made by Moses and Bezaleel in the wilderness, which were now in Gibeon (1Ch 16:1-7,37,39-40; 34'>27:34,34; 2Ch 1:3-5). Moreover, Zadok and Abiathar represented rival houses: Zadok that of Eleazar, the oldest son of Aaron; Abiathar that of Ithamar, the youngest (1Ch 24:3-4; 6:8). Eli, of whose family it had been foretold 150 years before that the priesthood should pass from it, was Abiathar's progenitor fourth backward, and Abiathar would naturally fear the coming realization of the curse. All these undesigned proprieties mark the truth of the history. His own act brought the prophecy to its consummation (1Sa 2:31-35). Solomon banished him to Anathoth, and put Zadok as high priest in his room (1Ki 2:35). But in 1Ki 4:4 Abiathar is still called the "priest" second to Zadok. The Septuagint, "the king made Zadok the first priest in the room of Abiathar," solves the difficulty. Abiathar had been first, priest, but henceforth he was made subordinate to Zadok. Ahimelech or Abimelech, son of Ahimelech, is substituted for Ahimelech, son of Ahimelech: 2Sa 8:17; 6'>1Ch 18:16; 24:3,6,31. The Lord Jesus (Mr 2:26) names Ahimelech as the high priest in whose time David ate the shewbread. Probably the sense is: "in the days of Ahimelech, who was afterward high priest," and under whom the record of the fact would be made. Perhaps too the loaves being his perquisite (Le 24:9) were actually handed by Ahimelech to David. Both father and son, moreover, it seems from the quotations above, bore both names, and were indifferently called by either.
Son of Ahimelech, who was head of the family of priests in charge of the sanctuary at Nob (1Sa 21:1). All except Abiathar were massacred by Saul (1Sa 22:20). When the rest obeyed the king's summons, he may have remained at home to officiate. On hearing of the slaughter he took refuge with David, carrying with him the oracular ephod (1Sa 23:6; see also 1Sa 23:9; 30:7). Abiathar and Zadok accompanied the outlaw in his prolonged wanderings. During Absalom's rebellion they and their sons rendered yeoman service to the old king (2Sa 15:17). At 2Sa 8:17 (so also 1Ch 18:16 [where, moreover, 'Abimelech' should be Ahimelech] 1Ch 24:6) the names of Abiathar and his father have been transposed. Abiathar's adhesion to Adonijah (1Ki 1:7,19,25) was of great importance, not only because of his position as priest, but also owing to his long friendship with king David. Solomon, therefore, as soon as he could safely do it, deposed Abiathar from the priesthood, warned him that any future misconduct would entail capital punishment, and relegated him to the seclusion of Anathoth (1Ki 2:26). His sons (2Sa 8:17) lost the priestly office along with their father (1Ki 2:27; cf. 1Sa 2:27-36). At Mr 2:26 the erroneous mention of Abiathar is due to his having been so intimately associated with the king in days subsequent to the one mentioned.
Son of Ahimelech the high priest. He escaped from the slaughter of the priests executed by Doeg at the command of Saul, 1Sa 22:18,20. He became an adherent of David, and was acknowledged as high priest; but becoming involved in Adonijah's rebellion he was deprived of the priesthood by Solomon and sent to dwell in the city of Anathoth which belonged to the sons of Aaron. 1Ki 2:26; 1Ch 6:60. In 1Ki 4:4, Abiathar is named with Zadok as priests (not the priests); though deposed, Abiathar was still a priest. There is a difficulty in 2Sa 8:17 and 1Ch 18:16 where 'Ahimelech (or Abimelech) the son of Abiathar' is named as priest with Zadok in the time of David. Some suppose that the names should be transposed, and that Abiathar is meant; but this Ahimelech may have been a son of the above-named Abiathar (it not being at all unusual to name a son after his grandfather) and for some reason he is mentioned in these passages as priest instead of his father. He may have been a more worthy man than his father, who was thrust out of the priesthood for his own sin, though it fulfilled the prophecy concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh. 1Sa 2:31-36; 1Ki 2:27. Our Lord in Mr 2:26 speaks of Abiathar as high priest, in connection with David eating the showbread, doubtless because he afterwards attained to that office.
(father of abundance, i.e. liberal), High priest and fourth in descent from Eli. (B.C. 1060-1012.) Abiathar was the only one of the all the sons of Ahimelech the high priest who escaped the slaughter inflicted upon his father's house by Saul, in revenge for his father's house by Saul, in revenge of his having inquired of the Lord for David and given him the shew-bread to eat.
... Abiathar having become high priest fled to David, and was thus enabled to inquire of the Lord for him.
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.
He continued faithful to him in Absalom's rebellion.
When, however, Adonijah set himself up fro 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,
so that there was henceforth who high priests in the reign of David, and till the deposition of Abiathar by Solomon, when Zadok became the sole high priest.
ABIATHAR, the son of Ahimelech, and the tenth high priest among the Jews, and fourth in descent from Eli. 2Sa 8:17; 1Ch 18:16. When Saul sent to Nob to murder all the priests, Abiathar escaped the massacre, and fled to David in the wilderness. There he continued in the quality of high priest; but Saul, out of aversion to Ahimelech, whom he imagined to have betrayed his interests, transferred the dignity of the high priesthood from Ithamar's family into that of Eleazar, by conferring this office upon Zadok. Thus there were, at the same time, two high priests in Israel, Abiathar with David, and Zadok with Saul. In this state things continued, until the reign of Solomon, when Abiathar, being attached to the party of Adonijah, was, by Solomon, divested of his priesthood, A.M. 2989 and the race of Zadok alone performed the functions of that office during the reign of Solomon, to the exclusion of the family of Ithamar, according to the word of the Lord to Eli. 1Sa 2:30, &c.