& Meaning •
Meaning and etymology of the name Abimelech
There are four men named Abimelech in the Bible. The first Abimelech we meet is the king of Gerar during the time of Abraham (Genesis 20:1). Abraham introduces his half-sister Sarah to Abimelech but fails to submit that she's also his wife. When Abimelech then takes her, God tells him the truth and Abimelech relinquishes Sarah. This was the second time that Abraham almost lost Sarah. The first time was to Pharaoh (12:15). Later, their son Isaac would play the same game with his wife Rebekah, again in the territory of Abimelech, king of Gerar (26:7-11). There are about 80 years between the two encounters with Abimelech of Gerar and some commentators assume there are two of them. But Abraham lived 175 years (25:7) and Isaac lived 180 years (35:28), if we assume that kings lived as long as their subjects, cloning Abimelech is not necessary.
The other Abimelechs are one of seventy sons of Gideon (Judges 8:31), a son of Abiathar and priest during the reign of Israel's king David (1 Chronicles 18:16, called Ahimelech in 24:6), and a king of the Philistine city Gath (Psalm 34:1), better known as Achish (1 Samuel 21:10).
Why the latter Abimelech is called such in the header of Psalm 34 and not Achish, as we know him in the actual story, has been theorized about. Some scholars say the header of Psalm 34 contains an error. Others think that editors substituted an relatively unknown name (Achish) for a better known one (Abimelech). But the majority of scholars believe that Abimelech was a Philistine royal title not unlike Pharao in Egypt, Candace in Cush or Ceasar in Rome.
The name Abimelech consists of two parts:
For a meaning of the name Abimelech NOBS Study Bible Name List reads The Father Is King. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with Father Of The King, and BDB Theological Dictionary takes the melech-part to be a reference to the god Molech and reads Melek (= Malik, Molech) Is Father
Other names that contain the word melech are:
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