4. Was Abiathar the father or the son of Ahimelech?

Posted: April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

1sam 22:20, 23:6 ≠ 2sam 8:17, 1chron 18:16, 24:6

1Sam. 22:20 ¶ But Abiathar, a son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, escaped and fled to join David.

1Sam. 23:6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)

2Sam. 8:17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary;

1Chr. 18:16 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Shavsha was secretary;

1Chr. 24:6 ¶ The scribe Shemaiah son of Nethanel, a Levite, recorded their names in the presence of the king and of the officials: Zadok the priest, Ahimelech son of Abiathar and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites—one family being taken from Eleazar and then one from Ithamar.

This one’s a classic case of confirmation bias on the part of The Reason Project. But it’s not impossible to figure out—if you want to.

In 1 Samuel 22:20 we’re told that Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, is the grandson of Ahitub, who is a descendant of Eleazar, son of Aaron (1 Chr 6:3-8).

But 1 Chronicles 24:3 & 6 tells us that Ahimelech, son of Abiathar, is descended from Ithamar, another of Aaron’s sons (1 Chr 6:3).

Abiathar & Ahimelech

In other words, Abiathar (father) and Ahimelech (son) are different guys from Ahimelech (father) and Abiathar (son). It’s confusing because they’re all priests by virtue of their descent from Aaron and happen to be alive at roughly the same time.

You can see this at play in 1 Kings. In 1 Kings 2:26-27 Solomon removes Abiathar from the priesthood for supporting a rival claimant to the throne. This is Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, who had escaped a massacre of priests by Saul in 1 Samuel 22:20. But only a couple of chapters later, in 1 Kings 4:4, Abiathar is listed as one of the priests among Solomon’s chief officials. Why? Because this is a different Abiathar, the father of a guy called Ahimelech.

Confusing? Definitely.
Contradictory? Definitely not.

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