Smith's Bible Dictionary


Abim'elech. (father of the king). The name of several Philistine kings, was probably a common title of these kings, like that of Pharaoh among the Egyptians and that of Caesar and Augustus among the Romans. Hence in the title of Psa 34:1, the name of Abimelech is given to the king, who is called Achish in 1Sa 21:11.

1. A Philistine, king of Gerar, Genesis 20-21, who, exercising the right claimed by Eastern princes of collecting all the beautiful women of their dominions into their harem, Gen 12:15; Est 2:3, sent for and took Sarah. A similar account is given of Abraham's conduct of this occasion to that of his behavior towards Pharaoh. See Abraham. (B.C. 1920).

2. Another king of Gerar, in the time of Isaac, of whom a similar narrative is recorded in relation to Rebekah. Gen 26:1, etc. (B.C. 1817).

3. Son of the judge, Gideon, by his Shechemite concubine. Jdg 8:31. (B.C. 1322-1319). After his father's death, he murdered all his brethren, 70 in number, with the exception of Jotham, the youngest, who concealed himself; and he then persuaded the Shechemites to elect him king. Shechem now became an independent state.

After Abimelech had reigned three years, the citizens of Shechem rebelled. He was absent at the time, but he returned and quelled the insurrection. Shortly after, he stormed and took Thebez, but was struck on the head by a woman with the fragment of a millstone, compare 2Sa 11:21 and lest he should be said to have died by a woman, he bade his armor-bearer slay him.

4. A son of Abiathar. 1Ch 18:16.


Taken from: Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884)