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AHIMELECH ("Brother is King").

—Biblical Data:

1. Son of Ahitub, grandson of Phinehas, and great-grandson of Eli. He was priest at Nob during David's halt in his flight from Saul (I Sam. xxi. 1-9). Owing to his friendship for David he was slain by Doeg the Edomite by order of Saul (I Sam. xxii. 11-19). The identity of Ahiah (I Sam. xiv. 3, 18) with Ahimelech is not established.

I. M. P.—In Rabbinical Literature:

The interview between Ahimelech and David concerning the hallowed bread hinges upon the following Halakah: David reached the priestly city on the Sabbath, and, finding the priests baking this bread, remarked to them that such work was fitting for the week-days only (the rabbinical interpretation of the words , "and it is in a manner common," I Sam. xxi. 5, 6); for the setting up of the showbread was permitted on the Sabbath day (Lev. xxiv. 8), but not the baking of it (Men. 95b, YalḲ. Sam. 130). Concerning Ahimelech's hesitation to give up the bread, tradition states that David informed the priest that he was famishing, and that in such extremity all food was permitted to him (l.c.).

Similarly, the interview between Ahimelech and Saul turned upon a halakic point. Saul was of the opinion that the right to interrogate the Urim and Thummim belonged to the king exclusively, so that Ahimelech had made himself liable to the death penalty when he consulted them in David's behalf. Ahimelech, on the contrary, maintained that interrogation by anybody was justified when the affairs of state demanded it, and that David, as general of the Jewish army, certainly had the right to interrogate them. This question divided the scholars of Saul's court: Abner and Amasa sided with the priest, Doeg against him. The last-named was accordingly deputed to execute the sentence upon Ahimelech (YalḲ. Sam. § 131).

L. G.

2. A Hittite officer in the service of David (I Sam. xxvi. 6).

I. M. P.
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