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ABIMELECH, the name of two well-known characters in the Old Testament. ( I ) A king of Gerar in South Palestine with whom Isaac had relations. The patriarch, during his sojourn there, alleged that his wife Rebekah was his sister, but the king doubting this remonstrated with him and pointed out how easily adultery might have been unintentionally committed (Gen. xxvi,). Abimelech is called "king of the Philistines," but the title is clearly an anachronism. A very similar story is told of Abraham and Sarah (ch. xx.), but here Abimelech takes Sarah to wife, although he is warned by a divine vision before the crime is actually com mitted. The incident is fuller and shows a great advance in ideas of morality. Further incidents in Isaac's life at Gerar are nar rated in Gen. xxvi. (cf. xxi. 22-34, time of Abraham), notably a covenant with Abimelech at Beer-sheba (whence the name is ex plained "well of the oath").

(2) A son of Jerubbaal or Gideon (q.v.), by his Shechemite concubine (Judges viii. 31, ix.). On the death of Gideon, Abime lech set himself to assert the authority which his father had earned, and through the influence of his mother's clan won over the citizens of Shechem. Furnished with money from the treasury of the temple of Baal-berith, he hired a band of followers and slew 70 (Cf. 2 Kings x. 7) of his brethren at Ophrah, his father's home. Abimelech thus became king, and extended his authority over central Palestine. But his success was short-lived, and the subsequent discord between Abimelech and the Shechemites was regarded as a just reward for his atrocious massacre.

king and gerar