Was Abiathar the Father or the Son of Ahimelech?

Answering 439 Bible Contradictions: #4

Answer: Ahimelech Sr. was the son of Abiathar, who was the father of Ahimelech Jr.

Problem: In 1 Samuel 22:20 and 23:6, Abiathar is the son of Ahimelech. In 2 Samuel 8:17 and 1 Chronicles 18:16, it’s switched. Ahimelech is the son and Abiathar is the father.

Explanation: Before we track down this answer, let us begin with a question. Was John the name of Joseph Kennedy’s son or grandson? Both. They shared more in common than a name. Both died tragically. This is a sad but easy lesson: families share names and experiences.

The same is probably true for Abiathar. It has always been common for an infant son to receive the name of his grandfather (Lk. 1:61). Ahimelech Sr, son of Ahitub, had a son name Abiathar. In 1 Samuel 22:20 we’re told that Abiathar was the one priest that escaped the Nob massacre where Saul commanded Doeg to kill the priests, including Ahimelech Sr.

The sword slaughtered eighty-five priests that day but Abiathar’s dad was brave until the end. As he fled that night in search of King David, Abiathar may have thought: when I have a son one day, I’ll name him after my father, in hopes he’ll be as brave as him.

So when atheists arrive at 2 Samuel 8:17 (“Ahimelech the son of Abiathar”), they see an obvious contradiction. When Christians arrive there, they see an obvious feel-good story. Ahimelech Jr., son of Abiathar, is carrying on the family business.

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