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Abimelech (also spelled Abimelek or Avimelech; Hebrew: אֲבִימֶלֶךְ / אֲבִימָלֶךְ, Modern Avimélekh / Avimálekh Tiberian ʼĂḇîméleḵ / ʼĂḇîmāleḵ ; "father/leader of a king; my father/leader, a king") was the name of multiple Philistine kings mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
Abimelech's name is thought to mean my father is king, and could be simply a generic title given to a crown prince. This is supported in the Haggada when "Benmelech" ("son of the king"), son of Abimelech, changes his own name to Abimelech when he becomes king. Alternatively, it has been suggested to mean my father is Moloch.
At the time of the Amarna tablets (mid-14th century BC), there was an Egyptian governor of Tyre similarly named Abimilki, who is sometimes speculated to be connected with one or more of the biblical Abimelechs.
Abimelech was most prominently the name of a polytheistic king of Gerar who is mentioned in two of the three wife-sister narratives in Genesis, in connection with both Abraham (chap. 20) and Isaac (chap. 26). The Haggada identifies them as references to separate people, the second being the first Abimelech's son, and that his original name was Benmelech ("son of the King") but changed his name to his father's.
King Abimelech of Gerar also appears in an extra-biblical tradition recounted in texts such as the Kitab al-Magall, the Cave of Treasures and the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, as one of 12 regional kings in Abraham's time said to have built the city of Jerusalem for Melchizedek.
Apart from the king (or kings) of Gerar, the Bible also records this name for:
Other literary references include:
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