Problem

Ahimelech or Abiathar?

1 Samuel 21:1 - Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?
Mark 2:26 - How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

Samuel calls the priest Ahimelech, Mark refers to him as Abiathar. How do I reconcile? Thanks for your help. I am bogged down in a site with some very mean-spirited skeptics and I sure appreciate your help.


Solution

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First of all it is important to notice that Mark does not say that David went to Abiathar the high priest, it says he went to the house of God "in the days of Abiathar the high priest."

So, now the question becomes, why does it say "the days of Abiathar the high priest" when clearly Ahimelech was the priest at that time (1 Sam. 21:1)?

After a careful reading of the account of David and his men eating the shewbread in 1 Samuel 21 - 22, we simply find that there were multiple priests. In fact there were at least 86 priests in the days of "Abiathar the high priest" (1 Sam. 22:18)! Once Saul learned that Ahimelech helped David, he commanded Doeg to kill Ahimelech and his entire family (1 Sam. 22:18-19), leaving alive only one of his sons, Abiathar the priest (1 Sam. 22:19, 23:9), who managed to escape.

So, now that we see there were multiple priests during that time, the question then becomes, "Why does Mark refer to Abiathar as the high priest? Wouldn't Ahimelech have been the high priest at that time?" Not necessarily. Notice in Leviticus 21:10 how the high priest is defined as the one who has the annointing oil poured on his head and "is consecrated to put on the garments." Now look carefully at the wording of 1 Sam 22:18:

"And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod."

If that isn't enough evidence, notice how there are multiple high priests even at the time of Jesus Christ in Luke 3:2:

"Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests..."

After carefully studying the account in 1 Samuel, we see that Mark is perfectly correct in saying that David went to the house of God "in the days of Abiathar the high priest." This is not a contradiction.

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