"Father of abundance", "My father excels." The son of Ahimelech the high priest. He was the tenth high priest, and the fourth in descent from Eli. When his father was slain with the priests of Nob, he escaped, and bearing with him the ephod, he joined David, who was then in the cave of Adullam.1 He remained with David, and became priest of the party of which he was the leader.2 When David ascended the throne of Judah, Abiathar was appointed high priest3 and the "king's companion."4 Meanwhile Zadok, of the house of Eleazar, had been made high priest. These appointments continued in force till the end of David's reign.5

Abiathar was deposed (the sole historical instance of the deposition of a high priest) and banished to his home at Anathoth by Solomon, because he took part in the attempt to raise Adonijah to the throne. The priesthood thus passed from the house of Ithamar.6 Zadok now became sole high priest.



  1. 1 Sam. 22:20-23; 23:6.
  2. 1 Sam. 30:7.
  3. 1 Chr. 15:11; 1 Kings 2:26.
  4. 1 Chr. 27:34.
  5. 1 Kings 4:4.
  6. 1 Sam. 2:30-36; 1 Kings 1:19; 2:26, 27.


  • Easton, M.G. (1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

This article incorporates text from Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897) by M.G. Easton, which is in the public domain.