After hiving been removed from office Abiather is mentioned as priest along with Zadok and Benainh as commander in chief. The order of events in the previous chapter is that Benaiah first killed Adonijah then Abiather was removed from office and lastly Joab was killed.

Benaiah assumes the office of commander in chief after the death of Joab which would have taken place after the removal of Abiather according to the chronology in chapter 3

1 Kings 4:1-4 NIV

So King Solomon ruled over all Israel. 2 And these were his chief officials:

Azariah son of Zadok—the priest;

3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha—secretaries;

Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud—recorder;

4 Benaiah son of Jehoiada—commander in chief;

Zadok and Abiathar—priests;

So why is Abiather mentioned as a priest after Benaiah had assumed the office of commander in chief, and Solomon had banished him as per 1 Kings 2:27?

1 Answer 1


The answer to this question was probably a matter of courtesy for the same reason that Abiathar was not executed - he had carried the ark and was the Lord's anointed. Note the simple explanations offered by Ellicott -

(4) Zadok and Abiathar . . . the priests.—Abiathar, though disgraced and practically deposed, was still regarded theoretically as priest (much as Annas is called “high priest” in the Gospels), for the priesthood was properly for life.

note that this is the first time that two high priests are listed together. The Cambridge commentary has something similar:

Abiathar was still called priest, we may presume, after his banishment to Anathoth. The existence of two chief places for worship and sacrifice, the one at Gibeon, where the tabernacle was, and the other, where the ark was kept, on Mt Zion, had made it necessary that there should be more than one principal priest. Hence Abiathar and Zadok were in office together, and now that Abiathar was deposed, Azariah had come in as a second priest.

The pulpit commentary is more specific -

the mention of Abiathar's name after his deposition (1 Kings 2:27, 35) has occasioned much remark, and has even led to the belief that he was subsequently pardoned and restored to office (Clericus). Theodoret remarks quite truly, τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀφείλατο οὐ τῆς ἱερωσύνης ἐγύμνωσεν, and similarly Grotius. But a simpler explanation is that his name is put down here because he had been high priest, though for a brief period only, under Solomon.

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