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?
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(26) In the days of Abiathar the high priest.—St. Mark’s is the only record that gives the name of the high priest, and in so doing it creates an historical difficulty. In 1Samuel 21:1, Ahimelech is named as exercising the high priest’s office in the Tabernacle at Nob. He is slain by Doeg, at the command of Saul, and his son Abiathar joins David at the cave of Adullam (1Samuel 22:20), and continues to act as high priest till his deposition by Solomon (1Kings 2:26). Two conjectural explanations suggest themselves as probable: (1) that St. Mark, or that our Lord, may have given the name of the more famous priest of the two, who, though not then high-priest, was at the Tabernacle at the time referred to; (2) that he might have acted then as a coadjutor to his father, as Eli’s sons seem to have done to him (1Samuel 4:4), and being, as his flight showed, of David’s party, was the chief agent in allowing him to take the shew-bread.

2:23-28 The sabbath is a sacred and Divine institution; a privilege and benefit, not a task and drudgery. God never designed it to be a burden to us, therefore we must not make it so to ourselves. The sabbath was instituted for the good of mankind, as living in society, having many wants and troubles, preparing for a state of happiness or misery. Man was not made for the sabbath, as if his keeping it could be of service to God, nor was he commanded to keep it outward observances to his real hurt. Every observance respecting it, is to be interpreted by the rule of mercy.Abiathar the priest - From 1 Samuel 21:1, it appears that Ahimelech was high priest at the time here referred to. And from 1 Samuel 23:6, it appears that "Abiathar" was the son of "Ahimelech." Some difficulty has been felt in reconciling these accounts. The probable reason as to why Mark says it was in the days of "Abiathar" is that Abiathar was better known than Ahimelech. The son of the high priest was regarded as his successor, and was often associated with him in the duties of his office. It was not improper, therefore, to designate him as high priest even during the life of his father, especially as that was the name by which he was afterward known. "Abiathar," moreover, in the calamitous times when David came to the throne, left the interest of Saul and fled to David, bringing with him the ephod, one of the special garments of the high priest. For a long time, during David's reign, he was high priest, and it became natural, therefore, to associate "his" name with that of David; to speak of David as king, and Abiathar the high priest of his time. This will account for the fact that he was spoken of rather than his father. At the same time this was strictly true, that this was done in the days of "Abiathar," who was afterward high priest, and was familiarly spoken of as such; as we say that "General" Washington was present at the defeat of Braddock and saved his army, though the title of "General" did not belong to him until many years afterward. Compare the notes at Luke 2:2.

showbread - See the notes at Matthew 12:4.

Mr 2:23-28. Plucking Corn-ears on the Sabbath Day. ( = Mt 12:1-8; Lu 6:1-5).

See on [1410]Mt 12:1-8.

Ver. 26. See Poole on "Mark 2:23"

How he went into the house of God,.... The tabernacle; for the temple was not yet built: thither David went to get bread for himself and his men, being hungry: so in a spiritual sense, where should such go, who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, but into the house of God? Here is bread enough, and to spare; here is a table furnished with excellent provisions; here the Gospel is dispensed, which is milk for babes, and meat for strong men; here Christ, the bread of life, is set forth, whose flesh is meat indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed; here the ordinances are administered, which are breasts of consolation to the children of God; here is a feast of fat things, all things are ready, and souls are welcome, and therefore it must be right to attend here. And this was on the sabbath day that David went into the house of God: when the showbread loaves were removed, and divided, among the priests, and new ones were placed in their room: and so under the Gospel dispensation, on the Lord's day, the day set apart for public worship, it becomes the saints to go up to the house of the Lord, and feed upon the provisions of it: they are a royal priesthood, they are priests, as well as kings to God; and their business is in the house of the Lord, to offer up spiritual sacrifices to him; and as the goodness and fulness of his house appertains to them, they do well to attend and partake thereof.

In the days or Abiathar the high priest: and yet from the history it is clear, that it was in the days of Ahimelech the high priest, the father of Abiathar; wherefore the Jew charges (k) Mark with an error, and Matthew and Luke too: whereas the two last make no mention of the name of any high priest; and it might be observed, that in the Persic version of Mark it is rendered, "under Abimelech the high priest"; and in an ancient copy of Beza's, the whole clause is omitted; though it must be owned, that so it is read in other Greek copies, and in the ancient versions, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and others: wherefore let it be further observed, that the fact referred to was done in the days of Abiathar, though it was before he was an high priest; and the particle may be so rendered, about, or "before Abiathar was high priest", as it is in Matthew 1:11. Besides, Abiathar was the son of an high priest, and succeeded his father in the office: and might be at this time his deputy, who acted for him, or he by has advice; and according to a rule the Jews (l) themselves give,

"the son of an high priest, who is deputed by his father in his stead, , "lo! he is called an high priest".''

So that Abiathar might at this time be called the high priest; and is the rather mentioned, because he was the more eminent and famous man; and whom the Jews call (m) Urim and Thummim, because there was much inquiry made by them; in his and his father's days, and very little after: to which may be added, that the names of the father and the son are sometimes changed; Ahimelech is called Abiathar, and this Abiathar is called Ahimelech, the son of Abiathar, 2 Samuel 8:17, and Abimelech the son of Abiathar, 1 Chronicles 18:16. And it seems as if both father and son had two names, and were sometimes called by the one, and sometimes by the other: for as the father is sometimes called Abiathar, the son is called Ahimelech, or Abimelech, as in the places mentioned; and which refer to the times when David was king of Israel, and long after the death of Saul, and consequently long after Ahimelech, and the rest of the priests at Nob, were killed by the order of Saul: wherefore Ahimelech, or Abimelech, in the said places, must be the son of Abiathar; and who afterwards was thrust out of the priesthood by Solomon, for joining with Adonijah in his usurpation, 1 Kings 1:25. And from whence it appears, that his father was called Abiathar also, and which some take to be their family name; and if so, then there is no difficulty, and the evangelist rightly says, that this affair was in the days of Abiathar: but be it that he intends the son, what has been before observed is a sufficient solution of this difficulty; for the evangelist does not say that Abiathar was high priest, when David came and eat the showbread; he only says, "it was in the days of Abiathar the high priest": for certain it is, that this happened in his days; and as certain, that he was an high priest; and Mark might with great propriety call him so, though he was not strictly one, till after this business was over: besides, he was not only the son of an high priest, and it may be his deputy, and some have thought officiated at this time, his father being sick or infirm through old age; but inasmuch as his father was directly killed by the order of Saul, he narrowly escaping, immediately succeeded him in the office of the high priesthood; and therefore his being an high priest so very near the time of this action, without any impropriety and impertinence, and especially without incurring the charge of falsehood, the evangelist might express himself as he does.

And did eat the showbread, which is not lawful to eat, but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? Who not only ate the showbread, which was set before the Lord, and was sacred, and which none but the priests might eat of, after it was removed from the table; but he did this on the sabbath day; and he not only eat of it himself, but the soldiers that were with him: and all this with the knowledge and leave of the high priest: for the Jews (n) have no reason to charge this evangelist and the others with an error, that others besides David ate of the showbread, urging that he came alone to Ahimelech; since it is evident from 1 Samuel 21:2,

that David had servants in company with him when he fled, though they did not attend him when he went to the high priest; and that he asked bread, and it was given him, not only for himself, but for the young men that he had appointed to be at such a place: and therefore, if this was allowed to David and his men, when hungry, it ought not to be charged as an evil upon the disciples, for plucking and rubbing a few ears of corn to satisfy their hunger, though on a sabbath day; and especially when he, who was Lord of the sabbath, was present, and admitted of it; See Gill on Matthew 12:4.

(k) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 9. c. 28. p. 419. (l) Siphra, fol. 17. 2. apud Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, par. 2. p. 73. (m) Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 16. 2.((n) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 28. p. 420. Jacob Aben Amrara apud Kidder, Demonstr. of the Messiah, par. 3. p. 48.

How he went into the house of God in the days of {i} 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?

(i) In 1Sa 21:1 he is called Ahimelech and his son is called Abiathar, but by conferring other places it is plain that both of them had two names; see 1Ch 24:6 2Sa 8:17 2Sa 15:29 1Ki 2:26 2Ki 25:18.

Mark 2:26. ἐπὶ Ἀβιάθαρ ἀρ.: under A., a note of time, also implying his sanction: the sanction of a distinguished sacerdotal character = of Abiathar as priest. But Ahimelech was the priest then (1 Samuel 21:2 f.). Either a natural error arising from the close connection of David with Abiathar, the well-known high priest, or we must adopt one or other of the solutions proposed: father and son, Ahimelech and Abiathar, both bore both names (1 Samuel 22:20, 2 Samuel 8:17, 1 Chronicles 18:16)—so the Fathers; Abiathar, the son, Ahimelech’s assistant at the time, and mentioned as the more notable as approving of the conduct of his own father and of David (Grotius); ἐπὶ taken in the sense it bears in Mark 12:26 (ἐπὶ βάτου)—in the passage about Abiathar—not a satisfactory suggestion.

26. Abiathar] In 2 Samuel 8:17, and the parallel passage 1 Chronicles 18:16, we find Ahimelech substituted for Abiathar; while in 2 Samuel 20:25, and every other passage of the O. T., we are told it was Abiathar who was priest with Zadok in David’s reign, and that he was the son of Ahimelech. Some therefore suppose that there is a clerical error here in the MSS. Others think that the loaves of shewbread belonged to Abiathar, at this time a priest (Leviticus 24:9), that he persuaded his father to let David have them, and gave them to him with his own hand.

Mark 2:26. Ἐπὶ, Ἀβιάθαρ, under Abiathar) Ahimelech was the priest who gave loaves of bread to David; but on his being put to death for that very act, his son Abiathar presently after succeeded to him; and afterwards the priesthood of Abiathar and the reign of David were contemporary. The series of the priests was very well known among the Hebrews, and so the denomination of [the mode of marking] the age of David is taken from the priest of that day; and indeed the Evangelist mentions Abiathar, in whose time the actions of David seem to have been entered in the sacred records, in preference to Ahimelech; comp. the use of ἐπὶ, Matthew 1:11. Not unlike is the phraseology, Genesis 2:2, on the seventh day [God ended His work; we should have said, at the close of the sixth day], and ch. Mark 10:25, in the days of peleg (who was born a short while after) the earth was divided.

Mark 2:26The shewbread (τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως)

Lit., the loaves of proposition, i.e., the loaves which were set forth before the Lord. The Jews called them the loaves of the face, i.e., of the presence of God. The bread was made of the finest wheaten flour that had been passed through eleven sieves. There were twelve loaves, or cakes, according to the number of tribes, ranged in two piles of six each. Each cake was made of about five pints of wheat. They were anointed in the middle with oil, in the form of a cross. According to tradition, each cake was five hand-breadths broad and ten long, but turned up at either end, two hand-breadths on each side, to resemble in outline the ark of the covenant. The shewbread was prepared on Friday, unless that day happened to be a feast-day that required sabbatical rest; in which case it was prepared on Thursday afternoon. The renewal of the shewbread was the first of the priestly functions on the commencement of the Sabbath. The bread which was taken off was deposited on the golden table in the porch of the sanctuary, and distributed among the outgoing and incoming courses of priests (compare save for the priests). It was eaten during the Sabbath, and in the temple itself, but only by such priests as were Levitically pure. This old bread, removed on the Sabbath morning, was that which David ate.

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