Abimelech (also spelled Abimelek or Avimelech; ) was the name of multiple Philistine kings mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
Abimelech (; אֲבִימָלֶךְ ’Ǎḇîmeleḵ) was a son of judge Gideon. His name can best be interpreted "my father is king", claiming the inherited right to rule; also a common name of the Philistine kings. His biblical account is only written in chapter nine in the Book of Judges. According to the Bible, he was an unprincipled, ambitious ruler, often engaged in war with his own subjects.
Abimelech is an oratorio in three acts written by Christopher Smart and put to music by Samuel Arnold. It was first performed in Haymarket Theatre in 1768. A heavily revised version of the oratorio ran at the Covent Garden in 1772. Abimelech was the second of two oratorio librettos written by Smart, the first being Hannah written in 1764. Just like Hannah, Abimelech ran for only one night, each time. It was to be Smart's last work dedicated to an adult audience.
Abimelech retells the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah when they met the King of Gerar, Abimelech, and he tries to take Sarah as his wife. After God intervenes in a dream, Sarah, who was previously barren, is restored to Abraham and made fertile. The oratorio emphasizes the sexual jealousy and the sexual fidelity of spouses.
Abimelech was the Philistine King met by Abraham in the Book of Genesis, one of many Philistine Kings by that name.
Abimelech may also refer to:
- Abimelech (Judges), son of Gideon and King of Israel in the Book of Judges
- Abimelech (oratorio), an oratorio first performed in 1768 and describing events in the Book of Genesis