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There seems to be an apparent discrepancy in Mark 2:26, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for complaining that his disciples are picking the heads of grain on the Sabbath:

Mark 2:26

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?

The story he is referring to is in 1 Samuel:

1 Samuel 21:1-6

1 David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?” 2 David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” 4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.” 5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the LORD and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.

The problem here is that Jesus when referencing the story says 'Abiathar', and in 1 Samuel 'Ahimelek' is the priest.

It seems a pretty clear cut case of a discrepancy, but can this be harmonized? Or did Mark just simply make a mistake?

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Related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/437/… –  jrdioko Oct 27 '11 at 17:43
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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The very next chapter indicates that Ahimelek had a son named Abiathar.

Priestly duties were typically within a given family at one time (eg Aaron and his sons). The title of "high priest", while alone at any given time, does not preclude there being other priests (otherwise Aaron and his sons would have all been "high priests" - whereas "high priest" indicates a specific level of duty to the Lord over and above that of a 'normal' priest).

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This is a good quesiton. However, the point here is that it is important to notice that Mark says he went to the house of God "in the days of Abiathar the high priest." Ahimelek was the priest who was present at the House of God.

As Warren has answered, there are multiple priests at the time. When Saul learned that Ahimelech helped David, he commanded to kill Ahimelech and his family (1 Sam. 22:18-19), leaving alive only one of his sons, Abiathar the priest who was lucky enough to escape.

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If you're describing something that for example, the American president did before he was president you would still refer to him as President Obama would you not?

Mark does not say that he was literally the high priest at the time. It was however, in his days - when he was alive.

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