You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Ahinoam: Bible

by Linda Schearing

Ahinoam, said to come from Jezreel, is King David’s wife and the mother of his eldest son, Amnon. All references to her occur with, or in close literary proximity to, Abigail (another wife of David, king of Israel, c. 1005–965 b.c.e.).

Following Abigail’s marriage to David (1 Sam 25:42), David “also” marries Ahinoam from Jezreel (v. 43). Ahinoam and Abigail are with David during his stay with King Achish of Gath (1 Sam 27:3); are taken captive when Amalekites raid Ziklag, David’s Philistine base (1 Sam 30:5); and are among those who go with David to Hebron when he becomes king over Judah (2 Sam 2:2). The last reference to Ahinoam occurs in the list of David’s sons born at Hebron (2 Sam 3:2–5; 1 Chr 3:1–4), where she is noted in the first (Abigail is in the second) of six mother-son references. Of the five contexts in which Ahinoam appears, only in her marriage notice (1 Sam 25:43) does she come after Abigail. Since Ahinoam’s name usually precedes that of Abigail, it has been suggested that David married Ahinoam before he married Abigail (contrary to 1 Sam 25:42–43; see Levenson and Halpern). However, if Ahinoam’s son Amnon was David’s firstborn son (as both lists of sons affirm), then the order of their names might indicate Ahinoam’s status as the crown prince’s mother.

Only one other character named Ahinoam appears in the Hebrew Bible (Saul’s wife; see 1 Sam 14:50). Because she is roughly a contemporary of David’s wife, it is possible that “Ahinoam of Jezreel” is Saul’s wife Ahinoam. Citing YHWH’s words (via the prophet Nathan) to David, “I gave you … your master’s wives” (2 Sam 12:8), Levenson and Halpern argue that David’s marriage to Ahinoam constituted a claim to Saul’s throne (see Absalom’s actions in 2 Sam 16:22). Perhaps David, like other kings who appropriated the harems of their predecessors or rivals, strengthened his claim to the throne in this way.

Bibliography

Levenson, John D., and Baruch Halpern. “The Political Import of David’s Marriages.” Journal of Biblical Literature 99 (1980): 507–18.

Meyers, Carol, General Editor. Women in Scripture. New York: 2000.

More on: Bible
4 Comments

If Saul's wife Ahinoam was the same woman whom David also took to wife (as a claim to the throne), this would violate the character and motive of David to rely upon God's providence with regard to Saul and the throne. David was very popular with the people and was given opportunity to kill Saul (1 Sam 24) but would not hurt or take the life of the one whom God had anointed king (v. 10). Jezreel, the city from which Ahinoam comes, was also in northern Israel in Issachar, and a place of many natural fortresses - a good place for David's exile. Perhaps Ahinoam and David met while he was there?

My interest here is that my maternal grandmother was named "Anihoma." She was of Hawaiian-Chinese descent.

Saul's first and possibly only wife could not have been the Ahinoam mentioned in connection with Abigail, because she would have been at least 70 when he took her to wife--definitely too old to bear him a child without it being remarked as a miracle. The Bible says Saul became king in the prime of life, and he ruled Israel 40 years before dying on the battlefield. Two years into his reign, his son Jonathan ran a military operation--Jonathan must have been over 18 then. Thus King Saul had to have been about 35 when he became king, and his wife Ahinoam was then at least 30 (if 13 when she had Jonathan). David had to have been in his early twenties when he fled Saul, because he mucked about the Judean desert and Philistia a few years before Saul died at age 75 and David became king at age 30(Jonathan would have died at approximately 55, and Ahinoam would have been at least 70.) David was 30 when he became king of Judah and his sons were born after that. Of course David inherited Saul's harem eventually, but the oriental harem included all women of the family, not just sex partners.

David is said to have married Ahinoam before he married Abigail, therefore would have taken her with him when first fleeing Saul. If David was in his late teens or early twenties, roughly the same age as Johnatha, then Ahinoam would have been in her early thirties. Certainly young enough to have further children by David. As a matter of interest, Michal was a daughter of Ahinoam and Saul, which means that David had possibly taken to wife both mother and daughter. A practice not only banned in Leviticus, but possibly the greatest insult David could publicly demonstrate to Saul. Which could help explain Saul's unrelenting hatred and pursuit of David.

How to cite this page

Schearing, Linda. "Ahinoam: Bible." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 21, 2017) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/ahinoam-bible>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs