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ACHISH (Heb. אָכִישׁ), *Philistine king of *Gath, mentioned at the end of Saul's reign. In i Samuel 27:2, his father's name is given as Maoch. Achish's realm was extensive and included the city of Ziklag and its environs (i Sam. 27:6). Fugitives from Judah often sought shelter in his land because of its proximity to Judah (i Kings 2:39–40). At first Achish refused *David permission to stay in his territory, possibly to avoid becoming embroiled in a political conflict with Saul (i Sam. 21:11 ff.). After a company of several hundred men, however, had gathered around David, Achish welcomed him and even allocated to him the Ziklag region (i Sam. 27). It is possible that David took his first steps in royal administration when he was in the kingdom of Gath.

In the Septuagint Achish is called Akchous, Agchous, Agchis. If the late readings reflect some early tradition, it would seem almost certain that the original form of the name was Achush or Akkush, which corresponds or is related to Ikusu, the name of one of the kings of Ekron in the days of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, now attested to in a monumental inscription from Ekron. The name Achish is not Semitic in form, and some scholars have related it to Agchioses, the name of a king in the neighborhood of Troy who lived around the time of the Trojan War (Iliad, 2:819; 20:239; et al.). The fact that the form Agchisis is not Greek supports the theory that Achish and Agchisis may have had a common origin. Since the name Akhshan is found in an Egyptian list as the name of a son of Kaphtor (Keftiu), it is plausible to assume that the form "Achish" stems from the same group of peoples to which the Philistines belonged. But it is also conceivable that the name is Horite, because the combination of sounds in "Achish" is possible in Horite. J. Naveh has argued that Achish was an appellative employed as a throne name.

A king of Gath called Achish is also referred to in the fourth year of Solomon's rule; he is called "Achish son of Maacah" (i Kings 2:39). Perhaps there were two kings by this name; Achish son of Maoch, the predecessor, and Achish son of Maacah, the successor of an intermediate king called Maacah.


Mazar, in: piash, vol. 1, no. 7 (1964), 1 ff. add. bibliography: V. Sasson, in: uf 29 (1997), 627–39; J. Naveh, in: basor 310 (1998), 35–37; A. Demsky, in: bar 24, 5 (1998), 53–58.

[Joshua Gutmann]

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