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BARZILLAI (Heb. בַּרְזִלַּי), name of two biblical persons.

(1) Barzillai the Gileadite (Heb. הַגִּלְעָדִי), a wealthy man of Rogelim. When David and his men fled to Mahanaim in Gilead because of *Absalom's rebellion, he, like two other prominent Transjordanians, Machir son of Ammiel of Lo-Debar and Shobi son of Nahash, the Ammonite, welcomed them with food. Barzillai also sustained David throughout his stay in Mahanaim. On David's return to Jerusalem, Barzillai accompanied him as far as the west bank of the Jordan; however, owing to his advanced age, Barzillai did not accept David's invitation to come to Jerusalem and reside at the royal court (ii Sam. 17:27; 19:32–41). Instead, he sent his son Chimham (or Chimhan) with David and from this time Chimham and his family lived at the king's court (i Kings 2:7). It seems that a quarter near Bethlehem was set aside for Chimham and his relatives and was therefore called "Chimhan's (keri; ketiv: "Chemoham") Residence" (Geruth Chimham, Jer. 41:17). In post-Exilic Judah two priestly families, Habaiah and Hakkoz – which claimed descent from Barzillai, were disqualified from the priesthood. The sons of Hakkoz were readmitted in the same generation (Ezra 2:61; Neh. 7:63).

(2) Barzillai of Abel-Meholah (a city in Transjordan), the father of *Adriel, the husband of *Merab, the daughter of King Saul (ii Sam. 21:8, where it reads Michal instead of Merab, cf. i Sam. 18:19). It has also been suggested that Barzillai from Meholah was Barzillai the Gileadite.


de Vaux, Anc Isr, 121–2; B. Maisler (Mazar), in: Tarbiz, 12 (1940/41), 120; em, 2 (1965), 342–3 (incl. bibl.).

[Israel Moses Ta-Shma]

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