(Heb. Hebhel), a breath, or vanity, the second son of Adam and Eve. He was put to death by his brother Cain (Gen. 4:1-16). Guided by the instruction of their father, the two brothers were trained in the duty of worshipping God. "And in process of time" (marg. "at the end of days", i.e., on the Sabbath) each of them offered up to God of the first-fruits of his labours. Cain, as a husbandman, offered the fruits of the field; Abel, as a shepherd, of the firstlings of his flock. "The Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering; but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect" (Gen. 4:3-5). On this account Cain was angry with his brother, and formed the design of putting him to death; a design which he at length found an opportunity of carrying into effect (Gen. 4:8,9. Comp. 1 John 3:12). There are several references to Abel in the New Testament. Our Saviour speaks of him as "righteous" (Matt. 23:35). "The blood of sprinkling" is said to speak "better things than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:24); i.e., the blood of Jesus is the reality of which the blood of the offering made by Abel was only the type. The comparison here is between the sacrifice offered by Christ and that offered by Abel, and not between the blood of Christ calling for mercy and the blood of the murdered Abel calling for vengeance, as has sometimes been supposed. It is also said (Heb. 11:4) that "Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." This sacrifice was made "by faith;" this faith rested in God, not only as the Creator and the God of providence, but especially in God as the great Redeemer, whose sacrifice was typified by the sacrifices which, no doubt by the divine institution, were offered from the days of Adam downward. On account of that "faith" which looked forward to the great atoning sacrifice, Abel's offering was accepted of God. Cain's offering had no such reference, and therefore was rejected. Abel was the first martyr, as he was the first of our race to die. Abel (Heb. 'abhel), lamentation (1 Sam. 6:18), the name given to the great stone in Joshua's field whereon the ark was "set down." The Revised Version, however, following the Targum and the LXX., reads in the Hebrew text 'ebhen (= a stone), and accordingly translates "unto the great stone, whereon they set down the ark." This reading is to be preferred. Abel (Heb. 'abhel), a grassy place, a meadow. This word enters into the composition of the following words: Abel-beth-maachah meadow of the house of Maachah, a city in the north of Palestine, in the neighbourhood of Dan and Ijon, in the tribe of Naphtali. It was a place of considerable strength and importance. It is called a "mother in Israel", i.e., a metropolis (2 Sam. 20:19). It was besieged by Joab (2 Sam. 20:14), by Benhadad (1 Kings 15:20), and by Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29) about B.C. 734. It is elsewhere called Abel-maim, meadow of the waters, (2 Chr. 16:4). Its site is occupied by the modern Abil or Abil-el-kamh, on a rising ground to the east of the brook Derdarah, which flows through the plain of Huleh into the Jordan, about 6 miles to the west-north-west of Dan. Abel-cheramim (Judg. 11:33, R.V.; A. V., "plain of the vineyards"), a village of the Ammonites, whither Jephthah pursued their forces. Abel-meholah meadow of dancing, or the dancing-meadow, the birth-place and residence of the prophet Elisha, not far from Beth-shean (1 Kings 4:12), in the tribe of Issachar, near where the Wady el-Maleh emerges into the valley of the Jordan, "the rich meadow-land which extends about 4 miles south of Beth-shean; moist and luxuriant." Here Elisha was found at his plough by Elijah on his return up the Jordan valley from Horeb (1 Kings 19:16). It is now called 'Ain Helweh. Abel-mizraim meadow of Egypt, or mourning of Egypt, a place "beyond," i.e., on the west of Jordan, at the "threshing-floor of Atad." Here the Egyptians mourned seventy days for Jacob (Gen. 50:4-11). Its site is unknown. Abel-shittim meadow of the acacias, f
the name of several places in Palestine, probably signifies a meadow . (i.e., breath, vapor, transitoriness, probably so called from the shortness of his life), the second son of Adam, murdered by his brother Cain, (Genesis 4:1-16) he was a keeper or feeder of sheep. Our Lord spoke of Abel as the first martyr, (Matthew 23:35) so did the early Church subsequently. The traditional site of his murder and his grave are pointed out near Damascus.
Smith's Bible Dictionary (1884) , by William Smith.