(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 labors. 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. Compare 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:
(Judg. 11:33, R.V.; A. V., "plain of the vineyards"), a village
of the Ammonites, whither Jephthah pursued their forces.
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.
appointed; a substitute, the third son of Adam and Eve (Gen.
4:25; 5:3). His mother gave him this name, "for God," said she,
"hath appointed me [i.e., compensated me with] another seed
instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."
meadow of the house of Maachah, a city in the north of
Israel, 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.
house of wastes, or deserts, a town near Abel-shittim, east of
Jordan, in the desert of Moab, where the Israelites encamped not
long before crossing the Jordan (Num. 33:49; A.V.,
"Bethjesimoth"). It was within the territory of Sihon, king of
the Amorites (Josh. 12:3).
an oblation, dedicated to God. Thus Cain consecrated to God of
the first-fruits of the earth, and Abel of the firstlings of the
flock (Gen. 4:3, 4). Under the Levitical system different kinds
of offerings are specified, and laws laid down as to their
presentation. These are described under their distinctive names.
acacias, also called "Abel-shittim" (Num. 33:49), a plain or
valley in the land of Moab where the Israelites were encamped
after their two victories over Sihon and Og, at the close of
their desert wanderings, and from which Joshua sent forth two
spies (q.v.) "secretly" to "view" the land and Jericho (Josh.
meadow of the acacias, frequently called simply "Shittim" (Num.
25:1; Josh. 2:1; Micah 6:5), a place on the east of Jordan, in
the plain of Moab, nearly opposite Jericho. It was the
forty-second encampment of the Israelites, their last
resting-place before they crossed the Jordan (Num. 33:49; 22:1;
26:3; 31:12; compare 25:1; 31:16).
buckthorn, a place where Joseph and his brethren, when on their
way from Egypt to Hebron with the remains of their father Jacob,
made for seven days a "great and very sore lamentation." On this
account the Canaanites called it "Abel-mizraim" (Gen. 50:10,
11). It was probably near Hebron. The word is rendered "bramble"
in Judg. 9:14, 15, and "thorns" in Ps. 58:9.
meadow of dancing, or the dancing-meadow, the birthplace 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.
increase, the eldest of Saul's two daughters (1 Sam. 14:49). She
was betrothed to David after his victory over Goliath, but does
not seem to have entered heartily into this arrangement (18:2,
17, 19). She was at length, however, married to Adriel of
Abel-Meholah, a town in the Jordan valley, about 10 miles south
of Bethshean, with whom the house of Saul maintained alliance.
She had five sons, who were all put to death by the Gibeonites
on the hill of Gibeah (2 Sam. 21:8).
a possession; a spear. (1.) The first-born son of Adam and Eve
(Gen. 4). He became a tiller of the ground, as his brother Abel
followed the pursuits of pastoral life. He was "a sullen,
self-willed, haughty, vindictive man; wanting the religious
element in his character, and defiant even in his attitude
towards God." It came to pass "in process of time" (marg. "at
the end of days"), i.e., probably on the Sabbath, that the two
brothers presented their offerings to the Lord. Abel's offering
was of the "firstlings of his flock and of the fat," while
Cain's was "of the fruit of the ground." Abel's sacrifice was
"more excellent" (Heb. 11:4) than Cain's, and was accepted by
God. On this account Cain was "very wroth," and cherished
feelings of murderous hatred against his brother, and was at
length guilty of the desperate outrage of putting him to death
(1 John 3:12). For this crime he was expelled from Eden, and
henceforth led the life of an exile, bearing upon him some mark
which God had set upon him in answer to his own cry for mercy,
so that thereby he might be protected from the wrath of his
fellow-men; or it may be that God only gave him some sign to
assure him that he would not be slain (Gen. 4:15). Doomed to be
a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth, he went forth into the
"land of Nod", i.e., the land of "exile", which is said to have
been in the "east of Eden," and there he built a city, the first
we read of, and called it after his son's name, Enoch. His
descendants are enumerated to the sixth generation. They
gradually degenerated in their moral and spiritual condition
till they became wholly corrupt before God. This corruption
prevailed, and at length the Deluge was sent by God to prevent
the final triumph of evil. (See ABEL T0000015.)
(2.) A town of the Kenites, a branch of the Midianites (Josh.
15:57), on the east edge of the mountain above Engedi; probably
the "nest in a rock" mentioned by Balaam (Num. 24:21). It is
identified with the modern Yekin, 3 miles south-east of Hebron.
(1.) Heb. 'abel (Judg. 11:33), a "grassy plain" or "meadow."
Instead of "plains of the vineyards," as in the Authorized
Version, the Revised Version has "Abel-cheramim" (q.v.), compare
Judg. 11:22; 2 Chr. 16:4.
(2.) Heb. 'elon (Gen. 12:6; 13:18; 14:13; 18:1; Deut. 11:30;
Judg. 9:6), more correctly "oak," as in the Revised Version;
(3.) Heb. bik'ah (Gen. 11:2; Neh. 6:2; Ezek. 3:23; Dan. 3:1),
properly a valley, as rendered in Isa. 40:4, a broad plain
between mountains. In Amos 1:5 the margin of Authorized Version
(4.) Heb. kikar, "the circle," used only of the Ghor, or the
low ground along the Jordan (Gen. 13:10-12; 19:17, 25, 28, 29;
Deut. 34:3; 2 Sam. 18:23; 1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chr. 4:17; Neh. 3:22;
12:28), the floor of the valley through which it flows. This
name is applied to the Jordan valley as far north as Succoth.
(5.) Heb. mishor, "level ground," smooth, grassy table-land
(Deut. 3:10; 4:43; Josh. 13:9, 16, 17, 21; 20:8; Jer. 48:21), an
expanse of rolling downs without rock or stone. In these
passages, with the article prefixed, it denotes the plain in the
tribe of Reuben. In 2 Chr. 26:10 the plain of Judah is meant.
Jerusalem is called "the rock of the plain" in Jer. 21:13,
because the hills on which it is built rise high above the
(6.) Heb. 'arabah, the valley from the Sea of Galilee
southward to the Dead Sea (the "sea of the plain," 2 Kings
14:25; Deut. 1:1; 2:8), a distance of about 70 miles. It is
called by the modern Arabs the Ghor. This Hebrew name is found
in Authorized Version (Josh. 18:18), and is uniformly used in
the Revised Version. Down through the centre of this plain is a
ravine, from 200 to 300 yards wide, and from 50 to 100 feet
deep, through which the Jordan flows in a winding course. This
ravine is called the "lower plain."
The name Arabah is also applied to the whole Jordan valley
from Mount Hermon to the eastern branch of the Red Sea, a
distance of about 200 miles, as well as to that portion of the
valley which stretches from the Sea of Galilee to the same
branch of the Red Sea, i.e., to the Gulf of Akabah about 100
miles in all.
(7.) Heb. shephelah, "low ground," "low hill-land," rendered
"vale" or "valley" in Authorized Version (Josh. 9:1; 10:40;
11:2; 12:8; Judg. 1:9; 1 Kings 10:27). In Authorized Version (1
Chr. 27:28; 2 Chr. 26:10) it is also rendered "low country." In
Jer. 17:26, Obad. 1:19, Zech. 7:7, "plain." The Revised Version
renders it uniformly "low land." When it is preceded by the
article, as in Deut. 1:7, Josh. 11:16; 15:33, Jer. 32:44; 33:13,
Zech. 7:7, "the shephelah," it denotes the plain along the
Mediterranean from Joppa to Gaza, "the plain of the
Philistines." (See VALLEY T0003764.)
Hebrew "olah"; i.e., "ascending," the whole being consumed by
fire, and regarded as ascending to God while being consumed.
Part of every offering was burnt in the sacred fire, but this
was wholly burnt, a "whole burnt offering." It was the most
frequent form of sacrifice, and apparently the only one
mentioned in the book of Genesis. Such were the sacrifices
offered by Abel (Gen. 4:3, 4, here called "minhah"; i.e., "a
gift"), Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham (Gen. 22:2, 7, 8, 13), and by
the Hebrews in Egypt (Ex. 10:25).
The law of Moses afterwards prescribed the occasions and the
manner in which burnt sacrifices were to be offered. There were
"the continual burnt offering" (Ex. 29:38-42; Lev. 6:9-13), "the
burnt offering of every sabbath," which was double the daily one
(Num. 28:9, 10), "the burnt offering of every month" (28:11-15),
the offerings at the Passover (19-23), at Pentecost (Lev.
23:16), the feast of Trumpets (23:23-25), and on the day of
Atonement (Lev. 16).
On other occasions special sacrifices were offered, as at the
consecration of Aaron (Ex. 29) and the dedication of the temple
(1 Kings 8:5, 62-64).
Free-will burnt offerings were also permitted (Lev. 1:13), and
were offered at the accession of Solomon to the throne (1 Chr.
29:21), and at the reformation brought about by Hezekiah (2 Chr.
These offerings signified the complete dedication of the
offerers unto God. This is referred to in Rom. 12:1. (See ALTAR
T0000185, SACRIFICE T0003179.)
whom God sets free, or the breaker through, a "mighty man of
valour" who delivered Israel from the oppression of the
Ammonites (Judg. 11:1-33), and judged Israel six years (12:7).
He has been described as "a wild, daring, Gilead mountaineer, a
sort of warrior Elijah." After forty-five years of comparative
quiet Israel again apostatized, and in "process of time the
children of Ammon made war against Israel" (11:5). In their
distress the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the
land of Tob, to which he had fled when driven out wrongfully by
his brothers from his father's inheritance (2), and the people
made him their head and captain. The "elders of Gilead" in their
extremity summoned him to their aid, and he at once undertook
the conduct of the war against Ammon. Twice he sent an embassy
to the king of Ammon, but in vain. War was inevitable. The
people obeyed his summons, and "the spirit of the Lord came upon
him." Before engaging in war he vowed that if successful he
would offer as a "burnt-offering" whatever would come out of the
door of his house first to meet him on his return. The defeat of
the Ammonites was complete. "He smote them from Aroer, even till
thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of
the vineyards [Heb. 'Abel Keramim], with a very great slaughter"
(Judg. 11:33). The men of Ephraim regarded themselves as
insulted in not having been called by Jephthah to go with him to
war against Ammon. This led to a war between the men of Gilead
and Ephraim (12:4), in which many of the Ephraimites perished.
(See SHIBBOLETH T0003366.) "Then died Jephthah the Gileadite,
and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead" (7).
The offering up of sacrifices is to be regarded as a divine
institution. It did not originate with man. God himself
appointed it as the mode in which acceptable worship was to be
offered to him by guilty man. The language and the idea of
sacrifice pervade the whole Bible.
Sacrifices were offered in the ante-diluvian age. The Lord
clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals, which in all
probability had been offered in sacrifice (Gen. 3:21). Abel
offered a sacrifice "of the firstlings of his flock" (4:4; Heb.
11:4). A distinction also was made between clean and unclean
animals, which there is every reason to believe had reference to
the offering up of sacrifices (Gen. 7:2, 8), because animals
were not given to man as food till after the Flood.
The same practice is continued down through the patriarchal
age (Gen. 8:20; 12:7; 13:4, 18; 15:9-11; 22:1-18, etc.). In the
Mosaic period of Old Testament history definite laws were
prescribed by God regarding the different kinds of sacrifices
that were to be offered and the manner in which the offering was
to be made. The offering of stated sacrifices became indeed a
prominent and distinctive feature of the whole period (Ex.
12:3-27; Lev. 23:5-8; Num. 9:2-14). (See ALTAR T0000185.)
We learn from the Epistle to the Hebrews that sacrifices had
in themselves no value or efficacy. They were only the "shadow
of good things to come," and pointed the worshippers forward to
the coming of the great High Priest, who, in the fullness of the
time, "was offered once for all to bear the sin of many."
Sacrifices belonged to a temporary economy, to a system of types
and emblems which served their purposes and have now passed
away. The "one sacrifice for sins" hath "perfected for ever them
that are sanctified."
Sacrifices were of two kinds: 1. Unbloody, such as (1)
first-fruits and tithes; (2) meat and drink-offerings; and (3)
incense. 2. Bloody, such as (1) burnt-offerings; (2)
peace-offerings; and (3) sin and trespass offerings. (See
an oath, seven. (1.) Heb. shebha, the son of Raamah (Gen. 10:7),
whose descendants settled with those of Dedan on the Persian
(2.) Heb. id. A son of Joktan (Gen. 10:28), probably the
founder of the Sabeans.
(3.) Heb. id. A son of Jokshan, who was a son of Abraham by
Keturah (Gen. 25:3).
(4.) Heb. id. A kingdom in Arabia Felix. Sheba, in fact, was
Saba in Southern Arabia, the Sabaeans of classical geography,
who carried on the trade in spices with the other peoples of the
ancient world. They were Semites, speaking one of the two main
dialects of Himyaritic or South Arabic. Sheba had become a
monarchy before the days of Solomon. Its queen brought him gold,
spices, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-13). She is called by
our Lord the "queen of the south" (Matt. 12:42).
(5.) Heb. shebha', "seven" or "an oak." A town of Simeon
(6.) Heb. id. A "son of Bichri," of the family of Becher, the
son of Benjamin, and thus of the stem from which Saul was
descended (2 Sam. 20:1-22). When David was returning to
Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, a strife arose between
the ten tribes and the tribe of Judah, because the latter took
the lead in bringing back the king. Sheba took advantage of this
state of things, and raised the standard of revolt, proclaiming,
"We have no part in David." With his followers he proceeded
northward. David seeing it necessary to check this revolt,
ordered Abishai to take the gibborim, "mighty men," and the
body-guard and such troops as he could gather, and pursue Sheba.
Joab joined the expedition, and having treacherously put Amasa
to death, assumed the command of the army. Sheba took refuge in
Abel-Bethmaachah, a fortified town some miles north of Lake
Merom. While Joab was engaged in laying siege to this city,
Sheba's head was, at the instigation of a "wise woman" who had
held a parley with him from the city walls, thrown over the wall
to the besiegers, and thus the revolt came to an end.
red, a Babylonian word, the generic name for man, having the
same meaning in the Hebrew and the Assyrian languages. It was
the name given to the first man, whose creation, fall, and
subsequent history and that of his descendants are detailed in
the first book of Moses (Gen. 1:27-ch. 5). "God created man
[Heb., Adam] in his own image, in the image of God created he
him; male and female created he them."
Adam was absolutely the first man whom God created. He was
formed out of the dust of the earth (and hence his name), and
God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and gave him
dominion over all the lower creatures (Gen. 1:26; 2:7). He was
placed after his creation in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate
it, and to enjoy its fruits under this one prohibition: "Of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it;
for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
The first recorded act of Adam was his giving names to the
beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, which God brought
to him for this end. Thereafter the Lord caused a deep sleep to
fall upon him, and while in an unconscious state took one of his
ribs, and closed up his flesh again; and of this rib he made a
woman, whom he presented to him when he awoke. Adam received her
as his wife, and said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh
of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken
out of Man." He called her Eve, because she was the mother of
Being induced by the tempter in the form of a serpent to eat
the forbidden fruit, Eve persuaded Adam, and he also did eat.
Thus man fell, and brought upon himself and his posterity all
the sad consequences of his transgression. The narrative of the
Fall comprehends in it the great promise of a Deliverer (Gen.
3:15), the "first gospel" message to man. They were expelled
from Eden, and at the east of the garden God placed a flame,
which turned every way, to prevent access to the tree of life
(Gen. 3). How long they were in Paradise is matter of mere
Shortly after their expulsion Eve brought forth her
first-born, and called him Cain. Although we have the names of
only three of Adam's sons, viz., Cain, Abel, and Seth, yet it is
obvious that he had several sons and daughters (Gen. 5:4). He
died aged 930 years.
Adam and Eve were the progenitors of the whole human race.
Evidences of varied kinds are abundant in proving the unity of
the human race. The investigations of science, altogether
independent of historical evidence, lead to the conclusion that
God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on
all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26. Compare Rom. 5:12-12; 1
God his salvation, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, who
became the attendant and disciple of Elijah (1 Kings 19:16-19).
His name first occurs in the command given to Elijah to anoint
him as his successor (1 Kings 19:16). This was the only one of
the three commands then given to Elijah which he accomplished.
On his way from Sinai to Damascus he found Elisha at his native
place engaged in the labors of the field, ploughing with twelve
yoke of oxen. He went over to him, threw over his shoulders his
rough mantle, and at once adopted him as a son, and invested him
with the prophetical office (compare Luke 9:61, 62). Elisha
accepted the call thus given (about four years before the death
of Ahab), and for some seven or eight years became the close
attendant on Elijah till he was parted from him and taken up
into heaven. During all these years we hear nothing of Elisha
except in connection with the closing scenes of Elijah's life.
After Elijah, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the sons of
the prophets, and became noted in Israel. He possessed,
according to his own request, "a double portion" of Elijah's
spirit (2 Kings 2:9); and for the long period of about sixty
years (B.C. 892-832) held the office of "prophet in Israel" (2
After Elijah's departure, Elisha returned to Jericho, and
there healed the spring of water by casting salt into it (2
Kings 2:21). We next find him at Bethel (2:23), where, with the
sternness of his master, he cursed the youths who came out and
scoffed at him as a prophet of God: "Go up, thou bald head." The
judgment at once took effect, and God terribly visited the
dishonour done to his prophet as dishonour done to himself. We
next read of his predicting a fall of rain when the army of
Jehoram was faint from thirst (2 Kings 3:9-20); of the
multiplying of the poor widow's cruse of oil (4:1-7); the
miracle of restoring to life the son of the woman of Shunem
(4:18-37); the multiplication of the twenty loaves of new barley
into a sufficient supply for an hundred men (4:42-44); of the
cure of Naaman the Syrian of his leprosy (5:1-27); of the
punishment of Gehazi for his falsehood and his covetousness; of
the recovery of the axe lost in the waters of the Jordan
(6:1-7); of the miracle at Dothan, half-way on the road between
Samaria and Jezreel; of the siege of Samaria by the king of
Syria, and of the terrible sufferings of the people in
connection with it, and Elisha's prophecy as to the relief that
would come (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).
We then find Elisha at Damascus, to carry out the command
given to his master to anoint Hazael king over Syria (2 Kings
8:7-15); thereafter he directs one of the sons of the prophets
to anoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Israel, instead
of Ahab. Thus the three commands given to Elijah (9:1-10) were
at length carried out.
We do not again read of him till we find him on his death-bed
in his own house (2 Kings 13:14-19). Joash, the grandson of
Jehu, comes to mourn over his approaching departure, and utters
the same words as those of Elisha when Elijah was taken away:
"My father, my father! the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen
Afterwards when a dead body is laid in Elisha's grave a year
after his burial, no sooner does it touch the hallowed remains
than the man "revived, and stood up on his feet" (2 Kings