(Heb. Hebhel), a breath, or vanity, the second son of Adam and Eve. He was put to death by his brother Cain ( Genesis 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" ( Genesis 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 ( Genesis 4:8 Genesis 4:9 . Compare 1 John 3:12 ). There are several references to Abel in the New Testament. Our Saviour speaks of him as "righteous" ( Matthew 23:35 ). "The blood of sprinkling" is said to speak "better things than that of Abel" ( Hebrews 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 ( Hebrews 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 Samuel 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 five entries:
vanity; breath; vapor
a city; mourning
(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.
the name of several places in Palestine, probably signifies a meadow .
a'-bel (hebhel; Abel; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek Habel; etymology uncertain. Some translation "a breath," "vapor," "transitoriness," which are suggestive of his brief existence and tragic end; others take it to be a variant of Jabal, yabhal, "shepherd" or "herdman," Genesis 4:20. Compare Assyrian ablu and Babylonian abil, "son"):
How Yahweh signified His acceptance of the one offering and rejection of the other, we are not told. That it was due to the difference in the material of the sacrifice or in their manner of offering was probably the belief among the early Israelites, who regarded animal offerings as superior to cereal offerings. Both kinds, however, were fully in accord with Hebrew law and custom. It has been suggested that the Septuagint rendering of Genesis 4:7 makes Cain's offense a ritual one, the offering not being "correctly" made or rightly divided, and hence rejected as irregular. "If thou makest a proper offering, but dost not cut in pieces rightly, art thou not in fault? Be still!" The Septuagint evidently took the rebuke to turn upon Cain's neglect to prepare his offering according to strict ceremonial requirements. dieles (Septuagint in the place cited.), however, implies nathach (nattach), and would only apply to animal sacrifices. Compare Exodus 29:17; Leviticus 8:20; Judges 19:29; 1 Kings 18:23; and see COUCH.
M. O. Evans
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a'-bel ('abhel, "meadow"):
A word used in several compound names of places. It appears by itself as the name of a city concerned in the rebellion of Sheba (2 Samuel 20:14; compare 1 Samuel 6:18), though it is there probably an abridgment of the name Abel-beth-maacah. In 1 Samuel 6:18, where the Hebrew has "the great meadow," and the Greek "the great stone," the King James Version translates "the great stone of Abel."
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