Abel: 1. (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 4:8,9) Comp
(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
(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.
2. 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 a stone), and accordingly
translates "unto the great stone, whereon they set down the
ark." This reading is to be preferred.
3. Abel (Heb. 'abhel), a grassy place, a meadow. This word enters
into the composition of the following words: