(ay' behl) Name meaning, “breath, vapor, meadow.” Abel's name is associated with the shortness of life. The second son of Adam and Eve may have been a twin because
Genesis 4:2 literally reads, “And she continued to bear his brother Abel.” His claim to fame is that “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Hebrews 11:4). Some have thought that it was the better sacrifice because it was the sacrifice of an animal. However, the emphasis on “faith” in Hebrews and the idea of a “proper offering” in the Septuagint translation of
Genesis 4:7 suggest that Abel's offering was made with a correct attitude and in the proper manner. Because of jealousy, Cain killed Abel.
Hebrews 12:24 compares Abel's blood with Christ's blood. Abel's blood calls for vengeance, but Christ's blood carries with it the idea of forgiveness (Matthew 23:35;
1 John 1:7). Nevertheless, Abel is outstanding because he was the first person to worship God correctly, to demonstrate faith accurately, and to please God fully. Abel was the first shepherd and influenced the early Hebrews to place a priority on the pastoral life. Also, he was the first man to be murdered and the first human to die.
Donald R. Potts
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'ABEL'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".