Abel (meadow? breath?) In the Bible, O.T., a shepherd, the second son of Adam and Eve. Abel was killed by his brother Cain (Gen. 4:2– 8). Yahweh (a cult name for the Hebrew god) favoured Abel’s offering over Cain’s, though the reason is not stated exactly in the Bible.

In the New Testament Jesus speaks of Abel as the first martyr (Matt. 23:35), and he was considered so by the writers in the early church. In the Koran (sura 5) Abel is called Habil. Albrecht Dürer and William Blake are among the artists who have portrayed Abel’s death. Abelites were a fourth-century Christian sect mentioned by St. Augustine.

They married but had no children except by adoption. Since no children of Abel are mentioned in the Bible, Abelites assumed he had none and followed his lead.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante