Moses' brother and Israel's first high priest. In the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, Aaron was Moses' spokesman and assistant during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt. Aaron was three years older than Moses and was 83 when they first confronted the pharaoh (Ex 7:7) Their sister, Miriam (Num 26:59), must have been the eldest child, old enough to carry messages when the infant Moses was found by the pharaoh's daughter (Ex 2:1-9). Aaron's mother was Jochebed and his father was Amram, a descendant of the Kohath family of Levi's tribe (Ex 6:18-20).

Aaron and his wife, Elisheba, had four sons (Ex 6:23), who were to follow him in the priesthood (Lv 1:5). Two of them, Nadab and Abihu, violated God's instructions by performing a sacrilegious act while burning incense and were burned to death as a result (Lv 10:1-5). The priesthood was then passed on through the other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, who also sometimes failed to carry out God's instructions precisely (10:6-20).

Aaron's prominence in the events of the exodus arose partly from the fact that he was Moses' brother. When Moses tried to avoid becoming Israel's leader on the grounds of having a speech impediment, Aaron's ability as a speaker was recognized and used by God (Ex 4:10-16).


Because it marked the beginning of the priesthood in Israel, the consecration of Aaron to his office was both instructive and solemn. Nothing was left to human ingenuity; all was precisely commanded of God. There were three ceremonies: washing, clothing, and anointing. When the tabernacle was finished, Aaron and his sons were set apart to the priesthood by washing (to signify purification), clothing with official garments (for beauty and glory), and anointing with oil (to picture the need of empowering by the Spirit; cf. Ex 28; 40:12-15; Lv 8). Aaron thus became the first high priest, serving nearly 40 years. The character of his office was hereditary; this is attested to by his sons' wearing his garments when they succeeded to the office of high priest (Ex 29:29-30; Num 20:25-28). Although all priests were anointed with oil, the anointing of Aaron and his successors was distinct from that of the ordinary priests (Ex 29:7; 40:12-15; Lv 8:12). Because the priesthood was inherited, all subsequent priests had to trace their ancestry back to Aaron (Ezr 7:1-5; Lk 1:5). Also, a sharp distinction was always drawn between the family of Aaron and the rest of the Levites (cf. Num 3:5). Thus, the high priest was designated as the anointed priest in a special sense (Lv 4:3-4; 6:20-22; 21:10).

Because of Aaron's priestly role, the NT looks upon him as prefiguring the Messiah of Israel. Jesus Christ was appointed High Priest (Heb 3:1-2) in the same way God chose Aaron (Heb 5:1-5), but he was described as a greater high priest than Aaron (Heb 7:11-28).

Events of Aaron's Life

The Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt at the beginning of Aaron's life. Raised as an Egyptian by one of the pharaoh's daughters, Moses had fled into the Midian Desert after killing a cruel Egyptian taskmaster (Ex 1-2). When God sent Moses back as a liberator (chs 3-4), he also sent Aaron out to meet Moses in the desert (4:27). Moses was a stranger to his people after so many years of exile, so Aaron made contact with Israel's elders for him (4:29-31). When Moses and Aaron went to see the pharaoh, God told the Egyptian monarch through the two of them to let the Israelites go (Ex 5:1). When the pharaoh made life even more miserable for the Hebrew slaves, God began to show his power to the Egyptian ruler through a series of miracles (chs 5-12). God performed the first three miracles through Aaron, using a rod (probably a shepherd's staff). The pharaoh had his palace sorcerers do similar tricks. After God brought a plague of gnats (kjv "lice") over all Egypt, the Egyptian magicians admitted defeat and said, "This is the finger of God!" (Ex 8:19, nlt). Then God brought on more plagues through Moses, culminating in the deaths of all the Egyptians' firstborn sons. Aaron was with Moses (12:1-28) when God revealed how he would "pass over" the properly marked homes of the Israelites, sparing their children on the night the Egyptian children died. That event was the origin of the Passover feast still observed by Jews today (13:1-16).

After God led the Israelites to safety and destroyed the pursuing Egyptians, Aaron participated with Moses in governing the people on their long wilderness journey to the Promised Land (Ex 16:1-6). Later, battling against Amalek's army, Aaron helped hold up Moses' weary arms in prayer to maintain God's blessing (17:8-16). Although always subordinate to Moses, Aaron seems to have been recognized as an important leader (18:12). God summoned him to be with Moses when God gave the law on Mt Sinai (19:24). Aaron was among the representatives of the people who ratified God's statutes in the Book of the Covenant (24:1-8). Aaron went with those leaders partway up the holy mountain and saw the vision of the God of Israel (24:9-10). With Hur, he was left in charge when Moses was with God on the mountaintop (vv.13-14).

Moses was gone for over a month, and in a moment of weakness, Aaron gave in to the people's request for an idol to worship. He melted down their gold ornaments to make a golden image of a calf (Ex 32:1-4). (The Israelites had probably been influenced in Egypt by the cult of Apis, a fertility god in the form of a bull.) At first, Aaron seemed to think he might be doing something acceptable to God (v 5), but things got out of hand and a drunken sex orgy took place around the idol (v 6). God was angry enough to destroy the people, but Moses interceded, reminding God of his promise to multiply Abraham's descendants (Ex 32:7-14). Moses furiously confronted Aaron about the immorality and idolatry, which Aaron blamed on the people without admitting any guilt of his own (vv.21-24). Although the idolaters were punished by death (Ex 32:25-28) and the whole camp by a plague (v 35), Aaron was evidently not punished. In a retelling of the events, Moses said that Aaron was in great danger but was spared because he had prayed for him (Dt 9:20).

In their second year of nomadic wilderness life, Aaron helped Moses carry out a census (Num 1:1-3, 17-18). Eventually, Aaron may have become jealous of Moses' position of leadership, for Miriam and Aaron began to slander their brother, even though the elderly Moses was by then more humble than any man on earth (Num 12:1-4). God's anger toward the two was averted by Moses' prayer, although Miriam did suffer for her sin (12:5-15). Aaron again seems to have escaped punishment entirely. With Moses, Aaron opposed a rebellion at Kadesh (14:1-5). He stood with Moses against a later revolt (ch 16). After a final incident at Meribah, where the Israelites almost revolted again, God accused Moses and Aaron of having failed to take him at his word and denied them entry into the Promised Land (20:1-12). Aaron died at the age of 123 on Mt Hor, after Moses had removed his elaborate priestly garments and put them on Aaron's son Eleazar (Num 20:23-29; 33:38-39).

See also Israel, History of; Exodus, The; Wilderness Wanderings; Priests and Levites; Levi, Tribe of; Aaron's Rod.


Collective name for the priests who descended from Aaron through his sons Eleazar and Ithamar. The term is used twice in the kjv to refer to the 3,700 men who supported David against Saul (1 Chr 12:27) and of whom Zadok later became leader (1 Chr 27:17). Both "house of Aaron" (Pss 115:10, 12; 118:3; 135:19) and "Aaron" (1 Chr 27:17, rsv) are used to refer to the Aaronites. See also Aaron.


Staff belonging to Moses' brother, Aaron, symbolizing the two brothers' authority in Israel. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, a threat against Moses and Aaron's leadership was led by Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num 16:1-40). In spite of the Lord's destruction of those rebels and their followers, the rest of the people of Israel turned against Moses and Aaron, saying that they had killed the people of the Lord (16:41). In order to restore respect for the divinely appointed leadership, the Lord told Moses to collect a rod from each tribe and have the leader of the tribe write his name on it. Aaron was told to write his name on the rod of Levi. The rods were placed in the inner room of the tabernacle, in front of the ark (of the covenant). In the morning, Aaron's rod had sprouted blossoms and had produced ripe almonds. The rod was then kept there as a continual sign to Israel that the Lord had established the authority of Moses and Aaron (Num 17:1-11; cf. Heb 9:4).

Following that incident the people of Israel entered the wilderness of Zin, but there was no water for them and their flocks. Again the people argued with Moses and Aaron. The Lord instructed Moses to get the rod and, in the presence of Aaron and the rest of the people, command a particular rock to bring forth water. Taking the rod, Moses asked dramatically, "Must we bring you water from this rock?" (Num 20:10, nlt) and struck the rock twice. Water gushed out and the people drank. Yet Moses and Aaron were forbidden to enter the Promised Land because they did not sanctify the Lord in the people's eyes (Num 20:12-13). An earlier event had provided evidence that the Lord was able to provide needed water in that manner (Ex 17:1-7). See also Aaron.


Month in the Hebrew calendar, about mid-July to mid-August. See Calendars, Ancient and Modern.


Hebrew word that means "place of destruction." The word occurs six times in the OT, generally referring to the place of the dead (Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Ps 88:11; Prov 15:11; 27:20). It serves as a synonym for Sheol and is variously translated "hell," "death," "the grave," or "destruction." The same Hebrew word occurs once in the NT in its Greek equivalent, Apollyon (Rev 9:11). Here the idea of destruction is personified as the "angel from the bottomless pit," so the word is often translated "destroyer." Abaddon (or Apollyon) was the angel reigning over the realm of the dead, who appeared after the fifth trumpet in John's vision (Rev 9:1). See also Sheol.


One of the seven eunuchs commanded by King Ahasuerus to bring Queen Vashti to his drunken party (Est 1:10).


Syrian river (modern Barada) running through the city of Damascus. Although Naaman thought the Abana would be more effective than the Jordan River in curing leprosy, he obeyed the prophet Elisha, washed in the Jordan, and was cured (2 Kgs 5:9-14; "Amana" is an alternate textual reading in 5:12). See also Amana.


Mountainous area located east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea, and extending northward from the plains of Moab. From the highest point on Mt Nebo, called Pisgah, located in Abarim (2,643 feet; 805 meters), Moses looked into the Promised Land shortly before he died (Dt 32:48-50; 34:1-6).


Aramaic word for "father," which is applied to God in Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; and Galatians 4:6. The name expresses a very intimate and inseparable relationship between Christ and the Father and between believers (children) and God (Father).


1. Adoniram's father. Adoniram was superintendent of public works under King Solomon (1 Kgs 4:6).

2. Shammua's son, who was a Levite leader in Jerusalem after the exile (Neh 11:17). The same father and son are elsewhere identified as Shemaiah and Obadiah (1 Chr 9:16).


Shelemiah's father. Shelemiah was an officer sent by King Jehoiakim of Judah to arrest Jeremiah and Baruch after the king had read and burned their prophetic scroll (Jer 36:26).


1. Member of the Merari dan of Levites. Abdi's grandson Ethan was a musician in David's time (1 Chr 6:44; 15:17).

2. Levite whose son Kish served in Hezekiah's time (2 Chr 29:12). This Abdi has sometimes been confused with Abdi #1.

3. Member of the Elam clan in Ezra's time. This Abdi is listed as one of the Israelites who married a foreign wife after the exile (Ezr 10:26).


Guni's son and father of Ahi (1 Chr 5:15). Ahi was a clan leader in Gad's tribe during the reigns of King Jotham of Judah and King Jeroboam II of Israel (1 Chr 5:15-17).

ABDON (Person)

1. Hillel's son who judged Israel for eight years (Judg 12:13-15). Abdon was a very wealthy man, as indicated by reference to the 70 donkeys he owned.

2. Shashak's son from Benjamin's tribe who lived in Jerusalem (1 Chr 8:23, 28).

3. Jeiel's oldest son from Benjamin's tribe who lived in Gibeon. This Abdon is mentioned in Saul's genealogy (1 Chr 8:30; 9:36).

4. Micah's son (2 Chr 34:20), also called Acbor, son of Micaiah. See Acbor #2.

ABDON (Place)

One of four cities in Asher's territory given to the Levites after the conquest of Canaan, the Promised Land (Jos 21:30; 1 Chr 6:74). Abdon is probably the same as Ebron (Jos 19:28). Today Abdon is called Khirbet 'Abdeh.


One of Daniel's three friends who was sentenced to death by Nebuchadnezzar but was protected in the fiery furnace by an angel (Dn 1:7; 3:12-30). See Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Daniel, Additions to (Prayer of Azariah).

ABEL (Person)

Second male child of Adam and Eve (Gn 4:2). The name is probably related to Sumerian and Akkadian words meaning "son" and was thus used as a generic term for the human race.

Abel's older brother, Cain, was engaged in agriculture, but Abel himself was a shepherd. When both brothers brought offerings, God accepted Abel's animal sacrifice but rejected Cain's vegetable offering. As a result, Cain became jealous of Abel and killed him.

The narrative indicates that Abel's character was more worthy of God's blessing; hence his offering was accepted and Cain's was not (Gn 4:7). There is no scriptural evidence that cereal or vegetable offerings were less effective as either sin offerings or fellowship meals than offerings involving the shedding of blood, since in later Mosaic law both were prescribed. In the NT Abel is regarded as the first martyr (Mt 23:35; Lk 11:51; Heb 11:4).

ABEL (Place)

Fortified border city in upper Galilee to which King David's general Joab pursued the rebel Sheba. After a wise woman of the city negotiated with Joab, the citizens executed Sheba and threw his head over the wall. Joab then called off the siege 2 Sm 20:13-22). The city was later conquered by the Syrian Ben-hadad during a continuing war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. When Asa persuaded Ben-hadad to break a treaty with Baasha, Ben-hadad took a large amount of territory, including Abel, or Abel-beth-maacah, as it was also called (1 Kgs 15:16-20). Still later, Abel-beth-maacah (sometimes called simply Abel of Beth-maacah, or Abel of Beth-maachah) was conquered by Tiglath-pileser III, and its inhabitants were taken captive to Assyria (2 Kgs 15:29). The same city is called Abel-maim ("meadow of water"), emphasizing the productivity of the region (2 Chr 16:4). The town has been identified with modern Tell Abil-el-Qamh.


Alternate name for Abel, a fortified city in upper Galilee in 1 Kings 15:20 and 2 Kings 15:29. It was also called Abel of Beth-Maacah (Maachah) in 2 Sm 20:14-15. See Abel (Place).


City taken by Jephthah the Israelite judge when he conquered the Ammonites (Judg 11:33). It was located south of the Jabbok River.


Alternate name for Abel, a fortified city in upper Galilee, in 2 Chronicles 16:4. See Abel (Place).


Birthplace of the prophet Elisha (1 Kgs 19:16). Here Elijah found Elisha plowing and threw his coat over Elisha's shoulders, symbolizing God's call to Elisha to become a prophet (1 Kgs 19:19-21). The town is earlier mentioned as one place to which the Midianites fled from Gideon's 300 warriors (Judg 7:22). It is also mentioned in a list of administrative districts set up by King Solomon (1 Kgs 4:12). The most likely modern identification is Khirbet Tell el-Hilu.


Alternate name for Atad, a place in Canaan, in Genesis 50:11. See Atad.


Alternate name for Shittim, a place on the plains of Moab, in Numbers 33:49. See Shittim (Place).


kjv form of Ebez, a place in Issachar's territory, in Joshua 19:20. See Ebez.


Shortened form of Abijah, the name of the mother of Judah's King Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:2). See Abijah #4.


1. kjv rendering of Abijam, Rehoboam's son and king of Judah, in 1 Chronicles 3:10 and Matthew 1:7. See Abijam.

2. kjv rendering of Abijah in Luke 1:5. See Abijah #6.


1. kjv translation for Abijah, Samuel's son, in 1 Samuel 8:2 and 1 Chronicles 6:28. See Abijah #1.

2. kjv translation of a Hebrew word in 1 Chronicles 2:24, which renders it as a proper name referring to the wife of Hezron. Most modern translations render it "his father": "Caleb went in to Ephrathah, the wife of Hezron his father" (rsv). The Hebrew is difficult, with different textual families evidently preserving variant readings and thus accounting for the divergences between the versions.

3. kjv translation for Abijah, Becher's son, in 1 Chronicles 7:8. See Abijah #5.


Alternate name of Abiel in 2 Samuel 23:31. See Abiel #2.


Alternate form of Ebiasaph, a descendant of Korah, in Exodus 6:24. See Ebiasaph.


One of two high priests during the reign of King David. The other high priest was Zadok, who evidently was appointed by David after his conquest of Jerusalem.

Only Abiathar escaped when the priestly families at Nob were massacred at the instigation of King Saul. The priests of Nob had given food and Goliath's sword to David during his escape from the wrath of Saul, thus earning Saul's hatred (1 Sm 21-22). When Abiathar joined David he brought the ephod, which David then used in determining the will of God (1 Sm 23:6, 9-11; 30:7-8). Abiathar was one of the first persons from Saul's administration to support David. His support was formidable because he represented the priesthood of the old tribal league of the line of Eli.

During the last days of David's kingship, his sons struggled for the throne. The two major rivals were Adonijah and Solomon. Abiathar the high priest supported Adonijah's claim to the throne, probably because Adonijah was David's oldest living heir and because David's general Joab, one of the strongest men in the kingdom, supported Adonijah (1 Kgs 1:5-7). Zadok supported Solomon, who actually succeeded David on the throne. Having fallen out of favor with the new king, Abiathar was banished to his estate in Anathoth (1 Kgs 2:26-27), a village about four miles (6.4 kilometers) northeast of Jerusalem.

The relationship of Abiathar to Ahimelech is confusing. Ahimelech could have been the name of both Abiathar's father (1 Sm 22:20; 23:6) and son (2 Sm 8:17; 1 Chr 18:16; 24:6). If each of the references was to the same Ahimelech, then the names were reversed in the later passages. In the NT, Abiathar is mentioned as the high priest when David came to Nob needing food and weapons (Mk 2:26). The OT account says that Ahimelech was the priest at that time (1 Sm 21:1-2). The apparent discrepancy may have resulted from a copyist's error or from the fact that Abiathar as high priest was more prominent than Ahimelech.


Canaanite name of the Hebrew month Nisan, about mid-March to mid-April. See Calendars, Ancient and Modern.


One of Midian's sons. Midian was Abraham's son by his concubine Keturah (Gn 25:2, 4; 1 Chr 1:33).


Gideoni's son and leader of Benjamin's tribe when the Israelites were wandering in the Sinai wilderness after their escape from Egypt (Num 1:11; 2:22). As leader, he presented his tribe's offering at the consecration of the tabernacle (Num 7:60-65).


1. Father of Kish and Ner and grandfather of King Saul, according to 1 Samuel 9:1 and 14:51. Other genealogies in 1 Chronicles list Ner, instead of Abiel, as Kish's father and Saul's grandfather (1 Chr 8:33; 9:39). This confusion is due either to a copyist's error or to the possibility that Saul had two relatives named Ner, a great-grandfather and an uncle.

2. Warrior among David's mighty men who were known as "the thirty" (1 Chr 11:32), also called Abi-albon the Arbathite (2 Sm 23:31).


1. Descendant of Manasseh (Jos 17:1-2). Although Abiezer's father is not named, Abiezer is listed with the descendants of his mother's brother, Gilead (1 Chr 7:18). In Numbers 26:30, Abiezer's name is shortened to Iezer (kjv "Jeezer"), and the family is called Iezerites (kjv "Jeezerites"). Abiezer's family, to which Gideon belonged, was the first clan to respond to Gideon's call to fight the Midianites (Judg 6:34). Abiezer's descendants were referred to as Abiezrites (Judg 6:11, 24, 34; 8:32).

2. Member of Benjamin's tribe from Anathoth and warrior among David's mighty men, known as "the thirty" (2 Sm 23:27; 1 Chr 11:28). This Abiezer was commander of the ninth division of the army in the rotation system established by David (1 Chr 27:12).


Member of Abiezer's family (Judg 6:11, 24, 34; 8:32). See Abiezer #1.


1. Nabal's wife, who later became the wife of David (1 Sm 25:2-42). Nabal was a wealthy sheep owner whose holdings had been protected by David's men. When David requested provisions in return for that protection, Nabal refused. Enraged, David set out with 400 armed men to destroy Nabal and his house. Abigail had been informed of her husband's behavior and met David with many provisions, taking the blame for her foolish husband. David thanked God for using Abigail to restrain his anger.

When Nabal woke from a drunken stupor the next morning and learned what had happened, he had a stroke from which he died 10 days later. Abigail then married David and shared his adventurous life among the Philistines (1 Sm 27:3). She was captured by the Amalekites and rescued by David (1 Sm 30:1-19). Abigail went with David to Hebron when he became king of Judah (2 Sm 2:2), and she bore his second son, Chileab (2 Sm 3:3), also called Daniel (1 Chr 3:1).

2. David's sister, who married Jether and gave birth to Amasa (1 Chr 2:16-17). There appears to be confusion as to the ancestry of this Abigail. In 1 Chronicles 2:13-17 she is listed as a daughter of Jesse. However, in 2 Samuel 17:25, her father is identified as Nahash. The discrepancy could be due to scribal error, or Nahash may be another name for Jesse, or the widow of Nahash could have married Jesse.


rsv rendering of Abigail, David's sister, in 2 Samuel 17:25. See Abigail #2.


Name used for both men and women in the OT.

1. Zuriel's father and a leader of the Merari family of Levites in Israel's wilderness community (Num 3:35).

2. Abishur's wife, and mother of Ahban and Molid (1 Chr 2:29).

3. Huri's son, a descendant of Gad, living in Gilead and Bashan (1 Chr 5:14).

4. Woman named in 2 Chronicles 11:18 whose relationship to King Rehoboam is not clear from the Hebrew text. In some translations, Abihail seems to be the second wife of Rehoboam. However, only one wife is mentioned at first, so Abihail was probably the mother of Rehoboam's first wife, Mahalath. This Abihail was thus a daughter of Eliab, David's eldest brother. She married her cousin Jerimoth, one of David's sons.

5. Esther's father, and uncle of Mordecai (Est 2:15; 9:29).


Second son of Aaron and Elisheba (Ex 6:23; Num 26:60; 1 Chr 6:3). Abihu and his brother Nadab joined Moses, Aaron, and the 70 elders of Israel in worshiping the glory of God on Mt Sinai (Ex 24:1-11). The four sons of Aaron were made priests along with their father (Ex 28:1), but later Abihu and Nadab were burned to death for offering "a different kind of fire" before the Lord (Lv 10:1, nlt; see also Num 3:2-4; 26:61; 1 Chr 24:1-2).


One of Bela's nine sons (1 Chr 8:3). Abihud should not be confused with the Abiud of Matthew's genealogy of Christ in the NT.


1. Samuel's second son who, with his older brother, Joel, was a corrupt judge in Beersheba. Because of the corruption, Israel's leaders demanded to be ruled instead by a king (1 Sm 8:2; 1 Chr 6:28).

2. Son of Jeroboam I of the northern kingdom of Israel. The boy's illness impelled his family to seek guidance from the prophet Ahijah at Shiloh (1 Kgs 14:1-2).

3. Alternate name for Abijam, king of Judah, in 2 Chronicles 12:16-14:1 and Matthew 1:7. See Abijam.

4. Ahaz's wife, and mother of King Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:2, short form "Abi"; 2 Chr 29:1). This Abijah was Zechariah's daughter.

5. Becher's son from Benjamin's tribe (1 Chr 7:8).

6. Levite who headed the eighth of 24 priestly divisions established in David's time (1 Chr 24:10; Lk 1:5).

7. Head of a priestly family who signed Ezra's covenant of faithfulness to God with Nehemiah and others after the exile (Neh 10:7).

8. Head of a priestly family who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel after the exile (Neh 12:4). Perhaps of the same family as #7.


Rehoboam's son and successor as king of Judah, 913-910 bc (1 Chr 3:10; alternately called "Abijah" in 2 Chr 11:18-22; 12:16; 13:1-22; 14:1). A major focus of Abijam's reign was his war with King Jeroboam I of Israel (2 Chr 13:1-3). Before a decisive battle, Abijam stood on Mt Zemaraim and shouted condemnation of Jeroboam's political divisiveness and religious idolatry (2 Chr 13:4-12). Abijam and his army then prayed for God's help in their precarious military position. Against two-to-one odds, they fought their way out of an ambush and won a stunning victory over Jeroboam (2 Chr 13:13-19). Abijam's reign in the southern kingdom of Judah was summed up rather unfavorably in 1 Kings 15:1-8: "He committed the same sins as his father before him, and his heart was not right with the Lord his God, as the heart of his ancestor David had been" (v 3, nlt). But God had promised to keep David's descendants on the throne in Jerusalem (1 Kgs 11:36), so Abijam's son Asa succeeded him. Being of David's line, Abijam was an ancestor of Jesus, the Christ (Mt 1:7, "Abijah").

See also Israel, History of; Chronology of the Bible (Old Testament); Genealogy of Jesus Christ.


Region on the east side of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains in Syria. The district took its name from the capital city of Abila, located about 18 miles (29 kilometers) from Damascus. At the time of John the Baptist, Abilene was governed by the tetrarch Lysanias (Lk 3:1).


One of the many sons or descendants of Joktan, and thus a descendant of Shem (Gn 10:28; 1 Chr 1:22).


Royal title for Philistine rulers, similar to the designation "pharaoh" among the Egyptians and "agag" among the Amalekites.

1. King of Gerar in Abraham's time. At Gerar, a city a few miles south of Gaza, Abraham presented his wife as his sister out of fear for his life (Gn 20:1-18), as he had once done in Egypt (Gn 12:10-20). Because of this, Sarah was taken into Abimelech's harem. But Abimelech was warned by God in a dream not to come near her on pain of death because she was a married woman, so she was restored to her husband. The same Abimelech and Abraham later entered into a treaty to clarify water rights in the Negev Desert at Beersheba (Gn 21:22-34).

2. King of Gerar in Isaac's time. Isaac, too, passed off his wife, Rebekah, as his sister at Gerar. Abimelech, perhaps remembering the near judgment on his predecessor, acted decisively to protect Rebekah's integrity. He proclaimed a death penalty on any who touched her or her husband (Gn 26:1-11). Abimelech asked Isaac to leave Philistine territory because of overcrowding and continuing dispute over water (Gn 26:12-22). Eventually, at Beersheba, Isaac and Abimelech ended their hostility by renewing the treaty made by Abraham and the earlier Abimelech (Gn 26:26-33).

3. Gideon's son by a concubine in Shechem (Judg 8:31). After his father's death, Abimelech conspired with his mother's family to assassinate his 70 half brothers. Only one of them, Jotham, escaped (Judg 9:1-5). In Abimelech's third year of rule, he cruelly suppressed a rebellion (Judg 9:22-49). Eventually his skull was crushed by a millstone thrown down by a woman on a tower. Abimelech ordered his armor bearer to kill him with a sword so that no one could say he had been killed by a woman (Judg 9:53-57).

4. Achish, king of the Philistine city of Gath (1 Sm 21:10-15).

5. Abiathar's son, a priest associated with Zadok in David's time (1 Chr 18:16).