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Abel

Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception

Aaron – Aniconism

Volume 1
Editor(s): Hans-Josef Klauck, Volker Leppin, Bernard McGinn, Choon-Leong Seow, Hermann Spieckermann, Barry Dov Walfish, Eric J. Ziolkowski
De Gruyter (Berlin, New York) 2009

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Dennis T. Olson

Abel was the second son of the primeval couple, Adam and Eve (Gen 4 : 2). The first murder victim in the Bible, Abel (a shepherd) was killed by his older brother Cain (a farmer) in a jealous rage because God inexplicably favored Abel’s offering of firstborn animals but not Cain’s offering of grain (Gen 4 : 1–16). The name Abel is related to the Hebrew word hebel, “breath, nothingness,” signifying the transitory character of human life (Isa 57 : 13; Ps 144 : 4).…

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