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Abel is found in the Old Testament

Abel (meaning: "Breath, vapor, meadow"), was one of the sons of Adam and Eve, being the first human to be murdered, by his older brother Cain.


Abel, a child of Adam and Eve, was born some time after Cain.[1] Due to the sin of his parents, manual labor was required.[2] Therefore Abel had his share of labor which was to tend the flocks.[3]

Both Cain and Abel made a sacrifice to God, from their respective area of labor. Cain offered fruits of the field, while Abel sacrificed the representative firstborn animal from the livestock.[4] God accepted Abel's offering, but not Cain's. In anger, Cain lured Abel to the field and slaughtered him there.[5]


The name Abel, or Hebel, means "vapor, or breath" and is used elsewhere exclusively to describe the emptiness of vanity.[6] In context, it is hard to see why Adam or Eve would have given a newborn child this name. It is to be noted that there is no mention of either parent naming him, so the name may have been attached to him by those telling his story as the antediluvian society grew.

The story of Abel was a cautionary tale of the brevity of life in a time when long ages had become common. While it can be assumed he had a family, Eve saw the need to have a child when she was 130 years old to replace him.[7] He was always known by this name, so it remains a reminder throughout time of a hero to faith.


Abel was the first on record to take care of livestock. This required a skill in understanding the ways of the animals. As the first shepherd (keeper)[3] he was a friend to the sheep, and probably cattle, that Adam had taken under his care outside of the garden. He would have displayed the characteristics of a good shepherd as found in Psalm 23.[8]

He is noted for both being a prophet, and a martyr to his faith in God.[9] Having learned of the animals skinned to cover his parents in the garden, he had continued this "in the process of time" ("the end of days," probably the Sabbath) as an act of worship of the Creator. He is commended for his faith and his righteousness.[10]


  1. Genesis 4:1-2 (Link)
  2. Genesis 1:17-18 (Link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Genesis 4:2
  4. Genesis 4:3-4 (Link)
  5. Genesis 4:4-10 (Link)
  6. Job 7:16; Psalm 39:5, 78:33, 144:4; Ecclesiastes 3:19, 6:2 (Link)
  7. Genesis 4:25 (Link)
  8. Psalm 23:1-6 (Link)
  9. Hebrews 11:4 (Link)
  10. Matthew 23:35; Hebrews 11:4 (Link)