Abel (biblical person)

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Abel, high altar St. Martin (Gastern)
Cain leads Abel to the death of James Tissot
The murder of Abel by Cain as a painting by Jan van Eyck on the Ghent Altarpiece .

Abel ( Hebrew הֶבֶל Hevel; Arabic هابيل Habil ) isthe second son of Adam and Eve in the Old Testament and the Koran . He wasslainby his older brother, the farmer Cain, out of envy and jealousy , because God preferredthe sacrifice of the shepherd Abel to the sacrificed crops of Cain ( Gen 4.1–16  EU ; Sura 5: 27–31).


The Hebrew name הֶבֶל hævæl means "breath / (wind) breath". Since the word is composed of nothing but soft consonants, it is an onomatopoetic word formation. In the Old Testament, the word often denotes the transience of man and is therefore already an allusion to Abel's killing by Cain. In the Septuagint , the name is given as αβελ abel , which is why the name is derived in German.

Other biblical mentions

There is further mention in the Bible in Mt 23.35  EU , Hebr 11.4  EU ; 12,24 EU and 1 Joh 3,12  EU . In the Apocrypha of the Old Testament Abel is also found under the name Amilabes . In the Buber-Rosenzweig translation , his name is Habel .

The motif of the brotherly quarrel ( two-brother motif ) appears here for the first time and continues through literature (see e.g. Jakob and Esau ).


Interpretations of fratricide are extremely complex. They range from Abel as the first martyr to the narrative design of the (possible and probable) Neolithic conflict between the emerging arable cultures and the older nomadic way of life and possibly their settling down to Cain as a vegetarian who radically rejects animal sacrifice .


Legend has it that Cain's bloodshed happened in a grotto on Jabal Arbain , northwest of Damascus (Syria), where a small mosque is now located for this reason . The alleged tomb of Abel is located on today's highway between Damascus and Beirut, which connects Syria and Lebanon, about 30 km from Jabal Arbain.

According to the church father Augustine, the early Christian Abelite group based itself on the example of Abel .

Web links

Commons : Cain and Abel  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Online Quran Project (OQP): Al-Mā'idah (Sura 5)