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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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ABILENE.—Mentioned in Luke 3:1 as the district of which Lysanias was tetrarch in the 15th year of Tiberius. It was called after its capital Abila, situated on the Barada, about 18 miles from Damascus, and represented by the modern village of Suk. The identity of Suk with Abila is confirmed by a Roman rock-inscription to the west of the town. According to popular tradition, the name Abila is derived from Abel, who was buried by Cain in a tomb which is still pointed out in the neighbourhood. Little is known of the history of Abilene at the time referred to by St. Luke; but when Tiberius died in a.d. 37, some ten years later, the tetrarchy of Lysanias was bestowed by Caligula on Herod Agrippa I. (Josephus Ant. xviii. vi. 10), and this grant was confirmed in a.d. 41 by Claudius (xix. v. 1; BJ ii. xi. 5). On the death of Agrippa I. (a.d. 44) his dominions passed into the charge of Roman procurators (Ant. xix. ix. 2; BJ ii. xi. 6), but in a.d. 53 some parts of them, including Abilene, were granted by Claudius to Agrippa II. (Ant. xx. vii. 1; BJ ii. xii. 8), and remained in his possession till his death in a.d. 100. See Lysanias.

Literature.—Schürer, HJP [Note: JP History of the Jewish People.] i. ii. 335 ff.; Robinson, Later BRP [Note: RP Biblical Researches in Palestine.] 479 ff.; Porter, Giant Cities of Bashan, 352 I.; Conder, Tent Work in Pal. 127; SWP [Note: WP Memoirs of the Survey of W. Palestine.] , Special Papers.

James Patrick.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Abilene'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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