the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
A´bel, properly Hebel, the second son of Adam, who was slain by Cain, his elder brother (Genesis 4:1-16). The circumstances of that mysterious transaction are considered elsewhere [CAIN]. To the name Abel a twofold interpretation has been given. Its primary signification is weakness or vanity. By another rendering it signifies grief or lamentation, both meanings being justified by the Scripture narrative. Cain (a possession) was so named to indicate both the joy of his mother and his right to the inheritance of the first-born: Abel received a name indicative of his weakness and poverty when compared with the supposed glory of his brother's destiny, and prophetically of the pain and sorrow which were to be inflicted on him and his parents.
Abel, a name of several villages in Israel, with additions in the case of the more important, to distinguish them from one another. It appears to mean fresh grass; and the places so named may be conceived to have been in peculiarly verdant situations.
Abel, Abel-beth-Maacah, or Abel-Maim. A city in the north of Palestine, which seems to have been of considerable strength from its history, and of importance from its being called 'a mother in Israel' (2 Samuel 20:19). The identity of the city under these different names will be seen by a comparison of 2 Samuel 20:14-15; 2 Samuel 20:18; 1 Kings 15:20; 2 Chronicles 16:4. The addition of 'Maacah' marks it as belonging to, or being near to, the region Maacah, which lay eastward of the Jordan under Mount Lebanon. This is the town in which Sheba posted himself when he rebelled against David. Eighty years afterwards it was taken and sacked by Benhadad, king of Syria; and 200 years subsequently by Tiglath-pileser, who sent away the inhabitants captives into Assyria (2 Kings 15:29).
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Abel'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​a/abel.html.