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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Abile´ne (Luke 3:1), the small district or territory which took its name from the chief town, Abila. Its situation is in some degree determined by that of the town; but its precise limits and extent remain unknown. Northward it must have reached beyond the Upper Barrada, in order to include Abila; and it is probable that its southern border may have extended to Mount Hermon (Jebel es-Sheikh). It seems to have included the eastern declivities of Anti-Libanus, and the fine valleys between its base and the hills which front the eastern plains.

This territory had been governed as a tetrarchate by Lysanias, son of Ptolemy and grandson of Mennaeus, but he was put to death, B.C. 33, through the intrigues of Cleopatra, who then took possession of the province. After her death it fell to Augustus, who rented it out to one Zenodorus; but as he did not keep it clear of robbers, it was taken from him, and given to Herod the Great. At his death a part (the southern, doubtless) of the territory was added to Trachonitis and Ituraea to form a tetrarchy for his son Philip; but by far the larger portion, including the city of Abila, was then, or shortly afterwards, bestowed on another Lysanias, mentioned by Luke (Luke 3:1), who is supposed to have been a descendant of the former Lysanias, but who is nowhere mentioned by Josephus. About ten years after the time referred to by Luke, the emperor Caligula gave Abilene to Agrippa I. as 'the tetrarchy of Lysanias,' to whom it was afterwards confirmed by Claudius. At his death, it was included in that part of his possessions which went to his son Agrippa II.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Abilene'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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