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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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A daughter of Jesse and sister of David, who married Jether the Ishmaelite, and became the mother of Amasa (1 Chronicles 2:16,17). In 2 Samuel 17:25 she is againmentioned as the mother of Amasa, but is called Abigail the daughter of Nahash, and her husband is called Ithra the Israelite. This version of her husband's name is probably nearer the truth. For the rabbinical view see B. B. 17, and Targ. 2 Chronicles 2:17, after Yebamot, 77a.

2. Biblical Data:

The prudent and beautiful wife of Nabal, a prosperous but avaricious Calebite noble of the town of Carmel in southern Judah (1 Samuel 25:3). When Nabal refused to pay David compensation for his protection, Abigail on her own initiative met the outlaw prince with gifts and a conciliatory address, thereby winning his favor and delivering her husband from the threatened attack on his life. Nabal died soon after, and Abigail became the wife of David, bringing to him her wealth and sharing with him his trying experiences as a vassal of the king of Gath (1 Samuel 27:3, 30:5). While he was king at Hebron, she bore him a son, Chileab, or Daniel, who appears, however, to have died before reaching manhood (1 Samuel 25:42; 2 Samuel 3:3).

C. F. K.

—In Rabbinical Literature:

The Haggadah regards Abigail as one of the most remarkable women in Jewish history. She was one of the four great beauties, the other three being Sarah, Rahab, and Esther (Meg. 15a). Her charm was irresistible to all who gazed on her. David, who first beheld her while she was still the wife of Nabal, almost fell a victim to her charms and was only restrained by Abigail's moral strength and dignity (Meg. c.). She was also a prophetess: in saying to David, "This shall be no grief unto thee" (1 Samuel 25:31), Abigail foreshadowed that another woman (Bathsheba) would one day play a disastrous rôle in his life. With all her superior qualities Abigail was not free from feminine coquetry; for when she begged David for mercy toward her husband, she added the seemingly insignificant words: "then remember thine handmaid" (ib.). It is for this conduct, unbecoming in a married woman, as the Haggadah observes, that, in the following verse, Abigail is written without the letter "yod" (thus, "Abagal"), to intimate that Abigail had shown herself unworthy of the letter with which the name of God begins (Midr. Sam.; see Meg. 14a, 15b; Midr. Teh. to Psalms 53; compare also Sanh. 2:4).

L. G.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Abigail'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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