ABEL, (from the Hebraic Hebhel, meaning “vapor” or “breath”), was the second son of Adam and Eve. Their first son was Cain. Abel became a keeper of sheep and Cain a tiller of the soil, and both offered the Lord sacrifices of the first fruits of their labor.
For a cause not disclosed in the Old Testament narrative, Abel’s sacrifice proved acceptable, while Cain’s was rejected. Cain, out of jealousy, killed Abel, bringing down upon himself the curse of God. The Bible story is in Genesis 4:2-16.
Abel is mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 23:35) as the first of the “righteous” who died for their faith. However, some Bible students interpret the story of Cain and Abel as telescoping a long period of time between man’s first appearance and the emergence of animal husbandry and agriculture. Some identify it with a belief among early nomadic tribes that animal herding (their principal occupation) was more pleasing to the gods than agriculture. Hebrews 11:4 and 12:24 also give some insight into the meaning of Abel’s death.