(Aʹbel-beth-maʹa·cah), Abel of Beth-maacah [Watercourse of the House of Maacah].
A fortified city of Naphtali in northern Palestine probably 7 km (4 mi) WNW of Dan, identified with Tell Abil (Tel Avel Bet Maʽakha). It was favorably located on the road from Hazor northward at the intersection of the E-W route from Damascus to Tyre.
David’s men under Joab besieged the city when the rebel Sheba fled there. Thereupon, a wise woman, speaking for “the peaceable and faithful ones of Israel,” pleaded with Joab not to destroy Abel, from of old the place to inquire for wise judgments, hence “a mother in Israel”; meaning also, probably, a metropolis or city having dependent towns. Heeding this woman’s advice, the inhabitants pitched Sheba’s head over the wall, and the city was spared.
Instigated by Asa of Judah, Syrian Ben-hadad I struck down Abel-beth-maacah to divert Baasha of Israel from building Ramah. (1Ki 15:20; see RAMAH No. 1.) Abel of Beth-maacah was captured by Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria during the reign of Pekah, and its inhabitants were sent into exile. (2Ki 15:29) This city, called in Assyrian texts Abilakka, appears in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III in the list of cities he conquered. The surrounding fertile, well-watered fields doubtless gave rise to another merited name, Abel-maim (meaning “Watercourse of Waters”). Its situation made it a good storage place.