A Roman district, or tetrarchy, in the region of the Anti-Lebanon mountains N of Mount Hermon. It was named after its capital, Abila, a city situated in a picturesque gorge by the bank of the river Abanah (modern Barada).
At Luke 3:1 we are told that in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar (28/29 C.E.) the district was ruled by Lysanias. This fact is confirmed by an inscription found at Abila in connection with a temple dedication dating from the reign of Tiberius. This inscription bears the name “Lysanias the tetrarch.” Previously, Abilene had formed part of the kingdom of Herod the Great, but following his death, about the year 1 B.C.E., it was included in the province of Syria. Josephus records that the tetrarchy of Lysanias was joined to Palestine, in 37 C.E., under Herod Agrippa I, and that it was thereafter bestowed upon Herod Agrippa II by Claudius, in 53 C.E.