(Aʹbel-beth-maʹa·cah) and Abel of Beth-maacah [meadow of the house of oppression], or simply Abel [meadow].
A fortified city of Naphtali in northern Palestine probably four miles (6.4 kilometers) W of Dan, identified with the modern village of Tell Abil. 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.—2 Sam. 20:14-22.
Instigated by Asa of Judah, Syrian Ben-hadad struck down Abel-beth-maacah to divert Baasha of Israel from building Ramah. (1 Ki. 15:20; see RAMAH.) Abel of Beth-maacah was captured by Tiglath-pileser of Assyria during the reign of Pekah, and its inhabitants were sent into exile. (2 Ki. 15:29) While the passage is mutilated, it evidently appears in the inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser in the list of cities he conquered. The surrounding fertile, well-watered fields doubtless gave rise to another merited name, Abelmaim [meadow of waters]. Its situation made it a good storage place.—2 Chron. 16:4.