(A·bishʹai) [my father is Jesse, father of a gift, i.e., probably, generous].
The son of David’s sister Zeruiah and brother of Joab and Asahel. (2 Sam. 2:18; 1 Chron. 2:15, 16) Abishai came to be more distinguished for his prowess than the thirty mighty warriors over whom he served as chief, his reputation even rivaling those of David’s three most mighty men, for he once struck down 300 of the enemy single-handed, but “to the rank of the first three he did not come.”—2 Sam. 23:18, 19.
Abishai loyally supported his uncle David in all his military campaigns, but tended to be impulsive and ruthless, and, on occasions had to be restrained. For example, when he and David stole into Saul’s military camp by night he would have pinned sleeping Saul, the “anointed of Jehovah,” to the earth with Saul’s own spear had not David restrained him. (1 Sam. 26:6-9) When Absalom rebelled, Abishai had to be held back twice from beheading king-cursing Shimei. However, David was not able to prevent Abishai from collaborating in the death of Abner.—2 Sam. 3:30; 16:9-11; 19:21-23.
Abishai was noted for his taking the lead in striking down 18,000 Edomites and, again, in leading in the rout of the Ammonites. He also cooperated in putting down the rebellion of Sheba, a good-for-nothing Benjaminite. In David’s last recorded battle had it not been for Abishai, he would have lost his life at the hand of an overtowering Philistine.—1 Chron. 18:12; 19:11-15; 2 Sam. 20:1, 6; 21:15-17.