🔼The name Abiel: Summary
- God Is Father, Father Of Strength
- From (1) the noun אב ('ab), father, and (2) the word אל ('el), God.
🔼The name Abiel in the Bible
There are two Abiels in the Bible, and both are a bit mysterious:
- One Abiel the Arbathite is mentioned among David's mighty-men in 1 Chronicles 11:32. But in 2 Samuel 23:31 he's called Abi-albon.
- The other Abiel is the father of Kish and grandfather of king Saul, and the father of Ner, Saul's uncle and grandfather of Abner, the son of Ner, according to 1 Samuel 9:1 and 14:50-51. But in 1 Chronicles 8:33 and 9:39, not Abiel but Ner is listed as the father of Kish, and Abiel is not mentioned. It happens a few times in the Bible that people are known by two completely different names, so Saul's grandfather may have been called Abiel by some and Ner by others. Still, Gesenius, Alfred Jones and BDB Theological Dictionary declare Abiel the grandfather and Ner the uncle of Saul.
🔼Etymology of the name Abiel
The name Abiel consists of two very common name-elements. The first element is the noun אב ('ab), meaning father:
The noun אב ('ab) means father, but describes primarily a social relationship rather than a biological one. That social fatherhood was the defining quality of the community's alpha male, the one around whom all economy revolved and from whom emanated all instructions by which the 'sons' (בן, ben) operated. It's unclear where this word אב ('ab) comes from but the verb abu means to decide.
The post-fixed letter yod creates a possessive form: my father, or father of.
In names אל ('el) usually refers to אלהים ('elohim), that is Elohim, or God, also known as אלה ('eloah). In English, the words 'God' and 'god' exclusively refer to the deity but in Hebrew the words אל ('l) and אלה ('lh) are far more common and may express approach and negation, acts of wailing and pointing, and may even mean oak or terebinth.
For a meaning of the name Abiel, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names translates the word el with strength and reads Father Of Strength. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads God Is Father and BDB Theological Dictionary offers El Is (My) Father.