ABEL-BETH-MAACHAH (R. V., Maacah):
A place-name occurring six times in the Old Testament. The question whether Abel was one place and Beth-maachah another, or whether Abel-bethmaachah must be regarded as a single locality, is open to doubt. The name occurs in various forms: (II Sam. xx. 15, A. V.) "in Abel of Beth-maachah"; (I Kings, xv. 20, A. V.) "Abel-beth-maachah." In II Sam. xx. 14, however, we find (A. V.) "to Abel and to Beth-maachah," with which should be compared the Greek versions in II Sam. xx. 14 and II Kings, xv. 29. Owing to this apparent separation of the two names, it is possible that Abel and Bethmaachah may have been different places, especially as the name Abel occurs alone, undoubtedly used for the same town, in II Sam. xx. 18 (A. V. and R. V., "Abel"). These slight discrepancies are perhaps to be explained by the supposition that Abel was the chief, possibly the only, town of Maachah or Beth-maachah, a small Syrian state. It is important to note that the parallel passage to I Kings, xv. 20—that is, II Chron. xvi. 4—gives the place-name as Abel-maim, "Abel of the waters" (so also both versions), which would agree well with the modern Christian village Abil, or Abil-el-Ḳamḥ ("of the wheat"—owing to the fertile soil). This settlement is situated in a well-watered district on the chief highway between Banias and the coast, on a lofty hill near the Nahr-Bareighit. This place is probably identical with (A)-bi-il, mentioned in a mutilated passage in the inscriptions of Tiglathpileser III., among other cities conquered by that king (II Kings, xv. 29).
The confusion of the ancient name Abel, meaning "Meadow," with the Abel of later date, meaning "Mourning," gave rise to the legend recorded in the Book of Enoch, xiii. Enoch sat down at the water of Dan to the south of Mount Hermon, and there read the petition of the fallen angels until he fell asleep. "And when I awoke I came to them and saw them sitting together weeping at Abelmaim [Ethiopic, "Ublesjael"], which is between Lebanon and Serion [Ethiopic, "Seneser"]."