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Abel Meholah

ABEL MEHOLAH (ā'bĕl mē-hō'la, meadow of dancing or brook of dancing). A town not certainly identified, but probably in the Jordan valley, where Elisha was born and lived (1Kgs.19.16). The Midianites routed by Gideon fled to its environs (Judg.7.22).

ABEL-MEHOLAH ā bəl mĭ hō lə (אָבֵ֣ל מְחוֹלָ֔ה, meadow of dancing). An unidentified site E of the Jordan; the residence of Elisha the prophet (1 Kings 19:16). This is where Elijah, returning from Horeb on his way to Damascus, found Elisha and his servants plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. Previously, this site had figured in Gideon’s smashing victory over the Midianite camp in the Jezreel Valley. The direction of the Midianites’ flight (Judg 7:22) is the real clue to identification. Aharoni has them fleeing eastward in the direction of Zarethan (instead of Zeredah, i.e., Zererah) and identifies the site with Khirbet Tell el- Hilu (?). S. Cohen has them flee southeastward toward Zererah and identifies the site with Tell el- Maqlub on the Wadi el- Yabis as proposed by N. Glueck in AASOR XXV-XXVIII, I (1951), p. 216. Jerome and Eusebius pointed to the W side of the Jordan River to a site about ten m. S of Beth-shean where a Wady named Molih exists and the modern Tell Abu Sifri.

During the Solomonic reign, Abel-meholah is mentioned in the area of Baana (1 Kings 4:12), one of the twelve administrative officers for Solomon’s governmental districts.

The man to whom Saul’s eldest daughter, Merab, was given (instead of to David) was one named Adriel, the Meholathite (1 Sam 18:19; 2 Sam 21:8). On the meaning and etymology of Meholah, see W. F. Albright’s interesting and convincing discussion in ARE, pp. 125-129 and footnote 96, p. 210.


N. Glueck AASOR. XXV-XXVIII, Pt. I (1951), 211-223; W. F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (4th ed. 1956), 128ff.; J. Simons. GTT (1959), 293, 294; Y. Aharoni (tr. A. F. Rainey), Land of the Bible (1967), 241, 278.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The residence of Elisha the prophet (1Ki 19:16). When Gideon and his 300 broke their pitchers in the camp of Midian, the Midianites in their first panic fled down the valley of Jezreel and the Jordan "toward Zererah" (Jud 7:22). Zererah (Zeredah) is Zarethan (2Ch 4:17; compare 1Ki 7:46), separated from Succoth by the clay ground where Solomon made castings for the temple. The wing of the Midianites whom Gideon pursued crossed the Jordan at Succoth (Jud 8:4 ff). This would indicate that Abel-meholah was thought of as a tract of country with a "border," West of the Jordan, some miles South of Beth-shean, in the territory either of Issachar or West Manasseh.

Abel-meholah is also mentioned in connection with the jurisdiction of Baana, one of Solomon’s twelve commissary officers (1Ki 4:12) as below Jezreel, with Beth-shean and Zarethan in the same list. Jerome and Eusebius speak of Abel-meholah as a tract of country and a town in the Jordan valley, about ten Roman miles South of Beth-shean. At just that point the name seems to be perpetuated in that of the Wady Malib, and Abel-meholah is commonly located near where that Wady, or the neighboring Wady Helweh, comes down into the Jordan valley.

Presumably Adriel the Meholathite (1Sa 18:19; 2Sa 21:8) was a resident of Abel-meholah. Willis J. Beecher