Abel, [breath, vapor; applied to Abel apparently from the shortness of his life; or perhaps the name means son].
A younger son of Adam, and by calling a shepherd. Abel was a righteous man (Mat. 23:35; 1 John 3:12); one of the Old Testament worthies whose conduct was controlled by faith (Heb. 11:4).
He offered to God a lamb from his flock, which was accepted. It was not the kind of offering, but the character of the offerer that God respected. As brought by Abel, the offering showed the surrender of the heart to God. The offering of the best further revealed the sense of obligation and gratitude to God as the sole bestower of the good, to whom all thanks were due. It expressed the consciousness in the offerer of entire dependence upon God for daily blessing and the desire for the continuance of God's favor. In one in whom the sense of sin was deep, it set forth the entire dependence of the sinner upon God's unmerited mercy.
Cain's character was different from Abel's; and being rejected he at the promptings of envy slew Abel (Gen. 4). The ultimate ground of Abel's acceptance by God was the atoning blood of Christ.