Abel-meholah (Hebrew: אָבֵל מְחוֹלָה, Avel Mehola; lit. meadow of dancing) was a city mentioned repeatedly in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and best known for being the birthplace and residence of the prophet Elisha. It was located near the Jordan River south of Bethshean.
Mention in the Bible
Judges 7:22 - When Gideon defeated the Midianites, some of them fled "as far as the border of Abel Meholah". The text indicates that Abel-meholah was seen as a region with a defined border, west of the Jordan River and south of Bethshean.
1 Kings 4:12 - Among Solomon’s twelve governors there is one Baana who is put in charge of several districts including the area "from Beth Shean to Abel Meholah".
1 Kings 19:16 - Elijah, who had fled fearing Queen Jezebel's wrath, is ordered by the Lord at Mount Horeb to go back along the Jordan valley and "anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah" to succeed him as prophet.
The site of Abel-meholah has not yet been identified with certainty. Jerome and Eusebius refer to it as both a town and an area in the Jordan Valley, about ten Roman miles south of Bethshean. In the late nineteenth century explorers were trying to identify the exact mound, Conder stating with some confidence that the site "is now called 'Ain Helweh". Modern scholars generally agree that it has to be found in that area and west of the Jordan River, probably at the spot where Wadi al-Malih, a stream which might preserve the ancient name Meholah, merges into the Jordan. Two tells in that general area, Tell Abu Sifri and Tell Abu Sus, are good candidates with the latter being more likely. Tell Abu Sifri is situated at the confluence of Wadi al-Helweh and Wadi al-Malih, while Tell Abu Sus is closer to the Jordan. None of the two have yet been excavated.