Abishai (biblical figure)

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King David with the water brought by Abishai

Abishai was the eldest son of Zeruiah, sister of the biblical King David. His name means father of (i.e. desirous of) a gift. He was the brother of Joab and Asahel (2 Sam 2:18; 1 Chr 2:16), and a military leader under David.

Abishai was the only one who accompanied David when he went to the camp of Saul and took the spear and water bottle from Saul as he slept (1 Sam 26:5-12).

He had the command of one of the three divisions of David's army at the battle with Absalom (2 Sam 18:2,5,12). He was the commander of the second rank of the three "mighty men" (2 Sam 23:18,19; 1 Chr 11:20,21). On one occasion, he withstood 300 men and slew them with his own spear (2 Sam 23:18).

Abishai slew the Philistine giant Ishbi-benob, who threatened David's life (2 Sam 21:15-17). He once killed 300 men with his spear and helped with the killing of Absalom. Once, his brother, Asahel, who could run as fast as a gazelle, fought in battle with Abner, the general of Israel's army, and was killed by the back of his spear. Abishai, at this point, is so enraged at the murder of Asahel that he kills Abner at the later time with Joab, his brother.

Other people with the name Abishai[edit]

Abisha or Abishai is also the name of the Semitic chief who offers gifts to the lord of Beni-Hassan in an inscription at that site in Middle Egypt.[1]


  1. ^ Bard, Kathryn A. An Introduction To The Archaeology Of Ancient Egypt. Oxford, United Kingdom: Blackwell Ltd, 2008. p. 190.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "Abishai". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.