Wikipedia 10K Redux by Reagle from Starling archive. Bugs abound!!!

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ABEL (Hebrew for breath), the second son of Adam, slain 
by Cain, his elder brother (Gen. iv. 1-16).  The narrative 
in Genesis which tells us that ``the Lord had respect unto 
Abel and to his offering, but unto Cain and to his offering 
he had not respect,'' is supplemented by the statement of the 
New Testament, that ``by faith Abel offered unto God a more 
excellent sacrifice than Cain'' (Heb. xi. 4), and that Cain 
slew Abel ``because his own works were evil and his brother's 
righteous'' (1 John iii. 12). See further under CAIN.  The 
name has been identified with the Assyrian ablu, ``son,'' but 
this is far from certain.  It more probably means ``herdsman'' 
(cf. the name Jabal), and a distinction is drawn between the 
pastoral Abel and the agriculturist Cain.  If Cain is the eponym 
of the Kenites it is quite possible that Abel was originally 
a South Judaean demigod or hero; on this, see Winckler, 
Gesch.  Israels, ii. p. 189; E. Meyer, Israelitein, p. 
395. A sect of Abelitae, who seem to have lived in North 
Africa, is mentioned by Augustine (De Haeresibus, lxxxvi.). 

Source:  An unnamed encyclopedia from a project that puts out-of-copyright texts into the public domain.  This is from a *very* old source, and reflects the thinking of the turn of the last century.  -- BryceHarrington