- ABILENE, district in Coele-Syria, centered around the city of Abila (modern Suq on the Barada River, 16½ mi. (27 km.) N.W. of Damascus) and extending over the western slopes of Mt. Hermon. Originally part of the Iturean principality, it was held by the tetrarch Lysanias the Younger in the time of Tiberius (Luke 3:1). Gaius Caligula granted it to Agrippa I (Jos., Ant., 18:237) and after the latter's death, the tetrarchy was administered by Roman procurators (44–53 C.E.) until Claudius gave it to Agrippa II (Jos., Ant., 20:138) who ruled it until his death. The local legend connecting Abilene with Abel (al-Nabī Ābil) is spurious. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Schuerer, Gesch, 1 (19044), 716–21; Pauly-Wissowa, 9 (1916), 2379; Bickerman, in: EJ, S.V. Abila, Abilene. (Michael Avi-Yonah)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.