International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
a-bi-le'-ne (Abeilene, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus; Abilene, Codex Sinaiticus): Mentioned in Luke 3:1 as the tetrarchy of Lysanias at the time when John the Baptist began his ministry. The district derived its name from Abila, its chief town, which was situated, according to the Itinerarium Antonini, 18 Roman miles from Damascus on the way to Heliopolis (Baalbec). This places it in the neighborhood of the village of Suk Wady Barada (see ABANAH), near which there are considerable ancient remains, with an inscription in Greek stating that a "freedman of Lysanias the tetrarch" made wall and built a temple, and another in Latin recording the repair of the road "at the expense of the Abilenians." The memory of the ancient name probably survives in the Moslem legend which places the tomb of Abel in a neighboring height where there are ruins of a temple. Josephus calls this Abila, he Lusaniou, literally, "the Abilene of Lysanius," thus distinguishing it from other towns of the same name, and as late as the time of Ptolemy (circa 170 A.D.) the name of Lysanias was associated with it.