Abishai was the father of (i.e., "desirous of") a gift, the eldest son of Zeruiah, David's sister. He was the brother of Joab and Asahel (2 Sam. 2:18; 1 Chr. 2:16). Abishai was the only one who accompanied David when he went to the camp of Saul and took the spear and the cruise of water from Saul's bolster (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).
Abishai was involved in David's battle with the Philistine giant Ishbi-benob, who threatened David's life; depending on the exact reading, Abishai either saved David by slaying the giant, or else helped David slay him (2 Sam. 21:15–17). Some Jewish sources interpret this latter option as meaning Abishai's prayers saved David. He was the chief of the second rank of the three "mighties" (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 is the name of the Semitic chief who offers gifts to the lord of Beni-Hassan.
This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.
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