Asahel (Hebrew: עשהאל, Ancient Greek: ‘Ασαέλ, Latin Asael) was the youngest son of Zeruiah.[1] The name means 'made by God.' Asahel was the nephew of King David, as well as the younger brother of both Joab, David's general, and of Abishai. Asahel is mentioned in 2 Samuel chapters 2 and 3.

Woodcut of Abner killing Asahel, by Johann Christoph Weigel, 1695

Additionally, the name Asahel (under a variant spelling) appears in Aramaic in the Book of Enoch.


The name is made up of two parts: the verb עשה‎, Hebrew "to do, make" 3rd perfect, and the theophorous element (deity name), אל‎, the Hebrew God El, or Elohim. This would make it a name of "thanksgiving", thanking God for what he has "made" or "done".


Asahel was the youngest son of Zeruiah, David's sister (2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 2:16). His older brothers were Joab and Abishai. He was known for his swiftness of foot: "Asahel was swift of foot, like a gazelle in the open field, or like a wild deer." (cf. 2 Samuel 2:18) and was told that if he was running through wheat field, the stalks wouldn't bend. He was put to death by Abner, whom he pursued from the battlefield when fighting against Abner at Gibeon, in the army of his brother Joab, (cf. 2 Samuel 2:18–19). He is considered among David's thirty valiant men (cf. 2 Samuel 23:24; 1 Chronicles 11:26).

After a battle at Gibeon between Abner, commanding the army of Ish-bosheth son of Saul and Joab, commanding the army of David, Asahel pursued Abner while he attempted to escape. Young Asahel soon caught up with Abner. Abner begged Asahel to stop pursuing him, but when Asahel refused to desist, Abner thrust the blunt end of a spear through Asahel's stomach, and Asahel died on the spot (cf. 2 Samuel 2:23).[1]

Although Joab won the battle, Abner escaped with his life; Asahel was buried in his father's tomb at Bethlehem. In retaliation, Joab murdered Abner with help from his brother Abishai, against the wishes of David.[2]


  1. ^ a b Easton, Matthew George (1897). "Asahel" . Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.
  2. ^ Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews,   VII.1.