"Father of light; i.e., enlightening." The son of Ner and uncle of Saul. He was commander-in-chief of Saul's army.1 He first introduced David to the court of Saul after the victory over Goliath.2 After the death of Saul, David was made king over Judah, and reigned in Hebron. Among the other tribes there was a feeling of hostility to Judah; and Abner, at the head of Ephraim, fostered this hostility in the interest of the house of Saul, whose son Ishbosheth he caused to be proclaimed king.3

A state of war existed between these two kings. A battle fatal to Abner, who was the leader of Ishboseth's army, was fought with David's army under Joab at Gibeon.4 Abner, escaping from the field, was overtaken by Asahel, who was "light of foot as a wild roe," the brother of Joab and Abishai, whom he thrust through with a back stroke of his spear.5

Being rebuked by Ishbosheth for the impropriety of taking to wife Rizpah, who had been a concubine of King Saul, he found an excuse for going over to the side of David, whom he now professed to regard as anointed by God to reign over all Israel. David received him favorably, and promised that he would have command of the armies. At this time Joab was absent from Hebron, but on his return he found what had happened. Abner had just left the city; but Joab by a stratagem recalled him, and meeting him at the gate of the city on his return, thrust him through with his sword.6

David lamented in pathetic words the death of Abner, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?"7



  1. 1 Sam. 14:50; 17:55; 20:25.
  2. 1 Sam. 17:57.
  3. 2 Sam. 2:8.
  4. 2 Sam. 2:12.
  5. 2 Sam. 2:18-32.
  6. 2 Sam. 3:27, 31-39; 4:12. Comp. 1 Kings 2:5, 32.
  7. 2 Sam. 3:33-38.


  • Easton, M.G. (1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

This article incorporates text from Easton’s Bible Dictionary (1897) by M.G. Easton, which is in the public domain.