ASAHEL (Heb. עֲשָׂה־אֵל, עֲשָׂהאֵל; "God has made"), name of several biblical figures. (1) Son of Zeruiah, sister of David (I Chron. 2:16), and one of the 30 heroes of David (II Sam. 23:24; I Chron. 11:26). After the defeat of the forces of Ish-Bosheth in Gibeon, Asahel pursued Abner (II Sam. 2:18–19) but was killed by him. The action brought about a blood revenge by the sons of Zeruiah, which led to the murder of Abner (II Sam. 3:27–30). Asahel is listed among the officers of the monthly militia of David, as the commander of a division for the fourth month (I Chron. 27:7). This is problematical because he was killed early in the reign of David. Therefore, some scholars maintain that his name was added after his death to honor him; others challenge the historical accuracy of the list. Nonetheless, it was probably a prototype of the list of the Davidic militia, which was brought up to date by adding the name of Zebadiah, the son of Asahel and his successor in the same command (cf. I Chron. 12). -In the Aggadah Asahel was so swift and light of foot that he could run over the ears of corn and leave them unbroken (Eccl. R. 9:11). The loss caused to David by the death of Asahel was equal to that caused by the death of the 19 men whom Abner killed at the same time (cf. II Sam. 2:30; Sif. Deut. 52). (2) A Levite who, together with the high officials and priests of Judah, was sent by King jehoshaphat on a teaching mission to the cities of Judah (II Chron. 17:7–9). The purpose of the mission was to instruct the people in "the Law of Yahweh" (ibid. 9; cf. II Kings 23:2; Neh. 8:4–18). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Yadin, in: J. Liver (ed.), Historyah Ẓeva'it shel Ereẓ Yisrael (1964), 355 ff.; Mazar, in: Sefer Ben Gurion (1964), 248–67; de Vaux, Anc Isr, 214–8; Yadin, in: BJPES, 15 (1940), 86 ff.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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