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Judge Abdon in the Bible: Lessons and Facts

In this series of articles we will look at the life of Abdon in the Bible; a minor judge in the Old Testament.

As we continue in our study of the Judges of the Bible, we come to Abdon. Like many other judges he is considered a minor judge because his story is only mentioned within two verses. But we will do our best to explore those two verses and learn about this Judge of Israel.

Even if a character’s story is short in scripture we can still glean from their lives and learn something. You will have seen this on my study if Barabbas and King Uzziah.

Abdon in the Bible

Abdon in The Bible: The Man with 40 Sons & 30 Grandsons

Now after him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. He had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys; and he judged Israel for eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.
– Judges 12:13-14

Abdon has a somewhat a similar story to Jair. Jair was also a judge in Israel who has 30 sons! Abdon took it up a notch and had 40 sons and why stop there…he throws in his 30 grandsons. Talk about a big family! This isn’t even including daughters that he had.

Now, you may be wondering why is it important that the Bible tells us about Abdon’s kiddos? Adbon wasn’t known for his military exploits. We see no mention of battles or wars. He was most likely prominent or famous tribal leader. And In ancient Israel some judges helped carry out their influence and authority through their family connection. Abdon is a prime example of that.

This means that all those sons and grandsons helped spread Abdon’s authority and influence throughout Israel. But this was short lived as Abdon only led Israel for eight years.

Another similarity with Jair’s story and Abdon’s is the use of donkeys. I was curious to know why specifically donkeys versus something else like camels. I found this interesting article on which shows the different uses for animals. Just the sheer amount of donkeys would signify that Abdon had great wealth and status among the people.

When he [the author of Genesis] describes the wanderings of the Patriarchs in the land of Canaan, their household economy includes donkeys, cattle and sheep but no camels (cf. Gn 13:2–7; 26:14; 33:13, 17; 46:32–34; 47:1–3, 16–17). However, in describing their journeys to Aram Naharaim or to Egypt, i.e., the crossing of desert areas, he almost always relates that they use camels: Genesis 12:16 (Abraham in Egypt), Genesis 24 (Eliezer’s journey to Aram Naharaim), 30:43 (Jacob’s property in Aram Naharaim), 32:7–15 (Jacob on the way from Aram Naharaim to Canaan) (1978: 20, n.3)

Abdon had 70 donkeys in the desert

Let’s now look at Abdon’s name…

עַבְדוֹן ʻAbdôwn, ab-dohn’; from H5647; servitude; Abdon, the name of a place in Palestine and of four Israelites:—Abdon. Compare H5683.

Abdon was actually a territory in palestine, but the name means servitude or servile. We don’t know why his parents named him this, but he did serve israel as a leader for eight years.

Pirathon is said to be a city or territory in Ephraim and it means princely. Fitting of Abdon with the size of his family and wealth. This also alludes to him being from the tribe of Ephraim.

FAQ on Judge Abdon

In this section we will go over some FAQ on Abdon in the Bible! If you happen to have a question about him, you can drop it down below in the comments. I will do my best to answer it!

What tribe is Abdon from?

Though not stated plainly, we see that Abdon is from Pirathon which is a place in Ephraim. So, Abdon most likely came from the tribe of Ephraim.

What is the meaning of Abdon in the Bible?

In the Hebrew it means servertude or he who servile.

How long did Abdon judge Israel?

He led Israel for 8 years.

Where did Abdon live?

His family was from Pirathon,

How many children did Jair have?

The Bible states he had 40 sons, and 30 grandsons. This is not including his daughters and granddaughters.

The Many Judges in the Bible

We know that Bible is filled with all kinds of stories about different judges throughout the Old Testament. And I have been slowly adding them to this series. Some of them have amazing life stories that we can learn from. You can go through all of them by clicking on the link. I hope you enjoy them.

I hope you have enjoyed this short study on Abdon in the Bible and that it has encouraged you to check out more judges of the Bible.

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Richard Jakes

Friday 24th of February 2023

I can't even remember the the number of times I've read the book of Judges but to my utmost surprise this your blog content made me know more about Abdon as if i've never really come across the judge before.