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fem. proper name, in Old Testament, Abigail the Carmelitess, a wife of David, from Hebrew Abhigayil, literally "my father is rejoicing," from abh "father" + gil "to rejoice." Used in general sense of "lady's maid" (1660s) from character of that name in Beaumont & Fletcher's "The Scornful Lady." The waiting maid association perhaps begins with I Sam. xxv, where David's wife often calls herself a "handmaid." Her male counterpart was Andrew.
father (i.e., "leader") of the dance, or "of joy." (1.) The sister of David, and wife of Jether an Ishmaelite (1 Chr. 2:16,17). She was the mother of Amasa (2 Sam. 17:25). (2.) The wife of the churlish Nabal, who dwelt in the district of Carmel (1 Sam. 25:3). She showed great prudence and delicate management at a critical period of her husband's life. She was "a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance." After Nabal's death she became the wife of David (1 Sam. 25:14-42), and was his companion in all his future fortunes (1 Sam. 27:3; 30:5; 2 Sam. 2:2). By her David had a son called Chileab (2 Sam. 3:3), elsewhere called Daniel (1 Chr. 3:1).
in the Old Testament, the wife of Nabal of southern Judah, on whose death she became one of the first wives of David (1 Samuel 25) and the mother of his son Chileab. The name Abigail was also borne by David's sister (1 Chronicles 2:16), who was the mother of Amasa, commander of the army of Absalom. From the former (self-styled "handmaid"; 1 Samuel 25:25) is derived the colloquial use of the word for a waiting woman.