- Abishai was the eldest son of Zeruiah, sister of the Biblical King David. His name means father of (i.e. desirous of) a gift. He was the brother of Joab and Asahel (2 Sam 2:18; 1 Chr 2:16), and a military leader under David.
Abishai was the only one who accompanied David when he went to the camp of Saul and took the spear and water bottle from Saul as he slept (1 Sam 26:5-12).
He had the command of one of the three divisions of David's army at the battle with Absalom (2 Sam 18:2,5,12). He was the commander of the second rank of the three "mighty men" (2 Sam 23:18,19; 1 Chr 11:20,21). On one occasion, he withstood 300 men and slew them with his own spear (2 Sam 23:18).
Abishai was involved in David's battle with the Philistine giant Ishbi-benob, who threatened David's life; depending on the exact reading, Abishai either saved David by slaying the giant, or else helped David slay him (2 Sam 21:15-17). Some Jewish sources interpret this latter option as meaning Abishai's prayers saved David.