Biography of Jabez
1 Chronicles 4
8 And Coz begat Anub, and Zobebah, and the families of Aharhel the son of Harum.
9 And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
Eponym of a clan of the Kenite family of the Rechabites, which clan was merged into the tribe of Judah. I Chron. ii. 55 refers to "families of scribes" ("soferim") dwelling at Jabez; while in another passage (ib. iv. 9-10) Jabez is described as "more honorable than his brethren." His name (Ya'beẓ) is derived from his mother's saying: "I bare him with sorrow" ("'oẓeb"). Another explanation is (ib. iv. 10, Hebr.): "Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'If Thou wilt bless me and enlarge my boundary, and Thine hand be with me, and Thou wilt give me friendships that will not grieve me [an allusion to "'eẓeb"] then' [the concluding words are omitted in the text; see the commentaries to iv. 10]. And God granted him that which he requested."
Jabez was prominent, particularly after the Exile, among those Kenite clans that embraced Judaism, becoming scribes and teachers of the Law. Rabbinical tradition identifies Jabez with Othniel the Kenezite, the head of the bet ha-midrash after the death of Moses (Tem. 16a; Targ. to I Chron. ii. 55, iv. 9). Hence the vow of Jabez was understood to refer to his schoolhouse: "If Thou wilt bless me with children, and give me many disciples and associates," etc. (Tem. l.c.; Sanh. 106a). "The whole tribe ofJethro, the Kenites as well as the Rechabites, left their habitations near Jericho and went to Jabez to learn the Torah from him" (Mek., Yitro, 'Amaleḳ, ii.; Sifre, Num. 78).
In the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (v. 5) Jabez is mentioned together with Jeremiah and Gedaliah among the saintly leaders of the people at the destruction of the Temple, being one of the deathless frequently mentioned in rabbinical tradition (Massek. Derek Ereẓ i.; see "J. Q. R." v. 417 et seq.).
This short passage of scripture came to the attention of millions of Christians following the publication of the book The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson, in which he encouraged Christians to pray the way Jabez did.
The name Jabez sounds like the Hebrew word for pain, and was given to him because of the pain his mother suffered while bearing him; whether the pain was a result of the birth or coincided with the birth is unclear. It is speculated that, because Jabez was named by his mother, that there was no father in his life. Therefore, such birth out of wedlock would have been the source of pain and shame in Hebrew culture of the time. Hence the name. Whatever the interpretation, the prayer of Jabez has served both as a puzzle and also as an inspiration and model for some Christians. Jabez quite probably overcame adverse circumstances of birth to achieve a place of honor in his ancient society.