Open main menu

Zabbai was a Palmyrene man who lived in the third century, and likely belonged to the upper-class of Palmyra. An obscure figure, he is mainly known from Queen Zenobia's Palmyrene name mentioned in Palmyrene inscriptions, sptymy'btzby, which translates to Septimia Daughter of Zabbai. [1] Zenobia's Palmyrene name might hint at her family origins, and might tie with the medieval tradition recorded by medieval Persian scholar Al-Tabari that she was the daughter of an Arab sheikh. [1] Zenobia however, might've not been Zabbai's daughter, but the inscription might rather mean that she belonged to a family whose ancestral head was Zabbai. [1]

Another man named Zabbai is a well known general for Zenobia, who alongside with Zabdas fought in her campaigns in the west. [1] It's possible that the general Zabbai be of the same family clan of Zenobia whose ancestral head was Zabbai, [1] and he might be the Zabbai mentioned in Palmyrene inscriptions himself, as names such as Zabdas, Zabbai and Zebeida who come from the same Semitic name which means "given or gift", were all transformed into the name "Zenobia" in Greek. [2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Bryce, Trevor (2014). Ancient Syria: A Three Thousand Year History. p. 297. ISBN 9780199646678.
  2. ^ Hillers, Delbert R. (2005). A Journey to Palmyra: Collected Essays to Remember Delbert R. Hillers. p. 297. ISBN 9789004124189.