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ZABADAEANS zab’ ə de’ ənz (Παβαδαιοι), an ancient Arab tribe. They were attacked and despoiled by Jonathan Maccabaeus in the course of the war with Demetrius (1 Macc 12:31). Josephus, narrating the incident, calls the conquered people Nabataeans (Jos. Antiq. XIII. v. 10), which would mean that they belonged to the powerful tribe whose headquarters were at Petra. There is no other evidence for this. On the other hand, Oesterley, in Charles, Apocrypha, I. 112, prefers the reading “Gabadaeans,” although textual support is inadequate. The tribesmen may have lived in a town called Zabad, but it could scarcely be identical with the town of that name said to be situated NW of Hamath (Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum No. 9893). When Jonathan attacked them he had not crossed the Eleutherus, the modern Nahr el-Kebir in the Biq’a, which entered the sea between Tripolis and Arcadus and marked the boundary of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia (Strabo xvi). After his victory he proceeded to Damascus with the booty. Thus it appears that the place of encounter was E of the Eleutherus, between Damascus and Hamath. Zebdani, between Baalbek and Damascus, may preserve the name of the tribe, but J. C. Dancy warns against searching modern Syrian toponymy for relics of nomad names.


I Maccabees: A Commentary (1954).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Zabadaioi; the King James Version Zabadeans; Oesterley, in Charles, Apocrypha, I, 112, prefers, on what seems insufficient evidence, to read "Gabadeans"; Josephus (Ant., XIII, v, 10) by an obvious error has "Nabateans"): According to 1 Macc 12:31, an Arabian tribe, defeated and spoiled by Jonathan after his victory in Hamath and before he came to Damascus. There is an ez-Zebedani about 25 miles Northwest of Damascus (now a station on the railway to Beirut), on the eastern slope of the Anti-Lebanon range. This town may very well have preserved the name of the Zabadaeans, and its situation accords nicely with Jonathan’s movements in 1 Macc 12.

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