By: Richard Gottheil
A district in Mesopotamia between the Upper Zab (Lycus) and the Lower Zab (Caprus), though Ammianus ("Hist." xviii., vii. 1) speaks of Nineveh, Ecbatana, and Gaugamela as also belonging to it. For some centuries, beginning with the first century
Under the Persian kings Adiabene seems for a time to have been a vassal state of the Persian empire. Ardashir III. (361-338
Izates was followed on the throne by his elder brother, Monobaz II. It is related that in the year 61 he sent a contingent of soldiers to Armenia to assist the Parthian candidate, Tiridates, against Tigranes, who had made an incursion into the territory of Adiabene. The troops of Monobaz, however, were beaten back at Tigranocerta. Monobaz was present when peace was concluded at Rhandea between Parthia and Rome in the year 63. The chief opponent of Trajan in Mesopotamia during the year 115 was the last king of independent Adiabene, Meharaspes. He had made common cause with Ma'nu (Mannus) of Singár (Singara). Trajan invaded Adiabene, and made it part of the Roman province of Assyria; under Hadrian in 117, however, Rome gave up possession of Assyria, Mesopotamia, and Armenia. In the summer of 195 Severus was again warring in Mesopotamia, and in 196 three divisions of the Roman army fell upon Adiabene. According to Dio Cassius, Antoninus took Arbela in the year 216, and searched all the graves there, wishing to ascertain whether the Arsacide kings were buried there. In later times Adiabene became an archbishopric, with the seat of the metropolitan at Arbela (Hoffmann, "Akten," pp. 259 et seq.).Conversion of Some of Izates' Subjects.
It is impossible to tell how far the inhabitants of Adiabene had followed the example of their king and become Judaized. Josephus ("B. J." preface, § 2) refers to the "Adiabenoi" as Jews. Both Queen Helena and Izates showered presents upon Jerusalem, and the queen took the king's sons there to be educated. The remains of Helena and Izates were sent by Monobaz II. to Jerusalem for burial. There seems to be no doubt that there were a number of Adiabene Jews in Jerusalem, who probably belonged to the princely household. Josephus knew several, and in"B. J." ii. 19, § 2 mentions a Kenedeus and a Monobaz as aiding bravely in the defense of Jerusalem against the Romans, and "the sons and brethren of Izates the king . . . were bound . . . and led to Rome, in order to make them hostages for their country's fidelity to the Romans" ("B. J." vi. 6, § 4). A certain Jacob Ḥadyaba is mentioned in B. B. 26b; and also Zuga of Ḥadyab, or Zawa (Heilprin, "Seder ha-Dorot," ed. 1882, ii. 115). The Talmud mentions a certain kind of scorpion in Adiabene (Bab. Shab. 121b; in Yer. Shab. xiv. 14b, the reading is incorrect) that might be killed on the Sabbath day because of its venomous character. It also states (Bab. Men. 32b) that the followers of Monobaz (Yer. Meg. iv., end, !) were accustomed to fix the mezuzah upon a staff, and to set the staff upright in any inn in which they happened to pass the night (Tosef., Meg. iv. [iii.] 30; Yer. Meg. iv. 75c).Traditions.
All manner of false traditions have gathered around these statements. The Armenian historian Moses of Chorene, who wrote in the fourth or fifth century, has transferred the story of Izates' intervention in Parthia to Abgar, one of the kings of Edessa, making Helena the wife of Abgar, Ukkama (Von Gutschmid, "Kleine Schriften," iii. 45), probably because Abgar VII. was the son of Izates (Duval, "Histoire d'Edesse," p. 51). In later Jewish tradition Monobaz is made out to be a son of Agrippa II. (Ibn Daud, "Sefer ha-Ḳabbalah," in Neubauer, "Med. Jew. Chron." i. 51; compare also "Seder 'Olam," ib. 170; and "Seder 'Olam Zuṭṭa," in one recension, ib. 71, which in another recension (ib. 75), however, is said to be impossible. The same is to be found in Zacuto's "Yuḥasin," ed. Filipowski, 93). According to Ẓemaḥ Gaon, he was a son of Herod ("Yuḥasin," 93, 2, below).
- Chief authority is Josephus (Ant. xx. 2, § 4;
- B. J. ii. 19, § 2; iv. 9, § 11; v. 2, § 2; 3, § 3; 4, § 2; 6, § 1), who probably got his information from Adiabene Jews in Jerusalem (Von Gutschmid, Kleine Schriften, iii. 4).
- Notices may also be gathered from Pliny, Historia Naturalis, v. 66, vi. 44 et seq.;
- Ammianus, History, xviii. 7, § 1; xxiii. 6, § 21;
- Strabo, Geography, xvi. 745 et seq.;
- Brüll, Adiabene, in Jahrb. i. 58 et seq.;
- Grätz, in Monatsschrift, 1877, xxvi. 241 et seq., 289 et seq.;
- Von Gutschmid, Gesch. Irans, pp. 140 et seq.;
- Schürer, Gesch. ii. 562.