A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Zabathai Zevi
ZABATHAI ZEVI, a celebrated Jewish impostor, who appeared at Smyrna about 1666, and pretending to be the Messiah, promised to deliver the Jews, and re-establish them in more than their pristine glory. Multitudes of his nation acknowledged him for their Messiah and king, and many of his followers pretended to visions and prophetic ecstacies. At length he fell into the hands of the Grand Seignor, who commanded him to be set as a mark for his archers, to prove whether he was invulnerable . To avoid this trial Zevi renounced his vainglorious pretensions; and saved his life by professing the Mahometan religion.
The denomination of Zabathaites is given to the followers of Zabathai Zevi. The sect he formed survived him; and he actually has yet, at Salonichi, partisans, who, outwardly professing Mahometanism, observe in secret the Judaic rites, marry among themselves, and all live in the same quarter of the city, without communicating with the mussulmans, except for the purpose of commerce, and in the mosques.
Zabathai Zevi is said to have had many adherents among the Jews of England, Holland, Germany and Poland, who have continued in small numbers to our days.
- Scotch Theol. Dict. in Messiah. Gregoire's Histoire Des Sectes Religieuses.