Rab-Saris and Rab-Mag

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RAB-SARIS AND RAB-MAG (Heb. רַב מָג ;רַב־סָרִיס), titles of high ranking Assyrian and Babylonian officials. An economic bilingual document in Akkadian and Aramaic attests the title Rab-Saris as held by an Assyrian eponym. In that document, however, the corresponding Akkadian term is absent and it is as yet unattested elsewhere. Further a מרסרס of Sargon is found in Aramaic. The meaning of all these is "chief of the king's attendants." Though the saris–in Akkadian ša rēši–was often a *eunuch (in contradistinction to the ša ziqni, "the bearded one"), there is no indication that the Rab-Saris was always castrated. In the story of Daniel, the Rab-Saris Ashpenaz trained certain aristocratic Jewish youths for service in the court of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 1:3ff.). The Rab-Saris is among the Assyrian officials leading the siege of Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah (ii Kings 18:17). In Jeremiah 39:3–13, the Rab-Saris Nebushazban is mentioned together with other Babylonian officials. Among these was Nergalsharezer the Rab-Mag. In late Assyrian and late Babylonian texts the rab-mugi (or rabmungi) is described as a high official who performed military, administrative, and diplomatic duties, although the precise significance of the title is unclear.


M. Sprengling, in: ajsll, 49 (1932), 53–54; E. Weidner, in: afo, 17 (1954–56), 293; J. Nougayrov, Le Palais royal d'Ugarit, 3 (1955), 16:162; H. Tadmor, in: bies, 31 (1967), 77.

[S. David Sperling]