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Sabeans

Sabeans, a religious sect of Mesopotamia about the lower Euphrates and in the neighboring Persian Valley of the Karun River; are so named by the Arabs from one of their prophets, but call themselves Mendayaha -- i.e. "disciples of John." Their religion is a mixture of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and even pagan rites, embodied in the Sidra, a sacred books supposed to be handed down through Seth and Enoch from Adam. It is written in the Chaldean language, a Semitic dialect related to Syriac, with a peculiar character of Phoenician origin, but with a complete vowel system attached to the consonants, as in Ethiopic. Formerly very numerous, especially in the Basra District, they were reduced in 1875 to about 8000 in Mesopotamia, and a few scattered communities in Persia; headquarters Suk-esh-Shiok, in the territory of the Montefik Arabs, 224 miles from Baghdad. (Comptes Rendus, Acad. des Inscriptions, March, 1878.)

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