Sabbatai Zevi (säbätī´ zā´vē), 1626–76, Jewish mystic and pseudo-Messiah, founder of the Sabbatean sect, b. Smyrna. After a period of study of Lurianic kabbalah (see Luria, Isaac ben Solomon), he became deeply influenced by its ideas of imminent national redemption. In 1648 he proclaimed himself the Messiah, named the year 1666 as the millennium, and gathered a host of followers. In 1666 he attempted to land in Constantinople, was captured, and to escape death embraced Islam. Nevertheless, the influence of the Sabbatean movement survived for many years; it had secret adherents in the 18th cent. and was revived under Jacob Frank. The name is also spelled Shabbatai Zvi.
See G. G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (3d rev. ed. 1954, repr. 1967), The Messianic Ideas in Judaism (tr. 1971), and Sabbatai Sevi, the Mystical Messiah (tr. 1973).