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Jebe (or Jebei, Mongolian: Зэв, Zev; birth name: Jirqo'adai (Modern Mongolian: Zurgadai), Mongolian: Зургаадай, Simplified Chinese: 哲别) (died 1225) was one of the prominent Noyans (generals) of Genghis Khan. He belonged to the Besud clan, part of the Taichud tribe, which was at the time of Genghis Khan under Targudai Khiriltug's leadership.

In 1201, during the Battle of the Thirteen Sides, Genghis Khan was wounded by an arrow to the neck, his loyal subordinate, Jelme, cared for him. After the battle (which Genghis Khan had won), he asked the defeated to reveal who shot "his horse" in the neck (euphemizing his own injury as his horse's in an apparent attempt to conceal his injury, or possibly to prevent false confessions). Zurgadai is said to have voluntarily confessed, and further said, that if Genghis Khan desired to kill him, it was his choice, but if he would let him live, he would serve him loyally. Genghis Khan, in his own usual custom, highly valued honesty and loyalty in his soldiers and so, in the traditions of nomadic chivalry, pardoned him and praised him on this account. He then gave Zurgadai a new name, Jebe, which means both "arrow" and "rust" in Mongolian.

Jebe quickly became one of the best and most loyal commanders of Genghis Khan in later conquests, his ability as a general puts him on the level of Muqali and Subutai ba'atur. He served with distinction in the initial war against Jin China (1211-1214), during the first invasion, Jebe commanded the left wing with Subutai that went around the wall to the east, capturing two fortresses. He then re-circled his tracks, destroyed the 2nd Jin army at Wusha Fortress, and linked up with Genghis's main army, who went on to win the battle of Yehuling,[1] after this crushing victory, the Mongols took command of the passes into the Beijing plains and started to spread their control elsewhere. Jebe was sent to capture numerous chains of fortresses, which he expertly did by using a feigned retreat to lure out defenders, after inciting a revolt in Manchuria and reducing a number of fortresses, Genghis split his army into five parts to raid vast swathes of Jin territory. Jebe was placed in the elite force under Muqali with Subutai, and they successfully raided to the ocean and destroyed or captured many Jin towns and cities.

In 1218, Jebe was tasked to go defeat the perennial Mongol adversary Kuchlug and conquer Khara-Khitai. Given only 20,000 men, Jebe conserved manpower by inciting and backing religious revolts between the ruling Buddhists and oppressed Muslims,[2] his forces moved with incredible alacrity, caught the overwhelmed Kuchlug with only 30,000 men, and destroyed his army. Kuchlug was later hunted down after a long chase through the mountains, after Jebe scored victories over Kuchlug of Kara-Khitan, Genghis Khan, though glad of his general's victory, was said to be concerned, not knowing if Jebe would seek greater ambition at his expense and rebel against him. When word of this reached Jebe, he immediately returned to where Genghis Khan was and offered 100 white horses (the same kind as that Genghis Khan was riding when Jebe wounded him) as a sign of loyalty, he never doubted Jebe again.

During the invasion of the Khwarezm Empire in 1219, Jebe was sent with a diversionary force over the Tien Shan mountains in winter to threaten the fertile Ferghana Valley. Jebe was able to navigate the tall mountain passes that had 5+ feet of snow, and he drew out Shah Mohammed II's elite 50,000 man cavalry reserve force. Though the sources are not entirely clear, Jebe seems to have either won a victory or at least avoided defeat over this elite force, and maneuvered further south to threaten Khorasan, cutting off the far-away provinces, he then looped back to join Genghis's main army at the capital Samarkand, effectively dividing Khwarezm into two. In order to prevent the Shah from rallying his forces in Khorasan and western Iran, Genghis Khan dispatched Jebe and Subutai to hunt the Shah throughout his own empire. Though they ultimately failed to catch him, their breakneck pursuit prevented the Shah from rallying any new armies, as a result, the Khwarezmian forces were spread out and destroyed piecemeal.

He had made a legendary raid around the Caspian Sea where he and Subutai defeated the Georgians, who were set to join the 5th crusade, the Caucasus Steppe tribes, and then Kievan Rus' and Cumans at the Battle of the Kalka River. This preceded the conquest of Kievan Rus', and he likely died on his return from the conquests of the Kievan Rus', he left an indelible mark on history with his conquests in China, the conquest of Central Asia, and into Europe at Kiev and the Rus.


  • Urgunge Onon (trans.), revised by Sue Bradbury (1993), Chinggis Khan: The Golden History of the Mongols. London: The Folio Society.
  • Secret History of the Mongols: full text, history, translations into Russian, German, French, original transliteration
  1. ^ Frank McLynn, Genghis Khan (2015).
  2. ^ Chris Peers, the Mongol War Machine.