As a young man, Rabin underwent desert training in the Negev region of Earth. In 2247, he accompanied his mother to Vulcan, where they were invited to witness a Vulcan coming-of-age rite. While there, he was introduced to Ambassador Sarek and his son, Spock. The rite was interrupted by Sered, who believed Vulcan traditions were being compromised by outsider influence, and Rabin was among the hostages Sered took from the ceremony. With the help of Spock, he managed to escape from Sered's hideout in the area of Vulcan's Forge known as the Womb of Fire, and together they attempted to cross the desert to civilization. After several days, they decided to instead return and attempt a rescue of the remaining captives. They were able to help end the hostage situation by throwing hallucinogenic lichens into the hideout's fire, and frighten Sered's followers into believing the caves were inhabited by the Eater of Souls. Following this ordeal, Rabin recommended to his mother that she sponsor Spock as an applicant to Starfleet Academy.
Rabin entered the Academy himself shortly thereafter, and studied hydrostatics. At some time before 2296, he married, and later divorced, a "nice Jewish girl" who did not share his love for the desert.
By 2296, Rabin had become a Starfleet Captain, and was commander of the Starfleet mission to the Federation protectorate world of Obsidian. Over two growing seasons, he began to believe numerous setbacks to his aid mission were being caused by sabotage, perhaps by the Romulans. He called for assistance from his old friend Spock, now captain of the USS Intrepid II. Together, they determined that Sered, now fully mad and being used as a puppet for the Romulans, was manipulating Obsidian's desert nomads in order to drive the Federation off world.
Rabin remained on Obsidian at least until 2344, by which time he had remarried and fathered children, with one grandchild on the way. He was invited to the wedding of Spock to Saavik that year, but was unable to attend due to the short notice. (TOS novel: Vulcan's Heart)