Rohl said that there is plenty of etymological evidence for Goshen being in the Fakus area. Is this really so? Let's look at the only few places mentioned in the bible where the Hebrews were when they where in Egypt.
On (Genesis, Septuagint Exodus)
Goshen (Genesis, Exodus)
Land of Rameses (Genesis, Exodus)
City of Raamses (Exodus)
First of all only 5 of these 7 places have been supposed to match sites in the north-east delta of Lower Egypt. Two of the sites are in Middle Egypt (On/Heliopolis, Latopolis/Sokhem).
Each of the other 5 sites supposed matches can be disputed.
Rameses & Raamses are supposed to match Tell el-Daba/Avaris/Pi-ramses(-meriamun)/Per-rames(i)su/Qantir. But problems with this match include:
- The biblical name has no Pi-/Per- (and no -meriamun).
- The biblical name is spelt a little different.
- Pi-ramses of the 19th dynasty is too late for Joseph and Moses. The argument that it is an anachronism is doubtful because they don't show any evidence of later Israelites/Jews having known Piramses.
- The biblical Rameses of Genesis is a land not a city.
- Raamses was built with bricks? Piramses was built by stones (hauled by the Apiru).
- Piramses is too close to Succoth and the border re the exodus route.
- The land of Rameses matches Goshen in Genesis. See Goshen below for why also doesn't match the north-east delta.
Goshen seems to match the Giza area. The land of Rameses of Genesis could possibly be connected with "Many historians have been puzzled by the fact that the name of Rameses should appear on so many of the building blocks that went into the early buildings of the third and fourth dynasties." (Though conventional scholars claim this is just from Ramses II who "stuck his name all over the place".) Robert Palmer suggests Ra-em-shem-su/Ra'amcc is associated with Memphis, but I couldn't find confirmation of this? Gaon matched Raamses with Ain Shams "eye of the sun" a suburb of Cairo built on top of the ancient Heliopolis (city of Ra).
Pithom is supposed to match Pi-tum / Pa-tmu / Patumus / Per-atum (Heroonpolis or Tell er-Retaba or Tel El Maskhuta) in the north-east delta. But doubts about this match include:
- Pi-tum / Pa-tmu / Patumus / Per-atum is too close to Succoth and the Egyptian border re the Exodus route.
- Pi-tum / Pa-tmu / Patumus / Per-atum of the 19th dynasty is too late in overall Egyptian history for Moses who was early in overall Biblical history.
- The biblical name looks like its etymology may not be Pi/Pa- + Atum. (Though a king Thom is mentioned in the El-Arish incription which has similarities with the exodus story.)
- The biblical name is Pi- not Per-.
- Pithom might possibly match P-ium/Piom (Fayum/Moeris)? (Note that Pium and Peratum are both associated with lakes.) Another candidate is Pr Itmw / Per Atum / *Par-'Atama at Heliopolis, though this is linguistically less likely.
Goshen/Gosen/Goson (Hebrew/Massoretic) / Gesem (Greek/Septuagint) / Kessan (Artapanus) is supposed to match Faqus/Phacus(sa)/Qesem in the north-east delta. But doubts about this match include:
- The names match isn't necessarily that close. The biblical has no P-. Fakus/Phacus only has 3 letters the same (if the k/c/q matches g, and if the s matches sh), there is no -en. The Septuagint version Gesem is close to Qesem but that might only be because they then thought they matched, or Qesem might have been named after Goshen sometime after Joseph?
- Genesis says Goshen was the best of the land. This doesn't match the north-east delta in my opinion.
- Exodus says the Hebrews were multiplied throughout the land which may also argue a more central location?
- Pharaoh put Joseph's brothers over his cattle, which might not match the north-east delta?
- Goshen was a land, Fakus is a city.
- Goshen is also called Rameses. See Rameses above for reasons why can't match the north-east delta.
- Goshen was near Joseph (Gen 45:10).
- The baby Moses was placed in the Nile river, which seems more like the main trunk of the Nile than one of the 7 mouths of the Nile.
- The baby Moses was found by a daughter of Pharaoh, which means a location near the royal palace.
- The royal capital of Egypt was not in the delta at the time of Joseph and Moses. Joseph and Moses were not likely to be running back and forward between the capital and the delta.
- Moses took the bones of Joseph, and Joseph was more likely buried somewhere between Giza to Sakkara to Dahshur to Lisht.
- There is alternative evidence that Goshen may match Giza/Gizeh/Er-ges-her nearby Cairo. Versions of the name Goshen/Gesem/Kessan are similar to Giza/Gizeh/Er-ges-her. Jacob has matches with Khufu/Cheops who was at Giza. Jacob also may match the shepherd Philitis "lover of righteousness" who Herodotus says dwelt at Giza in the 4th dynasty. Josephus said the exodus started from Letopolis not too far from Giza.
- The meaning of Goshen is unknown but suggestions have included "drawing near" or "place of light/plenty/comfort" or "the body" or "large flood waters" or "skilled craftsmen, or stone brick masons + an enclosed city, or large private land of the pharaoh". Some of these meanings better match Giza than Fakus. Giza/Er-ges-her means "beside the high".
Zoan/Tso'an has long been supposed to match Zean/Djan/Djanet/Sant/Tanis/Djan/Tsan/San, but there are doubts about this match:
- We can see that the names match is not so close as has been implied.
- The bible says Hebron was built 7 years before Zoan. But it is said that Tanis is not known before the 19th dynasty. Tanis is mainly known from the 21st, 22nd & 23rd dynasties. Though Hoeh says a statue of a 13th dynasty king Mermeshoi was found at Tanis. A statue of the 6th dynasty king Pepi was also found at Tanis (ref Brugsch-Bey). These might agree with our Moses in the 6th & 12th/13th dynasty, but the statues might have been moved there later, plus Hebron was founded in the bible somewhere between/before Abraham or Kohath or Moses or Joshua or Caleb or Samson or David and Absalom. Archaeologically Hebron is attested by the EBA, though almost devoid in the LBA.
Zoan is more likely to match the likes of Memphis aka Ankh-tawy/Anekh-tauy which was founded by Menes.
Zoan means "place of departure", and Josephus said the exodus started from Letopolis.
Semites in Egypt:
The north-east delta was not the only place and time that there is evidence of Semites in Egypt.
The shepherd Philitis dwelt at Giza in the 4th dynasty.
There were Asiatics in the 1st Intermediate Period (ref Clayton).
There was an increase in Levantine names in the reign of Amenemhet 2 (ref Clayton).
The few sites of the north-east delta are not the only places and times to have had storage facilities.
The labyrinth had heaps of store rooms according to classical sources. (For miskenoth the AV has treasure cities, the RV has store cities, the Septuagint has strong/fortified cities.)
Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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