Land of Goshen

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Coordinates: 30°52′20″N31°28′39″E / 30.87222°N 31.47750°E / 30.87222; 31.47750 The land of Goshen (Hebrew : אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן or ארץ גושןEretz Gošen) is named in the Bible as the place in Egypt given to the Hebrews by the pharaoh of Joseph (Book of Genesis, Genesis 45:9–10), and the land from which they later left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. It was located in the eastern Delta of the Nile, lower Egypt; perhaps at or near Avaris, the seat of power of the Hyksos kings.


Meaning of the name

If the Septuagint reading "Gesem" is correct, the word, which in its Hebrew form has no known meaning, may mean "cultivated"—comparing the Arabic root j-š-m, "to labor". Egyptologists have suggested a connection with the Egyptian word qas, meaning "inundated land". Because Goshen was apparently the same region, called by the Greeks the "Arabian nome," which had its capital at Phakousa. The name represented the Egyptian Pa-qas (Brugsch, Geog., I, 298), the name of a town, with the determinative for "pouring forth". [1] Donald Redford, while not disputing the location of Goshen, gives a different origin for the name, deriving it from "Gasmu," the rulers of the Bedouin Qedarites who occupied the eastern Delta from the 7th century BC, but John Van Seters thinks this unlikely. [2]

Goshen in Egypt


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According to the Joseph narrative in the Book of Genesis, the sons of Jacob (Israel) who were living in Hebron, experienced a severe famine that lasted for seven years. Word was that Egypt was the only kingdom able to supply food, and thus the sons of Jacob (Israel) journeyed there to buy goods. In the second year of famine, [3] the Vizier of Egypt, Joseph, [4] [5] invited the sons of Israel to live in Egyptian territory. They settled in the country of Goshen. [6] Goshen is described as the best land in Egypt, suitable for both crops and livestock. It has been suggested that this location may have been somewhat apart from Egypt, because Genesis 46:34 states, "Ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians." After the death of Joseph and those of his generation, the following generations of Israelites had become populous in number. The Egyptians feared potential integration or takeover, so they enslaved the Israelites.

Four hundred thirty years later, to the day, [7] Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, from Goshen (Ramesses) to Succoth, [8] the first waypoint of the Exodus. They pitched at 41 locations after initially crossing the Nile Delta to the east, and then also crossing the Red Sea, to the last station being the plains of Moab . [9]


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Locations of Pithom, Raamses and On (Heliopolis) in northern Egypt

In 1885 Édouard Naville identified Goshen as the 20th nome of Egypt, located in the eastern Delta, and known as "Gesem" or "Kesem" during the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (672–525 BC). It covered the western end of the Wadi Tumilat, the eastern end being the district of Succoth, which had Pithom as its main town, extended north as far as the ruins of Pi-Ramesses (the "land of Rameses"), and included both crop land and grazing land. [10]

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Jacob, later given the name Israel, is regarded as a patriarch of the Israelites and is an important figure in Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jacob first appears in the Book of Genesis, where he is described as the son of Isaac and Rebecca, and the grandson of Abraham, Sarah and Bethuel. According to the biblical account, he was the second-born of Isaac's children, the elder being Jacob's fraternal twin brother, Esau. Jacob is said to have bought Esau's birthright and, with his mother's help, deceived his aging father to bless him instead of Esau. Later in the narrative, following a severe drought in his homeland of Canaan, Jacob and his descendants, with the help of his son Joseph, moved to Egypt where Jacob died at the age of 147. He is supposed to have been buried in the Cave of Machpelah.

13th century BC Century

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The Israelites were a confederation of Iron Age Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods.

Succoth may mean:

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Joseph (Genesis) Biblical figure, son of Jacob and Rachel

Joseph is an important figure in the Bible's Book of Genesis.

Laban (Bible) Biblical figure

Laban, also known as Laban the Aramean, is a figure in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible. He was the brother of Rebekah, who married Isaac and bore Jacob. Laban welcomed his nephew as a young man, and set him the stipulation of seven years' labour before he permitted him to marry his daughter Rachel. Laban tricked Jacob into marrying his elder daughter Leah instead. Jacob then took Rachel as his second wife, on condition of serving an additional seven years' labour.

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The Exodus Founding myth of the Jewish people

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Donald Bruce Redford is a Canadian Egyptologist and archaeologist, currently Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is married to Susan Redford, who is also an Egyptologist currently teaching classes at the university. Professor Redford has directed a number of important excavations in Egypt, notably at Karnak and Mendes.


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Shemot (parsha)

Shemot, Shemoth, or Shemos is the thirteenth weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the first in the Book of Exodus. It constitutes Exodus 1:1–6:1. The parashah tells of the Israelites' affliction in Egypt, the hiding and rescuing of the infant Moses, Moses in Midian, the calling of Moses, circumcision on the way, meeting the elders, and Moses before Pharaoh.


Va'eira, Va'era, or Vaera is the fourteenth weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the second in the Book of Exodus. It constitutes Exodus 6:2–9:35. The parashah tells of the first seven Plagues of Egypt.

Pi-Ramesses Capital of the ancient Egyptian 19th dynasty

Pi-Ramesses was the new capital built by the Nineteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II at Qantir, near the old site of Avaris. The city had served as a summer palace under Seti I, and may have been founded by Ramesses I while he served under Horemheb.

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Sukkot (place)

The name Sukkot (Succoth) appears in a number of places in the Hebrew Bible as a location:

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Biblical Egypt

Biblical Egypt, or Mizraim, is a theological term used by historians and scholars to differentiate between Ancient Egypt as it is portrayed in Judeo-Christian texts and what is known about the region based on archaeological evidence. Along with Canaan, Egypt is one of the most commonly mentioned locations in the Bible, and its people, the Egyptians, play important roles in the story of the Israelites. Although interaction between Egypt and nearby Semitic-speaking peoples is attested in archaeological sources, they do not otherwise corroborate the biblical account.

The Exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites. The scholarly consensus is that there was no Exodus as described in the Bible.


  1. " - Dictionary - Goshen". 2012-10-08.
  2. Donald Redford, "Perspective on the Exodus", pp.139-140, quoted in John Van Seters, "The Geography of the Exodus," in Silberman, Neil Ash (editor), The Land That I Will Show You: Essays in History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honor of J. Maxwell Miller (Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) fn.37, p.269
  3. Genesis 45:11
  4. Mehler, S. From Light Into Darkness: The Evolution of Religion in Ancient Egypt, ( ISBN   978-1-931882-49-1), 2005, p. 133
  5. Joseph may also have been Co-regent with the Pharaoh as indicated by Genesis 44:18 - Josephus. The Antiquities of the Jews, Book II, 7.1.168
  6. Genesis 46:34,47:27
  7. Exodus 12:40
  8. Numbers 33:5
  9. numbers 22:1,33:48–50
  10. John Van Seters, "The Geography of the Exodus," in Silberman, Neil Ash (editor), The Land That I Will Show You: Essays in History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honor of J. Maxwell Miller (Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) pp. 267–269, ISBN   978-1850756507