Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Where Was the "Land" of Succoth?
Most, if not all, Egyptologists and historians place the SUCCOTH of the Bible within Egypt proper -- based mainly on the assumption that the sea the Israelites crossed was the Gulf of Suez. But is this true? The Bible itself indicates that Succoth was OUTSIDE of Egypt -- see Ex. 12:37 and 41. There is, for the discerning scholar, a multitude of evidence to show that the Sinai peninsula was the 8th nome of Egypt and called by the Egyptians "Thuku" or "Thuket" -- the Egyptian wording for "Succoth." After camping for almost a week in "Succoth", the Israelites traveled on to the western shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, to the eastern entrance of the 8th nome. Here the other place names, such as Pihahiroth, Etham and Pithom can be found by those with the eyes to see.
by John D. Keyser
Most archaeologists and historians place Succoth within the confines of Egypt proper. For example:
The Bible mentions several sites where the Israelites arrived shortly after leaving Raamses. From Raamses, they went to SUCCOTH (Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:5). From there, they went to ETHAM "on the edge of the wilderness" (Numbers 33:6). From Etham, they turned back and camped at Migdol (Numbers 33:7). These and a few other sites mentioned in this passage are no doubt also in the eastern Nile Delta, and scholars have SUGGESTED a number of candidates for these sites. -- BAR, May/June 1988. Vol. XV, No. 3. Article, "The Route Through Sinai," p. 31.
Some other sources are a little more objective, and show the UNCERTAINTY of the commonly accepted location:
The first stopping point mentioned in the Israelite march toward the Red Sea. (Ex. 12:37) Since the location of Rameses, the starting point of the march, and that of Etham, the camping site after Succoth, are both UNKNOWN TODAY , THE LOCATION OF SUCCOTH IS ALSO UNCERTAIN. (Ex. 13:20) At best, it can be said that SUCCOTH WAS EVIDENTLY ABOUT A DAY'S JOURNEY (32 to 48 km; 20 to 30 mi) AWAY FROM THE WILDERNESS OF ETHAM, which is believed to extend along the northwestern side of the Sinai Peninsula. -- Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 2. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. Brooklyn, N.Y. 1988, p. 1042.
There is, however, evidence from the Egyptian monuments and papyri that will enable us to CORRECTLY locate Succoth and several of the other Exodus stop-over points. Notice what the nineteenth-century archaeologist Edouard Naville has to say:
The first station [in the Israelites escape from Egypt] is SUCCOTH, THUKET, or THUKU. Here it is important to observe that the name of the place where the Israelites first encamped is NOT THE NAME OF A CITY, but the NAME OF A DISTRICT, OF THE REGION OF THUKET, in which, at the time of the Exodus, there existed not only PITHOM, but the FORTIFICATIONS which...had [been] erected to keep off the invading Asiatics. It is quite natural that the camping ground of such a large multitude must have had a great extent. It WAS NOT at Pithom that the Israelites halted; the gates of the fortified city were not opened to them, nor were the storehouses. Besides, the area of the enclosure would have been quite insufficient to contain such a vast crowd. They pitched their tents IN THE LAND OF SUCCOTH WHERE PITHOM WAS BUILT, very likely NEAR those LAKES and those good PASTURES where the NOMADS OF ATUMA asked to be admitted with their cattle. -- The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, p. 22.
The Land of Etham
Naville goes on to say:
There has been much discussion about the site of the next station, ETHAM, which has always been considered as a city, and even as a fortress, and the name of which has been derived from the Egyptian KHETAM, which means a STRONGHOLD. The name of Succoth, OF A REGION, shows that we are not to look for a city of Etham, but FOR A DISTRICT, A REGION OF THAT NAME. And here we must again refer to the text of the PAPYRUS OF SANEHA. He says that, leaving the LAKE OF KEMUER, he arrived with his companion at a place called ATIMA, WHICH COULD NOT BE VERY FAR DISTANT. Let us now consult a document of the time of the Exodus, the PAPYRUS ANASTASI VI. We find there the passage which has already been alluded to several times. We follow M. Brugsch's translation:-- "We have allowed the TRIBES OF THE SHASU OF THE LAND OF ATUMA to pass the STRONGHOLD OF KING MENEPHTAH OF THE LAND OF SUCCOTH, towards the LAKES OF PITHOM of King Menephtah of the LAND OF SUCCOTH; in order to feed themselves and to feed their cattle in the GREAT ESTATE of Pharaoh...." That is what I consider as the REGION OF ETHAM, the land of which the papyri call ATIMA, ATMA, ATUMA. It was INHABITED BY SHASU NOMADS, and as it was insufficient to nourish their cattle, they were obliged to ask to share the good pastures [of the Pharaoh's estate]....The determinative indicates that it [ETHAM] was a BORDERLAND. Both the nature of the land and its name seem to agree very well with what is said of ETHAM, that it was IN THE EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS. -- Ibid., pp. 22-24.
Close to Atuma!
Earlier, in the same book, Naville comments on the District of Thuket, or SUCCOTH:
THUKU, OR THUKET, on the fragment of Rameses II., is the NAME OF A DISTRICT inhabited by foreigners, or of a BORDERLAND, to judge by the determinative which follows the group. It is written in the same way in the Papyri Anastasi, which belong to the following reign. THUKU was first a REGION, a DISTRICT, then it became the name of the CHIEF CITY or the CAPITAL of the DISTRICT. This is the sense which it bears in most of our inscriptions; as in the great tablet, and the other Ptolemaic texts, and even in the titles of the PRIEST AAK, which are of an older epoch. The lists of nomes give either PITHOM or THUKU as the CAPITAL OF THE EIGHTH NOME OF LOWER EGYPT. -- Ibid., p. 5
The Papyri Anastasi provides more information --
We have in the Papyri Anastasi a good deal of information concerning the REGION OF THUKU. We hear that it was a BORDERLAND, NEAR THE FOREIGN REGION OF ATUMA, which was occupied by nomads; that the ENTRANCE WAS GUARDED BY THE STRONGHOLD OF KING MENEPHTAH, AND ALSO BY ANOTHER FORTIFICATION CALLED SKAIR, also that it CONTAINED THE CITY OF PITHOM, NEAR WHICH WERE LAKES AND LARGE PASTURES. The governor bore the title of ATENNU, as we see it inscribed on the statue of Ankh renp nefer.
M. Brugsch, in his extensive researches on the Geography of Egypt, first drew the attention of Egyptologists to the Hebrew word corresponding to THUKU or THUKET....I need not dwell on this philological demonstration, which seems to me quite conclusive. The transcription of THUKET would be the Hebrew SUCCOTH. It is not at all surprising that the Hebrew word should mean TENTS. -- Ibid., pp. 5-6.
Now, there are a number of very interesting points in these excerpts from Naville's book: (1) Succoth (Egyptian "THUKET") was a DISTRICT OR REGION; (2) PITHOM was a city in the LAND or REGION OF SUCCOTH; (3) ETHAM was also a DISTRICT OR REGION; (4) the land of ATUMA was very close by; (5) Succoth contained lakes and pastures comprising the ESTATE OF THE PHARAOH; (6) the land of ATUMA was inhabited by SHASU NOMADS; (7) Succoth was a BORDERLAND; and (8) the governor of Succoth bore the title of ATENNU.
Let's examine some of these points more closely and see if we can situate the SUCCOTH of the Bible.
Garrisons in Sinai
Under the rulers who comprised the TWELFTH DYNASTY, the frontiers of Egypt were extended into the peninsula of Sinai; and this area became subject to the Egyptian throne. Officials of the Pharaoh, supported by an adequate military force, maintained the royal sovereignty over this huge area.
According to Henry Brugsch-Bey "the Egyptian texts, with the famous papyrus of the British Museum at their head, tell us continually of the Hiru-pitu, or EGYPTIAN OFFICERS who were charged with the OVERSIGHT OF...FOREIGN POPULATIONS RESIDING IN THE REGION OF SUKOT. These same texts make known to us the ADON (a word entirely Semitic in its origin) or superior CHIEFS OF SUKOT, magistrates who served as INTERMEDIARIES in the relations of the Egyptian authorities with these populations. This service, which was not always of a peaceable character, was supported by a BODY OF POLICE (THE MAZAIOU), whose commander (the SER) was chosen from among the great personages of the Pharaonic court." (A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs. Second edition, vol. II. John Murray, London. 1881).
Notice, now, what Mr. Brugsch-Bey says: "The EGYPTIAN GARRISONS OF TWO FORTRESSES constructed in the frontiers of the NOME OF SUKOT watched the entrance and departure of all foreigners INTO AND OUT OF THAT TERRITORY. The first, called KHETAM (that is, the fortress) of SUKOT.... GUARDED THE ENTRANCE INTO THE DISTRICT OF SUKOT FROM THE SIDE OF ARABIA. The other, called by a Semitic name SEGOR or SEGOL, that is, 'THE BARRIER,' OF SUKOT, prevented foreigners from passing the frontier on the southern side and setting foot on the territory....Thus the two forts were placed at the TWO ENDS of the GREAT ROAD which traversed the PLAIN OF SUKOT in the midst of its LAKES, MARSHES, AND CANALS." (Ibid., pp. 379-381).
Egyptian garrisons guarded the important transport routes on the PENINSULA OF SINAI, and the chiefs of all the tribes encamped upon this peninsula had to obey the Egyptian commanders and officials if they wished to barter, sell, or buy anything in Egypt or in southern Palestine. If a POLITICAL CULPRIT was to settle down among them, this would soon be discovered by the commander of the nearest frontier garrison, who would order the guilty man to be brought immediately before him, if the garrisons themselves did not wish to incur punishment. So it was in Moses' time and so it is still done today.
Alois Musil, author of The Northern Hegaz: A Topographical Itinerary, makes some very astute remarks:
If any great tribe today fled from the government and the army of a civilized state, it proceeds RAPIDLY along the most convenient and most direct transport route, if only to ESCAPE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE from the TERRITORY AND JURISDICTION OF THE MILITARY POWER. Such also was the case in the FIFTEENTH CENTURY BEFORE CHRIST, when the Israelites migrated from Egypt. THE PENINSULA OF SINAI AT THAT TIME CONTAINED EGYPTIAN GARRISONS. The tribes living there were more or less DEPENDENT UPON EGYPT and would have received orders to attack the Israelites with their garrisons and thus force them to return. The Israelites were therefore obliged to HASTEN so as to TRAVERSE THE PENINSULA OF SINAI before the GARRISONS WERE STRENGTHENED and the nomads incited against them. For strengthening the garrisons and mustering the nomads at least a month would have been necessary, and IN THIS TIME the Israelites had to ESCAPE FROM THE PENINSULA OF SINAI. -- The American Geographical Society, N.Y. 1926, p. 267.
We must remember that the Pharaoh initially gave Moses and the Israelites PERMISSION to go three days into the region of Succoth. It was only AFTER they left the area of Serabit el Khadim and CONTINUED ON across the Sinai peninsula that the Pharaoh led his forces after them.
This raises the question: How long did it take for the Pharaoh to learn the Israelites were fleeing and not returning to Egypt proper?
The answer is obvious! The soonest he could have possibly learned of it was the day they left Serabit -- the FOURTH DAY out from Egypt. However, in reality, it would have taken quite a bit longer for word to get back to the Pharaoh.
Let's assume that the Pharaoh's infiltrators, or the garrison commanders at Serabit, were alert. They would have known on the FOURTH DAY -- as soon as the Israelites broke camp and headed across the Sinai -- that this was NOT simply a THREE DAY TRIP into the desert. By the end of the fourth day they surely would have come to the conclusion that it was time to go back and tell the Pharaoh that Moses and Aaron were disobeying him. If Moses and the children of Israel are outside Goshen FOUR DAYS, it's going to take APPROXIMATELY THREE TO FOUR DAYS for the messengers to get back to the Pharaoh!
By the time Pharaoh assembled his forces (don't forget Egypt was lying in ruins) and started out after the Israelites, Moses would have been AT LEAST TEN DAYS out of Egypt.
The 8th Nome of Egypt
All evidence on the Egyptian monuments shows that Succoth was a NOME (county, if you like) of Egypt: "To the EAST of the Tanite nome or the 'eastern border land,' ANOTHER NOME WAS SITUATED...the EIGHTH in the general enumeration of the Egyptian nomes, which the inscriptions represent under the designation of the 'POINT OF THE EAST'....It is...important to know that the CAPITAL of the nome in question bore the name PI-TOM, that is, 'THE CITY OF THE SUN-GOD TOM,' in which we must instantly recognize the PITHOM of the Bible. This city formed the CENTRAL POINT OF A DISTRICT, the name of which must also be referred to A FOREIGN ORIGIN. It is the DISTRICT OF SUKO OR SUKOT [THUKET], called in Holy Scripture, in connection with the Exodus of the children of Israel OUT of Egypt, SUCCOTH, the meaning of which word -- 'tent,' or 'TENT-CAMP' -- can be established only by the help of the Semitic. Such a designation is not extraordinary for a DISTRICT, the natural character of which answers exactly to the significance of its name; for it contains PASTURES, the PROPERTY OF PHARAOH, on which the WANDERING BEDOUINS OF THE EASTERN DESERTS pitched their tents to procure necessary food for their cattle." (A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs, pp. 232-233).
The very name of this district proves that it could not have been part of Egypt proper. Throughout the entire period of the 12th Dynasty (prior to the Exodus) the land of Egypt was united and under well-organized government control that would NOT have allowed wandering bands of Bedouin the luxury of coming in and out and pitching tents wherever they felt like it in Egypt proper. However, the EASTERN GATE to the Sinai was sufficiently far enough away from Egypt proper that the authorities felt comfortable enough to allow some freedom in this respect in order to maintain relative peace with the tribes of Arabia.
The Egyptian texts give us INCONTESTABLE PROOF that the ENTIRETY of the region, which formed the EIGHTH NOME, was identified BY THE NAME OF SUKU OR SUKOT (THUKU, THUKET). The FOREIGN SOURCE of this name is indicated by the monuments, and is proved by its connection with the Hebrew words SOK, SUKKAH -- in the plural, SUKKOTH -- which bear the primary sense of 'TENT." This name of 'tents' takes its origin from the encampments of the Bedouin Arabs, who, from the most remote periods of Egyptian history, wandered the Sinai peninsula.
During the 12th Dynasty, when Egyptian power reasserted itself in the Sinai, garrisons were built to control these self-sufficient nomads and to prevent any large scale incursion from Arabia. The Sinai was a BUFFER-ZONE between Egypt proper and the tribes of Arabia -- the Amalekites in particular -- who constantly harassed and looked for weaknesses in the Egyptian defenses.
The very fact that Succoth was located CLOSE TO THE COUNTRY OF ATUMA, which was peopled by a tribe called the SHASU, is very significant! Where was ATUMA; and who were the SHASU? The answer to these questions will CONFIRM the location of Succoth.
Naville notes in his book that "Rouge, Chabas and Brugsch have transcribed the name of ATUMA AS EDOM...." but then goes on to COMPLETELY MISS the point: "...it is an anachronism to ADMIT the existence of a land of EDOM at the time when the papyrus of Saneha was written, under the twelfth dynasty. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH TOO FAR DISTANT, especially in the case of the Shasu...." (The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus).
The reason Naville would not accept the existence of ATUMA as EDOM was because that would place Succoth OUTSIDE of Egypt proper! He had recently claimed to have discovered the city of PITHOM in eastern Egypt, west of the Gulf of Suez, and identifying Atuma with Edom just did not fit in with his discovery! But, as truth would have it, a team of archaeologists from the University of Toronto recently re-evaluated Naville's work and did some digging at the site of Naville's supposed find. They came to the conclusion that this was NOT Pithom after all. To this day, then, PITHOM has not been discovered. Could it be because archaeologists are looking in the WRONG location?!
Notice where Henry Brugsch-Bey places Atuma:
This extremely important document of the time of the first Meneptah, the son of Ramses II. [a letter composed under the 19th Dynasty], refers to the tribes of the sons of the desert, or, to use the Egyptian name for them, THE TRIBES OF THE SHASU, in whom science has already long since, and WITH PERFECT CERTAINTY, recognized the Bedouins of the earliest times....According to the monuments, the SHASU belonged to the great race of the AMU, of which they were, in fact, the CHIEF REPRESENTATIVES....The author of the letter designates those SHASU, who were permitted by superior authority to enter the EGYPTIAN TERRITORY, as the SHASU OF THE LAND OF ADUMA, which was THE EDOM OF THE BIBLE and the IDUMAEA OF LATER TIMES. The tribes of the Shasu, who are referred to in the letter we have quoted, were therefore sufficiently designated, with reference to their origin, as INHABITANTS OF THE LAND OF EDOM. The position of these last is more exactly defined in Holy Scripture by the mountainous country of Se'ir....With the help of the knowledge thus obtained, it is no longer difficult to assign to the SHASU their TRUE PLACE on the scene which now forms the object of our enquiry. THE LAND OF EDOM AND THE NEIGHBOURING HILL COUNTRY OF SE'IR FORMED THE HOME OF THE PRINCIPAL TRIBES OF THE SHASU, who...left their mountains...followed by their flocks and herds, to beg sustenance for themselves and their cattle, and to seek an entrance into the RICH PASTURES OF THE LAND OF SUCCOTH. -- A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs, pp. 248-250.
The AMU were none other than the AMALEKITES (see The Downfall of Egypt and the Amalekites of the Bible) who lived and ranged throughout the western side of the Arabian peninsula. This makes the SHASU one of the principal tribes of the Amalekites.
It seems highly illogical that the Shasu, suffering the effects of famine, would have driven their weakened herds all the way across the Sinai peninsula to Egypt proper with the uncertain hope that the Egyptian authorities would allow them entrance into the land. The nome, or region, of Succoth was, therefore, in the Sinai peninsula!
Immanuel Velikovsky shows that "Aram meant Syria, and the area stretching toward Mesopotamia; EDOM'S LAND WAS ALONG THE ENTIRE [EASTERN] SHORE OF THE RED SEA, THE GREATER PART OF ARABIA." (Ages in Chaos, p.86).
The Estate of Pharaoh
A literal translation of the letter granting refuge to the Shasu and their herds in the land of Sukot, is as follows:
(I will now pass) to something else which will give satisfaction to the heart of my lord; (namely to report to him), that we have permitted the RACES OF THE SHASU OF THE LAND OF ADUMA (EDOM) to pass through the FORTRESS KHETAM (ETHAM) of king Mineptah -- Hotephimaat -- life, wealth, and health to him! WHICH IS SITUATED IN THE LAND OF SUKOT near the LAKES OF THE CITY OF PITHOM of king Mineptah -- Hotephimaat, WHICH IS SITUATED IN THE LAND OF SUKOT, to nourish themselves and to feed their cattle on the PROPERTY OF PHARAOH, who is a gracious sun for all nations!
Where was this "PROPERTY OF PHARAOH" mentioned in the letter, or the "ESTATE OF PHARAOH" as some have called it? Where, in the Sinai peninsula, could there have been PASTURES rich enough to support the cattle of the Shasu? Let Edouard Naville give us some clues:
We have now to study the most important monument discoveredthe great inscription of Ptolemy Philadelphos....The tablet has a height of four feet three inches, and a width of three feet two inches. It is now preserved in the Museum of Boolak.
This tablet, judging from its context, was intended to be an important historical record of certain acts of the second Ptolemy....
The text becomes again very indistinct. It refers evidently to all that the king has done, in order to enlarge and adorn the beforementioned TEMPLE OF PIKEHERET, of which it has just spoken. It is remarkable that the text speaks of horses which are brought from the land of To-neter; for the inhabitants of To-neter honour the king and bring him their tributes. At the following line (1.11) we come across several GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES, such as PITHOM, and other places which I could not make out completely. Here, I believe, occurs the FIRST MENTION OF THE CANAL, in a very obscure sentence which speaks of JOINING THE SANDS(?) OF THE CANAL(?) WHICH IS EAST OF KHARMA, ON ITS EASTERN SIDE, TO THE LAKE OF THE SCORPION.
Naville continues --
We know, in fact, from the lists, that KHARMA was a landing place on a CANAL, and that THE LAKE OF THE SCORPION was the lake of the EIGHTH NOME. The above sentence must be compared to that which is found in line 12, translated literally: HE MADE A LAKE OF THEIR SANDS, WHICH BECAME THE GREAT EASTERN CANAL OF EGYPT, AS FAR AS RONIF; all Egypt was in joy. It is clear that this work must have been of high importance, since it was celebrated in the whole country. It appears that this great enterprise was undertaken in connection with a journey performed by the king, in which he found the gods of Egypt, which he brought back (lines 11 and 12), and which, as far as I can judge, he PLACED AT PITHOM (line 13). The CANAL OF THE EAST is mentioned also in an inscription of Edfoo which gives a measurement of the land of Egypt; THERE WAS ALSO A CANAL OF THE WEST.
I suppose the place called RONIF, literally, THE GATE OF THE WIND, must have been somewhere near the end of the canal, at the place where the ships ceased to row and began to sail; it must be in the region called further KEMUERMA. -- The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, pp. 16-18.
Fascinating! Here we find mentioned the city of PITHOM, a temple of PIKEHERET, a mysterious CANAL and a place called RONIF -- all in the EIGHTH NOME of Egypt or SUCCOTH! Henry Brugsch-Bey shows that Pithom and the canal were located at the EASTERN ENTRANCE of Succoth: "The city of PITHOM is often more CLOSELY DEFINED on the monuments by the important addition 'AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE EAST, AT THE EASTERN ENTRANCE'....A CANAL IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF THE CITY received again a name borrowed NOT from the Egyptian, but from the SEMITIC speech, namely, KHARMA, or KHAROMA, which means 'the cutting through.'" (A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs, p. 234).
Could the PIKEHERET of the tablet of Philadelphos possibly be the PI-HAHIROTH of the Bible? Naville himself addresses this question:
Let us now try to identify PI-HAHIROTH. At first sight I was struck by the likeness in the SOUND of the Hebrew word PI-HAHIROTH with the PIKEHERET, or PIKEREHET, which we have found in the tablet of Philadelphos. At present I do NOT know of any other Egyptian name which may so be compared to the Hebrew. But we have not yet found the word Pikerehet on a monument of the time of Rameses II., and it is possible that this sanctuary of Osiris may have been built by Philadelphos. However, in general the Ptolemies did not innovate; THEY RESTORED THE OLD WORSHIPS and enlarged the temples; but they ADHERED TO THE LOCAL TRADITIONS. It is therefore most probable that from a VERY HIGH ANTIQUITY Osiris had a temple at Pikerehet. We have considered Pikerehet as being...at a short distance from PI TUM, but NEARER THE SEA; and there is the following circumstance which makes me think that it IS Pi-Hahiroth. In the tablet of Philadelphos there is frequent mention in connection with PIKEREHET, of horses which are brought there, and of cattle given to the sanctuary for its annual income. Now if we revert to the papyrus Anastasi and to the SHASU OF ATUMA, we see that they ask to drive their cattle in the pastures which belong to the ESTATE or to the FARM OF PHARAOH. -- The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, p. 26.
Notice, now, what the Septuagint version of the Bible says:
The Egyptian word AH means FARM where cattle or horses are bred; an ESTATE with live stock upon it. If we look at the passage in EXODUS where the ROUTE OF THE ISRAELITES is described, we find there that the SEPTUAGINT, who made their translation during the reign of Philadelphos, and after them the Coptic version, instead of mentioning PI-HAHIROTH, have written BEFORE THE FARM, the EXACT translation of the Egyptian AH. Thus while the Hebrew gives the proper name of the sanctuary, the Greek speaks of the FARM, which we know from the papyrus Anastasi WAS CLOSE BY IN THE LAND OF SUCCOTH, like PIKEREHET.
We have now the landmarks of the CAMPING GROUND OF THE ISRAELITES: on the NORTH-WEST PI-HAHIROTH, PIKEREHET, not very far from PITHOM; on the SOUTH-EAST MIGDOL...in front of them the SEA; and OPPOSITE, ON THE ASIATIC SIDE, ON SOME HILL like Shekh Ennedek, BAAL ZEPHON. There...the SEA WAS NARROW, THE WATER HAD NOT MUCH DEPTH, the EAST WIND opened the sea, and the Israelites went through. -- Ibid., p. 26.
We must remember that the word MIGDOL, in Egyptian, is a common name. It means a FORT, or a TOWER. It is very probable that in a fortified region controlled by the Egyptians there were numerous MIGDOLS, distinguished from each other either by the NAME OF THE PHARAOH who built them or by some LOCAL circumstance. So the name Migdol itself does not, without other references, help us determine the area the Israelites encamped before crossing the Red Sea.
The Underwater "Land Bridge"
According to Naville: "As at this point [of the crossing of the Red Sea] the sea was liable to be driven back under the influence of the EAST WIND, and to leave a DRY WAY, the Pharaohs were obliged to have there a FORT, A MIGDOL, so as to GUARD THAT PART OF THE SEA, and to prevent the Asiatics..from using this temporary GATE to enter Egypt, to steal cattle and to plunder the FERTILE LAND which was round PITHOM. That there was ONE SPOT particularly favourable for crossing, BECAUSE OF THIS WELL-KNOWN EFFECT OF THE WIND, is indicated by the DETAILED DESCRIPTION of the place where the Israelites are to camp. There a STRIKING DIFFERENCE between this description and the VAGUE DATA which we find before and after. It is not only said that they are to camp NEAR THE SEA, but the landmarks are given, PI-HAHIROTH, MIGDOL, BAAL ZEPHON, so they COULD NOT MISS THE SPOT, which perhaps WAS VERY RESTRICTED." (Ibid., pp. 25-25).
A few years ago, when archaeologist and author Ron Wyatt visited the EASTERN SEABOARD of the Sinai peninsula, he made some startling discoveries:
A careful examination of the EASTERN SHORE of the Sinai peninsula allows for ONLY ONE PLACE where two million people and their flocks can be gathered. It is the wide expanse of beach NEAR NUWEBA, the SOUTH END of which is closed off by steep mountains! Nearby is a wide and wild mountain gorge known as the WADI WATIR [WADY WAT-IR] an ancient DRIED-OUT RIVER [or CANAL] BED that forms a natural roadway into the Sinai desert....
We took scuba diving lessons, dove at the site [of the Red Sea crossing] our research led us to, found and photographed several chariot parts! THERE we were able to observe the UNDERWATER "LAND BRIDGE" which we saw on the map....We have found an UNDERWATER LAND BRIDGE in the Red Sea [Gulf of Aqaba]....This LAND BRIDGE was photographed and found to be a PERFECT UNDERWATER BRIDGE TO ARABIA. -- Discovered: Noah's Ark! World Bible Society, Nashville. 1989, pp. 33, 44, 48.
How well this fits in with Naville's observations that there must have been one CAREFULLY DEFINED SPOT where the Israelites made their crossing!
Interestingly, if the rules of philology are applied to the name WATIR of Wady Watir, we find the word, according to the Egyptian, means the WAY OF IR -- WAT-IR! And IR, according to most Bible dictionaries, means "CITY" -- thus the WAY OF THE CITY. What city could there be close to the point where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea? According to the papyri and monuments we have just discussed, it would have to be the CITY OF PITHOM! (See Smith's Bible Dictionary).
PIHAHIROTH can also be translated "MOUTH OF IROTH" -- the "OTH" ending indicating the plural form of the word. The singular would be IRAH or just plain IR. So we see again a LINK between PI-HAHIROTH and WAT-IR. According to Peake's Commentary on the Bible, PI-HAHIROTH can also be literally translated "MOUTH OF THE CANALS" -- an obvious reference to Egypt's eastern canal in the land of Succoth!
According to William H. Shea "this unusual word [Pihahiroth] has puzzled scholars for generations. Its first element, pi, is the Hebrew word for 'mouth.' The next element, ha, is the article 'the' in Hebrew. Thus far we have 'mouth of the...' The next part of this word comes from a RARE verbal root in Hebrew, which means 'to incise, engrave, carve, cut into....' It describes something that was incised or DUG into something else. And that fits very well with the idea of a CANAL that was dug into the earth at this location. The reference to its mouth would then have to do with the MOUTH OF A CANAL..." ("Leaving Egypt," Archaeology and Biblical Research, Autumn 1990, p. 108.)
Naville mentioned that "the place called RONIF, literally, THE GATE OF THE WIND, must have been somewhere near the end of the canal, at the place where the ships ceased to row and began to sail...." -- in other words, the sea itself. The Gulf of Aqaba is NOTORIOUS for the sudden winds that blow in and turn the sea into a rough and treacherous maelstrom of waves and WHIRLPOOLS! The very name "Red Sea" comes from "Yam Suph," meaning "SEA OF HURRICANES," not Sea of Reeds as most scholars believe. "In Egyptian the Red Sea is called Shari, which signifies the sea of percussion, or the sea of disaster." (Beyond Star Wars, Dankenbring, p.8). Does RONIF -- THE GATE OF THE WIND -- refer to the strong EAST WIND that blew before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea? "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a STRONG EAST WIND all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided." (Ex. 14:21). The east wind would have blown right into "The Gate of the Wind" -- RONIF!
Two Baal Zephons?
The Biblical account states that "the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi-Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, OPPOSITE BAAL ZEPHON; YOU SHALL CAMP BEFORE IT BY THE SEA.'" (NKJV).
Notice the implications of this verse! If they (the Israelites) camped "before Pi-Hahiroth, between Migdol and the SEA -- OPPOSITE BAAL ZEPHON -- then Baal Zephon must be located on the OTHER SIDE of the sea! If we can locate this site on the EASTERN SHORE of one of the gulfs of the Red Sea, we can determine WHERE the land of Succoth was!
The problem is, however, that all dictionaries and commentaries place Baal Zephon in Egypt proper. Smith's Bible Dictionary states: "BAAL-ZEPHON (lord of the north), a place in Egypt near where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Num. 33:7; Ex. 14:2,9. We place Baal-zephon on the western shore of the Gulf of Suez, a little below its head...." (p. 71).
The location of Baal-zephon is uncertain. It was evidently a FAMILIAR PLACE at the time. The major factor is, of course, the Israelites' crossing of the Red sea, the account of which shows that they went through a body of water of considerable depth. Such situation is found only when reaching as far S as the northern end of the Gulf of Suez. On this basis some scholars associate Baal-zephon with the mountains in that region. Insight on the Scriptures, p. 234.
A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, by Brown, Driver and Briggs (1980, p.128), says: "near Red Sea in Egypt, prob[ably] Mt. 'Ataka." Insight on the Scriptures notes that "this mountain lies near the head of the Gulf of Suez, a short distance to the SW of the present city of Suez. Others suggest Jebel el Galala, some 40km (25mi) or so farther S. Those favoring this site believe that Migdol, mentioned along with Baal-zephon in the accounts, was a watchtower located strategically on Jebel (Mount) 'Ataqah."
This, it seems, would shoot down everything we have discovered so far -- ALL the scholars and archaeologists place Baal-zephon in Egypt proper, near the Gulf of Suez. But wait, could there be ANOTHER Baal Zephon? "Professor Sayce, in his interesting letter on 'Brugsch-Bey's Theory of the Exodus' (Academy, April 10, 1880), confirms this identification from the ASSYRIAN RECORDS: 'Tiglath-Pilesser II., describing his CAMPAIGN IN SYRIA in B.C. 738, speaks of ANOTHER BAAL ZEPHON, which the geographical indications of the inscription show must be THE SYRIAN MOUNT OF CASIUS of classical geography (now JEBEL EL AKRA) near Seleucia. HERE ALSO WAS A NOTED TEMPLE OF BAAL, like that on Mount Casius of Egypt.'" (A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs, editorial comment, p. 394.)
Brugsch-Bey's comments, which professor Sayce referred to, are as follows:
The name of Baal-zephon, which (as the eminent Egyptologist Mr. Goodwin has discovered) is met with in one of the papyri of the British Museum under its Egyptian orthography, Baali-zapouna, denotes a divinity whose attribute is not difficult to recognize. According to the extremely curious indications furnished by the Egyptian texts on this point, the god Baal-zephon, the 'Lord of the North,' represented UNDER HIS SEMITIC NAME the Egyptian god Amon, the great bird-catcher who frequents the lagoons, the lord of the northern districts, and especially of the marshes, to whom the inscriptions expressly give the title LORD OF KHIROT, that is 'gulfs' of the lagoons of papyrus. The Greeks, after their manner, compared him with one of their corresponding divine types, and thus it was that the god Amon of the lagoons was represented, from the time of the visits made to this region by the Greeks, under the new form of a 'ZEUS KASIOS (Casius)'. The geographical epithet of Casius, given to this Zeus, is explained by the Semitic-Egyptian name of the REGION WHERE HIS TEMPLE WAS BUILT. This is HAZI or HAZION, that is, 'THE LAND OF ASYLUM,' a name which perfectly suits the position of A SANCTUARY SITUATED AT THE MOST ADVANCED POINT OF THE EGYPTIAN FRONTIER TOWARDS THE EAST. -- Ibid., p. 393f.
It should be stressed that HAZION -- "THE LAND OF THE ASYLUM" -- is none other than the land of Midian! Midian was the FIRST PLACE of asylum going east from Egypt. Anyone escaping the political influence of Egypt, such as Moses and Sinuhe, had to reach MIDIAN, where they would be safe.
Clearly, there were TWO BAAL ZEPHONS!
The ancient authors were aware of this. Pliny the Elder, noted Roman scholar of the 1st century A.D., writes that "beyond the Pelusiac arm of the Nile lies ARABIA, extending to the Red Sea as well as to that rich land known as Beata (the Happy), from which various fragrances are conveyed. This country is barren, except at the spot where it TOUCHES THE SYRIAN FRONTIERS; IT IS RENOWNED ONLY FOR MOUNT CASIUS. It is named after the Catabanian, Esbonitan, and Scenitan ARABS." (Nat. Hist., V, 65).
Diodorus Siculus, the 1st century B.C. Greek historian, states that "this entrance [to the Gulf of Aqaba] is dominated by a rock projecting into the sea....IN THIS REGION IS A TEMPLE WHICH IS REVERENCED BY ALL ARABS." (Bibl. Hist., III, 34f).
In commenting on this statement of Diodorus', Alois Musil adds: "The entrance to the gulf of the Banizomeneis [Gulf of Aqaba] was probably between the island of Taran and Ras al-Kasba. THE TEMPLE which is revered by all the Arabs and to which Diodorus refers is perhaps identical either with the SANCTUARY NEAR MADIAN [MIDIAN] or RWAFA, SITUATED TO THE EAST OF THE GULF [OF AQABA]." (The Northern Hegaz: A Topographical Itinerary, p. 304).
Once again Naville CAME CLOSE to this understanding; and once again he MISSED THE POINT: "We have now the landmarks of the camping ground of the Israelites: on the north-west Pi-hahiroth, Pikerehet, not very far from Pithom; on the south-east Migdol...in front of them the sea; and opposite, ON THE ASIATIC SIDE, ON SOME HILL...Baal Zephon." It is truly amazing how a man can come so close to the truth, yet be blinded by some personal intransigence.
The discovery of Baal Zephon on the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqaba -- in the land of Midian -- shows that the LAND OF SUCCOTH had to be in the Sinai peninsula.
The Ancient Region of An
Another important clue to the location of Succoth is found in Naville's book, where he places the EIGHTH NOME OF EGYPT, which we have seen to be the land of Succoth, right NEXT to the Gulf of Aqaba!
Notice what he says:
Strabo speaks of ARABIA as the land extending between the gulf and the Nile. this name, which was evidently imported from abroad, means first a vague region WHICH WAS CONTIGUOUS TO ARABIA PROPER; THROUGH WHICH lay the way to it; and which was very possibly inhabited by a population of the SAME RACE. The Greeks speak of a NOME OF ARABIA, just as on the western side there was a nome of Libya. the Arabian nome derived its name from ITS VICINITY TO ARABIA. I believe that the name of the EGYPTIAN REGION, CALLED ARABIA, exists in the hieroglyphics, and that it has been transcribed in Egyptian by two words which have a certain likeness in sound to the Semitic word. Arabia would be THE EASTERN DOOR 'to ab'. Osiris, who on the tablet of Philadelphos immediately follows the god Tum, is called the LORD OF ARABIA, or rather of the Arabian city. In two texts of Denderah, he is addressed in these words: THOU ART IN PITHOM OF ARABIA; and again, THOU ART IN PITHOM OF ARABIA, living like the living God. -- The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, p. 8.
If PITHOM was in the land of Succoth, as we have seen, and Succoth was the EIGHTH NOME of Egypt, then obviously this ARABIA -- THE EASTERN DOOR -- occupied the same region as Succoth!
Naville goes on to PROVE this by referring to another ancient name for the EIGHTH NOME:
Lastly, we meet with another name which seems to be very ANCIENT, and which belongs to a LARGE REGION, the boundaries of which are not well marked [in the inscriptions]; it is the REGION OF AN. Sometimes, as on the statue of Ankh renp nefer, it is Tum who is lord of An; GENERALLY IT IS HATHOR WHO IS THE GODDESS OF THIS COUNTRY. This name is found in the lists as referring to the TERRITORY OF THE EIGHTH NOME, THE NOME OF PITHOM, and M. Brugsch has recognized in it [the word AN] THE AAEANT QUOTED BY PLINY. The learned Roman says that the Arabs call AAEANT the gulf of the RED SEA....(Ibid., p. 8).
And WHERE was this "AAEANT" quoted by Pliny? "AQABA, GULF OF, the SINUS AELANITICUS of antiquity, the EASTERN of the two northern arms of the Red Sea" -- so says the Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. II. 1943, p. 156.
Pliny locates it clearly in his Natural History: "The lie of the land is as follows: on leaving the LAEANITIC GULF there is another gulf the Arabic name of which is Aeas, on which is the town of Heroon."
Any geographer or archaeologist will tell you that Heroon was located on the Gulf of Suez, so the LAEANITIC GULF had to be the GULF OF AQABA!!
Pliny goes on to state that on "a bay running far inland on which live the LAEANITAE, who have given it their name. Their capital is Agra, and on that BAY [GULF OF AQABA] is LAEANA, or as others call it AELANA; for the name of the bay itself has been written by our people 'LAEANITIC,' and by others 'AELANITIC,' while Artemidorus gives it as 'ALAENITIC' and Juba as 'LEANITIC.'" (Natural History, translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1947, p. 455).
The reason the REGION OF AN -- THE LAND OF SUCCOTH, THE EIGHTH NOME OF EGYPT -- received this name was because it was LOCATED ON THE LAEANITIC GULF, THE GULF OF AQABA! Therefore, the Sinai peninsula was the Biblical Succoth and the Suket of the Egyptian inscriptions.
In addition to this, the goddess HATHOR, the principal deity of the land of Succoth, was the principal goddess of the mining regions of the Sinai.
Etham and Atuma!
Finally, I present further proof, from the pen of Edouard Naville, that clinches the identification of Succoth with the Sinai peninsula:
Another reason which induces me to think that Etham is a REGION, and not a city, is that in the Book of Numbers we read of the WILDERNESS OF ETHAM, in which the Israelites march three days AFTER having crossed the [Red] sea. This desert, then, would have extended very far south of the city from which it derived its name; and one does not see how Etham, an Egyptian city, would have given its name to a desert inhabited by a Semitic population, and the GREATEST PART OF WHICH WAS ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE SEA.
I believe, therefore, ETHAM TO BE THE REGION OF ATUMA....(The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus, p. 24).
Since Atuma was the land of EDOM, on the EASTERN side of the Gulf of Aqaba, then Etham was also on the EASTERN side of this gulf; and the Sinai peninsula must have been the land of Succoth!!
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