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Coordinates: 30°33′7″N 32°5′55″E / 30.55194°N 32.09861°E / 30.55194; 32.09861 Pithom (Hebrew: פתם‎) also called Per-Atum or Heroöpolis or Heroonopolis (Greek: Ἠοώων πόλις or Ἡρώ, Strabo xvi. 759, 768, xvii. 803, 804; Arrian, Exp. Alex. iii. 5, vii. 20; Joseph. Ant. Jud. ii. 7. § 5; Plin. v. 9. § 11, vi. 32. § 33; Mela, iii. 8; Steph. B. s. v.; Ptol. ii. 1. § 6, iv. 15. § 54), is an ancient city of Egypt known from both biblical and Ancient Greek and Roman sources.


The name

The Egyptian name, "Pithom" (Pi-Tum or Pa-Tum), means "house of Tum" [or "Atum,"], i.e., the sun-god of Heliopolis; and the Greek word "Hero" is probably a translation of "Atum."

Biblical Pithom

Pithom is one of the cities which, according to Exodus 1:11, was built for the Pharaoh of the oppression by the forced labor of the Israelites. The other city was Ramses; and the Septuagint adds a third, "On, which is Heliopolis." The meaning of the term , rendered in the Authorized Version "treasure cities" and in the Revised Version "store cities," is not definitely known. The Septuagint renders πόλεις ὀχυραί "strong [or "fortified"] cities." The same term is used of certain cities of King Solomon in I Kings 9:19 (comp. also II Chronicles 16:4).

Graeco-Roman Heroöpolis

Heroöpolis was a large city east of the Nile Delta, situated near the mouth of the Royal Canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. Although not immediately upon the coast, but nearly due north of the Bitter Lakes, Heroöpolis was of sufficient importance, as a trading station, to confer its name upon the arm of the Red Sea (Ἡρωοπολίτης κόλπος, Ptol. v. 17. § 1, Latin: Heroopoliticus Sinus) which runs up the Egyptian mainland as far as Arsinoë (near modern Suez) (κόλπος Ἡρώων); the modern Gulf of Suez. (Theophrast. Hist. Plant. iii. 8.) It was the capital of the Heroopolite nome (the 8th nome of Lower Egypt) later renamed the Arsinoite nome. (Orelli, Inscr. Lat. no. 516.)


The location of Pithom has been the subject of much conjecture and debate. In the spring of 1883 Édouard Naville believed he had identified it as the archaeological site Tell-el-Maskhuta. The site of Pithom, as identified by Naville, is to the east of Wadi Tumilat, south-west of Ismaïlia. Here was formerly a group of granite statues representing Ramesses II, two inscriptions naming Pr-Itm, storehouses and bricks made without straw. The excavations carried on by Naville for the Egypt Exploration Fund uncovered a city wall, a ruined temple, and the remains of a series of brick buildings with very thick walls and consisting of rectangular chambers of various sizes, opening only at the top and without any entrances to one another. Naville identified it as being in the region of Tjeku, the capital of the 8th Lower Egypt nome. Excavations carried out over five seasons between 1978 and 1985 have shown that Tell el-Maskhuta dates only to the end of the 7th century, and may have been built by Pharaoh Necho II, possibly as part of his uncompleted canal building project from the Nile to the Gulf of Suez. Although it was known as Pithom until Roman times, it was clearly not the Pithom of the Bible.[1]

This identification was challenged by Sir Allen Gardiner, who identified Pithom with Tell er-Rebata, an identification which was later accepted by William F. Albright.[2] More recently the Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen endorsed the identification of Pithom with Tell er-Rebata. [3] John Van Seters points out that the archeological excavations mentioned above show Tell er-Rebata to have been unoccupied during the same period when we find monuments relating to a town called Pithom.


  1. ^ Seters, John Van, "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, P. 261-262, ISBN-978-1850756507, [1]
  2. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1994). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 876. ISBN 978-0802837837.  
  3. ^ Kitchen, Kenneth A. (1999). Ramesside Inscriptions, Ramesside Inscriptions, Notes and Comments Volume II: Ramesses II, Royal Inscriptions. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 270. ISBN 978-0631184355.,M1.  

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PITHOM, one of the "treasure cities" stated to have been built for Pharaoh by the Hebrews in Goshen during the Oppression (Exod. i. 11). We have here the Hebraized form of the Egyptian Petom "House of (the sun-god) Etom," in Greek, Patumos, capital of the 8th nome of Lower Egypt and situated in the Wadi Tumilat on the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea. Succoth (Egyptian Thuket) was identical with it or was in its immediate neighbourhood. The site, now Tell el Maskhuta, has yielded several important monuments, including the best preserved of the trilingual stelae of Darius which commemorated his work on the canal. The earliest name yet found is that of Rameses II. of the XIXth Dynasty, but in one case he has usurped earlier work, apparently of the XIIth Dynasty (a sphinx), and the city was evidently very ancient. Several of the monuments from Pithom have been removed to Ismailia on the Suez Canal.

See Ed. Naville, The Store City of Pithom and the route of the Exodus (London, 1885); W. M. F. Petrie, Tanis, pt. i. (London, 1885); W. Golenischeff, "Stele de Darius" in Recueil de travaux relatifs a la philologie et l'archeologie egyptiennes et assyriennes, xiii. 99, and the article RAMESES. (F. LL. G.)

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Egyptian, Pa-Tum, "house of Tum," the sun-god, one of the "treasure" cities built for Pharaoh Rameses II. by the Israelites (Ex 1:11). It was probably the Patumos of the Greek historian Herodotus.

It has now been satisfactorily identified with Tell-el-Maskhuta, about 12 miles west of Ismailia, and 20 east of Tel-el-Kebir, on the southern bank of the present Suez Canal. In 1883 the ruins of supposed grain-chambers were discovered along with other evidences to show that this was a great "store city." Its immense ruin-heaps show that it was built of bricks, and partly also of bricks without straw.

Succoth (Ex 12:37) is supposed by some to be the secular name of this city, Pithom being its sacred name. This was the first halting-place of the Israelites in their exodus.

It has been argued (Dr. Lansing) that these "store" cities "were residence cities, royal dwellings, such as the Pharaohs of old, the Kings of Israel, and our modern Khedives have ever loved to build, thus giving employment to the superabundant muscle of their enslaved peoples, and making a name for themselves."

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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