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MAP  OF GOSHEN 1493 BCE

 The map below depicts Goshen as I think it may have looked in the time of Moses. Of course there are no scriptural or historical evidences of where the tribes of Israel lived while in Goshen, so I have used my imagination to place ten of the tribes. Traditional non-scriptural sources suggest Levites were priests, as they were in later times, with no definitive homeland. I believe Joseph moved from Goshen to Memphis after his father died, taking his family with him. There they remained until close to the Exodus. During this time the language of his descendents evolved differently from the other tribes until it reached a point where they were unable to pronounce certain Hebrew words the same as other Israelites.  Judges 12:6 supports this idea. 

 

Of course there are other points on the map that have valid historical or biblical basis. They Include:

 

MAFKAT (Sinai Peninsula). Egyptians call this land Mafkat for the turquoise it produced. Since the biblical Sinai was clearly outside of Egypt and Mafkat was considered an integral part of that country for 1500 years before the Exodus, the holy mountain could not be in Mafkat. My take on its true location and how it got its name (based on good sources) is revealed in the forthcoming part 2 (Son of Nethanel) of the novel, Moses of Avaris. Remember that 'mountain' in the Bible may refer to a spiritual mountain rather than a physical one; a 'mountain' that is spiritually closer to heaven than the flat plain of our everyday lives.

 

CANAL OF AMENEMHET. Amenemhet I was the founder of the Twelfth dynasty and ruled Egypt from 1991 to 1962 BCE. Fearing invasion by the Hebrews from the east, he built a primary defensive wall (shur) and a secondary defensive canal. It is unsure of the exact location of the canal but it apparently was close to the path of the present Suez Canal. Like its modern counterpart it used existing lakes as part of its structure. It ran from the Great Sea of the north to the Great Bitter Lake which was then part of the Gulf of Suez or Near Sea on the map. In the centuries after Amenemhet, the land rose a bit and by the time of Moses the area south of the Bitter Lakes was probably a salt marsh, which could only be crossed with difficulty. There was only one bridge across the canal and it ran through the fortress of Sile, which meant that Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob had to pass through this stronghold on the way to Egypt proper.

 

NEAR SEA. The ancient Hebrew texts of the Old Testament state the water across which Israel walked on dry ground was Yam Suf (Suph). Yam is translated to Sea in English. Suf in modern Hebrew means Reed. However one researcher claims an archaic meaning of Suf is 'furthest away' or the last one you will find before falling off the edge of the earth. I used this definition as the valid one. The Hebrews in Goshen were aware of two seas east of them, the Yam Suf (Gulf of Aquaba) and the body of water I call the Near Sea (Gulf of Suez).  

 

CALEB-EPHRATAH. Mentioned in I Chronicles 2:24. Ephrath (Ephratah) is the feminine form of Ephraim. They both mean 'fruitful'. I know of only two geographic locations in the Bible named after women. The other is Ephrath (Bethlehem) whom I think was named after Rachael, wife of Israel. These must have been very important and powerful women. Jewish tradition states that Hur (I Chronicles 2:19), the son of Caleb and Ephrath married Miriam, sister of Moses. Hur then became a member of the leadership triad of Israel (Moses, Aaron, Hur). The story of the marriage of Hur and Miriam is contained in part 2 - The Son of Nethanel.

 

SUCCOTH. This was the gathering place for Israel at the beginning of the Exodus. The Lord gave Israel seven days after the Passover to get there as fast as they could from all over Goshen (Ramses as it is sometimes referred to in Genesis and Exodus). On the night of the Passover, they were already dressed and ate their meal staff in hand, ready to go at a moments notice. They could not take the time to even leaven their daily bread. This suggests they travelled both day and night. Since the night was generally clear at that time of year and they had the full moon for light, night travel would have been possible. Much dispute rages about where Succoth was located. Debate even rages over the meaning of the word. The most popular definition is 'booth' or temporary shelter. This makes sense since the Israelites were there only a day or so after the assembly. Temporary shelters leave scant remains for archeologists so it is doubtful that science will uncover the site. A second definition of Succoth is to block, stop the approach, shut off, or cover as in block the approach of the Egyptian army. Logic tells me that Succoth must have been just outside Goshen. It must be within seven days forced march from any point in Goshen. It must have some mechanism to slow the advance of the Egyptian chariots and cavalry. My map puts it just east of the salty marsh south of the Bitter Lakes. The Israelites, mostly on foot, could cross the marsh but Pharaoh's chariots would get bogged down. It was also far away from the fortress of Sile with its garrison of chariots.

 

PITHOM. A treasure city mentioned in the Bible. Several sites have been proposed by various archeologists, but in each case their seems to be strong evidence the sites were unoccupied at the time of the Exodus. My guess, as shown on the map, is that Pharaoh wanted some of the plunder from Canaan to be transported by ship (much easier than ox-cart, camel, or donkey); thus it would seem logical to build a treasure city on the coast, hence the location shown.           

 


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