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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Zo´an, an ancient city of Lower Egypt, situated on the eastern side of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. Zoan is of considerable Scriptural interest. It was one of the oldest cities in Egypt, having been built seven years after Hebron, which already existed in the time of Abraham (; comp. ). It seems also to have been one of the principal capitals, or royal abodes, of the Pharaohs (; ; ); and accordingly 'the field of Zoan,' or the fine alluvial plain around the city, is described as the scene of the marvelous works which God wrought in the time of Moses (; ). The destruction predicted in , has long since befallen Zoan. The 'field' is now a barren waste; a canal passes through it without being able to fertilize the soil; 'fire has been set in Zoan;' and the royal city is now the habitation of fishermen, the resort of wild beasts, and infested by reptiles and malignant fevers. The locality is covered with mounds of unusual height and extent, full of the fragments of pottery which such sites usually exhibit. These extend for about a mile from north to south, by about three-quarters of a mile. The area in which the sacred enclosure of the temple stood, is about 1500 feet by 1250, surrounded by the mounds of fallen houses, whose increased elevation above the site of the temple is doubtless attributable to the frequent change in the level of the houses to protect them from the inundation, and the unaltered position of the sacred buildings. There is a gateway of granite and fine grit-stone to the enclosure of this temple, bearing the name of Rameses the Great. Though in a very ruinous condition, the fragments of walls, columns, and fallen obelisks sufficiently attest the former splendor of the building to which they belonged. The obelisks are all of the time of Rameses the Great (B.C. 1355). The name of this king most frequently occurs; but the ovals of his successor Pthamen, of Osirtasen III, and of Tirhakah, have also been found. The time of Osirtasen III ascends nearly to that of Joseph, and his name, therefore, corroborates the Scriptural account of the antiquity of the town. Two black statues, and a granite sphinx, with blocks of hewn and occasionally sculptured granite, are among the objects which engage the attention of the few travelers who visit this desolate place. The modern village of San consists of mere huts, with the exception of a ruined kasr of modern date.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Zoan'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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