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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Baal-Zephon

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(Hebrews Ba'al Tsephon', בִּעִל צְפֹון , place of Typhon; Sept. Βεελσεπφῶν or Βεελσεπφίον, Josephus Βελσεφών , Ant. 2, 15, 1), a town belonging to Egypt, on the border of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:2; Numbers 33:7). Forster (Epist. ad J. D. Michaelem, p. 28) believes it to have been the same place as Heroopolis ( ῾Ηρωώπολις ), on the western gulf of the Red Sea (Pliny, Hist. Nat. v. 12; Strabo, 17, p. 836; Ptolem. 4:5), where Typhon (which Forster makes in Coptic ΔΩΨΩΝ ; but, contra, see Rosenmü ller, Alterthum, 3, 261), the evil genius of the Egyptians, was worshipped. (See BAALIM). But, according to Manetho (Josephus contra Apion. 1, 26), the name of Typhon's city was Avaris (Αὔαρις ), which some, as Champollion (who writes ΟΥΑΡΙ, and renders "causing malediction;" L'Egypte suos les Pharaons, 2, 87 sq.), consider, wrongly, to be the same place, the stronghold of the Hyksos, both which places were connected with Typhon (Steph. Byz. s.v. ῾Ηρώ). Avaris cannot be Heroopolis, for geographical reasons. (Compare, as to the site of Avaris, Brugsch, Geograph'sche Inschriften, 1, 86 sq.; as to that of Heroopolis, Lepsius, Chron. d',Egypt. 1, 344 sq., and 342, against the two places being the same.) In fact, nothing is known of the situation of Baal-zephon except what is connected with a consideration of the route taken by the Israelites in leaving Egypt, for it was "over against Baal-zephon" that they were encamped before they passed the Red Sea. The supposition that identifies its site with Jebel Deraj or Kulalah, the southern barrier of the mouth of the valley leading from Cairo to the Red Sea, is as likely as any other. (See EXODE). From the position of Goshen, and the indications afforded by the narrative of the route of the Israelites, Baal-zephon must have been on the western shore of the Gulf of Suez, a little below its head, which at that time, however, has been located by some many miles northward of the present head. (See GOSHEN); (See RED SEA, PASSAGE OF).

Its position with respect to the other places mentioned with it is clearly indicated. The Israelites encamped before or at Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-zephon, according to Exodus (Exodus 14:2; Exodus 14:9), while in Numbers Pi-hahiroth is described as being before Baal-zephon; and it is said that when the people came to the former place they pitched before Migdol (Numbers 33:7); and again, that afterward they departed from before Pi-hahiroth, here in Hebrews Hahiroth (Hebrews 5:8). Migdol and Baal-zephon must therefore have been opposite to one another, and the latter behind Pi-hahiroth, with reference to the Israelites. Baal-zephon was perhaps a well-known place, if, as seems likely, it is always mentioned to indicate the position of Pi-hahiroth, which we take to be a natural locality. (See PI-HAHIROTH).

The name has been supposed to mean "sanctuary of Typhon," or "sacred to Typhon," an etymology approved by Gesenius (Thes. Heb. p. 225), but not by Furst (Hebrews Handw. s.v.). Zephon would well enough correspond in sound to Typhon, had we any ground for considering the latter name to be either Egyptian or Semitic; and even then Zephon in Baal-zephon might not be its Hebrew transcription, inasmuch as it is joined with the Hebrew form בִּעִל . Hence many connect Baal-zephon, as a Hebrew compound, with the root צָפָה, to spy, as if it were named from a watchtower on the frontier like the neighboring מַגְדֹּל, "the tower." It is noticeable that the name of the son of Gad, called Ziphion (צַפְיוֹן ) in Genesis 46:16, is written Zephon (צְפוֹן ) in Numbers 26:15. Kitto; Smith.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Baal-Zephon'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/b/baal-zephon.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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