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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Pithom

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(Heb. Pithom', פַּתֹם , meaning, if of Heb. derivation, mouth of Thom; but the word is probably Egyptian, meaning the [city of] Thomei [justice]; Sept. Πειθώμ, v.r. Πειθώ ), one of the store-cities built by the Israelites for the first oppressor, the Pharaoh "which knew not Joseph" (Exodus 1:11). In the Heb. these cities are two, Pithom and Raamses; the Sept. adds On as a third. It is probable that Pithom lay in the most eastern part of Lower Egypt, like Raamses, if, as is reasonable, we suppose the latter to be the Rameses mentioned elsewhere, and that the Israelites were occupied in public works within or near to the land of Goshen. (See RAAMSES).

Herodotus mentions a town called Patumus, Πάτουμος, which seems to be the same as the Thoum or Thou of the Itinerary of Antoninus, probably the military station Thohu of the Notitia. Whether or not Patumus be the Pithomn of Scripture, there can be little doubt that the name is identical. The first part is the same as in Bu-bastis and Bu-siris, either the definite article masculine or a possessive pronoun, unless indeed, with Brugsch, we read the Egyptian word "abode" pa, and suppose that it commences these names. (See PIBESETH).

The second part appears to be the name of Atum or Tuur, a divinity worshipped at On, or Heliopolis, as well as Ra, both being forms of the sun, (See ON), and it is noticeable that Thoum or Thou was very near the Heliopolite nome, and perhaps more anciently within it, and that a monument at Abu-Kesheid shows that the worship of Heliopolis extended along the valley of the canal of the Red Sea. As we find Thoum and Patumus and Rameses in or near to the land of Goshen, there can be no reasonable doubt that we have here a correspondence to Pithom and Raamses, and the probable connection in both cases with Heliopolis confirms the conclusion. It is remarkable that the Coptic version of Genesis 46:28 mentions Pithom for, or instead of, the Heroopolis of the Sept. Whether Patumus and Thoum be the same, and the position of one or both, have yet to be determined, before we can speak positively as to the Pithom of Exodus. Herodotus places Patumus in the Arabian nome upon the canal of the Red Sea (2, 48). The Itinerary of Antoninus puts Thou fifty Roman miles from Heliopolis, and forty-eight from Pelusium; but this seems too far north for Patumus, and also for Piuthom, if that place were near Heliopolis, as its name and connection with Raamses seem to indicate. It was twelve miles from Vicus Judseorum, according to the Itinerary. It must therefore have been somewhere over against Wady Tlmilat, or the valley of Thom, or near the mouth of that valley, and not far from Pi- beseth or Bubastis, now called Tell Basta. Tell el-Kebir, or "the Great Heap," which is a little to the south of it, may perhaps be the site of ancient Pithom. Heroopolis, which had so long disappeared, and had almost become mythical, may, after all, be the same as Pithom. Heroopolis, according to Ptolemy, lay at the extremity of Trajan's canal, i.e. its eastern extremity, where it joined or approached the more ancient canal of Pharaoh Necho, possibly at or within the mouth of this valley, and, according to Manetho, not far from the Bubastic branch of the Nile. Most writers' however, regard the ruins at Abut-Kesheid as marking the site of Heroopolis. Accordingly the scholars who accompanied the French expedition place Pithom on the site of the present Abhaseh, at the entrance of the Wady Tumilat, where there was at all times a strong military post. See Hengstenberg, Die Biicher Moses und Aegypten; Du Bois Ayme, in Descript. de l'Eyypte, 11, 377; 18:1, 372; Champollion, L'Egypte sous les Pharaons, 1, 172; 2, 58. (See GOSHEN).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Pithom'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/p/pithom.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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