The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
A place in the wilderness where the Israelites encamped when they turned back from Etham. It lay between Migdol and the sea "before Baal-zephon" (Exodus 14:2,9 Numbers 33:7,8 ). The etymology of the name, which is apparently Egyptian, was the subject of much speculation by the ancient commentators. The Septuagint, while treating the word as a proper name in Numbers (Ε ἰ ρ ό ϑ translating, however, by σ τ ό μ α ), translates it in Exodus by τ ῆ ς ἐ π α ύ λ ε ω ς (="sheepfold" or" farm-building"), thus reading in the Hebrew text . The Mekilta (Beshallaḥ , Wayeḥ 1:1) identifies the place with Pithom, which was called Pi-hahiroth (= "the mouth of freedom") after the Israelites had been freed from bondage, the place itself being specified as a valley between two high rocks. The Targum of pseudo-Jonathan (ad loc. ), while following the Mekilta in the interpretation of "Pi-hahiroth," identifies the place with Tanis.
The theory of an Egyptian etymology was advanced by Jablonsky, who compared it to the Coptic "pi-akhirot" = "the place where sedge grows," and by Naville, who explained the name as "the house of the goddess Ḳ erhet." On the basis of this latter explanation, Fulgence Fresnel identified Pihahiroth with the modern Ghuwaibat al-Bus (="the bed of reeds"), near Ras Atakah.
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