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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

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Rami B. Ezekiel
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  1. Egyptian city; one of the "treasure cities" built by the Israelites in their servitude (Exodus 1:11: "Raamses"); the point from which they started on their journey through the wilderness (Exodus 12:37). Further, the northeast division of Egypt contained a region known as the "land of Rameses" (Genesis 47:11). There the migrating Israelites were settled, "in the land of Goshen" (Genesis 46:34, 47:4, et al.). The addition of the Septuagint to Genesis 46:28—"to the city Heroopolis," preceding the words "into the land of Goshen"—seems to include the city of Pithom (Heropolis, Heroo[n]polis) in this region, while the passages concerning Rameses as the starting-point of the Exodus extend its boundary so far to the east that "land of Goshen" and "land of Rameses" would seem to be synonymous. The latter name seems to be derived from the famous King Rameses II., who, by digging a canal and founding cities, extended the cultivable land of Goshen, formerly limited to the country at the mouth of the modern Wadi Ṭumilat, over the whole valley to the Bitter Lakes. Less probable is it that the "land of Rameses" is to be limited to that part of the region that was newly colonized by Rameses II.The city of Rameses betrays its builder and the date of its foundation by its name; from Exodus 12:37 and Numbers 33:8,5 it may be concluded that it was situated one day's journey west of Succoth—the modern Tell al-Maskhutah or its vicinity. Consequently it ought to be not far from the entrance into the Wadi Ṭumilat, near the modern Tell al-Kabir. There is, however, so far, no epigraphic support for this assumption, and the various ruins identified with Rameses (Tell Abu Sulaiman; Tell al-Maskhutah; see above for its identity with Succoth) have not confirmed it. The inscriptions of Rameses II. mention various colonies—one being called "House of Rameses," in Nubia, not far from Tanis—but only once such a city in or near Goshen. This place, where, in the twenty-first year of Rameses II., the treaty of peace and alliance between Egypt and the Hittites was made, was probably the Biblical Rameses; but an exact determination of its situation can not yet be furnished (comp. Naville, "The Store-City of Pithom and the Route of the Exodus," 1884).
  2. Egyptian king; the founder of the city of Rameses and of Pithom (comp. Exodus 1:11), who would, consequently, seem to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This king, the second of his name (Egyptian, Ra'mes-su; Ra'-mes-es), and the third ruler of the Egyptian dynasty, succeeded his father, Sethos I., in early youth and reigned for almost sixty-sevenyears. Concerning him, under the name Sesostris (possibly confounded with a king of the twelfth dynasty), the Greek writers tell stories of great conquests in Asia, Europe, and Africa; the monuments narrate, however, that he waged only one serious war, that with the Hittite empire, in Asia Minor and Syria, and that this long war, followed by a marriage with the daughter of the "great king of the Hittites," had no other result than to confirm him in the possession of his modest inheritance—Palestine and half of Phenicia. The frequent representations of the same few victories, especially that at Ḳadesh on the Orontes (celebrated also in a lengthy epic erroneously ascribed to Pentaur), seem to have given to later generations a false impression of Rameses' achievements. The king was quantitatively the greatest Egyptian builder, and the Ramesseum (called the tomb of Osymandyas by Diodorus, after the second, official name of Rameses II., User-ma' [t]n-rê'), with its colossal statues, the temples at Luxor, Abydos, Abu Simbel in Nubia, etc., belongs to the grandest constructions of ancient Egypt; many other monuments, however, were only usurped by this indefatigable builder. The colonization of Goshen and the digging of canals from the Nile to the Bitter Lakes (but hardly to the Red Sea!) formed another great monument of this Pharaoh. His sepulcher is in the valley of the royal tombs at Thebes; his mummy is in the museum of Cairo.
E. C.
W. M. M.
Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Rameses'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​r/rameses.html. 1901.
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