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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Rameses

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(Heb. Rameses', רִעְמְסֵס ; Sept. ῾Ραμεσσῆ v. r. ῾Ραμεσσής ), or Raam'ses (Heb. Raamses', רִעִמְסֵס, only in Exodus 1:11; Sept. ῾Ραμεσσῆ ), the name of a city (Exodus 1:11; Exodus 12:37; Numbers 33:3; Numbers 33:5) and district (Genesis 47:11) in Lower Egypt. There can be no reasonable doubt that the same city is designated by the Rameses and Raamses of the Hebrew text, and that this was the chief place of the land of Rameses, all the passages referring to the same region. The name is Egyptian, the same as that of several kings of the empire, of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth dynasties. In Egyptian it is written Rameses or Ramses, it being doubtful whether the short vowel understood occurs twice or once: the first vowel is represented by a sign which usually corresponds to the Hebrew in Egyptian transcriptions of Hebrew names, and Hebrew of Egyptian. The name means Son of the Sun, such titles being common with the ancient kings of Egypt, one of whom was probably the founder of the city. (See EGYPT).

The first mention of Rameses is in the narrative of the settling by Joseph of his father and brethren int. Egypt, where it is related that a possession was given them "in the land of Rameses" (Genesis 47:11). This land of Rameses (אֶרֶוֹ רִעְמְסֵס ) either corresponds to the land of Goshen, or was a district of it, more probably the former, as appears from a comparison of a par-allel passage (Genesis 47:6). The name next occurs as that of one of the two cities built for the Pharaoh who first oppressed the children of Israel. "And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities (עָרֵי מַסְבְּנוֹת ), Pithom and Ramses" (Exodus 1:11). So in the A.V. The Sept, however, reads πόλεις ὀχυράς, and the Vulg. turbes tabernaculorum, as if the root had been

שָׁכִן . The signification of the word מַסְכְּנוֹת is decided by its use for storehouses of corn, wine, and oil, which Hezekiah had (2 Chronicles 32:28). We should therefore here read store-cities, which may have been the meaning of our translators. The name of Pithom indicates the region near Heliopolis, and therefore the neighborhood of Goshen, or that tract itself; and there can therefore be no doubt that Raamses is "Rameses in the land of Goshen. "In the narrative of the Exode we read of Rameses at the starting-point of the journey (Exodus 12:37; see also Numbers 33:3; Numbers 33:5). (See GOSHEN).

If, then, we suppose Rameses or Ramses to have been the chief town of the land of Rameses, either Goshen itself or a district of it, we have to endeavor to determine its situation. Lepsius supposes that Abu-Kesheid is on the site of Rameses. His reasons are that: in the Sept. Heroopolis is placed in the land of Rameses (καθ᾿ ῾Ηρώων πόλιν, ἐν γῇ ῾Ραμεσσῇ, or εἰς γῆν ῾Ραμεσσῆ ), in a passage where the Hebrew only mentions "the land of Goshen" (Genesis 46:28), and that there is a monolithic group at Abu-Kesheid representing Tum and Ra, and between them Rameses II, who was probably there worshipped. There would seem, therefore, to be an indication of the situation of the district and city from this mention of Heroipolis, and the statue of Rameses might mark a place named after that king. It must, however, be remembered

(a) that the situation of Heroopolis is a matter of great doubt, and that therefore we can scarcely take any proposed situation as an indication of that of Rameses;

(b) that the land of Rameses may be that of Goshen, as already remarked, in which case the passage would not afford anv more precise indication of the position of the city Rameses than that it was in Goshen, as is evident from the account of the Exodus; and

(c) that the mention of Heroipolis in the Sept. would seem to be a gloss. It is also necessary to consider the evidence in the Biblical narrative of the position of Rameses, which seems to point to the western part of the land of Goshen, since two full marches, and part at least of a third, brolught the Israelites from this town to the Red Sea; and the narrative appears to indicate a route for the chief part directly towards the sea. After the second day's journey they "encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness" (Exodus 13:20), and on the third day they appear to have turned. If, however, Rameses was where Lepsius places it, the route would have been almost wholly through the wilderness, and mainly along the tract bordering the Red Sea in a southerly direction, so that they would have turned almost at once. Even could it be proved that it was anciently called Rameses, the case would not be made out, for there is good reason to suppose that many cities in Egypt bore this name. Apart from the ancient evidence, we mav mention that there is now a place called "Remsees" or "Ramsecs" in the Boheireh (the great province on the west of the Rosetta branch of the Nile), mentioned in the list of towns and villages of Egypt in De Sacy's Abd-allatif; p. 664. It gave to its district the name of "Hof-Remsees" or "Ramsees."

This "Hof" must not be confounded with the "Hof" commonly known, which was in the district of Belbeis. Smith. Of the old translators, only Saadias and Pseudo-Jonathan point out a place for Rameses; the rest all preserve the name from the Hebrew (comp. Arab. of Erpen, On Exodus 1:11). Saadias gives Heliopolis; Jonathan, Pelusiom. The latter is certainly wrong; the former is supported by Jablonski (Opusc. ii, 136), on the ground of a Coptic etymology. But Heliopolis, which Tischendorf also (Reis. i, 175, and Dissert. cde Isr. per Matre Rub. Trans. p. 15 sq.) makes to be Raamses, is elsewhere always called On (q.v.), and is expressly distinguished from Rameses by the Sept. (Exodus 1:11; here the Cod. Mediolan. reads indeed καὶ ῎Ων, but this amounts to nothing against the Hebrew text). Others (as Hengstenberg, Moses, p. 48 sq.; Ewald, Isr. Gesch. ii, 52 sq.; Forbiger, Handb. ii, 784) understand Heroopolis (comp. Sept. at Genesis 46:28; where, however, the region of Raamses is spoken of, as above, and it is only asserted that Heroopolis lay in this district). To the same purpose is the view of Clericus, Lakemacher (Observ. Philol. 6:321 sq.), and Muller (Satur. Observ. Philol. p. 189) that Rameses is Avaris (Gr. Avaplt, "Ataplt), in the Saitic (or, according to Bernard's plausible emendation, the Sethrotic) district (Ptolemy, 4:5, 53), a place fortified by Salatis, the king of the Hyksos (Josephus, Apion, i, 14, 26; comp. Michaelis, Suppl. p. 2261). For Avaris (according to Manetho, in Josephus, Apion, i, 26) is the city of Typhon, and this is probably Heroopolis itself (comp. Rosenmuller, Alterth. iii, 261; Ewald, ii, 53) Winer. The location of Rameses is doubtless indicated by the present Tell Ramsis, a quadrangular mound near Belbeis. (See RED SEA, PASSAGE OF).

An argument for determining under what dynasty the Exode happened has been founded on the name Rameses, which has been supposed to indicate a royal buildel. (See PHARAOH). We need only say that the highest date to which Rameses I can be reasonably assigned (B.C. 1302) is inconsistent with the true date of the Exode (B.C. 1658), although we find a prince of the same name two centuries earlier, so that the place might have taken its name either from this prince, or a yet earlier king or prince Rameses. That the last supposition is the true one seems to be established by the occurrence of the name in Genesis 47:11, as early as the time of Joseph (B.C. 1874). (See CHRONOLOGY).

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

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