1. The name of the tract of country in Egypt which was inhabited by the Israelites from the time of Jacob to that of Moses. It was probably the tract lying east of the Pelusian arm of the Nile, towards Arabia. See EGYPT. It appears to have reached to the Nile, Ex 1:22; 2:3, since the Jews ate fish in abundance, Nu 11:5, and "practiced artificial irrigation, De 11:10. It was near Heliopolis and Rameses, and not far from the capital of Egypt, Ge 45:10; 47:11; Ex 8-12. It was a part of "the best of the land," at least for the pastoral Hebrews, Ge 46:34, and was evidently better watered and more fertile than at present. Here they greatly multiplied and prospered, Ge 47:27, and here they were sorely afflicted, and yet not forgotten of God, Ex 8:22; 9:26. Many Egyptians dwelt among and around them.
(1.) A district in Egypt where Jacob and his family settled, and in which they remained till the Exodus (Ge 45:10; 46:28-29,31, etc.). It is called "the land of Goshen" (Ge 47:27), and also simply "Goshen" (Ge 46:28), and "the land of Rameses" (Ge 47:11; Ex 12:37), for the towns Pithom and Rameses lay within its borders; also Zoan or Tanis (Ps 78:12). It lay on the east of the Nile, and apparently not far from the royal residence. It was "the best of the land" (Ge 47:6,11), but is now a desert. It is first mentioned in Joseph's message to his father. It has been identified with the modern Wady Tumilat, lying between the eastern part of the Delta and the west border of Palestine. It was a pastoral district, where some of the king's cattle were kept (Ge 47:6). The inhabitants were not exclusively Israelites (Ex 3:22; 11:2; 12:35-36).
(3.) A town in the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:51).
1. Three Egyptian homes in the Delta, and extending over part of Goshen, bore a name beginning with ka or ga, "a bull," namely, Mnevis, worshipped at On, representing Turn the unknown source of all existence. N.E. of Lower Egypt, having the Mediterranean on N., the desert on E., the Delta and the Tanitic branch of the Nile on W. (hence called the field of Zoan or Tanis, Ps 78:12,43), extending S. to the head of the Red Sea and nearly to Memphis. Also called the land of Rameses, in which Israel built (i.e. fortified anew) for Pharaoh Raamses and Pithom as treasure cities (Ge 47:11; Ex 1:11). Joseph naturally placed his family on the border land between Egypt and Palestine, the promised land, and at the same time near himself at Tunis or else Memphis the capital of Egypt. Goshen corresponded to Wady-'t-Tumeylat.
The fresh water canal runs through it from the Nile to Ismailia. From El Wady to the head of the gulf of Suez is three days' journey, the distance assigned in Exodus. The answer of Joseph's brethren to Pharaoh (Ge 46:28,34), "thy servants have been herdsmen from our youth," (Joseph so instructing them "that ye may dwell in ... Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians,") proves that Goshen was regarded by Egyptians as scarcely Egypt proper, though having many Egyptians in it, as is recorded during the ten plagues; also foreigners. (See BERIAH.) The names of sonic places in Goshen are Semitic, as Migdol and Baal-zephon. Joseph lived under the 12th or 13th dynasty, a native not a shepherd dynasty (as Ge 46:34 proves).
Pharaoh calls Goshen "the best of the land" (Ge 47:5-11), namely, for a pastoral people as Israel; for in tillage the parts of Egypt next the Nile are more fertile than Goshen. In Goshen Pharaoh implies he kept some of his cattle, over which he proposes to set Israelites as rulers of herdsmen. The separation of Israel from the plagues marks the distinctness of the land. Israel setting out from Rameses in Goshen in two days reached the edge of the Wilderness, and in one day more the Red Sea, i.e. from Rameses (on the old canal from the Tanitic arm of the Nile to lake Timsah) 30 miles direct to the ancient western shore. The Septuagint call Goshen "Gesen of Arabia;" and Pliny "the Arabic nome" from its bordering on Arabia. Now Esh-Shurkiyeh, well intersected by canals; Egypt's best province, yielding the largest revenue.
2. A district in S. Palestine, between Gaza and Gibeon (Jos 10:41; 11:16), and a city (Jos 15:51); between the S. country (the Negeb) and the shephelah (the low hills between the mountain and plain, not as KJV "the valley ") of Judah. Doubtless named in remembrance of Israel's original place of sojourn in Egypt.
1. An unknown city in Judah (Jos 15:51) 2. An unknown territory in S. Palestine, probably the environs of No. 1 (Jos 10:41). 3. A division of Egypt in which the children of Israel were settled between Jacob's entry and the Exodus. It was a place of good pasture, on or near the frontier of Palestine, and plentiful in vegetables and fish (Nu 11:5). It cannot with exactness be defined. Jdt 1:9-10 is probably wrong in including the nomes of Tanis and Memphis in Goshen. The Septuagint reads 'Gesem of Arabia' in Ge 45:10; 46:34, elsewhere 'Gesem.' Now Arabia is defined by Ptolemy, the geographer, as an Egyptian nome on the East border of the Delta of the Nile, and this seems to be the locality most probably contemplated by the narrator. It runs eastwards from opposite the modern Zagazig (Bubastis) to the Bitter Lakes. There seems to be no Egyptian origin for the name, unless it represented Kesem, the Egyptian equivalent of Phacussa (the chief town of the nome of Arabia according to Ptolemy). It may be of Semitic origin, as is suggested by the occurrence of the name, as noticed above, outside Egyptian territory.
R. A. S. Macalister.
1. The part of Egypt in which the Israelites were located. It is often called 'the land of Goshen,' and is also termed 'the land of Rameses.' Pharaoh bade Joseph place his father and his brethren in the best of the land. It is generally supposed that Goshen was situated on the east of the ancient Delta of the Nile. Ge 45:10; 6/28'>46:28-29,34-47:1; 47:4,6,11,27; 50:8; Ex 8:22; 9:26.
3. Town in the highlands of Judah. Jos 15:51. Not identified.
1. The name of a part of Egypt where the Israelites dwelt during the whole period of their sojourn in that country. It was probably situated on the eastern border of the Nile, extending from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. It contained the treasure-cities of Rameses and Pittim. It was a pasture land, especially suited to a shepherd people, and sufficient for the Israelites, who there prospered, and were separate from the main body of the Egyptians.
2. A district in southern Palestine conquered by Joshua.
It lay between Gaza and Gibeon.
3. A town in the mountains of Judah, probably in a part of the country of Goshen.
GOSHEN. This was the most fertile pasture ground in the whole of Lower Egypt; thence called Goshen, from gush, in Arabic, signifying "a heart," or whatsoever is choice or precious. There was also a Goshen in the territory of the tribe of Judah, so called for the same reason, Jos 10:41. Hence Joseph recommended it to his family as "the best of the land," Ge 47:11, and "the fat of the land." Ge 45:18. The land of Goshen lay along the most easterly branch of the Nile, and on the east side of it; for it is evident that, at the time of the exode, the Israelites did not cross the Nile. In ancient times, the fertile land was considerably more extensive, both in length and breadth, than at present, in consequence of the general failure of the eastern branches of the Nile; the main body of the river verging more and more to the west continually, and deepening the channels on that side.