light; the sun, (Ge 41:45,50), the great seat of sun-worship, called also Bethshemesh (Jer 43:13) and Aven (Eze 30:17), stood on the east bank of the Nile, a few miles north of Memphis, and near Cairo, in the north-east. The Vulgate and the LXX. Versions have "Heliopolis" ("city of the sun") instead of On in Genesis and of Aven in Ezekiel. The "city of destruction" Isaiah speaks of (Isa 19:18, marg. "of Heres;" Heb 'Ir-ha-heres, which some MSS. read Ir-ha-heres, i.e., "city of the sun") may be the name given to On, the prophecy being that the time will come when that city which was known as the "city of the sun-god" shall become the "city of destruction" of the sun-god, i.e., when idolatry shall cease, and the worship of the true God be established.
In ancient times this city was full of obelisks dedicated to the sun. Of these only one now remains standing. "Cleopatra's Needle" was one of those which stood in this city in front of the Temple of Tum, i.e., "the sun." It is now erected on the Thames Embankment, London.
It was at On that Joseph wooed and won the dark-skinned Asenath, the daughter of the high priest of its great temple. This was a noted university town, and here Moses gained his acquaintance with "all the wisdom of the Egyptians."
A Reubenite associated with Dathan and Abiram (Nu 16:1) [text doubtful].
1. The 'city of the Sun,' in Egypt. Poti-pherah, the father of Asenath, Joseph's wife, was priest of the city. Ge 41:45,50; 46:20. It is regarded as the same as BETH-SHEMESH in Jer 43:13, and as AVEN in Eze 30:17; and is supposed to be alluded to in Isa 19:18; see margin. Identified with the ruins of Heliopolis, 30 8' N, 31 23' E: about ten miles N.E. of Cairo. On has been found in the inscriptions as AN and AN-T.
2. Son of Peleth, a Reubenite: he joined with Korah in murmuring against Moses and Aaron. Nu 16:1. He is not mentioned after verse 1. The Jews say he separated from the guilty company and was saved.
the son of Peleth and one of the chiefs of the tribe of Reuben, who took part with Korah, Dathan and Abiram in their revolt against Moses.
(B.C. 1491.) His name does not again appear in the narrative of the conspiracy, nor is he alluded to when reference is made to the final catastrophe.
ON, or AVEN, a city of Egypt, situated in the land of Goshen, on the east of the Nile, and about five miles from the modern Cairo. It was called Heliopolis by the Greeks, and Bethshemeth by the Hebrews, Jer 43:13; both of which names, as well as its Egyptian one of On, imply the city or house of the sun. The inhabitants of this city are represented by Herodotus as the wisest of the Egyptians; and here Moses resided, and received that education which made him "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." But notwithstanding its being the seat of the sciences, such were its egregious idolatries, that it was nicknamed Aven, or Beth-Aven, "the house of vanity," or idolatry, by the Jews. A village standing on part of its site, at the present day, is called Matarea; while the spring of excellent water, or fountain of the sun, which is supposed to have given rise to the city, is still called Ain Shems, or fountain of the sun, by the Arabs. This is one of the most ancient cities of the world of which any distinct vestige can now be traced. It was visited eighteen hundred and fifty years ago by Strabo, whose description proves it to have been nearly as desolate then as now. Most of the ruins of this once famous city, described by that geographer, are buried in the accumulation of the soil: but that which marks its site, and is, perhaps, the most ancient work at this time existing in the world, in a perfect state, is a column of red granite, seventy feet high, and covered with hieroglyphics. Dr. E. D. Clarke has given a very good representation of this column; to whom, also, the curious reader is referred for a learned dissertation on the characters engraved upon it.
The city On, according to Josephus, was given to the Israelites to dwell in, when they first went into Egypt; and it was a daughter of a priest of the temple of the sun at this place, who was given in marriage to Joseph by Pharaoh. Here, also, in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, leave was obtained of that king by Onias, high priest of the Jews, to build a temple, when dispossessed of his office by Antiochus; which was long used by the Hellenist Jews. It was predicted by Jer 43:13, and by Eze 30:17, that this place, with its temples and inhabitants, should be destroyed; which was probably fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar. See NOPH.