PITHOM (Egyptian Per Atum, "House of the god Atum"), a city mentioned once in the Bible (Ex. 1:11) as one of the two treasury cities (see also *Ramses) which the Israelites were forced to build for Pharaoh. The identification of Pithom with the site of Tell el-Maskhutah near the eastern end of the Wadi Tumilat has been accepted for many years by a large number of scholars despite the lack of any definite evidence that the town located there, Tjeku (= biblical Succoth?), was called Pithom (Per Atum) earlier than the Egyptian 22nd Dynasty (c. 945–730 B.C.E.) or that Ramses II, the supposed pharaoh of the bondage, had built a completely new city there (as implied in Ex. 1:11). The 19th-Dynasty Egyptian text mentioning the "pools of Per-Atum of Merneptah which are in Tjeku" (Papyrus Anastasi IV, 4:56) may or may not refer to this city. An alternative identification of the site as Tell er-Ratabeh, about 22 miles west of Ismailia, has also been proposed and has been accepted by some. The most recent and most convincing identification depends on the Egyptians' use of Per (literally "house") in a wider, administrative context as the large
E.P. Uphill, in: JNES, 27 (1968), 291–316; 28 (1969), 15–39.
[Alan Richard Schulman]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.