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BAAL-ZEPHON (Heb. בַּעַל צְפֹן), a location, perhaps a sanctuary, in Egypt which, according to the Bible, the Israelites passed during the *Exodus from Egypt (Ex. 14:2, 9; Num. 33:7). Presumably the toponym takes its name from the god Baal Zephon known from texts beginning in the early second millennium B.C.E. and continuing well into the first. Scholars disagree as to the site of Baal-Zephon and locate it according to their view of the route that the Bible claims was followed by the Israelites when they departed from Egypt. Those who assume that a southern passage was meant suggest Jebel Abu Ḥasan, 8 mi. (13 km.) N. of Suez, which is identified with a Migdal Baal-Zephon mentioned in a papyrus from the Hellenistic period (Cairo papyrus 31169). Others who prefer a northern route identify Baal-Zephon with the sanctuary of Zeus Casius, which is known of from the fifth century B.C.E. onward in the vicinity of the Serbonic Lake (Baḥr al-Bardawīl, the "Reed Sea," according to this theory). Since another mountain called Mons Casius (Jebel Aqra on the Syrian coast) was known in earlier times as Baal-Zephon, it is consequently assumed that the southern Baal-Zephon was also called Casius. The site is identified with a hillock on the western extremity of the lake called Maḥmūdiyya. W.F. Albright has identified Baal-Zephon with the Egyptian port Taḥpanḥes (Daphne). A survey in 1967 directed by M. Dothan has identified Baal-Zephon with Ras Kasrun near the Serbonic Lake; the survey also identified it as the site of the Hellenistic-Roman city of Casius.


O. Eissfeldt, Baal Zaphon… (Ger., 1932); Bourdon, in: RB, 41 (1932), 541ff.; Albright, in: BASOR, 118 (1950), 17; EM, 2 (1965), 291–2; Aharoni, Land, 179; M. Dothan, in: Eretz-Israel, 9 (1969), 48–59. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Niehr, DDD, 152–54.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.