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GOSHEN (Heb. גֹּשֶׁןa), a grazing area in the N.E. of lower Egypt, east of the delta. Goshen was the residence assigned to Jacob and his family, and it was there that the Israelites lived in Egypt (Gen. 45:10; Ex. 9:26). It is currently assumed that the name is derived from the Semitic root גוש, i.e., compact, solid, and fertile land, suitable for grazing and certain types of cultivation. In the Bible Goshen is described as "the best part of the land" of Egypt (Gen. 47:6). It is also called "the land of Rameses" (Gen. 47:11) and it was probably identical with or not far from the "field of *Zoan" (Tanis; Ps. 78:12, 43), the name of the Egyptian capital during the *Hyksos period. The Septuagint (Gen. 46:28) renders Goshen as Heroonpolis (i.e., *Pithom , Ex. 1:11), and once (Gen. 46:34) as "the Arab land of Gesem." Therefore it is generally assumed that Goshen is to be located in Wādi Tumeilāt, which stretches from the eastern arm of the Nile to the Great Bitter Lake and is known to be excellent pasture land. Support for this identification is found in a papyrus (Pritchard, Texts, 259) from the end of the 13th century B.C.E. which describes how nomadic shepherds moved from the land of Edom, past the Merneptah fortress in Teku to the wells of Pithom in order to keep themselves and their cattle alive (cf. Gen. 45:10; 47:4). Teku is Wādi Tumeilāt. The rulers of Egypt would therefore seem to have permitted nomadic Semitic tribes to come to Goshen and graze there.


P. Montet, in: RB, 39 (1930), 5ff.; W.F. Albright, in: BASOR, 109 (1948), 15; 140 (1955), 30–31; idem, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (1968), 79, 134; H.H. Rowley, From Joseph to Joshua (1950), index; H. Kees, Ancient Egypt (1961), index, S.V. Wadi Tumilat.

[Pinhas Artzi]

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