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Ancient Memphis

Memphis was the ancient capital city of Lower Egypt (i.e. northern Egypt, "lower" based on the northward flow of The Nile River through the Nile Delta into The Mediterranean Sea). The name is derived from men-nefer-pepi, the name given to the pyramid of Pepi I. The city was located on the west side of the Nile River, just south of the modern capital city of Cairo. Memphis is believed by some historians to have been founded by Menes, a First Dynasty pharaoh, about 3000 BC, and became the capital during the Third Dynasty about 2600 BC (see The Ancient Egyptians). It was the principle city of Egypt for about 300 years before being eclipsed by other cities such as Thebes. Little remains today of its ancient architecture.

Ancient Memphis

In The Bible, Memphis is only mentioned as such in Hosea 9:6:


"What will you do on the day of appointed festival, and on the day of the feast of The Lord? For behold, they are going to Assyria; Egypt shall gather them, Memphis shall bury them. Nettles shall possess their precious things of silver; thorns shall be in their tents."

Memphis is however mentioned a number of times in the Scriptures by its Hebrew name Noph (although some Bible translations use Memphis anyway), all in the books of the Prophets:

"The princes of Zoan have become fools, and the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstones of her tribes have led Egypt astray." (Isaiah 19:13 RSV)

"Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey? The lions have roared against him, they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant. Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking The Lord your God, when He led you in the way?" (Jeremiah 2:14-17 RSV)

"Thus says the Lord God: I will destroy the idols, and put an end to the images, in Memphis; there shall no longer be a prince in the land of Egypt; so I will put fear in the land of Egypt. I will make Pathros a desolation, and will set fire to Zoan, and will execute acts of judgment upon Thebes. And I will pour my wrath upon Pelusium, the stronghold of Egypt, and cut off the multitude of Thebes. And I will set fire to Egypt; Pelusium shall be in great agony; Thebes shall be breached, and its walls broken down." (Ezekiel 30:13-16 RSV)

Fact Finder: In what part of Egypt did the Israelites live in the 4 centuries before the Exodus?
See The Land Of Goshen

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