What is…

also known as: Tahpanhes (most common spelling), Tehaphnehes, Taphnas (in the Septuagint)

This is an ancient Egyptian city.

The Jews from Jerusalem fled to Tahapanes after the death of Gedaliah, and settled there for a time (Jeremiah 2:16; 43:7; 44:1; 46:14).

The city’s name is mentioned in the following verses:

Tell Defenneh

Some believe the ancient city of Tahpanhes corresponds to an archaeological site called Tell Defenneh, originally near the Nile River and now situated near the Suez Canal, west of modern Al Kantara (El-Qantara), Egypt. The Tell was on an ancient trade and military road, and about 16 miles (26 km) from ancient Pelusium (aka Sin), a busy Mediterranean trade harbor town in Biblical times.

Tell Defenneh in Egypt—satellite view

Other names for this archaeological site are: Tell Dafana; Defenna; Tell Defeneh; Tell Dafna; Tell Defenna; Tell Defenne; Tell Defenneh.

A platform of brick-work, which some believe was the pavement at the entry of Pharaoh’s palace was discovered at Tell Defenneh. The site was discovered in 1886 by Egyptologist and early archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, who said, “Here the ceremony described by Jeremiah [43:8-10; “brick-kiln”, i.e., pavement of brick] took place before the chiefs of the fugitives assembled on the platform, and here Nebuchadnezzar spread his royal pavilion1 (Revised King James Version, “brickwork”).

However, this identification has not been adequately confirmed by later research.

More recent ground penetrating radar scans and archaeological digs at the site have so far revealed citadel walls, halls, stockrooms, and an underground stockroom.2 This so far indicates an ancient defensive fort but not yet a large city.

Christian researcher Garry M. Matheny has provided interesting evidences that this Tell is not the location of Tahpanhes. He concluded that the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis best fits the Biblical description of Tahpanhes.3

  1. William Flinders Petrie (aka WMF Petrie), “Tanis II., Nebesheh, and Defenneh,” Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund 4. London: Trübner & Co., 1888).
  2. Alhussein Adham Basheer, Ahmed El-Kotb Al-Imam, Abdelnasser Mohammed Abdelmotaal1, Mostafa Sarhan Toni, and Sayed Omar Elkhateeb, “Appliance of Geophysical Methods to Detect the Ancient Remains at ‘Tell Defenneh’ Area, Ismailia, Egypt,” Archaeological Discovery (Scientific Research Publishing: 2014), pp. 71-82.
  3. Garry M. Matheny, The Quest for the Great Stones (Advantage Inspirational, 2009).
Article Version: February 10, 2020