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Hebrew: צֹעַן

also known as: Field of Zoan, Tsoan, City of Rameses, and Tanis

(Old Egyptian: Sant = “stronghold,” the modern San )

This was a key ancient Egyptian city in the north-eastern Nile Delta. Its name occurs seven times in Scripture (Numbers 13:22; Psalm 78:12; 78:43; Isaiah 19:11; 19:13; 30:4; Ezekiel 30:14).

Location of ancient Zoan (Tanis) in Egypt—satellite view

This great and important city was the capital of the Hyksos, or Shepherd kings, who ruled Egypt for more than 500 years. It was the frontier town of Goshen. Here Pharaoh was holding his court at the time of his various interviews with Moses and Aaron.

The Greeks called this city Tanis. It was built 7 years after Hebron in the Land of Israel (Numbers 13:22).

“No trace of Zoan exists; Tanis was built over it, and city after city has been built over the ruins of that” (Harper, Bible and Modern Discovery). Extensive mounds of ruins, the wreck of the ancient city, now mark its site (Isaiah 19:11, 13; 30:4; Ezek. 30:14). “The whole constitutes one of the grandest and oldest ruins in the world.”

This city was also called “the Field of Zoan” (Psalm 78:12, 43) and “the Town of Rameses”, because that oppressor rebuilt and embellished it, probably by the forced labor of the Hebrews, and made it his northern capital.

Article Version: November 20, 2018

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