Memphis

Memphis [N] [H] [S]

only in Hosea 9:6 , Hebrew Moph. In Isaiah 19:13 ; Jeremiah 2:16 ; Jeremiah 46:14 Jeremiah 46:19 ; Ezekiel 30:13 Ezekiel 30:16 , it is mentioned under the name Noph. It was the capital of Lower, i.e., of Northern Egypt. From certain remains found half buried in the sand, the site of this ancient city has been discovered near the modern village of Minyet Rahinch, or Mitraheny, about 16 miles above the ancient head of the Delta, and 9 miles south of Cairo, on the west bank of the Nile. It is said to have been founded by Menes, the first king of Egypt, and to have been in circumference about 19 miles. "There are few remains above ground," says Manning (The Land of the Pharaohs), "of the splendour of ancient Memphis. The city has utterly disappeared. If any traces yet exist, they are buried beneath the vast mounds of crumbling bricks and broken pottery which meet the eye in every direction. Near the village of Mitraheny is a colossal statue of Rameses the Great. It is apparently one of the two described by Herodotus and Diodorus as standing in front of the temple of Ptah. They were originally 50 feet in height. The one which remains, though mutilated, measures 48 feet. It is finely carved in limestone, which takes a high polish, and is evidently a portrait. It lies in a pit, which, during the inundation, is filled with water. As we gaze on this fallen and battered statue of the mighty conqueror who was probably contemporaneous with Moses, it is impossible not to remember the words of the prophet Isaiah, 19:13 ; 44:16-19 , and Jeremiah, 46:19 ."

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Memphis". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Memphis [N] [E] [S]

abode of the good
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Memphis'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

Memphis [N] [E] [H]

(haven, of the good ), a city of ancient Egypt, situated on that western bank of the Nile, about nine miles south of Cairo and five from the great pyramids and the sphinx. It is mentioned by ( Isaiah 40:14 Isaiah 40:19 ) and Ezekiel, ( Ezekiel 30:13 Ezekiel 30:16 ) under the name of Noph. Though some regard Thebes as the more ancient city, the monuments of Memphis are of higher antiquity than those of Thebus. The city is said to have had a circumference of about 10 miles. The temple of Apis was one of the most noted structures of Memphis. It stood opposite the southern portico of the temple of Ptah; and Psammetichus, who built that gateway, also erected in front of the sanctuary of Apis a magnificent colonnade, supported by colossal statues or Osiride pillars, such as may still be seen at the temple of Medeenet Habou at Thebes. Herod. ii, 153. Through this colonnade the Apis was led with great pomp upon state occasions. At Memphis was the reputed burial-place of Isis; it has also a temple to that "myriad-named" divinity. Memphis had also its Serapeium, which probably stood in the western quarter of the city. The sacred cubit until other symbols used in measuring the rise of the Nile were deposited in the temple of Serapis. The Necropolis, adjacent to Memphis, was on a scale of grandeur corresponding with the city itself. The "city of the pyramids" is a title of Memphis in the hieroglyphics upon the monuments. Memphis long held its place as a capital; and for centuries a Memphite dynasty ruled over all Egypt. Lepsius, Bunsen and Brugsch agree in regarding the third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth dynasties of the old empire as Memphite, reaching through a period of about 1000 years. The citys overthrow was distinctly predicted by the Hebrew prophets. ( Isaiah 19:13 ; Jeremiah 46:19 ) The latest of these predictions was uttered nearly 600 years before Christ, and a half a century before the invasion of Egypt by Cambyses (cir, B.C. 525). Herodotus informs us that Cambyses, engaged at the opposition he encountered at Memphis, committed many outrages upon the city. The city never recovered from the blow inflicted by Cambyses. The rise of Alexandria hastened its decline. The caliph conquerors founded Fostat (old Cairo) upon the opposite bank of the Nile, a few miles north of Memphis, and brought materials from the old city to build their new capital, A.D. 638. At length so complete was the ruin of Memphis that for a long time its very site was lost. Recent explorations have brought to light many of its antiquities.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Memphis'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

MEMPHIS

mem'-fis:

1. Name:

The ancient capital of Egypt, 12 miles South of the modern Cairo. This Greek and Roman form of the name was derived from the Coptic form Menfi (now Arabic Menf), the abbreviation of the Egyptian name Men-nofer, "the good haven." This name was applied to the pyramid of Pepy I, in the cemetery above the city; some have thought the city name to have been derived from the pyramid, but this is unlikely, as the city must have had a regular name before that. It may perhaps mean "the excellence of Mena," its founder. It appears still more shortened in Ho (9:6) as Moph (moph), and in Isa (19:13), Jer (2:16), and Eze (30:13) as Noph (noph).

2. Political Position:

The classical statements show that the city in Roman times was about 8 miles long and 4 miles wide, and the indications of the site agree with this. It was the sole capital of Position Egypt from the Ist to the XVIIth Dynasty; it shared supremacy with Thebes during the XVIIIth to XXVth Dynasties, and with Sais to the XXXth Dynasty. Alexandria then gradually obscured it, but the governor of Egypt signed the final capitulation to the Arabs in the old capital. While other cities assumed a political equality, yet commercially Memphis probably remained supreme until the Ptolemies.

3. The Founders and the City:

The oldest center of settlement was probably the shrine of the sacred bull, Apis or Hapy, which was in the South of the city. This worship was doubtless prehistoric, so that when the first king of all Egypt, Mena, founded his capital, there was already a nucleus. His great work was taking in land to the North, and founding the temple of the dynastic god Ptah, which was extended until its enclosure included as much as the great temple of Amon at Thebes, about 3 furlongs long and 2 furlongs wide. To the North of this was the sacred lake; beyond that, the palace and camp. Gradually the fashionable quarters moved northward in Egypt, in search of fresher air; the rulers had moved 10 miles North to Babylon by Roman times, then to Fostat, then Cairo, and lastly now to Abbasiyeh and Kubkeh, altogether a shift of 18 miles in 8,000 years.

4. Archaeological Results:

After the shrine of Apis the next oldest center is that of Ptah, founded by Mena. This was recently cleared in yearly sections by the British School, finding principally sculptures of the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties. The account of the north gate given by Herodotus, that it was built by Amenemhat III, has been verified by finding his name on the lintel. An immense sphinx of alabaster 26 ft. long has also been found. To the East of this was the temple of the foreign quarter, the temple of King Proteus in Greek accounts, where foreign pottery and terra cotta heads have been found. Other temples that are known to have existed in Memphis are those of Hathor, Neit, Amen, Imhotep, Isis, Osiris-Sokar, Khnumu, Bastel, Tahuti, Anubis and Sebek.

A large building of King Siamen (XXIst Dynasty) has been found South of the Ptah temple. To the North of the great temple lay the fortress, and in it the palace mound of the XXVIth Dynasty covered two acres. It has been completely cleared, but the lower part is still to be examined. The north end of it was at least 90 ft. high, of brickwork, filled up to half the height by a flooring raised on cellular brickwork. The great court was about 110 ft. square, and its roof was supported by 16 columns 45 ft. high.

The principal sights of Memphis now are the great colossus of Rameses II, the lesser colossus of the same, and the immense alabaster sphinx. The cemetery of the city is the most important in Egypt; it lies 2 miles to the West on the desert, and is known as Saqqareh, from So-kar, the god of the dead.

See SAQQAREH.

W. M. Flinders Petrie


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'MEMPHIS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.