Speak unto the children of Israel, that they
Not return to Egypt, or to the place, or towards the place from whence they came, but turn off, out of the road in which they were; for, as a late traveller says F1,
``there were two roads, through which the Israelites might have been conducted from Cairo (which he supposes may be Rameses) to Pihahiroth. One of them lies through the valleys, as they are now called, of Jendily, Rumaleah, and Baideah, bounded on each side by the mountains of the lower Thebais; the other lies higher, having the northern range of these mountains (the mountains of Mocattee) running parallel with it on the right hand, and the desert of the Egyptian Arabia, which lies all the way open to the land of the Philistines, on the left, (see ( Exodus 13:17 ) ) about the middle of this range we may turn short on our right hand into the valley of Baideah, through a remarkable breach or discontinuation, in which we afterwards continued to the very banks of the Red sea; this road then, through the valley of Baideah, which is some hours longer than the other open road, which leads directly from Cairo to Suez, was in all probability the very road which the Israelites took to Pihahiroth, on the banks of the Red sea.''And again he says F2, this valley ends at the sea in a small bay, made by the eastern extremities of the mountains, and is called "Tiah beni Israel", i.e. the road of the Israelites, from a tradition of the Arabs, of their having passed through it; as it is also called Baideah from the new and unheard of miracle that was wrought near it, by dividing the Red sea, and destroying therein Pharaoh, his chariots and horsemen: and encamp before Pihahiroth:
which was sixteen miles from Etham F3, and by some F4 thought to be the same with the city of Heroes (or Heroopolis), on the extreme part of the Arabic gulf, or the Phagroriopolis, placed by Strabo F5 near the same place: according to the above traveller F6, Pihahiroth was the mouth, or the most advanced part of the valley of Baideah to the eastward toward the Red sea; with which Jarchi in some measure agrees, who says Pihahiroth is Pithom, now so called, because the Israelites became free: they (Hahiroth) are two rocks, and the valley between them is called (Pi) the mouth of the rocks: so Dr. Shaw observes F7; the word may be deduced from (rx) , "a hole" or "gullet", and by a latitude common in those cases, be rendered a narrow "defile", road or passage, such as the valley of Baideah has been described: but as the Israelites were properly delivered at this place from their captivity and fear of the Egyptians, ( Exodus 14:13 ) we may rather suppose that Hhiroth denotes the place where they were restored to their liberty; as Hhorar and Hhiroth are words of the like sort in the Chaldee: but another very learned man F8 says, that in the Egyptian language Pihahiroth signifies a place where grew great plenty of grass and herbs, and was contiguous to the Red sea, and was like that on the other shore of the sea, the Arabian, which Diodorus Siculus F9 speaks of as a pleasant green field: between Migdol and the sea;
which signifies a tower, and might be one: there was a city of this name in Egypt, and in those parts, but whether the same with this is not certain, ( Jeremiah 44:1 ) over against Baalzephon;
which the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem take to be an "idol": and so does Jarchi, and say it was the only one left of the idols of Egypt; see ( Exodus 12:12 ) and so some Christian as well as Jewish writers suppose it to be; and that it was as a watch, or guard, or amulet, to keep fugitives from going out of the land: but by Ezekiel the tragedian F11 it is called a city; and so by Josephus F12, who says they came to Baalzephon the third day, a place situated by the Red sea; which is most likely, and it is highly probable that this and Migdol were two fortified places, which guarded the mouth of the valley, or the straits which led to the Red sea: Artapanus F13 the Heathen historian agrees with Josephus in saying it was the third day when they came to the Red sea: before it shall ye encamp by the sea;
and there wait till Pharaoh came up to them.
F1 Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 307. Ed. 2.
F2 lb. p. 309.
F3 Bunting's Travels, p. 82.
F4 See the Universal History, vol. 3. p. 387.
F5 Geograph. l. 17. p. 553.
F6 Shaw, ib. p. 310.
F7 Ut supra. (F1)
F8 Jablonski de Terra Goshen, Dissert. 5. sect. 9.
F9 Bibliothec. c. 3. p. 175.
F11 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 29. p. 444.
F12 Antiqu. l. 2. c. 15. sect. 1.
F13 Apud Euseb. ib. c. 27. p. 436.