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BUBASTIS (bū-băs'tĭs, Gr. form of the Heb. Pi-Beseth). A city in the delta of Lower Egypt (Ezek.30.17) near Aven (On, or Heliopolis), on the western bank of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile. The names of Ramses II and of Shishak, conqueror of Rehoboam, are inscribed on the ruins. The red granite temple of the goddess Basht, admired by Herodotus, has been excavated. Also found was a unique cemetery of cats sacred to Basht; the cats had been buried, not mummified. Bubastis was occupied in the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Empire, the Middle Empire, Hyksos times, the New Empire to its end, and Roman times.

BUBASTIS. Greek form of Pi-Beseth.

PHI-BESETH. KJV form of Pi-Beseth.

PI-BESETH pī bē’ zĭth (Egyp. pr B’stt, House of Bastet; Heb. פִּי־בֶ֖סֶת; Gr. βούβαστος). Capital of the eighteenth nome of Lower Egypt, and capital of Egypt under the twenty-second dynasty (see Shishak). It is modern Tell Basteh on the Tanitic branch of the Nile, near modern Zagazig. The city was important throughout Egyp. history. An earthquake chasm appeared there during Egypt’s second dynasty. Two of the pyramid builders, Cheops and Chefren, left remains there as did Pepi I of the sixth dynasty. Later kings, notably those of the twelfth, eightenth, and nineteenth dynasties left their marks. The city’s greatest glory came when Shishak made it second only to Thebes in prestige and glory under the twenty-second dynasty.

The city’s original name, “Bast,” and that of its goddess, “Bastet,” were related. Later it was known by its sacred name, “House of Bastet,” i.e., Bubastis.

The goddess, Bastet, usually was depicted as a woman with the head of a cat or a lioness. She was one of the lesser deities whose popularity greatly increased after the Assyrians sacked Thebes and caused a readjustment in Egyp. religion. This new religious importance may have helped turn Ezekiel’s attention to the city (Ezek 30:17).


Herodotus, II, 60, 137; E. Naville, Bubastis (1891).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

fi’-be-seth, fib’-e-seth (pi-bheceth).


A city of ancient Egypt. The only occurrence of the name of this place in the Old Testament is in Eze 30:17; where it is coupled with Aven, i.e. On (Heliopolis).

1. Location:

Pi-beseth was on the western bank of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, about 40 miles North of Memphis, about 15 miles Northeast of On. Herodotus found the city of Bubastis very beautiful in his day. The annual festival of the goddess, Basht, was celebrated here with revolting license, similar to that of the festival of Syyid el-Bedawer now kept in TanTa.

2. Exploration:

Pi-beseth was explored by Professor Naville under the Egyptian Exploration Society in 1887-90. There were uncovered ruins of Egypt from the IVth Dynasty of the Old Empire, from the Middle Empire, an important Hyksos settlement, and ruins from the New Empire down to the end, and even from Roman times. The most unique discovery at Pi-beseth, one of the most unique in all Egypt, is the cemetery of cats. These cats, the animal sacred to Basht, were mummified at other places in Egypt, but at Pibeseth they were burned and the ashes and bones gathered and buried in great pits lined with brick or hardened clay. Bones of the ichneumon were also found mixed with those of the cats in these pits (Egypt Exploration Fund Report, 1891).

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