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MIGDOL (mĭg'dŏl, Heb. mighdôl)

A place just west of the former shallow bay at the north end of the Gulf of Suez, the westward arm of the Red Sea (Exod.14.2; Num.33.7). Near here the Israelites made their last encampment in Egypt, and here Pharaoh thought he had them trapped.A place in northern Egypt where many Jews went in the days of Jeremiah, and where they even practiced idolatry in spite of the prophet’s warnings (Jer.44.1-Jer.44.14; Jer.46.14).

MIGDOL mĭg’ dŏl (מִגְדֹּ֖ל, fort, watchtower). A place name in the NE part of the Egyp. Delta.

Sixth cent. B.C.

Twice in Jeremiah (44:1; 46:14), Migdol heads a short list of places in Egypt where Jews sought refuge. In Ezekiel 29:10 and 30:6 (see RSV), Migdol is the northern (strictly, northeastern) extremity of Egypt, while Aswan marks its southern limit, true to conditions in the twenty-sixth dynasty. This Migdol is the Magdolo of the Antonine Itinerary, being generally identified with Tell el Ḥêr, some twelve and a half m. NE of Qantara on the ancient road from Egypt to Pal. In Egyp. sources, it is most prob. the Migdol of Sethos I (Karnak war scenes) and of other sources; see Gardiner, JEA; VI (1920), 107-110.

On route of the Exodus.

After turning back from the wilderness, the Hebrews encamped between Migdol and the Sea of Reeds (Exod 14:2; etc.), and then crossed the latter from W to E into the wilderness again. This seems to require a Migdol differently sited from Tell el Ḥêr (which is E of all likely candidates for the “Sea of Reeds”), esp. as Lake Serbonis further NE lies along the “way of the land of the Philistines” and so may be excluded. It is, therefore, probable that Migdol in Exodus 14:2 is simply another fort—migdal is a common word—SE of Daphnai and W of the Sea of Reeds (Lake Ballaḥ region?). If so, it has not yet been identified in Egyp. sources, but could turn up in new documents. (See also Exodus.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

mig’-dol, mig’-dol (mighdol; Magdolon): This name ("the tower") is applied to two places on the east frontier of Egypt.

1. Exodus 14:2; Numbers 33:7:

In Ex 14:2; Nu 33:7, the Hebrew camp, on the march from Etham after they had "turned" (apparently to the South), is defined as `facing Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon.’ It is thus to be sought (see Exodus) West of the Bitter Lakes, and may have been a watchtower on the spur of Jebel ’Ataqah. Israel was supposed to be "entangled in the land," and shut in in the "wilderness," between this range and the Bitter Lakes, then forming the head of the Red Sea. The exact site is unknown. In about 385 AD, Silvia, traveling from Clysma (Suez), was shown the sites above mentioned on her way to Heroopolis, but none of these names now survive.

2. Jeremiah 44:1; 46:14:

In Jer 44:1; 46:14, a Migdol is noticed with Memphis, and with Tahpanhes Septuagint "Taphnas"), this latter being supposed to be the Daphnai of Greek writers, now Tell Defeneh, West of Qantarah. The same place is probably intended in Eze 29:10; 30:6 (compare 30:15-18), the borders of Egypt being defined as reaching "from Migdol to Syene" (see the Revised Version margin), as understood by the Septuagint translators. The Antonine Itinerary places Migdol 12 miles South of Pelusium, and the site appears to have been at or near Tell es Samut, the Egyptian name, according to Brugsch (Hist, II, 351), being Samut. This Migdol was thus apparently a "watchtower" on the main road along the coast from Palestine, which is called (Ex 13:17) "the way of the land of the Philistines," entering Egypt near Daphnai.

These Sites Not Identical.

We are specially told that this was not the route taken at the exodus, and this Migdol cannot therefore be the same as (1), though Brugsch, in consequence of a theory as to the exodus which has not been accepted by other scholars, has confused the two sites, as apparently does the Antonine Itinerary when placing Pithom on the same route leading to Zoan. Brugsch (Geography, III, 19) supposes the Egyptian town name Pa-Ma’kal (with the determinative for "wall" added) to stand for Migdol, but the prefix "Pa-" ("city") seems to show that this word is purely native, and not Semitic, to say nothing of philological objections. This town may, however, have lain in the required direction, according to a scribe’s report of the time of Seti II (or about 1230 BC).

As much confusion has been created by quoting this report as illustrative of the exodus, the actual words according to Brugsch’s translation may be given (History, II, 132): "I set out from the hall of the royal palace on the 9th day of Epiphi, in the evening, after the two servants. I arrived at the fortress Thuku (T-k-u) on the 10th of Epiphi. I was informed that the men had resolved to take their way toward the South. On the 12th I reached Khetam. There I was informed that grooms who had come from the neighborhood (of the "sedge city") reported that the fugitives had already passed the rampart (Anbu or "wall"), to the North of the Ma’ktal of King Seti Minepthah." As to the position of this "wall," see Shur.