Pi Hahiroth

PI HAHIROTH (pī ha-hī'rŏth, Heb. pî-ha-hîrôth). The place in NE Egypt where the Israelites last camped before crossing the Red Sea. Here the Egyptian army overtook them (Exod.14.2, Exod.14.9; Num.33.7). Exact location unknown.


PI-HAHIROTH pī hə hī’ rŏth (פְּנֵ֣י הַֽחִירֹ֔ת, perhaps Sem. popular etymology, mouth of the canals; conjectured Egyp. original, pr Ḥrt, House of [the Goddess] Heret; HAHIROTH [Num 33:8]). A place on the Sea of Reeds (Heb. יַמ־ס֑וּף, traditionally tr. “Red Sea,” e.g. Exod 13:18, KJV, RSV) near Baal-zephon (Exod 14:2, 9), where Pharaoh was miraculously defeated. Its identification is dependent upon one’s general interpretation of the route of the Exodus (q.v.).

One view would identify the Sea of Reeds with Lake Sirbonis and place Pi-hahiroth near the Mediterranean Sea on Lake Sirbonis. This theory is supported by the facts that other military disasters have occurred there and that Mons Casius on the Mediterranean may be Baal-zephon (q.v.). A second theory, keeping the Hebrews in the S to avoid the way of the Philistines (Exod 13:17), places Pi-hahiroth just N of modern Suez. At present, this view attracts relatively little support. Third, it may be placed near modern Tell Defneh (i.e. Classical Daphne; Egyp. Tahpanhes) on the assumption that Baal-zephon is Tahpanhes. The evidence for this, a reference to “Baal-zephon and all the gods of Tahpanhes,” is less than conclusive since Baal-zephon was also worshiped elsewhere in Egypt. Nevertheless, this view seems more compatible with contemporary identifications of Raamses and Pithom (q.v.). Other identifications also have been offered.

Bibliography

“Exodus and Journey to Canaan,” HDB (1900); W. F. Albright, BASOR, CIX (1948), 16; E. G. Kraeling, Rand McNally Bible Atlas (1956), 104-107; “Encampment by the Sea,” NBD (1962); “Pi-Hahiroth,” IDB (1962).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(pi-ha-chiroth (Ex 14:2-9; Nu 33:7-8)):

1. Meaning of Name:

Nothing is known of the meaning of the name. Pi-Hahiroth Some attempts toward an Egyptian etymology for it have been made, but without much success. Since the meaning of the name is unknown and no description of the place or its use is given, it is impossible to determine anything concerning the character of Pi-Hahiroth, whether a city, a sanctuary, a fortress, or some natural feature of the landscape.

2. Location:

Neither Pi-Hahiroth nor any other place mentioned with it can be exactly located. A recent discovery of manuscripts in Egypt furnishes a mention of this place, but affords very little assistance in locating it, nothing comparable to the account in the Bible itself. If any one of the places mentioned in connection with the crossing of the Red Sea could be located approximately, all the others could, also, be similarly located by the description given in the account in Exodus. The route beyond the Sea has been made out with almost positive certainty. A journey along the way is so convincing that hardly anything can shake the conviction which it produces. This identification of the route of the exodus beyond the Sea requires the place of the crossing to be within 3 days’ journey of Marah, which puts it somewhere near the modern Suez. It may be anywhere within 10 miles of that point. This approximately locates all the other places mentioned in connection with the crossing: Migdol must be Ras ’Ataqah, or some other high point in the mountains of the western deserts, where might be placed a watchtower. Pi-Hahiroth is between this point and the Sea and Baal-zephon near the opposite eastern shore. This puts Pi-Hahiroth at some point along the old shore line of the Sea within 10 miles of the site of modern Suez.