SUCCOTH (sŭk'ŏth, Heb. sukkôth, booths or huts)

SUCCOTH, suk’ əth (סֻכֹּ֔תָה, booths). One of two different cities mentioned in the OT. 1. A city in Canaan in the territory of Gad. While not absolutely positive, ancient Succoth may well be identified with a place known either as Tell Akhsos or the mound Tell Deir’alla, just N of the Jabbok River and E of the Jordan in central Pal. While most archeologists tend toward locating the city at Tell Deir’alla because it is the largest and most prominent tell in the Succoth Valley, H. J. Franken of Leiden, in the Netherlands, has suggested as a result of discovering a large sanctuary (surrounded by villages) at Tell Deir’alla of the Late Bronze period which was destroyed in the first decades of the 12th cent. that Succoth should be identified with nearby Tell Akhsos. Yohanan Aharoni, professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has discounted this evidence and feels that the most probable site is still Tell Deir’alla.

In the Bible it is first mentioned in connection with Jacob’s travels after he wrestled with the angel of the Lord by the Jabbok River and was reconciled to his brother Esau the next day (Gen 33:17). The explanation for the name Succoth (booths) deriving it from Jacob’s cattle booths (stalls, folds) does not necessarily mean that Jacob founded the city. Later, in the days of Joshua, Succoth is mentioned along with Zaphon as part of the inheritance of the tribe of Gad (Josh 13:27). Gideon and his army, while pursuing the Midianites to victory, were ill treated by the elders of Succoth and the neighboring city of Penuel who refused to supply food (Judg 8:5-16). Professor Aharoni suggests that Gideon’s punishment of the city of Succoth might well be identified with the destruction of the sanctuary in the first half of the 12th cent. (The Land of the Bible, p. 242n.). Solomon found suitable clay ground to cast the large bronze vessels for the temple near Succoth (1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chron 4:17). In the Psalms (60:6; 108:7) Succoth is referred to as the symbol of the victorious occupation of the country of Canaan E of the Jordan.

2. A city in Egypt. When the children of Israel were leaving Egypt their first move was from Ramses to Succoth (Exod 12:37; 13:20; Num 33:5, 6). While not certain it appears to be the Egyp. city of today, Tell el-Maskhutah, a border fortress in the eastern portion of Wadi Tumeilat (the Biblical “land of Goshen”), W of the bitter lakes.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(cukkoth; Sokchoth (Ex 12:37; 13:20; Nu 33:5)): The first station of the Hebrews on leaving Rameses (see Exodus). The word means "booths." The distance from ETHAM (which see) suggests that the site may have lain in the lower part of Wady Tumeilat, but the exact position is unknown. This region seems possibly to have been called T-K-u by the Egyptians (see Pithom). Brugsch and other scholars suppose this term to have been changed to Succoth by the Old Testament writer, but this is very doubtful, Succoth being a common Hebrew word, while T-K-u is Egyptian The Hebrew "c" does not appear ever to be rendered by "t" in Egyptian. The capital of the Sethroitic nome was called T-K-t (Pierret, Vocab. hieroglyph., 697), and this word means "bread." If the region of T-K-u was near this town, it would seem to have lain on the shore road from Edom to Zoan, in which case it could not be the Succoth of the Exodus.