Migdol in the Bible
Migdol in the Old Testament
1. Exodus 14:2; Numbers 33:7:
Migdol was 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 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 Ezek 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.Recommended:
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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain.