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2001 Translation


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    Land of Ramesse or Gesem/Goshen?

    At Genesis 46:28, the Greek Septuagint text says that when the Patriarch Jacob traveled to Egypt during the great famine that raged ‘throughout the earth;’ During his time, he arranged to meet with his son JoSeph near the City of HroOn (modern Mit El-Harun) in the land of Ramesse.

    However, note that the Hebrew Masoretic text says they met in the land of Goshen.
    Then at Genesis 47:1, the Greek Septuagint text refers to the land where the IsraElites thereafter settled as Gesem, which the Hebrew text once again calls Goshen.

    Also, at Exodus 1:5 in the Greek Septuagint, we see that this land (Gesem, Goshen, or Ramesse) seems to have been considered as being separate from Egypt, for it speaks of Joseph as living apart from his family ‘in Egypt.’ And at Genesis 45:10, Gesem is referred as being located in Arabia.

    Therefore, from these renderings, we must assume that the names Gesem, Goshen, and the land of Ramesse all refer to the same area, which is found in the eastern portion of the Nile Delta. Although that location is considered part of Egypt today, it was viewed as being part of Arabia in the time of Jacob and JoSeph (remember that there was no Suez Canal back then).

    Of course, there has been much discussion through the years over the fact that the Bible speaks of the land where IsraEl settled in Egypt as ‘the land of RaMesse’ (Ra’s Chosen), and that one of the cities that the king of Egypt built before Moses was born, was also called Ramesse (see Exodus 1:11). For, since this name appears to refer to Ramesses The Great who lived almost 300 years after IsraEl left Egypt. It has been assumed that either the Bible accounts are wrong, or that the events mentioned in the Exodus happened at a much later date.

    However, understand that the likely reason why the land and the city are referred to in the Bible as Ramesse, is that later copyists used more modern names for the location so that contemporary readers would understand which land and city it was speaking of during their time. And because we find the Greek Septuagint using the term Ramesse first at Genesis 46:28, it looks like the change in name came about around the time that the Greek Septuagint was translated (3rd century BCE). Moses did the same thing in Genesis 2:8-13, when he used the landmarks of his time to describe the location of the original garden (‘Eden’) where Adam and Eue (Eve) first lived.