From BiblePortal Wikipedia

People's Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Zoan ( Zô'Am ), Low Region? or Place Of Departure? A city of lower Egypt; called by the Greeks Tanis—now San. Zoan was an exceedingly ancient city, built seven years after Hebron.  Numbers 13:22. The "field of Zoan" was the place of God's wonders.  Psalms 78:12;  Psalms 78:43. When Isaiah wrote, it would appear to have been one of the chief cities in Egypt, as he speaks of "the princes of Zoan."  Isaiah 19:11;  Isaiah 19:13;  Isaiah 30:4. Ezekiel foretells the fate of the city in the words: "I will set fire in Zoan."  Ezekiel 30:14. There are no other Scripture references to Zoan. Zoan has been satisfactorily identified with the ancient Avaris and Tanis and the modern San. Very interesting discoveries have been made there within a few years. Among the inscriptions has been found one with the expression Sechet Tanet, which exactly corresponds to the "field of Zoan."  Psalms 78:43. The mounds which mark the site of the town are remarkable for their height and extent, and cover an area a mile in length by three-fourths of a mile in width. The sacred enclosure of the great temple was 1500 feet long and 1250 feet wide. This temple was adorned by Rameses H. There are some dozen obelisks of great size, all fallen and broken, with numerous statues. "The whole constitutes," says Macgregor, "one of the grandest and oldest ruins in the world."

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Zo'an. (Place Of Departure). An ancient city of lower Egypt, called Tanis by the Greeks. It stood on the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. Its name indicates a place of departure from a country, and hence it has been identified with Avaris (Tanis, the modern San). The capital of the Shepherd dynasty in Egypt, built seven years after Hebron and existing before the time of Abraham. It was taken by the Shepherd kings in their invasion of Egypt, and by them rebuilt, and garrisoned, according to Manetho, with 240,000 men. This cite is mentioned in connection with the plagues in such a manner as to leave no doubt that it is the city spoken of in the narrative in Exodus as that where Pharaoh dwelt,  Psalms 78:42-43, and where Moses wrought his wonders on the field of Zoan a rich plain extending thirty miles toward the east. Tanis gave its name to the twenty-first and twenty-third dynasties and hence its mention in Isaiah.  Isaiah 19:13;  Isaiah 30:4.

(The present "field of Zoan" is a barren waste, very thinly inhabited. "One of the principal capitals of Pharaoh is now the habitation of fishermen the resort of wild beasts, and infested with reptiles and malignant fevers." There have been discovered a great number of monuments here which throw light upon the Bible history. Brugsch refers to two statues of colossal size of Mermesha of the thirteenth dynasty, wonderfully perfect in the execution of the individual parts and says that memorials of Rameses the Great lie scattered broadcast like the mouldering bones of generations slain long ago. The area of the sacred enclosure of the Temple is 1500 feet by 1250. - Editor).

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

 Psalms 78:43, speaks of "the field of Zoan"

The remains of edifices and obelisks (ten or twelve,) the stone of which was brought from Syene, are numerous covering an area a mile in diameter N. to S., bearing mostly the name of Rameses II. It was the rendezvous for the armies of the Delta, and an imperial city in the 12th dynasty. It answers to Avaris the capital of the Hyksos, who gave it its Hebrew name; both Avaris (Ha-Awar, Pa-Awar, "the house of going out") and Zoan mean "departing." This Pharaoh had warred successfully against the Shasous, the nomadic tribes adjoining, and so his residing in N.W. Egypt would be important at that time.

Moses' exposure must have been in a branch of the Nile not infested by crocodiles, for neither would the parents have exposed him nor would Thermuthis ("the great mother", a designation of Neith the deity of Lower Egypt), Pharaoh's daughter, have bathed in a place infested by them; therefore not at Memphis where anciently they were common, but at Zoan on the Tanitic branch, near the sea, where crocodiles are never found, probably the western boundary of the district occupied by Israel. Amosis or Aahmes captured Zoan or Avaris from the shepherd kings, their last stronghold after ruling (See Egypt for 511 years. It was well adapted as the place from whence to carry out measures for crushing Israel (Exodus 2).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

ZOAN . A city in the N.E. of Lower Egypt (Egyp. Zani , Gr. Tanis ). It is now San el-Hagar, one of the most important of the ancient sites in Lower Egypt, with ruins of a great temple. The 21st Dyn. arose in Tanis, and it was probably a favourite residence of the Pharaohs, though it is now in the midst of a barren salt marsh, with only a few fishermen as inhabitants. Ramasses ii. placed in the temple a colossus of himself in granite, the greatest known, which Petrie calculates from the fragments to have measured 92 feet in height. Zoan is not mentioned in Genesis, but elsewhere (  Psalms 78:13;   Psalms 78:43 ,   Isaiah 19:11;   Isaiah 19:13 , 30,   Ezekiel 30:14 ) it appears as almost or quite the capital of Egypt, perhaps as being the royal city nearest to the frontier. Tanis was very ancient: the curious reference to its building in   Numbers 13:22 cannot be explained as yet.

F. Ll. Griffith.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

City in Lower Egypt, built seven years after Hebron. It was the capital of the Hyksos or shepherd kings of Egypt. It was here that Moses and Aaron met with Pharaoh and here the 'plagues' were wrought; for it was in the 'field of Zoan' that God did marvellous things. The place was denounced by God, and He said its princes had become fools.  Numbers 13:22;  Psalm 78:12,43;  Isaiah 19:11,13; Isa.30:4;  Ezekiel 30:14 . Identified with the site of the ancient city TANIS, built over the ruins of Zoan, and now called San, about 31 2' N, 31 54' E .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

A very ancient city of Lower Egypt,  Numbers 13:22 , on the east side of the Tanitic arm of the Nile, and called by the Greeks Tanis, now San. It was a royal city,  Isaiah 19:11,13;  30:4 , and gave its name to the level country around it, in which were wrought the first mighty works of God by Moses,  Psalm 78:12,43 . Vast heaps of ruined temples, obelisks, sphinxes, etc., attest the ancient grandeur of this city, and its ruin according to prophecy,  Ezekiel 30:14 .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

The city of Zoan was one of Egypt’s great cities ( Ezekiel 30:14). It was located in the Nile Delta ( Psalms 78:12), was very old ( Numbers 13:22), and for several hundred years was Egypt’s capital ( Isaiah 19:11). It was probably the city earlier known as Rameses (see Egypt ; Rameses ).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Numbers 13:22 Isaiah 19:11,13 30:4 Ezekiel 30:14

This city was also called "the Field of Zoan" ( Psalm 78:12,43 ) and "the Town of Rameses" (q.v.), because the oppressor rebuilt and embellished it, probably by the forced labour of the Hebrews, and made it his northern capital.

Holman Bible Dictionary [9]

 Numbers 13:22  Isaiah 19:11 19:13 Isaiah 30:4 Ezekiel 30:14 Psalm 78:12 78:43

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

(Heb. Tso'an, צעִן ; Sept. Τανίς ; ,Vulg. Taais ) , an ancient city of Lower Egypt, situated on the eastern side of the Tanitic branch of the Nile, and mentioned several times in the Old Test. ( Numbers 13:22;  Psalms 78:12;  Psalms 78:43  Isaiah 19:11;  Isaiah 19:13;  Isaiah 30:4;  Ezekiel 30:14). Its ruins have lately been carefully explored (Petrie, Tanis, in "Mem. of Eg. Expl. Fund,' Lond. 1884-8).

I. The name, preserved in the Coptic Jane, the Arabic San (a village still on the site), and the classical Tayit, Tanis (whence the Coptic transcription Taneos), comes from the root צָעִן "he moved tents" ( Isaiah 33:20), cognate with טָעִן : "he loaded a beast of burden;" and thus signifies "a place of departure" (like Zaanannim,  Joshua 19:33,or Zaanaim,  Judges 4:11, on a similar thoroughfare). Zoan lay near the eastern border of Lower Egypt. The senses of departure or removing therefore, would seem not to indicate a mere resting place of caravans, but a place of departure from a country. The Egyptian-name Ha-Awar or Pa-Awar ( Avaris, Ἀουαρίς ) means "the abode" or "house" of "going out" or "departure." Its more precise sense fixes that of the Shemitic equivalent.

II. History.

1. From Manetho. At a remote period, between the age when the pyramids were built and that of the empire, Egypt was invaded, overrun, and subdued by the strangers known as the Shepherds, who, or at least their first race, appear to have been Arabs cognate with the Phoenicians, How they entered Egypt does not appear. After .a time they made one of themselves king, a certain Salatis,' who reigned at Memphis, exacting tribute of Upper and Lower Egypt, and garrisoning the fittest places with especial regard to the safety of the eastern provinces, which he foresaw the Assyrians' would desire to invade. With this view, finding in the Saite (better elsewhere Sethroite) home, on the east of the Bubastite branch, a very fit city called Avaris, he rebuilt and very strongly walled it, garrisoning it with 240,000 men. He came hither in harvest-time (about the vernal equinox),to give corn and pay to the troops, and exercise them so as to terrify foreigners.

The position of Tanis explains the case. Like the other principal cities of this tract-Pelusium, Bubastis, and Heliopolis it lay on the east bank of the river towards Syria. It was thus outside a great line of defence, and afforded a protection to the cultivated lands to the east and an obstacle to an invader, while to retreat from it was always possible, so long as the Egyptians held the river. But Tanis, though doubtless fortified partly with the object of repelling an invader, was too far inland to be the frontier fortress. It was near enough to be the place of departure for caravans, perhaps was the last town in the Shepherd period, but not near enough to command the entrance of Egypt. Pelusium lay upon the great road to Palestine; it has been until lately placed too far north, (See Sin), and the plain was here narrow from north to south, so that no invader could safely pass the fortress; but it soon became broader, and, by turning in a south- westerly direction, an advancing enemy would leave Tanis far to the northward, and bold general would detach a force to keep its garrison in check and march upon Heliopolis and Memphis. An enormous standing militia, settled in the Bucolia, as the Egyptian militia afterwards was in neighboring tracts of the delta, and with its headquarters .at Tanis, would have overawed Egypt, and secured a retreat in case of disaster, besides maintaining hold of some of the most productive, land in the country, and mainly for the former two objects we believe Avaris to have been fortified.

2. From The Egyptian Monuments. Apipi, probably Apophis of the fifteenth dynasty, a Shepherd-king who reigned shortly before the eighteenth dynasty, built, a temple here to Set, the Egyptian Baal, and worshipped no other god. According to Manetho, the Shepherds, after 511 years of rule, were expelled from all Egypt and shut up in Avaris, whence they were allowed to depart by capitulation by either Amosis or Thummosis (Aahmes or Thothmes IV), the first and seventh kings of the eighteenth dynasty. The monuments show that the honor of ridding Egypt of the Shepherds belongs tog Aahmmes. Rameses II embellished the great temple of Tanis, and was followed by his son Menptah.

After the fall of the empire, the first dynasty is the twenty-first, called by Manetho that of Tanites; its history is obscure, and it fell before the stronger line of Bubastites, the twenty-second dynasty, founded by Shishak. The expulsion of Set from the pantheon, under the twenty-second dynasty, must have been a blow to Tanis, and perhaps a religious war. occasioned the rise of the twenty-third. The twenty-third dynasty is called Tanite, and its last king is probably Sethos, the contemporary of Tirhakah, mentioned by Herodotus. (See Egypt).

3. From The Bible we learn that Zoan was one of the oldest cities in Egypt having been built seven years after Hebron, which already existed in the time of Abraham. ( Numbers 13:22; comp.  Genesis 22:2). It seems also to have been one of the principal capitals, or royal abodes, of the Pharaohs ( Isaiah 19:11;  Isaiah 19:13); and accordingly "the field of Zoan," or the fine alluvial plain around the city, is described as the scene of the marvelous works. which God wrought in the time of Moses ( Psalms 78:12;  Psalms 78:33), and once more appears in sacred history as a place to which came ambassadors, either of Hoshea or Ahaz, or else possibly Hezekiah: "For his princes were at Zoan, and his messengers came to Hanes" ( Isaiah 30:4). As mentioned with the frontier town Tahpanhes, Tanis is not necessarily the capital. But the same prophet perhaps more distinctly points to a Tanite line when saving, in "the burden of Egypt," "The princes of Zoan are become fools; the princes of Noph are deceived" ( Isaiah 19:13). The doom of. Tanis is foretold by Ezekiel: "I will set fire in Zoan" ( Ezekiel 30:4), where it occurs among the cities to be taken by Nebuchadnezzar.

III. Description And Remains. Anciently a rich plain extended due east as far as Pelusium, about thirty miles distant, gradually narrowing towards the east, so that in a south-easterly direction from Tanis it was not more than half this breadth. The whole of this plain about as far south and west as Tanis, was anciently known as "the Fields" or "Plains," "the Marshes" ( Τὰ ῾Ελη , Ε᾿Λεαρχία ) , or "the pasture-lands" ( Βουκολία ) . Through the subsidence of the Mediterranean coast, it is now almost covered by the great lake Menzaleh, of old, it was a rich marsh-land watered by four of the seven branches of the Nile, the Pathmitic, Mendesian, Tanitic, and Pelusiac, and swept by the cool breezes of the Mediterranean.

At present the plain of San is very, extensive, but thinly-inhabited; no village exists in the immediate vicinity of the ancient Tanis; and, when looking from the mounds of this once splendid city towards the distant palms of indistinct villages we perceive the desolation spread around it. The field' of Zoan is now a barren waste; a canal passes through it. without being able to fertilize the soil; fire' has been set in Zoan' and one of the principal capitals or royal abodes of the Pharaohs is now the habitation of fishermen, the resort of wild beasts, and infested with reptiles and malignant fevers. It is remarkable for the height and extent of its mounds, which are upwards of a mile from north to south, and nearly three quarters of a mile from east to west. The area in which the sacred enclosure of the temple stood is about 1500 feet by 1250, surrounded by mounds of fallen houses. The temple was adorned by Rameses II with numerous obelisks and most of its sculptures.

It is very ruinous, but its remains prove its former grandeur. The number of its obelisks, ten or twelve all now fallen, is unequalled, and the labor of transporting them from Syene shows the lavish magnificence of the Egyptian kings. The oldest name found here is that of Sesertesen III of the twelfth dynasty, the latest that of Tirhakah (Wilkinson, Handbook; p. 221-222). Two black statues and a granite sphinx, with blocks of hewn and occasionally sculptured granite, are among the objects which engage the attention of the few travelers who visit this desolate place. The modern village of San consists of mere huts, with the exception of a ruined kasr of modern date (id. Modern Egypt, 1, 449-4520; Narrative of the Scottish Deputation, p. 72-76). Recently, M. Mariette has made excavations on this site and discovered remains of the Shepherd period, showing a markedly characteristic style, specially in the representation of face and figure, but of Egyptian art, and therefore afterwards appropriated by the Egyptianl kings. The bilingual or rather trilingual inscription of Ptolemy III (Euergetes I) is of very great interest. See Lepsius, Das bilingue Decret von Kcnopus (Bel. 1867); Reinisch und Rosler, Die zweispraachige Inschrift von Tanis (Vienna, eod.); Proceedings of the Amer. Oriental Society, May, 1870, p. 8; Bibliotheca Sacra, 24:771; 26:581.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

zō´an ( צען , cō‛a  ; Τανίς , Tanı́s ):

1. Situation

2. Old Testament Notices

3. Early History

4. Hyksos Monuments

5. Hyksos Population

6. Hyksos Age

7. Description of Site

The name is supposed to mean "migration" (Arabic, tsan ). The site is the only one connected with the history of Israel in Egypt, before the exodus, which is certainly fixed, being identified with the present village of San at the old mouth of the Bubastic branch of the Nile, about 18 miles Southeast of Damietta. It should be remembered that the foreshore of the Delta is continually moving northward, in consequence of the deposit of the Nile mud, and that the Nile mouths are much farther North than they were even in the time of the geographer Ptolemy. Thus in the times of Jacob, and of Moses, Zoan probably lay at the mouth of the Bubastic branch, and was a harbor, Lake Menzaleh and the lagoons near Pelusium having been subsequently formed.

The city is only once noticed in the Pentateuch ( Numbers 13:22 ), as having been built seven years after Hebron, which existed in the time of Abraham. Zoan was certainly a very ancient town, since monuments of the VIth Egyptian Dynasty have been found at the site. It has been thought that Zoar on the border of Egypt ( Genesis 13:10 ) is a clerical error for Zoan, but the Septuagint reading ( Zógora ) does not favor this view, and the place intended is probably the fortress Zar , or Zor , often mentioned in Egyptian texts as lying on the eastern borders of the Delta. Zoan is noticed in the Prophets ( Isaiah 19:11 ,  Isaiah 19:13;  Isaiah 30:4;  Ezekiel 30:14 ), and its "princes" are naturally mentioned by Isaiah, since the capital of the Xxiii nd Egyptian Dynasty (about 800 to 700 BC) was at this city. In  Psalm 78:12 ,  Psalm 78:43 the "field (or pastoral plain) of Zoan" is noticed as though equivalent to the land of Goshen (which see).

Zoan was the capital of the Hyksos rulers, or "shepherd kings," in whose time Jacob came into Egypt, and their monuments have been found at the site, which favors the conclusion that its plain was that "land of Rameses" ( Genesis 47:11;  Exodus 12:37; see Raamses ) where the Hebrews had possessions under Joseph. It is probably the site of Avaris, which lay on the Bubastic channel according to Josephus quoting Manetho ( Apion , I, xiv), and which was rebuilt by the first of the Hyksos kings, named Salatis; for Avaris is supposed (Brugsch, Geog ., I, 86-90, 278-80) to represent the Egyptian name of the city Ha - uar - t , which means "the city of movement" (or "flight"), thus being equivalent to the Semitic Zoan or "migration." It appears that, from very early times, the pastoral peoples of Edom and Palestine were admitted into this region. The famous picture of the Amu , who bring their families on donkeys to Egypt, and offer the Sinaitic ibex as a present, is found at Beni Ḥasan in a tomb as old as the time of Usertasen Ii of the Xii th Dynasty, before the Hyksos age. A similar immigration of shepherds (see Pithom ) from Aduma (or Edom) is also recorded in the time of Menepthah, or more than four centuries after the expulsion of the Hyksos by the Xviii th, or Theban, Dynasty.

Besides the name of Pepi of the Vlth Dynasty, found by Burton at Zoan, and many texts of the Xii th Dynasty, a cartouche of Apepi (one of the Hyksos kings) was found by Mariette on the arm of a statue apparently of older origin, and a sphinx also bears the name of Khian , supposed to have been an early Hyksos ruler. The Hyksos type, with broad cheek bones and a prominent nose, unlike the features of the native Egyptians, has been regarded by Virchow and Sir W. Flower as Turanian, both at Zoan and at Bubastis; which agrees with the fact that Apepi is recorded to have worshipped no Egyptian gods, but only Set (or Sutekh ), who was also adored by Syrian Mongols (see Hittites ). At Bubastis this deity is called "Set of Rameses," which may indicate the identity of Zoan with the city Rameses.

In the 14th century Bc the city was rebuilt by Rameses II, and was then known as Pa-Ramessu. The Hyksos rulers had held it for 500 years according to Manetho, and were expelled after 1700 BC. George the Syncellus ( Chronographia , about 800 AD) believed that Apepi (or Apophis) was the Pharaoh under whom Joseph came to Egypt, but there seems to have been more than one Hyksos king of the name, the latest being a contemporary of Ra-Sekenen of the Xiii th Dynasty, shortly before 1700 BC. Manetho says that some supposed the Hyksos to be Arabs, and the population of Zoan under their rule was probably a mixture of Semitic and Mongolic races, just as in Syria and Babylonia in the same ages. According to Brugsch ( Hist of Egypt , II, 233), this population was known as Men or Menti , and came from Assyria East of Ruten or Syria. This perhaps connects them with the Minyans of Matiene, who were a Mongolic race. This statement occurs in the great table of nations, on the walls of the Edfu temple.

The Hyksos age corresponds chronologically with that of the 1st Dynasty of Babylon, and thus with the age of the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham and Jacob - time when the power of Babylon was supreme in Syria and Palestine. It is very natural, therefore, that, like other Semitic tribes even earlier, these patriarchs should have been well received in the Delta by the Hyksos Pharaohs, and equally natural that, when Aahmes, the founder of the Xviii th Egyptian Dynasty, took the town of Avaris and expelled the Asiatics, he should also have oppressed the Hebrews, and that this should be intended when we read ( Exodus 1:8 ) that "there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph." The exodus, according to the Old Testament dates, occurred in the time of the Xviii th Dynasty (see Exodus ) when Israel left Goshen. The later date advocated by some scholars, in the reign of Menepthah of the Xix th Dynasty, hardly agrees with the monumental notice of the immigration of Edomites into the Delta in his reign, which has been mentioned above; and in his time Egypt was being invaded by tribes from the North of Asia.

Zoan, as described by G. J. Chester ( Mem. Survey West Palestine , Special Papers, 1881,92-96), is now only a small hamlet of mud huts in a sandy waste, West of the huge mounds of its ancient temple; but, besides the black granite sphinx, and other statues of the Hyksos age, a red sandstone figure of Rameses 2 and obelisks of granite have been excavated, one representing this king adoring the gods; while the names of Amen, Tum and Mut appear as those of the deities worshipped, in a beautiful chapel in the temple, carved in red sandstone, and belonging to the same age of prosperity in Zoan.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Zo´an, an ancient city of Lower Egypt, situated on the eastern side of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. Zoan is of considerable Scriptural interest. It was one of the oldest cities in Egypt, having been built seven years after Hebron, which already existed in the time of Abraham (; comp. ). It seems also to have been one of the principal capitals, or royal abodes, of the Pharaohs (; ; ); and accordingly 'the field of Zoan,' or the fine alluvial plain around the city, is described as the scene of the marvelous works which God wrought in the time of Moses (; ). The destruction predicted in , has long since befallen Zoan. The 'field' is now a barren waste; a canal passes through it without being able to fertilize the soil; 'fire has been set in Zoan;' and the royal city is now the habitation of fishermen, the resort of wild beasts, and infested by reptiles and malignant fevers. The locality is covered with mounds of unusual height and extent, full of the fragments of pottery which such sites usually exhibit. These extend for about a mile from north to south, by about three-quarters of a mile. The area in which the sacred enclosure of the temple stood, is about 1500 feet by 1250, surrounded by the mounds of fallen houses, whose increased elevation above the site of the temple is doubtless attributable to the frequent change in the level of the houses to protect them from the inundation, and the unaltered position of the sacred buildings. There is a gateway of granite and fine grit-stone to the enclosure of this temple, bearing the name of Rameses the Great. Though in a very ruinous condition, the fragments of walls, columns, and fallen obelisks sufficiently attest the former splendor of the building to which they belonged. The obelisks are all of the time of Rameses the Great (B.C. 1355). The name of this king most frequently occurs; but the ovals of his successor Pthamen, of Osirtasen III, and of Tirhakah, have also been found. The time of Osirtasen III ascends nearly to that of Joseph, and his name, therefore, corroborates the Scriptural account of the antiquity of the town. Two black statues, and a granite sphinx, with blocks of hewn and occasionally sculptured granite, are among the objects which engage the attention of the few travelers who visit this desolate place. The modern village of San consists of mere huts, with the exception of a ruined kasr of modern date.