(Heb. id. גּשֶׁן prob. of Egyptian origin, but unknown signif.), the name of at least two places.
1. (Sept. usually Γεσέν or Γεσέμ) A province or district of Egypt in which Jacob and his family settied through thee instrumentality of his son Joseph, and in which they and their descendants remained for a long period (Ge 45:10; Ge 46:28-29,34; Ge 47:1,4,6,27; Ge 1; Ge 8; Ex 8:22; Ex 9:26). (B.C 1874-1658.) his usually called the "land of Goshen" (אֶרֶוֹ גּשֶׁן, "country of Goshen," Ge 47:27), but also "Goshen" simply (Ge 45:28, first clause, 29). It appears to have borne another name, "the land of Rameses" (אֶרֶוֹ רִעמסֵס) Ge 47:11), unless this be the name of a district of Goshen. (See below.) That Goshen lay on the eastern side of the Nile. may be justifiably inferred from the fact that Jacob is not reported to have crossed that river; nor does it appear that the Israelites did so in their flight out of Egypt. The various opinions that have been held on the subject may be found classified and considered by Bellermann in his Handb. der Bibl. Lit. 4:191-220. Lakemachebr (Obs., Philippians 6:297 sq.) locates Goshen in the vicinity of Bubastis, not far from Tanis; but this is too far from Palestine. Bryant (Obs. upon the ancient Hist. of Egypt, page 75 sq.) prefers the Saitic nome, which likewise is too far west (camp. Eichhorn, Bibl. 6:854 sq.). Jablonsky (De terra Gosen, Freft. a.V. 1756; also in his Opusc. 2:73) holds it to be the Heracleotic nome; but this lay even west of thee Nile (Michaelis, Suppl. 1:379 sq.). By comparing Ex 13:17 and 1Ch 7:21, it appears, that Goshen bordered on Arabia (see Ge 14:10, Sept. Γεσέμ Α᾿ραβίας) as well as Palestine, and-the passage of the Israelites out of Egypt shows that the land was not far removed from the Red Sea. It appears probable that we may fix the locality of Goshen in Lower Egypt, on the east side of the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, in the district around Herodpolis. The Sept. renders the words "land of Goshen" (Ge 46:28), καθ᾿ ῾Ηρώων πόλιν, εἰς γῆν ῾Ραμεσσῆ, thus identifying Goshen with Rameses, or the district of Pithom or Heroopolis. SEE RAMESES. This would make Goshen correspond with one of the divisions of what was anciently termed the Praefectura Arabica, Ti-Arabia, the eastern district, lying, that is, on the eastern or Arabian side of the Nile. This division was that of Heliopolis or On, Matariyeb, or Ain-Shems. An attempt has been made to define it accurately so as to identify Gosheen (Rosenmuller, Alterthune. 3:246) with the Nomos Arabime (Ptol. 4:5), or the country of Esh-shar Kijah (the eastern land), which stretches south from Pelusium as far as Belbeis (northeast from Cairo), and to the northeast borders of the desert El-Jefar. Traces are found here, it is thought, of the residence of thee Israelites, in large heaps of ruins, a few hours' journey to the northeast of Cairo, which the Arabs call Tell el Jehutd (Jews' hills), or Turbeh el- Jehud (Jews' gravesa) (Nielauh, 1:100; comp. Seetzen, in Zach's Corresp. 20:460; Hartmann, Erdbeschr. d. Aeg. page 880 sq.). Robinson (Researches, 1:37) makes light of the evidence supposed to be supplied by "the mounds of the Jews" just mentioned. He says, "If there is any historical foundation for this name, which is doubtful, these mounds can. only be referred back to the period of the Ptolemies, in the centuries immediately before the Christian aera, when great numbers of Jews resorted to Egypt and erected a temple at Leontopolis." This opinion, however, appears to us somewhat arbitrary. Whatever the actual origin of these mounds, 'the ordinary account' of them may be the transmission or echo of a very ancient tradition. Robinson, however, does not deny that Goshen is to be found about where thee best authorities ordinarily place it (Researches, 1:76). The district east of the Pelusiac Nile was suitabbe for a nomadic people, who would have been misplaced in the narrow limits of the valley of the Nile (Hackett's Illust. of Script. page 27). "The water of the Nile soaks through the earth for some distance under the sandy tract (the neighborhood of Heliopolis), and is everywhere found on digging wells eighteen or twenty feet deep. 'Such wells' are very frequent in parts which the inundation does not reach. The water is raised from them by wheels turned by oxen, and applied to the irrigation of the fields. 'Whenever this takes place the desert is turned into a fruitful field. In passing to Heliopolis we saw several. such fields in the different stages of being reclaimed from the desert; somejust laid out, others already fertile. In returning by another way more eastward, we passed a successon of "beautiful plantations wholly dependent on this mode. of irrigation" (Robinson, Researches, 1:36). J.D. Michaelis was of opinion (Spicit. page 371) that Goshes extended from Palestine along the Mediterranean as far as the Tanitic mouth of the Nile, and thence inland! up to Heliopolis, embracing a sweep of country so as to take in a part of Arabia bordering on Egypt. According to Bois Aymac (Descrip. de l'Egypte, 8:111), Goshen was the valley Sabal-yar, which begins in thevicinity of Belbeis, and embraces the district of Heropolis. Laborde (Arabia Petraea, page 58) fixes Goshens in the country around Belbeis, on the eastern side of the Nile. M. Quatremeare has endeavored to define the locality, and, by comparing several passages collected from different writers, he infers that the wady Tumilat (wady Tomlate in Laborde), in which the canal of Cairo terminates, is the land of Goshen: such, at least, seems to have been the opinion of Saadias aenld Abu Said, the authors of the earliest Arabic versions of the Old Testament — the one for the use of the Jews, and the other for that of the Samaritans (Mem. Geogr. sur l'Egypte, 1:61). This position is confirmed by theBiblical notices. The first mention of Goshensis ins Joseph's message to his father (Ge 14:10), which shows that the territory was near the usual royal residencea or the residence of Joseph's Pharaoh. The dynasty to which this king belonged appears to have resided part of the year at Memphis, and part of the year, at harvest-time, at Avaris, on the Bubastite or Pelusiac branch of the Nile: this, Manetho tells us, was the custom of the first Shepherd: king (Josephus,. c. Ap. 1:14). From the account of the arrival of Jacob, (Ge 46:28-29) it is evident that Goshen was between Joseph's residence at the time and the frontier of Palestine, and apparently the extreme province towards that frontier. The advice that Joseph gave his; brethren as to their conduct to Pharaoh further characterizes the territory as a grazing one (Ge 46:33-34). (It is remarkable that in Coptic shos signifies both "a shepherd" and "disgrace," and the like, Rossellini Monument 1 Storici. 1:177.) This passage shows that Goshen was scarcely regarded as a part of Egypt Proper, and was not peopled by Egyptians — characteristics that would positively indicate a frontier province. But it is not to be inferred that Goshen had no Egyptian inhabitants at this period: at the time of the ten plagues such are distinctly mentioned. That there was, moreover, a foreign population besides the Israelites seems evident from the account of the calamity of Ephraim's house (1Ch 7:20-30) SEE BERIAH, and the mention of the "mixed multitude" (עֵרֶב רִב) who went out at the Exodus (Ex 12:38), notices referring to the earlier ands the later period of the sojousn. The name Goshen may possibly be Hebrew, or Shemitic although we do not venture with Jerome to derive it from גָּשִׁם for it also occurs as the name of a district and of a town in the south of Palestine (see below, No. 2), where we could scarcely expect an appellation of Egyptian origin unless givens after the Exodus, which in this case does not seem likely. This also noticeable that some of the names of places in Goshen or its neighborhood, as certainly Migdol and Baal-zephe (q.v.), are Shemitic, the only positive exceptions being the cities. Pithom and Rameses, built during the oppression. The next mention of Goshen confirms the previous, inference that its position was between Canaan and the Delta (Ge 47:1). The nature of the country is indicated still more clearly than in the passage last quoted in the answer of Pharaoh to the request of. Joseph's brethren, ands in the account of their settling (Ge 47:5-6,11). Goshen was thus a pastoral country where some of Pharaoh's cattle were kept. The expression "in the best of the land" (בּמֵיטִב הָאָרֶוֹ) must, we think, be relative, the best of the land for a pastoral people (although we do not accept Michaelis's' reading "pastures" by comparison with the Arabic, Suppl. page 1072; see Gesen. Thes. s.v. מיטב), for in the matter of fertility the richest parts of Egypt are those nearest to the Nile, a position which, as has been seen, we cannot assign to Goshen. The sufficieicy of this tract for the Israelites, their prosperity there, and their virtual separation, as is evident from the account of the plagues, from the great body of the Egyptians, must also be, borne in mind. The clearest indications of the exact position of Goshen are those afforded by the narrative of the Exodus. The Israelites set out from the towns of Ramneses, in the land of Goshen, made two days' journey to the "edge of the wilderness," and in one day more reached the Red Sea. At the startingpoint two routes lay before them, "the way of the land of the Philistines... that [was] near," and "the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea" (Ex 13:17-18). It is also represented, in conformity with this position, at the last great struggle, as comparatively near to Palestine, by the route that lay through the land of the Philistines (Ex 13:17). Then, while the Israelites do not appear to have had any considerable settlements on the further side of the Nile, yet it is clear they were in a position that admitted of ready access to it: it was on the river (whether the main stream or one of the branches) that the infant Moses was exposed; in connection with it also that several of the miracles wrought by Moses were performed; and the fish of which they had been wont to partake, and the modes of irrigation with which they were familiar, bespoke a residence somewhere in its neighborhood (Ex 2:5; Ex 7:19; Ex 8:5; Nu 6:5; De 11:10). Yet the locality occupied by the Israelites could not have been very near the Nile, since three days were sufficient for their going into the wilderness to keep a feast to the Lord (Ex 5:3). From these indications we infer that the land of Goshen must in part have been near the eastern side of the ancient Delta, Rameses lying within the valley now called the wady et-Tumeylat, about thirty miles in a direct course from the ancient western shore of the Arabian Gulf, SEE EXODE. The superficial extent of this wady, if we include the whole cultivable part of the natural valley, which may somewhat exceed that of the tract bearing this appellation, is probably under sixty square geographical miles. If we Iuppose the entire Israelitish population at the time of the Exodus to have been 1,800,000, and the whole ipopulation, including Egyptians and foreigners other than the Israelites, about 2,000,000, this would give no less than between 30,000 and 40,000 inhabitants to the square mile, which would be half as dense as the ordinary population of an Eastern city. It must be remembered, however, that we need not suppose the Israelites to have been limited to the valley for pastture, but, like the Arabs, to have led their flocks into fertile tracts of the deserts around, and that we have taken for our estimate an extreme sum, that of the people at the Exodus. For the greater part of the sojourn their numbers must have been far lower, and before the Exodus they seem to have been partly spread about the territory of the oppressor, although collected at Rameses at the time of their departure. One very large place, like the Shepherd stronghold of Avaril, which Manetho relates to have had at the first a garrison of 240,000 men, would also greatly diminish the' disproportion of population to superficies. The very small superficial extent of Egypt in relation to the population necessary to the construction of the vast monuments, and the maintenance of the great armies of the Pharaohs, requires a different proportion to that of other countries — a condition fully explained by the extraordinary fertility of the soil. Even now, when the population is almost at the lowest point it has reached in history, when villages have replaced towns, and hamlets villages, it is still denser than that of many parts of England. It is not necessary, however, to suppose that during the whole period of the sojourn in Egypt the Israelites continued to dwell altogether within the same region: as they multiplied in number, and in process of, time began to devote themselves to other occupations, they would naturally extend their settlements, and, at various points, become more intermingled with the population of Egypt. It is quite possible that certain of their number crossed the Pelusiac arm of the Nile, and acquired dwellings or possessions in the tract lying between it and the Tanitic (Robinson, Researches, 1:76; Hengstenberg, Egypt and Books of Moses, page 45). Particular families may have also shot out in other directions; and: in this way would naturally arise that freer intercourse between them and the families of Egypt which appears to be implied in some of the later notices (Ex 11:2; Ex 12:12-23). Still, what we have indicated above as the land of Goshen, the district in which the original settlers from Canaan were assigned a home, continued to the last the head-quarters of the covenant people (see Geiger, De regno Ebraeorum in AEgypto, Marb. 1759). From the field of Zoan being mentioned in connection with the wonders of Moses (Ps 78:12,43), some have supposed that the town of that name, situated in the Tanitic nome, must have bep the capital of Pharaoh at the time. Bocharta. Hengstenberg, among others, have advocated this view, and said nearly all that is possible for it, but they have not been able to establish the point altogether satisfactorily; and it is quite probable that Zoan, in the passage referred to, is used in a general sense, as a kind of representative city in the land of Egypt. for the land itself (see Kurtz, Hist. of Old Cov. § 41: Naville, Goshen [4th. Memoir of "Eg. Explor. Fund"], Lond. 1887, 4to). SEE EGYPT.
2. (Sept. Γοσόμ; Vulg. Gessen, Gozen), the "land" or the "country [both אֶרֶוֹ] of Goshen," twice named as a district in southern Palestine, included in the conquests of Joshua (Jos 10:41; Jos 11:16). From the first of these it would seem to have lain between Gaza and Gibeon, and therefore to be some part of the maritime plain of Judah; but in the latter passage that plain, the Shefelah, is expressly specified (here with the article) in addition to Goshen. In this place, too, the situation of Goshen — if the order of the statement be any indication — would seem to be between the "south" and the Shefelah (A.V. "valley"). If Goshen was any portion of this rich plain, is it not possible that its fertility may have suggested the name to the Israelites? On the other hand, the name may be far older, and may retain a trace of early intercourse between Egypt and the south of the promised land. For such intercourse comp. 1Ch 7:21. The name may even have been extended from No. 3 below (see Keil, On Joshua page 280).
3. (Sept. Γόσομ, Vulg. Gosen.) A town of the same name is once mentioned (between Anim and Holon) in company with Debir, Socoh, and others, as in the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:51), in the group on the south-western part of the hills (see Keil, Joshua page 384). It is probably the origin of the application to an adjacent region (No. 2,. above), for it is not likely that two entirely different places would be called by the same name, both in the southern quarter of Judah. From the mention of Gaza (Jos 10:41) and the route of Joshua (verse 10), the locality in question would seem to be situated in the gore of Judah, running up between the territories of Benjamin and Dan, now occupied by the Beni- Malik, south of Kirjath-Jearim (comp. Robinson's Researches, 2:337). SEE JUDAH, TRIBE OF.