Pi-be'seth (Heb. id. פַּיאּבֶסֶת; Sept. Βούβαστος; Vullg. Bubastus), a town of Lower Egypt, mentioned but once in the Bible (Eze 30:17). In hieroglyphics its name is written Bahest, Bast, and Ha-Bahest, followed by the determinative sign for an Egyptian city, which was probably not pronounced. The Coptic forms are Bast, with the article pi prefixed, or Poubaste, Poubast Phoubasthi, Bouasti, Pouast;. and the Greek, Βούβαστις, Βούβαστος. The first and second hieroglyphic names are the same as those of the goddess of the place, and the third signifies the abode of Behest, that goddess. It is probable that Bahest is an archaic mode of writing, and that the word was always pronounced, as it was sometimes written, Bast. It seems as if the civil name was Bahest, and the sacred Ifa- Bahest. It is difficult to trace the first syllable of the Hebrew and of the Coptic and Greek forms in the hieroglyphic equivalents. There is a similar case in the names Ha-Hesar, Bousiri, Pousiri, Βούσιρις, Busiris. Dr. Brugsch and M. Devdria read Pe or Pa, instead of Ha; but this is not proved. It may be conjectured that in pronunciation the masculine definite article pepa or pi was prefixed to Ha, as could be done in Coptic: in the ancient language the word appears to be common, whereas it is masculine in the later. Or it may be suggested that the first syllable or first letter was a prefix of the vulgar dialect, for it is frequent in Coptic. The name of Philae may perhaps afford a third explanation, for it is written Eelek-t, Eelek, and
P-Felek (Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. 1:156, Nos. 626, 627); whence it would seem that the sign city (not abode) was common, as in the first form the feminine article, and in the last the masculine one, is used, aud this would admit of the reading Pa-Bast, "the [city] of Bubastis [the goddess]." The goddess Bast, who was here the chief object of worship, was the same as Pesht, the goddess of fire. Both names accompany a lion-headed figure, and the cat was sacred to her. Herodotus considers the goddess Bubastis to be the same as Artemis (2:137), and that this was the current opinion in Egypt in the Greek period is evident kfrom the name Speos Artemidos of a rock temple dedicated to Pesht, and probably of a neighboring town or village. The historian speaks of the annual festival of the goddess held at Bubastis as the chief and most largely attended of the Egyptian festivals. It was evidently the most popular, and a scene of great license, like the great Moslem festival of the Sevid el-Bedawi celebrated at Tanteh in the Delta (2:59, 60).
There are scarcely any historical notices of Bubastis in the Egyptian annals. In Manetho's list it is related that in the time of Boethos, or Bochos, first king of the 2d dynasty (B.C. cir. 2231), a chasm of the earth opened at Bubastis, and many perished (Cory's Ancient Fragments, 2d ed. pages 98, 99). This is remarkable, since, though shocks of earthquakes are frequent in Egypt, the actual earthquake is of very rare occurrence. The next event in the list connected with Bubastis is the accession of the 22d dynasty (B.C. cir. 990), a line of Bubastite kings ibid. pages 124, 125). These were either foreigners or party of foreign extraction, and it is probable that they, chose Bubastis as their capital. or as an occasioital residence, on account of its nearness to the military settlements. SEE MIGDMOI. Thus it must have been a city of great importance when Ezekiel foretold its doom: "The young men of Aven and of Pi-beseth shall fall by the sword and these [cities] shall go into captivity" (Eze 30:17). Heliopolis and Bubastis are near together, and both in the route of an invader from the East marching against Memphis. Bubastis was situmated on the west bank of the Pelulsiac or Bubastite branch of the Nile, about forty miles from the central part of Memphis, and was the principal town of the Bubastite nome (Pliny. Hist. Nat 5:9; Ptolemy, 4:5). Herodotus speaks of its site as having been raised by those who dug the canals for Sesostris, and afterwards by the labor of criminals under Sabacos the Ethiopian, or, rather, under the Ethiopian dominion. He mentions the temple of the goddess Bubastis as well worthy of description, being more beautifull than any other known to him. It lay in the midst of the city, which, having been raised on mounds, overlooked it on every side. An artificial canal encompassed it with the waters of the Nile, and was beautified by trees on its bank. There was only a narrow approach leading to a lofty gateway. The enclosure thus formed was surrounded by a low wall, bearing sculptures; within was the temple, surrounded by a grove of fine trees (2:137, 138). Sir Gardner Wilkinson observes that the ruins of the city and temple confirm this account. The height of the mounds and the site of the temple are very remarkable, as well as the beauty of the latter, which was "of the finest red granite." It "was surrounded by a sacred enclosure, about 600 feet square, . . . beyond which was a larger circuit, measuring 940 feet by 1200, containing the minor one and the canal." The temple is entirely ruined, but the names of Rameses II of the 19th dylnasty, Userken I (Osorchon I) of the 22d, and Nekht-har-heb (Nectanebo I) of the 30th, have been found here, as well as that of the eponymous goddess Bast. There are also remains of the ancient houses of the town, and, "amidst the houses on the N.W. side are the thick walls of a fort, which protected the temple below" (Notes by Sir G. Wilkinson in Rawlinson's Herodotus, 2:186, plan). Bubastis thus had a fort, besides being strong from its height. The city was taken by the Persians. who destroyed the walls (Diod. Sic. 16:51); but it was still a place of some consideration under the Romalis. It was near Bubastis that the canal leading to Arsinoe (Suez) opened to the Nile (Strabo 17:805; Mela, 1:9, 9; Herod. 2:138); and although the mouth was afterwards often changed and taken more southward, it has now returned to its first locality, as the present canal of Tel el-Wadi commences in the vicinity of Tel Basta. This Tel has recently been explored (Navile, Bubastis, "Eg Explor. Fund," Lond. 1891. 4to). See Wilkinson, Modern Egypt, 1:300, 427-429; Ritter, Erdkunde, 1:825; Roselini. Monum. Storichi, 2:76 sq.; Manliert, Geog. 10, 1:588 sq., Maltis, in the Descr. de l'Egypte, 3:8307.