[b-hebrew] The meaning of "Zoan" in the HB

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Dec 12 23:19:07 EST 2003


As a Hebrew root, C(N is used only once, in Isaiah 33:20 where it appears to refer to striking a tent.

The other seven times I found refer to a place name in Egypt. Apparently it was the name of a town that was quite ancient even at the time of the Exodus, seeing as it was built within a decade of Hebron, a town in existance at the time of Abraham (assuming the dates are accurate).

I have no trouble with the idea that this refers to a town that either had two or more names—a Canaanite name and an Egyptian one—or it could refer to a town that has since been destroyed and forgotten. The surviving records of the Babylonian and later Persian invasions show that they were quite destructive, making the second option a real possibility, or a combination of the two. All the Biblical references to Zoan predate the Babylonian invasion.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: formoria at carolina.rr.com

> Can the reference to the "fields of Zoan" in Psalm 78:12-43 be explained as an attempt by a pre-exilic redactor to keep his sacred texts relevant to its audience? The OT does not say that the fields of Zoan were the Pharoanic residence OR the capital of Egypt during the time of the Exodus. In fact it does not identify the nature of the fields of Zoan, except to say that it was in the land of Egypt. In fact, the name Zoan, in some African traditions, simply means "departure" or "motion". The passage takes on a deeper meaning when rendered as "the fields of departure".
> Does anyone on the list know if this word is originally a Hebrew word or something else? Further, has anyone done an analysis of whether or not the reference to Zoan in Numbers 13:22 is the same word as that in the Psalm which can be translated as "departure"? If so, then the author of Numbers 13:22 could simply have been trying to say that Hebron was built seven years before the "departure" in Egypt. There might be no connection to Avaris/Tanis/Pi-Rameses here in these instances. I realize the long-standing identification of Avaris/Tanis/Pi-Rameses with Zoan, and I know it's no small matter to challenge it, so no flames here, please.
> Best Salaams,
> Brian
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