zoan Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
zoan in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Old Egypt. Sant= "stronghold," the modern San). A city on the
Tanitic branch of the Nile, called by the Greeks Tanis. It was
built seven years after Hebron in Israel (Num. 13:22). This
great and important city was the capital of the Hyksos, or
Shepherd kings, who ruled Egypt for more than 500 years. It was
the frontier town of Goshen. Here Pharaoh was holding his court
at the time of his various interviews with Moses and Aaron. "No
trace of Zoan exists; Tanis was built over it, and city after
city has been built over the ruins of that" (Harper, Bible and
Modern Discovery). Extensive mounds of ruins, the wreck of the
ancient city, now mark its site (Isa. 19:11, 13; 30:4; Ezek.
30:14). "The whole constitutes one of the grandest and oldest
ruins in the world."
This city was also called "the Field of Zoan" (Ps. 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.
zoan in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(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, #Ps 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. #Isa 19:13 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.-ED.)
zoan in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
ZO'AN (low region? or place of departure?), a city of Lower Egypt: called by the Greeks Tanis; now San. Zoan was situated in Lower Egypt, on the east bank of the ancient Tanitic branch of the Nile. It stood in lat. 31? N. and long. 31? 55' E. To the east was a great plain, representing "the field of Zoan." History. - Zoan was an exceedingly ancient city, built seven years after Hebron. Num 13:22. Manetho gave an account of a city called "Avaris," fortified by the Shepherd-kings and garrisoned by 240,000 men. Avaris and Zoan are supposed to have been identical. Tradition makes it the town in which Moses had his memorable interviews with Pharaoh, recorded in the book of Exodus. The "field of Zoan" was the place of God's wonders. Ps 78:12, Acts 2:43. "When Isaiah wrote, it would appear to have been one of the chief cities in Egypt, as he speaks of "the princes of Zoan." Isa 19:11, 2 Kgs 11:13; Gen 30:4. Ezekiel foretells the fate of the city in the words: "I will set fire in Zoan." Eze 30:14. There are no other Scripture references to Zoan. Present Condition. - 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 past by Brugsch Bey and others. Among the inscriptions has been found one with the expression Sechet Tanet, which exactly corresponds to the "field of Zoan." Ps 78:43. Several colossal statues of kings of the various dynasties and a number of sphinxes have been brought to light by excavations. 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 Barneses II. 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." The "field of Zoan" was a rich plain extending some 30 miles to the east. It is now almost covered by the great Lake Menzeleh, but some portions exhibit a rich black loam without fences or towns, and with only a few trees in sight. Brugsch-Bey is of the opinion that Zoan was identical with Rameses, but this location was made to fit his theory that the Israelites crossed the Serbonian bog instead of the Red Sea. An English Exploration Society is engaged in making explorations in San. It promises rich historical results in this ancient land.
zoan in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Tanis. Now San. From Hebrew root, "moved tents," i.e. the place of departure. On the E. of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. "Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt" (Numbers 13:22), a notice implying the two had a common founder. Zoan was probably built, or rebuilt, by the Hyksos or shepherd kings (Salatis is named as the builder), connected with the Palestinian Anakim, as a fortress of defense on their eastern frontier. Thothmes 2 great-grandson of Aahmes, the original persecutor of Israel, resided at Zoan. Psalm 78:12; Psalm 78:43, speaks of "the field of Zoan" as the scene of Jehovah's marvelous deeds, signs, and wonders in Egypt. It was a very large city, strongly fortified.
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).
Tanis was famous for flax (Pliny, 19:1), compare the mention of flax, Exodus 9:31. Anciently a rich plain, "the marshes" or "pasture lands," stretched due E. as far as Pelusium 30 miles off, gradually narrowing toward the E. and watered by four of the seven branches of the Nile, the Pathmitic, Mendesian, Tanitic, and Pelusiac. Now it is in part covered by the lake Menzeleh through the subsidence of the Mediterranean coast.
Here came the ambassadors of Hezekiah seeking alliance (Isaiah 30:4). On Sevechus' withdrawal from Lower Egypt Tethos of the priestly caste became supreme, having Zoan for his capital, 718 B.C. In his contests with the military caste "the princes of Zoan became fools," though famed for wisdom (Isaiah 19:13). God threatens (Ezekiel 30:14), "I will set fire in Zoan," etc., namely, by Nebuchadnezzar. It is now a barren waste, the canal through it giving no fertility; the capital of several Pharaohs, now the abode of fishermen, exposed to wild beasts and malignant fevers. The oldest name found is Sesertesen III, of the 12th dynasty; the latest is that of Tirhakah. The 21st dynasty was called Tanite from it.