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Memphis

also known as: Noph, Inbu-Hedj (the white walls), Men-nefer (enduring and beautiful), Menfe, Aneb-Hetch, Ankh-Tawy (Life of the Two Lands), Djed-Sut, Hut-ka-Ptah

Hebrew name: נֹ֑ף —transliteration: Noph

Modern name: Mit Rahina, Egypt

This ancient Egyptian city is mentioned in Hosea 9:6, and mentioned under its name Noph in the King James version of Isaiah 19:13; Jeremiah 2:16; 46:14, 19; Ezek. 30:13, 16.

…The princes of Memphis are deluded;
Those who are the cornerstone of her tribes
Have led Egypt astray. —Isaiah 19:13b NASB

Is Israel a slave? Or is he a homeborn servant?
Why has he become a prey?
…they have made his land a waste;
His cities have been destroyed, without inhabitant.
Also the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
Have shaved [or grazed] the crown of your head.
Have you not done this to yourself
By your forsaking the Lord your God
When He led you in the way? —Jeremiah 2:14-17 NASB

Memphis is said to have been founded by Menes, the first king of Egypt, and to have been about 19 miles in circumference. It was the capital of northern Egypt (called Lower Egypt). A 13th century Arab writer and traveler reported,

The ruins of Memphis hold a half-day’s journey in every direction.
—Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi per Joanne and Isambert, Itinéraire descriptif, historique et archéologique de l'Orient, p. 1009

Memphis was an idolatrous city, the site of many heathen temples and practices. Because of the many evils committed by Memphis, God cursed it, bringing Divine judgment on the city and its people. Is was destroyed and eventually abandoned.

Thus says the Lord God,

I will also destroy the idols And make the images cease from Memphis [Noph].
And there will no longer be a prince in the land of Egypt;
And I will put fear in the land of Egypt.

I will make Pathros desolate,
Set a fire in Zoan
And execute judgments on Thebes [No].

I will pour out My wrath on Sin [Pelusium],
The stronghold of Egypt;
I will also cut off the hordes of Thebes [No].

I will set a fire in Egypt;
Sin will writhe in anguish,
Thebes will be breached
And Memphis [Noph] will have distresses daily. —Ezekiel 30:13-16 NASB

From remains found half-buried in the sand, the site of this ancient city was discovered near the modern town of Mit Rahinah (aka Mit Rahineh, Minyet Rahinch, or Mitraheny), about 16 miles above the ancient head of the Nile Delta, and 9 miles south of Cairo, on the west bank of the Nile.

Site of ancient Memphis near modern town of Mit Rahinah, Egypt which is near the city of Ḩalwān—satellite view

Samuel Manning described the site as it appeared in the 1800’s:

Photo by BarryLB.
The partially destroyed 3,200 year old Ramesses II statue in Memphis, Egypt
Replica of Ramesses II statue. Photo by Jasmine Elias.
Restored replica of the above Ramesses II statue, displayed in Cairo.

“There are few remains above ground of the splendour of ancient Memphis. The city has utterly disappeared. If any traces yet exist, they are buried beneath the vast mounds of crumbling bricks and broken pottery which meet the eye in every direction.

Near the village of Mitraheny [Mit Rahinah] is a colossal statue of Rameses the Great. It is apparently one of the two described by Herodotus and Diodorus as standing in front of the temple of the false god Ptah. They were originally 50 feet in height. The one which remains, though mutilated, measures 48 feet. It is finely carved in limestone, which takes a high polish, and is evidently a portrait. It lies in a pit, which, during the inundation, is filled with water.

As we gaze on this fallen and battered statue of the mighty conqueror who was probably contemporaneous with Moses, it is impossible not to remember the words of the prophet Isaiah, 19:13; 44:16-19, and Jeremiah, 46:19.” —Samuel Manning, The Land of the Pharaohs, 1875

Ruins of the hypostyle hall and pylon of Rameses II at the site of ancient Memphis located at Modern Mit Rahineh
Article Version: August 31, 2017

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