Tonight I thought occurred to me regarding Yosef going to meet Yaakov for the first time in Egypt. It depended on where Goshen was, which I thought was south of the main then center of Egypt. I could not find any maps showing where 'Goshen' was in any of the many and various Chumashim at the Shul I was at, but did find a sefer from Mosdei Rav Kook that did. It seemed to show that 'Goshen' was located to the East of the Nile and North of the YomSuf. Is that the accepted location?


4 Answers 4


An alternate view (which I hadn't previously heard of) is mentioned in Hebrew Wikipedia - that Goshen is Faiyum, southwest of Cairo (which is also famous in Jewish history for another reason - it was the birthplace of R' Saadiah Gaon).

Which one is the real Goshen probably would depend on where in known Egyptian history the story of Yosef is placed. Most historians put Yosef's ministry during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt; during this period the capital was in Avaris, near later Tanis (צוען in Tanach), not far from the area mentioned in Gershon's answer. On the other hand, if it was during one of the periods when the capital was in or near Memphis, then Faiyum is fairly close to there. (And if it's when Thebes assumed that role - well, then, neither of these is anywhere near it; if that's the case, Yosef's "you will be close to me" (Gen. 45:10) would have to be understood relatively - either Faiyum or Qosem would still be a lot closer than the Land of Israel.)

  • I mentioned to someone that the maps of Mosdei Rav Kook and The Living Torah position Goshen in the NE of Egypt . The reply was that if Goshen is not in the midst of Egypt (ie: South) than the plagues not affecting Goshon is not that big a deal. So on the one hand you have Yosef/Yaakov not wanting the Family to have to go through & be in the midst of Egypt but on the other hand you have the 'miracle of plagues not in Goshon' factor. (btw: Goshon being NE would explain that Yosef did not wait for Yaakov to come to Egypt & reach Goshen before greeting him - coming to Goshen = coming to Egypt).
    – inSeattle
    Commented Dec 10, 2010 at 23:14

Yehoshua 10:41 and 11:16 indicate that Goshen was part of Eretz Yisrael. The Land of Goshen (mentioned in a 12th Dynasty papyrus as Qosem) lay well to the west of Wadi El-Arish in the vicinity of the Pelusian arm. Commentators who identify Nachal Mitzrayim with the Wadi El-Arish are thus forced to propose the existence of a second Goshen lying east of the Wadi El-Arish but no such locality has ever been identified.

Brook of Egypt (Wikipedia).

  • 1
    The Goshen referred to in Yehoshua isn't necessarily the one in Egypt, though. Indeed, there are a couple of proofs to the contrary: (a) in Josh. 13:3 "from the Shichor facing Egypt to the northern borders of Ekron" was left unconquered, whereas in the two verses you quoted it says that Yehoshua conquered those areas; if the Shichor is some arm of the Nile, and Goshen is east of it, then these verses would be in contradiction. (b) in Josh. 15:51 Goshen is listed among the cities "in the mountains," along with Giloh (southwest of Jerusalem, modern Beit Jala) - nowhere near the Egyptian Goshen.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 20:20

According to Prof. Abraham Polak (1910-1970), Goshen should be identified as a valley just north of modern day Cairo, in the southern part of the delta. This area is drawn out on the map below:

enter image description here.


So if Goshen was indeed in NE Egypt (see my comment below Alex's answer) , this would indicate to me that the Bnai Yisroel chose not to leave Egypt when the slavery started in order to fulfill the 400 years dictum. It would also provide an explanation of how the tribe of Ephraim got to the desert

(using Answer as commenting does not register on the system as something has occured)

  • I don't know that I'd agree with that. In today's parshah (50:8) it mentioned that at Yaakov's funeral, his sons' "children, sheep, and cattle were left in Goshen." I don't recall who says this, but one explanation is that Pharaoh wouldn't let them go because he wanted to guarantee that the brothers would come back (like the later Pharaoh of Moshe's times - Ex. 10:11,24). So even if Goshen was adjacent to Eretz Yisrael, it was still part of Egypt and subject to the same restrictions.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 18, 2010 at 20:00
  • There's a reason that comments don't bump up a question on the front page: The main emphasis of the site is the questions and answers themselves, not the associated discussion. You may, in situations like this, consider editing your question to include the additional query. Also, bear in mind that when you comment on someone else's question or answer, that author is notified via the envelope icon next to their name at the top of the screen.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 4:08
  • ok, thanks for the fuller explanation. I didn't notice the envelope icon being mentioned in the docs.
    – inSeattle
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 4:52
  • If Goshen is in the NE of Egypt and above the Yom Suf , then they could have just left "en mass". No way that the Egyptians could have secured the whole eastern border of Goshen against a million people leaving. But if it is in the S/SW, then it becomes much easier to "pen" the people in.
    – inSeattle
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 4:55
  • PS: When we migrate to SE 2.0 (area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/22435/…), anyone you call out in a comment with @Their_Username will also get notified via the envelope icon. That's one of the many technology upgrades we're looking forward to.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 5:31

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