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Shemot

  
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 1:11
 1:12
 1:13
1:11 [The Egyptians] appointed conscription officers over [the Israelites] to crush their spirits with hard labor. [The Israelites] were to build up the cities of Pithom and Ra'amses as supply centers for Pharaoh.
Vayasimu alav sarey misim lema'an anoto besivlotam vayiven arey miskenot le-Far'oh et-Pitom ve'et-Ra'amses.
1:12 But the more [the Egyptians] oppressed them, the more [the Israelites] proliferated and spread. [The Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites.
Vecha'asher ye'anu oto ken yirbeh vechen yifrots vayakutsu mipeney beney Yisra'el.
1:13 The Egyptians started to make the Israelites do labor designated to break their bodies.
Vaya'avidu Mitsrayim et-beney Yisra'el befarech.



Commentary:

Pithom
  According to tradition, this is Tanis (Targum Yonathan). Tanis was an ancient Egyptian city on the north-east delta of the Nile. It was the chief commercial center of Egypt, and the capital of the Hyksos. It might have been razed when the Hyksos were expelled, and now it had to be rebuilt. Although the Hyksos had been driven to the north, supply depots would be necessary if a new campaign were required.

It might be possible to identify Pithom with Patumus, which is mentioned in ancient histories as being to the north of the Suez Canal (Herodotus 2:158). It may also be the Per-atum (house of the god Atum), a city near Tjeku (Sukkoth?) mentioned in ancient sources (Papyrus Anastasi 4:4:56). This is identified with Tell el Maskhutah, on the eastern edge of Wadi Tumilat.

The name Pithom may come from the Egyptian pi tem, 'the place of crying out.'

Ra'amses
  See Genesis 47:11. There, however, the area was named Rameses, while here it is Ra'amses (cf. Ibn Ezra). It is identified as Pelusium commanding the entrance to Egypt (see note on Genesis 47:11) (Herodotus 2:141). Others identify it as Qantir.





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