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ZOAN (Heb. צֹעַן), ancient city in Lower Egypt; the ancient Egyptian Djanet, Greek Tanis, and modern Ṣan el-Ḥagar in the eastern Delta of Egypt. Zoan is mentioned several times in the Bible. Attempts have been made to identify it with the Hyksos capital of Avaris. According to Numbers 13:22 the city was founded seven years after Hebron. An Egyptian text of around 1330 b.c.e. commemorates the 400th year of the god Set in Avaris; since Set was the Egyptian form of the Asiatic storm god whom the Hyksos worshipped, his establishment in Avaris 400 years earlier would follow closely on the appearance of the Hyksos in the Delta. The Egyptian New Kingdom, particularly the period of Ramses ii, is well represented at Tanis, but it was not until after the New Kingdom, in the Twenty-First Dynasty, that Tanis rose to preeminence as the chief city of Egypt. It was a Tanite king who campaigned against Gezer, conquered it, and gave the city as dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife. The mention of Tanis and its rulers by the prophets (Isa. 19:11, 13; 30:4; and Ezek. 30:14) refers, however, to a different dynasty, the Twenty-Second (Libyan) Dynasty, some of whose rulers continued to reside in Tanis and were buried there. The "field of Zoan" (Ps. 78:12, 43), which is attested on several late statues and stelae (Sekhet Djanet) may have been an alternative name for the city, but more probably it was the name of the surrounding region.


A.H. Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, 2 (1947), 199–201.

[Alan Richard Schulman]