The Land of Pathros

By Mark Morgan | Jeremiah

Jun 02

After the flood, Noah’s descendants spread across the world.  Noah’s youngest son, Ham, had a son called Egypt, some of whose descendants were called the Pathrusim (Genesis 10:14).  Many believe them to be connected with the Land of Pathros, a part of Upper Egypt (see map below).

Map of Egypt and Judah around 580BC (derived from a map by Yiyi ( of the Middle East ( with a CC BY 3.0 licence (

The Bible refers to the Land of Pathros five times, all in a 170-year period starting about 150 years before the end of the kingdom of Judah.


Isaiah was the first to mention Pathros and did so in the context of predicting the eventual return of the Jews from the many places where they had been scattered after being exiled from Israel (Isaiah 11:11-12).  A quick inspection of the text shows us that this prediction was made before the defeat and exile of either Israel or Judah.  Thus, it was not a prediction of events that could arise from the circumstances of the time, but a prediction of events that could only happen if other events had happened first.  The Jews could not return to Israel unless they had first been exiled – something which had been prophesied even before they entered the promised land (Leviticus 26:33-39; Deuteronomy 28:36, 41, 63-64).  God’s prophecies often refer to a long time in the future, but they do come to pass.


Ezekiel uses the start of his captivity as a reference point for dates in his prophecies, the time when Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) was taken captive in about 597BC, 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem.  In Ezekiel 29:1-16, he presents a message delivered by God in the tenth month of the tenth year (587 BC), just a few months before the fall of Jerusalem.  Egypt was, God said, to be sent into captivity for 40 years, but afterwards the Egyptians would return, particularly to the Land of Pathros.  After that,  however, Egypt would only ever be a weak nation, never a superpower.  When was this 40-year exile fulfilled?  We don’t know, but it may have been after either the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar which we refer to below or a later invasion by Cyrus the Persian.

Jeremiah in Egypt

After the destruction of Jerusalem and the assassination of Gedaliah, Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed governor, the survivors from Judah escaped to Tahpanhes in Egypt.  It seems that there were already quite a few Israelites living in Egypt, and the new refugees slowly spread throughout Egypt.

God sent Jeremiah a message for all the Judeans in the land of Egypt (Jeremiah  44:1-14).  Jeremiah delivered the message to a “great assembly”[1] of people in the land of Pathros, reminding them that God had destroyed Jerusalem as prophesied because the people would not listen or change their behaviour.  He warned them that God would continue to punish them for their stubbornness, but they replied that they would not listen (Jeremiah  44:15-19).  Jeremiah warned them that they would suffer, dying where they were, and that Pharaoh Hophra would also be handed over to his enemies (Jeremiah 44:20-30).  Historians tell us that Pharaoh Hophra, also known as Apries, was overthrown by his army commander, Amasis, ten or fifteen years later in 570BC and died in battle a year or two after that, trying to recover his kingdom.

At much the same time, Ezekiel also prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would attack Egypt.[2]  Ezekiel spoke of desolation,  fire, judgement and darkness in Egypt, including Pathros, Zoan, Thebes and Tehaphnehes/Tahpanhes (Ezekiel 30:1-19).  It is likely that Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled these prophecies during his invasion two years later.

And also…

Some other Bible Tales articles are related to this and may be  of interest:

On Wikipedia:


1 Jeremiah 44:15
2 Ezekiel 29:17 gives a date in the first month of the 27th year which would be about 570BC, roughly 16 years after the destruction of Jerusalem and about two years before Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt.  According to a Babylonian inscription (BM 33041), the invasion occurred in the 36th year of Nebuchadnezzar, which would be in about 568BC.