DISCUSSION

Ascalon, Gaza, Negev and Sinai

129. Border of Egypt and Palestine


Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 75)
The village of Bethaphu, fifteen miles beyond Raphia on the way to Egypt is mentioned by Eusebius (On. 50,18) as the boundary of Palestine. This is the only mention of 'Palestine' on the map.

Pau Figueras (The Road Linking Palestine and Egypt along the Sinai Coast", in The Madaba Map Centenary, p. 223 - see also the complete article)
This interesting inscription should not be considered so much as reminiscent of biblical or historical geography, but rather as updated evidence of a border. Naturally, in the late Roman and Byzantine period, that border was only an administrative one that divided the two provinces of Palaestina I and Augustamnica I. Its existence is supported by other epigraphic as well as literary evidence (P. Figueras, "Bytilion and Boutaphis", Israel - People and Land (Eretz Israel Museum Yearbook) 5-6 [23-24], 1987-89, 121-124 [Hebrew]). Its importance is well evidenced by the story of 'Amr ibn al-'As when he crossed it in AD 639 on his way to the conquest of Egypt. The exact location of that spot, called Esh-Shajaratein ("the two trees") in the Arab sources, is not known. But we know the names of two settlements from the Byzantine period situated right on the border, namely Betylium and Butaphis. Only the first and more important of the two is indicated on the Map.

For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Boutafis, Bethafu", 92.

Map Section 9 Place Sources

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Created Tuesday, December 19, 2000 at 23:40:54
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000