The southern-most city on the coast of Palestine and its port, identified
with Tell Rafah. A halt under the same name is mentioned in ancient Egyptian sources in conjunction with
the Via Maris. Diodorus (20.74) reported that Demetrius
(in 306 B.C.), who sailed from Gaza, had many of his
galleys driven by a storm to Raphia, “a city which affords no anchorage and is surrounded by shoals.” Strabo
) refers to a battle fought there between Ptolemy
IV and Antiochos the Great in 217 B.C. At Raphia
Antiochos V married the daughter of the same Antiochos
the Great (Polyb. 5.82-86). The city was taken by
Alexander Jannaeus (Joseph. AJ 13.357
; 14.396), who
annexed it to the Hasmonaean kingdom. It was freed
again by Pompey in 64 B.C., and was subsequently rebuilt by Gabinius (Joseph. BJ 1.166
). In A.D. 69 Titus
went by Raphia on his way from Alexandria to Caesarea.
On this occasion Josephus (BJ 1.662
) wrote that Raphia
is “the city where Syria begins.” Ptolemy (5.15.5) knew
it as a city of Judea and Raphia is frequently mentioned
in Byzantine sources.
Raphia minted coins from the time of Commodus to
that of Philip the Arab, and from these coins we learn
that Apollo, Artemis, and Dionysos were worshiped
there. There have been no excavations.
F. M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine
II (1938) 431-32; M. Avi-Yonah, The Holy Land from
the Persian to the Arab Conquests (536 B.C. to A.D.
640). A Historical Geography