City of ancient Egypt, situated about ten miles south of modern Cairo. "Memphis" is the Greek form of the Egyptian "Menfe," and is used in Hos. ix. 6, A. V., and in Isa. xix. 13, R. V., margin (comp. Judith i. 10). The Hebrew form is "Mof," and occurs in Hos. ix. 6; in all other places it has been corrupted to "Nof," which the versions, however, render correctly by "Memphis."
As the capital of Egypt, Memphis seems to be mentioned in Hos. ix. 6; Ezek. xxx. 13, 16 (where, however, some critics alter the name in accordance with the Septuagint); Cornill, by making certain corrections, reads it also in Ezek. xxx. 15 and Isa. xix. 13. Jer. ii. 16 places it parallel with other large Egyptian cities, especially of the Delta. According to Jer. xliv. 1, xlvi. 14, the Jews fleeing from the Babylonian war to Egypt had formed a colony there.
A part of Memphis, called "the White Wall" (later forming the citadel of the city; see Herodotus, iii. 91; Thucydides, i. 104), existed at a very early period, and the residences of many Egyptian kings of the third to the sixth dynasty were built near it. From its temple the city always retained the sacred name "Temple of Ptaḥ" ("Ḥat-ka-ptaḥ," whence, probably, the name "Egypt" has been taken). The civil name and an account of the development of the city are derived from the funeral pyramid of King Ppy (vocalized "Apopy" ?) I. of the sixth dynasty, called "Men-nofer" = "good resting." Hence the later abbreviations "Menfe," "Menbe" ("Mempi" in Assyrian; Delitzsch, "Wo Lag das Paradies ?" p. 314), etc. Other etymologies found in Greek writers are unwarranted.
Memphis remained from the sixth dynasty to the Arab conquest perhaps the first, certainly the second, city of Egypt; and it frequently was the capital. The Arabs, however, soon caused its depopulation by founding new capitals a little to the north of it, for which the stones from the ruins of Memphis were used so exhaustively that only a few traces, near modern Mitrahineh and the large necropoles on the border of the desert (the pyramids of Gizeh, etc.), bear witness to the former existence of the city.