(No-aʹmon) [from Egyptian, meaning “City of Amon [an Egyptian god]”].
A prominent city and onetime capital of Egypt, located on both banks of the upper Nile about 530 km (330 mi) S of Cairo. The Greeks knew it as Thebes, the name commonly used today.
Some scholars in the past have held that the Hebrew “No” is an incorrect rendering of the Egyptian name. (Jer 46:25) However, Professor T. O. Lambdin points out that “recent investigations in Egypto-Coptic phonology indicate that the Hebrew spelling may well be correct and may reflect an earlier Egyptian pronunciation . . . The problem is further complicated by uncertainty on the part of Egyptologists regarding the precise consonantal reading of the Egyptian word itself.”—The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, edited by G. A. Buttrick, 1962, Vol. 4, pp. 615, 616.
In ancient Egyptian texts the city is called “the City of Amon.” This is because it became the principal center of the worship of the god Amon, who rose from being a minor deity to the position of chief god of the nation, equated by the Greeks with Zeus (Jupiter). (See AMON No. 4.) Here the pharaohs built enormous monuments and temples, covering an extensive area on the E bank of the Nile (at Karnak and Luxor), with other magnificent temples and a huge burial ground on the W bank. The temple of Amon at Karnak is considered the largest columnar structure ever built, some of its massive columns measuring some 3.5 m (12 ft) in diameter.
Becomes Egypt’s Capital. Particularly during the period that is termed the “New Kingdom or Empire: Dynasties 18-20,” Thebes attained great prominence, becoming the capital of the land. Here, the long distance from the sea and from the land bridge to Asia afforded good protection from that direction. It may be that, because of a very weak and discredited government in Lower Egypt following the Israelite Exodus, the royalty of Upper Egypt took advantage of the situation and gained the ascendancy. At any rate, there is evidence of considerable reorganization at this time.
Center of priesthood. Even when administrative control shifted to other sites, No-amon (Thebes) continued to be a wealthy and prominent city, the center of the powerful priesthood of Amon, whose chief priest ranked next to Pharaoh himself in power and wealth. But in the seventh century B.C.E., Assyrian aggression spread into Egypt during the rule of Assyrian King Esar-haddon. His son and successor Ashurbanipal renewed the conquest, reaching Thebes and thoroughly sacking the city. It is evidently to this devastation that the prophet Nahum referred when warning Nineveh, Assyria’s capital, about a destruction of similar magnitude. (Na 3:7-10) No-amon’s defenses, stretching across the road from Palestine and on up the Nile, failed, and the riches from her commercial traffic and religious temples became the prize of the ransacking Assyrians.
Brought to Ruin. Yet, by the close of the seventh century or the early part of the sixth century, No-amon had regained a position of some prominence. Jeremiah and Ezekiel foretold a judgment by Jehovah God upon Egypt’s chief god, Amon of No, and upon Pharaoh and all the Egyptian gods, which judgment would come by the hand of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. (Jer 46:25, 26; Eze 30:10, 14, 15) Persian ruler Cambyses dealt another severe blow to No-amon in 525 B.C.E., and the city steadily declined, finally being completely ruined by the Romans under Gaius Cornelius Gallus because of its share in a revolt against Roman rule (30/29 B.C.E.). Today only small villages are to be found around the massive ruins of the temples of the impotent gods of No.