Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism

An etymological history of ‘Pharaoh’

38 Comments

The word Pharaoh in Coptic, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek and Hebrew.

The word Pharaoh in Coptic, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek and Hebrew.

I recently received a copy of Bentley Layton‘s fairly new Coptic in 20 Lessons, a teaching grammar for Sahidic Coptic. Browsing through the first few chapters, I was reminded there of the Coptic word ⲣ̄ⲣⲟ (rro or erro) meaning ‘king’ or ’emperor’. It’s an odd word, but its origin becomes clearer when the Coptic definite article is appended, ⲡ-ⲣ̄ⲣⲟ (perro), ‘the king’. The word is taken from the Ancient EgyptianPharaoh‘. In spite of the fact that Coptic is the direct descendent of the Ancient Egyptian language, the initial ‘p’ of the word became mistaken for the definite article at some point in the word’s history, and Copts began to take the ‘p’ out of ‘Pharaoh’.

The Ancient Greeks, writing about the southern superpower, wrote the word as φαραώ pharaō, and the Hebrew Bible renders the name of the oppressor as פַּרְעֹה (parʿōh). Our Modern English spelling and pronunciation is a bit of both the Greek and the Hebrew. The Greeks seem to have used the letter phi to represent the initial sound of the word while that letter was still used as an aspirated stop //, before it became a fricative /f/, and so they contributed that sound change. The Hebrew spelling with the final ‘h’, which simply signal a final long vowel in Hebrew consonantal orthography, came into English spelling during the Reformation, when the Bible was being translated from the best available manuscripts in the original languages. This replaced the latinate spelling formerly used in English, ‘Pharao’ or ‘Pharaon’. The odd digraph ‘ao’ in the second syllable comes from the Greek too. We pronounce it as if the ‘a’ is not really there, which really confuses us when trying to spell. Well, the ‘a’ doesn’t seem to have been really there in the first place. It seems that the Greeks used the ‘ao’ spelling for an Egyptian sound that was a pharyngeal or glottal consonant that Greek doesn’t have followed by an ‘o’. Hebrew, being an Afroasiatic language like Egyptian, didn’t have a problem with this. I wonder whether the Coptic spelling with a double rho is actually meant to represent an ‘r’ sound followed by such an awkward consonant (in the same way that ⲙⲁⲁⲩ ma’u, ‘mother’, is spelt with a doubled vowel to stand for a vowel plus a glottal stop).

The first recorded occurrence of ‘Pharaoh’ is from the revolutionary reign of Akhenaten in the middle of the 14th century BC (although Thutmosis III may have been so styled in the previous century). It was not the most usual title for an Egyptian king until centuries later, and it derived from the name of the royal palace. The Ancient Egyptian pr-ʿȝ (often vowelled as peraa, and pronounced something like /par.ʕoʔ/ in Late Egyptian) is formed from two words — pr meaning ‘house’, and ʿȝ meaning ‘great’ — the ‘Great House’. It’s the same kind of metonymy as when we use ‘Number Ten’ to stand for the UK prime minister or ‘The White House’ to stand for the US president. The hieroglyphs for pr-ʿȝ are a house plan (for pr) and something that looks like a cudgel (for ʿȝ), as can been seen from the image in this article.

Take a look at the exhibition Coptic Art Revealed.

Author: Gareth Hughes

A priest of the Church of England, who is Chaplain of Hertford College, Oxford, and doing Syriac research at Oxford University.

38 thoughts on “An etymological history of ‘Pharaoh’

  1. 1. The Copts were right that the peh in the Hebrew P-R’-H is pA, which in the Amarna Age implied “the one and only”.

    2. The final he/H in that Hebrew word is a Semiticized ending, and has nothing to do with Egyptian.

    3. Per the ending of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law at Genesis 41: 45, we’re certain that R’ in Hebrew represents the Egyptian sun god Ra.

    4. The Hebrew name P-R'[-H] has nothing to do with the Egyptian word for “house”, but rather is the Egyptian word pA for “the one and only” [having a similar meaning to wa in Egyptian], plus the Egyptian word R’ for the sun god Ra.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • Your theory doesn’t make much sense of the signs. The Egyptian word pr-aA is always written with the signs plan of a house (F12) and wooden column (F16). It seems you want to base its meaning on a presumed *wa-ra. In Egyptian, the name of the deity Ra is always written with the sun disc (even when it’s spelt out with 1-consonant signs. The adjective wa is always spelt with the harpoon (F30), almost always accompanied by its complementary sign, the arm. Egyptian is full of odd spellings, but it is very difficult to read pr-aA as anything but ‘great house’. I suppose the Hebrew He is somewhat representative of the Egyptian final Alef, which your theory appears to ignore.

  2. Gareth Hughes:

    You wrote: “Your theory doesn’t make much sense of the signs. The Egyptian word pr-aA is always written with the signs plan of a house (F12) and wooden column (F16). It seems you want to base its meaning on a presumed *wa-ra. In Egyptian, the name of the deity Ra is always written with the sun disc (even when it’s spelt out with 1-consonant signs. The adjective wa is always spelt with the harpoon (F30), almost always accompanied by its complementary sign, the arm. Egyptian is full of odd spellings, but it is very difficult to read pr-aA as anything but ‘great house’. I suppose the Hebrew He is somewhat representative of the Egyptian final Alef, which your theory appears to ignore.”

    In the Patriarchal narratives, P-R‘[-H] has nothing to do with the Egyptian word for “house”. Rather, peh/P is pA, and R‘ is Ra. [The final -H is a Semiticized ending, such as we see on the Hurrian names Uriah and Araunah in the Bible.] We know that P-R‘ means pA Ra, because that’s the ending of the name of Joseph’s priestly father-in-law from On at Genesis 41: 45: pA wa d.i pA Ra, rendered in Hebrew as P-W +Y P-R‘. You see, you start with Akhenaten’s name Wa-n-Ra [the only one of his 6 names that he never changed, and which he put in twice in the Great Hymn to the Aten], and then put pA before each substantive element to monotheize Akhenaten’s name for this Amarna Age priest, and change the generic connector -n- or -d.i-. Then we see the following: pA wa d.i pA Ra is a monotheistic play on Wa-n-Ra, just as pA Ra is a play on Wa-n-ra, where pA and wa had similar meanings in the Amarna Age: “the one and only”.

    Now reconsider the meaning of the phrase at Genesis 41: 46: P-R([-H], king of Egypt, that is, “pA Ra, king of Egypt”. If pA Ra is a nickname which sounds quite a bit like, and has almost the same meaning as, Wa-n-Ra, then Genesis 41: 46 in effect says “Wa-n-Re, king of Egypt”.

    The Patriarchal narratives are redolent of Years 12-14 at Amarna, even to the point of giving us slight variants of Akhenaten’s name Wa-n-Ra at Genesis 41: 45 [pA wa d.i pA Ra, rendered in Hebrew as P-W +Y PR‘, where the monotheistic pA has been added before Wa and before Ra], and at Genesis 41: 46 [“pA Ra, king of Egypt”, rendered in Hebrew as P-R([-H], which in effect is virtually saying “Wa-n-Re, king of Egypt”].

    Akhenaten is portrayed in Genesis as being the Pharaoh of the Patriarchal narratives. In addition to everything else, the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, and the name “Pharaoh” itself in Hebrew, are direct plays on Akhenaten’s name: Wa-n-Ra. The Egyptian word for “house” has nothing to do with the Hebrew name “Pharaoh” in Genesis. The Copts were right about that.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  3. OK. It seems that you are pulling together a few rather disjointed pieces of information, that don’t make a logical argument. Each piece in itself may be true, but the connections are not.

    The short answer is that there is an extant Egyptian word pr-aA that is used as a title of the king. Thus, when Hebrew writes פרעה for the king, it is almost sure a transcription of pr-aA.

    Your theory centres on the Egyptian divine name ra. If I were to transliterate into Hebrew, I would choose רע, which just happens to appear in the middle of פרעה. However, this is just an concurrence of two consonants. In Egyptian, the sun-disc sign is used to transcribe the name, and this does not appear in the writing of pr-aA. Note that the two consonants are actually separated between the two signs in this word, which would never be done if one wanted to write ra.

    You mention the name Potiphera (פוטי פרע) as used in Genesis. We have a hieroglyphic hapax of that name on a stele in the Cairo Museum (JE 65444), which reads p[A]-di-pA-ra. That last sign, before the determinant, is the sun disc. However, you render the name as pA-wa-di-pA-ra for no apparent reason, and it does not make sense.

    Then you suddenly move on to speak of Akhenaten, and the element that appears as wa-n-ra at the end of his praenomen. Here n is properly called the sign of the indirect genitive (singular masculine), which you suggest can be swapped for di, which is the verb rdi. Swapping ‘of’ for ‘give’ to suit your needs just makes no logical sense.

    The use of ‘sounds like’, ‘word play’ and ‘nickname’ to close your argument are the tell-tale signs of bunk. I’ve seen this approach made a hundred times: if you shift things back and froth between languages and transliterations, you can get a text to say whatever you want. Is there any motive behind trying to make ‘pharaoh’ more interesting, or is it just because it’s more interesting?

  4. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “The short answer is that there is an extant Egyptian word pr-aA that is used as a title of the king.”

    But the q-u-e-s-t-i-o-n , you see, is whether the Egyptian word for “house” is the basis for the Hebrew word PR‘H at Genesis 41: 46. It will not do to assume the answer you want, and then reason backward from that, without considering any other possibilities.

    If the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives wanted to reproduce pr-aA, we would expect a Hebrew aleph at the end of the name, but it’s not there. We would not expect Hebrew he/H at the end, because that Egyptian letter is not in pr-aA, and -H is a standard Semiticized ending. Consider the following foreign names that have -H as a standard Semiticized ending: ‘D-H, ’HLYBM-H, ‘N-H at Genesis 36: 2; ’WRY-H at II Samuel 11: 3; ’RWN-H at II Samuel 24: 16. Accordingly, the pattern is that -H at the end of a foreign name in the Bible is likely a Semiticized ending, and as such has nothing whatsoever to do with the underlying foreign word.

    Therefore, it is likely that the -H at the end of PR‘H is a Semiticized ending, PR‘ [-H], and that as such that final he/H should be ignored for all purposes in analyzing the underlying Egyptian word or words here.

    So at Genesis 41: 46 we see either P-R‘ or PR‘. Note that the former reading is more likely (two words, not one word), because that is e-x-a-c-t-l-y what we see only one verse earlier (Genesis 41: 45), as the ending of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, if P-R‘ is, at it is universally and correctly viewed as being, pA R-e, that is, pA Ra.

    Since one verse earlier the Hebrew author uses PR‘ to represent P-R‘, that is, pA Ra, it would not make sense at Genesis 41: 46 to use PR‘ [ignoring the Semiticized ending] to mean pr-aA. Rather, PR‘ in Hebrew is P-R‘, representing pA Ra. Thus if the Hebrew author wanted to reference the Egyptian word for “house”, namely pr-aA, he would have used a Hebrew aleph at the end of this name for the king of Egypt. Instead, what we see is P-R‘ plus Semiticized ending. Your view that P-R‘ [-H] m-u-s-t reference the Egyptian word for “house”, pr-aA, may be unanimous within academia, but it’s nonetheless intellectually indefensible. No matter how much you w-a-n-t P-R‘ [-H] to be an innocuous reference to the Egyptian word for “house”, it isn’t.

    Your own initial post explicitly noted that the Copts’ language derives from ancient Egyptian, and that they see the above P as being pA, rather than as being the first letter in the Egyptian word pr-aA. Your own source is telling you that you have analyzed this Biblical Hebrew name wrong.

    2. You wrote: “ Thus, when Hebrew writes פרעה for the king, it is almost sure a transcription of pr-aA.”

    100% false, as explained in #1 above.

    3. You wrote: “Your theory centres on the Egyptian divine name ra. If I were to transliterate into Hebrew, I would choose רע, which just happens to appear in the middle of פרעה. However, this is just an concurrence of two consonants.”

    Surely you jest. The preceding verse, Genesis 41: 45, uses P-R‘ to reference pA Ra at the end of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law. You are now claiming that the very next verse, Genesis 41: 46, by “coincidence” uses the same three letters, P-R‘, but now the meaning is completely different, somehow being a bollixed up attempt to render pr-aA. The Hebrew author knew that his audience would see P-R‘ as referencing pA Ra, so he would not use those three letters if he wanted to reference the Egyptian word for “house”, which has nothing to do with the sun god Ra. He would have used an aleph at the end of this name, as noted in #1 above.

    4. You wrote: “In Egyptian, the sun-disc sign is used to transcribe the name, and this does not appear in the writing of pr-aA.”

    I agree with that 100%. The Egyptian word for “house”, pr-aA, has nothing whatsoever to do with the sun god Ra. Correct. But the three Hebrew letters P-R‘, by sharp contrast, a-l-w-a-y-s reference the Egyptian sun god Ra, in the phrase pA Ra. That’s my point.

    5. You wrote: “Note that the two consonants are actually separated between the two signs in this word, which would never be done if one wanted to write ra.”

    I agree with that 100%. See #4 above.

    6. You wrote: “You mention the name Potiphera (פוטי פרע) as used in Genesis. We have a hieroglyphic hapax of that name on a stele in the Cairo Museum (JE 65444), which reads p[A]-di-pA-ra. That last sign, before the determinant, is the sun disc.”

    But the name pA-di-pA-ra is very late, much too late to have been referenced by the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives. And much more importantly than that consideration, there’s no way on earth that P-W +Y P-R‘ in Hebrew could mean pA-di-pA-ra. See #7 immediately below.

    7. You wrote: “However, you render the name as pA-wa-di-pA-ra for no apparent reason, and it does not make sense.”

    Hello, hello! You have totally ignored both the vav/W and the yod/Y in P-W +Y P-R‘, and you say that my rendering “does not make sense”? Please look at that vav/W. Neither Egyptian nor early Biblical Hebrew represented vowels, so there’s no way that the vav/W would be a vowel indicator. Even if it were a vowel indicator (which it clearly is not), that would be O or U, not A. Your traditional theory is totally based on ignoring that vav/W for all purposes. That’s not kosher. That vav/W is a consonantal vav/W. How would one render pA wa in Hebrew? Of course, the only way to do that is P-W, peh-vav. In the Great Hymn to the Aten, we see pA nTr wa, meaning “the one and only god the one and only”. A shortened version of that phrase is pA wa, meaning “the one and only [god] the one and only”. The meanings are identical. The second phrase is simply shortened. Note how that meaning fits perfectly for the name of a priest from On in the semi-monotheistic world of the Amarna Age. True, outside of the Amarna Age, no Egyptian priest would have a blatantly monotheistic name like that. But if Akhenaten could name one of his daughters Ankhesen-pA-Aten, then one of his priests could similarly have a blatantly monotheistic name featuring pA out the wazzoo. You may not like it, but that’s what the received Hebrew text says.

    Please look at the second letter in the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law. If you would look at that second letter, instead of ignoring it entirely, you would see that the first two letters in that Biblical Hebrew name represent pA wa in Egyptian.

    Start with Akhenaten’s name that appears twice in the Great Hymn to the Aten: Wa-n-Ra. Now monotheize it for this priest’s name by adding pA before each of the two substantive elements of the name. Also upgrade the generic connector -n- to -d.i- [taking into account the yod/Y for the i in d.i], and voila, we’ve got it: pA wa di.i pA Ra, rendered in Biblical Hebrew as P-W +Y P-R‘.

    Your conventional theory of the case works if and only if you ignore the vav/W for all purposes. If you’re brave enough to take a look at that vav/W, you’ll find that this name begins with pA wa, rendered in Hebrew as P-W.

    8. You wrote: “Then you suddenly move on to speak of Akhenaten, and the element that appears as wa-n-ra at the end of his praenomen.”

    How can you call that “suddenly”? Your very own post said, and I quote: “The first recorded occurrence of ‘Pharaoh’ is from the revolutionary reign of Akhenaten in the middle of the 14th century BC….” So how can you say that I am “suddenly” moving on to speak of Akhenaten? (By the way, I have been speaking of Akhenaten from the outset, in case you haven’t noticed.)

    9. You wrote: “Here n is properly called the sign of the indirect genitive (singular masculine), which you suggest can be swapped for di, which is the verb rdi. Swapping ‘of’ for ‘give’ to suit your needs just makes no logical sense.”

    Why? I am not saying they have the same meaning. -n- is an all-purpose connector that has almost no meaning. d.i means “gives me” or something like that. The meaning is not the same, but each functions to connect the two substantive elements at the beginning and end of the name. d.i is used several times in the Great Hymn to the Aten. I try as much as possible to restrict myself to words used in the Great Hymn to the Aten.

    10. You wrote: “The use of ‘sounds like’, ‘word play’ and ‘nickname’ to close your argument are the tell-tale signs of bunk.”

    No, here is what’s “bunk”:

    (a) Ignoring the vav/W for all purposes in the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, in order to avoid the monotheistic nature of that name.

    (b) Claiming that P-R‘ appears by “coincidence” at Genesis 41: 46, rather than the Hebrew author deliberately referencing the sun god Ra, as is the case with those three letters only one verse earlier (Genesis 41: 45).

    (c) Claiming that P-R‘ [-H] represents the Egyptian word for “house”, pr-aA, where (i) there’s no aleph at the end of the name in Hebrew, (ii) the -H is a standard Semiticized ending, having nothing to do with the -aA portion of the Egyptian word pr-aA, and (iii) failing to see that pA Ra [Hebrew P-R‘] recalls Akhenaten’s name Wa-n-Ra, where the Hebrew author always uses nicknames, the sounds are fairly similar, and the meaning is almost the same, since in the Amarna Age pA and wa had almost the same meaning: “the one and only”.

    If you would be brave enough to look at the vav/W in the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, I think you would realize that your conventional etymology of P-R‘ [-H] at Genesis 41: 46 is indefensible. Your Copt source is giving you the winning tip that the P in “Pharaoh” is pA. Take it!

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • Well, you are advancing your own personal theory when clearly you are neither an Egyptologist or a biblical scholar. I’m arguing for the accepted, mainstream view and work in a related field. I still don’t think your theory has much going for it.

      Firstly, it ignores the fact that there is an extant title for the king of Egypt. It is pr-aA, and it means ‘great house’, and the signs really cannot be interpreted differently.

      Secondly, your new point is about the final consonant. The word pr-aA concludes with the Egyptian Alef. Whereas פרעה concludes with the Hebrew He. I don’t think this is a big deal for two reasons. Firstly, Hebrew transcription of an Egyptian word should not expect one-to-one, scientific transliteration. Secondly, we might actually expect a Hebrew scribe to write a final He instead of an Aleph by looking at Hebrew transcription of Aramaic. Final Aleph is very common in Imperial Aramaic as a marker of the determined state. Hebrew scribes regularly turned these in final He to suit their orthographic standards.

      Thirdly, there are multiple problems with pA-ra. It is Late Egyptian in form. Titles are especially archaic in Egyptian, which would make this an unlikely title in Middle Egyptian. It does occur in late names, like pA-di-pA-ra, and it means ‘the Re’. The classical titulary would preface the king’s nomen with sA ra, ‘the son of Re’, but I cannot find evidence for the title pA-ra for anything but Re himself.

      There’s some other stuff in your argument that isn’t really central to it. Like the Waw in פוטי פרע. You say this should be accounted for in an Egyptian rendering as pA-wA-di-pA-ra. There is no evidence for such a name (unlike for pA-di-pA-ra), and I don’t think it makes grammatical sense. My ‘Coptic source’, as you put it, is Layton’s grammar, and it’s clear that the Coptic use of the initial Pi as a definite article attached to ⲣⲣⲟ is mistaken (just like ‘a norange’). Anything with the use of pA in titles is Late Egyptian. Although the word is attested in Middle Egyptian, it is a colloquial form of pn, and not fit for names or titles.

  5. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “I still don’t think your theory has much going for it. Firstly, it ignores the fact that there is an extant title for the king of Egypt. It is pr-aA, and it means ‘great house’, and the signs really cannot be interpreted differently.”

    And how is the Egyptian pr-aA rendered in Biblical Hebrew? PR. We know that, based on the name of Joseph’s Egyptian master who is Captain of the Guard, a military man in charge of Pharaoh’s security. His name at Genesis 39: 1 is spelled in Hebrew as: P-W +Y PR. That represents pA wa d.i pr-aA. The name means: “The one and only god has given me the ‘house’ [that is, has put me in charge of providing security for Pharaoh/‘house’]”. The name is perfectly fitting for a Captain of the Guard who is in charge of Pharaoh’s security.

    By sharp contrast, the name of the priest from On [Joseph’s father-in-law] is a religious name: P-W +Y P-R‘. That represents pA wa d.i pA Ra, and means: “The one and only god has given me the one and only god Ra”. That fits Amarna theology very nicely. Note how the Captain of the Guard’s name fits a military man in charge of Pharaoh’s security, whereas the priest’s name is a religious name that befits a priest from On in the Amarna Age.

    The early Hebrew author could have chosen to use PR’ to represent pr-aA, or perhaps PR’H, using a Hebrew aleph. But in order to keep the name of Joseph’s master who is Captain of the Guard from being too long, he abbreviated pr-aA to be just PR/peh-resh in the Hebrew rendering.

    Under no circumstances would the Hebrew author consider rendering pr-aA as either PR‘ or PR‘H, because per the name of that priest from On, it’s obvious that the three Hebrew letters PR‘ are P-R‘, representing pA Ra.

    So the Hebrew text nicely lets us know how the Hebrew author would and would not render the Hebrew word pr-aA meaning “house”, which sometimes stood for the king of Egypt. PR is the choice that was made. PR‘H is not possible as a choice, as PR‘ means pA Ra, and merely adding a Semiticized ending [-H] would not change that.

    2. You wrote: “Secondly, your new point is about the final consonant. The word pr-aA concludes with the Egyptian Alef. Whereas פרעה concludes with the Hebrew He. I don’t think this is a big deal for two reasons. Firstly, Hebrew transcription of an Egyptian word should not expect one-to-one, scientific transliteration. Secondly, we might actually expect a Hebrew scribe to write a final He instead of an Aleph by looking at Hebrew transcription of Aramaic. Final Aleph is very common in Imperial Aramaic as a marker of the determined state. Hebrew scribes regularly turned these in final He to suit their orthographic standards.”

    (a) I gave you five examples of foreign names in the Bible that have -H as their Semiticized ending. Did you look at those five names? “Uriah” is perhaps the most famous one. The Hurrian name is the Hurrian word Ev-ri-ya, ’W-R-Y, meaning “Teshup Is Lord” in Hurrian, to which has been added the Semiticized ending -H, with the Semiticized ending having nothing whatsoever to do with Hurrian.

    (b) Aramaic is irrelevant here because written Aramaic is not attested until long after the Amarna Age time period. Everything about the Patriarchal narratives suggests an Amarna Age composition date.

    3. You wrote: “Thirdly, there are multiple problems with pA-ra. It is Late Egyptian in form. Titles are especially archaic in Egyptian, which would make this an unlikely title in Middle Egyptian. It does occur in late names, like pA-di-pA-ra, and it means ‘the Re’. The classical titulary would preface the king’s nomen with sA ra, ‘the son of Re’, but I cannot find evidence for the title pA-ra for anything but Re himself.”

    The name of Akhenaten’s daughter #3 is Ankhesen-pA-Aten. Akhenaten’s famous Aten temple that he built early in his reign at Thebes is Gem-pA-Aten. Yet later in life, the names of his last two daughters feature Ra, not Aten. Thus in an Amarna Age context, pA Ra makes perfect sense. It’s not “Late”. It’s vintage mid-14th century BCE. In a world in which one retains one’s name as Wa-n-Ra, one names a daughter Ankehsen-pA-Aten and a temple Gem-pA-Aten, and one’s last two children’s names honor Ra, the phrase pA Ra fits in perfectly. I agree that outside of Amarna it’s too monotheistic, until “Late”, when pA eventually lost its overtones of meaning “the one and only”. But at Amarna, pA Ra fits perfectly.

    4. You wrote: “There’s some other stuff in your argument that isn’t really central to it. Like the Waw in פוטי פרע. You say this should be accounted for in an Egyptian rendering as pA-wA-di-pA-ra. There is no evidence for such a name (unlike for pA-di-pA-ra), and I don’t think it makes grammatical sense.”

    (a) pA wa is a shortened form of pA nTr wa in the Great Hymn to the Aten. That’s the “evidence for such a name”. d.i is in the Great Hymn to the Aten as well. The early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives created each and every person’s name in the last 40 chapters of Genesis, rather than passively recording actual names of actual people. Since you proudly proclaim your credentials as being a mainstream scholar, that presumably means that you see the Patriarchal narratives as being fiction dreamed up by multiple authors all of whom post-date the Bronze Age. Whether on that view, or on my own contrasting view, it’s clear that the Hebrew author did not passively record names of historical individuals. Every single person’s name in the text is a nickname created by the Hebrew author.

    (b) Though you do not say so, I am guessing that you see the strength of my point that PW/peh-vav in Hebrew logically represents pA wa in Egyptian.

    Please note that your mainstream interpretation of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law is indefensible. It requires you to ignore the vav/W for all purposes, which is totally illegitimate. You can see that PW logically represents pA wa, and cannot represent just pA. If the vav/W were a vowel indicator, which it clearly isn’t, it’s the wrong vowel, and note that peh/P alone later in this same name represents pA, as you yourself agree.

    The mainstream view of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law and “Pharaoh” cannot stand, as soon as one is brave enough to look at the vav/W in that father-in-law’s priestly name. It’s Amarna all the way, as blatantly monotheistic as can be imagined.

    5. You wrote: “My ‘Coptic source’, as you put it, is Layton’s grammar, and it’s clear that the Coptic use of the initial Pi as a definite article attached to ⲣⲣⲟ is mistaken (just like ‘a norange’). Anything with the use of pA in titles is Late Egyptian. Although the word is attested in Middle Egyptian, it is a colloquial form of pn, and not fit for names or titles.”

    Prior to Amarna, pA was not suitable for formal writing or titles, that’s for sure. But Akhenaten changed all that! Akhenaten uses pA every time you turn around. It’s in the Great Hymn to the Aten [pA nTr wa], his daughter #3’s name, the Gem-pA-Aten, etc.

    I agree with you that pA won’t work for any historical time periods other than (i) Amarna or (ii) Late. But Late doesn’t work here, because everything is so blatantly monotheistic, and so redolent of Amarna.

    * * *

    Please focus on the name of Joseph’s master, the Captain of the Guard: P-W +Y PR. As to P-W, that can only be pA wa. If you would look at that vav/W, you would see that. As to PR, that’s short for pr-aA. What else could it be? It can’t be a reference to pA Ra, because that would be a religious name fit for a priest, namely the actual name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law. PR must represent the king of Egypt, because the Captain of the Guard is in charge of Pharaoh’s security. So the only logical conclusion is that PR/peh-resh in Biblical Hebrew is a shortened rendering of the Egyptian word pr-aA, literally meaning “house”, but in fact referencing Pharaoh.

    If you would focus on the name of Joseph’s master, the Captain of the Guard, P-W +Y PR, you would see that the mainstream etymologies of all three of these Biblical Egyptian names we have been discussing are indefensible. PW represents pA wa. PR represents pr-aA. PR‘H is P-R‘ [-H], where the Semiticized ending -H should be ignored for purposes of analyzing the Egyptian basis of this Biblical Hebrew name. The remaining three letters are P-R‘ which, per the end of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, represent pA Ra.

    PR‘H in Biblical Hebrew has nothing to do with the Egyptian word pr-aA for “house” or “pharaoh”. Rather, P-R‘ is pA Ra, and is a play on Akhenaten’s name, Wa-n-Ra, having a similar meaning and a fairly similar sound. Genesis 41: 46 reads: PR‘H MLK MCRYM. It does not mean, per the KJV, “Pharaoh, king of Egypt”. No, it means: “pA Ra [the Biblical nickname for Akhenaten, based on Wa-n-Ra], king of Egypt”. Genesis 41: 46 is flat out telling us who the Pharaoh in chapter 41 of Genesis is. It’s Wa-n-Ra [Akhenaten], whose Biblical nickname is pA Ra: P-R‘ [-H].

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • If your theory is supposed to be such a ground-breaking reinterpretation, why haven’t you published it in a journal? Perhaps it’s because any respectable journal sees a theory linking Akhenaten with a biblical pharaoh, and immediately see a fringe theory. In this territory, you have to be good.

      Basically, פרעה cannot be a transcription of pA-ra because you cannot completely ignore the final He. It represents a final low vowel, which is not present in pA-ra, but is in pr-aA. It’s an honest question, why would a scribe add this final letter? It’s not needed as it isn’t used in the name פוטי פרע. As for the Waw in that name, there’s no reason to insist it is a consonant rather than a mater lectionis seeing as all our Hebrew texts are late enough to include matres. So, no it is not ‘logical’ that two Hebrew letters פו must represent pA-wa. In fact, if a scribe were trying to transcribe that in Hebrew letters, I would expect פוע. It’s a common fallacy to think that Ayn is silent.

      The difference between the two names — פוטיפר at 39.1 and פוטי פרע at 41.45 — is a bit of a riddle. They’re basically the same except for that final Ayn and word space in the latter. As I mentioned, there’s a stele with the name pA-di-pA-ra, and that’s the likely meaning. For the first name, pA-di-pr might seem like a fitting transcription back into Egyptian, but it is neither attested nor an expected name formula.

      The problem with the language of the Hymn of Aten is it is atypical. I don’t remember reading the phrase pA-wa in it: nTr wa is there. Yes, Akhenaten named a daughter anx-s-n-pA-itn, which was later normalised to anx-s-n-imn, by the change of Aten to Amun and the removal of the article. I know of no known written evidence for the forms pA-ra or pA-wa as standalone terms. If the former did exist, it refers to Re, and not the king. If Copts want to write ‘the Re’, they write ⲡ-ⲣⲏ, which is rather different from ⲡ-ⲣⲣⲟ.

      We have one good Egyptian candidate for ‘pharaoh’ in pr-aA, which is used in the same way as the Hebrew word and is as good as perfect a transcription of it. Your suggestion remains unattested in Egyptian texts for anything like a royal title. You can keep pointing to circumstantial evidence that suggests something similar, but it will not get as convincing as the evidence for pr-aA. After all, this word actually exists and means exactly what we need it to mean.

  6. Gareth Hughes:

    How many syllables are in the Egyptian word for “house” [not “great house”]. That’s pr in Egyptian, and it’s usually thought to be a single syllable: per. How many syllables are in the Egyptian word for “great house”? That’s pr-aA, and I believe that it’s usually thought to be two syllables: per-a. In rendering foreign [non-west Semitic] names, the consistent pattern of the Patriarchal narratives is that one Hebrew letter represents one foreign syllable. [That does not apply to west Semitic words or names, but it’s how the early Hebrew author rendered foreign names.] The main exception is that Hebrew aleph is always prosthetic. I understand that we don’t know how Egyptian was pronounced, but we need to make an educated guess.

    If pr-aA is a 2-syllable word in Egyptian, then there’s no way that the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives would use 4 Hebrew consonants to render that 2-syllable word. So the Hebrew rendering of pr-aA is not PR‘H, as you would have it, where 4 Hebrew letters represent but two Egyptian syllables. No, the Hebrew rendering of pr-aA is PR: the ending of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian master who is Captain of the Guard. The two Hebrew letters PR represent a 2-syllable Egyptian word, pr-aA.

    Here are 25 examples of where the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives uses one Hebrew letter per foreign syllable (except that Hebrew aleph is always prosthetic).

    1. XRY, at Genesis 14: 6: Xu-ri-ya.

    2. K$-D-YM, at Genesis 11: 28: Ku-u$-du-ym. [Here, the final two letters are a standard west Semitic ending meaning “people”, rather than being Kassite or Akkadian.]

    3. PRZ-Y, at Genesis 13: 7: Pi-ri-zi-ya.

    4. GRG$-Y, at Genesis 15: 21: Gi-ru-ga-$i-ya.

    5. YBWS-Y, at Genesis 15: 21:. A-bu-u-$e-ia.

    6. ’RYWK at Genesis 14: 1: Ar-a-wa-ka.

    7. BR-‘, at Genesis 14: 2: Bi-ri, a Hurrian name, plus Hebrew ayin as a Semiticized ending, where Hurrian has no ayin.

    8. BR$-‘, at Genesis 14: 2: Bi-ri-$e [plus Hebrew ayin as a Semiticized ending].

    9. $N’B, at Genesis 14: 2: $e-na-ab. [Hebrew aleph is always prosthetic in rendering non-west Semitic names.]

    10. $M’BR, at Genesis 14: 2. $u-mi-eb-ri.

    11. $‘YR, at Genesis 14: 6: $e-e-i-ri.

    12. ’YL P’RN, at Genesis 14: 6: E-li Pu-ur-ni. [Here, the initial prosthetic aleph is used to make the yod/Y an E, rather than its
    usual A regarding Hurrian names.]

    13. ‘BR-Y, at Genesis 14: 13: E-bi-ri-ya.

    14. ‘NR, at Genesis 14: 13: A-ni-ir.

    15. QYN-Y, at Genesis 15: 19: Qa-a-ni-ya.

    16. QNZ-Y, at Genesis 15: 19: Qa-ni-zi-ya.

    17. XT-Y, at Genesis 15: 20: Xu-ti-ya.

    18. ‘PRWN, at Genesis 23: 8: E-pi-ri-e-ne.

    19. XW-Y at Genesis 34: 2: Xe-va-ya.

    20. NXWR, at Genesis 11: 26: Ni-xa-a-ri. [Hurrian, unlike Hebrew, often has a vowel as a separate syllable, so the Hebrew author had to use various Hebrew letters to represent that strange phenomenon. In third position, he sometimes uses
    vav/W. Usually, though, he uses yod/Y or ayin/‘

    21. CXR, at Genesis 23: 8: Ssu-xa-ar.

    22. YHW-DYT at Genesis 26: 34: A-xu-a Ta-a-tu.

    23. B’R-Y at Genesis 26: 34: Bi-er-ya.

    24. B$MT at Genesis 26: 34: Bi-$a-ma-ti.

    25. ’YLWN, at Genesis 26: 34: E-li-e-ne. [Here, the initial prosthetic aleph is used to make the yod/Y an E, rather than its usual A.]

    Accordingly, if pr-aA is a 2-syllable name in Egyptian, we would expect to see only two Hebrew letters: the PR we see at the end of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian master who is Captain of the Guard. There’s no way that the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives would use four Hebrew letters, PR‘H, to represent a 2-syllable Egyptian word: pr-aA.

    Rather, the final -H in that name is a Semiticized ending, which should be ignored in analyzing the Egyptian word that underlies this Biblical Hebrew name. What’s left is P-R‘, just as in the end of the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, where three Hebrew letters represent three Egyptian syllables: pA R-e. We know from the Amarna Letters that people from Canaan heard the name of the Egyptian god Ra as having two syllables, something like Ria.

    Yes, it’s harder to evaluate the Egyptian word wa, but unlike Ra, the Hebrew author probably heard wa as being a one-syllable Egyptian word, and so he represented it with a single Hebrew letter: vav/W. What’s clear is that the vav/W as the second letter in the names of Joseph’s Egyptian master and father-in-law cannot be a vowel indicator, and cannot be the vowel O or U in particular. Rather, that vav/W must represent its own separate syllable in Egyptian, and the only candidate is wa.

    I understand that it’s very difficult to determine Egyptian syllable division. But we must make educated guesses, because based on the 25 foreign [non-Egyptian] names in the Patriarchal narratives above, it’s clear that in rendering a non-west Semitic name, the Hebrew author of the last 40 chapters of Genesis uses one Hebrew letter to represent one foreign syllable [except that Hebrew aleph is always prosthetic].

    You know Egyptian well. But what you don’t know is the manner in which the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives consistently rendered non-west Semitic names. He would never use four Hebrew letters to represent a 2-syllable Egyptian word. So the Biblical Hebrew rendering of the 2-syllable Egyptian word pr-aA is PR, not PR‘H.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • That’s a pretty ignorant misunderstanding of Hebrew syllable structures. A syllable can consist of up to three letters. It also does no justice to the Egyptian words because their pronunciation is uncertain. So pr can be one, two or even three syllables, but is probably just one. Its adjective as could also be up to three syllables long but is probably one. Thinking in syllables is just misleading here. Lots of native English speakers think that letters like Aleph and Ayn, which concur in aA, are as nothing. They’re increadibly important to any Afroasiatic language. That’s why no Hebrew scribe would transcribe pr-aA as פר alone, as they would be missing an entire half of the word. If I were doing one-to-one correspondence, I might transcribe aA with עא, but I can understand why עה is more suited to Hebrew orthography. It really isn’t hard to see why pr-aA is rendered as פרעה. That you think half the word can be ignored because it consisits of just Ayn and Aleph and because they don’t sound like real letters to you displays real ignorance.

      The list of names you give doesn’t make the case you want it to do for the same reason: you do not understand the orthographies of the different languages you’re looking at. You say that there is no way that a Hebrew writer would use four letters to correspond two syllables, but the Hebrew dictionary is full of four letter two syllable words, they are called closed syllables. If you think every letter represents a syllable then what about רעמסס? It has five letters representing two or three syllables translated from Egyptian. Then there’s the Egyptian שישק, four letters for two syllables.

      Really, arguments from syllables in Egyptian is nonsense because all we have to go on are best guesses. The number of syllables in ra is a guess.

      Again, the Waw in פוטי פרע can be a master lectionis. You say it can’t be, but there’s evidence for it, including LXX Πετεφρη. If wa is in the name, why is the scribe not writing the Ayn immediately after the Waw? Because there is no Ayn in English? Do you understand why we use capital A and lowercase a in transcribing Egyptian? It’s a meaning you seem to have missed.

      And so you’re left with the bizarre statement that a Hebrew scribe would transcribe foreign names with one letter per syllable. Egyptian has closed syllables (even a few heavy consonant cluster codas) that require two or three letters in Hebrew. This coupled with thinking that Ayn is unimportant displays a failure to grasp some basic principles of these two languages.

  7. Gareth Hughes:

    You seem not to have read what I wrote. I am perfectly well aware that on a regular basis, more than one Hebrew letter often represents a single Hebrew syllable. What I said was that in rendering non-Semitic names, the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives uses one Hebrew letter for one foreign syllable. I am not ignoring the -aA portion of the Egyptian word pr-aA. On the contrary, the -aA portion of that Egyptian word is what gives it two syllables, hence the need for precisely two Hebrew letters: PR in Hebrew represents pr-aA in Egyptian — 2 Hebrew letters for a 2-syllable Egyptian word.

    I realize that syllable division in Egyptian is uncertain. That’s why I gave you 25 examples of non-Egyptian non-Semitic names [where the syllable division is more readily attested] in the Patriarchal narratives that are rendered in Biblical Hebrew on the basis that one Hebrew letter represents one foreign syllable.

    Now let’s apply that principle to a-l-l the Egyptian names in the Patriarchal narratives. First I’ll set forth the individual underlying
    Egyptian words, and then the Biblical Egyptian names.

    Egyptian Words (as rendered in Biblical Hebrew)

    1. Hebrew ssade/C = sA = son. [Hebrew ssade viewed as being an emphatic sin. One Hebrew letter for this one-syllable Egyptian word.]

    2. Peh/P = pA = the one and only. [One Hebrew letter for this one-syllable Egyptian word.]

    3. Nun-tav/NT = nTr = neter. [2 Hebrew letters for this 2-syllable Egyptian word. Yes, the second syllable has two consonants in Egyptian, but it’s only one syllable, so the Hebrew author simply dropped the final consonant.]

    4. Peh-resh/PR = pr-aA. [2 Hebrew letters for this 2-syllable Egyptian word. The Hebrew author would not use 4 Hebrew letters for a 2-syllable Egyptian word.]

    5. Peh-resh-ayin/PR‘ = pA R-e. [3 Hebrew letters for this 3-syllable Egyptian phrase. Per the Amarna Letters, we know that people from Canaan heard the name of the Egyptian sun god as being two syllables, something like Ria.]

    6. Peh-resh-ayin-he/PR‘H = pA R-e. [The final -H is a Semiticized ending. The remaining 3 Hebrew letters represent this 3-syllable Egyptian phrase.]

    7. vav/W = wa = the one and only. [One Hebrew letter for this Egyptian word treated as being a one-syllable Egyptian word.]

    8. tet-yod/+-Y = d.i = “gives me”. [2 Hebrew letters for this 2-syllable Egyptian word.]

    9. aleph-samekh-nun-tav/’SNT = sn.t = es-ne-te = “sister”. [Prosthetic aleph. The 3 Hebrew consonants represent this 3-syllable Egyptian word.]

    10. aleph-bet-resh-kaf/’BRK = ab-ir.k, shortened to ab-r.k = “Cease [whatever else you’re doing]! You make [way]!” [Prosthetic aleph, then 3 Hebrew letters for 3-syllable Egyptian phrase.]

    11. Ayin-nun-het/‘NX = anx = a-ne-xe = “life”. [Rather than being a one-syllable word “ankh”, this Egyptian word is viewed as being a 3-syllable Egyptian word, having 3 transliterated letters in Egyptian and 3 Hebrew letters, one for each Egyptian syllable.]

    Biblical Egyptian Names

    1. C-P-NT P-‘NX = sA pA nTr pA anx = Son of the One and Only God, the One and Only [God Who Gives] Life [For many of these Biblical Egyptian names, compare pA nTr wa in the Great Hymn to the Aten: the one and only god the one and only. That’s the theological background for these Biblical Egyptian names.]

    2. ’SNT = sn.t = Sister

    3. P-W +Y PR = pA wa d.i pr-aA = The One and Only [God] Gives Me the ‘Great House’ [Pharaoh] [to Protect] [The 2 Hebrew letters peh-resh represent the 2-syllable Egyptian word pr-aA.]

    4. P-W +Y P-R‘ = pA wa d.i pA R-e = The One and Only [God] Gives Me the One and Only God Ra [Compare #1 above. Note the monotheistic theology, which could only be possible at Amarna.]

    5. P-R‘ [-H] = pA R-e [ignoring the Semiticized -H ending] = The One and Only God Ra [This is similar in meaning and fairly similar in sound to Akhenaten’s name: Wa-n-Ra.]

    6. ’B-RK = ab r.k [where r.k is short for ir.k] = “Cease [whatever else you’re doing]! You make [way]!” [This is cleverly designed so that it also makes pretty good sense in Hebrew as well: “Bow the knee.”]

    * * *

    The key to understanding these Biblical Egyptian names is to recognize the principle that in rendering non-west Semitic names (as opposed to Hebrew words), the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives uses one Hebrew letter to represent one foreign syllable.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • Unfortunately, I am reading what you write, but it really is nonsense. Your examples often require circular reasoning and exceptions. Take the word sn.t in Egyptian. Traditionally, one would pronounce it senet, but would realise that this is just a convention. The Hebrew name אסנת, which might come from a different word, has four letters. You can call the Aleph prosthetic, and then say that the original Egyptian actually has three syllables, but it is circular reasoning. This is the problem with using syllables as a guide.

      Really do think about Ayn. It’s a full letter. Do you not realise that when we transliterate Egyptian, we use the letter a to represent Ayn? If it makes it any clearer, we could use ` for Ayn. The Egyptian word pr-aA has four consonants: pr-`3 Pe Resh Ayn Aleph. For a hypothetical Hebrew scribe, it is important to capture the sounds of the word. Yes, this does involve the syllables. But if syllables are the only measure, you cannot represent closed syllables. As important are the sounds of the word: if a word has an Ayn in it in Egyptian, it should have one in Hebrew. So pr-`3 is פרעא, and I’ve already written about why shifting the final Aleph for He is a common Hebrew orthographic practice.

      Look at another word in which you ignore the Ayn: wa. You could transliterate that more clearly as w` Waw Ayn, and the Hebrew would be וע and not just ו.

      So you could make a case for Egyptians not pronouncing Ayn, which is possible, but is another way of introducing a degree of freedom in words so there’s even more scope for making them mean whatever you want.

      If we’re looking for the etymology of the word ‘pharaoh’ and see that there is an Egyptian word pr-aA that has the right sounds and meaning, then Occam’s Razor would suggest we go for the obvious candidate rather than invent one based on manipulating language until it says what you want it to say.

  8. Gareth Hughes:

    Your comments are well-taken. But by the same token, I hope you will acknowledge that there are even greater problems with the mainstream etymology that you champion.

    1. The mainstream view says that Joseph’s Egyptian master who is Captain of the Guard has the same name as Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law. That is impossible. The two names are spelled differently (only the latter has an ayin at the end), and there’s no way that the Hebrew author would give a military man the same name as a priest.

    2. The mainstream view ignores the vav/W in both of the above two names. There’s no way that Hebrew vav/W stands for Egyptian aleph. Rather, it’s a consonantal vav/W.

    Yes, there is a degree of “circularity” in my approach. Based on the manner in which Hurrian, Akkadian and Kassite names are rendered in the Patriarchal narratives, I have become convinced that unlike writing Hebrew words, for rendering a non-Semitic name in Hebrew the principle is: one Hebrew letter for one foreign syllable. I have applied that principle to the Biblical Egyptian names. I realize that it is next to impossible to “prove” Egyptian syllable division, but in my opinion, my approach is reasonable.

    I do recognize the problems you point out as to Egyptian ayin sometimes being represented by Hebrew ayin and sometimes not being represented at all. My guess is that the sun god Ra was a special case. Although native Egyptians may have heard it as a single syllable, we know from the Amarna Letters that people from Canaan definitely heard it as two syllables: perhaps Rya vs. Ri-ya. As to wa, you have raised a good point, but I have to wonder if that was pronounced as a single syllable by the Egyptians. If so, then Hebrew vav/W, standing alone, would represent the Egyptian word wa. I am not ignoring Egyptian ayin, and I know that small English a is used to transliterate Egyptian ayin. But I am saying that the sun god Ra may have been the exception: although Egyptian ayin was not usually its own separate syllable, in the case of Ra that was the way people from Canaan heard it. The rule was wa, where the Egyptian ayin did not created a second syllable.

    Given that Hebrew peh/P is routinely viewed as representing pA, it seems more or less agreed that Egyptian aleph normally will not be represented by a Hebrew letter.

    Perhaps you now see that there is a real question whether the Hebrew author would use 4 Hebrew letters to represent what is probably a 2-syllable Egyptian word: pr-aA. If the focus is on syllables (as I have asserted), then that is not possible.

    If you are going to insist that the author of the Patriarchal narratives used two or more Hebrew letters to represent a single foreign syllable, for example any and all closed syllables in non-west Semitic languages, then you might want to take the time to find several examples of that in the last 40 chapters of Genesis. I myself know of only one, which I consider to be an exception. That is to say, you might at least consider my new idea that in rendering non-west Semitic names, the Patriarchal narratives use the principle of one Hebrew letter for one foreign syllable. That’s not the way Hebrew words are written, but I have given you literally dozens of examples of that manner of rendering non-west Semitic names in the Biblical Hebrew of the Patriarchal narratives.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  9. I don’t think it’s fair to say that the mainstream view is that פוטיפר and פוטי פרע are the same. The view is that they are similar, and, seeing as there is only one extant Egyptian name that matches, they are considered to be variants of that. This is simply descriptive of what the possibilities are. It is not to say that they are the same, just there is no reason to assume they are different. Any why can two people not have the same name?

    In ME, there are lots of theophoric names of the format dd-GOD using the present participle of rdi ‘to give’ (older grammars tend to give this participle the form didi, but analogy with weak verbal roots suggests that dd is the right form). In LE, the form changes to pA-di-GOD. So, an old name like dd-ra, became pA-di-pA-ra, both meaning ‘It is Re who gives [this one]’. That’s the history of the form. There are no forms where wa is inserted into the name, and there are no forms where the final element is not a divine name. This rules out *pA-wa-di pA-ra and *pA-di-pA-pr and any combination of the two. In the first instance, pA-wa-di makes a mess of the syntax and does not translate as anything. Obviously, having name that says ‘the house gives’ not only fails to be a theophoric name, but is nonsense. As well as the stele I mentioned earlier, that gives the Egyptian p[A]-di-pA-ra, there is an eye-amulet dated to around C5 BC that bears the name Potiphar without the final Ayn in Aramaic script. However, I cannot tell you what the exact spelling is, and I remember doubts being cast over its authenticity.

    The insistence on the consonantal character of the Waw cannot be substantiated. All uses of that letter in the Torah may be either consonantal or as a mater lectionis depending on the word. We have no Torah texts that predate the use of matres. It is relevant to point to the LXX transcription of these two similar names without even an attempt to render a Waw, by writing Πετεφρη[ς].

    You seem to have convinced yourself that your argument of one Hebrew letter standing for a transcription of foreign names works. The phonotactics of all the languages in ANE (in fact most languages in the world) allow for closed syllables: syllables that end with a consonant. Hebrew orthography requires at least two letters to be written to represent a closed syllable. This makes it impossible to represent names effectively if you have no means of representing closed syllable. What is actually happening is a structural issue about different types of writing system. Hebrew uses a very sparse consonantal system (give or take a few matres). Egyptian (for all the complexities of the signs) actually uses a fairly similar consonantal representation, but there are enough differences to make one-to-one comparison difficult. Thus, pr-aA is written with two signs (sometimes with a determinant), both signs representing two consonants. Usually these four consonants are considered to form two closed syllables, and so Hebrew needs to use at least four consonants to transcribe it. The examples from other languages use the cuneiform script. This makes it look like your theory works because cuneiform is syllabic. But some of your examples contain closed syllables. So, if you derive כשדים from ku-uš-du (which looks a bit odd to me; evidence?), the first syllable, ku-uš → kuš, is closed, and Hebrew writes it with two consonants. Here we have two syllables represented by three Hebrew consonants. All syllabic scripts write most closed syllables with two signs (some have nasal closure marks), but this doesn’t make two syllables.

  10. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “I don’t think it’s fair to say that the mainstream view is that פוטיפר and פוטי פרע are the same. The view is that they are similar, and, seeing as there is only one extant Egyptian name that matches, they are considered to be variants of that. This is simply descriptive of what the possibilities are. It is not to say that they are the same, just there is no reason to assume they are different.”

    What you say makes common sense, but it’s not the mainstream view.

    (1) vod Rad. “The name of Joseph’s father-in-law, apart from an orthographic difference [!!!], is like that of Joseph’s previous master (chs. 37.36; 39.1). It would be rather surprising if the narrative had used only one name for two different persons [Yes, that sure would be surprising indeed!]. But since the source J, as we saw above, probably did not know Potiphar, the captain of the guard [I can’t write this stuff, but it’s mainstream, claiming that the author of certain parts of the Patriarchal narratives had no idea what other authors said in other parts of the Patriarchal narratives; that’s what “mainstream” means here, if you have the stomach to try to defend it], each source could have known only one Potiphar, if vs. 45 is Yahwistic.” Gerhard von Rad, Genesis (1972), p. 378.

    (2) Speiser. “Poti-phera. Eg. ‘he whom Re gave’; cf. Vergote, pp. 146 ff.; a fuller form of the same name [!!!] as Potiphar (xxxvii 36), but referring to a different person.” E.A. Speiser, The Anchor Bible Genesis (1962), p. 314.

    (3) Alter. “Poti-phera. This is the full form of the same name [!!!] born by Joseph’s old master, Potiphar, but evidently [!!!, not certainly?!?!] refers to a different person, since Potiphar was identified as courtier and high chamberlain, not as a priest.” Robert Alter, Genesis (1996), p. 241.

    Gareth Hughes, you naively think that the mainstream scholarly view of these Biblical Egyptian names is both sensible and defensible. Alas, it is neither.

    2. You wrote: “Any why can two people not have the same name? In ME, there are lots of theophoric names of the format dd-GOD using the present participle of rdi ‘to give’ (older grammars tend to give this participle the form didi, but analogy with weak verbal roots suggests that dd is the right form). In LE, the form changes to pA-di-GOD. So, an old name like dd-ra, became pA-di-pA-ra, both meaning ‘It is Re who gives [this one]’. That’s the history of the form.”

    (a) Where is the Hebrew vav/W in your conventional mangling of this Egyptian name? Are you asking us to believe that Hebrew vav/W represents Egyptian aleph? Yet in the ending part of this very same name, we see Hebrew peh/P by itself representing the Egyptian word pA.

    How can you feel good about ignoring that Hebrew vav/W for all purposes? Yes, the mainstream ignores that Hebrew vav/W, but what’s the intellectual justification for mangling this Biblical Egyptian name in that manner? It’s not kosher to ignore the Hebrew vav/W in this name. Do you have any support anywhere for the proposition that a Hebrew author would use the Hebrew letters peh-vav/P-W to represent the Hebrew word pA, and then turn right around later in the same name [!] and use Hebrew peh/P by itself to represent the Egyptian word pA? Why are you trying to defend what clearly is indefensible? I know you don’t w-a-n-t this Biblical Egyptian name to be monotheistic, because you yourself have stated that the mainstream won’t permit anyone to ask if the Patriarchal narratives reflect the Amarna Age. But you know Egyptian. You’re looking at Hebrew peh-vav/P-W, and you can’t see the Egyptian words pA wa?

    (b) In my prior post, I should have added that Egyptian W is often viewed as being a semi-vowel. Thus Egyptian W followed by Egyptian ayin is more likely than not a 1-syllable Egyptian word. You yourself have not really challenged that. So if wa is a 1-syllable word in Egyptian, then on my theory of the case, the Hebrew author could only use one Hebrew letter to represent that 1-syllable Egyptian word: vav/W. [ra is a different case, because we know from the Amarna Letters that people from Canaan heard that as two syllables: Ri-ya. Also, Egyptian R is not a semi-vowel. So I think I’m on solid ground here in assserting that wa is 1 syllable, whereas ra is 2 syllables.]

    3. You wrote: “There are no forms where wa is inserted into the name, and there are no forms where the final element is not a divine name. This rules out *pA-wa-di pA-ra and *pA-di-pA-pr and any combination of the two. In the first instance, pA-wa-di makes a mess of the syntax and does not translate as anything. Obviously, having name that says ‘the house gives’ not only fails to be a theophoric name, but is nonsense.”

    (a) Akhenaten’s Great Hymn to the Aten famously features the memorable phrase: pA nTr wa. That means: “the one and only god the one and only”. That’s the underlying theology for these Biblical Egyptian names.

    (b) You write: “There are no forms where wa is inserted into the name”. How can you say such a thing? Akhenaten’s own name features wa: wa-n-ra. The above phrase features wa: pA nTr wa. If what you’re saying is that no post-Bronze Age attested Egyptian names have wa inserted into the name, that’s fine. The question we’re discussing is whether all of these Biblical Egyptian names do or do not reflect Amarna in Years 12-14.

    (c) As to the Egyptian syntax, I would appreciate your help with that. The notion is that the Captain of the Guard is a man who, by grace of the one and only god, has been put in charge of security for “the great house”, that is, for Pharaoh. pA wa refers to “the one and only god”. d.i means “gives me” or “is given me” or something like that. [Your help with the exact meaning of d.i would be appreciated.] PR means pr-aA, literally “great house”, but referring to Pharaoh. “[The task of protecting the] great house/Pharaoh is given me by the one and only god”. The syntax seems fine to me, but you know much more Egyptian than I do. My own expertise lies in understanding the Patriarchal narratives and carefully studying how the early Hebrew author rendered non-west Semitic names in early Biblical Hebrew.

    4. You wrote: “As well as the stele I mentioned earlier, that gives the Egyptian p[A]-di-pA-ra, there is an eye-amulet dated to around C5 BC that bears the name Potiphar without the final Ayn in Aramaic script. However, I cannot tell you what the exact spelling is, and I remember doubts being cast over its authenticity.”

    That’s entirely irrelevant. Even the wildest-eyed Biblical Minimalist sees the Patriarchal narratives as having been composed long before then!

    5. You wrote: “The insistence on the consonantal character of the Waw cannot be substantiated. All uses of that letter in the Torah may be either consonantal or as a mater lectionis depending on the word. We have no Torah texts that predate the use of matres.”

    A Hebrew vav/W can, depending on the context, (i) represent the vowel U or O, but unfortunately for the conventional view, neither of those appears in pA!; (ii) be a true consonant W, which fits pA wa perfectly, being my position; or (iii) represent a Hurrian vowel, often A, in rendering Hurrian names in early Biblical Hebrew, but this is an Egyptian name, not a Hurrian name.

    Once you see that pA has neither a U nor an O, I don’t know how you can claim that Hebrew vav/W in these names is anything other than a true consonant. Why are you so resistant to seeing Hebrew peh-vav/P-W for what it most obviously is: pA wa? Do you in your own mind consider yourself to be objective about this? Do you have any intellectually defensible arguments to support your view?

    6. You wrote: “It is relevant to point to the LXX transcription of these two similar names without even an attempt to render a Waw, by writing Πετεφρη[ς].”

    The Masoretic Hebrew text is far more reliable than the Greek Septuagint. The Greeks horribly mangled non-Greek names, as I presume you well know. Never trust a Greek version of an ancient Near East name! Why are you uncomfortable sticking with the peh-vav/P-W in the received Masoretic text?

    7. You wrote: “You seem to have convinced yourself that your argument of one Hebrew letter standing for a transcription of foreign names works. The phonotactics of all the languages in ANE (in fact most languages in the world) allow for closed syllables: syllables that end with a consonant. Hebrew orthography requires at least two letters to be written to represent a closed syllable. This makes it impossible to represent names effectively if you have no means of representing closed syllable.”

    Yes, many languages in the ancient Near East have closed syllables. But the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives never uses a syllable containing two true Hebrew consonants in rendering non-west Semitic names in early Biblical Hebrew. Rather, he consistently follows the rule of one Hebrew letter representing one foreign syllable. I have previously given you 25 examples of that in the Patriarchal narratives. Please point to a Hurrian, Akkadian or Kassite name in the received text of the Patriarchal narratives that, in your view, uses two true consonants to represent a single foreign syllable. I have given you 25 such foreign names where that does not occur. I myself do not know of a single exception to that rule in the entirety of the Patriarchal narratives! Are you aware of the fact that most Biblical scholars have your level of knowledge of Hurrian names in the Patriarchal narratives, that is, none? Until you can show me an example of a foreign language where, unlike Egyptian, syllable division is clear, and where the Patriarchal narratives use two true Hebrew consonants to represent a single foreign syllable, then your view is theoretical and false, whereas my view is attested 25 times over.

    8. You wrote: “What is actually happening is a structural issue about different types of writing system. Hebrew uses a very sparse consonantal system (give or take a few matres). Egyptian (for all the complexities of the signs) actually uses a fairly similar consonantal representation, but there are enough differences to make one-to-one comparison difficult. Thus, pr-aA is written with two signs (sometimes with a determinant), both signs representing two consonants. Usually these four consonants are considered to form two closed syllables, and so Hebrew needs to use at least four consonants to transcribe it.”

    That is fascinating, but it ignores the key issues of syllables. pr-aA has only 2 syllables. Consequently, on my view it will be represented by precisely 2 Hebrew letters, peh-resh/PR, as appears at the end of the name of the Captain of the Guard.

    9. You wrote: “The examples from other languages use the cuneiform script. This makes it look like your theory works because cuneiform is syllabic. But some of your examples contain closed syllables. So, if you derive כשדים from ku-uš-du (which looks a bit odd to me; evidence?), the first syllable, ku-uš → kuš, is closed, and Hebrew writes it with two consonants. Here we have two syllables represented by three Hebrew consonants. All syllabic scripts write most closed syllables with two signs (some have nasal closure marks), but this doesn’t make two syllables.”

    No, ku-$u is 2 syllables, not one closed syllable. The English word “Kassite” reflects the following three different renderings of the name of the people who ruled southern Mesopotamia in the Late Bronze Age:

    1. ka$-$u-u: Akkadianized phonetics.

    2. ku-u$-$u[-xe]: Hurrianized phonetics (at Nuzi, per Fournet article). [Note the following well-attested name at Nuzi: Ku-u$-$i-ia (Noazadze, p. 229). Ku-u$-$i is presumably either a verb or an adjective fit for a god, and -ia is a hypocoristic theophoric. If ku-u$-$i means “good”, then that Hurrian name means “God [Is] Good” or “Teshup [Is] Good”.] Fournet’s article argues that Kassite is connected to Hurrian. Fournet’s short article is indispensable as a nice list of Kassite names and words, though I do not necessarily follow his linguistic analysis of Kassite. http://diachronica.pagesperso-orange.fr/TMCJ_vol_2.1_Fournet_Kassite.pdf

    3. gal-zu or gal-$u. Hess* agrees with this contention of Fournet, which may be non-controversial. Fournet further asserts that this “seems to be the native pronunciation”. (The Fournet article suggests that the L in gal-$u is an alternative pronunciation of what came out as a sibilant in Akkadian and Hurrian. That seems to me to be quite a stretch. My approach to that L is quite different. Furthermore, as to vowels, these two vowels likely are Akkadianized, and as such likely do not reflect the original Kassite pronunciation of the vowels in question.)

    *Richard S. Hess, Amarna Personal Names, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana (1993), pp. 101-102 (analyzing the Kassite royal name “Kuri-galzu”).

    Now consider KW$-N at Judges 3: 8, which is generally, and properly, viewed as being a reference to Kassite land. KW$ is presumably Ku-u$-$u, treated as being the 3-syllable name Ku-u-$u, being the Hurrian version of “Kassite” in #2 above. [Hebrew never uses two Hebrew consonants to reflect a doubled foreign consonant, but rather always drops the first such foreign consonant.]

    Thus the word in question is either two syllables or three syllables, but it’s definitely not one closed syllable! In full form, it’s ku-u[$]-$u, hence the KW$ root at Judges 3: 8. In slightly abbreviated form, it’s ku-$u, hence the K-$ element in K$-D-YM at Genesis 11: 28.

    The point remains. Whether it’s a Hurrian, Akkadian, Kassite or Egyptian word, the Hebrew rendering in the Patriarchal narratives follows the practice of one Hebrew letter for one foreign syllable.

    If I’m wrong about that, please present at least one example that shows I’m wrong. I have set forth 25 examples that show I’m right.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  11. None of your suggestions for the פוטי names work. They are jumbles of Egyptian words that when strung together don’t make sense. They are not witnessed anywhere. When I asked for evidence for your *pA-wa-di-pA-ra, you gave pA-nTr-wa. Of course the latter works, but it is not evidence that you can write the former. Just like ra, wa ends with an Ayn. So, we might expect that. We have evidence of the name pA-di-pA-ra, unlike your suggestions that appear nowhere in any Egyptian texts. In time, pA lost its vowel, but we have evidence that it could have been po’, and that gives a reason for a scribe writing פו. I believe that is the most likely reason for the Waw in the Hebrew transcription of the name. Yes, I think that is a sound, intellectual, unbiased argument. I don’t really care what these names mean as long as the answer is the best application of the evidence.

    I still don’t think your theory on how Hebrew scribes transcribed foreign names makes sense. It fails everywhere where there are closed syllables. In the name of the nation Assyria, the Akkadian aššur is rendered אשור, we have two syllables and a Waw as a mater lectionis. We also have the disyllable חרן from the Akkadian ḫarran-u (that u is a case ending, the double r shows that the n closes the second syllable).

    There’s no reason why wa cannot be a disyllable. It has two consonants as does ra. I’m not sure about the evidence from the Amarna letters. Counting syllables in defective scripts is always a bit awkward. I think the inkling that ra might be a disyllable is based on its transcription. For example רוח is a monosyllable ending with an emphatic that is often enunciated as a near disyllable. I think a high vowel before an emphatic is eased in pronunciation by dropping to a low vowel briefly.

    I did not not say that wa is not found in names. I did say that is never inserted into pA-di names. Particularly here, it would split the participle. Seeing as you misread it last time: you cannot put a wa in between pA-di.

    I don’t think di is d.i, which would actually be di=i. The root form is rdi, and is used as the paradigm for extra-weak verbs in Egyptian. pA-di is the LE form of the present participle.

    LXX is a useful Tanakh witness. It is older than MT, and is often quoted alongside Syriac Peshitta and DSS in critical apparatus. So it is informative to see what it says. Peshitta witnesses the same spelling as MT, whereas LXX is different. At the time LXX Genesis was composed, either the scribes had a Hebrew text which didn’t have Waw in these names, or they knew that the contemporary Egyptian pronunciation was πε. Neither the LLX nor MT scribes thought that wa was in this name, the latter pointing the Waw as a mater lectionis. You don’t seem to think that later evidence is important and seem to have the view that MT is unchanging.

  12. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “None of your suggestions for the פוטי names work. …They are not witnessed anywhere. …We have evidence of the name pA-di-pA-ra, unlike your suggestions that appear nowhere in any Egyptian texts.”

    The most prominent name in the entirety of Genesis, “Abraham”, is not attested anywhere outside of the Bible in the ancient world. His birth name, “Abram”, is well attested, as is the variant Abiram, but not Abraham. Ditto re pA wa d.i pA R-a. Your strange theory that the author(s) of the Patriarchal narratives is/are passively recording historical names of historical individuals is therefore proven false. Every person’s name in the last 40 chapters of Genesis is a Patriarchal nickname.

    2. You wrote: “I still don’t think your theory on how Hebrew scribes transcribed foreign names makes sense. It fails everywhere where there are closed syllables. In the name of the nation Assyria, the Akkadian aššur is rendered אשור, we have two syllables and a Waw as a mater lectionis.”

    The name “Ashur”, unlike the Egyptian names in the Patriarchal narratives, appears throughout the Bible. At I Chronicles 5: 6 it appears as ’$R, with no interior vav/W. Since this name appears throughout the Bible, later editors would have had no qualms about changing the original defective spelling of this name in Genesis to plene spelling. Surely the original spelling in Genesis was ’$R. The name has two consonants and two syllables, just as we would predict. The initial aleph is not its own separate syllable, but rather it indicates that the first syllable begins with a vowel sound, and is a vowel-consonant syllable. So “Ashur” obeys all of my rules. It’s ’$-R, with two consonants reflecting two syllables, and the initial aleph being prosthetic.

    The only names in the Patriarchal narratives where one can be virtually certain that a later editor has not added in plene spelling vowels are non-west Semitic names that do not appear in later books of the Bible. That’s not the case for Ashur, so there’s no surprise at all that Ashur appears in Genesis with plene spelling having been added by a later editor.

    3. You wrote: “ We also have the disyllable חרן from the Akkadian ḫarran-u (that u is a case ending, the double r shows that the n closes the second syllable).”

    “Harran” is XR-N. Compare XR-Y at Genesis 14: 6 and Genesis 40: 16. The root is clearly XR. Your assumption that this root comes from Akkadian is doubtful. It’s more likely Hurrian:

    “[B]y the time of the Amarna letters there can be no doubt that Hurrians had penetrated deeply and in considerable numbers into Palestine. …[T]he Biblical Horites [XRY, using “X” or “x” here to represent an underdotted H, a type of heth] are identical with the Hurrians of the cuneiform and hieroglyphic inscriptions. Xori [XRY]is identical with xurri (cf. Eg. xuru, Ug. xry and Acc. xurri), Palestine is known as xuru (xr) in Egyptian inscriptions….” Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel (Cambridge at the University Press 1972), p. 15.

    This non-Semitic root XR obeys all the normal rules. It’s a 2-syllable root represented by 2 Hebrew letters that are consonants: XR. Each syllable is of the normal consonant-vowel pattern. In XR-N, the -N ending is a standard Semitic ending, common to Akkadian and west Semitic.

    So we’ve got a run-of-the-mill non-west Semitic root that obeys all the rules, to which has been added a Semiticized ending, -N. That ending is like the Semiticized ending -H in PR‘H. Same.

    These two examples you give, Ashur and Harran, in fact obey all the rules I have set forth in spades, with nothing amiss regarding my theory of the case.

    4. You wrote: “Seeing as you misread it last time: you cannot put a wa in between pA-di.”

    There is no pA-di in Genesis! It’s not -di, it’s d.i. I am not trying to put wa in the middle of pA-di, perish the thought! Rather, I am putting wa after pA, for the sensible, monotheistic phrase pA wa.

    5. You wrote: “ I don’t think di is d.i, which would actually be di=i. The root form is rdi, and is used as the paradigm for extra-weak verbs in Egyptian.”

    That’s where I had asked for your help. Does d.i mean “you give” or “gives me” or “given to me”? What range of meaning can d.i have? I would appreciate your clarification of that.

    Also, it would be nice if you would clarify that d.i or di=i has 2 syllables, as it is represented by two Hebrew letters, tet-yod/+Y.
    I would like to learn from your Egyptian expertise as to d.i.

    6. You wrote: “You don’t seem to think that later evidence is important and seem to have the view that MT is unchanging.”

    For non-west Semitic names that do not appear outside of the Patriarchal narratives, Yes, I think that the chance that a later editor changed some of the letters in the received Masoretic Hebrew text is remote. Later editors wouldn’t have confidence to change non-west Semitic names that they didn’t understand. By contrast, later editors routinely added in plene spelling as to names they knew and understood.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  13. The whole point of the name ‘Abraham’ in Genesis is that it is special, and we are given a narrative about his change of name. The form pA-wa-di-pA-ra is not attested anywhere. However, the name pA-di-pA-ra is.

    The grammar of the name is a reworking of the older dd-ra, in which dd is the present participle. In LE, the form of the present participle is pA-di. The form di=i can be understood as either the present tense, ‘I give’, or the jussive ‘may I give’. Quite often, the pronoun =i goes unwritten when it is obvious. Thus, di=i could be written di. As with most Afroasiatic verbs, rdi is probably two syllables. As an extra-weak verb, which looses its first radical in most forms, it is probably monosyllabic without it.

    Your form pA-wa-di-pA-ra is problematic because it is ungrammatical. What do you think this name means?

  14. Gareth Hughes:

    You wrote: “The form di=i can be understood as either the present tense, ‘I give’, or the jussive ‘may I give’. …Your form pA-wa-di-pA-ra is problematic because it is ungrammatical. What do you think this name means?”

    Based on your helpful comments, let me slightly revise my view of tet-yod/+Y in this name. tet may be di, being the Egyptian noun for “gift”. Yod may be i, meaning “me”, and here implying “to me”. There is no express verb, but rather “is” is implied.

    Then pA wa di i pA ra means: “The one and only [god] the one and only [is the] gift to me of the one and only [god] Ra”.

    pA wa is short for the phrase pA nTr wa in the Great Hymn to the Aten, and has the same meaning. The name of this priest from On in the Amarna Age is very monotheistic. Egyptian W is a very weak consonant, sometimes even being viewed as a semi-vowel, so it’s no surprise that weak Egyptian W plus Egyptian ayin results in a one-syllable Egyptian word wa. Both pA and wa are very monotheistic in the Amarna Age. By contrast to wa, we know from the Amarna Letters that ra was heard as a 2-syllable name, Ri-ya, by people from Canaan.

    The presence of over two dozen Hurrian names in the Patriarchal narratives means that the Patriarchal Age is the Amarna Age, because that is the only time when Hurrian princelings dominated Canaan as the ruling class (per the Amarna Letters), and hence that’s the only time this Biblical text would have dozens of Hurrian names. That in turn means that the relevant Egyptian text is Akhenaten’s Great Hymn to the Aten, which was written during the very short period of time when Hurrian princelings dominated the ruling class of Canaan. You know that the Great Hymn to the Aten features anx and pA and wa and sA ra, and pA nTr wa and wa-n-ra and di.k, that is, each and every component of the Biblical Egyptian name we are discussing.

    As you may or may not know, the mainstream says that the imperious person who sells Abraham Sarah’s gravesite in southern Canaan in chapter 23 of Genesis is a Hittite from Anatolia who has a west Semitic name that means “fawn”. In fact, XTY is Xuti-ya, the most frequently-attested Hurrian name at Nuzi, so XTY refers to the Hurrians, not the Hittites. ‘PRWN in Hurrian is E-pi-ri-en-ne, and means “the Hurrian lord”. Note how both of these names make perfect sense once it is recognized that they are Hurrian names, while both such names are utterly nonsensical on the mainstream view, which has never even asked what ‘PRWN would mean as a Hurrian name.

    You strike me as an open-minded person. As such, there’s no way that you’re going to be able to remain in the mainstream as to foreign names in the Patriarchal narratives. XTY and ‘PRWN are Hurrian, and peh-vav/PW in a Biblical Egyptian name is pA wa. Rather than being unrelated thoughts, these two concepts are intimately related. If a Biblical text has dozens of Hurrian names, then that Biblical text in coming up with Egyptian names will of necessity be relying on Akhenaten’s Great Hymn to the Aten. Do you see my point? No matter how little interest you may think you have in Hurrian, the fact of the matter is that it is the mere presence of dozens of Hurrian names in the Patriarchal narratives that guarantees that the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law from On m-u-s-t be monotheistic, and must be redolent of Akhenaten’s own name wa-n-ra, and must use vocabulary drawn from the Great Hymn to the Aten.

    What I am saying is that no matter how skilled you are at Egyptian and Hebrew, you will not know which era in Egyptian history to look at in analyzing these Biblical Egyptian names in the last 40 chapters of Genesis unless you consider the historical implications of the presence of dozens of Hurrian names in the Patriarchal narratives. That idea is w-a-y outside of the mainstream. But my guess is that you will see my point. If one says that a Hittite from Anatolia named “Fawn” sold Abraham Sarah’s gravesite in southern Canaan, then not only is that ridiculous in its own right, but more importantly for you, one will also not understand the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law from On. You’ve got to know a smidgen of Hurrian to be able to analyze the Biblical Egyptian names in the Patriarchal narratives, because it’s the presence of dozens of Hurrian names that clues us into the key fact that the historical time period of the Patriarchal Age is Years 12-14 of the Amarna Age.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  15. That’s a rather tortuous translation. rdi is a verb, and its participle form is subjective rather than objective: a giver rather than a gift. ‘My gift’ is Htp=i or inw=i in Egyptian. So who is giving what to whom?

    For both Poti-phera/Potiphar and Pharaoh there are perfectly reasonable and logical interpretations of their etymology. The former pair of names exhibits some uncertainty, the latter exhibits no uncertainty.

    Your theory takes us around the houses, gathering little scraps, with each one adapted to make it fit the theory (this is just a ‘semiticized ending’, this is a semi-vowel), and cobbled together at the end. It is not systematic or logical, and the end result lacks evidence. When pushed for evidence, you produce partial evidence, like wa is used in a name, but nothing that witnesses your final form. The final form is not witnessed in any concrete evidence, and is ungrammatical in Egyptian.

    The standard, accepted etymologies are witnessed in their full, final form in Egyptian. Their rendering into Hebrew makes total sense.

    Your Law of Syllables is so airy that you can make almost anything up. You say that ra is two syllables because it is represented by two Hebrew letters, and wa is one syllable because you see a mater lectionis in Hebrew standing for this word. Both of these are possible, but that’s because syllabification is largely unknown. Likewise, you discount pr as a monosyllable, when it could equally be a disyllable. Whereas, the obvious answer is it is p followed by r, however many syllables that takes, and of course a Hebrew scribe can represent this by p followed by r.

    Biblical scholars call it eisegesis when one begins with one’s own ideas and reads them into the text. Evidence is then marshalled and interpreted so that it points to the preconceived theory. If one actually begins by examining relevant evidence and treating that evidence with care, one comes to the mainstream view.

    I know you will come back tenaciously quoting the same reams of proofs for your theory, but it just doesn’t make sense. You have offered no reasonable critique of the interpretation given by me and those who are more learned in this field. Instead, you fall back on your Law of Syllables that enables you to pick and choose which words fit.

  16. Gareth Hughes:

    My apologies for misunderstanding what you said about the Egyptian verb rdi. (I saw my error after sending in that post and before receiving your next post.) Here is my revised interpretation of the Hebrew letters tet-yod/+Y in the names of Joseph’s Egyptian master the Captain of the Guard and Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law from On.

    I largely follow the traditional view in seeing the Hebrew letter tet/+ as representing the Egyptian verb di, a one-syllable word that means “to give”. But I diverge from the traditional view in seeing the next letter, Hebrew yod/Y, as having a dual function. On the one hand, it represents Egyptian i as a separate syllable, meaning “I” or “me” in Egyptian, so that di.i is a 2-sylllable Egyptian phrase that means either “I give” or “gives me”. In context, a meaning for di.i of “gives me” fits better here than “I give”. On the other hand, the Hebrew yod/Y may also be a name divider. Many scholars see the Hebrew names ’B-RM and ’B-Y-RM as being identical in meaning, with the interior yod/Y being a name divider that separates the two elements of this name, but which does not have a substantive meaning of its own. That is a particularly appropriate function here, because everything that comes before the yod/Y is the same in the names of both the Captain of the Guard and the priest from On, whereas the portions of the names that come after this yod/Y are significantly different.

    Other than the Hebrew letters tet-yod, I don’t see anything else substantive in your latest post. You do, however, say this: “Biblical scholars call it eisegesis when one begins with one’s own ideas and reads them into the text.” Yes, that’s what has led the mainstream into saying that the Captain of the Guard and the priest from On have the same name, which even you cannot accept, and that a Hittite from Anatolia with a west Semitic name meaning “Fawn” is portrayed as selling Abraham Sarah’s gravesite in chapter 23 of Genesis. To avoid eisegesis, the key here is to recognize that the Patriarchal narratives feature over two dozen Hurrian names, which makes sense only in the Amarna Age, as that is the only time when Hurrian princelings are documented as having dominated the ruling class of Canaan. In that time period, the relevant Egyptian text is Akhenaten’s Great Hymn to the Aten. Key phrases and words from the Great Hymn to the Aten include: (i) anx: “life”; (ii) pr: “house”; (iii) di.k: “you give”, to which should be compared di.i: “I give” or “gives me”; (iv) pA: literally meaning “the”, but in this time period implying “the one and only” [appears in verses both before, and after, the next phrase]; (v) pA nTr wa: “the one and only god the one and only” [note that both pA and wa have strong monotheistic overtones, meaning “the one and only”]; (vi) ir.k: “you make”; (vii) wa-n-ra [Akhenaten’s name]: “the one and only connects to Ra”, or “unique one of Ra”; and (viii) sA ra [classic pharaonic title]: son of [the god] Ra. I see virtually all of the components of the Egyptian names in the last 40 chapters of Genesis as coming out of the Great Hymn to the Aten, and several of the Biblical names reflect Akhenaten’s name.

    Based on the historical time period, one expects to see pA and wa in these Biblical names, and two such names begin with peh-vav/P-W. In the historical context, one should logically expect P-W to be the Hebrew rendering of pA wa. That is the key to my analysis. Yes, I have struggled with the Egyptian verb rdi, but so be it. My view in fact is somewhat similar to the traditional view in seeing Hebrew tet as reflecting the Egyptian verb form di. I do have a different interpretation, however, of the yod/Y that follows, as in my view it should be a separate syllable. My conclusion is that P-W +Y P-R‘ at Genesis 41: 45 is the Hebrew rendering of the following Egyptian words (where there is one Hebrew letter for each foreign syllable): pA wa di.i pA R-e. The meaning of this Biblical Egyptian name is perfectly fitting for a priest from On in the Amarna Age: The One and Only [God] Gives Me the One and Only [God] Ra.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  17. Wrong pronoun. The Egyptian for ‘he gives me’ is di=f -wi, where ‘me’ is the direct object, or di=f n=i, where ‘me’ is the indirect object. How many syllables in that? I’m sure you can work it out. If you wanted to say ‘the one gives me the one Re’, it would be di wa ra wa n=i, or if you want a liberal sprinkling of pA, di pA wa pA ra wa n=i. The closest you could possibly get is pA wa di n=i pA ra wa. But why are you now using wa twice? You’re thinking in English.

    Again I say it. We have an inscription of the name pA-di pA-ra, and that fits the Hebrew spelling of Poti-phera exactly. It is not enough to say that this isn’t true because it doesn’t fit some haphazard rule you’ve dreamt up.

  18. Gareth Hughes:

    Thank you so very much for your great help on this. Much appreciated.

    Let me now recapitulate. I see P-W +Y P-R‘ at Genesis 41: 45 as being the Hebrew rendering of the following Egyptian words (where there is one Hebrew letter for each foreign syllable): pA wa di.i pA R-e. The meaning of this Biblical Egyptian name is: “The One and Only [God] Gives Me the One and Only [God] Ra”.

    You point out (if I am understanding you correctly) that a proper Egyptian way to express this sentiment in full form would be: pA wa di n=i pA ra. (There is no necessity of having a second wa at the end, so I have left that out.)

    The two renderings are almost the same. The one difference is that the Biblical name has simplified the interior 2-syllable phrase di n.i to its first and last letters, tet-yod/+Y. The Biblical rendering effectively has di.i, where a proper full form phrasing would be di n.i. (Alternatively, if the Hebrew yod/Y is merely a name divider, then the entire Egyptian phrase di n.i has been simplified to the single letter tet/+, which normally would be di.)

    Your analysis is extremely helpful. I only hope that, for my part, my listing of dozens of Hurrian names that appear in the Patriarchal narratives may have caused you to reconsider the appropriate time period for this Biblical Egyptian name.

    Thanks again for all your much-needed help with the Egyptian verb rdi. Your Egyptian expertise is very much appreciated.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • Now you’re just being daft! It just doesn’t work. As for the Hurrian stuff, I’m not convinced by it. As for ‘helping’ you, I realise that I cannot just tell you that you have no idea what idea what you’re talking about, but that in the process I am giving you more material to abuse in your own special way.

  19. Gareth Hughes:

    One key aspect in analyzing the names Potiphar and Potiphera is the function of the interior Hebrew yod/Y in these names. An even more famous case of an interior Hebrew yod/Y in an Egyptian name is the question of whether Biblical “Shishak” can be viewed as being the linguistic equivalent of Egyptian “Shoshenq”. Here are five examples of where an interior Hebrew yod/Y in a proper name is the functional equivalent of a dash in modern punctuation. The first two examples are Biblical Hebrew names. The last three examples are Biblical Hebrew renderings of Egyptian names.

    1. Absalom: ’B$LM at II Chronicles 11: 20, 21 is ’BY$LM at I Kings 15: 2, 10, but the latter rendering should be viewed as ’B-$LM, where the interior yod/Y in a proper name is the functional equivalent of a dash in modern punctuation.

    2. Elpalet: ’LPL+ at I Chronicles 14: 5 is ’LYPL+ at II Samuel 5: 16, but the latter rendering should be viewed as ’L-PL+, where the interior yod/Y in a proper name is the functional equivalent of a dash in modern punctuation.

    3. Shishak [Egyptian Shoshenq]: $Y$Q at I Kings 11: 40 should be viewed as being $-$Q, where the interior yod/Y in a proper name is the functional equivalent of a dash in modern punctuation. That is effectively identical to one attested spelling of the pharaonic name Shoshenq: $$q. Some Egyptian spellings of that name, which was held by 5 pharaohs and which is usually $$nq, drop the N, presumably because it was a Libyan consonant cluster that was hard to pronounce by Egyptians; it would have been impossible for Hebrews to pronounce that consonant cluster, so naturally the first consonant, N, was dropped in the Hebrew rendering of this Egyptian name.

    4. Potiphar: PW + Y PR at Genesis 39: 1 should be viewed as being PW + – PR, where PW is pA wa, + is di, and PR is pr-aA. The interior yod/Y in a proper name is the functional equivalent of a dash in modern punctuation. [Each Hebrew letter represents one foreign syllable. “Great house”/“Pharaoh” is likely a 2-syllable word in Egyptian, pr-aA, and hence is rendered by 2 Hebrew letters, PR. pA wa likewise is a 2-syllable phrase in Egyptian (where Egyptian W is a weak consonant or semi-vowel), and hence is rendered by 2 Hebrew letters, PW. di is only one syllable, and so is represented by a single Hebrew letter, tet/+. The meaning of this name is “The One and Only [God] Gives [me responsibility for protecting] ‘great house’, that is, Pharaoh”. That is the ideal meaning for the name of Joseph’s Egyptian master who is Captain of the Guard in charge of Pharaoh’s security.]

    5. Potiphera: PW + Y PR‘ at Genesis 41: 45 should be viewed as being PW + – PR‘, where PW is pA wa, + is di, and PR‘ is pA R-e [that is, pA ra]. The interior yod/Y in a proper name is the functional equivalent of a dash in modern punctuation. [Each Hebrew letter represents one foreign syllable. ra was pronounced as a 2-syllable name by persons from Canaan, as we know from the Amarna Letters, so pA R-e is 3 syllables and hence requires 3 Hebrew letters: PR‘. The meaning of this name is “The One and Only [God] Gives [Us] The [One and Only God] Ra”. That is the ideal meaning for the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law from On, if the historical time period is the Amarna Age when Egypt briefly flirted with a type of semi-monotheism.]

    The key to understanding all five of the above examples is to recognize that an interior Hebrew yod/Y in a proper name (whether the proper name is Hebrew or Egyptian) can be the functional equivalent in Biblical Hebrew of a dash in modern punctuation.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • So, that ‘yod is like a dash’ thing is really very silly. Apart from the fact that it is not true and makes no sense, it shows your way of thinking: that you can morph any element into anything else until it ends up as you want it.

      Examples 1 and 2 are Hebrew, and the yod is used as part of the formation of the construct state, as it always does in אב, and sometimes does in אל. I think the construct state of אב is taught before the tenth class at least in introductory Hebrew classes.

      The Shishaq/Shoshenq thing is an old chestnut. Multiple manuscripts attest the qere שושק instead (and LXX backs this), which makes a nonsense of any claims for the yod. In Egyptian, the name is written with a repeated sign of the pool with flowers. When this sign occurs once it is biliteral for SA, but the doubled use is usually interpreted as SS. That gives SSnq as the phonetic transcription of the signs. The name became quite popular and it does have Berber origin. The loss of nun in clusters is quite common in Semitic languages (as in the second-person singular pronouns in Hebrew). So, I believe that the Hebrew rendering of this name is quite a straightforward transcription.

      As for Potiphar/Poti-phera, you say nothing new apart from applying the new nonsense about yod being a dash, which is patently not upheld by your other ‘examples’ or in anything else you can find. Now, the name Samuel is interesting, but for completely different reasons.

  20. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “So, that ‘yod is like a dash’ thing is really very silly. Apart from the fact that it is not true and makes no sense, it shows your way of thinking: that you can morph any element into anything else until it ends up as you want it. Examples 1 and 2 are Hebrew, and the yod is used as part of the formation of the construct state, as it always does in אב, and sometimes does in אל. I think the construct state of אב is taught before the tenth class at least in introductory Hebrew classes.”

    Many scholars disagree with your analysis. As my post noted, ’B$LM at II Chronicles 11: 20, 21 is the same name of the same person as ’BY$LM at I Kings 15: 2, 10, and ’LPL+ at I Chronicles 14: 5 is the same name of the same person as ’LYPL+ at II Samuel 5: 16. That makes good sense if and only if the interior Hebrew yod/Y is effectively functioning as a dash, instead of changing the underlying meaning of the name. At p. 22 of “The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives” (2002), Thomas L. Thompson writes in this regard: “An alternate form of this name [’BRM] is ’BYRM, which has a yod joining the two elements. Martin Noth has shown clearly that in sentence names such as ’BYRM this letter has no significance whatsoever. {Noth, BWANT 10, 1928, 33f…..} We find such names as ’X’B alongside of ’XY’B (Eleph.), but even more important are those examples [which I have cited above] where the same individual is given both forms….”

    Clearly Potiphar and Potiphera are sentence names that are rendered using Hebrew letters, so it is very possible that the interior Hebrew yod/Y is functioning as a name divider, effectively being like a dash in modern punctuation. Note that the interior Hebrew yod/Y is perfectly placed in these two names as a name divider: everything before the yod has the same letters and same meaning, but after the yod come different letters with a different meaning.

    2. In commenting about Shishak vs. Sheshonq, you again show your strange fondness for accepting the Septuagint over the Masoretic Text. That is not mainstream. Every mainstream scholar sees the Masoretic Text as being more accurate than the Septuagint.

    You are wanting to see the interior Hebrew yod/Y in $Y$Q as being (a) a vowel indicator, that is (b) the wrong vowel indicator. Don’t you see how weak your position is? In fact, that interior Hebrew yod/Y is not a vowel indicator at all, as neither Egyptian nor Biblical Hebrew used vowel indicators in such a situation regarding an Egyptian name. Rather, that interior Hebrew yod/Y effectively functions as a dash. Thus the Biblical rendering is $-$Q, which is a nice match to one of the attested Egyptian forms of this name, $$q. [I certainly agree with your comment that “The loss of nun in clusters is quite common in Semitic languages”.]

    3. I myself do not think that Hebrew yod/Y stands for Egyptian i. In that connection, perhaps you could state whether you agree with the following standard analysis of the Biblical word “Abrek”:

    ’B-RK, at Genesis 41: 43, represents: Ab r.k [where r.k is short for ir.k] = “Cease [whatever else you’re doing]! You make [way]!” This is cleverly designed so that it also makes pretty good sense in Hebrew as well: “Bow the knee.”

    Note that Egyptian ir.k is being represented in Hebrew (if you agree with the foregoing mainstream analysis), yet there’s no Hebrew yod/Y to represent that Egyptian i.

    4. Other than the various items we have discussed so far, do you know of a single case where Hebrew yod/Y is used to represent Egyptian i? Each of Shishak, Potiphar and Potiphera works better if the interior Hebrew yod/Y is viewed as effectively being a dash, rather than as representing a letter, hieroglyph or sound in Egyptian. If you are going to maintain that the Masoretic Text’s rendering of Shishak is a “mistake”, then it would be helpful for your case if you would set forth other examples of where, in your opinion, Hebrew yod/Y is used to render Egyptian i. I myself know of no such case.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  21. However, by claiming that the yod has ‘no significance whatsoever’, it has no lexical weight, it does not stand for the first-person singular pronoun. Forms in אב, אבי, אבו are well attested in this core irregular Hebrew noun, whether it be construct or predicative. The yod does not stand apart from the word like a dash; it is a noun ending. That is why you cannot lift this letter from one use and place it behind an Egyptian participle. So, no it is not why there is a yod in those names. טי is a good transcription of Egyptian di into Hebrew, but you refuse to accept it because you are wedded to an impossible theory about syllables.

    About Shoshenq, I was talking about the accepted qere of the name in Tanakh. No, scholars do not view LXX as ‘less accurate’ than MT. Less accurate to what measure? LXX is an important witness to the text of the Hebrew Bible, especially because it is older than MT, Peshitta and DSS. Extant qere with LXX support is evidence enough to choose שושק as the spelling, as you can see in the BHS text and apparatus.

    I don’t know why you want to discuss אברך. Well, it’s another old chestnut, and, to mix metaphors, you tend to like using these rambling excursus as red herrings. Anyway, I don’t think making it out to be Spiegelberg’s Egyptian Ab ir=k makes much sense, and I don’t like that singular =k. It is traditionally mentioned that it has the radicals of the Hebrew word ברך, but does not make much sense (the best would be to make it a hiphil imperative, but it would still be singular). I quite fancy ib rx as an Egyptian title, seeing as we have evidence of rx-nsw being used as the title of a court official.

  22. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “However, by claiming that the yod has ‘no significance whatsoever’, it has no lexical weight, it does not stand for the first-person singular pronoun. Forms in אב, אבי, אבו are well attested in this core irregular Hebrew noun, whether it be construct or predicative. The yod does not stand apart from the word like a dash; it is a noun ending. That is why you cannot lift this letter from one use and place it behind an Egyptian participle.”

    If you deny that Hebrew yod can be a name divider, functioning like a dash with no lexical weight, then you are outside of the mainstream. Although HALOT misses most Hurrian names in the Bible, HALOT does manage to recognize “Uriah”/ev-ri-ya plus –H Semiticized ending as being a Hurrian name. Note in particular that HALOT (at p. 25) feels the need to expressly deny that in this name [’WRY-H] the Hebrew yod/Y is a name divider:

    “cun. U-ri-ia-a…does not include n[ame] div[ider] Y, but Hitt. -ia…. Ug. iwr = Hurr. ewir lord.”

    ’BRM is a sentence name, and has the identical meaning as ’BYRM, which also is a sentence name, and in the latter case the Hebrew yod/Y is a name divider, functioning effectively as a dash: ’B-RM. Since the Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives was well aware of that use of a Hebrew yod/Y, he could choose to use Hebrew yod/Y that way in setting forth the names Potiphar and Potiphera. Your blanket denial that such could not be the case under any circumstances is both outside of the mainstream and flat wrong.

    2. You wrote: “So, no it is not why there is a yod in those names. טי is a good transcription of Egyptian di into Hebrew, but you refuse to accept it because you are wedded to an impossible theory about syllables.”

    Early Biblical Hebrew did not use vowel indicators! The presence of dozens of Hurrian names in this text makes it certain that we are dealing with early Biblical Hebrew here. Why on earth would an early Hebrew author use Hebrew yod/Y as a vowel indicator in this Biblical Egyptian name? That makes no sense.

    I expressly asked you to come up with at least one example that supports your view that Hebrew yod/Y is used in Biblical Hebrew, or old non-biblical Hebrew, to render Egyptian i. Your silence is overwhelming. There is no example of that bizarre claimed phenomenon, because it makes no sense and does not exist. Hebrew tet/+ works perfectly for Egyptian di. It’s perfect. There’s no reason on earth to use two Hebrew letters to render di in Egyptian.

    In fact, recognizing that particular Hebrew yod/Y as being a name divider would not, in and of itself, hurt the mainstream view of this name directly. The reason why it is nevertheless an important issue, however, is because it is the false basis for your claim that an early Hebrew author could allegedly use 2 Hebrew letters to represent a 1-syllable Egyptian word, and as to “pharaoh”, that an early Hebrew author could allegedly use four (4) [that’s four (4), count them, four (4)!!] Hebrew letters to render a 2-syllable Egyptian word. No way. Not. You are trying to force early Biblical Hebrew into rendering Egyptian words and names in ways that are never attested and that make no sense. Hebrew tet/+, standing alone, represents Egyptian di perfectly, and in early Biblical Hebrew there would never be a vowel indicator added.

    3. You wrote: “About Shoshenq, I was talking about the accepted qere of the name in Tanakh. No, scholars do not view LXX as ‘less accurate’ than MT. Less accurate to what measure? LXX is an important witness to the text of the Hebrew Bible, especially because it is older than MT, Peshitta and DSS. Extant qere with LXX support is evidence enough to choose שושק as the spelling, as you can see in the BHS text and apparatus.”

    When you run away from the Masoretic Text so quickly, because it is antithetical to your preconceived ideas, you lose credibility. The Septuagint both played fast and loose with the text, as did Onkelos in Aramaic, and it’s in a foreign language not Hebrew, as with Onkelos in Aramaic. You cannot trust those two sources. They’re right 95% of the time, but whenever it comes to crunch time and something important is on the line, count on the Septuagint and Onkelos to change what the original Hebrew text originally said.

    You implicitly acknowledge that your theory of the case is incompatible with the received Masoretic Text.

    4. You wrote: “I don’t know why you want to discuss אברך. Well, it’s another old chestnut, and, to mix metaphors, you tend to like using these rambling excursus as red herrings. Anyway, I don’t think making it out to be Spiegelberg’s Egyptian Ab ir=k makes much sense, and I don’t like that singular =k. It is traditionally mentioned that it has the radicals of the Hebrew word ברך, but does not make much sense (the best would be to make it a hiphil imperative, but it would still be singular). I quite fancy ib rx as an Egyptian title, seeing as we have evidence of rx-nsw being used as the title of a court official.”

    Now you’re way outside the mainstream. In context, ’BRK at Genesis 41: 43 must mean something like “Make way!” Certainly you know how Akhenaten handled those famous gold necklaces at Amarna. Akhenaten would bestow the gold necklaces on a favored official, and then everyone would have to “make way” as there was a procession featuring the favored official.

    Resh-kaf/RK is short for ir.k. Note that there’s no Hebrew yod/Y to represent Egyptian i. Such a phenomenon is never attested.

    5. It’s odd how you’re willing to wander so very, very far outside of the mainstream in order to defend, at any cost, the mainstream’s erroneous interpretation of the names Potiphar and Potiphera. A mainstream view that holds that such two names are identical is absolutely indefensible on its face. Instead of heroically trying to defend the indefensible, why don’t you take a fresh look at those two names? View Hebrew yod/Y as a name divider, and ask what each name would mean if the rule is one Hebrew letter per foreign syllable. You would then find that the two names are very different from each other, with one being very fitting for a Captain of the Guard who is in charge of Pharaoh’s security, and the other being very fitting for a priest from On, and with both names being inconceivable in any historical time period outside of the brief Amarna experiment with a type of semi-monotheism.

    Since you’re incapable of remaining within the mainstream anyway, why not take a fresh look at this old problem?

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

    • The name Uriah takes daghesh, making its quality much stronger. I have a problem with the phrase ‘name divider’, as it’s an excuse not to talk about what it actually represents. There is no evidence of this ending in Egyptian names.

      ‘Vowel indicators’ are usually called matres lectionis. The Masoretic Text uses them, and there are three in the first verse of Torah. They appear in names in the Torah, and in rendering of foreign names. It is incorrect to say ‘we are dealing with early Biblical Hebrew here’, because we are looking at MT.

      Using two or even three Hebrew letters to write a syllable happens all the time. It happens in transcriptions of names. That is why פרעה transcribes pr-aA perfectly, and פוטי פרע transcribes pA-di pA-ra perfectly. You are alone in your theory that they don’t.

      You said that I am ‘trying to force early Biblical Hebrew into rendering Egyptian words and names in ways that are never attested and that make no sense’, which is quite offensive after the nonsense that you have claimed without any attestation, including saying that both Pharaoh and Poti-phera are Egyptian phrases that are never attested as a whole. This comments thread shows that you have changed the meaning when it is pointed out that it makes no sense.

      What nonsense is this that Septuagint and Onqelos cannot be trusted? Were their authors joking? In fact they were highly regarded and regularly used by Greek- and Aramaic-speaking Jews. We regularly reference non-Hebrew versions of the scriptures as witnesses here, and they are referenced in critical apparatus. They are used to elucidate the MT. It is relevant how Jews in Egypt transcribed the text in Greek at least three centuries before the Hebrew consonantal text was settled. It is relevant that the BHS transcribes שושק thus.

      No, the context for אברך is wider than you say. Spiegelberg’s rendering of it by the Egyptian Ab ir=k is often quoted, but is also widely criticised. It could be right, but it just means ‘stop what you’re doing!’, and in the singular too. It’s odd that you feel that the Egyptian consonant i in ib rx always requires transcription with yod. Do you know how ‘Aten’ is spelt, or ‘Amun’ or ‘Anubis’?

      You now seem to be obsessed with ‘mainstream’. Academics are not robots all thinking the same. Someone is outside of mainstream when they profess theories that are generally thought not to have sufficient evidence.

  23. Gareth Hughes:

    1. You wrote: “I have a problem with the phrase ‘name divider’, as it’s an excuse not to talk about what it actually represents.”

    Hebrew yod can function as a name divider in proper names in the Hebrew rendering of both Hebrew and Egyptian names, but not in the Hebrew rendering of Hurrian names (where Hebrew yod usually represents the Hurrian vowel A). I have given many examples of that.

    2. You wrote: “What nonsense is this that Septuagint and Onqelos cannot be trusted? Were their authors joking? In fact they were highly regarded and regularly used by Greek- and Aramaic-speaking Jews.”

    Why were they highly regarded? When reverence for trees in the Patriarchal narratives became semi-blasphemous umpteen centuries later, you can count on Onkelos to mistranslate “oak tree” as “plain” in Aramaic. That’s precisely why Onkelos was so beloved. 95% of the time, Onkelos was accurate. But when a potential blasphemy raised its head, you could count on Onkelos to mistranslate the Hebrew into Aramaic to eliminate the perceived blasphemy. T-h-a-t is why Onkelos was so highly regarded. The Septuagint also exhibits that feature, though often the Septuagint (unlike Onkelos) is simply inaccurate for no apparent reason.

    What the Masoretic Text is good for, for better or worse, is blindly following the original text. Yes, Hebrew common words were often updated to plene spelling, but rarely were there errors of sloppiness, and rarely was the text changed (prior to pointing) to avoid a potential blasphemy.

    3. You wrote: “It’s odd that you feel that the Egyptian consonant i in ib rx always requires transcription with yod.”

    That’s exactly the o-p-p-o-s-i-t-e of what I said. In my view, Egyptian i is n-e-v-e-r rendered by Hebrew yod.

    4. You wrote: “Do you know how ‘Aten’ is spelt, or ‘Amun’ or ‘Anubis’?”

    Amen is spelled in Egyptian: imn. If that is the Amen in the Bible, then it is spelled in Hebrew: ’MN. Note that the Egyptian i is n-o-t rendered by Hebrew yod.

    Anubis is not in the Bible.

    Aten is spelled itn in Egyptian. If that is the Adon in the Bible, then it is spelled ’DWN at Genesis 45: 9. The vav/W drops out in “my lord”: ’DNY. The root is ’DN. Note once again that the Egyptian i is n-o-t rendered by Hebrew yod.

    We could argue if the Hebrew names reflect the Egyptian names. (The mainstream says No as to Aten, but may be of a split opinion as to Amen.) But note that where one sees Egyptian i, one n-e-v-e-r sees Hebrew yod!

    That’s my point.

    Dr. James R. Stinehart
    Evanston, Illinois

  24. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    • In analyzing the Hebrew letters peh-resh-ayin-he : PR‘H, which are traditionally transliterated into English as “Pharaoh”, consider that such word or name may likely have originally been recorded in cuneiform. That is the case if the Patriarchal narratives date back to the Late Bronze Age, with the tent-dwelling Hebrews having retained a scribe to record their sacred story on cuneiform tablets. Most scholars agree with E.A. Speiser’s analysis that the “seal” that Judah wears on a cord around his neck at Genesis 38: 18 is a cylinder seal, and the primary function of a cylinder seal was to imprint one’s signature on wet clay regarding a document written in cuneiform. Thus the Patriarchs and Judah are portrayed as being familiar with, and knowing the importance of, having a scribe record important documents in cuneiform on clay tablets. So it would make sense for the tent-dwelling early Hebrews in south-central Canaan to have a scribe record on cuneiform tablets their sacred story of the Patriarchs.

      If so, then PR‘H is the much later alphabetical rendering of a name or word that was originally written down in cuneiform. It is well known, from the Amarna Letters and many other sources, that cuneiform writing (i) could not distinguish ayin from aleph, and (ii) could not distinguish he from heth. Thus instead of the mysterious PR‘H in the received alphabetical text, the cuneiform original of this name or word could just as easily have been: PR ’X : peh-resh aleph-heth. Is that the expected Hebrew rendering of an Egyptian word or name?

      Genesis 14: 4-5 can be viewed as explicitly referring to “year 13” and “year 14”. If that is intended to reference Year 13 and Year 14, then we know that the king of Egypt in Years 13 and 14 at Amarna was Ax -n- itn : “Akhenaten”. The Biblical Hebrew equivalent of that Egyptian kingly name would be: peh-resh aleph-heth : PR ’X = pA ra Ax. We know from the PR at the end of the name “Potiphar” that PR : peh-resh can represent pA ra in Egyptian, meaning “the Ra” or, in the context of Amarna: “the one and only God Ra”. Note also that as of Year 13, Akhenaten favored the name “Ra” or “pA ra” [the Ra] over the name “Aten”: after naming his first 4 daughters after Aten, he named his last 2 daughters after Ra. So it makes sense for the early Hebrew Biblical author, if he was a contemporary of Akhenaten, to substitute pA ra here for itn/Aten, as of Year 13. The rest of the name is the same in Egyptian and Hebrew: aleph-heth. In Egyptian, one meaning of aleph-heth : Ax is: “Spirit”.

      Contra the traditional interpretation of “Pharaoh”, native Egyptians rarely referred to the king of Egypt by the phrase “Great House”. Moreover, such phrase could not end with the he/H in the received text anyway.

      Finally, note that Ax -n- itn means “Spirit of God”. Akhenaten never had a son, and Akhenaten is [using artistic license] portrayed at Genesis 41: 38-43 as effectively adopting Joseph as the son he never had. The particular phrasing that Pharaoh [Akhenaten] uses at Genesis 41: 38 is very revealing in that regard. Remembering that the name “Akhenaten” : Ax -n- itn : pA ra Ax : PR ’X [“Pharaoh”] means “Spirit of God”, here is what “Pharaoh” [Akhenaten] says at Genesis 41: 38: “And Pharaoh [PR ’X : Spirit of God] said to his servants, ‘Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?’ ”

      If one is willing to do a cuneiform analysis of the four Hebrew letters traditionally transliterated into English as “Pharaoh”, it turns out that in the beginning, in the Patriarchal narratives, those four letters were the Biblical Hebrew equivalent of the name “Akhenaten”. PR‘H in the received text was originally PR ’X in cuneiform, rendering the Egyptian words pA ra Ax, which in turn is the functional equivalent of Ax – n – itn. All four phrasings mean “Spirit of the Sun-God”.

      The king of Egypt in the Patriarchal Age is Akhenaten. Virtually all of the stories in the Patriarchal narratives refer to the perilous times that the early tent-dwelling Hebrews experienced in Year 13, which could be called “The Year of Living Dangerously” for the first Hebrews. The Biblical word or name transliterated into English as “Pharaoh” is the Biblical Hebrew equivalent of the name “Akhenaten”.

      Jim Stinehart

      Dr. James R. Stinehart
      Evanston, Illinois

      • Yeah, you said as much last time, and it’s still the argument of a hobbyist who’s let the enthusiasm run away with them. You could study egyptology, you know, in a real university.

      • Gareth Hughes:

        You wrote: “[I]t’s still the argument of a hobbyist who’s let the enthusiasm run away with them. You could study egyptology, you know, in a real university.”

        Since you know Egyptology, it should be child’s play to falsify or verify my view that “Pharaoh” was originally PR ’X, rendering pA ra Ax in Egyptian, as such being the Biblical Hebrew equivalent of Ax – n – itn : “Akhenaten”.

        (i) We know that the historical Captain of the Palace Guard at Amarna in Year 13 was Ra-mose. The Biblical Hebrew equivalent name is “Potiphar”, that is: P W+ -Y- PR = pA wA.ti — pA ra. In his Great Hymn, Akhenaten often referred to Ra or Aten as being wA.ti : “distant” : “[the] distant [God]”. So it makes good sense for Hebrew vav-tet to be consonantal vav-tet, rendering wA.ti in Egyptian. The interior yod is xireq compaginis, which is found both in the Patriarchal narratives and in Amarna Letters coming out of Jerusalem. So the linguistic analysis, for someone like you who knows both Hebrew and Egyptian, is actually quite straight forward: P = pA; W+ = wA.ti; Y = xireq compaginis [effectively functioning as a modern dash]; P = pA [as always]; and R = ra.

        As with the name Ra-mose, the Biblical equivalent name pA wA.ti — pA ra openly features “Ra”. The effective meaning of both names is the same: “Devoted to Ra”. [The literal meanings are, respectively, “Born to Ra” and “The Distant [God] — The Ra”.]

        (ii) The historical high-priest of Ra from On at Amarna in Year 13 was Pawah, Greatest Seer. The Biblical Hebrew equivalent name is “Potipherah”, that is, P W+ -Y- P RX. As to the last Hebrew letter, the received text has ayin/‘. But due to the classic confusion of gutturals in cuneiform writing alluded to in my prior message, that final letter was Akkadian heth in cuneiform, which could be heth or ayin or he in Hebrew. That final letter in the original cuneiform was intended to render Hebrew heth/X here, but 700 years later was misinterpreted as being an ayin/‘, per a classic confusion of gutturals in cuneiform writing. If the last Hebrew letter was intended to be Hebrew heth/X, per the foregoing analysis, then: P W+ -Y- P RX = pA wA.ti — pA rx.

        The first half of the name has the identical analysis as the name above, where vav-teth is consonantal vav-teth = wA.ti, being one famous way Akhenaten referred to Ra or Aten as the “distant” god. After the xireq compaginis, the peh/P is of course Egyptian pA, as always. But with the final Hebrew letter now being recognized as having been originally intended to be Hebrew heth/X, the last two letters are resh-heth : RX, which is rx in Egyptian. As you know, rx means “to know” in Egyptian.

        Unlike the name above, neither Pawah, Greatest Seer nor pA wA.ti — pA rx has an overt reference to Ra as such, but rather the reference to Ra is indirect. In the historical Egyptian name, the reference is to “that which sets”, that is, the sun, that is, the Sun-God Ra. Since this is the historical name of the high-priest of Ra from On in Year 13 at Amarna, naturally there will be a reference, if indirect, to Ra in his name. Both names effectively mean: “The One Who Knows the Sun-God [Ra]”.

        * * *

        So we see that all three Biblical Egyptian names — “Pharaoh”, “Potiphar”, and “Potipherah” — are coming straight out of the well-attested world of Amarna in Year 13.

        You advise me to “study egyptology”. Most all of the Egyptian words noted above would presumably be learned in the first few days of studying Egyptology: pA; wA.ti; ra; rx; Ax. That’s a total of only 5 simple Egyptian words [which, by the way, anyone can easily look up on the Internet]. All of those words are found in Akhenaten’s Great Hymn. An early Hebrew author who knew a smidgen of Egyptian, “tourist Egyptian” if you will, and who was an utter genius, including regarding language matters, could come up with these three Biblical Egyptian names: pA ra Ax; pA wA.ti — pA ra; pA wA.ti — pA rx.

        What has fooled everyone for over 3,000 years is that there was slippage between the cuneiform originals and the received alphabetical text. What was supposed to be Hebrew aleph-heth came out wrongly as ayin-he, as cuneiform could not distinguish those Hebrew letters; and what was supposed to be Hebrew resh-heth came out wrongly as resh-ayin, as cuneiform could not distinguish those Hebrew letters. If you are aware of the “confusion of gutturals” in cuneiform writing, you should be able to see such phenomenon right away. I know you’re conversant with both Hebrew and Egyptian, so once we recover the Hebrew letters that were originally intended from the cuneiform originals, you can easily see the Egyptian words that those originally-intended Hebrew letters render.

        We begin to see that e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g matches to Year 13 at Amarna. The historical name of the king of Egypt, and of the Captain of the Palace Guard, and of the high-priest of Ra from On: all as of Year 13 at Amarna match beautifully to their Biblical Hebrew equivalents, once it is recognized that cuneiform could not distinguish ayin from aleph, or heth from ayin or he. When all three names match perfectly to three leading male historical figures at Amarna in Year 13, that’s telling us that far from being late fiction, as usually supposed, the Patriarchal narratives in fact have p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t historical accuracy in a Year 13 historical context. The Patriarchal narratives were composed in Year 13 by an early tent-dwelling Hebrew in south-central Canaan, and a few years later the first Hebrews retained a scribe [probably the former scribe of IR-Heba of Jerusalem] to record the Patriarchal narratives on about 50 cuneiform clay tablets. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later that those cuneiform originals were first put into alphabetical form, and when that was done, inevitably there were some mistakes made as to foreign names, due to the notorious “confusion of gutturals” in cuneiform writing.

        The Patriarchal narratives are much older as a written text, and much more accurate historically, than university scholars realize. The Patriarchal narratives are not pleasant fiction, based on an o-r-a-l tradition, as university scholars would have it. Rather, the Patriarchal narratives are a written cuneiform text from the mid-14th century BCE, and have p-i-n-p-o-i-n-t historical accuracy in a Year 13 historical context.

        Jim Stinehart

        Dr. James R. Stinehart
        Evanston, Illinois

  25. There is absolutely no evidence for the words that you suggest. You have taken a valid Egyptian word and changed a letter so that it fits the fantasy of a theory you have. If you live in a world where you can make things up, then you can prove any sort of nonsense. The Internet is full of people who think they can prove things. This comments section is full of my refutation of your make-believe. How am I supposed to refute nonsense? If you make up the rules, it is pointless, and talking with you is idiocy.

    • Gareth Hughes:

      1. You wrote: “There is absolutely no evidence for the words that you suggest.”

      On the contrary, (i) Ax-n-itn, Ramose, and Pawah, Greatest Seer are the historical names of, respectively, the king of Egypt, the Captain of the Palace Guard, and the high-priest of Ra from On at Amarna in Year 13; and (ii) the Biblical Hebrew equivalents of those three names are pA ra Ax, pA wA.ti – pA ra, and pA wA.ti – pA rx, respectively. The second of those three Biblical names matches exactly to the Hebrew letters in the received text. The first and third of those Biblical names match except for the gutturals. That strongly suggests that all of these Biblical names were originally recorded in the Late Bronze Age in cuneiform writing, which was notorious for being unable to distinguish one guttural from another.

      When you say that I “have taken a valid Egyptian word and changed a letter”, what I am actually doing is considering alternative gutturals, since the Patriarchal narratives are so old that they likely were a written text in cuneiform in the Late Bronze Age. If so, then a Jewish scribe in late 7th century BCE Jerusalem, 700 years after the fact, who was tasked with transforming the cuneiform original into alphabetical Hebrew, would inevitably make some mistakes as to gutturals in dealing with non-Semitic proper names whose underlying meanings he did not understand.

      To prove this point, consider now the mysterious name “Hobah” at Genesis 14: 15. The spelling in the received text is XWBH, with the first letter being Hebrew heth/X. In context, we know that this must be a name for the Damascus region, yet in 5,000 years of human history, there is no such name like XWBH, beginning with a heth/X, for the Damascus region (or for any site near Damascus). If this name was recorded in cuneiform shortly after Year 13, then the first letter was cuneiform heth, which could be either Hebrew heth/X or Hebrew he/H, since cuneiform could not distinguish gutturals. If the first letter was originally intended to be he/H (as opposed to the heth/X in the received alphabetical text), then suddenly everything makes complete sense. Hebrew he/H is the Hebrew common word for “the”. What is being rendered here is “the WBH”. In an Amarna Letter that likely dates to Year 13, we find that the Damascus area was referred to at that time by the Hurrian-based name Ú-bi. In writing to Akhenaten, Hurrian princeling Aitakkama complains about rival Hurrian princeling Biryawaza in Amarna Letter EA 189, and at line 12 on the reverse side mentions “Ú-bi” — the Damascus area. The last three letters of the name at Genesis 14: 15 are the exact Hebrew equivalent: WBH. The Hebrew vav/W represents the foreign vowel Ú as its own separate syllable; Hebrew bet/B is B; and a vowel ending in Hebrew is in effect represented by -H, which is a standard Hebrew ending for geographical place names.

      Thus instead of “Hobah” being inexplicable, on the standard view, such name is in fact the fully-attested, Hurrian-based name for the Damascus region in Year 13, once it is recognized that this name was originally recorded in cuneiform, which writing system could not distinguish Hebrew he/H from Hebrew heth/X.

      2. Your standard theory of the case (i) cannot explain the he/H at the end of “Pharaoh”, (ii) cannot distinguish the name “Potiphar” from the name “Potipherah”, even though the former is a military man who is the Captain of the Guard, whereas the latter is a religious figure who is the high-priest of Ra from On, and (iii) cannot make any sense whatsoever out of “Hobah”. What’s missing from your standard theory is to realize that the Patriarchal narratives are so old that they first became a written text in the Late Bronze Age, using cuneiform writing. After all, given that Judah is portrayed as having a cylinder seal, the Biblical author knew the importance of having a scribe record important items on clay tablets in cuneiform writing, such as the Patriarchal narratives. It is well known that cuneiform writing cannot distinguish one guttural from another. So it’s inevitable that for non-Semitic proper names, whose underlying meaning was unknown to a 1st millennium BCE scribe in Jerusalem who was tasked with transforming the cuneiform originals into alphabetical Hebrew, Hebrew ayin/‘ and Hebrew he/H and Hebrew heth/X would often get confused: the same cuneiform sign, Akkadian cuneiform heth, was used to render all three such Hebrew gutturals.

      All four of the above names are Biblical Hebrew equivalents of four important non-Semitic proper names that were prominent and well-attested in Year 13, rather than being pleasant fiction. But in order to uncover the pinpoint historical accuracy of this Biblical text, one must realize that for a non-Semitic proper name (such as “Pharaoh”), the guttural that one sees in the received alphabetical text will often as not be the wrong guttural, because these names were originally recorded in cuneiform, and cuneiform writing cannot distinguish one guttural from another.

      Jim Stinehart

      Dr. James R. Stinehart
      Evanston, Illinois

  26. MISTER Stinehart, I know neither Hebrew nor Egyptian, but it sounds like you’re just making stuff up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s