[b-hebrew] Potiphar's title

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Thu Jul 10 12:20:00 EDT 2003

On Thursday 10 July 2003 08:21, Peter Kirk wrote:
> On 10/07/2003 06:57, Walter R. Mattfeld wrote:
> >Peter Kirk wrote:
> >
> >"No, Walter, this does not follow. In the Genesis account, it is not
> >Egyptians calling Potiphar a saris, it is the Hebrew author who is using
> >a Hebrew word, chosen as the best equivalent in Hebrew for Potiphar's
> >Egyptian title or rank. So we should look not for when the word might
> >have come into use in Egyptian, but when it might have come into use in
> >Hebrew."
> >
> >Dear Peter,
> >
> >When did Assyria come to dominate the land of Canaan and Israel/Judah,
> >introducing the Assyrian titularly _sa resi_ to the Hebrew vocabulary ? By
> >721 BCE Israel is carried off into Exile by the Assyrians and Judah falls
> > to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. It would appear to me that the 9th-6th
> > centuries would be the most likely time frame for an Assyrian title for a
> > "governor" to be introduced into the Hebrew vocabulary.
> Now you are putting forward a sensible argument, based on the use of the
> word in Israel and not in Egypt. But the most you can prove by this kind
> of argument is that there was a final redaction of Genesis after this
> kind of date (already suggested by 36:31 etc), when possibly an archaic
> term was replaced by one in more current use.

Why do we have to assume that the term resulted from direct borrowing from the 
Akkadian term?  The most we can say, ISTM, is that they are related, most 
likely both descending from a proto-Semitic term.  The fact that the two 
terms seem to be related cannot be adduced as proof that the Hebrew term is 
nothing more than a loanword that came about because of Assyrian conquest.  
This strikes me as nothing more than another unfounded assumption, based on 
the notion that the Hebrews never had an original thought in their collective 

Dave Washburn
"God does a lot of things in the Psalms
that He can't get away with in systematic theology."

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