[b-hebrew] Ark of the Covenant

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Aug 20 07:38:56 EDT 2004

Dear Marianne,

Thanks for your reply.

>What about Poti-phera, the priest of On, whose daughter Joseph married?  It
>is obviously the same name.

HH: I read the article on Potiphar in the International Standard 
Bible Encyclopedia, and the author, Gary Pratico, says that the name 
"is probably an abbreviated form of Potiphera with the loss of the 
final 'ayin.'" So he essentially agrees with you. The names are quite 
similar, but in Hebrew Potiphera has an extra consonant and is 
divided into two words. So there is a clear difference. Since the two 
names are in the same book, they most probably reflect some sort of 
difference in the original Egyptian words.

>  > >   As it happens, such a name was not used in Egypt until the latter
>  > >part of the Late Period of Egyptian history (1070-378 BCE).

HH: Pratico agrees with you about this too, as he accepts the current 
scholarly reconstruction of the name, giving the meaning for 
Potiphera as "he whom Re has given." However, he states that "one 
cannot rule out earlier use, since many inscriptions from the time of 
the Hyksos (approximately Joseph's time) were destroyed."

>  > HH: First, you are forming the name in Egyptian
>>  on the basis of the Hebrew.
>Why blame me?  The consensus is that the name is "P'di-Pre", going by the
>Petepres of the Septuagint.

HH: Right, but the Septuagint was translated from the Hebrew over a 
thousand years after the original Hebrew was written, and was 
translated by Jews living in Egypt. If they were not familiar with 
the language used over a thousand years earlier, they may not have 
transcribed the Hebrew reflection of two ancient Egyptian names 
correctly into Greek.

>So there is some room > for error there, isn't there? Second, it would be
>>  hard for me to say that a name had not been used
>>  in the United States for a two hundred year
>>  period. So to say that a name that appeared in
>>  Egypt at a late date could not have been used at
>>  any time prior to that, a period of thousands of
>>  years, seems a stretch.
>Have you studied Egyptian prosopographia?  I have.  Until you do, just trust
>me. Any Egyptologist would tell you the same.

HH: I have not studied Egyptian prosopography. However,  I am used to 
the claims of academics, who sometimes claim to know things they 
don't know. While the scholarly reconstruction of the name might be 
true, the claim that the name could not have been used before the 
late period certainly is questionable.

>Fine with me.  Believe as you like.  I say the names are one and the same. 
>But how does one being Poti-phera and the other something else make any
>difference to what I said about the name not being in vogue until 
>the Late Period?

HH: The two forms are alike in the Septuagint, but they are not alike 
in the Hebrew, which is the original. There was some distinction, so 
that means that you are ruling out two names, even if one is only an 
abbreviation of the other. I far prefer Pratico's conclusion that a 
record of the name might have been lost due to an eradication of the 
records of the Hyksos.

				Harold Holmyard

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list