[b-hebrew] Ramases

MarianneLuban at aol.com MarianneLuban at aol.com
Thu Jul 29 19:20:21 EDT 2004

In a message dated 7/29/2004 1:11:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time, 
leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il writes:

> While not an Egyptologist, I do know that it means "born of Re". Re, of
> course, is the sun god. The "mese[s]" is the same element as in Thutmose
> (there were several pharaohs by that name), and, presumably in "Moses",
> assuming that that was a real Egyptian name, with some theophopic element
> cut off.

You're right--sort of :-)  However, the name "ramss" is not quite the same as 
"DHwtyms" which means "Thoth is born".  Such a name can't really mean "Born
of Thoth" because the Egyptians were quite consistent in the order of their 
words in any phrase--and nearly all Egyptian proper names were a phrase.  If it 
isn't, then you know it's a nickname, of which the Egyptians were very fond.  
In order to say "Born of Thoth", it would have to be "ms n DHwty".  "Ramss" 
is a different story because it is actually a truncated version of "Ramssw" or 
"Ra fashioned him", actually the name of the grandfather of Ramesses II.  
However, there was a very popular name in the 18th and 19th Dynasties, written 
simply "ms".  Since this name constitutes no phrase, no one is quite sure what it 
is all about.  My guess is it just means "man-child", a strange name for a 
person--but there it is.  It doesn't seem to be a truncated version of a 
theophoric name, because those fit to a certain pattern.  In fact, the nickname of 
"ms", itself, seems to be "Maya", actually pronounced "Meeya".  But I doubt that 
the name "Moshe" has anything to do with any of this.  I doubt it's a proper 
name at all, for a number of reasons.  And the explanation in Exodus is not a 
satisfactory one, at all--unless you can believe that an Egyptian princess 
would give her adopted son a Semitic name that was even rather a silly one, 
totally unfitting to his station in life as the son of the princess.  Egyptians 
never had names like "drawn out of the water" or "he who dances with wolves" like 
the Amerinds did.  Please note that the names of Moshe and Aharon never again 
appear in the HB--which would be very odd if these were names that meant 
something in Semitic.  They became used in the Diaspora only when such distinction 
were no longer so well-drawn as even before that Jews had begun to be called 
by foreign names quite routinely--mostly Greek or Roman ones.  However, we 
know the name "Joseph" was used before the Roman dispersion--because, after all, 
Joseph really is a Semitic name the meaning of which is clear.

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