[b-hebrew] Wellhausen vs. "Pharaoh" and "Pithom"

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Dec 31 14:40:11 EST 2007

Yitzhak Sapir has elsewhere voiced the following perceptive thoughts, as to 
possibilities of why “pharaoh” in Hebrew has the Egyptian R as an R, whereas “
Pithom” in Hebrew has the Egyptian R as an I, not as an R.
 ”2) Would it then be reasonable to see the development of pr > pi:
 within Late Egyptian, whereby in earlier periods of Late Egyptian,
 pr was pronounced [pr], while in later times the r became i: giving
 [pi:]? Pharaoh was borrowed into Hebrew earlier (for example,
 while Egypt dominated Canaan) where Pithom was borrowed later
 (from the city Pithom, established in the 7th century BCE, perhaps)?
 3) Did this sound change take place in the word Pharaoh after pr
 was pronounced [pi:]?”
On the Wellhausen JEPD theory of the Patriarchal narratives and the Book of 
Exodus, which holds that both books were composed at about the same time by 
basically the same four disparate authors, no sense can be made of this matter.
But by stark contrast, consider how easy this question is answered if, contra 
Wellhausen, the Patriarchal narratives are recognized as having been composed 
in the mid-2nd millennium BCE, many centuries before the composition of the 
Book of Exodus.  Now the question answers itself.  In the mid-14th century BCE, 
the Egyptian R was pronounced R, and so “pharaoh” in the Patriarchal 
narratives naturally retains the R.  (The Hebrew word “pharaoh” is, as is well 
known, very closely related to the Egyptian word for “great house”.)  Many 
centuries later, when the Book of Exodus was composed, the Egyptian R had come to be 
pronounced I, so the Egyptian R is not retained in “Pithom”.  “Pithom” is in 
the Book of Exodus, but is not in the much older Patriarchal narratives.  “
Pharaoh” is all over the Patriarchal narratives, and the later books of the 
Bible simply picked up “pharaoh” from the truly ancient Patriarchal narratives.
If we will be brave enough to look at the Patriarchal narratives on their own 
terms, and not insist on always looking at the Patriarchal narratives solely 
through the lens of the much later Book of Exodus, we may be able to figure 
out what the Patriarchal narratives are saying, when they were composed, and who 
their author was.  No such progress will be made, however, under the 
100-year-old Wellhausen theory of the case, which insists, against a mountain of 
opposing evidence, that the Patriarchal narratives and the Book of Exodus were 
composed at approximately the same time, by approximately the same set of four 
disparate authors, and with approximately the same set of opinions.  (As to that 
last item, the Patriarchal narratives love Egypt, while the Book of Exodus 
hates Egypt.  But then again, nothing about the 100-year-old Wellhausen theory 
makes sense regarding the Patriarchal narratives, so why should anyone be 
surprised at the diametrically opposed views of Egypt here?) 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

**************************************See AOL's top rated recipes 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list