[b-hebrew] The Name Abraham

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Mar 11 17:10:58 EDT 2013

As to the key question of the Biblical  spelling of “Ra” that Will Parsons 
raised, please consider that “Potiphar” is a  different name than “
Potiphera”.  I  hope and expect that everyone on the b-hebrew list will reject the 
scholarly  claim that two different Biblical authors, who did not know each 
other or each  other’s work, somehow on a non-miraculous basis allegedly 
managed to come up  with the same name, though spelled somewhat differently, 
for two different  characters:  “Very early, before P wrote, the figure of 
Joseph became  connected with the Egyptian name P3-di-p3-Ra [pA di pA ra], ‘
Potiphar’;  but the connexion was never explicit.  One tradition ascribed the 
name to  Joseph's father-in-law, another to Joseph's master.  An editor, 
plagued by a bent towards  completeness, inserted them both.”  D. B. Redford, “
A Study of the Biblical Story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50)”  (1970), pp. 
In fact, with ra being spelled by the sole Hebrew letter  resh/R in 
Biblical Hebrew, as in the name “Potiphar” [Joseph’s Egyptian master  who is 
Captain of the Guard], the resh-ayin/R( at the end of the name  “Potiphera”, as 
Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, cannot mean ra.  Rather than 
having anything whatsoever  to do with pA di pA ra, which is a 1st millennium BCE 
style of  Egyptian name that would be out of place in the ancient 
Patriarchal narratives  and which in any event so conspicuously does not in fact 
match the Hebrew  letters here at all, let’s look at what the Biblical Egyptian 
name “Potiphera”  actually means in Egyptian.  The  name “Potiphera” 
should exemplify Akhenaten’s peculiar, unattractive theology  found in his Great 
Hymn to the Aten, if I am right that the Patriarchal Age is  the Amarna Age. 
1.  P = pA.  The Hymn to the Aten features pA itn and  pA nTr wa. So we 
should expect pA + deity name.  The first letter in “Potiphera” is peh/P,  and 
just like the second peh/P in that same name, that Hebrew letter, by 
itself,  renders the Egyptian word pA, meaning “the”, but at Amarna implying “the 
one and  only”. 
2.  W = wA.  On four occasions in the Hymn to the  Aten, Akhenaten refers 
to Ra/Aten as being the “distant”/wA.ti god, and on one  further occasion he 
uses this same Egyptian word in a more generic sense,  referring to a “
distant”/wAt land.  Just as peh/P = pA, so also vav/W =  wA.  Both with pA and 
wA, the  Egyptian aleph/A is not represented by a separate Hebrew letter.  
[There’s no way that Hebrew vav/W is  Egyptian aleph here, so that PW = pA, as 
scholars would have it.  Not.  Hebrew aleph is directly equivalent to  
Egyptian aleph, whereas Hebrew vav/W has nothing to do with Egyptian aleph.  
Moreover, based on the second half of  this name, we know that peh/P alone 
renders the Egyptian word pA.  So the Hebrew vav/W here is not part of  the 
Egyptian word pA, but rather starts a new word, and is a consonantal  vav/W.] 
3.  + = t.  What’s attested regarding Hebrew teth/+  is that it represents 
Egyptian regular t [not d or dj].  For example, the t in wAt in the Great  
Hymn to the Aten is Gardiner hieroglyphic sign X1, being a regular Egyptian 
t.  At item #22 on the  mid-15thcentury BCE Thutmose III list of places in 
Canaan, the place name “Tob” begins with Gardiner sign X1,  being a regular 
Egyptian t.  That is  Akkadian cuneiform teth for this name Tob at Amarna 
Letter EA 205: 3 (being the  exact time period of the Great Hymn to the Aten).  
This same geographical place name, Tob,  appears at Judges 11: 3, 5 spelled 
with alphabetical Hebrew teth:  +WB.  [Hebrew tav/T was not available for  
regular Egyptian t, because the special Egyptian Tj in nTr/netjer is 
rendered by  tav/T:  NT [where by New Kingdom times the final R was no longer 
pronounced],  in Joseph’s Egyptian name and in the name of Joseph’s Egyptian 
wife.  I see little or no basis for the  scholarly claim that Hebrew teth/+ in 
the name “Potiphera” supposedly represents  Egyptian d or Egyptian dj, 
which would be needed for the Egyptian word “gift”,  pronounced dji;  surely 
Hebrew  dalet/D would be used for such d-type sounds.] 
So the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly  father-in-law, the priest of Ra 
from On, starts out P W+, rendering pA wAt in  Egyptian [where neither of 
the Egyptian alephs/A is represented by a separate  Hebrew letter].  The 
meaning is “the  [one and only] distant [god]”, that is, Ra.  O.K. so far? 
4.  Y = xireq compaginis.  Just as the -Y- in the middle of the  Amorite 
name Milk-i-Ilu from the Amarna Letters at Genesis 46: 17, MLK -Y- )L,  is a 
dash or xireq compaginis, so also is the interior yod/Y in the name  “
Potiphera”.  Both IR-Heba’s scribe  at Jerusalem,  and the Patriarchal narratives, 
use xireq compaginis. 
5.  P = pA. The second peh/P is like the earlier one  in this name, meaning 
pA, that is: “the”. 
6.  R + ending = rx.  Ra would be just resh/R alone, as we know  from the 
ending of the name “Potiphar” of Joseph’s Egyptian master [and which is  
consistent with the Akkadian cuneiform rendering of “Ra” in pharaohs’ names, 
per  Amarna Letters coming out of mid-14th century BCE Canaan].  But here we 
see R + ending, with ayin  being the ending in the received text.  In order 
for this Year 14 theology to be  in the Patriarchal narratives with such 
incredible accuracy, it must have been  written down in the Amarna Age, and 
that could only have been by way of Akkadian  cuneiform.  The Achilles heel of  
Akkadian cuneiform is that in final position, Akkadian cuneiform heth could 
 represent virtually every Hebrew letter we don’t have in English:  ayin or 
heth or emphatic H or he or even  archaic ghayin.  Here, the scribe in  
7thcentury BCE Jerusalem who transformed the Akkadian cuneiform signs  from the 
original tablets held in the Temple into alphabetical Hebrew made a  
fully-understandable mis-recognition mistake.  He saw Akkadian cuneiform heth and  
guessed ayin, but in fact alphabetical Hebrew heth was actually intended 
here.  So the end of the name  “Potiphera”was supposed to be RX, being rx in 
Egyptian, meaning “to know”.  pA rx means “the one and only [person]  who 
The theology behind the name of this priest of Ra from On makes sense  only 
in the Amarna Age.  Akhenaten’s  name wa-n-ra means “sole one of Ra”,  and 
in his Great Hymn to the Aten, Akhenaten famously and outrageously says 
near  the end:  “there is none  other who knows [rx] you”.  The  Biblical name 
of this priest of Ra from On duly conveys that this priest of Ra  affirms 
that supposedly Akhenaten is the only person who knows God/Ra. 
* * * 
P W+   -Y-   P RX = pA wAt -- pA rx = “the one  and only person who knows 
the distant God”, being a reference to Akhenaten.  That simultaneously (i) 
distills  the essence of Akhenaten’s theology per his Great Hymn to the Aten, 
while also  (ii) showing the Hebrew author’s distaste for Akhenaten’s 
outrageous claim that  supposedly only Akhenaten “knew”/rx“the”/pA “distant”
/wAt God.  Note the pinpoint letter-for-letter  historical accuracy of this 
Egyptian priestly name in a Year 14 context.  Yes! 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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