[b-hebrew] P R (H/"Pharaoh"" Three Meanings

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Thu Mar 14 10:58:31 EDT 2013

The scholarly view of PR(H/“Pharaoh” is that (i) it’s  only meaning is 
praA in Egyptian [where the last two Egyptian letters are  a/ayin/‘/(, and 
A/aleph/’/)/3], meaning “great house”, and (ii) the he/H at the  end of the 
Hebrew rendering of this word in the Bible is inexplicable, since on  the 
scholarly view such letter allegedly should be aleph/): 
“Par‘oh, ‘the Pharaoh, king of Egypt’. The  original form of this Pr-‘3 
[where “3” is an alternative to capital A in  transliterating Egyptian 
aleph], ‘great house’, Copt. (p)erro, used as early as  the Old Kingdom as a 
designation of the Egyptian ruler.  As Steindorff and Ranke have already  
pointed out, the word occurs in cuneiform transcription as pir’u, reflecting a  
contemporary Eg. *per‘o3. The date of the borrowing is somewhat difficult to  
determine since the Egyptian form was doubtlessly approx. *per‘a3 for a  
considerable period of time before c. 1200 B. C. and per‘o after that date. If 
 the form were borrowed as *per‘a3, one would expect *per‘a(’) or the  like
….”  Thomas O. Lambdin,  “Egyptian Loan Words in the Old Testament”, in “
Journal of the American Oriental  Society”, Vol. 73, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 
1953), at p. 153.  austinbiblechurch.com/download/file/fid/9520 
But on the b-hebrew list, we can figure out why this  Biblical word ends 
with Hebrew he/H, not Hebrew aleph/), and we will also  discover that PR(H has 
three intended meanings, not just one intended  meaning. 
Egyptian has both regular H, transliterated as h, and  emphatic H, 
transliterated as H.  Biblical Hebrew makes no such distinction, and can only 
represent these  two kinds of H in Egyptian by he/H.  The first intended meaning 
of Biblical PR(H is that the Hebrew he/H was  intended to render emphatic 
Egyptian H [not regular Egyptian h].  The second half of this word can now be  
seen to be aH, that is, Egyptian ayin-Egyptian emphatic H.  aH means “palace”
 in Egyptian.  [Only in initial position, as here, does  Egyptian ayin/a 
need to be rendered by its own separate Hebrew letter:  Hebrew ayin/(.]  (H in 
Hebrew = aH in Egyptian = “palace”  in Egyptian.  As to the P R  beginning 
of this word P R (H, we’re all familiar with P R from the end of the  name 
of Joseph’s initial Egyptian master, “Potiphar”/P W+  -Y-  P R/pA wAt  -Y-  
pA ra, where everyone agrees that P R in  Hebrew at the end of that name 
renders pA ra in Egyptian, meaning “The  Ra”. 
So the first intended level of meaning of the Biblical  word P R (H is “
Palace of The  Ra”:  pA  ra aH.  That’s a sensible, if  colorful, generic 
reference to the king of Egypt.  Rather than the final Hebrew he/H being  
inexplicable, as on the scholarly view [which thinks the last Hebrew letter  
should be aleph/)], we see that viewing Hebrew he/H as rendering emphatic  
Egyptian H makes perfect sense.  Every pharaoh proudly bore the title sA ra, so it 
makes sense to refer to  the king of Egypt as pA ra aH  : P R (H : “Palace  
of The Ra”. 
But we’ve still got two more intended levels of meaning  to go in analyzing 
P R (H. 
Jim Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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