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

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Mar 15 09:49:55 EDT 2013

Will  Parsons: 
1.  You wrote:  “The he at the  end of the Hebrew word may simply be 
graphic, a mater lectionis for the  preceding /o/, (which would imply that the 
Egyptian word was heard as [par‘o] or  something similar).” 
Only if PR(H came into the Patriarchal  narratives after 1200 BCE, which as 
we have been seeing is not the case, because  all of these Biblical names 
fit the Late Bronze Age perfectly.  Lambdin’s classic article that I cited  
specifically states his surprise at the lack of a final aleph/) here:  “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.” 

2.  You wrote:  “It might even have been borrowed twice,  first in the form 
*per ‘a(’), and later reformed on the basis of contemporary  Egyptian 
But that would not happen if the Patriarchal  narratives were written down 
in Akkadian cuneiform on clay tablets in the Amarna  Age, a la the Amarna 
Letters, which is my view of the case.  We are slowly seeing  
letter-for-letter  e-x-a-c-t  matches to vintage Amarna Age  nomenclature in these Biblical 
Egyptian names.  There’s nothing post-Amarna about any of  these Biblical 
Egyptian names, in form or substance, because they were all  written down 
during the Amarna Age. 
3.  You wrote:  “I don't follow your thinking here - it  seems to me that 
Hebrew he and heth would be good matches to Egyptian h and ḥ.  respectively.”
Not true.  Alphabetical Hebrew heth/X matches  Egyptian heth/x.  But what 
about  Egyptian regular h and Egyptian emphatic H?  There’s only one 
alphabetical Hebrew  letter to do double duty there:  Hebrew he/H. 
4.  You wrote:  “And why wouldn't an emphatic Egyptian ḥ be represented by 
heth rather  than he?” 
Because Hebrew heth/X directly corresponds  to Egyptian heth/x.  In 
addition to  Egyptian heth, Egyptian also had both regular h and emphatic H.  For 
those two Egyptian letters, there’s  only Hebrew he/H.  Hebrew cannot  
directly represent emphatic H. 
By contrast, the name “Akhenaten” features  Egyptian heth/X, as it starts 
out:  ax [Egyptian ayin/a -- Egyptian heth/x], more informally 
transliterated  as:  a-khe.  But please save Hebrew heth/X for an  updated Biblical 
version of the name “Akhenaten”, which features Egyptian  heth/x.  [Will, you’re 
threatening  to spoil the big surprise.  We  haven’t gotten to Egyptian 
heth/x yet!]  Right now we’re talking about Egyptian regular h and Egyptian 
emphatic H,  and there’s only one alphabetical Hebrew letter to represent both 
of those two  distinct Egyptian letters:  Hebrew  he/H. 
5.  You wrote:  “Why only in  initial position? If, as generally accepted, 
both Egyptian ‘ and Hebrew ‘ayin  represented a consonant, why wouldn't ‘ 
be represented by ’ayin in non-initial  position?” 
In initial position, Egyptian ayin/‘ must be  represented by its own 
separate alphabetical Hebrew letter, namely Hebrew  ayin/(.  So for ax or a-khe, we
’ll  see (X in alphabetical Hebrew. 
But in interior or final position, Egyptian  ayin/‘ is generally not 
represented by any Hebrew alphabetical letter at  all.  Look at Amarna Letter EA 
292:  36 written by the successor of evil Yapaxu [the “iniquitous Amorite” 
at Genesis  15: 16] at Gezer in the Ayalon Valley in late Year 14.  He writes 
“ri-a-na-ap”, where ri =  Egyptian ra.  In Egyptian, ra is  spelled 
R-ayin, but in the Amarna Letters, including this Amarna Letter from the  part of 
Canaan where the first Hebrews  sojourned, ra is spelled with the Akkadian 
cuneiform sign ri, which is R plus  generic vowel.  There’s no  ayin.  It’s 
true that invariably in  the Amarna Letters, either -a [as here] or -ia 
[which is the more ordinary  situation] follows ri.  But as I  noted before, 
when that happens with the prenomen of either Akhenaten or his  father 
Amenhotep III regarding ra, Richard Hess at pp. 116 and 118 of “Amarna  Personal 
Names” (1993) says that such following -a or -ia is “a hypocoristic  suffix”.  
The Akkadian cuneiform of  the Amarna Letters does  n-o-t  use ayin [which 
would be rendered by  Akkadian cuneiform heth] after R in writing down the 
name Ra, even in Amarna  Letter EA 1: 2 from Amenhotep III himself! 
6.  You wrote:  “You're ignoring  the fact that the Egyptian spelling is pr-
‘3, and that's represented in  Hieroglyphs [pr][‘3], where the bracketed 
letters represent single,  bi-consonantal hieroglyphs.” 
I’m not ignoring that.  University scholars are baffled at why  there’s no 
Hebrew aleph/) at the end of PR(H, where instead we see Hebrew  he/H.  
University scholars are  expecting to see Hebrew peh/P-Hebrew resh/R for 
Egyptian [pr], and Hebrew  ayin/(-Hebrew aleph/) for Egyptian [‘3].  I’m not 
ignoring anything.  Rather, I am simply pointing out that on one level of 
meaning, the last  letter in PR(H represents Egyptian emphatic H, with the last two 
Hebrew letters,  (H, then representing aH in Egyptian, which is the 
Egyptian common word for  “palace”.  Nifty!  [But we’ve got two more levels of  
intended meanings to go.  So please  hold off on praA for now.] 
I hope you don’t think that the Patriarchal  narratives are copying 
Egyptian hieroglyphs.  Not.  Rather, the early Hebrew author is  accurately 
reflecting the sounds of these Egyptian words, but in the world of  Late Bronze Age 
Canaan, the  o-n-l-y  way to write such things down in a  sophisticated 
composition such as the Patriarchal narratives was through the  rather clumsy 
device of Akkadian cuneiform. 
7.  You wrote:  “The [pr]  hieroglyph, in particular, functions as an 
ideograph for "house", in addition to  its phonetic value. Egyptian p3-r’ would 
*not* be represented by  [pr].” 
You’re right on both counts, but that’s  totally irrelevant.  When we get 
to  praA in my next post [and we haven’t gotten there yet!], we will in due 
course  see PR in Hebrew render pr in Egyptian, meaning “house”.  But in  
H-e-b-r-e-w  [unlike in Egyptian], the Hebrew letters  P R could just as 
easily represent pA ra in Egyptian.  It’s a natural pun in  H-e-b-r-e-w  [using 
Egyptian words] that the early  Hebrew author was able to exploit, as we’ll 
see in my next post.  You’re getting ahead of me  here. 
I agree that in  E-g-y-p-t-i-a-n  hieroglyphs, pA ra would never, for  
heaven’s sake, be represented by [pr].  That’s for sure!  But just as  surely, 
the two  H-e-b-r-e-w  letters peh/P – resh/R can represent  either or both 
of the following two Egyptian words or phrases:  pA ra or pr.  It’s a punster’
s paradise!  But you’re way ahead of me, because I  have not even presented 
PR(H as praA yet;  that’s for my next  post. 
8.  You wrote:  “It's sensible  for Hebrews to refer to the king of Egypt 
by an Egyptian title *p3-r ‘-‘h  that as far I know doesn't exist in  
The last element is aH [with an emphatic  Egyptian H].  There is no ah 
[with a  regular Egyptian h] in Egyptian.  You know pA ra in Egyptian.  pA ra aH 
works beautifully in Egyptian to describe Pharaoh during the  Amarna era:  “
Palace of The Ra”.  The component words pA ra and aH are  well-attested, 
though the particular phrase pA ra aH was likely coined by the  Hebrew author. 
 Likewise, the  component words )B and R and HM are all well-attested, as 
well as the names )BRM  and )B -Y- RM and Ra, though the name )B R HM was 
coined by the Hebrew  author.  If you’re subtly suggesting  that the early 
Hebrew author of the Patriarchal narratives was the greatest  wordsmith of all 
time, I’ll second that  emotion. 
9.  In response to my statement that “But we’ve still got two more 
intended  levels of meaning to go in analyzing P R (H”, you wrote:  “I can't  wait.
Me neither.  Fire up for some real  excitement! 
Jim  Stinehart 
Evanston,  Illinois
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