[b-hebrew] P R (H/"Pharaoh"" Three Meanings
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Mar 15 09:49:55 EDT 2013
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!
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