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

jimstinehart at aol.com jimstinehart at aol.com
Sat Mar 16 09:48:56 EDT 2013

Will Parsons:
You make a very good point, as to which I will needto revise my analysis accordingly.  Istand corrected:  you are right thatemphatic H in Egyptian normally comes over into Hebrew as Hebrew heth/X, not asHebrew he/H.
But my further point, as to which you have not yetdirectly commented, still stands. Akkadian cuneiform heth in final position could represent any one ormore of the following alphabetical Hebrew letters:  regular h or emphatic H or heth or aleph orayin.  Thus in Akkadian cuneiform, thelast letter in “Pharaoh” is Akkadian cuneiform heth, which could represent regularh or emphatic H or heth or aleph.
When the Jewish scribe in 7th century BCEJerusalem chose to render that Akkadian cuneiform heth [which had been written down on a clay tablet in the mid-14th century BCE, with such original clay tablets still being safe in the Temple from the days of King David until the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians] as alphabetical Hebrewhe/H for this Egyptian-based Hebrew word, he might possibly have viewed thathe/H the way you noted in your first post on this thread:  “The he at the endof the Hebrew word may simply be graphic, a mater lectionis for the preceding/o/, (which would imply that the Egyptian word was heard as [parʿo] orsomething similar).”  That was the pronunciationof praA after 1200 BCE, which is how that Jewish scribe would have heardit.  Yet also recall that praA in fact isquite rare in Egyptian documents as a reference to the king of Egypt;  the first place where you see PR(H frequentlyas a reference to the king of Egypt is the Bible, not in Egypt, so that such Jewishscribe was not necessarily reacting to the rare Egyptian use/pronunciation ofpraA.
Moreover,by choosing Hebrew he/H, that Jewish scribe may have intentionally wanted thereader to realize that other possibilities for the last letter here wereEgyptian emphatic H and Egyptian heth, both of which would be rendered byAkkadian cuneiform heth, and both of which could, with a bit of stretching, bethought to be redolent of Hebrew he/H.
Themore important point here, though, is that if the last letter in “Pharaoh”/PR(Hwas originally an Akkadian cuneiform heth [which is my key assertion], then wehave the three possibilities I have set forth [regardless of how that Jewish scribein 7th century BCE Jerusalem personally interpreted this matter]:
1.  Akkadian cuneiform heth could be Egyptian emphaticH, in which case the last two letters are aH in Egyptian, meaning “palace” in Egyptian,and then the first two Hebrew letters, P R, represent pA ra in Egyptian.  The meaning is:  “Palace of The Ra”.
2.Akkadian cuneiform heth could represent either the Egyptian vowel O or Egyptianaleph [directly or, more likely, indirectly], in which case the last twoletters are aA in Egyptian, and then the first two Hebrew letters, PR,represent pr in Egyptian, with the Egyptian word then being in full:  praA. The meaning is:  “Great House”.
3.  Akkadian cuneiform heth could be Egyptian heth/x,in which case the last two letters are ax or a-khe in Egyptian, meaning “devotedto” or “spirit” in Egyptian, with this being the distinctive element of thename “Akhe-n-Aten”.  Then the first two Hebrewletters, P R, once again [as in #1] represent pA ra in Egyptian.  The meaning is:  “Devoted to The [One and Only] Ra”, being anupdated version of the name “Akhe-n-Aten”/"Devoted to Aten", now that Akhenaten had come toprefer, by Year 12 or so, the name “Ra” to the name “Aten”/itn.
Allthree are in play, don’t you think?  Andthe Jewish scribe’s choice of Hebrew he/H may have been designed to allow anastute reader to surmise that all three were deliberately meant to be in playby the original early Hebrew author.
Will,thank you so much for your apt observation that normally Hebrew heth/X, notHebrew he/H, would be expected to represent Egyptian emphatic H.  Although I agree with that specific point,and although I even agree that alphabetical Hebrew he/H could represent a finalEgyptian long vowel O [or aleph], if a bit indirectly, nevertheless I myselfsee all three of the options I have set forth on this thread as being open.  I see the early Hebrew author as deliberatelyplaying off the inherent ambiguity of Akkadian cuneiform heth in final positionto create another one in a very long series of clever puns that appearthroughout the Patriarchal narratives.

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