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

Will Parsons wbparsons at alum.mit.edu
Sat Mar 16 11:27:27 EDT 2013

Jim, I'll just comment on a few aspects of your exposition below...

On Fri, 15 Mar 2013 14:48:50 -0400 (EDT), JimStinehart at aol.com wrote:
> The Achilles heel of using Akkadian cuneiform to record west Semitic
> words and names is that Akkadian cuneiform heth/X had to be pressed
> into service to represent many different Hebrew letters: “[I]n the
> El Amarna tablets the h, ḥ, ǵ, and sometimes even ’ and ‘ are
> represented by ḫ....”  Yohanan Aharoni, “The Land of the Bible”
> (1979), p. 113.  Let me paraphrase that by saying that in final
> position, Akkadian cuneiform heth could represent any one or more of
> the following alphabetical Hebrew letters: regular h, emphatic H,
> aleph, ayin, or heth.  In looking at PR(H in the received text, what
> we are seeing as the last letter there is either regular h or
> emphatic H.

Or it serves as a mater lectionis.

> As discussed in my  prior post, emphatic H works very nicely:  P R (H 
> = pA ra aH = “Palace of The  Ra”, being a fine generic reference to the 
> king of  Egypt/Pharaoh.

I don't see p3-rʿ-ʿḥ as being possible in Egyptian.  If I were to try
to translate “Palace of The Ra” back into Egyptian, I'd probably come
up with something like ʿḥ-n-rʿ or  ʿḥ-n-p3-rʿ.  Nor does assuming that
it was formed in Hebrew seem to help.

> But in my opinion the early Hebrew author of the Patriarchal
> narratives also wanted us to consider the other possible endings to
> this same Biblical Hebrew word, per the Akkadian cuneiform
> rendering, as a series of deliberate and sophisticated puns as it
> were.  Akkadian cuneiform heth in final position could represent
> Hebrew aleph/): now suddenly the scholarly interpretation of PR(H as
> being Egyptian praA makes sense, for the first time.  That final
> Hebrew he/H in the received alphabetical text could just as easily
> be Hebrew aleph/), because both such Hebrew alphabetical letters
> were represented by the same Akkadian cuneiform sign in final
> position: Akkadian cuneiform heth.  We know from the Boundary Stelae
> at Akhenaten’s new capital city that praA was sometimes used to
> refer to Pharaoh in the mid-14th century BCE, so that meaning works
> very nicely.  Note also that “Great House”/praA has a quite similar
> meaning to “Palace of The Ra”/pA ra aH, even though the Egyptian
> spellings are totally different; the sounds in Egyptian may even
> have been roughly similar, perhaps close enough for a natural pun.
> But now, at long last, we get to the good part.  Given that the last
> letter in PR(H is Akkadian cuneiform heth, the last alphabetical
> Hebrew letter in that Biblical Hebrew word could also have been
> intended to be: Hebrew heth/X.  On that third level of meaning, that
> word could now be viewed as being P R (X, which is pA ra ax.  The
> final element in that name could be alternatively [and less
> formally] transliterated as a-khe: it’s the a-khe in the name
> “A-khe-n-aten”!

This seems less reasonable if we consider the Egyptian form of
this name, 3ḫ-n-ỉtn (i.e., divided Akh-en-Aten, but note the different

> Whereas “Akhenaten”  means “Devoted to Aten”, pA 
> ra ax : pA ra a-khe : P R (X means:  “Devoted to The [One and Only] Ra”.  
> And remember that although Akhenaten  named his first four daughters after 
> Aten, he then switched gears and named his  last two daughters after Ra, 
> indicating that by Year 14, fairly late in his  reign, his preferred 
> nomenclature no longer was Aten, but now was Ra.  That is to say, “Devoted to The [One 
> and  Only] Ra”/P R (X is but a Biblically “updated” version of his older 
> historical  name, “Devoted to Aten”/Akhe-n-Aten.
> One big impediment to seeing the Patriarchal  Age as being the Amarna Age 
> has heretofore been the claim that the name  “Akhenaten” does not appear in 
> the Biblical text.  But it does!  Repeatedly.  The name “Akhe-n-Aten” has 
> simply been  updated to “Akhe-pA-Ra”, per Akhenaten’s switch after about 
> Year 12 or so to  preferring Ra or pA ra to Aten [itn].  A Biblically updated 
> version of Akhenaten’s historical name is there, big  as life, all over the 
> received text of the Patriarchal narratives, under the  somewhat misleading 
> alphabetical spelling PR(H : “Pharaoh” : pA ra ax : pA ra  a-khe : P R (X : “
> Devoted to The [One and Only] Ra” : Akhe-n-Aten :  Akhe-pA-Ra. 
> The Patriarchal narratives are much older,  and much more historically 
> accurate, than university scholars realize.  We have just solved the 
> 3,000-year-old  mystery of why the Biblical Hebrew word “Pharaoh” ends in Hebrew he/H, 
> not in  Hebrew aleph/).  Just think Akkadian  cuneiform, and the solution 
> to this 3,000-year-old problem is virtually  self-evident. 
> When you see “P R (H, king of Egypt” at  Genesis 41: 46, that’s “
> Akhenaten [Akhe-pA-Ra : P R (X], king of Egypt”, where  the alphabetical Hebrew he/H 
> in the received text reflects an original Akkadian  cuneiform heth, which 
> could just as easily be [and be intended to be]  alphabetical Hebrew
> heth/X.

> Yes! 

Will Parsons
μη φαινεσθαι, αλλ' ειναι.

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