User Tools

Site Tools


Not a Pharaoh

There are multiple attacks against the use of the word Pharaoh.

No Such Word

The usual attack is to state there was no title of Pharaoh during the time of Joseph's move to Egypt.

In Chapter 12:43 and 12:72 of the Koran, and in context with all of chapter 12, it mentions an interesting fact; that in the time of Joseph, there was no title of Pharaoh but in fact a King. We know from Egyptology that this is correct; therefore the Koran is more accurate and reliable, or trustworthy, than the Torah.

Here are the relevant passages;

From the standpoint of Secular Egyptology

Although this is a mormon article it seems to present the secular historian's position as well;

The Hyksos were Asiatics who ruled Egypt for about a century and a half.2 The name itself means “Rulers of Foreign Lands.” The Hyksos were a conglomeration of ethnic groups who infiltrated Egypt over a long period in ever-increasing numbers, probably coming from Canaan.

By about 1720 B.C.., they controlled the Eastern Delta of the Nile and had established their capital at Avaris.3 By about 1674 B.C., a Hyksos king with the Semitic name Salitis occupied Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. The Hyksos constituted the XVth and XVIth Dynasties, adopting the style and bureaucratic institutions of the traditional pharaohs. Gradually, Semites replaced Egyptians in high administrative offices. The rise of Joseph to power and the migration of the Hebrews fits in well with what is known of the era of Hyksos rule.

The Hyksos never seemed to have dominated Upper Egypt, where a native family retained control. This family became the XVIIth Dynasty and operated out of Thebes. One of the last kings of this dynasty, Seqenen-re II, began to organize the resistance against the Hyksos. From the state of his mummy, which showed that he died at about age forty from a series of horrible head wounds, and from the fact that he received the title “The Brave,” it has been assumed that he fell in battle.

His son, Kamose, continued the struggle and succeeded in driving the Hyksos out of Upper Egypt and in recovering Memphis. Amose, brother of Kamose, completed the liberation of Egypt. He inflicted a crushing defeat on the Hyksos by capturing Avaris and driving them back into Canaan. Amose (ca. 1552–1527 B.C.) founded the XVIIIth Dynasty of pharaohs and inaugurated the New Kingdom, in the course of which the country reached the height of its power and magnificence.

The Hyksos occupation was a humiliation for the Egyptians that had a profound effect upon the national psychology. Thenceforth, Egypt was acutely conscious of the perils lurking in the outside world. The danger of foreign invasion, especially from Asia via the Eastern Delta, could never again be smugly ignored or underestimated. Furthermore, the Semitic population was not driven entirely from that region and was perceived as a danger to the security of Egypt.

In light of this situation, the anxiety of the new pharaoh about the rapid growth of the Israelite presence in the strategic Delta region is understandable: “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us. Let us then deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.” (Ex. 1:9–10; Scriptural quotations are from the Jewish Publication Society’s new translation of the Bible.)

From the standpoint of the Koran

43 And [subsequently] the king said, “Indeed, I have seen [in a dream] seven fat cows being eaten by seven [that were] lean, and seven green spikes [of grain] and others [that were] dry. O eminent ones, explain to me my vision, if you should interpret visions.”

72 They said, “We are missing the measure of the king. And for he who produces it is [the reward of] a camel's load, and I am responsible for it.”Koran 12:43,72 (Sahih International)

From the standpoint of the Torah

  • Genesis 37:36
    • Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.
  • Genesis 39:1
    • Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh,

40 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh's officers who were with him in custody in his master's house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.” 12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh's cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Genesis 40:1-8 ESV

The bible seems in fact to conflate the Pharaoh with the King of Egypt. In this, there does not appear to be a controversy – as stated in the article over Egyptology, Hyksos did indeed adopt the government style and practices of the Pharahos of Egypt.

Conclusion: The dates don't fit

The idea that Joseph was in Egypt during the time of the Hyksos is shown to be false.

  • 1 Kings 6:1
    • In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, he began to build the house of the Lord.
  • Exodus 12:40
    • 40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.

Since the fourth year of Solomon's reign was 996 BC, this implies Jacob was in Egypt at 996+430+480 or ~1900BC, which is much earlier than the Hyksos period.

Also see: Britannica on “Pharaoh”

The word "Pharaoh" meant "Palace"

There are some attacks based on the Encyclopaedia Brittanica's account of the word "Pharaoh"; that states as follows:

pharaoh, (from Egyptian per ʿaa, “great house”), originally, the royal palace in ancient Egypt. The word came to be used metonymically for the Egyptian king under the New Kingdom (starting in the 18th dynasty, 1539–1292 bce), and by the 22nd dynasty (c. 945–c. 730 bce) it had been adopted as an epithet of respect. It was never the king’s formal title, though, and its modern use as a generic name for all Egyptian kings is based on the usage of the Hebrew Bible. In official documents, the full title of the Egyptian king consisted of five names, each preceded by one of the following titles: Horus, Two Ladies, Golden Horus, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, and Son of Re. The last name was given to him at birth, the others at coronation.Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Pharaoh”

While true, this belies a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on. First, the word “Pharaoh” is a Greek word.

  • Pharaoh is a Greek word which means “King of Egypt.
  • Perʿaa is an Egyptian word which means “great house”.
  • h.פַּרְעֹ֔ה “par-‘ōh” (Strongs 6547) is a Hebrew word which means King of Egypt.

Now, here' the second problem. Whether or not Per'aa meant great house, it could also have been used to refer to the house (office) of the Pharaoh, especially in terms of describing the Egyptians as those who sides with “Pharaoh” versus the mixed multitude; people such as Bithiya (the daughter of the Pharaoh who took in Moses).

The Late Usage Argument

Given the relatively late usage of the word by prophets such as Isaiah (Isaiah 36:6) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:19) and the late office of Pharaoh in Cleopatra (59BC) – and that it is a word which the Egyptians did not use, it is obvious that this is a term that was taken into Hebrew – a comnpletely different language – which did not necessarily have the same connotation as it would in Egyptian. It in fact makes sense to refer to the Egyptian power by his office title because using the Egyptian religious terms of endearment would have been forbidden.

In short, everyone always knew the word “pharaoh” was never intended to be considered an Egyptian word. There is no controversy here, there never was any controversy over the word, only a misunderstanding and conflation of the word between three languages.

not_a_pharaoh.txt · Last modified: 2021/06/25 18:45 by appledog