Pharaoh

fa'-ro, fa'-ra-o (par`oh; Pharao); Egyptian per aa, "great house"):em; the King James Version Pharacim): One of the families of temple-servants who returned with Zerubbabel (1 Esdras 5:31; not found in Ezra or Nehemiah).

See a list of verses on PHARAOH in the Bible.

1. The Use of Name in Egypt:

Many and strange differences of opinion have been expressed concerning the use of this name in Egypt and elsewhere, because of its importance in critical discussions (see below). Encyclopaedia Biblica says "a name given to all Egyptian kings in the Bible"; it also claims that the name could not have been received by the Hebrews before 1000 BC. HDB (III, 819) says that a letter was addressed to Amenhotep as "Pharaoh, lord of," etc. According to Winckler's theory of a North Arabian Musri, it was the Hebrews alone in ancient times who adopted the term Pharaoh from the Egyptians, the name not being found even in the Tell el-Amarna Letters or anywhere else in cuneiform literature for the king of Egypt. Such a result is obtained according to Winckler's theory by referring every reference in cuneiform to "Pir`u, king of Musri" to the North Arabian country.

See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

In Egyptian inscriptions the term "Pharaoh" occurs from the Pyramid inscriptions onward. At first it is used with distinct reference to its etymology and not clearly as an independent title. Pharaoh, "great house," like Sublime Porte, was applied first as a metaphor to mean the government. But as in such an absolute monarchy as Egypt the king was the government, Pharaoh was, by a figure of speech, put for the king. Its use in Egypt clearly as a title denoting the ruler, whoever he might be, as Caesar among the Romans, Shah among Persians, and Czar among Russians, belongs to a few dynasties probably beginning with the XVIIIth, and certainly ending not later than the XXIst, when we read of Pharaoh Sheshonk, but the Bible does not speak so, but calls him "Shishak king of Egypt" (1Ki 14:25). This new custom in the use of the title Pharaoh does not appear in the Bible until we have "Pharaoh-necoh." Pharaoh is certainly used in the time of Rameses II, in the "Tale of Two Brothers" (Records of the Past, 1st series, II, 137; Recueil de Travaux, XXI, 13, l. 1).

2. Significance of Use in the Bible:

It appears from the preceding that Biblical writers use this word with historical accuracy for the various periods to which it refers, not only for the time of Necoh and Hophra, but for the time of Rameses II, and use the style of the time of Rameses II for the time of Abraham and Joseph, concerning which we have not certain knowledge of its use in Egypt. It is strongly urged that writers of the 7th or 5th century BC would not have been able to make such historical use of this name, while, to a writer at the time of the exodus, it would have been perfectly natural to use Pharaoh for the king without any further name; and historical writers in the time of the prophets in Palestine would likewise have used Pharaoh-necoh and Pharaoh Hophra. This evidence is not absolutely conclusive for an early authorship of the Pentateuch and historical books, but is very difficult to set aside for a late authorship (compare Ge 12:14-20; 41:14; Ex 1:11; 3:11; 1Ki 3:1; 14:25; 2Ki 23:29; Jer 44:30; also 1Ki 11:19; 2Ki 18:21; 1Ch 4:18).

M. G. Kyle

 
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