Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Who was Abraham? (5)

Based on the works of scholars, who will be revealed when the blogging for this topic ends. Works of other authors may be included, but where these are done, full acknowledgement will be made.

Advice: Those who may take offence in seeing biblical (OT) quotations or liberal discussion of OT biblical characters should not read this topic.

The word Pharaoh was mentioned 274 times in the Bible in various descriptions and forms. In the first two books of the Old Testament (OT), Genesis and Exodus it was referred to 155 times.

Yet, in that 155 times, the OT failed to identify which Pharaoh was involved in the respective events. The time span as chronicled by the Books of Genesis and Exodus would logically suggest that the Pharaoh of Abraham and Sarah should be a different person to the Pharaoh of Joseph son of Jacob, and indeed to the Pharaoh of Moses and the Exodus.

In the story of Joseph, he was sold to an Egyptian Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials (Genesis 39:1). After interpreting his famous seven fat and seven lean years for the Pharaoh (Genesis 41: 25-32), the latter made him the Grand Vizier, the No 2 man in the land, and conferred on him an Egyptian name, Zapethnath-Paneah and married him off to an Egyptian wife, Asenath (meaning Gift of the Sun-God). She was the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On (Genesis 41:45).

Notice how detailed the personalities were identified, yet the name of the Pharaoh was not revealed. Instead the Pharaoh was merely referred to as ‘a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph’ (Exodus 1:8).

As for Moses, we read of Pharaoh learning of the killing of an Egyptian by this Prince of Egypt (Exodus 2:12), and naturally wanting to have Moses executed (Exodus 2:15). Of course by then Moses had fled. Much later, after marrying Zipporah and witnessing the burning bush, he heard that the Pharaoh died. By then God ordered him back to Egypt to demand from the new Pharaoh the release of the Israelite slaves (Exodus 3:10).

Again, we observe the lack of details about one of the most significant Pharaoh in the biblical saga. Who was this Pharaoh? Or better, who were the Pharaohs, the one who died as well as his newly crowned successor?

Compare the seemingly evasive or, if one wants to be less conspiratorial, broad brushing of certain Pharaohs’ identities, particularly those associated with the stories or events from Abraham to Moses, with the detailed genealogies of others in the Old Testament, as presented in Genesis Chapter 4:17-22 (Cain’s), Genesis Chapter 5 (Noah’s, he of the Flood and Ark fame), Genesis Chapter 10 (The sons of Noah and their families’), Genesis Chapter 11:10-32 (from Shem to Abraham), and the list of details goes on.

The question must be a straightfoward WHY?

To be continued ……..


  1. What why are you looking for? Why the leader of Egypt's name is never mentioned in the Bible?

    Quite obviously it is not the same person and the text makes it rather clear. The most simple response is that their names were irrelevant to the story. Another rather easy and slightly less simple response is that in Egyptian cosmology and magic the name is intrinsic to that being and to destroy the name is to destroy that being. So by not naming the Pharaoh specifically it would not be perpetuating the name of one who was at times an enemy. There are other Pharaohs in the Bible who are named.

  2. Your second paragraph contains contradictions. If other Pharaohs were anmed, why not then the more significant ones, like those I mentioned?

    Secondly, are you suggesting that the Hebrews practise Egyptian cosmology? - which incidentally may not be far from the truth!

  3. Yes, it is a contradiction. The reason I would posit for the contradiction is partly that there is different authorship and partly because of the change in relationship. Egypt never again had quite the same adversarial relationship (even when Judean kings paid tribute to Egyptian ones) with Israel/Judea and that the kings themselves actually were not significant. Their role was, but the individual was not. Also bear in mind that there have been prohibitions against using the names of foreign gods and that the names of most Egytpian kings had a component of a pagan God. The ones who are named such as Neco did not.

    No, not that they practiced Egytpian religion or magic entirely. However, no culture develops in a vaccuum and the power of the name was by no means limited to Egypt. The Egyptians placed much greater significance on it, and clearly the Israelite culture was formed with other influences and often in direct opposition to the pagan practices of other nations. The practice of Egyptian magic and such would be forbidden.

  4. Thanks for your input, but let us see where my blogging leads us to. As is teh spirit of this blog (leftish as it may be) I welcome any civil comments.

  5. No worries, I'm wondering where you're going with this.

  6. based on the findings of blokes that I'll reveal after I have finished - up to now I am just priming the case on my own bat, and haven't brought our the 'findings' as such.

  7. typo - "and haven't brought our the 'findings' as such. " should read:

    and haven't yet brought out those 'findings' as such.