Summary of Egyptian Influence on Biblical Texts

Summary of Egyptian Influence on Biblical Texts

H. Abdul Al-Dahir

In the previous article, ‘Joseph, Imhotep, Asenath & Potiphera‘, I explained the Egyptian names Potipherah or pAwty pr3 which means ‘from the ancient line of pharaoh’ and the Septuagint version of Joseph’s Egyptian name Psonthompaneach which means ‘the arbitrator or judge whose job is to expend proviison. Here are some other Egyptian names to add to the list:

Asenath – the Egyptian version of Athena who was conflated with the goddess Neith under the Ptolemies.

Moses in the Septuagint the name appears to be derived from the Egyptian word ‘ms’ or Gardiner’s Sign List (GSL) G17-O35-D54 which means bring, carry away, bring away booty. The plural of ms is m’sw or G17-D36-O35-Z7-D54-Z3 which means carriers, bearers. This indicates that Moses’ name was connected to the Semitic caravan merchants which traded with Egypt. That the fleeing Hebrews carried away booty from Egypt is mentioned in Ex 12:35,36:

35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

Hebrew texts insist that the name Moses (Mosheh in Hebrew) means ‘one who was drawn’ from water. However, the root of the name may be ‘yesha’ which means savior. The character Moses may have begun as a cultural hero in Egyptian occupied Edom. The Egyptians controlled the mines located in Timna and enslaved the local Bedouin who consisted of Edomites, Moabites and the Shasu of Yhw among others.

Aaron in the Septuagint or Ahrown in the Masoretic texts. The Hebrew version of this name appears to have been a transliteration of the Egyptian title Ahrwn or GSL- G1-O4-D21-G43-A1-B1-Z3A-N35 which means ‘belonging to a group of gods’, perhaps indicating a priest. This would explain Aaron fashioning multiple molten gods according to Ex 32:4. Egyptians organized their gods into groups of nine (enneads), groups of eight (ogodads) and triads or trinities. The Memphis triad consisted of Ptah (patron god of craftsmen as forgers of molten idols), Sekhmet and Nefertem who was the god of perfume. This fact connects Moses or m’sw in Egyptian to the incense trade while the name Ahrwn connects both brothers to the Memphis triad. The god Ptah was especially popular with the Ptolemies as was the god Imhotep who has been connected to Joseph. According to Wikipedia:

The High Priest of Ptah was sometimes referred to as the Greatest of the Masters of the Craftsmen (wer kherp hmww). This title refers to Ptah as the patron god of the craftsmen.[1]

The office of the High Priest of Ptah was located in Memphis in Lower Egypt. The temple of Ptah in Memphis was dedicated to Ptah, his consort Sekhmet and their son Nefertem.[2]

High priests of Ptah are mentioned in inscriptions dating back to at least the Fourth Dynasty. In the tomb of the nobleman Debhen, for instance, there is a description of a visit by Pharaoh Menkaure to the construction site for his pyramid “Divine is Menkaure”. The pharaoh is accompanied by a naval commander and two high priests of Ptah.[3]

There used to be two high Priests of Ptah until the Sixth Dynasty. It was probably during the reign of Pepi I that the two offices were combined into one. In the tomb of Sabu called Thety in Saqqara, the owner mentions that “His Majesty appointed me as High Priest of Memphis alone.  The temple of “Ptah-South-of-His-Wall” in its every place was under my charge, although there never was a single High Priest of Ptah before.”[4]

A large temple complex dating to the time of Ramesses II is located at the modern site of Mit Rahina. The Temple of Ptah from this time period was one of the largest temple complexes in Egypt. Not much of this complex has been excavated because a large part of the site lies very close to the modern town.[5]

Sem Priest of Ptah

The High Priests of Ptah in Memphis became very important during the Ptolemaic Period.[9]

Nesisti-Pedubast, son of Anemhor I and Renpet-neferet. Married to Renpet-neferet and Nefersobek. Children included Pedubast, Khonsiu, Amenhor II, Nefertiti and Neferibre.
Pedubast I (High Priest of Ptah), son of Nesisti-Pedubast and Nefersobek.
Amenhor II, son of Nesisti-Pedubast and Nefersobek. Married Herankh. Children include Djedhor, Horemakhet and possibly Horemhotep.
Djedhor son of Amenhor II and Herankh.
Horemakhet (223 BCE) son of Amenhor II and Herankh.
Nesisti (ca. 190 BCE?), son of Horemakhet and Nefertiti. Succeeded Horemakhet as High Priest of Memphis probably between 194/3 and 180
Pedubast II (High Priest of Ptah), son of Psherenptah and Taimhotep. Grandson of Horemakhet and Nefertiti.
Psherenptah II, son of Pedubast II
Pedubast III (High Priest of Ptah) (103 BCE), son of Psherenptah II and Berenice (probably daughter of Ptolemy VIII)
Psherenptah III (76 BCE), son of Pedubast III and Herankh-beludje
Imhotep-Pedubast (39 BCE), son of Psherenptah III and Taimhotep
Psherenamun I (30 BCE), brother-in-law of Psherenptah III. Son of Ka-hapi and Her-ankh
Psherenamun II (27 BCE), son of Psherenamun I and Taneferher.

Shem – Hebrew pronunciation of the Egyptian word ‘sm’ GSL S29-G17-A1 which means priest. Shem was the eldest son of Noah who fathered the ‘Semitic’ people. Ahrwon was a Shemite/Semite or from the line of priests. The priesthood was hereditary in Egypt as was the Judean priesthood. That Israel was ‘holy unto Yhwh’ as were its priests as is explained in Deut 7:6 & Jer 2:3:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

In those days Israel was holy to the LORD, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them.

Dedan -the Hebrew name for the Mineans. Dedan is the Nubian god of incense, Dedun, who became the Egyptian god Nefertem, the god of perfume in the Memphis triad. Dedan is a son of Cush according to Gen 10:7. The Cushites are descendants of Ham or Cham in Hebrew which is the Hebrew transliteration of the Egyptian word km GSL I6-Y1 meaning ‘black’ or kmt, which means ‘the black land of Egypt’ I6-X1-O49 and kmt, which means ‘Egyptians’ GSL I6-X1-A1-B1-Z2.

Cush – according to Wikipedia, is the native name of the Kingdom which was recorded in Egyptian as k3š, likely pronounced /kutuf/ or /ku?uf/ in Middle Egyptian when the term is first used for Nubia, based on the New Kingdom-era Akkadian transliteration as the genitive kusi.

Noah’s Ark as depicted in Genesis was actually the cargo ship, the Syracusia, which, according to Wikipedia”was a 110 m (360 ft) ancient Greek ship sometimes claimed to be the largest transport ship of antiquity. She only sailed once, from Syracuse in Sicily to Alexandria in the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

Syracusia was designed by Archimedes and built around 240 BC by Archias of Corinth on the orders of Hieron II of Syracuse. The historian Moschion of Phaselis said that Syracusia could carry a cargo of some 1,600 to 1,800 tons and a capacity of 1942 passengers.[2] She reputedly bore more than 200 soldiers, as well as a catapult. She sailed only once to berth in Alexandria, where she was later given to Ptolemy (Ptolemaios) III Euergetes of Egypt and renamed Alexandria (literally “of Alexandria”).

A discussion of this ship, as well as the complete text of Athenaeus (a late 2nd-century Greek writer who quotes a detailed description of Syracusia from Moschion, an earlier, now lost, writer) is in Casson’s Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World.” The Septuagint authors of Genesis who lived in Alexandria Egypt during the reign of the Ptolemies, patterned Noah’s ark after the cargo ship Syracusia.


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