Egyptian Background to the Yosef Narratives

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Egyptian Loanwords

Given the Egyptian milieu of the Yosef narratives, it is perhaps not surprising that they contain many loanwords from Egyptian.1  For a discussion of the possible etymology and meaning of each of the following, see Cognates and Loanwords.

  • Proper names – Many of the characters' names appear to have Egyptian origins, including: Paroh, Potiphar, Zafenat Paneach (the name given to Yosef by Paroh), or Potiphera.
  • Titles – Yosef's self reference as being an "אב לפרעה" might relate to the Egyptian title, "the god's father" (with the god referring to the living "god", the king). Similarly, the phrase "אֲשֶׁר עַל הַבַּיִת" is a known Egyptian position.
  • Other words – Other suggested loanwords include the somewhat rare: אַבְרֵךְ, אָחוּ and חַרְטֻמִּים.
  • Terminology – The term "וְעַל פִּיךָ יִשַּׁק כׇּל עַמִּי" might be a Hebrew translation of an Egyptian metaphoric expression in which "kissing food" refers to feeding.The word "mouth" might further allude to a specific Egyptian title, "the mouth of the king".