Pharaoh

Pharaoh [N] [H] [S]

the official title borne by the Egyptian kings down to the time when that country was conquered by the Greeks. (See EGYPT .) The name is a compound, as some think, of the words Ra, the "sun" or "sun-god," and the article phe, "the," prefixed; hence phera, "the sun," or "the sun-god." But others, perhaps more correctly, think the name derived from Perao, "the great house" = his majesty = in Turkish, "the Sublime Porte."

  • The Pharaoh who was on the throne when Abram went down into Egypt ( Genesis 12:10-20 ) was probably one of the Hyksos, or "shepherd kings." The Egyptians called the nomad tribes of Syria Shasu, "plunderers," their king or chief Hyk, and hence the name of those invaders who conquered the native kings and established a strong government, with Zoan or Tanis as their capital. They were of Semitic origin, and of kindred blood accordingly with Abram. They were probably driven forward by the pressure of the Hittites. The name they bear on the monuments is "Mentiu."

  • The Pharaoh of Joseph's days ( Genesis 41 ) was probably Apopi, or Apopis, the last of the Hyksos kings. To the old native Egyptians, who were an African race, shepherds were "an abomination;" but to the Hyksos kings these Asiatic shepherds who now appeared with Jacob at their head were congenial, and being akin to their own race, had a warm welcome ( Genesis 47:5 Genesis 47:6 ). Some argue that Joseph came to Egypt in the reign of Thothmes III., long after the expulsion of the Hyksos, and that his influence is to be seen in the rise and progress of the religious revolution in the direction of monotheism which characterized the middle of the Eighteenth Dynasty. The wife of Amenophis III., of that dynasty, was a Semite. Is this singular fact to be explained from the presence of some of Joseph's kindred at the Egyptian court? Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell" ( Genesis 47:5 Genesis 47:6 ).

  • The "new king who knew not Joseph" ( Exodus 1:8-22 ) has been generally supposed to have been Aahmes I., or Amosis, as he is called by Josephus. Recent discoveries, however, have led to the conclusion that Seti was the "new king."

    For about seventy years the Hebrews in Egypt were under the powerful protection of Joseph. After his death their condition was probably very slowly and gradually changed. The invaders, the Hyksos, who for some five centuries had been masters of Egypt, were driven out, and the old dynasty restored. The Israelites now began to be looked down upon. They began to be afflicted and tyrannized over. In process of time a change appears to have taken place in the government of Egypt. A new dynasty, the Nineteenth, as it is called, came into power under Seti I., who was its founder. He associated with him in his government his son, Rameses II., when he was yet young, probably ten or twelve years of age.

    Note, Professor Maspero, keeper of the museum of Bulak, near Cairo, had his attention in 1870 directed to the fact that scarabs, i.e., stone and metal imitations of the beetle (symbols of immortality), originally worn as amulets by royal personages, which were evidently genuine relics of the time of the ancient Pharaohs, were being sold at Thebes and different places along the Nile. This led him to suspect that some hitherto undiscovered burial-place of the Pharaohs had been opened, and that these and other relics, now secretly sold, were a part of the treasure found there. For a long time he failed, with all his ingenuity, to find the source of these rare treasures. At length one of those in the secret volunteered to give information regarding this burial-place. The result was that a party was conducted in 1881 to Dier el-Bahari, near Thebes, when the wonderful discovery was made of thirty-six mummies of kings, queens, princes, and high priests hidden away in a cavern prepared for them, where they had lain undisturbed for thirty centuries. "The temple of Deir el-Bahari stands in the middle of a natural amphitheatre of cliffs, which is only one of a number of smaller amphitheatres into which the limestone mountains of the tombs are broken up. In the wall of rock separating this basin from the one next to it some ancient Egyptian engineers had constructed the hiding-place, whose secret had been kept for nearly three thousand years." The exploring party being guided to the place, found behind a great rock a shaft 6 feet square and about 40 feet deep, sunk into the limestone. At the bottom of this a passage led westward for 25 feet, and then turned sharply northward into the very heart of the mountain, where in a chamber 23 feet by 13, and 6 feet in height, they came upon the wonderful treasures of antiquity. The mummies were all carefully secured and brought down to Bulak, where they were deposited in the royal museum, which has now been removed to Ghizeh.

    Among the most notable of the ancient kings of Egypt thus discovered were Thothmes III., Seti I., and Rameses II. Thothmes III. was the most distinguished monarch of the brilliant Eighteenth Dynasty. When this mummy was unwound "once more, after an interval of thirty-six centuries, human eyes gazed on the features of the man who had conquered Syria and Cyprus and Ethiopia, and had raised Egypt to the highest pinnacle of her power. The spectacle, however, was of brief duration. The remains proved to be in so fragile a state that there was only time to take a hasty photograph, and then the features crumbled to pieces and vanished like an apparition, and so passed away from human view for ever." "It seems strange that though the body of this man," who overran Palestine with his armies two hundred years before the birth of Moses, "mouldered to dust, the flowers with which it had been wreathed were so wonderfully preserved that even their colour could be distinguished" (Manning's Land of the Pharaohs).

    Seti I. (his throne name Merenptah), the father of Rameses II., was a great and successful warrior, also a great builder. The mummy of this Pharaoh, when unrolled, brought to view "the most beautiful mummy head ever seen within the walls of the museum. The sculptors of Thebes and Abydos did not flatter this Pharaoh when they gave him that delicate, sweet, and smiling profile which is the admiration of travellers. After a lapse of thirty-two centuries, the mummy retains the same expression which characterized the features of the living man. Most remarkable of all, when compared with the mummy of Rameses II., is the striking resemblance between the father and the son. Seti I. is, as it were, the idealized type of Rameses II. He must have died at an advanced age. The head is shaven, the eyebrows are white, the condition of the body points to considerably more than threescore years of life, thus confirming the opinions of the learned, who have attributed a long reign to this king."

  • Rameses II., the son of Seti I., is probably the Pharaoh of the Oppression. During his forty years' residence at the court of Egypt, Moses must have known this ruler well. During his sojourn in Midian, however, Rameses died, after a reign of sixty-seven years, and his body embalmed and laid in the royal sepulchre in the Valley of the Tombs of Kings beside that of his father. Like the other mummies found hidden in the cave of Deir el-Bahari, it had been for some reason removed from its original tomb, and probably carried from place to place till finally deposited in the cave where it was so recently discovered.

    In 1886, the mummy of this king, the "great Rameses," the "Sesostris" of the Greeks, was unwound, and showed the body of what must have been a robust old man. The features revealed to view are thus described by Maspero: "The head is long and small in proportion to the body. The top of the skull is quite bare. On the temple there are a few sparse hairs, but at the poll the hair is quite thick, forming smooth, straight locks about two inches in length. White at the time of death, they have been dyed a light yellow by the spices used in embalmment. The forehead is low and narrow; the brow-ridge prominent; the eye-brows are thick and white; the eyes are small and close together; the nose is long, thin, arched like the noses of the Bourbons; the temples are sunk; the cheek-bones very prominent; the ears round, standing far out from the head, and pierced, like those of a woman, for the wearing of earrings; the jaw-bone is massive and strong; the chin very prominent; the mouth small, but thick-lipped; the teeth worn and very brittle, but white and well preserved. The moustache and beard are thin. They seem to have been kept shaven during life, but were probably allowed to grow during the king's last illness, or they may have grown after death. The hairs are white, like those of the head and eyebrows, but are harsh and bristly, and a tenth of an inch in length. The skin is of an earthy-brown, streaked with black. Finally, it may be said, the face of the mummy gives a fair idea of the face of the living king. The expression is unintellectual, perhaps slightly animal; but even under the somewhat grotesque disguise of mummification there is plainly to be seen an air of sovereign majesty, of resolve, and of pride."

    Both on his father's and his mother's side it has been pretty clearly shown that Rameses had Chaldean or Mesopotamian blood in his veins to such a degree that he might be called an Assyrian. This fact is thought to throw light on Isaiah 52:4 .

  • The Pharaoh of the Exodus was probably Menephtah I., the fourteenth and eldest surviving son of Rameses II. He resided at Zoan, where he had the various interviews with Moses and Aaron recorded in the book of Exodus. His mummy was not among those found at Deir el-Bahari. It is still a question, however, whether Seti II. or his father Menephtah was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Some think the balance of evidence to be in favour of the former, whose reign it is known began peacefully, but came to a sudden and disastrous end. The "Harris papyrus," found at Medinet-Abou in Upper Egypt in 1856, a state document written by Rameses III., the second king of the Twentieth Dynasty, gives at length an account of a great exodus from Egypt, followed by wide-spread confusion and anarchy. This, there is great reason to believe, was the Hebrew exodus, with which the Nineteenth Dynasty of the Pharaohs came to an end. This period of anarchy was brought to a close by Setnekht, the founder of the Twentieth Dynasty.

    "In the spring of 1896, Professor Flinders Petrie discovered, among the ruins of the temple of Menephtah at Thebes, a large granite stela, on which is engraved a hymn of victory commemorating the defeat of Libyan invaders who had overrun the Delta. At the end other victories of Menephtah are glanced at, and it is said that 'the Israelites (I-s-y-r-a-e-l-u) are minished (?) so that they have no seed.' Menephtah was son and successor of Rameses II., the builder of Pithom, and Egyptian scholars have long seen in him the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The Exodus is also placed in his reign by the Egyptian legend of the event preserved by the historian Manetho. In the inscription the name of the Israelites has no determinative of 'country' or 'district' attached to it, as is the case with all the other names (Canaan, Ashkelon, Gezer, Khar or Southern Palestine, etc.) mentioned along with it, and it would therefore appear that at the time the hymn was composed, the Israelites had already been lost to the sight of the Egyptians in the desert. At all events they must have had as yet no fixed home or district of their own. We may therefore see in the reference to them the Pharaoh's version of the Exodus, the disasters which befell the Egyptians being naturally passed over in silence, and only the destruction of the 'men children' of the Israelites being recorded. The statement of the Egyptian poet is a remarkable parallel to Exodus 1:10-22 ."

  • The Pharaoh of 1 Kings 11:18-22 .

  • So, king of Egypt ( 2 Kings 17:4 ).

  • The Pharaoh of 1 Chronicles 4:18 .

  • Pharaoh, whose daughter Solomon married ( 1 Kings 3:1 ; 7:8 ).

  • Pharaoh, in whom Hezekiah put his trust in his war against Sennacherib ( 2 Kings 18:21 ).

  • The Pharaoh by whom Josiah was defeated and slain at Megiddo ( 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 ; 2 Kings 2 Chronicles 23:29 2 Chronicles 23:30 ). (See NECHO .)

  • Pharaoh-hophra, who in vain sought to relieve Jerusalem when it was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (q.v.), 2 Kings 25:1-4 ; Compare Jeremiah 37:5-8 ; Ezekiel 17:11-13 . (See ZEDEKIAH .)

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Pharaoh". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Pharaoh [N] [E] [S]

    that disperses; that spoils
    Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Pharaoh'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

    Pharaoh, [N] [E] [H]

    the common title of the native kings of Egypt in the Bible, corresponding to P-ra or Ph-ra "the sun," of the hieroglyphics. Brugsch, Ebers and other modern Egyptologists define it to mean the great house," which would correspond to our "the Sublime Porte." As several kings are mentioned only by the title "Pharaoh" in the Bible, it is important to endeavor to discriminate them:

    1. The Pharaoh of Abraham . ( Genesis 12:15 ) --At the time at which the patriarch went into Egypt, it is generally held that the country, or at least lower Egypt, was ruled by the Shepherd kings, of whom the first and moat powerful line was the fifteenth dynasty, the undoubted territories of which would be first entered by one coming from the east. The date at which Abraham visited Egypt was about B.C. 2081, which would accord with the time of Salatis the head of the fifteenth dynasty, according to our reckoning.
    2. The Pharoah of Joseph . ( Genesis 41:1 ) ... --One of the Shepherd kings perhaps Apophis, who belonged to the fifteenth dynasty. He appears to have reigned from Josephs appointment (or perhaps somewhat earlier) until Jacobs death, a period of at least twenty-six years, from about B.C. 1876 to 1850 and to have been the fifth or sixth king of the fifteenth dynasty.
    3. The Pharoah of the oppression . ( Exodus 1:8 ) --The first Persecutor of the Israelites may be distinguished as the Pharaoh of the oppression, from the second, the Pharoah of the exodus especially as he commenced and probably long carried on the persecution. The general view is that he was an Egyptian. One class of Egyptologists think that Amosis (Ahmes), the first sovereign of the eighteenth dynasty, is the Pharaoh of the oppression; but Brugsch and others identify him with Rameses II. (the Sesostris of the Greeks), of the nineteenth dynasty. (B.C. 1340.)
    4. The Pharoah of the exodus . ( Exodus 5:1 ) --Either Thothmes III., as Wilkinson, or Menephthah son of Rameses II., whom Brugsch thinks was probably the Pharaoh of the exodus, who with his army pursued the Israelites and were overwhelmed in the Red Sea. "The events which form the lamentable close of his rule over Egypt are Passed over by the monuments (very naturally) with perfect silence. The dumb tumults covers the misfortune: which was suffered, for the record of these events was inseparably connected with the humiliating confession of a divine visitation, to which a patriotic writer at the court of Pharaoh would hardly have brought his mind." The table on page 186 gives some of the latest opinions.
    5. Pharaoh, father-in-law of Mered . --In the genealogies of the tribe of Judah, mention is made of the daughter of a Pharaoh married to an Israelite--" Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh. which Mered took." ( 1 Chronicles 4:18 )
    6. Pharaoh, brother-in-law of Hadad the Edomite . --This king gave Haadad. as his wife, the sister of his own wife, Tahpenes. ( 1 Kings 11:18-20 )
    7. Pharaoh, father-in-law of Solomon . --The mention that the queen was brought into the city of David while Solomons house and the temple and the city wall were building shows that the marriage took place not later than the eleventh year of the king, when the temple was finished, having been commenced in the Pharaoh led an expedition into Palestine. ( 1 Kings 9:16 )
    8. Pharaoh, the opponent of Sennacherib . --This Pharaoh, ( Isaiah 36:6 ) can only be the Sethos whom Herodotus mentions as the opponent of Sennacherib and who may reasonably be supposed to be the Zet of Manetho.
    9. Pharoah-necho . --The first mention in the Bible of a proper name with the title Pharaoh is the case of Pharaoh-necho, who is also called Necho simply. This king was of the Saite twenty-sixth dynasty, of which Manetho makes him either the fifth or the sixth ruler. Herodotus calls him Nekos, and assigns to him a reign of sixteen years, which is confirmed by the monuments. He seems to have been an enterprising king, as he is related to have attempted to complete the canal connecting the Red Sea with the Nile, and to have sent an expedition of Phoenicians to circumnavigate Africa, which was successfully accomplished. At the commencement of his reign B.C. 610, he made war against the king of Assyria, and, being encountered on his way by Josiah, defeated and slew the king of Judah at Megiddo. ( 2 Kings 23:29 2 Kings 23:30 ; 2 Chronicles 35:20-24 ) Necho seems to have soon returned to Egypt. Perhaps he was on his way thither when he deposed Jehoahaz. The army was probably posted at Carchemish, and was there defeated by Nebuchadnezzar in the fourth year of Necho, B.C. 607, that king not being, as it seems, then at its head. ( Jeremiah 46:1 Jeremiah 46:2 Jeremiah 46:6 Jeremiah 46:10 ) This battle led to the loss of all the Asiatic dominions of Egypt. ( 2 Kings 24:7 )
    10. Pharaoh-hophra . --The next king of Egypt mentioned in the Bible is Pharaoh-hophra, the second successor of Necho, from whom he was separated by the six-years reign of Psammetichus II. He came to the throne about B.C. 589, and ruled nineteen years. Herodotus who calls him Apries, makes him son of Psammetichus II., whom he calls Psammis, and great-grandson of Psammetichus I. In the Bible it is related that Zedekiah, the last king of Judah was aided by a Pharaoh against Nebuchadnezzar, in fulfillment of it treaty, and that an army came out of Egypt, so that the Chaldeans were obliged to raise the siege of Jerusalem. The city was first besieged in the ninth year of Zedekiah B.C. 590, and was captured in his eleventh year, B.C. 588. It was evidently continuously invested for a length of time before was taken, so that it is most probable that Pharaohs expedition took place during 590 or 589. The Egyptian army returned without effecting its purpose. ( Jeremiah 27:5-8 ; Ezekiel 17:11-18 ) comp. 2Kin 25:1-4 No subsequent Pharaoh is mentioned in Scripture, but there are predictions doubtless referring to the misfortunes of later princes until the second Persian conquest, when the prophecy, "There shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt," ( Ezekiel 30:13 ) was fulfilled. (In the summer of 1881 a large number of the mummies of the Pharaohs were found in a tomb near Thebes --among them Raskenen, of the seventeenth dynasty, Ahmes I., founder of the eighteenth dynasty, Thothmes I,II, and III., and Rameses I. It was first thought that Rameses II, of the nineteenth dynasty, was there, But this was found to be a mistake. A group of coffins belonging to the twenty-first dynasty has been found, and it is probable that we will learn not a little about the early Pharaohs, especially from the inscriptions on their shrouds. --ED.)

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Pharaoh,'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

    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).

    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.

    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" (1 Kings 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 Genesis 12:14-20; 41:14; Exodus 1:11; 3:11; 1 Kings 3:1; 14:25; 2 Kings 23:29; Jeremiah 44:30; also 1 Kings 11:19; 2 Kings 18:21; 1 Chronicles 4:18).

    M. G. Kyle


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'PHARAOH'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.