Young People's Bible Dictionary
by Barbara Smith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965)
Pharaoh. A title given to the rulers of Egypt. The Pharaoh was considered a god and owned all the land in Egypt. Three Pharaohs are mentioned by name in the Bible; Neco, 2Kings 23:29-35; Shishak, 2 Chron. 12:2-9 (called king of Egypt); and Hophra, Jer. 44:30. The Pharaohs in the times of Joseph and Moses cannot be identified with certainty. Gen. 41:42; Ex. 2:5; Psa. 135:9; Isa. 30:2; Acts 7:13.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
pharaoh, the Hebrew word for the title held by the king of Egypt. This word was used in the Bible either by itself or attached to the king’s name (e.g., ‘Pharaoh Hophra,’ Jer. 44:30). It comes from two Egyptian words, per and aa. This Egyptian combination originally meant ‘great house,’ which was the name given to the royal palace in the third and the first half of the second millennia b.c. Starting in the reign of Thutmose III (1504-1450 b.c.) in the eighteenth dynasty, per-aa came to refer to the king himself, and from the reign of the twenty-second-dynasty ruler Shoshenq I (945-924 b.c.) on, the term can be found, just as in the Bible, prefixed to the king’s name, e.g., ‘Pharaoh Shoshenq.’
The king of Egypt was considered a god by his subjects. He was the embodiment of the royal falcon god Horus, and from at least the fifth dynasty (ca. 2494-2345 b.c.) on, he was looked upon as the son of the great sun god, Re. When he died, he became the god Osiris and joined the other divinities in the afterworld. Theoretically, all of the land of Egypt and its products belonged to the pharaoh (see Gen. 47:20), and his word was the law of the land. Throughout most of the third millennium b.c., the king ran the government with the aid of members of the royal family. Toward the end of the third millennium and into the early second millennium, more and more governmental authority became distributed among the nobles, and with the rise of the Egyptian empire in the eighteenth dynasty an enormous bureaucracy had to be established to handle the affairs of government. The chief officer in this bureaucracy was the vizier (Egyptian tjaty). The description given in Genesis 41-47 of Joseph’s responsibilities under Pharaoh reflects the duties of a vizier.
Egyptian kings had five names, two of which were written within the elongated oval loops called cartouches by modern scholars. The second of these two names, e.g., Thutmose or Ramesses, is approximately equivalent to our modern family names. The first one was given to him at his enthronement; the throne name for Thutmose III, for example, was Menkheperre, ‘Established is the form of Re [the sun god].’
The king wore one of several crowns. The ‘White Crown’ symbolized his dominance of Upper (southern) Egypt, while the ‘Red Crown’ symbolized his rulership of Lower (northern) Egypt, and the ‘Double Crown’ reflected his control over both Upper and Lower Egypt. The ‘Blue Crown,’ or war crown, was worn by the king when he went into battle. The king is often depicted holding a shepherd’s crook and a flail across his chest as symbols of authority, while in battle scenes he usually holds a mace or a short, curved sword (the scimitar).
At least four, possibly five, pharaohs are mentioned by name in the ot. There are also many other references to unnamed Egyptian kings, a few of whom can be identified with more or less probability. The pharaohs mentioned by name are:
1 Shishak, the twenty-second (Libyan) dynasty king Shoshenq I (945-924 b.c.), who gave asylum to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40) and later invaded Palestine (1 Kings 14:25-26; 2 Chron. 12:1-9).
2 Tirhakah, the twenty-fifth (Kushite) dynasty king Taharqa (690-664 b.c.), who is mentioned in 2 Kings 19:9 and Isa. 37:9 as the ‘king of Ethiopia.’ Before he became king, he fought unsuccessfully against the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 b.c.
3 Pharaoh Neco, the twenty-sixth (Saite) dynasty king Neco II (610-595 b.c.), who defeated and killed Josiah at Megiddo in 609 b.c. (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron. 35:20-24), removed Josiah’s son and successor, Jehoahaz, from the throne, and put Jehoiakim in his place (2 Kings 23:30-35; 2 Chron. 36:1-4). Neco ultimately lost all of Egypt’s west Asiatic possessions to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:7).
4 Pharaoh Hophra, the twenty-sixth (Saite) dynasty king Waibre (Gk., ‘Apries’; 589-570 b.c.), whom Jeremiah said would be delivered into the hands of his enemies, just as Zedekiah, king of Judah, had been to the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 44:30).
5 So, the ‘king of Egypt’ (2 Kings 17:4) to whom King Hoshea sent messengers just before he revolted against the Assyrians. This word may refer to the twenty-second-dynasty king Osorkon IV (ca. 727-720 b.c.), or it could come from an Egyptian epithet meaning ‘the Saite’ and thus refer to the kings of the twenty-sixth (Saite) dynasty (664-525 b.c.).
Other, unnamed Egyptian kings who are prominently mentioned in the Bible include:
6 The pharaoh from the time of Abram (Gen. 12:15-20).
7 The pharaoh of the Joseph story (Gen. 39-50).
8 The ‘Pharaoh of the Oppression’ (Exod. 1-2), whom many biblical scholars equate with Sety I (1291-1279 b.c.) or Ramesses II (1279-1212 b.c.).
9 The ‘Pharaoh of the Exodus’ (Exod. 5-12), often identified by biblical scholars as Ramesses II (1279-1212 b.c.) or, somewhat less likely, his son and successor Merenptah (1212-1202 b.c.).
10 The pharaoh(s) who granted asylum to Hadad of Edom and gave Hadad his wife’s sister in marriage (1 Kings 11:14-22). The first king may be the twenty-first dynasty pharaoh Amenemope (993-984 b.c.), while the pharaoh responsible for the second action may be Siamun (978-959 b.c.).
11 The pharaoh who took Gezer and presented the city as a dowry to his daughter when she married Solomon (1 Kings 9:16). This diplomatic marriage is also mentioned in 1 Kings 3:1; 7:8; 9:24; and 11:1. This pharaoh is probably the twenty-first-dynasty king Siamun rather than his successor Psusennes II (959-945 b.c.).
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer