Monday, January 08, 2007

Shemos 1 - Egyptian linguistics

It was pointed out to me some years back that the Egyptian names that appear in Chumash seem to have a vastly different letter distribution than the rest of Chumash. To jot down a few of the names and words that we recently came across that appear to be of Egyptian origins (I apologize for the use of this cryptic transliteration scheme):


28 letters. According to the usual distribution of letters in the Torah, a random selection of letters of this size should contain in it 1.0 aynin, 0.4 pei-in, and 1.6 reishin instead of the 4 aynin, 6 pei-in, and 3 reishin that are actually present. Other words that contain these letters include TzPRD'A, a word that looks decidedly un-Hebrew and that appears only (to my recollection) in next week's parsha and EPR'A, a Pharaoh who's mentioned in Yirmiyah 44:30 (admittedly an entirely different era than the one currently under consideration).

R' Yaakov Kaminetsky, as quoted in a Peninim article from Vayechi 5762, notes that the Pei and Reish are also both found in the name of Ephraim, Yosef's younger son, thereby showing that Yosef had begun to consider himself more Egyptian by that point.



At 1/23/2007 11:18 PM, Blogger Barzilai said...

Did you not notice Moshe (son of, like, lehavdil Ramses, son of Ra) and Chartumim (magicians), which are recognized as Egyptian words by modern scholars?

At 1/24/2007 12:11 AM, Blogger Josh M. said...

Good points both. Even if we add in these words, though, the numbers would still be somewhat strange, although one can prove anything with a small enough sample.

You wouldn't by any chance know if the Egyptian chartum is related to the Arabic khartum (and Hebrew chartom), nose?


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