Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

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Rich McQuillen
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Re: Zaphnathpaaneah

Postby Rich McQuillen » Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:19 pm

This is a little off-topic. It is more historical than linguistic. But I am matching linguistics on a couple of Biblical names, Zephanath Paneah and Leah.
*******
The Tale of Two Brothers has been linked to Joseph; The earliest reference to this is linked to Seti II. One Generation later is Siptah, who would have been alive when this tale was first written down. I identify joSePh as Siptah, who was a canaanite pharoah.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tale_of_Two_Brothers
"Because of the Egyptian location wherein the scene is staged, it is not impossible to detect in the biblical account of Joseph and Potiphar's wife a more recent echo of the very old Egyptian fable of the two brothers Bata and Anpu.[10]"

Joseph was the Jacob and Rachel. Jacob actually had two wives.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob
"two wives, Leah and Rachel"

Leah is very close sounding to "suta-LIJA".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siptah
"This view persisted until it was eventually realized that a relief in the Louvre Museum (E 26901) "pairs Siptah's name together with the name of his mother" a certain Sutailja or Shoteraja.[5]"

https://pharaoh.se/pharaoh/Siptah
"Si Ptah mery en Ptah"

So, based upon:
a. the date(10 generations before David - 230 years),
b. The Tale of Two Brothers.
c. the near-name for Zephnath to SiPtah.
d. the fact that he is a canaanite pharoah.
e. His mother's name sounds like Leah(his fathers wife)
... On the near names, a name like SiPtah might appear foreign, and be "hebrewized" to Joseph. Similar to "Suta-Leah" as "Leah". I think this is close enough and worthy of evaluation and further investigation.

James Stinehart

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby James Stinehart » Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:11 pm

Rich McQuillen:

You wrote: “Joseph was the Jacob and Rachel. Jacob actually had two wives.”

1. Joseph’s Father Jacob Recalls Akhenaten

Jacob was the early monotheistic leader of his people for 17 years in Egypt: “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years….” Genesis 47: 28

Likewise, Akhenaten was the early monotheistic leader of his people for 17 years in Egypt: Akhenaten’s final regnal year was Year 17.

By contrast, Siptah reigned in the early 12th century BCE, about 150 years after Akhenaten’s death. Siptah has nothing to do with Joseph.

2. Joseph’s Egyptian Name Recalls Akhenaten

Joseph’s Egyptian name, as I discussed in a prior post on this thread, makes perfect sense in the context of the reign of Akhenaten as an early monotheistic ruler: “[Adopted] Son [of the Pharaoh who honors] The One and Only God Who Is Eternal Life”.

3. Pharaoh’s Characterization of Joseph Recalls the Name “Akhenaten”

The name “Akhenaten” means “Spirit -- God [Aten]”. Genesis 41: 38 has this to say about Pharaoh’s appreciation of Joseph: “And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man [Joseph] in whom the Spirit of God is?”

4. Joseph’s Egyptian Priestly Father-in-Law Recalls Akhenaten’s Comparable Priest

The name of Joseph’s Egyptian father-in-law, the high-priest of Ra from On, is mis-transliterated by KJV as “Potipherah”. The name “Potipherah” : פוטיפרע (treating the final ע as a ghayin/ġ) is properly analysed as follows: פ / pA וט / wAt י / -- פ / pA רע / rx : pA wAt -- pA rx ; literally: the (pA) distant [one] (wAt) -- [י] the one who (pA) knows (rx); implied meaning: “The One Who Knows The Distant [god Ra]”.

Now let’s compare that to what the name and title was of the high-priest of Ra from On at Amarna in Year 13: Pawah [pA wAH], Greatest Seer. “Pawah, Greatest Seer” means: “The One Who Knows the Sun[-god Ra]”.

We see that “Potipherah”, who is Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law, is the exact Patriarchal equivalent of the name and title of the historical high-priest of Ra from On at Amarna in Year 13.

5. Joseph’s Egyptian Master, Captain of the Guard, Recalls Akhenaten’s Captain of the Guard

“Potiphar” is the KJV mis-transliteration of the name of Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard, in charge of Pharaoh’s personal security, who is Joseph’s Egyptian master.

“Potiphar” : פוטיפר : PW+ -Y- PR : פ / pA וט / wAt י / -- פ / pA ר / ra ; literally:
the (pA) distant [one] (wAt) -- [י] the (pA) Ra (ra). “The Distant [one] -- The Ra” is a colorful way of saying: “Devoted to Ra”.

The name of Akhenaten’s Captain of the Guard (the historical equivalent of “Potiphar”), who was in charge of Akhenaten’s personal security in Year 13, was Ra-mose. Note that the historical Egyptian name, borne by Akhenaten’s Captain of the Palace Guard in Year 13, has exactly the same two key aspects as does the Biblical Egyptian name “Potiphar”. Like “Potiphar”, the divine name “Ra” is expressly rendered in the historical name Ra-mose. And although the literal meaning of Ra-mose is “Born to Ra”, the effective meaning is the same as above analysis of the Biblical name “Potiphar”, namely: “Devoted to Ra”.

* * *

In a word, Joseph is utterly redolent of the Amarna Age. Joseph has nothing to do with Siptah from 150 years later.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby James Stinehart » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:37 pm

In discussing (in a prior post on this thread) what the first letter in Joseph’s Egyptian name may have been in cuneiform (as opposed to the received text), we noted that in the cuneiform of the Amarna Letters from Canaan, ssade/ṣ/צ cannot be distinguished from sin/s/ש. Also, in unpointed Hebrew writing, sin/s/ש cannot be distinguished from shin/š/ש. Consequently, if the Patriarchal narratives were a written text in cuneiform in the mid-14th century BCE (my theory of the case), then if we see a sin or shin followed by U in the received text, the sibilant may have originally been intended to be a ssade, since the cuneiform sign ZU(6) was used to render either sin-U or ssade-U in cuneiform (and Hebrew sin and shin are not distinguishable in unpointed Hebrew writing).

On that basis, the “Shur” that we see in the received text at Genesis 20: 1 was originally intended to be ṣu-ri / ṣu[r]-ri / “Tyre”.

Set forth below is a shortened and revised version of the analysis I made of “Shur” at Genesis 20: 1 in a recent thread (that initially concerned “Zoar”).

“Shur” at Genesis 20: 1 = “Tyre”; צור = שור

I contend that the Patriarchal narratives were composed in the Late Bronze Age / Amarna Age / mid-14th century BCE, and that furthermore, they were recorded in cuneiform writing shortly after their composition, by a scribe hired for the occasion by the tent-dwelling early Hebrews. If so, then there would have to be some cuneiform-induced scribal errors in the received text. For example, as to sibilants, we know from the Amarna Letters that ssade and sin were often recorded by the same cuneiform sign, and of course sin and shin use the same Hebrew letter. Accordingly, we should ask whether the “Shur” that we see in the received text at Genesis 20: 1 is a cuneiform-induced scribal error for “Tyre”.

We start with the context. There are five chapters of text in the Patriarchal narratives that describe the Beersheba where Abraham and Isaac dig wells: Genesis 20-21, 26-28. The text’s description of Abraham’s and Isaac’s Beersheba matches Beersheba of Upper Galilee perfectly, while being totally inconsistent with the unanimous, but erroneous, scholarly view that the Beersheba in question is allegedly Beersheba of the Negev Desert.

One key question regarding this all-important issue is whether “Shur” at Genesis 20: 1 should be understood as referring to the famous city-state in northwest Upper Galilee that is known in English as “Tyre”.

At Genesis 20: 1 (but not at Genesis 16: 7 or 25: 18, which I will not discuss in this post), the original cuneiform version of the name rendered by KJV as “Shur” should have been rendered in Hebrew as ṢR / צר, or possibly, if plene spelling were unexpectedly used, as ṢWR / צור, with the first letter being a ssade. This is ṣu-ri or [per the Amarna Letters] ṣu[r]-ri (where the first of doubled consonants in a foreign name is always omitted in Biblical Hebrew writing), being the name of the city-state in far northwest Upper Galilee that is known in English (per the later Greek mispronunciation) as “Tyre”. But instead, relying on a cuneiform ambiguity as to the sibilant in question, the received text has שור, being SWR or ŠWR [“Shur”].

“Shur”, with the initial sibilant being sin/s/ש or shin/š/ש, is never attested non-Biblically as a geographical place name. But if the initial sibilant in fact was originally a ssade/ṣ/צ, then the reference is obviously to one of the most famous city-states in the ancient world: “Tyre”.

No satisfactory linguistic analysis of the name “Shur” has ever been forthcoming. The traditional view is aptly characterized by BDB as being “dubious”.

At Genesis 20: 1 (but not at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18), if plene spelling were unexpectedly used, then the three letters in question should have been rendered in Hebrew as ṢWR / צור, with the city-name ṣu-ri or ṣu[r]-ri beginning with a ssade/ṣ/צ. But due to the ambiguity of the cuneiform sign ZU(6), which was used to render either sin-U or ssade-U in cuneiform, this was mis-read first as being SWR / שור (with a sin), and then later as being ŠWR / שור / “Shur” (with a shin). That cuneiform-induced scribal error (which, however, was in fact a deliberate “mistake”, made by an editor in 7th century BCE Jerusalem for the purpose of re-positioning the geographical place names at Genesis 20: 1 on an ultra-southerly basis) is how the intended city-name Ṣu[r]-ri / ṢWR / צור [or, in the expected defective spelling, ṢR / צר] / “Tyre” became ŠWR / שור / “Shur” in the received alphabetical Hebrew text.

Note that “Kadesh” at Genesis 20: 1 is the well-known Late Bronze Age city of Kadesh in eastern Upper Galilee, rather than being an unattested name of an unknown site in the Sinai Desert. GRR / גרר / KJV: “Gerar” at Genesis 20: 1 is Gariree as the Late Bronze Age spelling of “Galilee”, being attested at item #80 on the mid-15th century BCE Thutmose III list of places in Canaan, rather than being an unattested name of an unattested place somewhere in the general vicinity of Gaza. Consider also that it makes no sense to think that after twice being told by YHWH that Sarah will, at long last, finally get pregnant with Isaac as Abraham’s proper heir about four weeks from now, that Abraham would somehow pick that point in time to begin wandering about the desolate Sinai Desert. Not. Isaac could not get rich growing wheat near Beersheba of the Negev Desert, but that was doable near Beersheba of Upper Galilee. Esau could not hunt big game successfully at Beersheba of the Negev Desert, but that would be routine at Beersheba of Upper Galilee, which in the Bronze Age was located right next to the largest and densest forest in all of Canaan.

To help confirm the above analysis, we now ask who the princeling ruler of ṣu-ri / “Tyre” / KJV “Shur” in Year 13 [see Genesis 14: 4 for “Year 13”] was. Abimelek -- both in the Amarna Letters and in the Patriarchal narratives. And what was Abimelek’s chief characteristic? He was always concerned about contested access to valuable water wells -- both in the Amarna Letters and in the Patriarchal narratives. Historical Abimelek / Abimilki in the Amarna Letters and Biblical Abimelek in the Patriarchal narratives are one and the same person. If we can just get the geography right (for example, the geographical location of “Shur” at Genesis 20: 1), then the pinpoint historical accuracy of the Patriarchal narratives in the context of the world of Year 13 comes shining through.

This is the fourth classic cuneiform-induced scribal error we have examined on this thread. If the Patriarchal narratives were originally recorded in cuneiform writing, then a sibilant in the received text may have originally intended to be a different sibilant, since a single cuneiform sign can routinely represent two or more different sibilants. If we correct the first letter in “Shur” at Genesis 20: 1 per the above cuneiform analysis, replacing sin with the originally-intended ssade, then instead of being an unattested reference that has no counterpart in non-Biblical history, this is now a clear reference to one of the best-known city-states in the ancient Near East: “Tyre”. That in turn makes sense out of the fact that chapters 20-21, 26-28 of Genesis set forth an accurate description of Upper Galilee, including “Tyre” and Beersheba of Upper Galilee, while making no sense at all as a purported description of Beersheba of the Negev Desert. Finally, this once again confirms the Amarna Age as the historical time period involved, as we find that the princeling ruler in these parts, both Biblically and non-Biblically (per the Amarna Letters) in Year 13, was Abimelek.

That is to say, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g makes perfect sense, on all levels, if the Patriarchal narratives were a written text in cuneiform in the mid-14th century BCE.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby James Stinehart » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:31 am

For our fifth example of a classic cuneiform-induced scribal error in the Patriarchal narratives, we turn to “Shur” at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18. (My previous post analyzed “Shur” at Genesis 20: 1, concluding that the intended reference there was to ṣu-ri / ṣu[r]-ri / “Tyre”.)

“Shur” at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18 = ṣa-ba-ru [indirectly referencing Egypt]; צבר = שור

Although in context (as shown below) ŠWR / שור / KJV: “Shur” at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18 (but n-o-t at Genesis 20: 1) must mean “Egypt”, nevertheless no satisfactory linguistic analysis of this peculiar name has ever been forthcoming. The traditional view, though aptly characterized by BDB as being “dubious” (but to date there have been no better competing views), is that ŠWR / שור at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18 is the Hebrew common word that means “wall”. But at Genesis 16: 7, Hagar is “on the way to Shur”, when she is fleeing her mistress Sarai’s rough treatment. In context, Hagar must be planning to take the non-military, non-coastal route across the central Sinai Desert from Canaan to Egypt, re-tracing the steps she had taken in coming out of Egypt as the servant of Abram and Sarai. But there has never been a “wall” (of forts or otherwise) on the non-coastal route between Canaan and Egypt, so “Wall” would not be an apt Patriarchal nickname for “Egypt”.

Now consider, however, the attested Ugaritic word ṣbr, whose initial sibilant is a ssade/ṣ, where the cuneiform sign ZA(6) was ambiguous as to whether the sibilant was ssade or sin. In Ugaritic, ṣbr means “communal farming system”. Egypt was world-famous for its communal farming system, under which the agriculture of the entire Nile River Valley was done by means of communal farming, directed by pharaoh’s viziers. Indeed, at Genesis 16: 7 when Hagar is considering returning to Egypt, an important aspect of Egypt was precisely its “communal farming system”, which produced bread and beer in such great abundance that no one (even migrants) was in danger of starving to death for lack of food or drink. Thus “Communal Farming System” or, loosely paraphrased, “Agricultural Heaven”, is an apt Patriarchal nickname for “Egypt” at Genesis 16: 7.

At Genesis 25: 18, “Shur” can be viewed as being directly comparable to “Egypt”, especially if “Havilah” in the first phrase is viewed (properly) as meaning “Hurrianland” (where Ḫeva / ḪW / חו, mis-transliterated by KJV as “Havi”, is the Hurrians’ chief goddess). In the first phrase, Ishmael and his descendants are said to live between Hurrianland and Egypt / ṣbr / “Shur”. The second phrase then clarifies this by saying that they lived in the area stretching from near Egypt (not in Egypt), to (“as one goes to”) Assyria (not in Assyria, but rather being as far east as the eastern edge of the heartland of the Hurrians in Mitanni / KJV: “Midian”, immediately west of Assyria), in eastern Syria. The land historically dominated by the Hurrians in the Amarna Age (ḪW -Y-L -H / חוילה / KJV: “Havilah” / Ḫeva-land) -- the land between Egypt and Assyria, but not including either Egypt or Assyria -- is thereby neatly described at Genesis 25: 18.

As noted above, “Wall” is not a viable Patriarchal nickname for Egypt. Note also that it makes sense that ṣbr / “Shur” is a west Semitic / Canaanite / pre-Hebrew Patriarchal nickname for Egypt (referencing Egypt’s “communal farming system”), because each of Hagar and Ishmael was a west Semitic speaker, not a native Egyptian, though each had a connection to Egypt. (Hagar was born in Egypt to Canaanite parents. Ishmael married a woman from [whose family, similar to Hagar’s, presumably had been Canaanite migrants to] Egypt.)
It is my view that the “Shur” at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18 was originally intended in cuneiform to be ṢBR / צבר / Ṣa-ba-ru (a Patriarchal nickname for Egypt, referencing its “communal farming system”), beginning with a ssade (not a sin/shin, as in the received text). That should have been rendered in Hebrew as ṢBR / צבר, or possibly (though less likely) as ṢWR / צור. But instead, this apt Patriarchal nickname for Egypt came out the same as the incorrect spelling of the name at Genesis 20: 1, namely שור, being SWR or ŠWR [“Shur”].

In the received text of the Patriarchal narratives, in three places we see ŠWR / שור [“Shur”], being an unattested geographical place name with an unknown meaning. It is my view that at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18 (but n-o-t at Genesis 20: 1), the cuneiform rendering was likely ṣa-ba-ru (with the initial sibilant being a ssade/ṣ).

As to an issue of west Semitic linguistics, compare the Arabic word ṣabbārat, which is related to the Ugaritic word ṣbr. Lete and Sanmartín, “A Dictionary of the Ugaritic Language in the Alphabetic Tradition” (2003), p. 777. All these words begin with the sibilant ssade/ṣ. It is not clear whether classic Biblical Hebrew as of 7th century BCE Jerusalem still had the Late Bronze Age Canaanite / pre-Hebrew word ṣa-ba-ru; such word never appears any place else in the Hebrew Bible, and (I believe) is unknown elsewhere in Hebrew. (Perhaps Isaac Fried could help us out here.) In the mid-14th century BCE, however, ṣbr is attested at Ugarit, so it is very likely that Canaanite / pre-Hebrew in the mid-14th century BCE had the west Semitic common word ṣa-ba-ru. Either the Hebrew scribe in King Josiah’s Jerusalem honestly did not know this old west Semitic common word, or else he pretended not to know it, and on that basis he determined that it was supposedly a pure guess as to whether the initial sibilant in ṣa-ba-ru, written in cuneiform as ZA(6), was a ssade/ṣ or a sin/s, with sin/s in turn being indistinguishable in Hebrew orthography from shin/š. In order to impose, retroactively, an ultra-southerly underlying geography on the Patriarchal narratives, he made sure to “guess” that this sibilant was a sin/s, which was recorded the same way in Hebrew as a shin/š. (Because the Masoretes, over a thousand years later, chose to view this sibilant as being a shin/š [rather than a sin/s], which logically led to the KJV rendering of “Shur”, this discussion generally refers to the initial sibilant in this name as being treated as a shin/š.)

Viewing the underlying name as being Ša-ba-ru, with the initial sibilant being a shin/š, the scribe chose to render it in Hebrew as ŠWR / שור. The choice of vav/W, rather than bet/B, as the second consonant was semi-defensible, as intervocalic bet/B in Hebrew has the same sound (or virtually the same sound) as consonantal vav/W. However, the real reason for choosing vav/W here at Genesis 16: 7 and 25: 18 was so that the completely different name at Genesis 20: 1 could then be rendered by the very same Hebrew spelling, thereby deftly shifting, retroactively, Beersheba of Upper Galilee to allegedly being Beersheba of the Negev Desert, even though the entire five chapters of description of this Beersheba in the received text matches only Beersheba of Upper Galilee.

Jim Stinehart

Isaac Fried
Posts: 1362
Joined: Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby Isaac Fried » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:14 pm

"Isaac could not get rich growing wheat near Beersheba of the Negev Desert, but that was doable near Beersheba of Upper Galilee. Esau could not hunt big game successfully at Beersheba of the Negev Desert, but that would be routine at Beersheba of Upper Galilee, which in the Bronze Age was located right next to the largest and densest forest in all of Canaan."

Seems to me that this statement could use some supporting evidence to substantiate its truth.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

James Stinehart

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby James Stinehart » Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:55 am

Isaac Fried:

You wrote (quoting me first): “ ‘Isaac could not get rich growing wheat near Beersheba of the Negev Desert, but that was doable near Beersheba of Upper Galilee. Esau could not hunt big game successfully at Beersheba of the Negev Desert, but that would be routine at Beersheba of Upper Galilee, which in the Bronze Age was located right next to the largest and densest forest in all of Canaan.’ Seems to me that this statement could use some supporting evidence to substantiate its truth.”

1. Isaac Gets Rich Growing Wheat in “Gerar” Near “Shur”; “Gerar” Must Be (Upper) Galilee, and “Shur” in This Context Must Be “Tyre”, Near Beersheba of Upper Galilee

The most relevant provisions of chapter 26 of Genesis read as follows:

“6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: …12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants….”

At this point (before Isaac begins re-digging the wells that Abraham had dug in the prior generation), Isaac is sojourning near Tyre (“Shur”) in western Upper Galilee (“Gerar”). The rolling hills of Upper Galilee are a fine place to grow wheat or other grains. Wheat from the Late Bronze Age had been found in Hazor in eastern Upper Galilee: “14 large clay jugs containing seeds of 3,400 year old burnt wheat have recently been uncovered in a storage room at Tel Hazor in the Upper Galilee”. https://embassies.gov.il/san-francisco/ ... Hazor.aspx Agriculture in western Upper Galilee (excluding the central highlands, discussed in #2 below), near Tyre, was the same in the Late Bronze Age as agriculture near Hazor. As to the mainland near Tyre (“Shur”) in particular, “the area [near Tyre] was rich in water, and in Antiquity, this meant that there was a base for great agricultural prosperity.” https://www.livius.org/articles/place/tyre/

So it makes perfect sense to portray Isaac as getting rich growing grain near Tyre in western Upper Galilee, where the famed rolling hills of Galilee were good farmland.

By stark contrast, wheat cannot be grown near Beersheba of the Negev Desert. (On the unanimous, but erroneous, traditional view: (i) “Gerar” is an unknown place unattested by that name just southeast of Gaza; (ii) “Shur” is an unknown place unattested by that name in the Negev or Sinai Desert; and (iii) the Beersheba that is nearby is supposedly Beersheba of the Negev Desert, not [as I contend] Beersheba of Upper Galilee.) From Wikipedia:

“The Negev…is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The region's largest city and administrative capital is Beersheba…. Vegetation in the Negev is sparse…. [T]he northernmost areas of the Negev, including Beersheba, are semi-arid.”

Beersheba of the Negev Desert was famous in antiquity because it had the only water wells in this part of Canaan. It would be impossible for Abraham and Isaac to build a series of water wells near Beersheba of the Negev Desert because, as just noted, Beersheba of the Negev Desert has the only water wells in this part of Canaan. In a semi-arid semi-desert like Beersheba of the Negev Desert, it would be impossible for Isaac to get rich growing grain (whether wheat or any other grain).

E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g about the Beersheba and environs described in chapters 20-21, 26-28 of Genesis fits Beersheba of Upper Galilee perfectly (once “Shur” is recognized, per a cuneiform-induced scribal error, as being “Tyre”), whereas virtually nothing in those five chapters of Biblical text fits the desert-land of Beersheba of the Negev Desert.

2. In the Bronze Age, the Largest and Densest Forest in All of Greater Canaan Was Situated on the Central Highlands of Upper Galilee, Immediately East of Beersheba of Upper Galilee

In Late Bronze Age Canaan, the most “glorious forest (abounding in foliage)” [Elparan at Genesis 14: 6] was the dense forest that blanketed most of high-altitude central Upper Galilee:

“[As to] the extent of the forests in 1200 BCE, it is likely that the central core of Upper Galilee was completely forested (remains of the ancient forest can still be found here).” Philip R. Davies, John William Rogerson, “The Old Testament World” (2005), p. 14.

While Isaac’s family is sojourning at Beersheba, everyone knows that Esau will be able, in a few hours’ time, to hunt tasty big game successfully to bring to his doting father Isaac. Genesis 27: 3-4. That story makes perfect sense if the Beersheba in question is Beersheba of Upper Galilee, which in the Bronze Age was located immediately west of the greatest forest in all of Canaan, which was a perfect environment for hunting. The dense forest here just east of Beersheba of Upper Galilee was a hunter’s paradise. By contrast, hunting tasty big game was not possible at Beersheba of the Negev Desert, which is located in a desert environment.

The climate of Canaan in the Patriarchal Age, being the Late Bronze Age, was abnormally dry. Note that each Patriarch is forced to leave southern Canaan for a time to avoid a terrible drought-famine. In fact, the Patriarchs’ “Hebron” (the rural northern Ayalon Valley) had lost 90% of its Middle Bronze Age population due to the lack of rain in the Late Bronze Age. So Beersheba of the Negev Desert was even more desolate in the Patriarchal Age than it is today.

Beersheba of the Negev Desert and Beersheba of Upper Galilee have only two things in common: their name (“Beersheba”), and the fact that one or more wells are located there. In all other ways, these two places could not be more different. Beersheba of Upper Galilee is located way up in the foothills (so that at Genesis 26: 23, Isaac goes “up” / alah / עלה to Beersheba; by contrast, the land southeast of Gaza is at a higher elevation than the basin in which sits Beersheba of the Negev Desert); the low foothills near the nearby coast of western Upper Galilee are an ideal place for digging water wells (as Israeli scientists confirmed shortly after the founding of the modern state of Israel); western Upper Galilee is a fine place for agriculture; and in the Bronze Age, Beersheba of Upper Galilee was adjacent to a vast forest that was ideal for Esau’s hunting. None of those key characteristics fit Beersheba of the Negev Desert at all. Beersheba of the Negev Desert is located at the bottom of a basin; there is no place nearby where water wells worth fighting over can be dug; no place nearby is conducive to agriculture; and hunting big game would not be possible at Beersheba of the Negev Desert.

Indeed, there’s no way that either Abraham or Isaac would sojourn for years near Beersheba of the Negev Desert which, unlike Beersheba of Upper Galilee, was not near pastureland suitable for a large flock of sheep and goats.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby James Stinehart » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:16 pm

As we have now seen on this thread: (i) Joseph’s Egyptian name, “Zaphnathpaaneah”, after correcting the first letter to be a sin (not a ssade) to rectify a cuneiform-induced scribal error, makes perfect sense in the context of the reign of Akhenaten as an early monotheistic ruler: “[Adopted] Son [of the Pharaoh who honors] The One and Only God Who Is Eternal Life”; (ii) “Potipherah”, as the name of Joseph’s Egyptian priestly father-in-law who was the high-priest of Ra from On, is the Patriarchal equivalent of the name and title of the historical high-priest of Ra from On at Amarna in Year 13; and (iii) “Potiphar”, as the name of Joseph’s Egyptian master who was the Captain of the Guard in charge of Pharaoh’s personal security, is the Patriarchal equivalent of the name of the military man who was in charge of pharaoh Akhenaten’s personal security in Year 13 at Amarna.

That stunning historical accuracy in a Late Bronze Age context necessarily implies that the first written version of the Biblical text of the Patriarchal narratives was in cuneiform, long before alphabetical Hebrew writing came into being. That in turn means that there will be cuneiform-induced scribal errors in the received text of the Patriarchal narratives. This enables us, for the sixth time on this thread, to be the first ones to make sense of a seemingly inexplicable name, this time being the Biblical Egyptian name “Asenath” (Joseph’s Egyptian wife).

Believe it or not, today’s university scholars analyze the Biblical Egyptian name “Asenath” as honoring either the goddess Neith, or an un-named goddess, or solely the daughter’s mother. Not. Contrast those unacceptable scholarly analyses of “Asenath” with the cuneiform-based analysis below, which focuses on Asenath’s role in the Biblical text as being the daughter of the high-priest of Ra from On, and as being fruitful in bearing sons (especially leading son Ephraim) to Joseph.

Asenath: עשנת = אסנת

If the name “Asenath” was originally recorded in cuneiform, then the first two letters of this Biblical Egyptian name may well be cuneiform-induced scribal errors.

1. First Letter May Be Ayin

The cuneiform of the Amarna Letters could not distinguish between ayin and aleph. Accordingly, there is a 50/50 chance that the first letter of the name “Asenath” (at Genesis 41: 45) is not aleph, per the received alphabetical Hebrew text rendering of ’ÇNT / אסנת, but rather was originally intended to be ayin.

2. Second Letter May Be Shin

The cuneiform rendering of the phoneme shin often came out in alphabetical Hebrew as samekh. This, in conjunction with Egyptian having no samekh, means that there is a better than 50/50 chance that the second letter in the name “Asenath” was intended to be a shin.
Thus as opposed to the received text, there is a better than 50/50 chance that the Hebrew spelling of the name “Asenath” was originally intended to be: ‘ŠNT / עשנת. It does not make sense to assume, without investigation, that the Jewish scribe in 7th century BCE Jerusalem (who transformed the original cuneiform text into alphabetical Hebrew writing) necessarily always interpreted correctly cuneiform signs that are, by their very nature, inherently ambiguous. So if the first written Biblical version of the name “Asenath” was in cuneiform, then instead of the received text spelling, אסנת, which does not make good substantive sense, we should consider the following as very possibly being the originally-intended spelling: עשנת.

3. “Asenath” Is Then: aSA - nTr

(a) The expected Biblical Hebrew spelling of the well-known Egyptian common word aSA is עש. The first syllable is Egyptian ayin (rendered in the standard Buurman transliteration of hieroglyphs as a lower-case a), which is rendered in Biblical Hebrew by Hebrew ayin. The second syllable would have been heard by the Hebrews as a consonant-vowel syllable, beginning with shin, and ending with a vowel sound similar to aleph. Upper-case S is shin in Egyptian, and upper-case A is Egyptian aleph. Pursuant to Hebrew defective spelling, the vowel in a CV syllable is not rendered by any Hebrew letter. So if the originally-intended spelling of “Asenath” was עשנת, then the first two Hebrew letters render the well-known Egyptian common word aSA. This word includes the meanings of “many, manifold, fertile”.
(b) Based on the Amarna Letters, we know that nTr, sometimes rendered as netjer, was pronounced with no final R by the Amarna Age, and was rendered in cuneiform as na-te. That is confirmed (as I noted in a prior post on this thread) by the following Egyptian name in the Amarna Letters: pa-ḫa-na-te. Per the analysis at p. 122 in Richard S. Hess’s “Amarna Personal Names” (1993), na-te = nTr/netjer = “God”. In the Amarna Age, the expected Biblical Hebrew spelling of nTr : na-te would be: נת.

We will now see that עשנת : aSA - nTr [“Asenath”] is the perfect name for Joseph’s Egyptian wife.

Part I: Meaning of “Asenath” as a Birth Name (i.e., prior to her marriage to Joseph): “The Many Wondrous Manifestations (as Honored at On) of the God Ra”

The meaning of aSA as an Egyptian common word is stated by E.A. Wallis Budge at p. 137 of his classic “An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Vol. I” (1920) to be: “to be much or many, to be abundant, to happen often or frequently”. As a birth name, the first, and most obvious, meaning of aSA is “many”.

But the aSA element in the name aSA-nTr also provides a link to Ra, and possibly an implied link to On as well, as a birth name. That is important, because in the Patriarchal narratives, Asenath is the daughter of a high-priest of Ra from On. Christian Leitz lists many epithets of Ra that begin with aSA in “Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen” (2003). Four of such epithets show that Ra was often viewed as having “numerous/aSA manifestations”. Such phrase is always very positive regarding Ra, so the implied meaning is “many/aSA [wondrous manifestations]”. Moreover, one of such epithets, aSA-iwnw, also recalls the city of On, whose name is transliterated as iwnw. In the context of Ra, aSA could imply aSA[-iwnw], and as such aSA could be an indirect reference to On, as well as definitely being an epithet of Ra. Genesis 41: 45 explicitly mentions On in giving us the name “Asenath”, and the “Ase-” element in that name can in turn be viewed as implying On. Thus aSA can imply not only “[the] many [wondrous] manifestations [of Ra]”, but also aSA, by implying aSA-iwnw, can in addition function as an implied reference to On, which is the cult center of Ra and the original home of both Asenath and her father, who in the Patriarchal narratives is a high-priest of Ra from On.

Although one literal meaning of aSA is simply “many”, nevertheless in the context of Ra, the implied meaning of aSA can be, per the foregoing attested epithets of Ra: “[the] many [wondrous manifestations (as honored at On) of Ra]”/aSA.

Somewhat similarly, although the Egyptian word nTr often means “the Divine”, or “god/God” in the most generic sense, nonetheless when paired with aSA, as an apt (if highly abbreviated) epithet for the god Ra (and perhaps also implying a reference to On), nTr could have the implied meaning of: “the Divine/god [Ra]”. Thus a high-priest of Ra from On could well give his daughter the name aSA-nTr [KJV: “Asenath”], with the implied meaning of such name at his daughter’s birth being:

“[the] many [wondrous manifestations (as honored at On)]”/aSA “[of the] Divine/god [Ra]”/nTr

Where aSA is viewed as being a shortened form of the phrase aSA-iwnw that was used to honor Ra at On, and interpreting nTr in that context as effectively implying the god Ra, the meaning of “Asenath” as a birth name can accordingly be viewed as being:

“The Many Wondrous Manifestations (as Honored at On) of the God Ra”

It is impossible to imagine a more appropriate birth name than that for a Biblical character who is portrayed in the Patriarchal narratives as being the daughter of a high-priest of Ra from On. Rather than honoring the goddess Neith, or an un-named goddess, or solely the daughter’s mother, none of which traditional meanings (which are the only meanings proposed to date by university scholars) make good sense at all in context, the foregoing birth name meaning of “Asenath” is the most appropriate birth name imaginable for the daughter of a high-priest of Ra from On.

Part II: Meaning of “Asenath” as the Name of Joseph’s Egyptian Wife: “Fruitful [Thanks to] God” [where ‘Fruitful’ is a deliberate play on the Hebrew meaning of the name of Joseph’s most important son, Ephraim]

Although it is important for “Asenath” to be a sensible birth name for a daughter of a high-priest of Ra from On, it is arguably even more important for the name “Asenath” to have a meaning that encapsulates her key role in the text as Joseph’s Egyptian wife.

After Asenath married Joseph and promptly began bearing him sons, the name aSA - nTr can be viewed as having the following primary meaning:

“Fertile/Fruitful/aSA [thanks to] God/nTr” or “Divinely Fruitful [cf. ‘Ephraim = ‘fruitful’]”

I noted earlier that the meaning of aSA as an Egyptian common word is stated by Budge to be: “to be much or many, to be abundant, to happen often or frequently”. But in Egyptian literature, the meaning may often be less literal. For example, in Akhenaten’s Great Hymn, aSA (gecko with three vertical lines) is translated as “numerous” in the phrase “How numerous [aSA] are your [divine] works, though hidden from sight.” But rather than focusing on being “numerous” per se, the intended focus there is likely somewhat less literal: “How abundant/bounteous/manifold/fruitful [aSA] are your [divine] works, though hidden from sight.” Similarly, in the Tale of Sinuhe from the Middle Kingdom, we see aSA (in all cases rendered by the hieroglyphs gecko-vulture-three vertical lines) in the phrases “Its honey was plentiful [aSA]”, and “I enjoyed wealth [aSA] in cattle”. The concept in both of those latter two phrases seems to be “bounteous abundance”, rather than a narrow focus on the literal meaning of “being numerous”. Thus in context, aSA is not solely limited to its literal meaning of “be numerous”, but rather often connotes “bounteous abundance”, or being “fruitful”.

aSA can mean “abundant, fertile, fruitful”, and nTr normally does not specify the god Ra, but rather is usually a generic reference to the Divine or God. Thus in the context of being Joseph’s Egyptian wife who bore sons to Joseph, the name “Asenath” can be viewed as meaning:

“Fruitful [thanks to] God” or “Divinely Fruitful”

This Biblical Egyptian name epitomizes one of Asenath’s critical functions in the Patriarchal narratives: bearing sons to Joseph.

But more specifically, the Egyptian word aSA, which can have the implied meaning of “fruitful”, is effectively the equivalent of the Hebrew word פרה : PRH, which means “to be fruitful” (in Hebrew), that Joseph uses as the basis of his second son’s name, “Ephraim” (whom Joseph’s father Jacob/“Israel” later correctly discerns, at Genesis 48: 19-20, is to be Joseph’s leading son): “And the name of the second called he [Joseph] Ephraim [אפרים : ’PR-YM]: For God hath caused me to be fruitful [based on פרה : PRH] in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41: 52. (Though there is no room to discuss the matter here, the otherwise largely inexplicable reason for the plural form of the Hebrew meaning of the name “Ephraim” [“doubly fruitful”] is so that the name “Ephraim” can also have an appropriate Egyptian meaning as aA pri m: “Come Out Great”.)

The name “Asenath” thus deftly sums up the role of Joseph’s Egyptian wife in the narrative: she will be “fruitful”/aSA, thanks to “God”/nTr, in bearing Joseph sons, and in particular she will bear Joseph’s leading son (Ephraim), whose name in Hebrew means “fruitful”. The equivalent of aSA in Egyptian, in the name “Asenath”, is פרה : PRH regarding the name “Ephraim” in Hebrew, both essentially meaning “fruitful”.

Linguistically, we now see that it is implied that one of the reasons why Joseph chose the name “Ephraim” for his second son was precisely in honor of his “fertile, fruitful” wife Asenath, who had just borne Joseph a second son, where “Ephraim” in Hebrew has a similar meaning to aSA-nTr [“Asenath”] in Egyptian: “Divinely Fruitful [cf. ‘Ephraim = ‘fruitful’]”.

Jim Stinehart

James Stinehart

Re: Cuneiform Scribal Errors in Genesis

Postby James Stinehart » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:41 pm

We have examined on this thread four of the five Biblical Egyptian names, noting that two of such names -- “Zaphnathpaaneah” and “Asenath” -- feature cuneiform-induced scribal errors. In this post I will examine the fifth Biblical Egyptian name: "Pharaoh".

1. “Pharaoh” is a Biblical name, being a Patriarchal nickname for Egyptian king Akhenaten. (See linguistic analysis in #2 below.) This Biblical name is not a Hebrew mangling of the Egyptian phrase “big house”. Only on occasion, beginning in the 14th century BCE, did Egyptians themselves use the phrase “big house”, usually to refer to the Egyptian king’s buildings or administration, and only very rarely as a reference to the Egyptian king himself.

Later Biblical authors did not realize that “Pharaoh” was a Patriarchal nickname for Akhenaten, and instead mistakenly thought it was a standard reference to any Egyptian king.

The above sequence of events leads to the oft-noted odd situation: (i) the Bible consistently refers to the king of Egypt as “Pharaoh”, yet (ii) the Egyptians themselves only very rarely referred to the king of Egypt as “big house” (which, per #2 below, sounds vaguely like “Pharaoh”).

2. The Hebrew letters that KJV transliterates as “Pharaoh” are PRġH / פרעה. (The third letter is an ayin, representing a ghayin / ġ.) The scholarly view is that “Pharaoh” : פרעה means “Big House”, even though (i) there would be no h/ה at the end of the Egyptian word that means “big house”, and (ii) native Egyptians only rarely referred to their king by the peculiar phrase “Big House”. Contra the scholarly view, I see “Pharaoh” as being a Patriarchal nickname for Egyptian king Akhenaten in a Year 13 Amarna Age historical context. [Genesis 14: 4 expressly refers to “Year 13”.]

“Pharaoh” / PRġH / פרעה = the following four Egyptian letters [using Buurman]: prxX, which in turn render the following four Egyptian words: pA ra Ax XA : “The Ra: Soul [and] Body”, with the implied meaning being: “[I Dedicate My] Body [and] Soul [to] The Ra”.

If the Pharaoh at both the beginning and the end of the Patriarchal narratives is Akhenaten (my view), then we should start with the fact that the historical name “Akhenaten” : Akh -n- Aten : Ax -n- itn means: “Soul -- Aten” (or “Spirit -- Aten”). Although the Egyptian words are clear, scholars have nevertheless not reached a consensus as to the precise meaning of this name. To an Egyptian, this name would n-o-t mean “Soul of Aten” (because that would make no sense in any Egyptian theology; to the Egyptians, each human had a soul, but no god had a soul). But the name “Akhenaten” might well imply: “[I Dedicate My] Soul [to] Aten”. With “Aten” and “Ra” being interchangeable names for the monotheistic deity in Akhenaten’s theology, and with Akhenaten by Year 13 favoring the name “Ra” over the name “Aten” (per the names of his youngest daughters), we can determine, per the linguistic analysis below, that the literal meaning of “Pharaoh” : פרעה is “The Ra: Soul [and] Body”, with the implied meaning being: “[I Dedicate My] Body [and] Soul [to] The Ra”. If so, then “Pharaoh” : פרעה is an apt Patriarchal nickname for Akhenaten.

(a) If the third Hebrew letter in this name, ע, is intended to be a ghayin/ġ [rather than an ayin], then that is the heth in Egyptian that is rendered in Buurman by a lower-case x. With Egyptian aleph/A not being rendered by any Hebrew letter in Hebrew defective spelling, the expected Biblical Hebrew spelling of the “Akh” : Ax in “Akhenaten” is simply the Hebrew letter ע, meaning “soul”.

(b) Per the ubiquitous analysis of the Biblical Egyptian name “Potiphar”, the Hebrew letters פר can render pA ra, meaning “The Ra”. That is a Year 13 update of Akhenaten’s historical name (which featured “Aten”), because by Year 13 Akhenaten favored “Ra” or “The Ra” over “Aten” as to nomenclature. We know that, because Akhenaten’s first four daughters were named after “Aten”, but his last two daughters (born shortly before Year 13) were named after “Ra”. As to the pA / “the” preceding Ra, Akhenaten was the first Egyptian to use the word “the” before a god’s name, thus giving a monotheistic reorientation to Egypt’s previous polytheistic worship of Ra. [Later the Egyptian word “the” / pA became devalued, and completely lost its monotheistic implications when preceding the name of an Egyptian god. But in Year 13, pA / “the” before the god’s name Ra was outrageously monotheistic.] The Hebrews had a vested interest in emphasizing Akhenaten’s monotheism, since at that time the Hebrews were the only other monotheists in the world. The Hebrews hoped that Akhenaten might help his fellow monotheists with the Hebrews’ terrible Year 13 problems regarding Yapaḫu, who (per the Amarna Letters) was the new, anti-tent-dweller princeling ruler of the Hebrews’ beloved valley in southern Canaan.

(c) To add grandeur to this name, the early Hebrew author decided to add in the concept of “body”, which Egyptian word is spelled XA (in Buurman), and would be expected to be spelled in Biblical Hebrew as simply ה. (As always, no Hebrew letter is used to render Egyptian aleph/A.) Once again, the Hebrews were trying to secure Akhenaten’s help regarding their manifest Year 13 problems, so it behooved them to embellish the Patriarchal version of his name.

* * *

The phrase at Genesis 41: 46 translated by KJV as “Pharaoh king of Egypt” is in fact not that utter redundancy, but rather is: “Akhenaten, king of Egypt”. The entire mindset of the Patriarchal narratives reflects the first Hebrews’ monumental historical problems in Year 13, which they hoped Akhenaten might resolve or at least alleviate. The Biblical name “Pharaoh” / PRġH / פרעה = prxX : pA ra Ax XA : “The Ra: Soul [and] Body” : “[I Dedicate My] Body [and] Soul [to] The Ra” is a grander, Year 13 version of the historical name “Akhenaten” (which means: “[I Dedicate My] Soul [to] Aten”).

Jim Stinehart


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