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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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PHARAOH. The later Egyptian royal title, Per-‘o , Great House,’ adopted into Hebrew. Originally designating the royal establishment in Egypt, it graduailly became the appellative title of the king, and from the 22nd Dyn. ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 950) onwards was regularly attached to the king’s name in popular speech. The Hebrew Pharaoh-necho and Pharaoh-hophra are thus precise renderings of Egyptian. Shishak also was entitled Per-‘o Sheshonk in Egyptian, but apparently Hebrew had not yet adopted the novel fashion, and so gave his name without Pharaoh ( 1 Kings 11:40; 1 Kings 14:24 ). Tirhakah is not entitled Pharaoh as in Egyptian documents, but is more accurately described as king of Cush ( 2 Kings 19:9 ).

The following Pharaohs are referred to without their names being specified: 1 . Pharaoh of Abram ( Genesis 12:10-20 ), impossible to identify. The title Pharaoh and the mention of camels appear to be anachronisms in the story. 2. Pharaoh of Joseph ( Genesis 39:1-23 etc.). The proper names in the story, viz. Potiphar, Potiphera, Asenath, Zaphenath-paneah are at once recognizable (when the vocalization is discounted) as typical names (Petepre, Esnelt, Zepnetefonkh) of the late period beginning with the 22nd Dyn. ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 950), and ending in the reign of Darius ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 500). It has been conjectured that the Pharaoh of Joseph was one of the Hyksos kings, but it is not advisable to press for historical identifications in this beautiful legend. 3. and 4. The Pharaohs of the Oppression and the Exodus. The name of Raamses , given to a store-city built by the Hebrews ( Exodus 1:11 ), points to one of the kings named Ramesses in the 19th 20th Dyn. as the Pharaoh of the Oppression. The chief of these was Ramesses ii. ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 1350), after whom several towns were named. He was perhaps the greatest builder in Egyptian history. His son Mineptah might be the Pharaoh of the Exodus: but from the fifth year of Mineptah there is an Egyptian record of the destruction of ‘Israel,’ who, it would seem, were already in Palestine. At present it is impossible to ascertain the proportion of historical truth contained in the legends of the Exodus 5:1-23 . 1 Chronicles 4:18 , ‘Bithiah, daughter of Pharaoh’: no clue to identity. Bithiah is Heb., and not like an Egyp. name. 6. 1 Kings 3:1; 1Ki 9:16; 1 Kings 9:24; 1 Kings 11:1 , Pharaoh, the father-in-law of Solomon, must be one of the feeble kings of the end of the 21st Dynasty. 7. 1 Kings 11:18 , the Pharaoh who befriended Hadad the Edomite in the last days of Solomon, and gave him the sister of his queen Tahpenes: not identified. (At this point in the narrative Shishak comes in: he is never called Pharaoh, see above.) 8. Pharaoh, king of Egypt in 2 Kings 18:21 , Isaiah 36:6 etc., perhaps as a general term for the Egyptian king, not pointing to any individual. In the time of Sennacherib and Hezekiah, Tirhakah or some earlier king of the Ethiopian Dynasty would be on the throne. 9. For Jeremiah 37:1-21 , Ezekiel 29:1-21 , see Hophra.

F. Ll. Griffith.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Pharaoh'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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