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Patriarchs and Egypt

QUESTION: Patriarchs – The Connection to Egypt


In order to fully understand the Patriarchs of the Old Testament, it’s important to understand a bit about ancient Egypt.

Egypt—the name is well known throughout the world, and synonymous with pyramids, temples, and hieroglyphics. But where does the name Egypt come from? “Egypt” comes from the Greek Aigyptos, which was a transliteration of the ancient Egyptian hi-kuptah,meaning “palace of the ka of Ptah.” The “ka” is the ancient Egyptian word for soul, and Ptah was one of the chief gods of the Egyptian pantheon and a creator god. The country is called Misr in Arabic—very similar to the name Misrayim found in the Hebrew Old Testament. Misrayim is in a type of plural form called the dual, and may be indicative of the dual nature of ancient Egypt—the two lands of Upper and Lower Egypt. Even the name for the Pharaoh was king of the two lands, and Pharaohs normally wore a double crown—the white crown of Upper Egypt and the red crown of Lower Egypt.

Patriarchs – The Pharaohs Mentioned in the Bible
Although Egypt often played a significant role in the events of the Bible, only four Pharaohs are identified by name. These four are Shoshenq, Tirhakah, Necho II, and Hophra. Earlier Pharaohs mentioned in the books of Moses are not identified by name, possibly in keeping with the New Kingdom Egyptian practice of mentioning enemies by title only.

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