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After Djoser of the third dynasty, pharaohs usually were depicted wearing the Nemes headdress, a false beard, and an ornate kilt
"King of Upper
and Lower Egypt"

in hieroglyphs

A43 A45


S2 S4


Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods.[1] In antiquity this title began to be used for the ruler who was the religious and political leader of united ancient Egypt. This was true only during the New Kingdom, specifically during the middle of the eighteenth dynasty. For simplification, however, there is a general acceptance amongst modern writers to use the term to relate to all periods.

Pharaoh meaning "Great House", originally referred to the king's palace, but by the reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1479-1425 BCE) in the New Kingdom had become a form of address for the person of the king.[2] The Egyptian term for the ruler himself was nsw(t)-bjt(j) (rendered in Babylonian as insibya; Egyptological pronunciation "Nesu(t)-Bit(i)"), "King of Upper and Lower Egypt", literally "he of the sedge and the bee" (properly nj-sw.t-bj.t)), the sedge and the bee being the symbols for Upper and Lower Egypt, respectively. Also nsw.t-t3wj "King of the Two Lands".

This double kingship was expressed in the Pschent, the double crown combining the red crown of Lower Egypt (Deshret) and the white crown of Upper Egypt (Hedjet).

Initially the rulers were considered the sons of the cow deity Bat and eventually Hathor and they occupied her throne to rule the country and officiate in religious rites. There is evidence that the ruler may have been sacrificed after a certain period of time in the earliest rituals but soon was replaced by a specially selected bull. The pharaohs were believed later in the culture to be the incarnations of the deity Horus in life[3] and Osiris in death. Once the cult of Isis and Osiris became prominent, pharaohs were viewed as a bridge between the god Osiris and human beings; and after death the pharaoh was believed to unite with Osiris. The royal line was matriarchal and a relationship with the royal women through birth or marriage (or both) determined the right to rule. The royal women played important roles in the religious rituals and governance of the country, sometimes participating alongside the pharaoh.

The term pharaoh ultimately was derived from a compound word represented as pr-`3, written with the two biliteral hieroglyphs pr "house" and `3 "column". It was used only in larger phrases such as smr pr-`3 'Courtier of the High House', with specific reference to the buildings of the court or palace itself.[4] From the twelfth dynasty onward the word appears in a wish formula 'Great House, may it live, prosper, and be in health', but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person.

The earliest instance where pr-`3 is used specifically to address the ruler is in a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) in the mid-eighteenth dynasty (1550-1292 BC) which is addressed to 'Pharaoh, all life, prosperity, and health!.[5] This may be contrasted with Hatshepsut, who ruled before him in the same eighteenth dynasty, who never had pr-`3 among her titles.

From the nineteenth dynasty onward pr-`3 on its own was used as regularly as hm.f, 'His Majesty'. The term therefore evolved from a word specifically referring to a building to a respectful designation for the ruler, particularly by the twenty-second dynasty and twenty-third dynasty. By this time, the Late Egyptian word is reconstructed to have been pronounced *par-ʕoʔ whence comes Ancient Greek φαραώ pharaō and then Late Latin pharaō. From the latter, English obtained the word "Pharaoh". Over time, *par-ʕoʔ evolved into Sahidic Coptic prro ⲡⲣ̅ⲣⲟ and then rro (by mistaking p- as the definite article prefix "the" from Ancient Egyptian p3).

A similar development, with a word originally denoting an attribute of the ruler eventually coming to refer to the person, can be discerned in a later period with the Arabic term Sultan.

Following unification, the ruler of Egypt wore a double crown, created from the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Crown of Upper Egypt. In certain situations, the pharaoh wore a blue crown of a different shape. Typically, all of these crowns were adorned by a uraeus, which was doubled during the twenty-fifth dynasty.

After the third dynasty, the pharaoh also wore a striped headcloth called the nemes, which may be the most familiar pharaonic headgear. The nemes was sometimes combined with the double crown, as it is on the statues of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel.

The pharaoh often was depicted as wearing a false beard made of goat hair during rituals and ceremonies.[6]

Egyptologist Bob Brier has noted that despite its widespread depiction in royal portraits, no ancient Egyptian crown ever has been discovered. Tutankhamun's tomb, discovered largely intact, did contain such regal items as his crook and flail, but not a crown. It is presumed that crowns would have been believed to have magical properties. Brier's speculation is that there were religious or state items a dead pharaoh could not retain as a personal possession which, therefore, had to be passed along to a successor.



Their names changed as the rulers assumed the throne. By the Middle Kingdom, the official titulary of the ruler consisted of five names;[7] for some rulers, only one or two of them may be known. Secrecy and euphemisms protected religious secrets and religion and governance were inexorably interwoven in Ancient Egypt.

Sculpture of a pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, Hatshepsut - Altes Museum in Berlin Germany

Hatshepsut, one of three great female rulers of later Egyptian dynasties that include Neferneferuaten, possibly identical with Nefertiti, and Smenkhkare, assumed the typical titles for rulers. No word comparable to the contemporary term, Queen Regnant, existed in the Ancient Egyptian language. Also notable is Nefertiti who was made co-regent (the pharaoh's equal) during the reign of Akhenaten.[8]

Although not typical, there are instances of women who were pharaoh during very early dynasties. This continued until Egypt was conquered by Rome. The Ptolemaic dynasty's last ruling pharaoh was Cleopatra VII.

The royal lineage of Ancient Egypt was traced through its women and a pharaoh had to be from that lineage or marry a member of the lineage. This was one reason for all of the intermarriages in the royal families of Egypt and why foreign invaders married royal Egyptian queens and princesses. Many times, offspring of concubines and minor wives needed to marry a royal princess to advance to the throne and be approved by the religious leaders of the temples. At least once in historical records, the queen of a pharaoh who died while ruling, invited a foreign ruler to send a son to marry her and become the pharaoh because there was no member of the royal house who could qualify and she had no sons.

During the eighteenth dynasty (sixteenth to fourteenth centuries B.C.) the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential designation of the ruler. About the late twenty-first dynasty (tenth century B.C.), however, instead of being used alone as before, it began to be added to the other titles before the ruler's name, and from the twenty-fifth dynasty (eighth to seventh centuries B.C.) it was, at least in ordinary usage, the only epithet prefixed to the royal appellative.[9] For instance, the first dated instance of the title pharaoh being attached to a ruler's name occurs in Year 17 of Siamun on a fragment from the Karnak Priestly Annals. Here, an induction of an individual to the Amun priesthood is dated specifically to the reign of Pharaoh Siamun. This new practice was continued under his successor Psusennes II and the twenty-first dynasty kings. Meanwhile the old custom of referring to the sovereign simply as Per'o continued in traditional Egyptian narratives.

Pharaohs in the Bible

Ring of Ptolemy VI Philometor (186-145 BCE) as Egyptian pharaoh. Louvre Museum.

The first pharaoh of Egypt mentioned by name in the Bible is Shishaq (probably Sheshonk I), the founder of the twenty-second dynasty and a contemporary of Rehoboam and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:40; 2 Chronicles 12:2 sqq.). The title pharaoh is prefixed to his name in the Great Dakhla stela—as in Pharaoh Shoshenq—which dates to Year 5 of his reign.

2 Kings 17:4 says that Hoshea sent letters to 'So, King of Egypt', whose identification still is not certain. He has been identified with Osorkon IV, who was a minor king at Tanis who ruled over a divided Egypt, with Tefnakht of Sais and Pi'ankhy.[10]

Taharqa, who was the opponent of Sennacherib, is called King of Ethiopia (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9), and hence is not given the title pharaoh, which he bears in Egyptian documents.

Last are two kings of the twenty-sixth dynasty: Necho II, who the Bible says defeated Josiah (2 Kings 23:29 sqq.; 2 Chronicles 35:20 sqq.), and Apries or Hophra, the contemporary of Sedicous (Jeremiah 44:30). Both are styled as pharaoh in Egyptian records.

See also


  1. ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 
  2. ^ Redmount, Carol A. "Bitter Lives: Israel in and out of Egypt." p. 89-90. The Oxford History of the Biblical World. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford University Press. 1998.
  3. ^ F. Fleming & A. Lothian, 12, 59
  4. ^ Ancient Egyptian Grammar (3rd ed.), A. Gardiner (1957-) 71-76
  5. ^ Hieratic Papyrus from Kahun and Gurob, F. LL. Griffith, 38, 17. Although see also Temples of Armant, R. Mond and O. Myers (1940), pl.93, 5 for an instance possibly dating from the reign of Thutmose III.
  6. ^ The early dynastic and old kingdom periods - Pharaoh's divine power
  7. ^ Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 2000, p. 477
  8. ^ Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 2000, p. 271. Other scholars have their doubts concerning this co-regency. cf. Sally-Ann Ashton, The Last Queens of Egypt: Cleopatra's Royal House, Pearson/Longman 2003, p.9
  9. ^ "pharaoh." in Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  10. ^ Patterson, Richard D., "The Divided Monarchy: Sources, Approaches, and Historicity", pp 196-197, in David M. Howard & Michael A. Grisanti (eds), Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts, Kregel Academic & Professional, January 1 2004, ISBN 978-0825428920


  • Sir Alan Gardiner Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition, Revised. London: Oxford University Press, 1964. Excursus A, pp. 71-76.
  • Brier, Bob. PhD. History of ancient Egypt (Audio). The First Nation in History. The Learning Company. 2001.

Sources and external links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PHARAOH (Par`oh), the Hebraized title of the king of Egypt, in Egyptian Per-`o; Pheron in Herodotus represents the same. Its combination with the name of the king, as in PharaohNecho, Pharaoh-Hophra, is in accordance with contemporary native usage: the name of the earlier Pharaoh Shishak (Sheshonk) is rightly given without the title. In hieroglyphic a king bears several names preceded by distinctive titles. - In the IVth Dynasty there might be four of the latter: (1) identifying him with the royal god Horus; the name is commonly written in a frame Ijllll representing the façade of a building, perhaps a palace or tomb, on which the falcon stands. (2) connecting him with the vulture and uraeus goddesses, Nekhabi and Buto of the south and north. (3) a hawk on the symbol of gold, signifying the victorious Horus.

(4) doms of Upper and Lower Egypt, to be read stni, " butcher(?)" and byti, " beekeeper(?)" The personal name of the king followed (4), and was enclosed in a cartouche OI apparently symbolizing the circuit of the sun which alone bounded the king's rule. Before the IVth Dynasty the cartouche is seldom found: the usual title is (1), and (3) does not occur. In the Vth Dynasty the custom began of giving the king at his accession a special name connecting him with the sun: this was placed in the cartouche after (4), and a fifth title was added: (5)Si Si-re, "son of the Sun-god," to precede a cartouche containing the personal name. The king was briefly spoken of by his title stni (see 4), or f, "his service," or Ity, " liege-lord." These titles were preserved in the sacred writing down to the latest age. An old term for the royal palace establishment and estate was Per-`o, "the Great House," and this gradually became the personal designation of Pharaoh (cf. the Grand Porte), displacing all others in the popular language. (F. LL. G.)

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Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Pharaoh m. (genitive Pharaohs, plural Pharaohnen)

  1. Alternative spelling of Pharao

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Box artwork for Pharaoh.
Developer(s) Impressions Games
Publisher(s) Sierra Entertainment
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Genre(s) RTS, Simulation
System(s) Windows
Players Single Player
ELSPA: Ages 3+
ESRB: Everyone
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Expansion pack(s) Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile

Pharaoh is a game about city building and management of cities in Egypt. There is a campaign to do and numerous custom missions.

The game takes you right from the humble beginnings of Egypt to its conquest.

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Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

the official title borne by the Egyptian kings down to the time when that country was conquered by the Greeks. The name is a compound, as some think, of the words Ra, the "sun" or "sun-god," and the article phe, "the," prefixed; hence phera, "the sun," or "the sun-god." But others, perhaps more correctly, think the name derived from Perao, "the great house" = his majesty = in Turkish, "the Sublime Porte."

(1.) The Pharaoh who was on the throne when Abram went down into Egypt (Gen 12:10ff) was probably one of the Hyksos, or "shepherd kings." The Egyptians called the nomad tribes of Syria Shasu, "plunderers," their king or chief Hyk, and hence the name of those invaders who conquered the native kings and established a strong government, with Zoan or Tanis as their capital. They were of Semitic origin, and of kindred blood accordingly with Abram. They were probably driven forward by the pressure of the Hittites. The name they bear on the monuments is "Mentiu."

(2.) The Pharaoh of Joseph's days (Gen. 41) was probably Apopi

(3.) The "new king who knew not Joseph" (Ex 1:8ff) has been generally supposed to have been Aahmes I., or Amosis, as he is called by Josephus. Recent discoveries, however, have led to the conclusion that Seti was the "new king."

For about seventy years the Hebrews in Egypt were under the powerful protection of Joseph. After his death their condition was probably very slowly and gradually changed. The invaders, the Hyksos, who for some five centuries had been masters of Egypt, were driven out, and the old dynasty restored. The Israelites now began to be looked down upon. They began to be afflicted and tyrannized over. In process of time a change appears to have taken place in the government of Egypt. A new dynasty, the Nineteenth, as it is called, came into power under Seti I., who was its founder. He associated with him in his government his son, Rameses II., when he was yet young, probably ten or twelve years of age.

Note, Professor Maspero, keeper of the museum of Bulak, near Cairo, had his attention in 1870 directed to the fact that scarabs, i.e., stone and metal imitations of the beetle (symbols of immortality), originally worn as amulets by royal personages, which were evidently genuine relics of the time of the ancient Pharaohs, were being sold at Thebes and different places along the Nile. This led him to suspect that some hitherto undiscovered burial-place of the Pharaohs had been opened, and that these and other relics, now secretly sold, were a part of the treasure found there. For a long time he failed, with all his ingenuity, to find the source of these rare treasures. At length one of those in the secret volunteered to give information regarding this burial-place. The result was that a party was conducted in 1881 to Dier el-Bahari, near Thebes, when the wonderful discovery was made of thirty-six mummies of kings, queens, princes, and high priests hidden away in a cavern prepared for them, where they had lain undisturbed for thirty centuries. "The temple of Deir el-Bahari stands in the middle of a natural amphitheatre of cliffs, which is only one of a number of smaller amphitheatres into which the limestone mountains of the tombs are broken up. In the wall of rock separating this basin from the one next to it some ancient Egyptian engineers had constructed the hiding-place, whose secret had been kept for nearly three thousand years." The exploring party being guided to the place, found behind a great rock a shaft 6 feet square and about 40 feet deep, sunk into the limestone. At the bottom of this a passage led westward for 25 feet, and then turned sharply northward into the very heart of the mountain, where in a chamber 23 feet by 13, and 6 feet in height, they came upon the wonderful treasures of antiquity. The mummies were all carefully secured and brought down to Bulak, where they were deposited in the royal museum, which has now been removed to Ghizeh.

Among the most notable of the ancient kings of Egypt thus discovered were Thothmes III., Seti I., and Rameses II. Thothmes III. was the most distinguished monarch of the brilliant Eighteenth Dynasty. When this mummy was unwound "once more, after an interval of thirty-six centuries, human eyes gazed on the features of the man who had conquered Syria and Cyprus and Ethiopia, and had raised Egypt to the highest pinnacle of her power. The spectacle, however, was of brief duration. The remains proved to be in so fragile a state that there was only time to take a hasty photograph, and then the features crumbled to pieces and vanished like an apparition, and so passed away from human view for ever." "It seems strange that though the body of this man," who overran Palestine with his armies two hundred years before the birth of Moses, "mouldered to dust, the flowers with which it had been wreathed were so wonderfully preserved that even their colour could be distinguished" (Manning's Land of the Pharaohs).

Seti I. (his throne name Merenptah), the father of Rameses II., was a great and successful warrior, also a great builder. The mummy of this Pharaoh, when unrolled, brought to view "the most beautiful mummy head ever seen within the walls of the museum. The sculptors of Thebes and Abydos did not flatter this Pharaoh when they gave him that delicate, sweet, and smiling profile which is the admiration of travellers. After a lapse of thirty-two centuries, the mummy retains the same expression which characterized the features of the living man. Most remarkable of all, when compared with the mummy of Rameses II., is the striking resemblance between the father and the son. Seti I. is, as it were, the idealized type of Rameses II. He must have died at an advanced age. The head is shaven, the eyebrows are white, the condition of the body points to considerably more than threescore years of life, thus confirming the opinions of the learned, who have attributed a long reign to this king."

(4.) Rameses II., the son of Seti I., is probably the Pharaoh of the Oppression.

(5.) The Pharaoh of the Exodus was probably Menephtah I., the fourteenth and eldest surviving son of Rameses II.

(6.) The Pharaoh of 1 Kg 11:18ff.

(7.) So, king of Egypt (2Kg 17:4).

(8.) The Pharaoh of 1Chr 4:18.

(9.) Pharaoh, whose daughter Solomon married (1 Kg 3:1; 1 Kg 7:8).

(10.) Pharaoh, in whom Hezekiah put his trust in his war against Sennacherib (2Kg 18:21).

(11.) The Pharaoh by whom Josiah was defeated and slain at Megiddo (2Chr 35:20ff; 2Kg 23:29f). (See Necho.)

(12.) Pharaoh-hophra, who in vain sought to relieve Jerusalem when it was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar, 2Kg 25:1ff; comp. Jer 37:5ff; Ezek 17:11ff. (See Zedekiah.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Pharaohs were the rulers of ancient Egypt. Before the union of Upper and Lower Egypt, kings would wear crowns of different design, to show which part of Egypt they had rule over. The red crown was worn in Lower Egypt, and the white crown in Upper Egypt. In later history, kings of the whole of ancient Egypt would wear a combination of the two crowns, called a Nemes. The word comes from the Egyptian word Per-aa, which means "Great House". Pharaohs were believed to be descended from the gods. When a Pharaoh died, all the treasure that they owned would be buried with them.
Pharaoh is also the name of a 1999 city-builder game by Impressions Games and Sierra Entertainment.

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