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Do Egyptian transliterations confirm the Exodus account?

The finding of Moses by the daughter of the pharaoh
by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1904)/Wikipedia/Public Domain

In the speech that led to his martyrdom, Stephen stated that Moses was educated in all the wisdom of Egypt (Acts 7:22).

This is to be expected, since the Bible records that he was raised in the Pharaoh’s court, where he would not only learn the ways of Egypt, but as well its language.

But we also know that his Hebrew mother basically served as his nanny during his early years (Exodus 2:7–9). So, Moses would also be familiar with the Hebrew culture and religion, and perhaps even the Hebrew language.

It is also generally believed that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, as we find several references of Moses writing down events as they took place.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 7:14 NIV)

4 Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. (Exodus 24:4 NIV)

9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. (Deuteronomy 31:9 NIV)

So if Moses provided a historical record of how God delivered Israel out of Egypt, it should not surprise us (with his Egyptian training) that there are many Egyptian loan words in the Exodus account. Basically, these involve Egyptian words, written in Hebrew, mimicking how they sounded in Egyptian.

In his article, Top Ten Discoveries Related to Moses and the Exodus, on Bible Archaeology, Bryan Windle provided a breakdown of the Egyptian words incorporated in the Book of Exodus, provided by Egyptologist James Hoffmeier.

Hoffmeier specifically cited one verse, where we find several words of Egyptian origin:

When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. (Exodus 2:3 ESV).

In this verse, the word river is not the Hebrew word, nahar, that is typically used for river. It is a Hebrew transliteration (yeor) of the Egyptian hieroglyphics for the Nile River:

The Egyptian hieroglyphics on the left, with Hebrew transliteration on the right.

The same applies to the Hebrew word for basket (tebat) which is derived from the Egyptian word dbjt. Three other words in this one passage also have Egyptian origins, including reeds, bull rushes and pitch.

Even Moses’ name, msi, contains a theophoric element (the name of a deity) which was common with the names of Egyptian Pharaohs such as Ahmose, Thutmose, and Amenmose.

Egyptian loan words are also found in other parts of the Pentateuch, including the Book of Genesis, which reveals that the author was intimately familiar with both the Egyptian and Hebrew languages.

The Book of Exodus explains who it was and how that happened.

READ: Top Ten Discoveries related to Moses and the Exodus

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