Mizraim meaning | Mizraim etymology

Discover the meanings of thousands of Biblical names in Abarim Publications' Biblical Name Vault

מצרים
Mizraim in Biblical Hebrew
Mizraim
Biblical location (town, country, etc)
Content
Browse Biblical names alphabetically

Search this site

This project depends on the support of readers like you.
Please help...

The name Mizraim in the Bible

Mizraim is a son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 12:10). This name is also the common name for Egypt (which is also known as 'the land of Ham,' for instance in Psalm 105:23).

Etymology of the name Mizraim

Egypt was known by the names Musuru, Musru, Misir or Masri in other languages, and Mizraim is probably simply a phonetic transliteration into Hebrew of any of them. The word מצרים, nevertheless, looks identical to what a dual form of מצר would look like (see below). This duality possibly helped to denote Upper and Lower Egypt. The word for Egyptian is מצרי.

The similar מצור (masor), a poetic nickname for Egypt that is used on three different occasions (Isaiah 19:6, 2 Kings 19:24 = Isaiah 37:25, Micah 7:12), may shed some understanding on how a Hebrew audience might have interpreted the name Mizraim.

The noun מצור (masor) means siege, entrenchment, and it derives from the verb צור (sur), bind, besiege. Another derivation of this same verb is the noun מצורה, stronghold. HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes that a stronghold or walled city may be an instrument of protection during the first stages of a war, but will turn into a lethal trap if a siege last long. A beautiful figurative use of this word occurs in Psalm 31:21, where the author compares himself under siege by his troubles.

The verb צור from which the noun מצור derives, is part of a group of five different roots:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

Mizraim meaning

The word מצר (mesar), meaning straights or distress, written in a dual form would yield the name מצרים, Mizraim. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names assumes that this is what Mizraim would have meant to a Hebrew audience and reads Double Distress. But it should be noted that the name Mizraim means also Double Stronghold and would have reminded of any of the above.

עABARIMPublicationsFor the Love of the Word