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Meaning and etymology of the name Potiphar

Potiphar Potiphar

Potiphar is an Egyptian big shot in whose house Joseph comes to live (Genesis 37:36). Joseph lands in jail after the wife of Potiphar accuses him falsely of indecencies, but from there he is able to attract the attentions of the Pharaoh who puts him on a track to Biblical stardom.

The name Potiphar is written slightly different (no final ayin and written as one word) but means the same as Potiphera. According to BDB Theological Dictionary Potiphar is an abbreviation of Potiphera. In Hebrew this name means nothing at all. There are no Hebrew words that come close to it. The Egyptian name Phera is a transliteration of Phra, or Ra; the sun-god. According to BDB Theological Dictionary, the word put reflects an Egyptian verb meaning to give, and renders He Whom The Ra Gave.

Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names acknowledges that maybe the names Potiphar and Potiphera are the same, but notes that if they aren't, then Pothiphar means Priest Of The Bull in Coptic.



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