Saturday, August 7, 2010


I really like the Egyptian royal name sḥtp-jb-rʿ (today often read as "Sehetepibre", although it was hardly pronounced that way in antiquity). The name belonged to the royal titulary of King Amenemhat I. The first word (sḥtp) is a causative formation rom the verbal root ḥtp(as in all those names ending in "hotep"), meaning "to be satisfied, be happy", which leads to the conclusion that that the causative sḥtp means "to make happy" or "the one who makes satisfied" . Ancient Egyptian shares the causative prefix s with a number of the Semitic languages (of which it is a distant relation), such as Ugaritic and Akkadian, which both have š-. This is an example of the common Afro-Asiatic background of Egyptian and the Semitic languages.

The word jb (which probably was pronounced jib) means "heart", and is thought to be related to Hebrew and Akkadian libbu /lev (which both mean "heart").

Finally, we have the word rʿw or rʿ, ie. "Sun" or "the sun god Re". In the older stages of Egyptian the words were probably pronounced riʿuw or similar, and later reʿa, reʿə or riʿə, and finally in Coptic as , the pronunciation of the word we often use colloquially today when speaking of the Egyptian god of the sun. A reconstruction of the proto-Egyptian pronunciation of the word was proposed by F. Kamerzell 1991: *Lidaw (l being an older pronunciation of the Egyptian r - and it is known today that the Egyptian ʿAyin-sound often has its eymological backgound in a *d). In an article from 1997, Thomas Schneider proposed that the word may etymologically be related to the Arabic verb ladhaʿa ("to burn").

Summed up, the name means "He who makes the heart of Re satisfied". Rather poetic, don't you think?

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