Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān

Get access

(1,084 words)

Title of the ancient rulers of Egypt. Pharaoh (Ar. firʿawn) means literally “(the) Great House” in Egyptian and was perhaps pronounced something like pārĕō or pāreōʿ. It designated part of the palace complex at Memphis and came, through metonymy, by the mid-second millennium b.c.e., to refer to the king of Egypt himself, just as “the Porte” came to refer to the Ottoman sultan some three millennia later. The Arabic rendering, firʿawn, corresponds most closely to the Syriac ferʿōn and because current scholarship considers it unlikely that pre-Islamic poetic references to P…

Cite this page
Firestone, Reuven, “Pharaoh”, in: Encyclopaedia of the Qurʾān, General Editor: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Georgetown University, Washington DC. Consulted online on 30 October 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1875-3922_q3_EQSIM_00325>

▲   Back to top   ▲