Egyptian Names in 1 Samuel

CRITICAL SCHOLARSHIP | There is a consensus among modern biblical scholars that the Exodus tradition belongs to the memory of the northern Hebrew kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel. In 1 Samuel, a text which contains a great deal of early strands of Israel's cultural memory, this opinion is supported by the preponderance of Egyptian names - particularly among those associated with the Levites and the priestly class. This certainly supports a historical and cultural connection between Israel and Egypt. Richard Friedman and William Propp have used this to support their 'Levite Hypothesis,' a proposal for the origin of the Levites that imagines them - the Levites - as a small group Exodus.

A cultural connection with Egypt, however, does not require any group to have left Egypt. Canaan had been part of the Egyptian Empire for over three and a half centuries until the beginning of the twelfth century BCE. It is certain that the Egyptians established temples in Canaan, brought their own priests, and worshipped the local gods. It is at least possible the Egyptian names of Levites and priests in the biblical traditions came from the 'attached' priestly families that remained in Canaan after the departure of the Egyptian forces.

(ג) וְעָלָה֩ הָאִ֨ישׁ הַה֤וּא מֵֽעִירוֹ֙ מִיָּמִ֣ים ׀ יָמִ֔ימָה לְהִֽשְׁתַּחֲוֺ֧ת וְלִזְבֹּ֛חַ לַה' צְבָא֖וֹת בְּשִׁלֹ֑ה וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י חׇפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣נְחָ֔ס כֹּהֲנִ֖ים לַה'׃

(3) This man used to go up from his town every year to worship and to offer sacrifice to the LORD of Hosts at Shiloh.—Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD there.

(לד) וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֗וֹת אֲשֶׁ֤ר יָבֹא֙ אֶל־שְׁנֵ֣י בָנֶ֔יךָ אֶל־חׇפְנִ֖י וּפִֽינְחָ֑ס בְּי֥וֹם אֶחָ֖ד יָמ֥וּתוּ שְׁנֵיהֶֽם׃

(34) And this shall be a sign for you: The fate of your two sons Hophni and Phinehas—they shall both die on the same day.

(ד) וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח הָעָם֙ שִׁלֹ֔ה וַיִּשְׂא֣וּ מִשָּׁ֗ם אֵ֣ת אֲר֧וֹן בְּרִית־ה' צְבָא֖וֹת יֹשֵׁ֣ב הַכְּרֻבִ֑ים וְשָׁ֞ם שְׁנֵ֣י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִ֗י עִם־אֲרוֹן֙ בְּרִ֣ית הָאֱלֹקִ֔ים חׇפְנִ֖י וּפִֽינְחָֽס׃

(4) So the troops sent men to Shiloh; there Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were in charge of the Ark of the Covenant of God, and they brought down from there the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD of Hosts Enthroned on the Cherubim.

(יא) וַאֲר֥וֹן אֱלֹקִ֖ים נִלְקָ֑ח וּשְׁנֵ֤י בְנֵֽי־עֵלִי֙ מֵ֔תוּ חׇפְנִ֖י וּפִֽינְחָֽס׃

(11) The Ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.

(יז) וַיַּ֨עַן הַֽמְבַשֵּׂ֜ר וַיֹּ֗אמֶר נָ֤ס יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לִפְנֵ֣י פְלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וְגַ֛ם מַגֵּפָ֥ה גְדוֹלָ֖ה הָיְתָ֣ה בָעָ֑ם וְגַם־שְׁנֵ֨י בָנֶ֜יךָ מֵ֗תוּ חׇפְנִי֙ וּפִ֣ינְחָ֔ס וַאֲר֥וֹן הָאֱלֹקִ֖ים נִלְקָֽחָה׃ {פ}

(17) The bearer of the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines and the troops also suffered a great slaughter. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the Ark of God has been captured.”

(ו) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֖ל אֶל־הָעָ֑ם ה' אֲשֶׁ֤ר עָשָׂה֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹ֔ן וַאֲשֶׁ֧ר הֶעֱלָ֛ה אֶת־אֲבֹתֵיכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃

(6) Samuel said to the people, “The LORD [is witness], He who appointed-d Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt.

(ח) כַּאֲשֶׁר־בָּ֥א יַעֲקֹ֖ב מִצְרָ֑יִם וַיִּזְעֲק֤וּ אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ אֶל־ה' וַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח ה' אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽת־אַהֲרֹ֗ן וַיּוֹצִ֤יאוּ אֶת־אֲבֹֽתֵיכֶם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וַיֹּשִׁב֖וּם בַּמָּק֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

(8) “When Jacob came to Egypt,…your fathers cried out to the LORD, and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place.