views updated


ABRECH (or Abrek ; Heb. אַבְרֵךְ, avrekh), probably a command or a title. After deputizing Joseph, Pharaoh "had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and they cried before him, 'Abrek!' " (Gen. 41:43; cf. the Persian ceremony in Esth. 6:11). The exact meaning of the word is uncertain. One view equates the word with Egyptian ʾib-r.k, "attention!" or "have a care." A difficulty according to this view is that the singular suffix k appears where one would expect the plural suffix tn. Another view (reminiscent of the ancient Jewish derivation from brk ("kneel")) notes that brk (borrowed from Semitic) means "render homage" in Egyptian and that the initial alef of Abrek may possibly be equated with the Egyptian imperative prefix ʾ; proponents of this interpretation therefore translate "kneel!" or "render homage!" This command is similar to the later Egyptian command of homage "to the ground! to the ground!" Both kneeling and complete prostration as acts of homage are represented in Egyptian art. Others take the word as a title, citing the Akkadian abarakku, "chief steward of a private or royal household" (I.J. Gelb et al., The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, vol. 1, pt. 1, pp. 32–5); note Gen. 41:40a: "You shall be in charge of my house…." None of these views is free of difficulty, and the question remains open.


T. Lambdin, in: jaos, 73 (1953), 146; J. Vergote, Joseph en Egypte (1959), 135 ff., 151.

[Jeffrey Howard Tigay]