Ra the Egyptian god

🏷  Egyptian divine name hidden ruler pun · name   —   by Gerry · Aug 2021 · 2041 words



Ra’s puns in a nutshell

Ra is written 𓇳 ra. Since vowels didn’t seem to count with the ancient punners, his aspects are puns with all words written with R, plus some vowels before or after that. Egyptian vowels are ȝ, ˤ, j, y, w.

Ra as pun with wr-ˤȝ for “greater noble” & “king”

The best pun for Ra is with the compound 𓅨𓉻 wr-ˤȝ ur-aa, which means “greater nobleman” or “greater nobility”. wr means “great” & “noble”, and ˤȝ also means “great” & “noble”. So wr-ˤȝ means something like “greater noble” or “great of the great”. It is often translated as “prince”, “grand duke” or “very great one”, referring to foreign noblemen, but also to Egyptian ones.

If this is the main intended pun, then Ra would stand for the Egyptian aristocracy in general, while the other Egyptian gods would stand for more specific aspects of rulership, such as secrecy or deception.

As for the pun similarity: The initial w is a vowel and would probably not deter our ancient punners. They would still feel that wr-ˤȝ ur-aa is similar to ra. Interestingly, there’s also a late Coptic Egyptian term ⲣⲣⲟ rro for “king”, derived from ⲟⲩⲣⲟ ouro, and that from Ancient Egyptian wr-ˤȝ ur-aa. So, at least in Coptic Egyptian, the term has lost its w, and puns very well with Ra.

(Note about the glyphs: The biliteral glyph for wr is 𓅨 the swallow, so the original meaning was probably “great height” & “high position”. This glyph is easily mistaken for 𓅪 the sparrow, which means the exact opposite, i.e. “lowliness”.)

Egyptian wr-ˤȝ = prince, ruler, king

𓅨𓂋𓉻 wr-ˤȝ : ruler (of a foreign land); prince — Egyptian (TLA)

𓅨𓂋𓉻 ; 𓀙𓉼 ur āa : king; Coptic ⲟⲩⲣⲟ — Egyptian (Budge)

Coptic rro, ouro = king, be king, reign

ⲣⲣⲟ rro : king — Coptic (CDO)

ⲣⲣⲣⲟ rrro : be king, reign — Coptic (CDO)

ⲣⲣⲟ rro : (Sahidic) king; Alternative forms: ⲉⲣⲣⲟ (erro) – Sahidic; ⲟⲩⲣⲟ (ouro) – Bohairic — Coptic (Wikt)

ⲟⲩⲣⲟ ouro : (Bohairic) king; Alternative forms: ⲣⲣⲟ (rro) – Sahidic; From Demotic (pr ˤȝ, “king”), from Egyptian (pr ˤȝ, “palace, pharaoh”). The initial p has been reanalysed as a masculine singular definite article and omitted. — Coptic (Wikt)

Behold, I am a great one, son of a very great one.

m =k wj wr zȝ wr-ˤȝ


TLA: Book of the Dead of the Egyptians

He cleansed himself with a divine oath in front of these kings and princes of Lower Egypt

swˤb.n=f sw m ˤnḫ nṯr ḫft-ḥr nn nswt wr-ˤȝ n.w tȝ-mḥ,w

TLA: Victory stele of Piye, line 110


Wikipedia: Victory stele of Piye, line 110

Ra as pun with r-ˤȝ for “entirety” & “to [be] nobility”

The Egyptian word 𓉻 ˤȝ, probably pronounced something like aa, means “great”, with a 1000 derivations. One derived meaning is “nobility”, so the aristocrats would have loved this word. It’s the oh in Pharaoh.

To make this ˤȝ aa pun with Ra, you can prefix it with r-, a very common prefix in Egyptian. The basic meaning is “to”, and it roughly corresponds to Semitic ˀl and l- (Egyptians wrote both L & R with the same letter). However, Egyptian r- it has so many meanings, I cannot figure out what exactly the spooks meant.

The most common usage of r-ˤȝ is as an adverb, translated as “greatly” or “entirely”, also “entirety”. That is why Ra is identified with Atum, who also puns with “entirety”. They’re synonyms.

If Ra was supposed to pun with r-ˤȝ, then the meaning that the Egyptian proto-spooks meant was probably more something like “to [be] nobility”. In some cases, r- is incorporated into fixed expressions, such as with “entirely” & “entirety”. It may be that the aristocrats somehow punny-read the expression r-ˤȝ simply as “nobility”, i.e. themselves.

Perhaps at some point we’ll be able to decrypt Egyptian texts to get more clarity on the grammar here.

Egyptian r-ˤȝ = all, greatly

𓂋𓄫𓅱 r ȝw : to the limits, all, entirety — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂋𓄫𓏲𓏛𓏥 r ȝw : entirely, entirety — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂋𓉻𓏏𓂝𓏛 r ˤȝt : greatly — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂋𓉻 er āa : greatly — Egyptian (Budge)

Egyptian r = to

𓂋 r : to, for, from, to — Egyptian (TLA)

𓂋 r : regarding, with respect to, concerning, according to; in order to, for; to, towards; at, in, on; against, in opposition to; from, apart from — Egyptian (Wikt)

Egyptian ˤȝ = great, great one, master, nobleman

𓉻𓏛𓀀 ˤȝ : leader, chief, workman, commander, elder, noble, master — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓉼𓄿𓏜𓀀 ˤȝ : magnate, elder son — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓉻𓂝𓄿 ˤȝ : distinguished, genteel, noble, large, big — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓉻𓂝𓄿 ˤȝ : great one; elder; leader — Egyptian (TLA)

𓉻𓂝𓏜𓄿 āa : great, grand, mighty, important, noble, lofty, weighty, chief — Egyptian (Budge)

𓉻𓂝𓄿𓀭 āa : great person, chief, officer, governor, noble — Egyptian (Budge)

Akhenaten’s switch from Ra to Aten

Mainstream history texts about Egypt often emphasize & glorify the rule of king Akhenaten, who tried to switch worship to the god Aten exclusively, hailed as early monotheism. Aten is a sun god like Ra, but named after a different word for “sun”. However, while Ra puns with r-ˤȝ “to be great”, jtn Aten puns with jtnw “secret”. This pun is used frequently in the great hymn to Aten. The king’s name ȝḫ-n-jtn Akh-en-Aten can be read as “the benefits of secrecy”.

If this pun is a clue, then Akenaten’s name switch may have been an allusion to a move from proto-spookery towards the full-fledged crypto-aristocracy that we have today. His “reforms” appear to have been short-lived though, and his newly built capital Amarna was quickly abandoned after his death. Either this was a ruse to hide his families’ tracks into secrecy, or it indicates a split, and the larger part of Egyptian nobility had not yet been ready to give up their mostly official tyranny for a disguised one.

Ra’s 2 barques as puns with disguise

Ra was said to have used 2 solar barques during day & night. Their names are somewhat odd though, and may be punny hints to the dual nature of the spook aristocracy:

Note: In the transliteration, the 2nd and 3rd puns seem to hinge on how many Ns and Ks and Ts the word was written with. However, the Egyptians didn’t write their letters in a straight line, but in decorative interwoven clusters, and frequently omitted letters, or doubled them by using biliterals plus the original letters. This means that in hieroglyphic writing, all of these puns would’ve worked very well for Egyptian readers. Even later Semitic puns with a regular alphabet often shorten double-letters or double single-letters.

In the night barque, Re has to defend against the snake Apophis, who puns with “examination” & “reckoning”.

Egyptian wjȝ-n-ḥḥw = boat of / ward off millions; jȝw-n-ḥḥw = praised by millions; jȝˤ-n-ḥḥw = entice millions

𓅱𓇋𓄿𓊞𓈖𓁨𓏤𓏪 wjȝ-n-ḥḥw : the barque in which the sun sails through the sky; Etymology: wjȝ (“sacred barque”) +‎ n(j) (“of”) +‎ ḥḥw (plural of ḥḥ (“million”)) — Egyptian (Wikt)

𓏲𓇋𓄿𓂢𓂻 wjȝ : to remove, to ward off, to evict, to reject — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓇋𓄿𓅱𓀢𓏛 jȝw : to praise, to adore, to hail, exalt — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓇋𓄿𓂝𓄑 jȝˤ : entice, lure — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂜 n : to, for, because, belongs to — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓁨 ḥḥ : million; a great number — Egyptian (Vygus)

Egyptian m-ˤnḏ-t = of dawn, day barque; m-ˤn-n-nḏt = embellish for subjects; m-ˤn-nḏt = avert subjects

𓎙𓆓𓏏𓊛 mˤnḏt : the barque in which the sun sails through the sky during the morning and daytime; the day-barque of Ra; Etymology: m- (noun-forming prefix) +‎ ˤnḏw (“dawn, sunlight”) +‎ -t (feminine suffix) — Egyptian (Wikt)

𓅓 m : in; for, during; into; out of, from; made of; by means of — Egyptian (Wikt)

𓅓𓂝𓂝𓈖𓁻 mˤn : embellish, beautify — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂝𓈖𓁼 ˤn : beautiful, bright of face, pleasing, be kind, magnificent — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂽 ˤn : to return, turn back, avert, retreat — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓂜 n : to, for, because, belongs to — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓈖𓆓𓏏𓏤𓀀𓁐𓏥 nḏt : serf, serfs, subject — Egyptian (Vygus)

Egyptian msktt = of darkness, night barque; mj-s-ktt = like another / little / secret person

𓎝𓏏𓏏𓊞 msktt : the barque in which the sun sails during the evening and nighttime; the night-barque of Ra — Egyptian (Wikt)

𓏇 mj : like, according as — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓀀 s : man, someone, anyone — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓎡𓏏 kt : other, another — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓎡𓏏𓏲𓏏𓀀𓁐𓏥 ktwt : the others, the foreigners — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓎡𓏏𓅪 ktt : small, trifling, feeble, weak, little — Egyptian (Vygus)

𓎡𓏏𓎡𓏏𓀁 ktkt : quietness, secrecy — Egyptian (TLA)

𓎡𓏏𓎡𓏏𓀁 ktkt : sneak, be surreptitious — Egyptian (Vygus)

Cattle of Ra

The Egyptian people are called “cattle of Ra” in some texts. If Ra stands for the aristocracy, then this would mean they’re the “cattle of the aristocracy”. We can still see this attitude today with our current crypto-overlords. It also seems to match some Egyptian stories, such as the Book of the Heavenly Cow, where the common people rebel against Ra and he solves this problem by having his “cattle” slaughtered.

(A synonym for “cattle” is wnḏyt, which puns with nḏt “subjects”.)

Horus says to this cattle of Re
which are in the Duat, Egypt and the Desert:

jn ḥrw n nn nj ˤwt rˤw
jmyw dwȝt kmt dšrt


Erik Hornung: The Egyptian Book of Gates. pg 159

🏷  Egyptian divine name hidden ruler pun · name