In Hebraic culture, names have significant meanings. When given a name it represents an array of scenario including but not limited to the essence of one's character (https://www.aish.com/jl/l/b/48961326.html...also see Genesis 2:20 & Genesis Raba 17:4), elevation (Abram to Avraham, Jacob to Israel, etc), external event (1 Samuel 4:21-22 & Genesis 29:31-35), or even how one looked (Gen: 25:25). They were not happenstance or given because one just liked a name.

In Exodus 6:25, Eleazar the son of Aaron (Israel's first High Priest) wife gave birth to a man by the name of Phinehas (Pinchas). The very same Phinehas became blessed with the everlasting priesthood after he interceded with staving off the plague by slaughtering Zimri and Cozbi (Num 25:6-14). When doing research on the meaning of his name, I came across the following meanings: Copper/Brass Mouth, Strongs Concordance, #6372, His name was actually Pe-Nehasi.

What does the name Pinchas mean? Is it Hebrew? Was it originally Egyptian? Is it a Nubian name? In Hebrew, how does it translate to Brass/Copper Mouth when the last letter is a Samech and not a Shin? Does his name translate to The Negro/Black/Nubian (which in itself opens up a whole lot of questions)? Please share any insight that you have on the topic, and thank you as well.

  • 1
    Have you consulted any good lexicons before asking this question. If so, why not share your finding to help those who might answer. We need a specific Bible passage to analyse here. NAS says that Phinehas is of uncertain origin.
    – Dottard
    Jul 11, 2020 at 22:56
  • Yes, I looked into the Strong's Concordance (Hebrew and Greek) and various other resources and they all say that his name means "The Negro or The Nubian". There is no verse per se that details what his name means. You can check Numbers chapter 25. I don't understand why my question got a downvote, especially when no one was able to answer it (or was offensive). I was under the impression that's why we ask biblical questions to strengthen our biblical knowledge.
    – יהודה
    Jul 12, 2020 at 1:32
  • 1
    I think the main problem here is that there is no specific Bible passage to interpret (not my downvote BTW). If you cannot find out what it means from good lexicons, it is unlikely that anyone else will.
    – Dottard
    Jul 12, 2020 at 1:35
  • I see. With the bible, though there are a lot of examples where someone's name is explained or defined in wordplay there are a lot of instances where it is not. That's why I was slightly confused with what you stated about not providing the verse, I get it though. Part of my research style is to not only look through articles or lexicons but to also ask others as they may provide other resources or angles that I was not aware of. I appreciate your response.
    – יהודה
    Jul 12, 2020 at 1:41
  • Despite adding verse references, this question does not actually concern the interpretation of any of those verses specifically. General Biblical topics are off-topic here.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 14, 2020 at 2:56

2 Answers 2


Pinchas is understood to be from the Egyptian name pʾ-nḥśy meaning "the Nubian".


BDB (Brown, Driver, Briggs; A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament):

Egypt. Pe-nehasi, the negro, acc. to LauthMoses (1868). 71, ZMG xxv (1871), 139f. cf. NesEg 112, AJSL xiii (1897) 174 BaenEx 6:25, yet v. Di

HALOT (The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament):

Eg. pʾ-nḥśy the black people, Nubians (Erman-G. 2:303; Albright Fschr. Bertholet 132; Steinzeit 254; Yahweh 14334; Görg BN 2 (1977) 27: the dark-skinned; also Coptic: Heuser Namen d. Kopten 1:16)

Alan H. Gardiner, "The Egyptian Origin of Some English Personal Names" p. 192 of Journal of the American Oriental Society, Jun., 1936, Vol. 56, No. 2:

The very look of the Hebrew פִּינְחָס Pī-nehās suggests Ancient Egypt, and it would demand an excessive scepticism to reject the long-accepted derivation from Pʾ-Nḥsy "the Nubian." This Egyptian name was common from the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty onwards, but has not survived into Coptic, where it is replaced by Pegōsh "the Cushite." In dynastic times there were at least three highly distinguished personages of the name, first the Chief Treasurer whom Amenophis III sent to Sinai, second the Vizier who lived under Meneptah, and lastly the Royal Son of Cush contemporary with Ramesses XI.

James K. Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition, p. 226:

There is no disputing that this word derives from an Egyptian name pʒ nḥsy, which means "the Nubian." It is not an indicator of ethnicity, but could have been used of a boy of darker complexion. As a name, Nehsy (nḥsy) is found as early as the Fourteenth Dynasty Delta king. In the New Kingdom, the definite article is added to the name. This explains the initial element pî in the Hebrew writing.

As for the suggested meaning of "Brass/Copper Mouth", I can not find this in standard lexical sources. This suggestion appears to be based on a presumption that the name Pinchas has a Hebrew or Semitic derivation: from pi meaning "mouth of" and nchs meaning "copper/bronze" (cf. Hebrew nechoshet). As mentioned in the OP, one problem with this suggestion is the name has the letter Samech rather than the Shin. The other problem is that the similarity to the Egyptian name indicates that it is an Egyptian-derived name. Thus the pi, for example, should not be understood as the Hebrew or Semitic word for "mouth of" but as the Egyptian definite article "the".

  • I appreciate this answer, thank you.
    – יהודה
    Jul 12, 2020 at 6:22


The name Phinehas: Summary


The Bronze-Colored One

Mouth of Brass, Oracle

Turn And Hide


From the Egyptian Pe-nehasi.

From (1) the noun פה (peh), mouth, and (2) the word נחש (nahash), bronze, snake or oracle.

From (1) the verb פנה (pana), to turn, and (2) the verb חסה (hasa), to flee or seek refuge.

Related names

• Via פה (peh): Hakupha, Mephibosheth, Phicol, Pi-beseth, Pi-hahiroth, Pishon, Puah, Puvah, Rephan

• Via נחש (nahash): Ir-nahash, Nahash, Nahshon, Nehushta, Nehushtan

• Via פנה (pana): Hazelelponi, Jephunneh, Peniel, Peninnah, Penuel, Phanuel

• Via חסה (hasa): Ahasbai, Hosah, Mahseiah

The name Phinehas in the Bible

There are three men named Phinehas in the Bible:

The son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron. This Phinehas is famous for staying the plague caused by Israel's sins with Baal-peor (Numbers 25). Just as God tells Moses to execute all the leaders of Israel and the people rise in agony and weeping, a Simeonite called Zimri decides to introduce his Midianite play mate Cozbi to his relatives. Phinehas sees this and runs after them and gores them both with his spear.

One of two wicked sons of Eli, the tutor of young Samuel (1 Samuel 2:34, spelled פנחס only in 1 Samuel 1:3). One son of this Phinehas is called Ichabod, another one is Ahitub, whose grandson Abiathar is the last priest in the line of Eli.

The father of a postexilic priest named Eleazar (Ezra 8:33)....

[The article continues with more detail.]

  • Hello and thank you for the response. I came across that website (which I go to a lot) but with this particular name, he took some "leaps" and made some reaches that I don't necessarily agree with. Idk if you speak or read Hebrew if you do you will see what I mean. Once again thank you.
    – יהודה
    Jul 12, 2020 at 1:44

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