Was Pharoh's daughter named Basya or Bisya? Sources please!

2 Answers 2


The only place in Tanach where the name Basya/Bisya is mentioned is in Divrei Hayamim 1 4:18. Per Koren the pronunciation is Bisya. So how did Bisya become Basya? The Yalkut Shimoni on this Posuk cites the following Medrash. Hashem said to the daughter of Pharoh "Moshe was not your son however you called him your son, therefore though you are not my daughter I will call you my daughter". Thus it follows that Bisya became Basya - the daughter of Hashem.

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    I am glad that you took the bait! Thanks for enlightening us!
    – Yahu
    Feb 7, 2011 at 1:31
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    How does it that follow? It follows that God named her Bisyah as a contraction of 'bas' and 'yah'. The vowels (almost) always change when creating the name (eg. 'ger' + 'sham' = 'gershom'; 'elohei' + 'ezri' = 'eliezer'). Do you have any evidence that anyone ever pronounced it Basyah?
    – Double AA
    Dec 6, 2012 at 18:46
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    @msh210 Anyone before 1500 CE.
    – Double AA
    Dec 6, 2012 at 19:36
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    @msh210 I understood Gershon to be saying that Basya is correct because of the Midrash, not that people commonly misunderstand the Midrash.
    – Double AA
    Dec 6, 2012 at 19:40
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    What I am saying is that the correct name is Bisya, however perhaps the reason many say Basya is because of this Medrash. Dec 6, 2012 at 19:43

The confusion seems to be relatively recent. Here is some history from Alexander Beider's A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names (p478-9):

The Ashkenazic female name Basye comes from Batsheva (בת שבע) via hypocorism (and Ashkenazic pronunciation): בת שבע > Basheve > Sheve/Bashe/Basye. Beider points out that the popularity of these variants of Batsheva were "partly due to the existence of a Polish Christian name Basia, a hypocoristic form of Barbara (of Greek origin)." He brings many examples of the name from name corpora.

Regarding the Biblical name, Beider writes that the spelling בתיה "can correspond to two independent names: First, to the biblical בִּתְיָה ‭(1 Chronicles 4:18; a daughter of Pharaoh)‬, pronounced Bisye in Yiddish. Second, it can represent a Hebraized spelling of the Yiddish name Basye, the spelling chosen in order to fit to the above biblical name." Beider brings examples of the Yiddish name Bisye, one of which is spelled ביתייה (which is clearly Bisye, not Basye).

Beider cites a theory that a related name Pese is derived from בַּתְיָה, with the meaning "daughter of God", but rejects it. He notes that the spelling בתיה for Basye is unknown before the 17th century.

Based on this, it seems to me that the pronunciation Basye for the daughter of Pharaoh is a later phenomenon, arising from the spelling בתיה for the name Basye of independent origin (from Batsheva). The pronunciation Bisye for the daughter of Pharaoh has roots both in Tanakh and even in Ashkenazic name lists (where you expect the confusion to be widespread), and should be taken as primary.

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