ABRECH (ăb'rĕk). Found only in Gen.41.43 in ASV margin, it is a word of unknown meaning. Other versions have “Abrek” (jb, rsvmg), “Bow down” (note in niv), “Bow the knee!” (kjv, mlb, nasb, rsv), and “Make way!” (neb, niv). “Attention,” “kneel,” and “pay homage” have also been suggested. It was the word shouted to warn of the approach of Joseph, presumably so proper respect could be shown to him.

ABRECH. KJVmg. and ASVmg. form of Abrek (Gen 41:43).

ABREK ā brek’ (אַבְרֵ֑כְ). An acclamation of homage of unknown source and meaning, which the populace cried out before Joseph when he drove among the people in Pharaoh’s second chariot (Gen 41:43). Many Hebrew, Egyptian, Assyrian, and Akkadian derivatives have been suggested with such meanings as “Bow the knee!” (KJV, ASV, RSV); “Prostrate yourself!,” “Bow your head!,” “Rejoice!,” or “Grand Vizier!” Price in HDB favors a Hebrew or Assyrian source. ISBE follows Friedrich Delitzsch and Kyle (Moses and the Monuments, p. 29) who judge the source to be the Assyrian abarakku, meaning “grand vizier” or “friend of a king.” It is thought that the word and practice was brought to Egypt by the Hyksos.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

a’-brek: Transliteration of the Hebrew ’abhrekh, in Ge 41:43 the Revised Version, margin, of which both the origin and meaning are uncertain. It was the salutation which the Egyptians addressed to Joseph, when he was made second to Pharaoh, and appeared in his official chariot.

(1) The explanations based upon Hebrew derivation are unsatisfactory, whether as the King James Version "bow the knee," from barakh (hiphil imperative) or marginal "tender father," or "father of a king" of the Targum. The form as Hiphil Imperative instead of habhrekh, is indefensible, while the other two derivations are fanciful.

(2) The surmises of Egyptologists are almost without number, and none are conclusive. Skinner in his Commentary on Genesis selects "attention!" after Spiegelberg, as best. Speaker’s Commentary suggests "rejoice thou" from ab-nek. BDB gives preference to the Coptic a-bor-k, "prostrate thyself."

(3) The most satisfying parallel is the Assyrian abarakku, meaning "grand vizier" or "friend of a king," as suggested by Fried. Delitzsch; for Babylonian laws and customs were dominant in western Asia, and the Hyksos, through whom such titles would have been carried into Egypt, were ruling there at that time. Edward Mack