I’m on the fourth and last part of Pisemsky’s Тысяча душ [One Thousand Souls] (see this post), and in chapter 5 I ran across a phrase that baffled me: “затевает с ним шутки вроде жены Пентефрия” [played tricks with him like those of Pentefrii’s wife]. I finally remembered to look it up, and it turns out Пентефрий is an old Russian (or Church Slavic) equivalent of Potiphar; the modern Russian form is Потифар, exactly like the English. I suspected that the older form was from Greek, but it turns out the Greek is Πετεφρής — close, but no cigar. Where did the -n- come from? The Greek gave rise to a Latin form Petefre, of which Jerome says “non Petefre, ut in latino scriptum est, sed Phutiphar eunucho.” According to Wikipedia, “Potiphar (Hebrew: פוטיפר) is the shortened form of the Egyptian name ‘Potiphera’ meaning ‘he whom Ra gave.’ This is analogous to the name ‘Theodore’=’God’s gift’ in the Western world.” A confusing mess, which I sum up here for the benefit of those who might encounter one of these forms and wonder what’s going on.
Incidentally, as I say on the Talk page for the Wikipedia article:
I tried to add ru:Жена Потифара (“Potiphar’s wife”) and got: “The link ruwiki:Жена Потифара is already used by item Q15732436. You may remove it from Q15732436 if it does not belong there or merge the items if they are about the exact same topic.” I don’t know enough to know what the deal is with Q15732436, but it’s not a Wikipedia article, and it’s ridiculous that there’s a Russian Wikipedia article on this exact topic that cannot be linked to it. I hope someone more knowledgeable than I will fix this.
So if you know what’s going on there and how to remedy the situation, be my guest.
Update. It turns out the Wikipedia system is basically working as designed; see January First-of-May’s comment below. This Wikiworld is too complex for me.