Criticism of Mormonism/Video/Robert Ritner

FAIR Answers Wiki Table of Contents

A review of claims made in Dr. Robert Ritner's three-episode interview with John Dehlin

Summary: On July 31, 2020, critic John Dehlin was joined by Dr. Robert Ritner, an egyptologist at the University of Chicago and long-time critic of the Book of Abraham, to discuss the Book of Abraham and its authenticity. Dehlin and Dr. Ritner spent over twelve hours discussing different aspects of the Book of Abraham. This page was created as an index to all the major arguments made and to provide responses to claims that FAIR already had written material for. More responses will be forthcoming. Ritner spends most of his time criticizing the Book of Abraham generally but attempts character assassinations on Dr. John Gee of BYU and Michael Rhodes—former professor at BYU—and their scholarship on the Book of Abraham. This response will focus specifically on claims made about the Book of Abraham.

Thus we are reviewing the claims made in the following three episodes of Mormon Stories podcast:

  • Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1
  • Mormon Stories #1340: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 2
  • Mormon Stories #1341: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 3

Claims about the Book of Abraham Generally

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 1: 75:19-84:51 - When considering when Abraham would have lived, if he existed at all, it would have been long before the time when the Joseph Smith Papyri were created, so 1) could not have been “written by his own hand.”

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

It is surprising that Professor Ritner would make this argument since the beginning textbook he taught out of for years says that "by the hand of" means "with, from, by, through" and he himself used to teach that it was not always to be taken literally.[1] The dictionary that he helped edit says that it can mean "by, from the hand of, to, in(to) the hand of, in the possession of; in, near, with, from, by, to, for; in the hand, control of; in the possession of; into the presence of, beside; because of, concerning; through, because of; from, with regard to; by." (CDD D, 63-64). In titles of Egyptian texts, this phrase always indicates the author.[2]


The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 1: 92:16-92:25 - These fragments date between the third century BCE and the first century BCE long after Abraham lived.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The surviving fragments of the papyri in Joseph Smith's possession and from which he may have translated the Book of Abraham date to anywhere between the third century BCE and the first century AD. But this is irrelevant, since what is important is who authored the text, not when this particular copy of that text was created. Abraham’s authorship of the text is not called into question by the fact that the text was copied by a scribe many years later.


Question: Since the papyri from which the Book of Abraham was translated date to the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE, does this mean that the events recorded in the Book of Abraham cannot be historical?

Introduction to the Criticism

In 1835, Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, began the translation of some Egyptian papyri that was sold to him in the Church’s then-headquarters—Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith claimed that the papyri purported to be the writings of the ancient biblical patriarch Abraham. This translation was made part of the official canon of the Church in the 1880s.

In 1967, the Church acquired some surviving fragments of the papyri from which the translation was rendered from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art through the help of Dr. Aziz Atiya, a professor at the University of Utah.

As papyrological work was done, scholars discovered that the papyrus dated to at least 1700 years (Between 300 BCE – 100 CE) after the prophet Abraham is traditionally claimed to have lived (2000 BCE).[3]

Many have naturally asked the question of how can the papyri date to such a late time and record genuinely historical events from the life of a supposedly historical prophet.

This article addresses the question.

Review of the Criticism

Examples of Texts that have Survived for Long Periods of Time

In response to the above criticism, it may be noted that we do have knowledge of texts that record historical events and survive scribal transmission for a long period of time.

For example, The Book of the Dead was copied from the New Kingdom period of ancient Egyptian history clear down to the end of the Ptolemaic Period. That's 1000+ years of transmission.

Additionally, the oldest portions of the Pentateuch (e.g. the Song of Moses in Exodus 15) were passed through scribal transmission for well over 1,500+ years.

What's more, narrative texts from the Middle Kingdom period in Egyptian history like the Story of Sinuhe were preserved in copies belonging to the New Kingdom period, which would be around 700+ years of transmission.

Perhaps our best parallel would be the Holy Bible. It has a pretty long manual transmission history from autographs penned in the Iron Age all the way down to when they were placed in print editions of the Bible starting in the 1500s. In other words, people were hand-copying these texts with a fair degree of accuracy for over 3,000 years and yet we hold their texts as fairly accurate historically speaking.

Elements of the Book of Abraham that Date to the Time of Abraham

Elements from the Book of Abraham that can definitively place it in the time that the historical Abraham is claimed to live can help us construct the historical core of the Book of Abraham and bolster the claim of historical authenticity. Some of these elements that can more than plausibly date to Abraham’s day include:

Conclusion

These and other elements can help to understand that, even though a text does have a very, very long transmission history, it can still plausibly preserve literal historical events from the lives of the first authors. That does not mean that the text must be ancient in every regard. Scribes could have made inspired emendations to the text over the years and we would still have a text that dates originally to the time of Abraham. In sum, we have no reason to believe that the dating of the papyri from which the Book of Abraham was translated threatens the possibility of being genuine writings from the prophet Abraham and no reason to believe that the dating of the papyri threatens the core theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 1: 92:37-95:05 - The Church's own Book of Abraham essay says none of the characters on the papyrus fragments mentioned Abraham's name or any of the events recorded in the Book of Abraham. Mormon and Non-Mormon Egyptologists agree that the characters on the fragments do not match the translation given in the Book of Abraham.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The Church's essay indeed does say that. Little is known with certitude about the exact relationship between the papyri from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham and the translated text canonized in the Pearl of Great Price today. Three theories have emerged to try and explain this relationship. To become acquainted with these theories, we recommend the reader see this essay by Pearl of Great Price Central on the topic.


The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1340: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 2 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 2: 5:20-6:16 - If there were post-biblical traditions of Abraham, you would expect to find a reflex of that in the continuing cultures in the Near East. They haven't forgotten everything. And the Abraham story is not only alive and kicking, it's predominant, it is more important than Moses in the current world of Egypt. And yet there is not one trace, not a scintilla, not any reflection of the Book of Abraham tradition, whereas the biblical tradition is extremely predominant. So one has to wonder, if there were a second story, why is it that it is not enshrined in living testimony when Abrahamic lore is so strong?

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

There is extra-biblical lore that supports many elements unique to the Book of Abraham. This is made clear by following the links to the two articles below


Did Joseph Smith plagiarize Genesis?

Summary: Some have questioned if Joseph plagiarized the creation account in Genesis as well as the narrative about Abraham in the Book of Genesis in his translation of the Book of Abraham. We address these questions on this page.

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Claims about the Translation Process

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

101:59-102:25 Part of the Book of Abraham was sort of translated in 1835, up through Abraham chapter 2 verse 18, and the balance was translated in early 1842 in Nauvoo and then it was printed in the church newspaper starting I think in March of 1842.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

There is no consensus on the timing of the translation of the Book of Abraham as of this moment. For some different views of the timing of translation, see the citation.[8]


The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1340: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 2 make(s) the following claim:

1:26:05-1:26:52 Some try and say that this is a revelation instead of a translation. But if you look in the actual scriptures that we have in the Pearl of Great Price Book of Abraham under the explanations, facsimile number two, you will find, it goes through all these different figures. In the bottom, it says this, "The above translation is given as far as we have any right to give at the present time." It is very difficult, if not impossible, to try and characterize what Joseph Smith presented as doing here as anything other than a translation. That's exactly what he calls it there. So Joseph and his scribes clearly call this a translation in their work.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

As any scholar of Joseph Smith's translation projects knows, Joseph Smith used the word "translate" in many different ways. Sometimes this means receiving the text by revelation alone like with the Adamic Language. Sometimes it means doing more mechanical translations as was the case with the Kinderhook Plates. What Dr. Ritner's distinction fails to take account for is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always said that the translation of the Book of Abraham came by revelation. It does not make a big difference that they call it a revelation or if they call it a translation.


The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1341: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 3 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 3: 1:31:45-1:39:20 Joseph Smith pretended to speak Egyptian in his address to the Green Mountain Boys.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Joseph Smith did not write the Appeal to the Freemen of the State of Vermont, the "Brave Green Mountain Boys," and Honest Men. This was ghostwritten by W.W. Phelps. That Dr. Ritner is not aware of this is shocking given that this point has been settled in Latter-day Saint scholarship since at least 1992 in Bruce Van Orden's BYU Studies paper "William W. Phelps's Service in Nauvoo as Joseph Smith's Political Clerk."


Question: Could Joseph Smith translate Egyptian?

At that time, nobody could translate Egyptian . The only way Joseph could translate would be through revelation.

Many students of the Book of Abraham have asked if Joseph Smith could have had access to means that he might learn Egyptian and translate the Book of Abraham and/or if he ever claimed to be able to translate Egyptian mechanically. Joseph couldn't translate Egyptian. At that time, hardly anyone in the United States could translate Egyptian. Jean-Francois Champollion would only recently (relatively speaking) be completing his transliteration of the Rosetta Stone. Joseph was able to receive the text of the Book of Abraham in the same manner that he did for the Book of Mormon, by revelation.

Some critics believe that Joseph claimed he knew Egyptian.

Some critics believe that Joseph claimed to know Egyptian for a couple of reasons.

One of these is an 1844 publication entitled Appeal to the Freemen of the State of Vermont, the "Brave Green Mountain Boys," and Honest Men that was purportedly written by Joseph Smith and in which an appeal to the GAEL is made to provide a translation for an Egyptian-sounding phrase.[9] However, this publication has been demonstrated to have been ghostwritten by W.W. Phelps acting as Joseph Smith.[10] Additionally, it would have been written after all the translation of the Book of Abraham was complete thus making it so that, prior to and during the translation, Joseph would not have claimed to know Egyptian.

A second reason is the GAEL itself and Joseph's use of it when doing his one-character "translation" of the Kinderhook Plates. As Latter-day Saint historians Don Bradley and Mark Ashurst McGee have observed in their definitive treatment of the Kinderhook plates, "[Joseph] Smith’s autonomous use of the Egyptian Alphabet book...in the translation of the Kinderhook plates shows that he considered it a legitimate translation tool."[11] However, as the Gospel Topics Essay on the Book of Abraham has stated, the relationship of the GAEL to the Book of Abraham is not certain. Some have argued that the GAEL represents an attempt by Joseph Smith's scribes to reverse engineer the translation of the Book of Abraham to the papyri without the aid of revelation. If that is true, then Joseph Smith is not necessarily claiming by revelation to know how to translate Egyptian mechanically as academic translators do today with grammar books, dictionaries, etc. It simply means that Joseph received a translation of the papyri by revelation and then without the aid of revelation tried to discern the meaning of the characters on the papyri to try and learn Egyptian.

The final reason comes from the Gospel Topics Essay on the Book of Abraham on churchofjesuschrist.org which states the following:

Phelps apparently viewed Joseph Smith as uniquely capable of understanding the Egyptian characters: “As no one could translate these writings,” he told his wife, “they were presented to President Smith. He soon knew what they were.”[12]

This quotation from Phelps has been interpreted by critics to mean that Joseph Smith was claiming to know the Egyptian language.[13] However, it is clear from context that this did not mean that Joseph was claiming to have a working knowledge of Egyptian that he could use to translate documents mechanically, but that he was capable of discerning the meaning of the writings by revelation given to him because of his role and stewardship as prophet of God and President of the Church.


Claims about the Kirtland Egyptian Papers

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1341: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 3 make(s) the following claim:

The KEP show that Joseph Smith thought he was translating characters from Fragment XI into the text of the Book of Abraham. Warren Parrish said, “I have sat by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian hieroglyphics as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of heaven.” Also, Egyptian is more difficult to write than Hebrew, despite what the Book of Mormon claims.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The KEP do not have this type of a relationship with the Book of Abraham. Tim Barker and Kerry Muhelstein have provided excellent evidence of that.


Tim Barker, "Translating the Book of Abraham: The Answer Under Our Heads"

Tim Barker,  Proceedings of the 2020 FairMormon Conference, (5 August 2020)
Not everybody listening to this presentation may be fluent or even familiar with the controversies regarding The Book of Abraham. I will not attempt to summarize every criticism leveled against The Book of Abraham here, of course, but I will be addressing the primary argument that has been used against the translation of The Book of Abraham for over fifty years now. The substance of this argument has not changed nor has it been materially improved upon since it was put forth by Grant Heward and Jerald Tanner in 1968. The only noticeable changes to this argument since 1968 has been with respect to the aesthetics in presentation.

Click here to view the complete article



Claims about Chapter 1 of the Book of Abraham

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 1: 87:07-89:09 “There are two proposals for Ur. One is way south and another is much further north. at the height of Egyptian political control under the native pharaohs, Egypt never controlled beyond the Orontes river which is to say you are basically south of modern Antakya ancient Antioch which was in Syria but it's now politically in Turkey. Haran is higher up way north of that and out of that territory. They never got there. Even under the Ptolemaic army where Egyptian control was a little broader it never had Iran so at no time at no time did the Egyptian state control Iran. So no matter where you put Ur, either north or south, the Book of Abraham would be incorrect.”

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

There is evidence of an Egyptian presence in the city Ur during a time that would have been plausible for Abraham to have lived.


Where is Ur of the Chaldees?

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Question: Is the mention of "Ur of the Chaldees" in the Book of Abraham an anachronism?

The Chaldeens are mentioned a number of times in the Book of Abraham

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #4: Ur of the Chaldees

The Chaldeens are mentioned a number of times in the Book of Abraham (Abraham 1:1, 8, 13, 20, 23, 29, 30, 2:4 and 3:1.) Abraham 3:1 states:

And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees

It is claimed that the mention of "Ur of the Chaldees" in the Book of Abraham is an anachronism. According to Stephen Thompson, "scholarly estimates for the age of the patriarchs range from 2200 to 1200 B.C." [14] The Chaldeans, on the other hand, did not appear until hundreds of years later. Thompson notes that, "anything occurring after 1500 B.C. is definitely anachronistic to Abraham's lifetime." [14]

An additional complication is that scholars today place "Chaldea" in southern Mesopotamia, which is too far away to have any Egyptian influence.

The phrase "Ur of the Chaldees" appears in the Old Testament in connection with Abraham (Abram) and his father Terah

The phrase "Ur of the Chaldees" appears in the Old Testament in Genesis 11:26-28 in connection with Abraham (Abram) and his father Terah:

26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 ¶Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

The location of "Ur of the Chaldees" is not known

The location of "Ur of the Chaldees" is not known, although that has been much speculation among religious scholars concerning its possible location. It is noted by the Church that "Most scholars today locate “Chaldea” (or Ur) in southern Mesopotamia, removed from the area of Egyptian influence, but cogent arguments have been made for a northern location, within the realm of Egyptian influence." [15]


Paul Hoskisson (1991): "I will suggest an alternate location for the Ur of the Chaldees in the story of Abraham"

Paul Y. Hoskisson, "Research and Perspectives: Where Was the Ur of Abraham?", Ensign (July 1991)

Most people have an interest in the material settings of the scriptural accounts they hold sacred. Beyond this interest, physical settings become particularly important when scholars locate scriptural sites on present-day maps, because on this basis scholars augment and supplement our body of scriptural knowledge with facts from the indicated sites. For instance, many scholars place the site of Abraham’s Ur in southern Mesopotamia, and on that basis suggest that Abraham had contact with and was influenced by the dominant cult of that Ur, the cult of the moon god. With the aid of the book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price, I will suggest an alternate location for the Ur of the Chaldees in the story of Abraham.[16] —(Click here to continue)


John Gee: "If Oylum Hoyuk is Olishem, the Ur of the Chaldees should be one of the dozens of Middle Bronze II sites in the Kilis plain"

John Gee,

If indeed tablets from Hittite from the site identify it as Ullis, the it is probably the Ulisum that Naram-Sin attacked and is a likely candidate for Olishem. If Oylum Hoyuk is Olishem, the Ur of the Chaldees should be one of the dozens of Middle Bronze II sites in the Kilis plain. We await further discoveries and publications. At present, given the many uncertainties, we can regard this identification as promising but not proven.[17] —(Click here to continue)


The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 1: 86:11-86:19 Egyptians did not perform human sacrifices.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

It is surprising that Ritner would say this since Ritner was the Egyptologist that established that Egyptians did perform human sacrifices. He devotes an entire section to "human sacrifice," concluding that the Mergissa deposit "provides the first indisputable evidence for the practice of human sacrifice in classical ancient Egypt."[18]


Muhlestein and Gee: "It is now apparent that human sacrifice did indeed occur in ancient Egypt"

Abraham noted that the attempt to sacrifice him "was done after the manner of the Egyptians" (Abraham 1:11). Egyptologists Kerry Muhlestein and John Gee note that evidence has been uncovered of the practice of human sacrifice in ancient Egypt,

[A]rchaeologists have discovered evidence of human sacrifice. Just outside the Middle Kingdom fortress at Mirgissa, which had been part of the Egyptian empire in Nubia, a deposit was found containing various ritual objects such as melted wax figurines, a flint knife, and the decapitated body of a foreigner slain during rites designed to ward off enemies. Almost universally, this discovery has been accepted as a case of human sacrifice.20 Texts from this and similar rites from the Middle Kingdom specify that the ritual was directed against "every evil speaker, every evil speech, every evil curse, every evil plot, every evil imprecation, every evil attack, every evil rebellion, every evil plan, and every evil thing,"[19] which refers to those who "speak evil" of the king or of his policies.[20] The remains in the deposit are consistent with those of later ritual texts describing the daily execration rite, which was usually a wax figure substituting in effigy for a human sacrifice: "Bind with the sinew of a red cow . . . spit on him four times . . . trample on him with the left foot . . . smite him with a spear . . . decapitate him with a knife . . . place him on the fire . . . spit on him in the fire many times."[21] Again we see that the use of a knife was followed by burning. The fact that the site of Mirgissa is not in Egypt proper but was part of the Egyptian empire in Nubia informs us that the Egyptians extended such practices beyond their borders.

In fact, throughout time we find that ritual violence was often aimed at foreign places and people.[22] Their very foreignness was seen as a threat to Egypt's political and social order. Hence many of the known examples of ritual slaying are aimed at foreigners, such as those at Mirgissa or Tod. All three examples we have shared involve protecting sacred places and things, such as the boundary of a necropolis, a temple, or even Egypt itself.[23]


Claims about Chapter 3 of the Book of Abraham

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 2 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 2: 2:10:30-2:13:57 Shinehah which is the sun: There is a collection of Egyptian words that if you put them together would sound similar. It would be Shin Ne Eh. [Sp?] It would mean "circuit of eternity" and that would seem to be a real hit. I asked one of my colleagues to search in the thesaurus [foreign language 00:08:48], otherwise known as the TLA, our reference work that includes all of the published Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions. So he did a global search for the number of times that the words Shin Ne Eh. [Sp?] are put next to each other. Then he did a search to see the number of times that they are closer than 10 words apart. The number of hits he got was zero. What I'm saying is there is not a single case of where Shin Ne Eh. [Sp?] occurs as a combination, not one. There's not even a case where Shin is 10 words next to Ne Eh. [Sp?] , so the combination of Ne Eh. [Sp?] to represent the sun or anything else is a total fabrication. It's an accidental coincidence of sounds, but it's unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

There has been some recently recovered evidence that Shinehah is an authentic Egyptian name. See this publication from Pearl of Great Price Central.


Claims about Facsimile 1 Generally

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep.1: 114:14-117:53 Facsimile 1, properly reconstructed, would have actually had a jackal head rather than a human head, his arm would be extended, but not holding a knife, a bird would have been where the knife is, and the figure on the couch would have been using his left hand to hold his erect penis.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Dr. Ritner is using scholarship from Charles Larson that has been addressed multiple times now. Even if the figure in facsimile 1 was a jackal head, this would not invalidate Joseph Smith's interpretation of it as a priest. We can't know whether or not the figure would be holding a knife. Thus there's no rational reason for this to be of concern to people. The Larson restoration adds a phallus on the reclining figure, something that is never seen on a clothed Osiris figure.


Question: Does Book of Abraham Facsimile 1 show a hand, or does it show the wing of a second bird?

The high-resolution photos of the papyri clearly show that it was a hand, not a wing

The Larson restoration presumes that the upper hand represented in Facsimile 1 is instead the wing of a bird. There are several elements which disprove this.

  • It is clear that the Egyptian artist drew wings in a specific manner, as can be observed by the wing of the bird on the right.
  • The two hands have distinct thumbs.
  • The assumption that ink spots on the hand represent spots on the birds wing is disproven by close examination of the original, which shows ink traces that indicate that the lines were originally connected.
  • It is also clear that the missing ink correlates with cracks in the papyri. Note that the cracks extend across all fingers, and that the ink has flaked off along the cracks.
  • Note that the index finger (the one next to the thumb) is continuous in the original, but was broken into two parts in the Larson restoration.
Larson.restoration.comparison.to.original.hand.detail.1.jpg
Hand.wing.comparison.1a.jpg


Bell: "the questionable traces above the head of the Osiris figure are actually the remains of his right hand"

(non-Mormon) Egyptologist Lanny Bell

Let me state clearly at the outset my conviction that the questionable traces above the head of the Osiris figure are actually the remains of his right hand; in other words, Joseph Smith was correct in his understanding of the drawing at this point. Ashment 1979, pp. 36, 41 (Illustration 13), is very balanced in his analysis of the problem, presenting compelling arguments for reading two hands; Gee 1992, p. 102 and n. 25, refers to Michael Lyon in describing the "thumb stroke" of the upper (right) hand; cf. Gee 2000, pp. 37-38; and Rhodes 2002, p. 19, concludes: "... a careful comparison of the traces with the hand below as well as the tip of the bird's wing to the right makes it quite clear that it is the other hand of the deceased."...An important clue is provided in the orientation of the thumbs of the upraised hands toward the face. This is the expected way of depicting the hands of mourners and others when they are held up to (both sides of) their heads or before their faces.[24]


Question: Should the restoration of Book of Abraham Facsimile 1 include a phallus?

The Larson restoration adds a phallus on the reclining figure, something that is never seen on a clothed Osiris figure

The Larson restoration adds a phallus on the reclining figure, something that is never seen on a clothed Osiris figure.

  • The assumption appears to be that the hash marks on the legs represent breeches. One can also observe this assumption on the Hedlock restoration contained in the Book of Abraham. However, an examination of the original papyrus shows that the legs of the figure were drawn, and that a wraparound Egyptian kilt was then drawn over them. The clothing is not a pair of breeches. This detail is not even in the Larson image, as the two lines distinguishing the legs and the kilt are merged into a single, fat line.
  • It can be seen in the closeup detail that the hash lines of the kilt extend beyond the lines of the leg, intersecting the outer line of the kilt.
  • It can also be seen that the kilt is curved, whereas the legs are straight.
  • The Larson restoration adds a phallus (which we have chosen to obscure) in the location of the figure's navel, based upon the location of the intersection of the legs and an estimate of where the top of the kilt would appear.
Larson.restoration.comparison.to.original.skirt.detail.jpg


Bell: "there would not be enough available space to restore the hand of Anubis, the erect phallus of the Osiris, and the body and wings of Isis"

(non Mormon) Egyptologist Lanny Bell:

[T]he representation of an ithyphallic figure wearing a kilt would not be unparalleled. However, judging from the position of the erect phallus of the reclining kilted earth god Geb in a cosmological scene on Dynasty 21 Theban coffins now in Turin and Bristol, there would not be enough available space to restore the hand of Anubis, the erect phallus of the Osiris, and the body and wings of Isis in P.JS I: Anubis would have to be grasping the phallus himself and assisting Isis in alighting on it—which is unimaginable. . . .In this area, I believe the Parker-Baer-Ashment reconstruction (with its "implied" erect phallus) is seriously flawed.[25]


Question: Was the original head of the priest in Book of Abraham Facsimile 1 actually the jackal head of Anubis?

The high-resolution photos show evidence that the head of the priest was originally the jackal-head of Anubis

The head of the priest in the Hedlock restoration appears to simply copy the head of the reclining figure. An examination of the papyrus, however, shows evidence that the head was originally that of Anubis. In this case, the Larson restoration appears to be correct. Theologically, it would not matter to scenes such as this one. Ancient art depcting religious situations such as this frequently had other people impersonating other Gods. Thus, even if this is an incorrect restoration, it would not matter to the overall message of the scene portrayed.

The priest of Elkenah likely could have been wearing an Anubian headdress while performing this scene and the interpretation would still be, for all intents and purposes, correct. Those performing rituals often donned a mask impersonating a particular god for theological effect.[26]

John Gee has written:

The discussion about figure 3 has centered on whether the head should be that of a jackal or a bald man. Whether the head is a jackal or a bald man in no way affects the interpretation of the figure, however, since in either case the figure would be a priest.

His footnote here reads as follows:

The argument for the identification runs as follows:
(1) Assume for the sake of argument that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is correct. What are the implications of the figure being a bald man? Shaving was a common feature of initiation into the priesthood from the Old Kingdom through the Roman period. Since “Complete shaving of the head was another mark of the male Isiac votary and priest” the bald figure would then be a priest.

(2) Assume on the other hand that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is that of a jackal, as was first suggested by Theodule Devéria. We have representations of priests wearing masks, one example of an actual mask, [and] literary accounts from non-Egyptians about Egyptian priests wearing masks. . . . Thus, however the restoration is made, the individual shown in Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is a priest, and the entire question of which head should be on the figure is moot so far as identifying the figure is concerned. (John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 7/1 [1995]: 80–82)[27]

Gee gives an example of this of a bald priest donning the head of Anubis at the temple of Dendara. The first image is an actual drawing created during the Ptolemaic period from Dendara of the priest putting on the mask. The second is an example of such a mask that would be placed on them.

An actual drawing from the Temple at Dendara of a priest putting on an Anubian mask
An actual Anubian mask


  • Note that there is a portion of the back of Anubis's headdress visible in the original.
  • It is more likely that the back of the headdress showed hair rather than a solid as represented in the Larson image.
Larson.restoration.anubis.2.jpg


Question: Was the priest depicted in Book of Abraham Facsimile 1 holding a knife or was it some other object?

In typical representations of the "lion couch" scene, the priest is holding an object

Since Facsimile 1 appears to be a fairly typical scene from Egyptian funerary texts, it is noted that other similar Egyptian motifs do not show the priest holding a knife. A proposed restoration of Facsimile 1 by egyptologist Lanny Bell, for example, shows the priest holding a cup in his hand over the figure on the lion couch.

Eyewitnesses, one of whom was an anti-Mormon, described a man bound and laid on the lion couch, and a priest with a knife in his hand

Many Latter-day Saint scholars believe that the scroll was damaged after Joseph translated the vignette and some evidence seems to support this view. One early Latter-day Saint who saw the papyri in 1841, for instance, described them as containing the scene of an altar with "'a man bound and laid thereon, and a Priest with a knife in his hand, standing at the foot, with a dove over the person bound on the Altar with several Idol gods standing around it.'"[28] Similarly, Reverend Henry Caswall, who visited Nauvoo in April 1842, had a chance to see some of the Egyptian papyri. Caswall, who was hostile to the Saints, described Facsimile 1 as having a "'man standing by him with a drawn knife.'"[29]

Due to the damage to the papyrus, it is impossible to determine what the priest is holding in his hand

It is not possible through an examination of the original papyrus to determine what the priest is holding in his hand.

A comparison of objects that are presumed to have been held by the priest in Facsimile 1 of the Book of Abraham. The original facsimile is missing this detail. Egyptologist Lanny Bell assumes that the priest was holding an object. Charles Larson shows the priest holding nothing, with the wing of the proposed second bird occupying the space. Joseph Smith indicated that the priest was holding a knife.


Claims about Specific Figures in Facsimile 1

Dr. Ritner makes several assertions about there being no evidence to support Joseph Smith's interpretations of Facsimile 1. Below is an article that gives the best Latter-day Saint commentary on Facsimile 1 and the evidence we can use from antiquity to support it.


Question: Do any of Joseph's explanations of Book of Abraham Facsimile 1 agree with what Egyptologists say about the figures?

The Angel of the Lord (Figure 1)

Angels or heavenly messengers were frequently represented by birds in Egyptian literature. This is an element more contemporary to a later redactor and/or copyist of the Book of Abraham. The Egyptian word for angel is " 'ḫ". The Greek word for angel is "ἄγγελος". In the respective lore, they could potentially turn into birds and bring messages from God. Additionally, see above for traditions that mention the appearance of an angel to Abraham.

The Egyptian term for angel is 'ḫ. The term “designates entities or beings . . . [and] their

(spirit-)state and the power emanating from them.” It was part of a larger spiritual world. The Egyptian spirit world was generally divided into three classes: gods [Egyptian and Greek translation included], angels [Egyptian and Greek translation included], and demons [Egyptian and Greek translation included]. The larger category of these beings was the spirit [Egyptian and Greek translation included]. When an individual died, his or her soul [Egyptian and Greek translation included] either became an angel [Egyptian and Greek Translation included] or a demon [Egyptian and Greek translation included] depending on whether the proper rites had been performed, and whether he or she had lived properly.

[. . .]

These are all features of the 'ḫ, who had power over the damned, and the living, could cause health, sickness, childbirth, financial distress, or general malady. They could also send dreams, lead men and women, do work, fight demons, light lamps, kill, move ships, transform themselves into lotuses, barley, falcons, phoenixes, herons, geese, swallows, ibises, vultures, other birds, bulls, crocodiles, snakes, spirits, gods, fire, air, whatever form desired, and in that form they could appear in various places, to whomever they wished. They open doors, travel through fire, loose bonds, drive away crocodiles, snakes, vultures, pigs, cockroaches, and other undesirable creatures, control water, winds, fire, and enemies, brings bread, water, beer, and other foods.

As shown in the following table, the descriptions overlap considerably showing that the Roman period

description is a continuation of previous pharaonic understandings, and that both ἄγγελος and [other Greek terms are attempts to render the Egyptian term 'ḫ into Greek.[30]

Human sacrifice for upsetting standing religious order (Figures 2, 3, and 4)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #2: Human Sacrifice

Human sacrifice is well attested in ancient Egypt. It was common to those who rejected the standing religious order as a human sacrifice to the Gods as form of capital punishment. This was virtually unknown during Joseph Smith's day. He could only have learned this information from revelation.

Pearl of Great Price Central:

While scholars might disagree on what precise terminology to use, there is, in the words of one Egyptologist, “indisputable evidence for the practice of human sacrifice in classical ancient Egypt.” Some of the evidence for this practice dates to the likely time of Abraham (circa 2,000–1,800 BC). “The story presented in the Book of Abraham matches remarkably well with the picture of ritual slaying” in Egypt during the same time period, concludes two Egyptologists in a study of this evidence.

Kerry Muhelstein and John Gee, "An Egyptian Context for the Sacrifice of Abraham"

Kerry Muhelstein and John Gee,  Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, (2010)
The existence of human sacrifice in ancient Egypt has been variously debated and denied. While Egyptologists generally admit that the practice existed in the formative periods of Egyptian society, opinions among Egyptologists for later time periods range from claiming that "there is no certain evidence for the practice of human sacrifice . . . from the Old Kingdom onwards" to asserting that there is "indisputable evidence for the practice of human sacrifice in classical ancient Egypt." However difficult it may be for modern societies to accept that a practice we detest, such as human sacrifice, occurred in past civilizations we admire, further research and discoveries necessitate a reassessment of the possibility of this practice within Egyptian culture. While there is not a universally accepted definition of human sacrifice, for the purposes of this paper we will define human sacrifice as the slaying of a person in a ritual context.

Click here to view the complete article

Of interest in this publication is the citation of Dr. Robert Ritner (the most vocal critic of the Book of Abraham) in support of human sacrifice in ancient Egypt. His quote: "[there is] indisputable evidence for the practice of human sacrifice in classical ancient Egypt."[31]

Abraham fastened upon an altar (Figure 2)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #35: Abraham and Osiris

Traditions about Abraham confirm that he was nearly sacrificed and that he was bound upon an altar. See above for the extrabiblical traditions that testify to this. Additionally, scholars have found links between Abraham and Osiris in Semitic adaptations of Egyptian lore. There has also been another papyrus located that associates Abraham with a lion couch scene.

Kevin Barney:

The adaptation of an Egyptian psychostasy vignette from chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead in the judgment scene of the Testament of Abraham, the adaptation of the Egyptian original underlying the Demotic Story of Setna in a Jewish popular version (replacing Osiris with Abraham), and the adaptation of a hypocephalus in the Apocalypse of Abraham provide a stunning glimpse of how J-red, living and working in the same era, may have adapted vignettes from a Book of Breathings and a hypocephalus as illustrations of the Book of Abraham, which had come under his care as a part of the ancient transmission of the text. In my view, the Semitic Adaptation theory turns the facsimiles and their interpretations from a perceived weakness of the Book of Abraham into a real strength.[32]

Another lion couch scene has been discovered which actually includes Abraham's name. It should be noted that the article that this papyri was included in does not claim that Abraham is the figure on the lion couch, and notes that "[t]he figure on the lion couch in this papyrus is a woman." That is very clear from looking at the papyrus. However, the wording under the figure states "Abraham upon..." ("Abraham epi" in Greek) and then it becomes unintelligible so scholars are at a stand-still as to knowing if the circling of the name of Abraham in that phrase is the identification of the figure as Abraham. It is very arguable, however, that with the preposition ("epi" meaning things ranging from "at", to "near" to "upon") and the circling of Abraham's name that this is an identification of Abraham as the figure on the couch in some form. This can simply not be demonstrated conclusively.[33]

Photo appearing in John Gee, "Research and Perspectives: Abraham in Ancient Egyptian Texts," Ensign 22 (July 1992): 60. Caption: "A lion couch scene appears in Leiden Papyrus I 384 (PGM xii). The outline marks Abraham’s name, written in Greek. (Courtesy of Rijksmuseum van Oudheden.)" (click to enlarge)

The idolatrous priest of Elkenah, the God of Elkenah, and an association with human sacrifice (Figures 3, 4, and 5)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #29: The Idolatrous God of Elkenah

Pearl of Great Price Central:

What do we know about the ancient god Elkenah? No deity of that name is mentioned in the KJV Bible, but in the last century archaeologists have unearthed evidence of his worship.

Elkenah is very likely the shortened form of the name of the Canaanite god El koneh aratz, meaning “God who created the earth” (or “God, creator of earth”). Among the ancient Hittites living in Asia Minor he was known as Elkunirsha.

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #32: The Idolatrous Priest (Facsimile 1, Figure 3)

Pearl of Great Price Central:

Even if some “issues concerning the accuracy of both the artwork and the copying [of Facsimile 1]” remain unanswered at the moment (issues which, unfortunately, “are routinely clouded by shifting the responsibility of the artwork from the engraver, Reuben Hedlock, to Joseph Smith, without adducing any evidence to identify a particular individual with the responsibility for the restorations”), the identification of this figure as a priest is not outside the realm of possibility from an Egyptological perspective.

The idolatrous Gods of Libnah, Korash, and Mahmackrah (Figures 6, 7, and 8)

The idolatrous Gods of Elkenah, Libnah, Korash, and Mahmakrah have been identified as Gods worshipped by ancient Mesopotamians. Along with the commentary of scholars below, Hugh Nibley has shown how the names of these deities would be associated with the canopic jars depicted here in his book "An Approach to the Book of Abraham".

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "Four Idolatrous Gods in the Book of Abraham"

John Gee,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (2020)
Although unknown as deities in Joseph Smith’s day, the names of four associated idolatrous gods (Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash) mentioned in the Book of Abraham are attested anciently. Two of them are known to have connections with the practices attributed to them in the Book of Abraham. The odds of Joseph Smith guessing the names correctly is astronomical.

Click here to view the complete article


Michael Rhodes:

The names of the idolatrous gods mentioned in facsimile 1 provide another example of the validity of the Prophet Joseph’s explanations. If Joseph Smith had simply made up the names, the chances of their corresponding to the names of ancient deities would be astronomically small. The name Elkenah, for example, is clearly related to the Hebrew ttt ‘el q?n?h/ q?neh “God has created / the creator.” Elkenah is found in the Old Testament as the name of several people, including Samuel’s father (see 1 Samuel 1:1). The name is also found as a divine name in Mesopotamian sources as dIl-gi-na / dIl-kí-na / dÉl-ké-na. Libnah may be related to the Hebrew leb?n?h “moon” (see Isaiah 24:23) from the root l?b?n “white.” A city captured by Joshua was called libn?h (see Joshua 10:29). The name Korash is found as a name in Egyptian sources. A connection with K?reš the name of the Persian king Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28), is also possible.[34]

John Tvedtnes:

John Gee and others have more recently reexamined the names and come to similar conclusions. John M. Lundquist also noted that each of the gods or idols mentioned in Abraham 1:17 appears in the compilation of some 3,800 Mesopotamian deities published in 1950 by Anton Deimel. Many of these names are Akkadian a Semitic language related to Hebrew and more distantly to Egyptian.[35]

Hugh Nibley (framing his thought process in an imaginary dialogue) regarding how the four canopic jars could be both Mesopotamian gods and the four quarters of the earth (as found in Fac 2) argued:

. . . As far as the Egyptians were concerned, the four quarters of the earth were people. If the Book of Abraham wants to think of the four canopic jars as representing idolatrous gods and the four regions at the same time, this is entirely in keeping with the way the Egyptians thought about it. Now right here in the temple of Opet where we are so much at home "the genies of the four winds" enjoy a conspicuous display, and why are they there? The four winds, according to our handbook, head the list of more than fifty ritual appearances of the sacred four---it all began with the four winds and the four directions, represented as early as the Pyramid Texts by the four canopic vases.[36]


[...]

It has been found that all these combinations have one thing in common--what Professor Constant de Wit calls the "quaternary principle"; he suggests that the whole business originally goes back to the four winds and probably started at Heliopolis.

Dick: Naturally

Mr. Jones: On good evidence. Even one of the Joseph Smith Papyri shows that.

Jane: Which one?

Mr. Jones: Fragment No. 8 in the Era listing, corresponding to chapter 5 of the Book of the Dead.[37] Allen has rendered it: "His nose is open in Busiris. He rests in Heliopolis. . . . If north winds come, he sits in the south; if south winds come, he sits in the north; if west winds come, he sits in the east; if east winds come, he sits in the west.[38]

[...]

Mr. Jones: The animal heads seem to have been borrowed by the Egyptians in the first place. Originally the canopic vases didn't have the animal heads; they were just plain jars.[39] Scholars believe "that the theriomorphic vase in Egypt, as elsewhere can be traced to an origin in North Syria."[40] Yet the four heads are already canonically prescribed in the Pyramid Texts, so that it is suggested that their appearance in Egypt in the Nineteenth Dynasty was actually a return to the old idea.[41] The idea behind the canopic figures was certainly familiar to Canaan, where, according to the rabbis, the princes of the various nations were typified by animals, just as were the princes of Israel.[42]

Dick: But only four of them?

Mr. Jones: That was a concession to the system. Thus, though from time immemorial the Egyptians spoke of the other nations as the "Nine Bows," they believed that at the judgement the four races of mankind would stand in their proper positions.[43] Professor Georges Posener has shown that the Egyptians named the peoples and countries of the world after their directions and hence conceived of the four cardinal directions; to each of the cardinal directions they also gave cardinal colors--red, white, black, and green.[44] They knew that there were many countries, of course, but they insisted on fitting everything into the system--a sort of cosmic plan that seems to have hypnotized many ancient people.[45]

Dick: So, nobody had to borrow from anybody.

Mr. Jones: So, the various ideas could easily meet and fuse--in Canaan, especially, the newly found Brooklyn Papyrus shows the people familiar with the same ideas: "The invoking of the four Babylonian deities is certainly evidence of the presence of a Babylonian cult in this area." The four gods in question happen to be Bel, Nabu, Shamash, and Nergal[46] corresponding closely to the four great gods of the Egyptian four directions.[47]

The idolatrous God of Pharaoh (figure 9)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #7: Sobek, The God of Pharaoh

Pearl of Great Price Central:

A strong case can be made for identifying the “god of Pharaoh” in the Book of Abraham as the Egyptian deity Sobek. This god was worshipped even before Abraham’s day and was commonly depicted as either a crocodile-headed man or a full crocodile wearing a crown. Anciently “he was regarded as a powerful deity with several important associations,” among them “procreative and vegetative fertility” and, importantly for the Book of Abraham, “the Egyptian king . . . as a symbol of pharaonic potency and might.”

Abraham in Egypt (Figure 10)

Foreigners in Egypt, like Abraham was, are often represented by a Lotus Flower (sometimes referred to alternatively as a water lily), the figure depicted here, as argued by Dr. Hugh Nibley. Nibley cites Waltraud Guglielmi, a non-LDS Egyptologist, to support his assertion specifically referencing divine and human visitors in Egypt.

The lotus, perhaps the richest of all Egyptian symbols, can stand for the purest abstraction, as when it indicates nothing but a date in one tomb or a place in another.[48] In Facsimile 3 we are told that it points to two things, a man and a country, indicating the special guest-to-host relationship between them. Most of the time the lotus announces a party situation, adding brightness to the occasion; etiquette required guests to a formal party to bring a lotus offering to the host--hence the flower served as a token both of invitation and admission.[49] [E.A. Wallis Budge] observed how in the Kerasher Manuscript, in which the person being presented wears exactly the same peculiar lotus headdress as our Shulem (figure 5), "instead of the bullock-skin dripping with blood, which is generally seen suspended near the throne of the god, masses of lotus flowers are represented, giving a totally different aspect to the scene.[50] Yet, while the lotuses "seem to have figured prominently" in formal occasions, according to Aylward Blackman, we still do not understand the flower offerings, any more than we do the combination of lotus stands and small libation vessels such as our figure 3.[51] It would now seem that these tall and narrow Egyptian ritual stands originated in Canaan.[52]


[. . .]

The lotus is definitely a welcome to Egypt from the king to human and divine visitors; the divinity who received the token reciprocated by responding to the king "I give thee all the lands of thy majesty, the foreign lands to become they slaves. I give thee the birds, symbols of thine enemies."[53] In receiving a lotus, the king in return ritually receives the land itself, while the god in accepting a lotus from the king promises him in return the reverent obedience of his subjects.[54] "The flowers are mostly heraldic plants . . . associated with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt," for in some the main purpose of the lotus rites is to "uphold the dominion of the King" as nourisher of the land.[55] Moreover, its significance is valid at every level of society, the lotus being a preeminent example of how mythological themes and religious symbolism were familiarly integrated into the everyday life of the Egyptians.[56]

[. . .]

The numerous studies of the Egyptian lotus design are remarkably devoid of conflict, since this is one case in which nobody insists on a single definitive interpretation. The points emphasized are (1) The abstract nature of the symbol, containing meanings that are far from obvious at first glance (2) the lotus as denoting high society, especially royal receptions, at which the presentation of a lotus to the host was obligatory [. . .]; to be remiss in lotus courtesy was an unpardonable blunder, for anyone who refuses the lotus is under a curse, (3) the lotus as the symbol of Lower Egypt, the Delta with all its patriotic and sentimental attachments ; (4) the lotus as Nefertem, the defender of the border; (5) the lotus as the king or rule, defender, and nourisher of the land; (6) the lotus as the support of the throne at the coronation. It is a token of welcome and invitation to the royal court and the land, proffered by the king himself as guardian of the border.[57]

Pillars of Heaven (Figure 11)

Kevin Barney:

In Hebrew cosmology, the raqîa’ or “firmament” was believed to be a solid dome, supported by pillars.57 The raqîa’ in turn was closely associated with the celestial ocean, which it supported.58 In the lower half of Facsimile 1, we have the raqîa’ (1) connected with the waters, as with the celestial ocean, (2) appearing to be supported by pillars, and (3) being solid and therefore capable of serving itself as a support, in this case for the lion couch. The bottom half of Facsimile 1 would have looked to J-red very much like a microcosm of the universe (in much the same way that the divine throne chariot of Ezekiel 1—2, which associates the four four-faced fiery living creatures with the raqîa’ above their heads on which God sits enthroned, is a microcosm of the universe). The Egyptian artist’s perspective is not necessarily a limitation on J-red. The stacking effect of waters apparently both being supported and acting as a support would have suggested to J-red the Hebrew conception of the raqîa’.[58]

Firmament over our heads (Figure 12)

The Hebrew term "Raukeeyang" is a transliteration of the word "raqîa’". In Figure 12, Joseph Smith describes "Raukeeyang" as the firmament over our heads and a crocodile swims through it. This makes sense in light of modern scholarship that identifies Egyptian's conception of heaven as a "Heavenly Ocean" with this figure. LDS Scholars have cited Non-LDS Egyptologist Erik Hornung whose work supports this.[59]

"Shamau" is presented as related to samayim, a dual form meaning "heaven(s)" "Shaumahyeem" using the Sephardic Hebrew transliteration Joseph learned from Joshua Seixas as opposed to the Ashkenazic method.

Louis Zucker, a Jewish scholar from the University of Utah wrote:

Another such word is Shaumahyeem [exactly the Seixas pronunciation], heavens, in the sense of Genesis 1; Shaumau is an invented singular, unknown to the Bible.[60]

Facsimile 1 Restoration

A number of points need to be made about the Restoration of Facsimile 1 to emphasize and clarify other evidences.

Substitution of head of Anubis for head of a Priest

There is evidence to suggest that the original figure here would have been Anubis. Priests that were performing sacrifices could either remain without the head of Anubis or with it. It would not matter to the overall message of the scene portrayed. Theologically, it would not matter to scenes such as this one. Ancient art depicting religious situations such as this frequently had other people impersonating other Gods. The priest of Elkenah likely could have been wearing an Anubian headdress while performing this scene and the interpretation would still be correct. [61]

John Gee has written:

The discussion about figure 3 has centered on whether the head should be that of a jackal or a bald man. Whether the head is a jackal or a bald man in no way affects the interpretation of the figure, however, since in either case the figure would be a priest.

His footnote here reads as follows:

The argument for the identification runs as follows:
(1) Assume for the sake of argument that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is correct. What are the implications of the figure being a bald man? Shaving was a common feature of initiation into the priesthood from the Old Kingdom through the Roman period. Since “Complete shaving of the head was another mark of the male Isiac votary and priest” the bald figure would then be a priest.

(2) Assume on the other hand that the head on Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is that of a jackal, as was first suggested by Theodule Devéria. We have representations of priests wearing masks, one example of an actual mask, [and] literary accounts from non-Egyptians about Egyptian priests wearing masks. . . . Thus, however the restoration is made, the individual shown in Facsimile 1 Figure 3 is a priest, and the entire question of which head should be on the figure is moot so far as identifying the figure is concerned. (John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac, and Jacob,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 7/1 [1995]: 80–82)[62]

Non-Latter-day Saint Egyptologist Robert Ritner has argued that:

Masks of Anubis and Bes were used for similar identifications during ritual (Murray 1935-38 and Wild 1963, pp. 78-81). The significance of such masking is distorted beyond reason in Wolinski 1986 and 1987; see above, n. 1037. Priestly impersonators of Anubis regularly appear in funerary ceremonies, and are styled simply 'Inpw, "Anubis" or rmt-'Inpw, "Anubis-men"; see Faulkner 1951, pp. 48-49: 'ink 'Inpw, "I am Anubis" (line 6)[.][63]

Gee gives an example of this of a bald priest donning the head of Anubis at the temple of Dendara. The first image is an actual drawing created during the Ptolemaic period from Dendara of the priest putting on the mask. The second is an example of such a mask that would be placed on them.

An actual drawing from the Temple at Dendara of a priest putting on an Anubian mask
An actual Anubian mask

Placement of a knife being held in the priest's hand

One early Latter-day Saint who saw the papyri in 1841 described them as containing the scene of an altar with "'a man bound and laid thereon, and a Priest with a knife in his hand, standing at the foot, with a dove over the person bound on the Altar with several Idol gods standing around it.'"[64] Similarly, Reverend Henry Caswall, who visited Nauvoo in April 1842, had a chance to see some of the Egyptian papyri. Caswall, who was hostile to the Saints, described Facsimile 1 as having a "'man standing by him with a drawn knife.'"[65] See here for more information. The best explanation of the figure depicted as the priest sacrificing Abraham is that he is in the martial position, attempting to combat with the figure on the couch. This emphasizes the interpretation of Abraham being sacrificed.

Identification of hand instead of the wing of a bird

The placement of a hand at this portion of the lacuna is significant since it emphasizes the fact that the figure lying on the couch is alive. The best evidence suggests that this figure was indeed a hand. See here for more information


Claims about Facsimile 2 Generally

The author(s) of Mormon Stories #1339: Dr. Robert Ritner - An Expert Egyptologist Translates the Book of Abraham Pt 1 make(s) the following claim:

Ep. 1: 60:35-74:14 It is possible that the basic concepts behind the endowment ceremony of giving keywords and tokens in order to pass by angels through a gateway were inspired by, not only the masons but also by the illustrations on Facsimile 2 that Joseph Smith had. Ritner: “I can hand that to a … third grader and say what's going on there and they can say it's a person having a conversation with some weird spirit at a gateway this would be immediately recognizable to anyone of any intelligence level.” (68:38-68:51)

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

If the temple ceremony was inspired by Facsimile 2, it was by virtue of revelation, not because it is obvious from looking at Facsimile 2.


Claims about Specific Figures in Facsimile 2

Dr. Ritner makes several assertions about there being no evidence to support Joseph Smith's interpretations of Facsimile 2. Below is an article that gives the best Latter-day Saint commentary on Facsimile 2 and the evidence we can use from antiquity to support it.


Question: Did Joseph Smith identify any elements of Facsimile 2 that are in agreement with what Egyptologists say they represent?

FIGURE 1

Kolob...nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #17: Kolob, The Governing One

Pearl of Great Price Central:

Latter-day Saints have long been interested in Kolob for its doctrinal and potential cosmological significance. The opening words to the beloved Latter-day Saint hymn “If You Could Hie to Kolob” written by W. W. Phelps was, of course, inspired by Kolob in the Book of Abraham.

In recent years, spurred on by promising discoveries in Egyptology and Near Eastern archaeology, some Latter-day Saint scholars have sought to situate Kolob in the ancient world. Although there are still many uncertainties, a few points in favor of Kolob being authentically ancient can be affirmed with reasonable plausibility.

signifying the first creation...First in government, the last pertaining to measurement of time

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Figure one is the God Amun. As Peter L. Renouf saw, "the great God, Lord of Heaven, the giver of light, lighting up the Heavens and earth with his rays . . . to give life to the universe."[66].. . .The staff held by figure 1, Amun, is a combination of the djed-column, signifying abiding firmness and stability, the was-scepter of power and authority, and he ankh-staff of life --the three things on which all certainty depends. But before all else we are dealing with creation and birth. So, it is enlightening to note that the Prophet Joseph begins his explanation of this figure as "the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to measurement of time," etc. It is not the celestial residence, but it is near to it, as the center of one great system, the large system known to Abraham, and though he is aware of the existence of worlds without number, he sees only a particular segment. Indeed, Moses was sharply rebuked when he asked to see it all: "Worlds without number have I created . . . for mine own purpose; . . . here is wisdom and it remaineth in me" (Moses 1:33,31). Moses is informed that he has all that he can handle in his own earthly mission and meekly apologizes, "Be merciful unto they servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, . . . and then they servant will be content" (Moses 1:36).


The most sublime aspect of Amun is the way he brings all things together in one, just as science today looks for the Grand Unifying Theory (GUT). That is what Amun gives us and we should bear in mind that all the owners of hypocephali were priests and priestesses of Amun-RE, along with their associates. Abraham, viewing the tarry heavens, fund that he "could not see the end thereof" (Abraham 3:12); while Moses, who is given "only an account of this earth," is assured that worlds that now stand are "innumerable. . . unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them (Moses 1:35). As the doctrine of Min-Amun-Re, etc. proclaims, all the universe is full of life, sustained and rejuvenated in and by the One at the Center.

[. . .]

The central figure of most hypocephali has four rams' heads on one neck. Herodotus was intrigued by the representation of Amun with the head of a ram, as in our figures 1 and 2. First of all, he makes it clear that the Egyptians did not for a moment "think that is th way he really was."[67] And he proceeds to explain that Zeus was determined that not even Hercules should see his true appearance, but he at least granted him the indulgence of "displaying himself wearing the fleece of a ram which he had skinned and beheaded." And that is why the Egyptian images of Zeus have a ram's head. They got the idea from the Ammonite Egyptian colonists, whose name for Zeus was Amun. The center of his cult in Egypt was in Mendes.[68] Because the Egyptian word for ram, ba, is the same as the wod for soul, the Ram at Mendes also became assocated with both Osiris and Re.[69] There are also a four-headed ram-god was thought to combine the attributeds of Re, Shu, Geb, and Osiris, and thenw as extended to include "the ba of every god."[70]

Turning to the famous Mendes Stela, we view "the great god Mendes, the life of Re, the male potency of gods and mankind, who appears in the region of light (or as an akh), the divine issue of the Ran . . . elest son of the Creator of All, who sits on the throne of the first of the gods . . . a prince in the womb, a ruler at the breast whom the potency of his father, the Ram of Mendes, made strong as a king, victorious, etc."[71] This fulsome description is well summed up in Joseph Smith's economical explanation as "the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or residence of God. First in government." (Fac. 2, fig. 1 explanation).

We all know thathe ram is the bellwheter who leads out the flock. Aries the Ram leads out the year in the Zodiac--the god Janus (after whom the month January is named) has the horns of Aries the Ram (see p. 397, fig. 48). As Min he always has got's horns and as Min-Amun he is the rejuvenanted prowess of ram, got, and lion . . . he with the four faces on one neck, the 777 ears, millions of eyes, and hundreds of thousands of horns.[72] As to the horns, Amun shares two types with Khnum as primal king and creator. There are the long, twisted horizontal horns of figure 2 and the new breed which appeared in the New Kingdom of he well-known curly horned beast associated with Amun. And yet the god continues to wear both types of horns together as he does on most of the hypocephali (fig. 28).[73][74]

The measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit.[75]

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "One Day to a Cubit"

Hollis R. Johnson,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (2013)
An investigation of ancient astronomy shows that a cubit was used not only as the metric of length (elbow to fingertip) but also as a metric of angle in the sky. That suggested a new interpretation that fits naturally: the brightest celestial object—the sun—moves eastward around the sky, relative to the stars, during the course of a year, by one cubit per day!.

Click here to view the complete article

One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Another statement of time--"one day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years" (Fac. 2, fig. 1)--demonstrates different times in different systems. That is the great year of the ancients. They worked out all sorts of cycles. The whole Kolob concept suggests that "archaic order: which today is being retrieved through the serious study of the oldest myths, monuments, and idols of the race. "As we follow the clues--stars, numbers," write de Santillana and von Dechend, "a huge framework of connections is revealed at many levels. One is inside an echoing manifold, where everything responds and everything has a place and a time assigned to it. This is a true edifice. . . a World-Image that first the many levels, and all of it kept in order by strict measure."[76]

The concept of unity and identity so prominent in the Egyptian text is well expressed in the Pearl of Great Price: "And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things which are in the heavens above and things which are of earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me" (Moses 6:63). Such is the "echoing manifold," with Kolob in control

In this huge framework of connections, the unit of measurement is, according to de Santillana and von Dechend, "always some form of time."[77] And it is the same in the Prophet's explanation of the multileveled "firmament of the heavens" which "answers to the measurement of time"--that is, of the revolutions or orbits of the heavenly bodies.[78]

….this earth which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh.

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

The Lord used this earth as the basis in the explanation of his creations to both Abraham and Moses (Abraham 3:4-7,9; Moses 1:35-36), "according to the measurement of the earth which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh" (Fac. 2, figs. 1,4, explanation). This, of course, suggests Jaoel, the angel who visits Abraham in the Apocalypse of Abraham who is easily identified by George H. Box as Jehovah.[79]


What is that mysterious name, Jehovah, and its form?

[. . .]

The form we all know in common use, Jehovah or Yahweh, is held by the Jewish scholars to be "only meant for the masses" and not the true or real Tetragrammaton at al.[80]

[. . .]

"The original letters of the Tetragrammaton," Phineas Mordell concludes, "were [Hebrew word] instead of [Hebrew word],"[81] which corresponds to Joseph Smith's j-a-o-e (yod, ayin, waw, aleph).[82]

Regarding all of Fac 2 Fig 1, Michael Rhodes writes:

A seated deity with two (or in most hypocephali, four) ram's heads. He is holding in his hand the symbols of life (onu), dominion (was) and stability (jd). On either side of the god are two apes (numbers 22 and 23) with horned moon-disks on their heads, in an attitude of adoration. There are also two serpents, one on either side of the seated deity. The god is sitting at the center of the hypocephalus, which, as was mentioned above, represents the world. This seated figure represents god as the creator, either Amon-Re or Khnum. When thus depicted with four heads, this god united within himself the attributes of the gods Re (the sun), Shu (light), Geb (the earth), and Osiris (god of the next world and the resurrection), and represented the primeval creative force. Joseph Smith says that this is “Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.” This agrees well with the Egyptian symbolism of god endowed with the primeval creative force seated at the center of the universe. The name Kolob is right at home in this context. The word most likely derives from the common Semitic root QLB, which has the basic meaning of “heart, center, middle” (Arabic قِلب (qalb) “heart, center”; Hebrew קֶרֶב (qereb) “middle, midst”, קָרַב (qārab) “to draw near”; Egyptian m-qab “in the midst of”). In fact, قِلب forms part of the Arabic names of several of the brightest stars in the sky, including Antares, Regulus, and Canopus. The apes can represent Thoth, the god of writing and wisdom, as well as the moon, but due to their curious habit of holding up their hands to receive the first warming rays of the sun after the cold desert night as if worshiping the sun at its rising, they are often found in connection with the sun. Besides these solar and lunar associations, apes are also found associated with stars and constellations. Joseph Smith says they are stars receiving light from Kolob, which is in harmony with our understanding of their symbolism in Egyptian.

In his explanation of figure 1, Joseph Smith says that the earth is called Jah-oh-eh by the Egyptians. In the Times and Seasons he defined Jah-oh-eh as “O the Earth.” This would be reasonable rendering of the Egyptian i ae.t, “O Earth” (assuming that Joseph used the biblical convention of rendering a Semitic Yod with an english J).[83]

Stands next to Kolob...the next grand governing creation near to...the place where God resides; holding the key of power (figure 2)

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

This figure, as Joseph Smith explains it, "stands next to Kolob . . . the next grand governing creation near to . . . the place where God resides" (Fac 2, fig. 2, explanation). Compare this to figure 1, which is "Kolob. . .the first creation, nearest to . . . the residence of God" (Fac 2, fig. 1 explanation). With this gradation of glory goes precedence in time, figure 1 "the first creation." and beyond that, steps in degrees of authority, with figure 2, "te next grand governing creation." Neither one is the center of everything. Figure 1, to be sure, is the center facing in all directions around whom all else revolves. Abraham is told that "Kolob is set. . . to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest" (Abraham 3:9). Moses was rebuked for wanting an immediate view of what the ancients and Paul called [Greek script] (pleroma)--absolutely everything (see Colossians 2:9); the Lord told him to hold on and be satisfied with this world, the only world which concerned him at present (Moses 1:30-36).


Note also that figure 2, the second in order, is "holding the key of power also pertaining to other planets." On some hypocephali this figure is labeled both Re and Amun-Re, the same power at different levels. He stands at the zenith of the year and the moon of the day at his greatest moment of power--the sun, the ruler of the solar system, but everything about him reminds us that he is motion. What about the rest of his journey, passing through the underworld from west to east? WE are referred to the ley, the Wepwawet, "Opener of the Ways," which lets us out of the underworld.

In the small Nash hypocephalus (see appendix 7A), figures 1 and 2 are combined and their identify clearly established: In the top panel, wearing the two tall feathers of Amun, the two-headed figure, but here he is situated on the throne, holding the scepters exactly like the four-headed Amun on other hypocephali.[84] In this case proximity is the main idea; we are near the center but moving out from it. Among the ancients and moderns, proximity to Divinity both in place and time was a direct measure of blessedness. This "Kolob" ideas is set forth vividly in the Book of Abraham: "the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me." (Abraham 3:3). It is "nearest to the celestial, or residence of God" (Fac 2. fig 1, explanation). A most significant feature of figure 2 is the crown the god-figure is wearing combining both ram's horns and the two tall features. It is the Ta-Tjenen crown (see Fac. 3 fig. 1) with the ram's horns that bring Re and Osiris together in a symbol of eternal beginning.[85]

Striding forth boldly on his eternal rounds, figure 2 is designated on a bronze hypocephalus as "Amun Lord of Heaven in his aspect of coming forth."[86] You will notice that our figure 2 is not "residing" anywhere--he is on the move, right at the top of the circle. His feathers usually touch and often protrude above the confining edge to show him, as one scholar puts it, "here at the vertex of the universe, the Ram comes first of al in order, appearing at the head of the universe and the beginning of light."[87] He is by all accounts a true two-faced Janus figure; classical writers, as we have seen, associated Amun's ram horns with the constellation Aries the Ram, the Opener of the Year.[88] Let us recall further that some Egyptian inscriptions label our figure 2 as past and future, "I know," and "I shall know," explaining that "the one is Osiris who is Yesterday, and the other is Re who is Tomorrow."[89]

The holy Egyptian feather which Shu wears signifies light traversing the space between heaven and earth and is represented by the god of that name;[90] "Its filaments symbolized the rays of the sun."[91] It is the famous atef-crown, designated by Joseph Smith as "emblematical of the grand presidency in heaven," and indeed the two feathers are the prime emblems of celestial light and spirit. Significantly, the shw-feather is not a theological but an astronomical symbol, as Rudolf Anthes sees it; the god's name is never written with the familiar divinity sign; rather it represents the actual sunshine or light and energy that traverses and fills the space between heaven and earth,[92] a light (to quote Joseph Smith) "pertaining to other planets." The sign of the two feathers enjoyed a very wide range of interpretation among the Egyptian scribes.[93]

As to the staff and or scepter, which god carries as his staff of office and the emblem of his power, it is of the utmost importance. It signifies specifically the power to move or progress. It is the standard of the dog Wepwawet, whose image appears on it--the faithful dog who leads his majesty into the realm of the unknown. "The true character of Wepwawet is still far from being clearly defined, by the Pyramid texts show him intimately related to the mystery of the rising sun and the resurrection of the king. . . that is why he is in the prow of the solar bark and always leads the parade."[94] All these ideas come together in the figure on the staff of the character who bears it.

Staff and Key

Joseph Smith calls the staff a key, "the key of power". The Hebrew word for key [Hebrew script] (miptah), means literally "opener," while the Egyptian name of the god who bears this staff is Wp-w3.wt = Opener of the Ways. The Egyptian obsession with "the Way" as the course of life here and hereafter, eloquently expressed in the First Psalm and in the preaching of the great high priest Petosiris--"I will show you the Way of Life"--has been discussed at length by scholars such as Oswald Spengler and Gerturd Thausing.[95] Peter is one who has the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19). Janus also is the god "who holds a staff in his left and a key in his right,"[96] "the one who holds the key (clavigerus),"[97] and the one who is "the gatekeeper of the heavenly courts (coelestins ianitor aulae)."[98] The Egyptian is constantly concerned with being checked or blocked (h.sf) in his career. Only real power, the power of the key, can overcome his determined opponents. It shall become apparent that the key plays a major role both in the hypocephalus and in the Prophet's interpretation of it.[99]

Michael Rhodes regarding all of Fac 2 Fig 2:

A two-headed deity wearing the double-plumed crown of Amon, with ram's horns mounted on it. On his shoulders are jackal heads, and he is holding the jackal standard of the god Wepwawet. To his right is an altar with offerings on and around it. In most hypocephali, he is holding the ankh, or symbol of life, in his right hand. Also to his right is a line of hieroglyphs reading: “The name of this Mighty God.”


This is Amon-Re, the chief god of the Egyptian pantheon; the two heads illustrate the hidden and mysterious power of Amon (his name in Egyptian means “the Hidden One”) combined with the visible and luminous power of Re. This is clearly the god mentioned in chapter 162 of the Book of the Dead (the chapter describing the construction and use of the hypocephalus), who wears the double plumed crown. The jackals on his shoulders as well as the jackal standard he holds are symbols of the god Wepwawet, the Opener of the Way, i.e. of the year, of the king in his conquests, of the dead through the dangers of hereafter to the throne of Osiris where they would be judged, or any other way that needs opening. Joseph Smith says, “Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides: holding the key of power.” The symbol of life held by this god was considered as a symbol of a god's power. A good example is the god Aton, who is represented by a sun disk with numerous rays emanating from it that all end in a hand holding the symbol of life. I can find no obvious word in Egyptian that matches with Oliblish, but this puts it in the same category as many of the strange names found in the 162nd chapter of the Book of the Dead, which seem not to be Egyptian but some foreign language.

Joseph also says this figure pertains to the plan of God's creations as revealed to Abraham as he was making a sacrifice. This agrees exactly with the Apocalypse of Abraham account as described above, as well as with the Egyptian concept of the hypocephalus representing all that the sun encircles.[100]

Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority; with a crown of eternal light upon his head; representing also the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood, as revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden, as also to Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed (figure 3)

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Joseph Smith's critics have pointed out that his explanation of figure 3 so far--the throne, the sun-crown--would be an easy guess.[101] "Clothed with power," however, is a palpable hit; for the big was-scepter that the king holds stands for "dominion," according to Raymond Faulkner[102] and for "dominion, lordship," according to Alan H. Gardiner;[103][104]

[. . .]

The main activity in this panel on most hypocephali is the handing around of the wedjat-eye. Thus we find the ape presenting the eye to the sun-god;[105] or the ape in a shrine wearing the solar disk receiving the wedjat from another ape who also wears upon his head yet another solar disk containing another wedjat-eye;[106] or an ape in the shrine receiving the wedjat-eye;[107] or a giant wedjat-eye held by an ibis-headed Thoth and worshipped by two apes;[108] or an ape presenting the eye to the sun-god—facing to the right as in our figure 3—between them a scarab labeled Khepri;[109] or a large ape in a shrine receives the eye from another ape—the infant rides up in the bow;[110] or the sun-god and the apes flank a Khepri-scarab to whom the ape is offering the eye.[111] Quite often the ape offers the eye to the crowned ape in the shrine;[112] the ape and the eye alone in the boat;[113] or the ape in a shrine faced by an ape with two wedjat-eyes.[114] Thus Khepri, the scarab, changes his position from hypocephalus to hypocephalus with the greatest freedom—he moves all over the place, as is proper for one who is the very embodiment of change. We go on with these seemingly endless permutations to indicate what a hive of activity figure 3 represents, a lively exchange of position and powers with a full display of “power and authority, . . . the grand Key-words of the Holy Priesthood” being passed around, here represented as visual symbols, as we know it descended to “Seth, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, and all to whom the Priesthood was revealed.”

The cast of characters is very limited in the Joseph Smith version, but the idea is fully represented by the presence of the most potent symbol of all, the two wedjat-eyes flanking Horus-Re. They must be considered in the context of figure 7...[115]

Michael Rhodes:

A hawk-headed god Re with the sun disk on his head, seated on the solar bark. On either side of him is a Wedjat-eye. In his hand he holds the was-scepter, symbol of dominion, and in front of him is an altar with a lotus blossom on it.

Re seated in his bark represents the sun in its daily journey across the sky and symbolizes resurrection and rebirth, since the sun was thought to die and be reborn each day. The lotus on the altar in front of him is also symbolic of rebirth and the rising sun. The Wedjat-eye was symbolic of light and protection (among other things) and is thus not out of place in this context.

Joseph Smith said this represented God, sitting upon his throne clothed with power and authority; with a crown of eternal light on his head. The was-scepter, as I mentioned above, represents power and authority, and the sun certainly qualifies as a crown of eternal light. He also said that it represented the grand key words of the priesthood. The Greek writer Plutarch explained that the Wedjat-eye of Osiris represented pro/noia “divine providence” (literally “foreknowledge”), the divine wisdom by which God oversees and cares for all of his creations. It is not unreasonable to see in this “the grand key words of the priesthood” (“The glory of God is intelligence,” D&C 93:36).[116]

Answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament of the heavens; also a numerical figure, in Egyptian signifying one thousand; answering to the measuring of time of Oliblish, which is equal to Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time (Figure 4)

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Our figure 4 goes back to the earliest Egyptian iconography, found on an ivory tomb belonging to King Djet (serpent) from the First Dynasty; on it has been drawn "a boat beneath which two wings representing the sky are spread."[117] It is "the sun-sip on the wings of the sky, . . . the two outstretched wings above the earth, the sheltering wings of the sky-god, from which was later derived the idea of the hawk as the sky-god."[118]The inscription with the relief from Edfu adds: "the expanse [circumference] of the heavens is beneath his wings; . . . your body . . . is the sky which is adorned with its stars.[119] The bird in the boat is sometimes exchanged for the sky-goddess Nut, whose outstretched wings are the symbol of protection,[120] their purpose being to enfold and embrace everything (fig. 30)...for Hans Bonnet the wings show that the woman is the bird "which is usually put in place of her." The best-known Egyptian symbol of the sky, she controls not only the cycle of the stars but also that of the sun.[121][122]


[. . .]

So far so good for Smith; all that seems quite obvious, but what about the next statement: "Also a numerical figure in Egyptian signifying 1000"? Professional Egyptologists have protested to the author that there is nothing known to them to justify attributing the number 1000 to figure 4. Yet here, if ever, the Joseph Smith explanation is right on target. The woman Nu, the sky-goddess of the outspread wings, has a peculiar epithet, and it is the same name as that given to the ship in figure 4, which means literally "a Thousand Are Her Souls," or "The One with a Thousand Souls,"[123] The Thousand Souls are stars, and she is so called because the stars are her children; a Pyramid Text says, "You (Nut) have taken to yourself ever god who has his own ship ([Egyptian script] hb3) and have instructed them in the starry sky ([Egyptian script] h3-b3=s) so that they will not depart from you as stars. Do not let NN be moved far from you in your name of 'Heaven' ([Egyptian script] hr.t)

And this takes us to Abraham. Not only was he asked to count the stars as a metaphorical measure of his progeny, but he meets us in Genesis 15:5 as both an observer ([Hebrew script] habbet) and counter ([Hebrew script] li-spor) of the stars. We also see him, according to Facsimile 3, "reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king's court" (Fac. 3, fig 1, explanation). Reasoning and counting are the same word in the famous stele of a great princess, a daughter of Psameticus II, which reads, "Behold ye Khabasu of Heliopolis . . . the God is born. . . one who can take the helm. Osiris Anchnesneferibre (the princess) will reckon (calculate, reason, w3d) with you concerning the secret which is in the Great Hall (w3s.t, of the palace) of the gods and will take along Osiris in his Ship of a Thousand, even with the two heads, so that by it he can mount to heaven and to the counter heaven."[124] This is our figure 4. Even more impressive is the way the Joseph Smith explanation seems to parrot everything the Worterbuch says about the Khabasu. According to the Worterbuch, h3-b3. s means: "Literally, 'a thousand-fold is her [the goddess of heaven] souls,' as a collective designation for the host of stars."[125][126]

[. . .]

The third most significant thing about figure 4, according to Joseph Smith, is its office in "answering to the measure of time," namely by the cycles and revolutions of the heavens. Since all these figures mark both the completion and initiation of various life cycles, time is of the essence and the figure of the Sokar-ship is the most important agent of coordination. It was at the sed-festival or jubilee that the bird was borne forth in procession on his ship. It is specifically figure 4 that coordinates the funereal with the astral them by virtue by its "calendrical" significance--that is, as the primordial measurement of time.[127][128]

Michael Rhodes:

A hawk in mummy wrappings with outspread wings, seated upon a boat. This can represent either Horus-Soped or Sokar, both hawk gods, which are symbolized by a mummiform hawk. One outstanding feature of this figure is its outspread wings, which are not normally found in representations of these two gods. The wings show a clear connection with Horus, the personification of the sky, as well as emphasizing the emerging of the the hawk from his mummy bindings in the resurrection. The association with Sokar, the ancient god of Memphis, is even more interesting. In the festival of Sokar, which was celebrated in many parts of Egypt, a procession was held in which the high priest would place the Sokar-boat on a sledge and pull it around the sanctuary. This procession symbolized the revolution of the sun and other celestial bodies. Joseph Smith sees here symbolism for the expanse or firmament of the heavens, which concept, as stated above, the Egyptians often represent by the hawk-god Horus. Joseph's explanation that this figure represents the revolutions of Kolob and Obilish agrees favorably with what we know of the use of the Sokar-boat in the festival of Sokar to represent the revolutions of the sun and other celestial bodies. Joseph also says that it is a numerical figure in Egyptian signifying one thousand. While this is not the standard hieroglyph for one thousand, there is a clear connection between the number one thousand and the ship of the dead. For example, in the Coffin Texts we read, “He takes the ship of 1000 cubits from end to end and sails it to the stairway of fire.” On the sarcophagus of the princess Anchenneferibre is found a description of the “Khabas in Heliopolis” and “Osiris in his ship of a thousand.” The term Khabas means “A Thousand is her souls” and refers to the starry hosts of the sky, confirming again Joseph Smith's explanation that it represents the expanse of the heavens.[129]

...and is said by the Egyptians to represent the Sun (Fig 5)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #31: The Hathor Cow (Facsimile 2, Figure 5)

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

But Joseph Smith tells us that figure 5 is the Sun. No problem. From being the mother of the Sun with the new born disk rising between her horns--a design in evidence in prehistoric times--it was an easy step to becoming the Sun itself.[130] As early as the Old Kingdom, the cow appears "as the female equivalent of Re."[131] At Opet in Luxor, where the Mother-Cow was worshiped as Hathor of Coptus, she was called the Sun of the Two Worlds--that is, both of Horus the son of Osiris and Amun-Re the Sun of Thebes.[132] Her horns, flanked by the same two feathers that our figure 2 wears as the Sun at the zenith, showing that the cow resurrects the Sun as well as the human race.[133][134]

...which governs fifteen other fixed planes or stars...

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

In his discussion of the Book of the Cow in the royal tombs, Charles Maystre pays special attention to the Tutankhamun version, the most carefully executed of the Heavenly Cow pictures (see p. 324, fig. 38): “Along the belly of the cow are stars.”[135] These are set in a line; at the front end is the familiar solar-bark bearing the symbol of Shemsu, the following or entourage, and at the rear end of the line is another ship bearing the same emblem. Both boats are sailing in the same direction through the heavens. The number of stars varies among the cows; in the instructions contained in the tomb of Seti I, it is specified that there should be nine, though the three groups of three strokes each can, and often do, signify an innumerable host.[136]


The number here plainly belongs to the cow, but what about the fifteen stars? “The number fifteen cannot be derived from any holy number of the Egyptians,” writes Hermann Kees, and yet it presents “a surprising analogy” with the fifteen false doors in the great wall of the Djoser complex at Saqqara, which was designed by the great Imhotep himself, with the Festival of the Heavens of Heliopolis in mind, following the older pattern of the White Wall of the Thinite palace of Memphis.[137] Strangely enough this number fifteen keeps turning up all along, and nobody knows why, though it always represents passing from one gate or door to another. Long after Djoser, Amenophis III built a wall for his royal circumambulation at the sed-festival, marking the inauguration of a new age of the world; it also had fifteen gates.[138] In the funeral papyrus of Amonemsaf, in a scene in which the hawk comes from the starry heavens to minister to the mummy, “the illustration . . . is separated into two halves by the sign of the sky ” —the heaven above and the tomb below (fig. 31). Between the mummy and the depths and the hawk in the heaven, there are twelve red dots and fifteen stars.[139] Again, twelve is the best-known astral number, but why fifteen? One Egyptologist wrote years ago that “[t]he author’s impression is that these [the fifteen stars] are purely theological features without astronomical significance.”[140] “The ‘great Ennead which resides in Karnak’ swelled to fifteen members.”[141] It was structured in three phases: one became two, two became four, four became eight, which is fifteen altogether. Étienne Drioton associates this with the dividing of eternity in the drama of Edfu into years, years into months, and months into fifteen units, these units into hours, and they into minutes.[142] Furthermore the idea of fifteen mediums or conveyors may be represented on the fifteen limestone tablets of the Book of the Underworld found by Theodore Davies and Howard Carter in the tomb of Hatshepsut.[143] Let us recall that the basic idea, as Joseph Smith explains it, is that “fifteen other fixed planets or stars” act as a medium for conveying “the governing power.” Coming down to a later time of the Egyptian gnostics, we find the fifteen helpers (παραστάται, parastatai) of the seven virgins of light in the Coptic Pistis Sophia, who “expanded themselves in the regions of the twelve saviors and the rest of the angels of the midst; each according to its glory will rule with me in an inheritance of light.”[144] In an equally interesting Coptic text, 2 Jeu, there are also fifteen parastatai who serve with “the seven virgins of the light” who are with the “father of all fatherhoods, . . . in the Treasury of the Light.”[145] They are the light virgins who are “in the middle or the midst (μέσος, mesos),” meaning that they are go-betweens.[146] Parastatai are those who conduct one through a series of ordinances, just as the fifteen stars receive and convey light.

In all this we never get away from cosmology and astronomy. In the Old Slavonic Secrets of Enoch, “four great stars, each having one thousand stars under it,” go with “fifteen myriads of angels,”[147] all moving, to quote Joseph Smith, together with “the Moon, the Earth, and the Sun in their annual revolutions.” In the Book of Gates, one of those mystery texts reserved for the most secret rites of the greatest kings, we see, as Gustave Jéquier describes it, “a long horizontal bar with a bull’s head at either end, supported by eight mummiform personages, and carrying seven other genies” (fig. 32).[148]These fifteen figures are designated as carriers or bearers (f.w), and the bar is the body of the bull extended to give them all room. A rope enters the bull’s mouth at one end and exits at the other, and on the end of this rope there is a sun-bark being towed by a total of eight personages designated as stars.[149] Just as the ship travels through the fifteen conveyor stars on the underside of the cow, the two heads of the bull make him interchangeable with the two-headed lion Aker, or Ruty, who guards the gate. “Aker,” writes Jéquier, “is a personification of the gates of the earth by which the sun must pass in the evening and in the morning.”[150] He is the same as the two-headed Janus, the gate-god, whom we have already met.[151]

Michael Rhodes regarding all of Fig 5:

A cow wearing a sun disk and double plumes with a menit-necklace (symbol of Hathor, Ihet, etc.). This is the cow Ihet mentioned in chapter 162 of the Book of the Dead, which should be drawn on a piece of new papyrus to make a hypocephalus. Hence this picture of a cow is common to almost all hypocephali. Ihet is a form of Hathor, a personification of the original waters from which the whole of creation arose and the one who gave birth to the sun. She is also connected with Mehweret (Greek methyr), another cow goddess who symbolized the sky and is the celestial mother by whom the sun is reborn each day. The name Mehweret (Me-wr.t) means, “Great fullness,” i.e., the primeval waters from which Re, the Sun, first arose. Standing behind the cow is the goddess Wedjat who is holding a lotus blossom, the symbol of rebirth, here indicating the daily and annual renewal of the sun. Joseph Smith's explanation that this is the sun is in agreement with the Egyptian symbolism. Of various names used here by Joseph, I can find an equivalent only for Hah-ko-kau-beam, which is recognizable as the Hebrew הַכּוֹכָבִים (hakôkābîm) “the stars.” But again as stated above, strange, incomprehensible names are typical of this class of Egyptian religious documents.[152]

Earth in its four quarters (Fig 6)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #32: The Four Sons of Horus (Facsimile 2, Figure 6)

Joseph correctly identified the four canopic jars in figure 6 as the earth in its four quarters. Non-LDS Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge has translated it in the same way. As he wrote:

The four children of Horus played a very important role in the funeral works of the early dynasties; they originally represented the four supports of heaven, but very soon each was regarded as the god of one of the four quarters of the earth, and also of that quarter of the heavens which was above it.[153]

LDS Scholars have also cited the work of Maarten Raven, a non-LDS Egyptologist, to support Joseph's explanation.[154]

Michael Rhodes:

These four standing, mummy-like figures are the four Sons of Horus. They were the gods of the four quarters of the earth and later came to be regarded as presiding over the four cardinal points. They also were guardians of the viscera of the dead, and their images were carved on the four canopic jars into which the internal organs of the dead were placed.


Joseph Smith is right again describing these figures as representing “this earth in its four quarters.”

To the right of these four figures is the name of a god written with a lotus blossom, a lion, and a ram (Egyptian srpt-mai-sr). These three signs are thought to symbolize the gods of the rising, midday, and setting sun, i.e. Re, Khepri, and Atum. This same god is found in several different passages of the late Egyptian demotic papyrus, which refers to Abraham. Joseph Smith gives no explanation of this hieroglyphic name, but it is clearly associated with Abraham in this ancient document.[155]

Represents god sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham, in the form of a dove (Figure 7)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #33: God Sitting Upon This Throne (Facsimile 2, Figure 7)

The God "Min" appears to have been "made to represent God sitting upon his throne" while the wedjat eye was used to represent the power of the Priesthood, and Nehebkau, the bird-like/serpent-like God being made to represent the Holy Ghost. See John Gee's discussion above for the adaptation of birds to represent angels or other heavenly messengers:

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

The epithet of Min is "He of the upraised hand," and his identification is the flail and the erect phallus with which he appears in the oldest known Egyptian statue--he is always in human form.[156] They are also signs of procreation. Min was intimately related to the god Amun, and Amun was probably derived from him.[157] "Amun is the other self of Min; . . . his high priest was called 'The Opener of the Gates of Heaven,' while the high priest of Min at Letopolis was the 'Opener of the Mouth upon the Earth,' i.e., the mortals here on earth upon whom the heavenly power was conferred."[158] The Greeks and Romans associated him with Pan and Priapus.[159] Min is the "Creator god who made the heaven and brought forth the gods, who made the earth and created men . . . and who keeps all things alive."[160]

[. . .]

But most especially the eye belongs to the king and to kingship. Osiris gets the eye back after Horus has rescued it for him; he needs it to rule the kingdom below as Horus and Re need it to rule on earth and in heaven.[161] The eye was, according to Griffiths, the Eye of Horus.[162]

The eye fills the king completely;[163] it purifies him,[164] it gives him special knowledge, visionary power.[165] It exalts the king and places him at the head of the Greater and Lesser Councils.[166] [. . .] In the Pyramid Texts the fusion of his king's nature with God of heaven takes place when his statue is crowned with the moon-eye of Upper Egypt and the sun-eye of Lower Egypt, and then is anointed, passing through the middle chamber of stars into a room in which heaven was scenically depicted."[167] It is the ultimate supreme power over men and gods.[168] Its power is especially protective, encircling the king.[169] [. . .] With all its power, the wedjat is an important element in the ordinances. The functions of the wedjat-eye are combined in the anointing oil, both as the oil of heating that revives the smitten hero,[170] and as the very precious oil used in the ordinances of anointing the brow or breast, specifically to bestow authority and power.[171] It is the anointing which transforms the nature of the individual.[172] All this is in the wedjat eye itself, which by anointing imparts soul and body, restoration, joy, and thankfulness with its obligation of obedience.[173]

In other ordinances it is the food of the sacrament, the wedjat-eye is the power of the bread which fills, revives, and strengthens the king.[174] It is the strength given by sacramental food.[175] [. . .]

By now it should be clear to any Latter-day Saint reader that the elusive wedjat-eye, intimately familiar yet strangely elusive, is a symbol of that equally common all-but-indefinable power called the priesthood.[176]

Michael Rhodes:

A seated ithyphallic god with a hawk's tail, holding aloft a flail. This is a form of Min, the god of the regenerative, procreative forces of nature, perhaps combined with Horus, as the hawk's tail would seem to indicate. Before the god is what appears to be a bird presenting him with a Wedjat-eye, the symbol of all good gifts. In other hypocephali it can also be an ape, a snake, or a hawk-headed snake that is presenting the eye. This figure represents Nehebka, a snake god and one of the judges of the dead in the 125th chapter of the Book of the Dead. Nehebka was considered to be a provider of life and nourishment and as such was often shown presenting a pair of jars or a Wedjat-eye. As for the bird found in Facsimile 2, this could symbolize the Ba or soul (which the Egyptians often represented as a bird) presenting the Wedjat-eye to the seated god.

Joseph Smith said this figure represented God sitting upon his throne revealing the grand key-words of the priesthood. The connection of the Wedjat-eye with “the grand key-words of the priesthood” was discussed above. Joseph also explained there was a representation of the sign of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. The Egyptians commonly portrayed the soul or spirit as a bird, so a bird is an appropriate symbol for the Holy Ghost.

[The wedjat eye can also symbolize] healing, light, totality, protection, glory, and even riches.[177]

Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God; Ought not to be revealed at the present time; Also; Also. If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen (Figures 8-11)

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Joseph Smith explained that the three lines of text, figures 8-11, contain "writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God" and "ought not to be revealed at the present time." These lines contain a prayer to Osiris, the god of the dead, to grant life to the owner of this hypocephalus. A common theme of all Egyptian funerary literature is the resurrection of the dead and their glorification and deification in the afterlife, which is certainly a central element of our own temple ceremony.

There follows a transcription, transliteration, and translation of figures 8-11. (11) [Series of Egyptian hieroglyphs from figure 11] (10) [Series of Egyptian hieroglyphs from figure 10] (9) [Series of Egyptian hieroglyphs from figure 9] (8) [Series of Egyptian hieroglyphs from figure 8] (11) I ntr sdr. m sp (10) tpy, ntr '3 nb p.t, t3, (9) dw3.t, mw=f '3, (8) d3 'nh b3 Wsir Ssq. (11) O God of the Sleeping Ones[178] from the time of (10) the creation.[179] O Mighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, (9) of the hereafter, and of his great waters,[180] (8) may the soul of Osiris[181] Shishaq[182] be granted life.

As stated above, this is a prayer or plea of Shishaq, the owner of the hypocephalus, to Osiris, the god of the dead, who is the Lord of all things, to grant him eternal life.[183]

Michael Rhodes:

Joseph Smith explained that the remaining figures contained writings that cannot be revealed to the world. Stressing the secrecy of these things is entirely in harmony with Egyptian religious documents such as the hypocephalus and the 162nd chapter of the Book of the Dead. For example, we read in the 162nd chapter of the Book of the Dead, “This is a great and secret book. Do not allow anyone's eyes to see it!” Joseph also says line 8 “is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.” Line 8 reads, “Grant that the soul of the Osiris, Shishaq, may live (eternally).” Since the designated purpose of the hypocephalus was to make the deceased divine, it is not unreasonable to see here a reference to the sacred ordinances performed in our Latter-day temples. [Figures 8-11 should actually be read from Figure 11 to Figure 8. Altogether it reads, "(Fig.11) O God of the Sleeping Ones from the time of the creation. (Fig.10) O Mighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, (Fig.9) of the hereafter, and of his great waters, (Fig.8) may the soul of the Osiris Shishaq be granted life."][184]

Figures 16, 17...will be given in the own due time of the Lord

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

There are other such sentiments, but none of them at all like that in the Joseph Smith hypocephalus. These two passages take the form of half a dozen formulae in the various hypocephali consistent with their position at the very bottom of the world: (1) The theme of light coming into the darkness, the best known of all; (2) a warning to one in danger; (3) the assurance “you are secure” (written with the djed-column); (4) the stock flame-under-the-head statement; (5) snatches from conventional statements found in hypocephali in general such as “you go where you want,” etc. (6) But the Joseph Smith readings are the most interesting, backed up as they are by the carefully composed Leiden and Ashmolean hypocephali.


The clue to these two lines is a recent study by Hans Goedicke. Most of line 17 is taken up by the significant expression b pn ḥnʿ nb=f. This particular formula, as Goedicke points out, citing examples, emphasizes “the continuous company between man and his ba . . . [and] reflects a continuous link.”[185] For example: “When I hurry to the caves, may my ba be still with me”[186]and “While I sleep my ba watches over my body.”[187] Just so Re watches over the sleeping Osiris. The idea of course is that the ba continues after death “to remain in contact with its former lord.” To achieve that unbroken contact between spirit and body against the moment of resurrection is of course the main purpose of the hypocephalus; or as Goedicke puts it, “the implicit motive for the desired contact between ba and corpse is the hope for a reunification of the disintegrated person in a physical rebirth.”[188] The subject of Goedicke’s special study is the famous “Lebensmüde,” or as Goedicke renders it, “The Report about the Dispute of the Man with his Ba” —perhaps the most impressive of all Egyptian theological compositions. Though the idea here treated “occurs repeatedly in all periods of Egyptian culture,” the “Lebensmüde” is the earliest and most moving exposition.[189] But the Joseph Smith version carries the theme farther. The whole inscription reads:

(17) [Egyptian hieroglyphs] (16) [Egyptian hieroglyphs]
(17) ḥ.t th.t, n nth.tw, (16) nn tḥ.tw b pn ḥnʿ nbf m dw.t ḏ.t
(17) May this tomb never be desecrated,[190] (16) and may this soul and its owner never be desecrated in the hereafter.

The word ḥ.t refers to the tomb[191] or, more precisely, the tomb shaft.[192] Most hypocephali bear the name of their owner at least once, and it is his tomb that this passage is supposed to protect. The next word is "thἰ," to overstep, transgress; desecrate.[193] The concern here is that the deceased body which is in the tomb as well as his spirit (ba) which is in the netherworld, not be disturbed or desecrated, which would prevent their ultimate reuniting in a resurrection. As [the] Coffin Texts explain, all the parts of the physical body will be brought together with the soul, and the person will be “reestablished” in his original form.[194] The eternity motif means that the person is not stuck in the netherworld forever, but rather the body and spirit are reunited, and the person can “live forever.”[195][196]

Figure...18...will be given in the own due time of the Lord

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Another tradition suggested by the rim is the significance of the solar circle as the year-circle or shenen, the course of the sun in his rounds. Alan H. Gardiner explains, “Strictly speaking, the loop would be round. . . . The Egyptians called the cartouche šnw from a verb-stem šnἰ, ‘encircle,’ and it seems not unlikely that the idea was to represent the king as ‘ruler of all that which is encircled by the sun,’ a frequently expressed notion.”[197]


The commonest Egyptian sign for eternity is read nḥḥ , a solar disk between two twisted hanks of hemp. ḥḥ is the common root for “many,” “very many,” “a million”; with the sun-disk (the time element) added it means eternal and eternally in the end formula of countless inscriptions, nḥḥ ḥnʿ ḏ.t, “for time and eternity.”[198] The point of all this is that the combination of šn and ḥḥ with vowels supplied can be read as Shinehah, which according to Joseph Smith designates “Shinehah, which is the sun,” with reference to its motion relative to that of the other heavenly bodies (Abraham 3:13) and signifies “one eternal round.”

The Amun inscriptions encircling the hypocephali deal with the transmission of heat, light, and power. In the Meux hypocephalus rim inscription Amun states, “I have come forth from the wedjat-eye. . . . I have come forth from the netherworld with Re (the sun),”[199] the hypocephalus itself being the means by which light and heat are transmitted from their celestial source to the individual whose head rests upon it. Amun is commonly implored in the rim inscriptions to “turn his face toward the body of so-and-so,”[200] to warm and preserve it through the virtue of Re. The hypocephalus as a transmitter of both heat and light was to make available to one in the netherworld the life-giving force of the sun.[201]

Figures.....19, 20, and 21 will be given in in the own due time of the Lord

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

The text found in figures 19-21 are as follows: (21) [Egyptian hieroglyphs] (20) [Egyptian hieroglyphs] (19) [Egyptian hieroglyphs]

(21) iw wnn=k (20) m ntr pf (19) dd.wy.

(21) You shall ever be (20) as that God, (19) the Busirian.[202]

This continues the overall theme of the hypocephalus, and indeed Egyptian funerary literature in general. The deceased is promised that he will be like Osiris--he will be resurrected and live eternally as a god.[203]

This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob.

Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes:

Inseparable from our figure 1 are the reverential apes on either side of him—figures 22 and 23 (see appendix 2). On other hypocephali they are sometimes two in number, sometimes four, six, or eight; sometimes standing and sometimes seated. They are identified as stars. As early as the Pyramid Texts, they are designated as “the Beloved Sons” of Sothis/Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.[204] It is assumed that the position of the apes shows them warming their hands as they greet the rays of the rising sun after the cold desert night and seeming to shield their eyes from the glory of the sunrise. So they are stars receiving light from a greater star, as Joseph Smith’s explanation declares. There was nothing to indicate to Joseph Smith that they are stars, yet along with the Pyramid Texts we have a vignette in the 17th chapter of the Book of the Dead in which each of these apes is preceded by a star (fig. 22).[205]


[. . .]

Horopollo tells us that the special office of the apes was to function as timekeepers or time-reckoners.[206]The sitting cynocephalus, according to him, at each equinox urinates twelve times a day and twelve times a night; during the rest of the year he gives a cry twelve times a day on the hour, every hour.[207]The seated ape, then, is in charge of both the water clock and scales (fig. 24). In the Ptolemaic period the Egyptians wrote the determinative of the word for “hour,” wnw.t , by a heart-shaped plumb bob suspended from a carpenter’s square (see p. 253, fig. 26).[208] The purpose of this was to make sure that the post supporting the scale was perfectly upright, as is shown in Joseph Smith Papyrus IV. This new element suggests that the apes which face each other, worshipping the central figure both on the morning side and the evening side on all hypocephali (Fac. 2, figs. 22 and 23), establish among other things a sense of perfect balance in the universe—time, space, and matter are all measurably related. Finally, each of our apes is crowned with a disk and a crescent, the meeting of the sun and the moon at the New Moon marking the beginning of the month; the best-known office of the cynocephalus apes is in representing Thoth as the moon-god (see color plate 2).[209]

Hah-Ko-kau-beam (Fig 23)

John Tvedtnes:

Abraham 3:13 defines Kokob as “star” and Kokaubeam as “stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven.” When first published in the Times & Seasons, the passage read “Kolob” in error. They’d written Kolob so many times that the typesetter thought that’s what belonged here. The manuscripts however have Kokob corresponding to the Hebrew word that we have written here kōkāb and denotes in the one singular and the other in the plural. The plural is also found two other times in the Book of Abraham and it’s called in Facsimile 2, Fig. 5 and also Abraham 3:16 it lists Kokaubeam or kōkābīm in Hebrew. The correct pronunciation (inaudible) means “the” so it’s “the stars.” Lundquist noted that one of the deities in Deimel’s list was Kakob meaning “star”. Similar, Kakkab is the name of one of the god’s mentioned in the Ebla records discovered in northwestern Syria.

Michael Rhodes on Fig 22 and 23:

A seated deity with two (or in most hypocephali, four) ram's heads. He is holding in his hand the symbols of life (onu), dominion (was) and stability (jd). On either side of the god are two apes (numbers 22 and 23) with horned moon-disks on their heads, in an attitude of adoration. There are also two serpents, one on either side of the seated deity. The god is sitting at the center of the hypocephalus, which, as was mentioned above, represents the world....


The apes can represent Thoth, the god of writing and wisdom, as well as the moon, but due to their curious habit of holding up their hands to receive the first warming rays of the sun after the cold desert night as if worshiping the sun at its rising, they are often found in connection with the sun. Besides these solar and lunar associations, apes are also found associated with stars and constellations. Joseph Smith says they are stars receiving light from Kolob, which is in harmony with our understanding of their symbolism in Egyptian.

[The writing near Fig. 22 reads]: The name of this Mighty God.... The Egyptians believed that every god and goddess had a secret name. If anyone could find out this name, he would have power over the god or goddess.[210]

Abraham and the Temple Endowment (Themes of Facsimile 2 and especially figures 8-20)

Hugh Nibley likened the temple endowment to the version of the Book of Breathings Made by Isis contained in the Joseph Smith papyri. The document is organized as follows:

  • The purpose of the document is given.
  • The individual is pronounced clean and enters the hall of justice.
  • The individual enters the underworld with the setting sun and is divinized.
  • The individual is resurrected and given personal permission to live among the gods.
  • The individual is assured of a fully functioning body and proceeds on the way of God.
  • The individual is given a name and allowed to partake of the offerings.
  • The gods escort the individual to various sacred places.
  • Various gods protect the individual from sickness.
  • The individual is allowed to fellowship with the Gods.
  • The individual is inducted into a chapel in the temple to celebrate a festival.
  • The individual will live by the fellowship permit he has received, and his enemies will no longer exist.
  • The gods tell the individual that because he is among the followers of god, his soul will live forever.
  • The gods command that all doors be open to the individual.
  • An offering formula is recited.
  • Different gods are addressed, and the individual states that he is free from various sins. "He gave bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, and clothing to the naked.
  • The individual is commanded to enter the next life with all the privileges of the gods.
  • Instructions for the deposition of the document are given.[211]


Claims about Specific Figures in Facsimile 3

Dr. Ritner makes several assertions about there being no evidence to support Joseph Smith's interpretations of Facsimile 3. Below is an article that gives the best Latter-day Saint commentary on Facsimile 3 and the evidence we can use from antiquity to support it.


Question: Are there any known parallels between elements of Joseph's interpretation of Facsimile 3 with other ancient texts?

Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne (Fig 1)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #35: Abraham and Osiris

See above for ancient traditions discussing this aspect of Abraham. Also, see above under Facsimile 1 for evidences of Semitic adaptation of Osiris to be Abraham.

Hugh Nibley:

But who would sit on Pharaoh’s own throne while he was alive and standing by? “No Pharaoh of Egypt,” cried one of Joseph Smith’s learned critics, “would have resigned his throne, even temporarily, to Abraham or any other person—hence . . . this would be an ‘impossible occurrence.'”[212] But it has since been shown that there was ample precedent in Egypt for just such an event. It goes back to the very ancient title of “Rpʿt on the Throne of Geb,” Geb the earth-god representing the principle of royal patriarchal succession here below. As Helck has unraveled it, we may begin with the Sed festival, marking the end of one reign and the beginning of another in a single rite: The old king is dead on the scene—it is his funeral—but his successor has not yet ascended the throne, which is therefore still his. Because of his condition, however, somebody must act for the late king until the new one takes over, and that one is the Rpʿt, originally the son himself “in his expectation of the throne,” in his role of Horus and therefore “like his father a descendant of Geb.”[213] Following the example of the Sed rites, the prince could represent his father on various missions, bearing the title “for specific assignments as substitute (Stellvertreter) for the king, authorized to give commands” in his name, and called the Son of Geb to proclaim his legitimate station.[214] With the growing business of the empire the king would need more substitutes than one, and at a very early time important court officials not of royal blood were detailed to represent royalty on various missions and given the title in a “truly patriarchal” spirit to show they were acting for the king and as the king.[215] The great Imhotep, a man of genius but for all that a commoner, held the title of Rpʿt on the Throne of Geb in the Third Dynasty;[216] that other wise man, Amenophis son of Hapu, boasts that he played “rpʿt in the drama of the Sed festival,”[217] even as the official Ikhernofret had the honor of being the king’s understudy in playing the role of Horus.[218]

With a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgement in his hand. (Fig 1)

See above for ancient traditions discussing Abraham holding the priesthood.

Hugh Nibley:

In most compositions resembling Facsimile 3, the seated majesty wears the same crown as is worn by figure 1. Sometimes the person on the throne and the one being presented to him both wear it.[219] Both the whiteness and the feathers are symbolic of the heavenly light that burst upon the world at the coronation,[220] the “luminous” quality of the one who mounts the throne.[221] The two feathers are both the well-known Maat feathers, “feathers of truth,” and Shu feathers, symbolic of the light that passes between the worlds.[222]Osiris “causes brilliance to stream forth through the two feathers,” says the famous Amon-Mose hymn, “like the Sun’s disk every morning. His White Crown parted the heavens and joined the sisterhood of the stars. He is the leader of the gods . . . who commands the Great Council [in heaven], and whom the Lesser Council loves.”[223] What clearer description could one ask than Joseph Smith’s designation of the crown “as emblematical of the grand Presidency in heaven”? He tells us also that this crown is “representing the priesthood.” The “most conspicuous attribute” of the godhead, according to Jaroslav Černý, was power;[224]the Egyptians, wrote Georges Posener, “did not worship a man” in the Pharaoh, “but ‘the power clothed in human form.'”[225] One shared in the power, Siegfried Morenz explains, by achieving “the maximal approach of the individual to the ‘divine nature,’ symbolized by his wearing an atef crown.”[226]The atef is the crown in our Facsimile 3, and anyone in a state of sanctification could wear it, but it emphasized, according to Morenz, a sacral rather than a kingly capacity, i.e., it “represented the priesthood” of the wearer.[227]


With the crown go the crook and flail, the receiving of which was a necessary part of the transmission of divine authority. Percy E. Newberry, in a special study, concluded that both crook and flail are “connected with the shepherd,” the former “the outward and visible sign of . . . authority,” marking the one who bore it as “chief shepherd”; by it “he rules and guides . . . and defends” his flock.[228] The flail was a contraption shepherds used to gather laudanum, according to Newberry’s explanation (which, however, has met with no enthusiastic acceptance by other scholars). Ancient sources tell us what it signified, as when the official who bears it at the archaic festival of Sokar is described as “drawing the people of Tameri [the Beloved Land, Egypt] to your lord under the flail,” suggesting the cattle driver, as does the prodding and protecting crook of the shepherd.[229] And like the crook, the whip also serves to protect the flocks: “Men and animals and gods praise thy power that created them,” says Anchesneferibre addressing Osiris, “there is made for thee a flail [nkhakha], placed in thy hands as protection.”[230] As symbolic of the power that created, it is held aloft by the prehistoric Min of Coptos, being the whip of light or of power, bestirring all things to life and action.[231]

In their administrative and disciplinary capacities both crook and scourge are indeed symbolic of Pharaoh’s “justice and judgment.” But in the hands of a commoner? Wolfhart Westendorf calls attention to “claims to royal prerogatives” found in the “tombs of the monarchs and dignitaries, who took over the whip, crook, scepter, and other elements of the king’s garb, in order to be completely equipped in death with all the attributes of Osiris.”[232] Gardiner claimed that those who appear in the trappings of our figure 1 were imitating not Osiris but the living king.[233] But it is all the same: The man on the throne holding “the sceptre of justice and judgment in his hand” is not necessarily either the king or Osiris, though he aspires to both priesthood and kingship. A scene from the Temple of Karnak shows Amon on the throne handing his crook and whip to the living king, who kneels before him; but the king already holds his own crook and flail (fig. 76), while Chonsu standing behind the throne in the garb of Osiris also holds the crook and flail.[234] The freedom with which the sacred symbols could be thus handed around shows that Abraham would not have to grasp Pharaoh’s own personal badges of office, but like many another merely be represented with the universal emblems to indicate the king recognized his supreme priesthood, as the Abraham legends recount.[235][236]

King Pharaoh... (Fig 2) Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt... (Fig 4)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #36: Isis the Pharaoh (Facsimile 3, Figure 2)

Hugh Nibley:

Anyone wishing to demolish Joseph Smith’s interpretation of Facsimile 3 with the greatest economy of effort need look no further than his designating as “King Pharaoh” and “Prince of Pharaoh” two figures so obviously female that a three-year-old child will not hesitate to identify them as such. Why then have Egyptologists not simply pointed to this ultimate absurdity and dismissed the case? Can it be that there is something peculiarly Egyptian about this strange waywardness that represents human beings as gods and men as women? We have already hinted at such a possibility in the case of Imhotep in which, to carry things further, we see both his wife and mother dressed up as goddesses, the latter as Hathor herself (fig. 70).[237] Even more surprising, Dietrich Wildung notes an instance in which “we can identify Anat [the Canaanites’ version of Hathor] as ʾAnat of Ramses [the king] himself in the shape of a goddess” (fig. 71).[238] There you have it—the Lady Hathor, who is figure 2 in Facsimile 3, may be none other than Pharaoh himself. The two ladies in the Facsimile, figures 2 and 4, will be readily identified by any novice as the goddesses Hathor and Maat. They seem indispensable to scenes having to do with the transmission of power and authority. The spectacle of men, kings, and princes at that, dressed as women, calls for a brief notice on the fundamental issue peculiar to the Egyptians and the Book of Abraham, namely, the tension between the claims of patriarchal vs. matriarchal succession.


[. . .]

Since Hathor installs the king “as guarantor of the world order,” it is not surprising that she is also identified with Maat (our figure 4 in Facsimile 3) at the coronation, hailed as “Hathor the Great, the Lady of Heaven, the Queen of the Gods and Goddesses, Maat herself, the female son [sic] . . . Maat who brings order to the world at the head of the Sun-bark, even ‘Isis the Great,’ the Mother of the Gods."[239] In the prehistoric shrine of Cusae “Maat was like the double [Ka] of Hathor”;[240] the two always operate together at coronations: “Maat is before him and is not far from his majesty. . . . Hathor the Great One is with him in his chapel.”[241]To signify his own wholeness of heart, the king presents the Maat-image to Hathor.[242] Maat (the female son) is the younger of the two—indeed, who is not younger than the primordial mother? While “Isis the divine mother” says at the coronation, “I place my son on the throne,” the younger goddess standing by as Nephthys “the Divine Sister” says, “I protect thy body my brother Osiris.”[243]Here the two ladies as Isis the venerable and Nephthys the maiden appear as mother and daughter,[244] standing in the same relationship to each other as “Pharaoh” and “Prince of Pharaoh,” whom they embody in Facsimile 3 (figures 2 and 4 respectively).

[. . .]

All this switching of sexes is understandable, if unsettling, in a symbolic sense—after all, Job says of the righteous man, “his breasts are full of milk” (Job 21:24). But Facsimile 3 is supposed to be an actual scene in the palace; would the family-night charades go so far? Granted that a bisexual nature was the rule for Egyptian divinities, who could freely change their outward appearance to match special functions,[245] still in a purportedly historical scene in which men are represented as women we need something more specific. To begin with, Hathor and Maat were always known for the masks that represent them, these masks being regularly worn by men. The horned Hathor mask, originally life-sized, was carried hanging around the neck of the officials and was gradually reduced in size for convenience, though even in the later period it is still quite large—plainly meant to be worn originally as a mask (fig. 73).[246] In the Old Kingdom, the son of Cheops wore the Hathor mask in his office of Intendant of the Palace, and other high officials wore it too; in the Middle Kingdom it was still the mark of men serving the king’s most intimate needs as his personal attendants.[247] The Egyptian chief judge, as he mounted the bench to represent the king, would suspend a large Hathor mask from his neck to signify that the court was formally in session, just as lawyers and judges in England submerge their personal identities in wigs and robes.[248] This Hathor mask seems to have been at all times interchangeable with the Maat-symbol, usually a huge greenstone feather that is sometimes shown in ritual scenes taking the place of the Lady’s face and head. The symbols are so freely applied that Budge identified the “cow-headed goddess” in the presentation scene of the Kerasher Papyrus, which is very closely related to our Facsimile 3, as “either Isis-Hathor or Maat” (fig. 74).[249]

The wearing of these two amulets or masks means complete identification: “Maat places herself as an amulet at thy neck [fig. 75A]; . . . thy right eye is Maat, thy left eye is Maat, thy flesh is Maat, . . . and thy members; . . . thy bandelette is Maat, thy garment . . . is Maat.”[250] The reference here is specifically to clothing; plainly the new king, the young one, is all dressed up as Maat—”she embodies him in her person in spite of sex.”[251] So let no one be shocked by figure 4. She is “the female Horus, the youthful, . . . Isis, the great, the mother of God, born in Dendera on the eve of the child in its cradle (the New Year).”[252] That is, she is not Pharaoh, but the “Prince of Pharaoh,” the new king. On the other hand, from a Pyramid Text it is clear that the king wore not only the horned headdress of the royal mother Hathor, but her complete outfit as well—combined with the Maat feathers: “His royal robe is upon him as Hathor, while his feather is a falcon’s feather,”[253] signifying both Horus (the falcon) and Maat as his “double.”[254]

Signifies Abraham in Egypt as given also in Figure 10 of Facsimile No. 1 (Figure 3)

Foreigners in Egypt, like Abraham was, are often represented by a Lotus Flower (sometimes referred to alternatively as a water lily), the figure depicted here, as argued by Dr. Hugh Nibley. Nibley cites Waltraud Guglielmi, a non-LDS Egyptologist, to support his assertion specifically referencing divine and human visitors in Egypt.

The lotus, perhaps the richest of all Egyptian symbols, can stand for the purest abstraction, as when it indicates nothing but a date in one tomb or a place in another.[255] In Facsimile 3 we are told that it points to two things, a man and a country, indicating the special guest-to-host relationship between them. Most of the time the lotus announces a party situation, adding brightness to the occasion; etiquette required guests to a formal party to bring a lotus offering to the host--hence the flower served as a token both of invitation and admission.[256] [E.A. Wallis Budge] observed how in the Kerasher Manuscript, in which the person being presented wears exactly the same peculiar lotus headdress as our Shulem (figure 5), "instead of the bullock-skin dripping with blood, which is generally seen suspended near the throne of the god, masses of lotus flowers are represented, giving a totally different aspect to the scene.[257] Yet, while the lotuses "seem to have figured prominently" in formal occasions, according to Aylward Blackman, we still do not understand the flower offerings, any more than we do the combination of lotus stands and small libation vessels such as our figure 3.[258] It would now seem that these tall and narrow Egyptian ritual stands originated in Canaan.[259]


[. . .]

The lotus is definitely a welcome to Egypt from the king to human and divine visitors; the divinity who received the token reciprocated by responding to the king "I give thee all the lands of thy majesty, the foreign lands to become they slaves. I give thee the birds, symbols of thine enemies."[260] In receiving a lotus, the king in return ritually receives the land itself, while the god in accepting a lotus from the king promises him in return the reverent obedience of his subjects.[261] "The flowers are mostly heraldic plants . . . associated with the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt," for in some the main purpose of the lotus rites is to "uphold the dominion of the King" as nourisher of the land.[262] Moreover, its significance is valid at every level of society, the lotus being a preeminent example of how mythological themes and religious symbolism were familiarly integrated into the everyday life of the Egyptians.[263]

[. . .]

The numerous studies of the Egyptian lotus design are remarkably devoid of conflict, since this is one case in which nobody insists on a single definitive interpretation. The points emphasized are (1) The abstract nature of the symbol, containing meanings that are far from obvious at first glance (2) the lotus as denoting high society, especially royal receptions, at which the presentation of a lotus to the host was obligatory [. . .]; to be remiss in lotus courtesy was an unpardonable blunder, for anyone who refuses the lotus is under a curse, (3) the lotus as the symbol of Lower Egypt, the Delta with all its patriotic and sentimental attachments ; (4) the lotus as Nefertem, the defender of the border; (5) the lotus as the king or rule, defender, and nourisher of the land; (6) the lotus as the support of the throne at the coronation. It is a token of welcome and invitation to the royal court and the land, proffered by the king himself as guardian of the border.[264]

Shulem, one of the king's principal waiters (Fig 5)

Pearl of Great Price Central, Insight #8: Shulem, One of the King’s Principal Waiters

Pearl of Great Price Central:

Figure 5 in Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham is identified as “Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters.” We don’t know anything more about the man Shulem beyond this brief description as he does not appear in the text of the Book of Abraham. Presumably, if we had more of the story, we would know more about how he fit in the overall Abrahamic narrative.

However, there are some things we can say about Shulem and his title “the king’s principal waiter.”


Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "Shulem, One of the King’s Principal Waiters"

John Gee,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (2016)
Shulem is mentioned once in the Book of Abraham. All we are told about him is his name and title. Using onomastics, the study of names, and the study of titles, we can find out more about Shulem than would at first appear. The form of Shulem’s name is attested only at two times: the time period of Abraham and the time period of the Joseph Smith papyri. (Shulem thus constitutes a Book of Abraham bullseye.) If Joseph Smith had gotten the name from his environment, the name would have been Shillem.

Click here to view the complete article

Hugh Nibley:

But where does Abraham come in? What gives a "family-night" aspect to our Facsimile 3 is figure 5, who commands the center of the stage. Instead of his being Abraham or Pharaoh, as we might expect, he is simply "Shulem, one of the king's principal waiters." To the eye of common sense, all of Joseph Smith's interpretations are enigmatic; to illustrate his story best, the man on the throne should be Pharaoh, of course, and the man standing before him with upraised hand would obviously be Abraham teaching him about the stars, while figure 6 would necessarily be Abraham's servant (Eliezer was, according to tradition, a black man).[265]But if we consult the Egyptian parallels to this scene instead of our own wit and experience, we learn that the person normally standing in the position of 5 is the owner of the stele and is almost always some important servant in the palace, boasting in the biographical inscription of his glorious proximity to the king. Hall's collection of biographical stelae includes a Chief of Bowmen, Singer of Amon, Chief Builder, Scribe of the Temple, Chief Workman of Amon, Fan Bearer, King's Messenger, Guardian of the Treasury, Director of Works, King's Chief Charioteer, Standard Bearer, Pharaoh's Chief Boatman, Intendant of Pharaoh's Boat-crew, Warden of the Harim, the Queen's Chief Cook, Chief of Palace Security, etc.[266] All these men, by no means of royal blood, but familiars of the palace, have the honor of serving the king in intimate family situations and are seen coming before him to pay their respects at family gatherings. Some of them, like the King's Chief Charioteer, have good Syrian and Canaanite names, like our "Shulem"—how naturally he fits into the picture as "one of the King's principal waiters!" The fact that high serving posts that brought one into close personal contact with Pharaoh—the greatest blessing that life had to offer to an Egyptian—were held by men of alien (Canaanite) blood shows that the doors of opportunity at the court were open even to foreigners like Abraham and his descendants. But why "Shulem"? He plays no part in the story. His name never appears elsewhere; he simply pops up and then disappears. And yet he is the center of attention in Facsimile 3! That is just the point: These palace servants would in their biographical stelae glorify the moment of their greatest splendor for the edification of their posterity forever after. This would be one sure means of guaranteeing a preservation of Abraham's story in Egypt. We are told in the book of Jubilees that Joseph in Egypt remembered how his father Jacob used to read the words of Abraham to the family circle.[267]We also know that the Egyptians in their histories made fullest use of all sources available—especially the material on the autobiographical stelae served to enlighten and instruct posterity.[268] Facsimile 3 may well be a copy on papyrus of the funeral stele of one Shulem who memorialized an occasion when he was introduced to an illustrious fellow Canaanite in the palace. A "principal waiter" (wdpw) could be a very high official indeed, something like an Intendant of the Palace. Shulem is the useful transmitter and timely witness who confirms for us the story of Abraham at court.[269]

Abraham reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king's court (Bottom of explanations)

See above for ancient traditions discussing this. Important to remember is not only his knowledge of astronomy but his passing of the astronomy to the Egyptians and the type of astronomy being taught, tiered firmaments with earth at the center of the universe.

Notes

  1. Janet H. Johnson, Thus Wrote Onchsheshonqy: An Introductory Grammar of Demotic, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1991), 31, 107.
  2. John Gee, "Literary Titles from the Greco-Roman Period," in En detail: Philologie und Archäologie im Diskurs (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019), 1:344-45 and examples [42], [43], [72], [73], [75], [76], [77], [78].
  3. Anonymous, "Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham," Gospel Topics Essays. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng&query=Abraham>. Accessed November 4, 2019.
  4. John Gee, "The Idolatrous Gods of Pharoah," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship: forthcoming.
  5. Anonymous, "Abraham and Idrimi," Pearl of Great Price Central. August 1, 2019. <https://www.pearlofgreatpricecentral.org/abraham-and-idrimi/>. Accessed November 4, 2019.
  6. Anonymous, "Shinehah, The Sun," Pearl of Great Price Central. October 23, 2019. <https://www.pearlofgreatpricecentral.org/shinehah-the-sun/>. Accessed November 4, 2019.
  7. John Gee, "Shulem, One of the King's Principal Waiters," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 19 (2016): 383-395 off-site.
  8. For differing views on translation chronology see Kerry Muhelstein and Megan Hansen “The Work of Translating: The Book of Abraham’s Translation Chronology," Let Us Reason Together: Essays in Honor of the Life’s Work of Robert L. Millet, J. Spencer Fluhman and Brent L. Top, eds. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: 2016), 139–62; John Gee, An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, UT, 2018), 15–16; Robin Scott Jensen and Brian M. Hauglid, The Joseph Smith Papers Revelations and Translations Volume 4: Book of Abraham and Related Manuscripts (Church Historian's Press: Salt Lake City, UT, 2018), Introduction. The reason for the discrepancy is disagreement over validity of W.W. Phelps' letter of July 1835 indicating that they had begun translation, textual evidence that shows by October 1835 the translated Egyptian term "Shinehah" was found in Abraham 3:13, and the presence of Hebrew terminology in early manuscripts of the Book of Abraham which suggests that some revision was done to Abraham 3 based on revelatory insights to Joseph.
  9. Robert K. Ritner, "'Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham'— A Response," <http://www.mormonthink.com/essays-book-of-abraham.htm> (21 May 2020).
  10. Samuel M. Brown, "The Translator and the Ghost Writer: Joseph Smith and W.W. Phelps," Journal of Mormon History Vol. 34, No. 1 (Winter 2008): 26–62; Bruce A.Van Orden, "William W. Phelps's Service in Nauvoo as Joseph Smith's Political Clerk," BYU Studies 32, nos. 1, 2 (1992): 81–94; Bruce A. Van Orden, We'll Sing and We'll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company; Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2018), 356–60.
  11. Don Bradley and Mark Ashurst-McGee, "'President Joseph Has Translated a Portion' Joseph Smith and the Mistranslation of the Kinderhook Plates," in Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith's Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity, eds. Michael Hubbard MacKay, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Brian M. Hauglid (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2020), 517.
  12. W. W. Phelps to Sally Phelps, July 19–20, 1835, in Bruce A. Van Orden, “Writing to Zion: The William W. Phelps Kirtland Letters (1835–1836),” BYU Studies 33, no. 3 (1993): 555. Cited in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham," <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/translation-and-historicity-of-the-book-of-abraham?lang=eng> (21 May 2020).
  13. Robert K. Ritner, "A Response," (21 May 2020).
  14. 14.0 14.1 Stephen E. Thompson, "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Spring 1995)
  15. "Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham," Footnote 35, Gospel Topics, LDS.org. off-site
  16. Paul Y. Hoskisson, "Research and Perspectives: Where Was the Ur of Abraham?", Ensign (July 1991)
  17. John Gee, "Has Olishem Been Discovered?," Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture Vol. 22, Num. 2 (2013)
  18. Robert K. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1993), 162-180.
  19. Berlin execration texts section p 1–9, in Kurt Sethe, Die Ächtung feindlicher Fürsten, Völker und Dinge auf altägyptischen Tongefässscherben des Mittleren Reiches (Berlin: Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1926), 71–72.
  20. PT 23 §16.
  21. P. Louvre 3129 B 44–48, in Siegfried Schott, Urkunden mythologischen Inhalts (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929), 5; compare P. Bremner Rhind 22/2, 9, 17, 23–24, 23/5, 12, in Raymond O. Faulkner, Papyrus Bremner-Rhind (Brussels: La Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth, 1933), 42–47. See Gee, "History of a Theban Priesthood," 67–69, and Gee, "Execration Rituals," 67–80.
  22. See Kerry Muhlestein, "Violence in the Service of Order: The Religious Framework for Sanctioned Killing in Ancient Egypt" (PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2003), all of chapter 10.
  23. Kerry Muhlestein and John Gee, "An Egyptian Context for the Sacrifice of Abraham," Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 20/2 (2011)
  24. (non-Mormon) Egyptologist Lanny Bell, "The Ancient Egyptian 'Books of Breathing,' the Mormon 'Book of Abraham,' and the Development of Egyptology in America," Egypt and Beyond: Essays Presented to Leonard H. Lesko upon his Retirement from the Wilbour Chair of Egyptology at Brown University June 2005, (ed. Stephen E. Thompson), Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies, Brown University, 2008, p. 28.
  25. (non Mormon) Egyptologist Lanny Bell, "The Ancient Egyptian 'Books of Breathing,'", p. 29.
  26. See Robert K. Ritner "Osiris-Canopus and Bes at Herculaneum". As Ritner writes herein: "Although the Herculaneum dancer probably represents a masked participant impersonating the god, the matter is theologically unimportant. The British Museum Bes statue, noted above, has been assumed to be a masked man because of his kilt, moderate belly and flattened face, but no clear cords or fittings indicate that the face is a mask. A Middle Kingdom mask of Bes does survive from Kahun proving the existence of Bes—masked priests, but statue ary of masked humans is more problematic than masked figures in religious scenes. A potentially more relevant sculpture derives from a far earlier period in Egyptian history, on a Fifth Dynasty relief also in the British Museum. Defying the general taboo on representing gods in Old Kingdom tombs, this relief (EA 994) includes a leonine Bes in profile carrying a wand within a scene of the 'd‘ance of the youths.' As in the Herculaneum fresco more than two millennia later, a priest masked as Bes performs at a ritual dance."
  27. John Gee, "A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri" (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000) 36-9, 66
  28. William I. Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, ms. 1401 1, pp. 71–72, LDS Church Archives; as quoted in Gee, "Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence," 184.
  29. Rev. Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons: Or, Three Days at Nauvoo in 1842 (London: Rivington, 1842), 71-72., LDS Church Archives; as quoted in Gee, "Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence," 184.
  30. John Gee, "'There Needs No Ghost, My Lord, Come from the Grave to Tell Us This': Dreams and Angels in Ancient Egypt," SBL S20-110 (2004) Egyptology and Ancient Israel Section.
  31. In his review of the Gospel Topics Essay published by the Church in 2014, Robert Ritner retracts these comments and makes a distinction between "human sacrifice" and "capital punishment." Latter-day Saint scholars have responded that they were one and the same.
  32. Kevin L. Barney, "The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources," Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid, eds. (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2006).
  33. John Gee, "Research and Perspectives: Abraham in Ancient Egyptian Texts," Ensign 22 (July 1992).
  34. Michael D. Rhodes, "Teaching the Book of Abraham Facsimiles," Religious Educator 4, no. 2 (2003): 115–123.
  35. Tvedtnes, "Authentic Ancient Names and Words in the Book of Abraham and Related Kirtland Egyptian Papers". FairMormon Conference 2005. Tvedtnes cites John Lundquist, “Was Abraham in Ebla?” Studies in Scripture II: The Pearl of Great Price, Robert L. Millet and Kent Jackson, eds. (Salt Lake City: Randall, 1985).
  36. Constant De Wit, "Les genies des quartre vents au temple d'Opet," CdE 32 (1957): 35-37.
  37. IE 71 (February 1968): 40-G.
  38. De Wit, "Les genies des quatre vents au temple d'Opet," 39; cf. IE 71 (February 1968): 40-G; translated by John A. Wilson, "The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 3, no. 2 (Autumn 1968): 75.
  39. Kurt Sethe, Zur Geschichte der Einbalsamierung bei den Agypten und einiger damit verbunderer Brauche (Berlin: Akaemie der Wissenschaften, 1934), 217.
  40. S.R.K. Glanville, "Egyptian Theriomorphic Vessels in the British Museum," JEA 12 (1929): 57.
  41. Adolf Rusch, Die Entwicklung der Himmelsgottin Nut zu einer Totengottheit (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1922), 46.
  42. Leopold Cohn, "An Apocryphal Work Ascribed to Philo of Alexandria," JQR 10 (1898): 316–17.
  43. Eugene Lefebure, "Les quatre races au jugement denier," Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 4 (1876): 44–48.
  44. Georges Posener, "Sur l'orientation et l'orde des joints cardinaux chex les Egyptiens," Gottinger Vortrage vom Agyptologischen Kolloquium der Akademie 25, un 26. (August 1964).
  45. A bibliography of works relevant to this subject may be found in the footnotes in Hugh Nibley, "Tenting, Toll, and Taxing," The Ancient State: The Rulers and the Ruled, CWHN 10 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1991), 41-46, 76-83. See also Werner Muller, Die heilge Stadt Roma quadrata, himmlisches Jerusalem und die Mythe vom Weltnabel (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1961).
  46. Emil G. Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri (New York: Arno, 1969), 86; cf. De Wit, "Les genies des quarte vents au temple d'Opet," 31.
  47. Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Provo, UT: FARMS) 2009. Nibley's discussion of this is much longer--occupying 38 pages. Represented here are only parts that stood as the most prominent in reading the first few pages and the most useful to readers in the opinion of the author of this article. Readers are encouraged to see Nibley's entire discussion in his book.
  48. Kurt H. Sethe, Urkunden des alten Reichs, 4 vols. (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1932), 1:111.
  49. Hugh Nibley, "A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price," Improvement Era 72 (September 1969): 89-93.
  50. E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Hunefer) (London: Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1899), 34.
  51. Aylward H. Blackman, "A Study of Liturgy Celebrated in the Temple of Aton at El-Amarna," Recuel d'etudes Egyptologiques dediqué a la memoire de Jean Francois Champollion (Paris: Champion, 1922), 517, 521.
  52. Samuel Yeivin, "Canaanite Ritual Vessels in Egyptian Cultic Practices," JEA 62 (1976): 114.
  53. Waltraund Guglielmi, "Zur Symbolik des 'Dargringes des StrauBes der sh.t'," ZAS 103 (1976): 108.
  54. Ibid., 110-11
  55. Ibid., 111-12
  56. Ibid
  57. Hugh Nibley, "Abraham in Egypt" (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1981), 444–450.
  58. Kevin L. Barney, "The Facsimiles and Semitic Adaptation of Existing Sources," Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2006).
  59. Erik Hornung (non-LDS), “Himmelsvorstellungen,” Lexikon der Ägyptologie, 7 vols. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowit, 1977–1989), 2:1216. For these and other examples, see Daniel C. Peterson, “News from Antiquity,Ensign 24 (January 1994); Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2009), 115–78; Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes, One Eternal Round (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2010), 236–45; John Gee, “A New Look at the Conception of the Human Being in Ancient Egypt,” Being in Ancient Egypt: Thoughts on Agency, Materiality and Cognition, Rune Nyord and Annette Kjølby, eds. (Oxford, U.K.: Archaeopress, 2009), 6–7, 12–13.
  60. Louis Zucker, "Joseph Smith as a Student of Hebrew," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 3, no. 2 (Summer 1968): 41-55 (51), emphasis added. The Hebrew (MT) does not use both "name" and "heavens" but rather "his name" alone. For instance, we read in the 1985 JPS Tanakh: "Sing to God, chant hymns to His name; extol Him who rides the clouds; the LORD is his name. Exult in His presence." Michael Dahood, then-Professor of Ugaritic and Phoenician Languages and Literature at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, rendered this verse as follows in his translation/commentary on the Psalter: "Sing, o gods, chant, O his heavens [note: not "his name] pave the highway for the Rider of the Clouds! Delight in Yahweh, and exult before him!" While it is true that some dispute the vocalization of this word in this verse, it is disputed due to grammatical/contextual reasons for preferring "his name" no a rejection of samaw being a true archaic singular form of "heavens". Instead of Joseph Smith simply cribbing from the Hebrew he studied under Joshua Seixas (and later, Alexander Neibaur) and blundering along the way (per Zucker), something more is going on as coincidence for this and many other issues is an unlikely explanation, especially in light of modern biblical scholarship and philology.
  61. See Robert K. Ritner "Osiris-Canopus and Bes at Herculaneum". As Ritner writes herein: "Although the Herculaneum dancer probably represents a masked participant impersonating the god, the matter is theologically unimportant. The British Museum Bes statue, noted above, has been assumed to be a masked man because of his kilt, moderate belly and flattened face, but no clear cords or fittings indicate that the face is a mask. A Middle Kingdom mask of Bes does survive from Kahun proving the existence of Bes—masked priests, but statuary of masked humans is more problematic than masked figures in religious scenes. A potentially more relevant sculpture derives from a far earlier period in Egyptian history, on a Fifth Dynasty relief also in the British Museum. Defying the general taboo on representing gods in Old Kingdom tombs, this relief (EA 994) includes a leonine Bes in profile carrying a wand within a scene of the 'dance of the youths.' As in the Herculaneum fresco more than two millennia later, a priest masked as Bes performs at a ritual dance.";
  62. John Gee, "A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri" (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000) 36-9, 66
  63. Robert K. Ritner, "The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice" (1993), 249n1142
  64. William I. Appleby Journal, 5 May 1841, ms. 1401 1, pp. 71–72, LDS Church Archives; as quoted in Gee, "Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence," 184.
  65. Rev. Henry Caswall, The City of the Mormons: Or, Three Days at Nauvoo in 1842 (London: Rivington, 1842), 71-72., LDS Church Archives; as quoted in Gee, "Eyewitness, Hearsay, and Physical Evidence," 184.
  66. Peter Le Page Renouf, "Two-sided Hypocephalus in the Walter L. Nash Collection," PBSA 19 (April 1897): 144–46, plate 2.
  67. Herodotus, Histories 2.46
  68. Ibid., 2.42
  69. Hans Bonnet, Reallexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte (Berlin: De Gruyter, 1953), 870.
  70. Ibid., Kurt Sethe, "Hieroglyphische Urkunden der griechisch-romischen Zeit," Urkunden des agyptiscen Altertums 2 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1904-16), 51.
  71. Mendes Stela, in Kurt Sethe, Hieroglyphische Urkunden der griechisch-romischen Zeit (Amsterdam: Leopold, 2017), 28.
  72. Seigfried Schott, Urkunden mythologischen Inhalts, Urkundedn des agyptiscen Alterums 6 (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1929), 74–75.
  73. Bonnet, Reallexikon der agyptischen Religionsgeschichte, 868.
  74. Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 236, 238.
  75. Robert Ritner has called the linking of one day to a cubit "specious. See Robert K. Ritner, The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2011), 221. This was written before this article from Hollis Johnson. Perhaps this may satisfy some skepticism.
  76. Giorgio De Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet's Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time (Boston: Godine, 1977), 8.
  77. Ibid.
  78. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 256.
  79. George H. Box, ed. and trans., The Apocalypse of Abraham (New York: Macmillan, 1918), 16; but this angel was also called Metatron or Enoch; see Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 2nd ed., CWHN 14 (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book Company and FARMS, 2000), 44, fig 4.
  80. Eliyahu Rosh-Pinnah, "The Sefer Yetzirah and the Original Tetragrammaton," JQR 57 (1967): 223.
  81. Phineas Mordell, "The Origin of Letters and Numerals According to the Sefer Yezirah," JGR 2 (1912): 567.
  82. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 256–258; Robert Ritner has disputed this as follows: "Apologists Michael Rhodes and John Gee have sought to defend Smith's explanation of 'Jah-oh-eh' as 'O the earth', although this is impossible both by phonetics (with three h's) and sense (3ht; "arable field" is not used to indicate the whole earth)[.]" Ritner's assessment seems to lack room for assessing what system of transliteration Joseph is using for this. Also, if we see the figure again it reads "called by the Egyptians" not "meaning, in ancient Egyptian." What Egyptians are we using as a reference point? What language are they speaking? These are things Ritner does not seem to take into account. Regarding Ritner's comments specifically about "arable land," what else does Joseph have to render it as? Are "earth" and "arable land" really so far from each other as to reasonably conclude that Joseph Smith translated this wrong? This seems pedantic on the part of Ritner. This etymology from Hugh Nibley disregards Egyptian entirely and proposes one in Semitic roots, moving in a different direction from Gee and Rhodes. This may open better lines of inquiry.
  83. Michael Rhodes "An Interpretation of Facsimile 2," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html> (13 March 2019)
  84. Renouf, "Two-sided Hypocephalus," 144-46.
  85. Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the Integration of Society and Nature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 202–3.
  86. BM 37330
  87. Gasto Maspero, "Sur l'ennéade: Bulletin critique de la religion égyptienne," Revue de l'histoire des religions 25 (1892): 1.
  88. August von Pauly and Georg Wissowa, Paulys Real-Encyclopodiae der classichen Altertumswissenschaft, 1st and 2nd ser., 33 vols. (Stuttgary; Metzler, 1893-1978), 1.2:1855.
  89. BD 17, English translation in Raymond O. Faulkner, Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (London: British Museum Publications, 1985), 44.
  90. Rudolf Anthes, ". . . in seinem Namen und im Sonnenlicht. . .," ZAS 90 (1963):4.
  91. Alexandre Moret, Le ritual du culte divin journalier en Egypte d'apres les papyrus de Berlin et les textes du temple de Seti ler, a Abydos (Paris: Leroux, 1902), 148–49.
  92. Rudolf Anthes, ". . . in seinem Namen und im Sonnenlich. . .," ZAS 90 (1963): 4.
  93. BD 17, English translation in Faulkner, Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, 44.
  94. Renouf, "Two-Sided Hypocephalus," 144–46, plate 2.
  95. Oswalrd Spengler, Der Unergang des Abendlandes: Umrisse eitnerMorphologie der Weltgeschichete, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Braumuller, 1918-22); Gertrud Thausing and Traudl Kertszt-Kratschmann, Das grosse ayptische Totenbuch (Papyrus Reinish) der Papyrussammling der osterreichischen Nationalbibliothick (Cairo: Osterreichisches Kulturinstitut, 1969), 19–22.
  96. Ovid, Fasti, 1:99
  97. Ovid, Fasti, 1:228
  98. Ovid, Fasti, 1:139
  99. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 267–68.
  100. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  101. Nibley wasn't referring to Ritner, but as a fun example, Robert Ritner wrote the following in "The Joseph Smith Papyri: A Complete Edition": "Smith's statement that Amon (Fig 7.) is 'God sitting upon his throne' was an easy guess." In his references attached to it we read: "Also used in the explanation of the intrusive 'Fig. 3.'" See Ritner, The Joseph Smith Papyri, 224.
  102. Raymond O. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), 54.
  103. Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed. rev. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957), 559. See also James P. Allen, Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 579; Wikipedia "Was-sceptre," <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Was-sceptre> (11 November 2018).
  104. Ritner protests that Nibley may not have known that the figure was copied from either papyri in Ritner, "The Joseph Smith Papyri", 219. Yet, Nibley addressed it first thing as part of his discussion of Figure 3 in "One Eternal Round". While it may be true that Nibley did not acknowledge this in his early work, he most certainly did in later work.
  105. Philadelphia 29-86-436.
  106. P. Louvre N. 3525 A1/3.
  107. BM 37095 (formerly 8445a).
  108. Cairo SR 10695.
  109. Brussels E 6319 (see appendix 6 of Nibley's book)
  110. Brussels E 6319 (see appendix 6 of Nibley's book)
  111. Brussels E 6319 (see appendix 6 of Nibley's book)
  112. Brussels E 6319 (see appendix 6), P. Louvre N. 3181, P. Louvre N. 3525 A1/3, P. Louvre N. 2526, Edinburgh 1956-48, Leiden AMS 62 (see appendix 5).
  113. Torino 16347.
  114. Ashmolean 1982-1095; Leiden AMS 62 (see appendix 5).
  115. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 270–71, 277–78.
  116. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  117. Rudolf Anthes, "Egyptian Theology in the Third Millennium B.C.," JNES 18 (1959): 171; a full-scale photo is in Reginald Engelbach, "An Alleged Winged Sun-disk of the First Dynasty," ZAS 65 (1930): 115-16, plate opposite page 114; see Hugh Nibley, "A Pioneer Mother," Abraham in Egypt (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), 509, fig. 86.
  118. Hermann Kees, Der Gotterglaube im alten Agypten (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1941) 42–43.
  119. Notice the reference to stars here. This ties with Abraham and his covenant seed.
  120. Alexandre Piankoff, The Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon (New York: Pantheon Books, 1955), 96–98.
  121. PT 434 (SS784-85)
  122. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 279–81.
  123. Erik Hornung, Das Tal der Konige (Augsburg, Germany: Weltbild, 1998), 135; see Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 65, fig. 12.
  124. Constantin E. Sander-Hansen, Die relgiosen Texte auf dem Sarg der Anchenesferibre (Cop enhagen: Levin and Munksgaard, 1937), 36-37.
  125. Wb 3:230, 1.
  126. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 282–83; This argument has been disputed by Robert Ritner. He rebuts as follows in Ritner, The Joseph Smith Papyri, 221: "Nibley sought to defend Joseph Smith's 'explanation' of this figure by reference to the solar boat (not the depicted Sokar barque) as being 'a ship of 1000 cubits' and thus 'a numeral figure, in Egyptian signifying a thousand.' Neither barque, however, is used in Egyptian texts as a 'numeral figure' and the more common designation of the solar boat is in fact 'the barque of millions'--not 1000. As elsewhere, Nibley did not evaluate Smith's statements objectively; but sought out any possible defense, no matter how farfetched." Ritner's assessment does not seem to take into account Nibley's statements about Nut even though One Eternal Round is cited here where Ritner makes his counterargument. Here we have examples from Nibley where the barque was, in a sense, used as a numeral figure to mean "a thousand" in Egyptian texts—as an epithet of the Goddess Nut. Ritner also makes clear here that one million was the more common designation—indicating that 1000 is still not outside the realm of possibility.
  127. Philippe Derchain, "La peche de l'oreil et les mysteres d'Osiris a Dendara," RdE (1963): 13–14.
  128. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 283.
  129. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  130. Bonnet, Reallexikon der agyptischen Religionsgeschichte, 281.
  131. Ibid., 280
  132. Maxence de Rochemonteix, "Le temple d'Apte ou est engendre l'Osiris thebain," Oeuvres diverses, Gaston Maspero, ed., BE 3 (Paris: Leroux, 1894), 258.
  133. Gustave Jequier, Considerations sur les religions egyptiennes (Neuchatel: Baconniere, 1946), 219.
  134. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 293–94.
  135. Charles Maystre, “Le Livre de la Vache du Ciel dans les tombeaux de la Vallée des Rois,” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 40 (1941): 109.
  136. Edouard Naville, “La destruction des hommes par les dieux,” Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 4: plate B, col. 45.
  137. Hermann Kees, “Die 15 Scheintüren am Grabmal,” ZÄS 88 (1963): 110–11.
  138. Ibid., 111.
  139. Alexandre Piankoff, “The Funerary Papyrus of the Shieldbearer Amon-m-saf in the Louvre Museum,” Egyptian Religion 3 (1935): 134.
  140. Herbert Chatley, “Egyptian Astronomy,” JEA 26 (1941): 125.
  141. W. J. Murnane, United with Eternity: A Concise Guide to the Monuments of Medinet Habu (Cairo: Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, 1980), 61–62.
  142. Étienne Drioton, Le texte dramatique d’Edfu (Cairo: IFAO, 1949), 23.
  143. Described by Siegfried Schott, Die Schrift der verborgenen Kammer in Königsgräbern der 18. Dynastie: Gliederung, Titel und Vermerke (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1958), 323.
  144. Pistis Sophia, 86, 194.
  145. Second Jeu 44, in Carl Schmidt, The Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 105.
  146. Pistis Sophia, 86, 194.
  147. Secrets of Enoch 11:4–5.
  148. Jéquier, Considérations sur les religions égyptiennes, 172–73.
  149. Ibid.
  150. Ibid., 173; see Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 2005), 394, fig. 126.
  151. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 295-99.
  152. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  153. E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic (New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1958), 90-91.
  154. Maarten J. Raven, “Egyptian Concepts of the Orientation of the Human Body,” Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of Egyptologists (2007), 2:1569–70. Ritner has sought to dismiss this explanation as follows in Ritner, The Joseph Smith Papyri, 224: "In keeping with Smith's interpretation of the hypocephalus as an astronomical document, he explains the four sons of Horus (Fig. 6) as simply 'the earth in its four quarters.' While any group of four can have directional relevance, that is hardly the pivotal significance of these protectors of the embalmed viscera (lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines)." Ritner recognizes that many, if not most, Egyptologists recognize that these four gods can have directional significance. The four Sons of Horus were associated with cardinal direction points , so that Hapi was the north, Imsety the south, Duamutef the east and Qebehsenuef the west. See Manfred Lurker, Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter (Bern, Switzerland: Scherz, 1974), 104. See also Wikipedia, "The Four Sons of Horus," <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_sons_of_Horus> (27 May 2020).
  155. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  156. Bonnet, Reallexikon der agyptischen Religionsgeschichte, 461.
  157. Gerald A. Wainwright, "The Emblem of Min," JEA 17 (1931): 185
  158. Wainwright, "Emblem of Min," 170.
  159. Ibid., 464.
  160. Ibid., 463
  161. PT 356 (579)
  162. J. Gwyn Griffiths, "Remarks on the Mythology of the Eyes of Horus," Chronique d'Egypte 33, no. 66 (1958): 191.
  163. PT 198 (114)
  164. PT 258 (308); 259 (312).
  165. PT 638 (1805)
  166. PT 468(901); 523 (1231).
  167. Joachim Spiegel, Das Auferstehungsritual der Unas-Pyramide (Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1971), 389–93; PT 301 (451); see Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 119, fig. 30.
  168. PT 200-221 (195)
  169. PT 200-221 (195)
  170. PT 74-76 (51)
  171. PT 621 (1754); 637 (1803); 639 (1809)
  172. PT 72-73 (50); 74-76 (51); 77 (52)
  173. PT 687 (2074-77)
  174. PT 199 (115)
  175. PT186-90 (107-8) and PT 197 (113)
  176. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 304-05, 319, 321.
  177. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  178. I.e., the dead; see Wb 4:392, 9.
  179. Literally "the first time." See Wb 3:438, 1.
  180. The primeval ocean from which the sun rose on the day of creation and which surrounds the earth. See Henri Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), 114. A similar phrase is found in one of the Demotic magical papyri, r-wn n=y p3 t3 r-wn n=y t3 tw3.t r-wn n=y p3 nwn, "Open the earth for me, open the netherworld for me, open the primeval waters for me." F. Llewellyn Griffith and Herbert Thompson, The Demotic Magical Papyrus of London and Leiden (London: Grevel, 1905), line I 5.
  181. On the identification of the dead with Osiris, see Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion, 103-5; Robert Ritner in his translation renders "soul" as "ba-spirit" in Ritner, The Joseph Smith Papyri, 222. The translation is accurate, yet distinction does not bare significant weight to interpretation. "Ba" was simply apart of the Egyptian pronunciation for "soul". The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul (kꜣ/bꜣ; Egypt. pron. ka/ba) was made up of many parts. See Wikipedia, "Ancient Egyptian Concept of the Soul," <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_concept_of_the_soul> (7 July 2020).
  182. Shishaq or Sheshonq was the name of several Egyptian pharaohs of the Twenty-first Dynasty, the Libyan Dynasty.
  183. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 327.
  184. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  185. Hans Goedicke, The Report about the Dispute of a Man with His Ba, papyrus Berlin 3024 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970), 33.
  186. CT 249 in Adriaan de Buck, The Egyptian Coffen Texts, 7 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1935-61), 3:323g-324a
  187. CT 229, in de Buck, Egyptan Coffin Texts, 3:296i
  188. Goedicke, Report about the Dispute of a Man with His Ba, 33
  189. Ibid., 58.
  190. Emending o nn th.tw h3.t tn. Similar passages, but even more garble, are found in th British Museum hyocephalid BM 35875 (8445c), BM 37908 (3445f), and BM 37909(8445d).
  191. Wb 3:12, 19; Faulkner, Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, 160.
  192. Rainer Hannig, Grosses Handworterbuch Agyptisch-Beutsch: Die Sprache der Pharaonen (2800-950 v. Chr.) (Mainz: von Zabern, 1995), 503.
  193. Ibid., 937
  194. CT 20, in de Buck, Egyptian Coffin Texts, 1:56-58
  195. PT 11 (8)
  196. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 329–31.
  197. Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957), 74.
  198. See Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papri, 228–32, fig 68.
  199. Brussels E 6319
  200. E.g., Florence hypocephalus, Bologna B2025, BM 36188 (8445e), P. Louvre AF 1936
  201. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 333–34.
  202. dd.wy is a disbe adjective formation of Dd.w, Busiris, a cult center of Osiris in the Delta, and thus used as an epithet of Osiris. Cf. Wb 5:630, 7.
  203. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 345; This translation is retained in Ritner, The Joseph Smith Papyri, 220.
  204. PT 569 (1437)
  205. BD 17; see vignette in Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, rev. ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1985)
  206. Horopollo, Hieroglyphica 1.16
  207. Ibid.
  208. Wb 1:316; see Ludwig Borchardt, Die altagyptische Zeitmessung, Band 1, Liefeung B of Die Geschicht der Zeitmessung und derUhren, hrg. Ernst von Bassermann-Jordan (Berlin: de Gruyetr, 1920), 52B, Abb. 24 (plumb bob glyphs).
  209. Nibley and Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 242–46.
  210. Rhodes, "An Interpretation," <http://www.scottwoodward.org/scripture/PGP_Abraham_facsimile2_interpretation.html>
  211. List obtained from John Gee, “Book of Breathings,” Pearl of Great Price Reference Companion, Dennis L. Largey, ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2017), 69. Citing Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, 2d ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002).
  212. Robert C. Webb, pseud., Joseph Smith as Translator (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1936), 113.
  213. Wolfgang Helck, “Rpʿt auf dem Thron des Gb,” Orientalia 19 (1950): 430—31.
  214. Ibid., 432—33.
  215. Ibid., 418—21; David Lorton, "Review of Recherche sur les messagers (wpwtyw) dans les sources égyptiennes profanes, by Michel Valloggia," Bibliotheca Orientalis 34 (1977): 49.
  216. Helck, “Rpʿt auf dem Thron des Gb,” 416; Lorton, "Review of Recherche sur les messagers (wpwtyw)," 49.
  217. Helck, "Rpʿt auf dem Thron des Gb," 434.
  218. Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company; Provo: UT, FARMS, 1981, 2000), 411–12.
  219. Cf. László Kákosy, “Selige und Verdammte in der spätägyptischen Religion,” ZÄS 97 (1971): 100.
  220. S. Mayassis, Mystères et intiations dans la préhistoire et protohistoire de l’anté-Diluvien à Sumer-Babylone (Athens: BAOA, 1961), 299—304.
  221. Ibid., 301; cf. Pyramid Text 437 (§800); 459 (§865); 513 (§1172).
  222. Theodor Hopfner, Plutarch über Isis und Osiris, 2 vols. (Prague: Orientalisches Institut, 1941), 1:70.
  223. Günther Roeder, Urkunden zur Religion des alten Aegypten (Jena: Diederichs, 1915), 24.
  224. Jaroslav Černy, Ancient Egyptian Religion (New York: Hutchinson’s University Library, 1952), 59.
  225. Posener, Divinité du pharaon, 102.
  226. Morenz, Problem des Werdens, 81.
  227. Ibid.
  228. Percy E. Newberry, “The Shepherd’s Crook and the So-called ‘Flail’ or ‘Scourge’ of Osiris,” JEA 15 (1929): 85—87.
  229. Ricardo A. Caminos, Late-Egyptian Miscellanies (London: Oxford University Press, 1954), 420.
  230. Constantin Sander-Hansen, Die religiösen Texte auf dem Sarg der Anchnesneferibre (Copenhagen: Levin and Munksgaard, 1937), 105—6.
  231. Cf. Eugène Lefébure, “Le Cham et l’Adam Égyptiens,” BE 35 (1912): 7.
  232. Wolfhart Westendorf, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (New York: Abrams, 1969), 84.
  233. Alan Gardiner, review of The Golden Bough, by James G. Frazer, JEA 2 (1915): 124.
  234. Georges A. Legrain, Les temples de Karnak (Brussels: Vromant, 1929), 217, fig. 129.
  235. Hugh Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (May 1969): 88.
  236. Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 442–44.
  237. Dietrich Wildung, Egyptian Saints: Deification in Pharaonic Egypt (New York: University Press, 1977), 63.
  238. Ibid. Emphasis added.
  239. Gertrud Thausing, “Der ägyptische Schicksalsbegriff,” Mitteilungen des deutschen archäologischen Instituts zu Kairo 8 (1939): 53; Jan Bergman, Ich bin Isis (Stockholm: Almquist and Wiksell, 1968), 170, 177.
  240. Bernhard Grdseloff, “L’insigne du grand juge égyptien,” ASAE 40 (1940): 197.
  241. Constant de Wit, “Inscriptions dédicatoires du temple d’Edfou,” CdE 36 (1961): 65.
  242. Jacques Vandier, “Iousâas et (Hathor) Nébet-Hétépet,” RdE 16 (1964): 143.
  243. Cf. de Wit, “Inscriptions dédicatoires du temple d’Edfou,” 277.
  244. Ibid., 278.
  245. Bergman, Ich bin Isis, 275—79.
  246. Grdseloff, “L’insigne du grand juge égyptien,” 185—202.
  247. Ibid., 199—200.
  248. Ibid., 194.
  249. E.A. Wallis Budge, Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Hunefer) (London: Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1899), 34.
  250. Alexandre Moret, Rituel du culte divin journalier en Égypte (Paris: Leroux, 1902), 141—42.
  251. Bergman, Ich bin Isis, 216.
  252. Gertrud Thausing, “Der Ägyptische Schicksalsbegriff,” Mitteil-ungen des deutschen archaeologischen Instituts zu Kairo 8 (1939): 60.
  253. Pyramid Text 335 (§546).
  254. Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 425–35
  255. Kurt H. Sethe, Urkunden des alten Reichs, 4 vols. (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1932), 1:111.
  256. Hugh Nibley, "A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price," Improvement Era 72 (September 1969): 89-93.
  257. E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Hunefer) (London: Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1899), 34.
  258. Aylward H. Blackman, "A Study of Liturgy Celebrated in the Temple of Aton at El-Amarna," Recuel d'etudes Egyptologiques dediqué a la memoire de Jean Francois Champollion (Paris: Champion, 1922), 517, 521.
  259. Samuel Yeivin, "Canaanite Ritual Vessels in Egyptian Cultic Practices," JEA 62 (1976): 114.
  260. Waltraund Guglielmi, "Zur Symbolik des 'Dargringes des StrauBes der sh.t'," ZAS 103 (1976): 108.
  261. Ibid., 110-11
  262. Ibid., 111-12
  263. Ibid
  264. Hugh Nibley, "Abraham in Egypt" (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1981), 444–450.
  265. Bernhard Beer, Leben Abraham’s nach Auffassung der jüdischen Sage (Leipzig: Leiner, 1859), 194n853.
  266. Henry R.H. Hall, Hieroglyphic Texts from Egyptian Stelae in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1925), 3.
  267. Jubilees 39:6.
  268. Peter Kaplony, “Vorbild des Königs unter Sesostris III,” Orientalia 35 (1966): 405—6.
  269. Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 450–51.