Part 15: CES Letter Book of Abraham Questions [Section F]


by Sarah Allen


I’m going to dive in and start discussing what Joseph’s interpretations of what the figures on Facsimile 2 mean compared to what “modern Egyptologists say,” but first, I do want to point out that on this facsimile, there are a lot of numbered entries where Joseph says he’s not allowed to translate those figures yet while the Egyptologists have a description. Jeremy Runnells stacks them up in such a way as to imply that Joseph was incompetent by comparison, but Joseph could not read Egyptian. His translations and explanations were given to him by revelation.

The scriptures are full of verses comparing the wisdom of God to the wisdom of men. It’s not surprising these interpretations don’t match in every case, particularly when, as we’ve pointed out, those figures could be “read” multiple different ways by multiple different groups of people. As Hugh Nibley said, “In viewing them today, we must bear in mind the principle [of] … the ‘plurality of approaches,’ which states that the Egyptian, far from being adverse to giving more than one interpretation to a character, rejoices in putting as many meanings and associations as possible into every situation. Any one figure could stand for more than one idea, deity, force or principle, so that one may not say ‘this figure cannot be Re because it is Atum.’ On the hypocephalus, to make things more interesting, all the symbols, each with its multiple meanings, are drawn together into a circle where they are closely interrelated, suggesting a great wealth of possible interpretations.” It’s also not surprising that, if those figures were interpreted as having to do with temple worship and covenants the way we discussed last week, God would not allow Joseph to reveal them to a worldwide audience. But even with those caveats, there is a surprising amount of information that aligns between the various explanations. Regardless of what Runnells is trying to imply, Joseph was not incompetent, and his interpretations of these figures do hold up against ancient Egyptian and Jewish thought.

Here are Joseph’s explanations versus those of modern Egyptologists, along with what I’ve been able to find about them. Note: in the CES Letter, Jeremy only quotes part of each of Joseph’s longer explanations. I quoted the entirety of them here because often, the parts Jeremy leaves out are the parts with the strongest evidences behind them. And, as always with these comparisons, Joseph’s explanations come first:

Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The measurement according to celestial time, which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh vs The god Khnumu.

There are a bunch of parts to this, and to several of the other explanations Joseph gave, so I’ll do my best to break it down a way that makes sense. It very quickly became apparent that I’d have to either split this into multiple parts or get creative. Because I wanted to get done with this Facsimile, I decided to do it this way. You can find most of my response to Figure 1 here.

Regarding “Jah-oh-eh,” Michael Rhodes states, “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 ỉ 3ḥ.t, ‘O Earth’ (assuming that Joseph used the biblical convention of rendering a Semitic Yod with an English J).”

Hugh Nibley had a different take on it:

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.” This, of course, suggests Jaoel, the angel who visits Abraham in the Apocalypse of Abraham and who is easily identified by George H. Box as Jehovah.

What is that mysterious name, Jehovah, and its real form? The name was deliberately withheld from the world; only one person was supposed to know it, and that was the high priest who whispered it only once when he entered the veil on the Day of Atonement. Its secret pronunciation was taught to the disciples of the doctors of the Jews only once every seven years. The form we all know in common use, Jehovah or Yahweh, is held by Jewish scholars to be “only meant for the masses” and not the true or real Tetragrammaton at all. Necessarily that must “consist of four vowels u-a-i-e,” according to Eliyahu Rosh-Pinnah.

A doctrine common to both Jews and Egyptians is that “everything which is found in the heaven above has its counterpart on the earth below,” including “human speech … which is dead without the vowels.” It is the vowels that live, and the original tetragrammaton uttered by the high priest once a year was really the four vowels u-a-i-e, which are “a manifestation of the Supreme Being, … Who with His Name seals the six ends of the universe and thereby prevents it from relapsing into chaos.” In Jah-oh-eh, which Joseph Smith calls “the measurement of this earth,” the monosyllabic Jah is necessarily two vowels, as can be seen in the writing of Ya-h-weh, the letter j being foreign to Hebrew as it is to Latin and Greek. The Sefer Yetzirah, traditionally the oldest of books and the work of Abraham, tells us that “the whole creation and all languages” emanated from the name YHWH, the tetragrammaton, which the ancients regarded as consisting entirely of four vowels and was actually transcribed into other languages as i-e-u-o, but also as i-a-o-u-i; the arrangement varies because there is no agreement as to what the original Hebrew vowels were. According to the same source, the prominent h in the name of Yahweh is neutral, “the equivalent of mathematical zero,” and can simply indicate the place where a vowel should stand. “The original letters of the Tetragrammaton,” Phineas Mordell concludes, “were יעוא instead of יהוה” which corresponds to Joseph Smith’s j-a-o-e (yod י ayin ע waw ו aleph א).

… According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the letters “were made in the form of a ‘state and arranged like an army in battle array,’” as if coordinating human affairs with the order of the cosmos. We are told that “when Abraham understood it, his wisdom increased greatly, and he taught the whole law.”

This idea of ‘four’ being sacred and at the heart of everything comes up several times throughout the discussion of Facsimile 2. I’ll touch on that a bit more later, but if it corresponds to the true name of Jehovah/Christ, it makes so much sense, especially when connected with the concept of “completeness” and the four quarters/corners of the Earth.

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 also, pertaining to other planets; as revealed from God to Abraham, as he offered sacrifice upon an altar, which he had built unto the Lord vs “Amun-Re”, god with two faces representing rising & setting sun.

This one is equally as complicated as the first one, so my response is here. The thing I’m most struck by as go through these, though, is how well they all work together. It’s like pieces of a puzzle, and when you fit them all together and the picture is complete, it’s all one harmonious image and it all makes sense.

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 vs “Horus-Re” riding in his boat.

Again, this is too long to include the entire thing in this post, so my response can be found here.

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 the time of Oliblish, which is equal with Kolob in its revolution and in its measuring of time vs Represents Sokar, not a number.

I can’t tell if Runnells is being deliberately obtuse, deliberately manipulative, or if he just didn’t do very much research on this one. The associations between this figure and the number 1000 are strong, as are the outstretched wings signifying the heavens. Again, my response can be found here.

Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. 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 vs Cow of Hathor behind which stand a uzat-headed goddess holding a sacred tree.

This one is really curious, and again, there are some explanations here that make some sense. This one is also not so long that I need to create a separate document for it. Pearl of Great Price Central demonstrates how the Egyptian goddess Hathor is connected to the sun:

One of the “most important and popular” goddesses in ancient Egypt, Hathor … “was most commonly represented as a cow goddess. Her manifestations and associated activities were numerous and diverse, and complementary aspects such as love and hate, or creation and destruction, characterized her from the earliest stages of her worship.” What’s more, “Her aspects [also] incorporated animals, vegetation, the sky, the sun, trees, and minerals, and she governed over the realms of love, sex, and fertility, while also maintaining a vengeful aspect capable of the destruction of humanity.” When represented as a cow or as a human female with cow horns, she “usually bears the sun disk between [her] horns.”

This last detail, though small, is significant for Joseph Smith’s interpretation of this figure. Hathor, especially in her bovine form, is frequently identified in Egyptian texts as the mother and guardian of the sun disc as it is reborn each morning. She is sometimes identified as both the consort and daughter of Re, the sun god, and is frequently identified as “Eye of Re.” She is featured prominently in one myth involving the sun god Re where she devours enemies with a fiery solar glare from her eyes(s).

… By the likely time Facsimile 2 was drawn, Hathor was being identified by some ancient Egyptians as not only the mother and protector of the sun disc but as the sun itself. “Like her companion, the sun god Re, Hathor [was sometimes identified as] a fiery solar deity.” One inscription from the Hathor Temple at Dendera makes this identification explicit: “[The goddess] Keket who pays homage to Hathor, Lady of Iunet: ‘Hail to you, Female Sun, Mistress of Suns.’”

Commenting on this text, Egyptologist Barbara Richter explains, “[T]he [play on words] … emphasizes not only that Hathor is the sun, but also that she is mistress of the other solar deities. Furthermore, because Keket [is a goddess who] represents [primordial] darkness, it is appropriate that she praises Hathor as the ‘Female Sun,’ the bringer of light. … [T]he text, iconography, and imagery of [this] scene [in the temple] allude to Hathor as the rising sun at its first illumination of the earth.”

… The imagery … depicts “a golden cow who bears or creates two encirclers (dbnyw) or two great lights (hȝytỉ) being the sun and the moon . … These drive out darkness, bring in light, and lighten the land. She is also connected with the stars, fixing them in their places and orbits. … She is explicitly connected with the horizon, but at the same time, since ‘she has driven out darkness, and she has lit up Egypt’ she is identified with the sun. Thus this figure is horizon, sky, and sun.”

And, in explanation of the fifteen other planets or stars, Hugh Nibley explained:

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: “Along the belly of the cow are stars.” 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 … the three groups of three strokes each can, and often do, signify an innumerable host.

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. 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.

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. Between the mummy and the depths and the hawk in the heaven, there are twelve red dots and fifteen stars. …

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. 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 (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.” 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.” They are the light virgins who are “in the middle or the midst,” meaning that they are go-betweens. 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,” 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…fifteen figures [that] are designated as carriers or bearers, 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. 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.”

This is what I was talking about when I mentioned in the response to Figure 2 that gates and keys seem to be a recurring theme here. There appears to be fifteen gates or portals (the number is, I’m sure, symbolic of “many”) through which God’s governing power extends to Earth, and guides the Earth in its daily rotation and yearly revolution. Or, at least, that’s what the figures on the facsimile are hinting at.

Represents this earth in its four quarters vs The four sons of Horus, they can represent the four cardinal points of earth.

This one is an exact bullseye. Pearl of Great Price Central gives a good explanation of it all:

Figure 6 of Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham was interpreted straightforwardly by Joseph Smith as “represent[ing] this earth in its four quarters.” Based on contemporary nineteenth-century usage of this biblical idiom (Revelation 20:8), Joseph Smith evidently meant the figures represent the four cardinal points (north, east, south, and west). This interpretation finds ready support from the ancient Egyptians.

The four entities in Figure 6 represent the four sons of the god Horus: Hapi, Imsety, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef. Over the span of millennia of Egyptian religion, these gods took on various forms as well as mythological roles and aspects. One such role was, indeed, as representing the four cardinal directions. “By virtue of its association with the cardinal directions,” observes one Egyptologist, “four is the most common symbol of ‘completeness’ in Egyptian numerological symbolism and ritual repetition.”

I mentioned earlier the idea of ‘four’ being sacred and connected to the true name of Jehovah. In the Reddit comments of one of these posts, some of us discussed how the number four was a sacred number for many ancient cultures in various places around the world (including the Egyptians and the Israelites), how it shows up in various places in the Old Testament, and how it often corresponded to the four cardinal directions as well as the concept of “completeness” or “wholeness,” just like it states here. In “One Eternal Round,” Hugh Nibley adds that, “It has often been noted that these figures are the four creatures of Ezekiel and Revelation as well as the symbols of the four evangelists,” just like we were talking about in the comments.

PGPC continues:

This understanding is shared widely among Egyptologists today. James P. Allen, in his translation and commentary on the Pyramid Texts, simply identifies the four Sons of Horus as “representing the cardinal directions.” Manfred Lurker explains that “each [of the sons of Horus] had a characteristic head and was associated with one of the four cardinal points of the compass and one of the four ‘protective’ goddesses” associated therewith.

Geraldine Pinch concurs, writing, “[The four Sons of Horus] were the traditional guardians of the four canopic jars used to hold mummified organs. Imsety generally protected the liver, Hapy the lungs, Duamutef the stomach, and Qebehsenuef the intestines. The four sons were also associated with the four directions (south, north, east, and west) and with the four vital components for survival after death: the heart, the ba, the ka, and the mummy.” “They were the gods of the four quarters of the earth,” remarks Michael D. Rhodes, “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 were placed.”

Another Egyptologist, Maarten J. Raven, argues that the primary purpose of the Sons of Horus was to act as “the four corners of the universe and the four supports of heaven, and only secondarily with the protection of the body’s integrity.”

You’d have to be reaching to suggest Joseph didn’t nail that explanation.

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 vs The god “Min”, an ithyphallic god; that is, a sexually aroused male deity.

This is another one that’s pretty straightforward. PGPC explains that:

In some hypocephali the ancient Egyptians themselves simply identified this figure as, variously, the “Great God” (nṯr ˁȝ), the “Lord of Life” (nb ˁnḫ), or the “Lord of All” (nb r ḏr). This first epithet is significant for Joseph Smith’s interpretation, since in one ancient Egyptian text the divine figure Iaho Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts) is also afforded the epithet “the Great God” (pȝ nṯr ˁȝ).

 … Christina Riggs similarly comments that “near naked goddesses, gods with erections, and cults for virile animals, like bulls, make sense in [ancient Egyptian] religious imagery because they captured the miracle of life creating new life.” For this reason Min was “regarded as the creator god par excellence” in ancient Egypt, as fertility and (male) sexuality was “subsumed under the general notion of creativity.”

Hugh Nibley explains his take on the rest of Joseph’s interpretation:

… [L]et us recall how in the Testament and Apocalypse of Abraham the Patriarch was carried up from the place of sacrifice by a dove, and there saw God on his throne, and was given a tour of the cosmos along with a special map, a round chart with two main divisions, etc., which must have looked like our hypocephalus, which he brought it back to earth with him for the instruction of his children. Moses is taken on a like tour, which indeed is now found to be a part of stock theme in Apocalyptic literature, but he is taken not by a dove but, “being filled with the Holy Ghost…calling upon the name of God,” is carried up to behold God in his glory and is given a panoramic view of the universe: “…as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld, the earth, even all of it,” as well as the starry heavens. In Fig. 7 we are shown “the Holy Ghost…in the form of a dove” presenting to or receiving from the one on the throne, another symbol here standing for “the grand Key-Words Of the Priesthood,” as they are revealed “through the heavens.” It was through the heavens, specifically by the Cosmic chart, that Abraham was enlightened at his ascension in the Abraham Apocrypha.

 … The w3dat-Eye is something far more familiar. Does it “represent the grand Key-words of the Priesthood?” … As it stands, the eye is the key to the measurement of all things and hence to all knowledge. … In the Pyramid Texts as Grapow points out, every gift and endowment is identified with the Horus Eye, and the making of the whole, the perfect wd3t-Eye, the Supreme gift. In some instances it is not Horus but the dead Osiris who receives the Eye, when it is the earnest of the resurrection, the restoration of the body, the ultimate triumph over death. … The key of knowledge and life, the secret of the resurrection, the key to the measure of all things, of science itself, the knowledge of “every gift and endowment,” the consummation of every good thing—what comes nearer to “the grand Key-Words of the Priesthood?”

Michael Rhodes added, “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.”

Contains writings that cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God vs “grant that the souls of Osiris Sheshonq may live”.

This one is kind of cool. Hugh Nibley states the following:

No. 8 “cannot be revealed unto the world,” apparently at any time, “but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.” What does it say? Granting that all Egyptian religious writing is a cryptogram which no one to this day really understands, what line 8 says is “grant (imi) life unto the Ba of the Osiris Sheshak.” [Note: Sheshak is another translation of Sheshonq.] There is no commoner formula in Egyptian than line 8, but what does it mean? This section tells us that the Most High God is to endow a certain individual (who happens to bear the name of the king who brought the holy implements if not ordinances of Solomon’s Temple to Heliopolis) with life. But what do those words mean–to endow the Ba of a certain Osiris So-and-So with ankh? It is the greatest gift and blessing that can be bestowed on any one; and such a blessing the Latter-day Saints believe is only to be found in the Temple of God.

To fully explain this, a few terms are necessary to understand about the Egyptian concept of the human soul. They believed the soul was a combination of several parts. The “ba” is the facet of the soul that contains someone’s personality. It’s often personified by a bird, occasionally with a human head. That bird is usually drawn to signify the soul flying out of the tomb and into the afterlife. This is why, in Charles Lawson’s re-drawing of Facsimile 1, the bird has a mangled head and is described as the ba of Hôr or Osiris (often, the figure on the lion couch scene is referred to as Osiris, standing in for the deceased). This is interesting to me because the ba is synonymous with what we would consider a person’s spirit, and Joseph identified that bird as an angel of the Lord. In our theology, angels are either spirits or resurrected beings. The “owner” of the spirit in each explanation is different, but they are nonetheless both identified as spirits. When Nibley talks about being endowed with ankh, he’s talking about the Egyptian symbol for “life”.

So, this portion of the hypocephalus is a prayer from the deceased to the Most High God, asking that He grant or endow the deceased’s spirit with eternal life, and where are endowments given by God and taken by us? In the temple. While portions of it had been available in Kirtland, the full endowment was first instituted in Nauvoo in May of 1842, just two months after this facsimile and its explanation was published in the Times and Seasons. And even today, the details of those things aren’t revealed to the world, but are only to be had inside the Holy Temple of God.

Figures 9-11 are all given the same comment by Joseph: “Ought not to be revealed at the present time.” I’m not going to go through the standard Egyptological explanations of those figures here because Joseph didn’t interpret them. There’s nothing to compare or much to discuss from a Gospel-related perspective. Curiously, though, Joseph’s explanation for figure 11 also includes this: “If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be. Amen.”

This is particularly interesting to me, as Hugh Nibley explains that the deeper meanings of hypocephali were, in fact, meant to be secret and were apparently mathematically coded into them for those who had the special ability to read them:

The message is cleverly hidden, and we should not expect the obvious, for the Egyptians were fond of cryptograms, and the instructions for making hypocephalus insist on the greatest secrecy. … [T]he key to the hypocephalus [is] Chapter 162 of the Book of the Dead. The Joseph Smith Explanation says that certain numbers are concealed in the drawings as part of the cryptogram—an old Egyptian trick. The facsimile is replete with invitations to numbers games, but here we can call attention to only one. Cleverly hidden from the modern eye, but probably not from an Egyptian priest, is the most significant of numbers, the sacred proportion on which the Egyptians and Pythagoreans placed such great store, that is the so-called Golden Section, “which from ancient times has been enveloped in a halo of mysticism.” … The really dynamic figure is the Golden Triangle from which we construct the Golden Section; the proportion between the sections of the altitude is the Phi-ratio. Plutarch says that the Egyptians and Greeks both explain life by the triangle. It was distressing to find no exact proportion between the sides and the diagonal of a square, but in the Golden ratio was found a more satisfactory and productive number, a number whose wonderful properties are shared by no other.

I was long puzzled by what seemed an inconsistency in the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus. Long ago Rochemonteix showed that “like the sky every Egyptian temple is divided equally and exactly between the North and the South.” Likewise, the more substantial hypocephali are divided into either neat halves in the middle, (sometimes re-divided into quarters) suiting the perfect balance of the yin and the yang in the creative process, or into thirds, two/thirds male one/third female, consistent with the special importance of the fraction 2/3 to the Egyptians, the only fraction written by them without 1 as a numerator. However, [while] the characters may be written in a dashing free-hand, it is apparent that the straight lines on the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus were drawn with care, using a straight-edge. This makes it possible to determine whether the awkward placing of the division line between upper and lower worlds was intentional. So let us superimpose the Golden Section on the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus and presto, it fits exactly.

From the Phi-ratio we also get the Phi-spiral or so-called Whirling Squares derived in the 18th century from the Fibonacci Series which ties the whole thing together with the processes of nature in some wonderful ways, e.g. in the spectacular arrangements of the florets of sunflower seeds, in the order in which buds and branches spring from stems and tree trunks, in the genealogical descent of some insects and, best known, in the spiral shells of snails, the chambered nautilus and in the curve of animals’ horns. Most conspicuous of these are the rams’ horns from which that lordly fossil, the Ammonite (perhaps the most striking illustration of the Phi-curve), gets its name. For the supreme god Ammon wore rams’ horns. He happens to be the central object of every major hypocephalus, but only the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus goes all the way in incorporating the Ammon motif, as we can see if we superimpose the Phi-spiral on the Joseph Smith Hypocephalus. Again, the curve touches the line exactly where it should.

One cannot exaggerate the excitement these figures had for the ancients; the Phi-proportion was expressed in the Pythagorean Pentagram, displaying the same ratio throughout. It was regarded as a symbol of great power and profound significance. … It was the symbol of recognition among members of the brotherhood and its meanings were guarded with great secrecy. … While we are at it we should mention the companion piece to the pentagram, namely Solomon’s Seal or the Star of David composed of two equilateral triangles. We mention it because of a figure in the Joseph Smith Papyri in which a very carefully drawn equilateral triangle is placed point-down on an equally carefully drawn square. Egyptologists have declared this figure to be completely baffling and totally unfamiliar, but it shows that the owner of the Joseph Smith Papyri had a special interest in the mystery of numbers.

 It is true that the Golden Section is strangely appealing to the eye and a great favorite of artists from the Palette of Narmer to the Renaissance, though Ms. Kielland reminds us that with the Egyptians we must “look not for an aesthetic reason, but a ritualistic one.” These various constructions “provided a new kind of geometrical number,” writes Santillana, “which was accepted…as being of ‘the foundation of the universe.’”

Personally, I find this fascinating. I don’t know exactly what it all means, but the fact that there are geometric ratios encoded into the facsimile and that Joseph somehow knew that when no one else did for well over a century is incredible to me. Revelation is an amazing thing, you guys.

In figures 12-21, Joseph simply says they, “will be given in the own due time of the Lord,” and then he finishes off the entire facsimile with, “The above translation is given as far as we have any right to give at the present time.” Again, I’m not going to go through what modern Egyptologists say about these because there’s nothing to compare their statements to. But Joseph’s comments about not having the right to give translations and that someday, more explanations will be given by God are very interesting to me.

It makes me wonder what more is coming someday, you know? We’ve been promised the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon someday, and I believe there were some hints we’d eventually get the lost 116 pages as well. We’ve also been promised that new scriptures from lost tribes would come to light, and here, we’re also being promised that further explanations of this particular facsimile will be coming someday, too. I’m so curious to see how it all fits together and what deeper meaning those geometric “Golden” shapes may have.

Anyway, Runnells then ends the section on Facsimile 2 with this statement:

One of the most disturbing facts I discovered in my research of Facsimile 2 is figure #7. Joseph Smith said that this is “God sitting on his throne…” It’s actually Min, the pagan Egyptian god of fertility or sex. Min is sitting on a throne with an erect penis (which can be seen in the figure). In other words, Joseph interpreted that this figure with an erect penis is Heavenly Father sitting on His throne.

I honestly don’t see how this is “disturbing” in any way. Joseph Smith didn’t draw the image, nor did he say that Heavenly Father was in the habit of displaying His anatomy for all to see while sitting on His throne. Ancient cultures worldwide, Egyptian included, frequently created art where male gods had a visible phallus. Any student of art or history can tell you how common that feature was. All Joseph did was suggest that, in their pagan culture, that drawing was how ancient Egyptians represented God the Father. Our Heavenly Father has a resurrected body of flesh and bone. To be a bit blunt, it’s assumedly an anatomically correct one. While I’m sure He doesn’t go around exposing that body in this manner, it’s not like pieces of it fell off when He was resurrected, you know? Moreover, as we’ve already seen, Joseph was right that the figure is depicting God. So, what’s the problem? What about any of that is disturbing?

This one was super long and I apologize for the info dump. I’d normally have split it into multiple parts, but there wasn’t a clear dividing line. It all blends into one another and continually reinforces different aspects of the same ideas. (Also, I was impatient to get done with it and move on to the next facsimile.) Next week, the length will be a little more manageable, I promise.



Sources in this entry:,9?lang=eng&clang=eng#p4


Sarah Allen is brand new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. A voracious reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises and began sharing what she learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.

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