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Egyptology and the Book of Abraham
by Kerry Shirts
The Shirtale Review: Fac. #1, Figures 5,6,7,8; Fac. #2, Figure #6
The contest has appeared that these figures are incorrect in our vignettes to the Book of Abraham. I will argue otherwise. If anywhere, here is where Joseph Smith shines brighter and with greater accuracy and precision than anywhere else in the scriptures. Let me explain, as there is a rather huge cultural background to these figures to be sure.
Joseph Smith identifies these figures in Fac. 1 as idolatrous gods of the names of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash. The same figures in fac 2 he says represents the earth in its four quarters. This is the claim. Is there a correlation?
In one of the more interesting articles on the BofA in recent years, Stephen Thompson "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham" in "Dialogue", Spring 1995, says many things I would like to cover, however, I will deal at this time with only his argument against Joseph Smith with these figures. I will complete my survey on Thompson's article in a little while.
Thompson's argument is straight forward. He claims that Daniel C. Peterson in his article "News From Antiquity" saying that these figures can represent the earth in its four quarters as well as being found in the ancient world is incorrect. Thompson does note that
M. Heerma van Voss in the "LA"3.53 notes that the context of this idea, i.e., the sons of Horus representing the four quarters is when they were sent out in four directions, in the form of birds, at the king's coronation. "In this setting, Duamutef (Fac 1, fig 6) went to the East, Qebehsenuef (fac 1, fig 5) to the West, Amset (fac1, fig 8) to the South, and Hapi (fac 1, fig 7), to the North. Thompson then says "I must emphasize that it is *only* in this context, and in the form of birds, that these gods were associated with the cardinal points. In a funerary context no such relationship is evident. Furthermore, the fact that these gods were sent to the four quarters of the earth does not mean that the Egyptians *equated* them with those directions. There is no evidence that they did so. (He cites D. Kessler, "Himmelsrivhtungen," in "LA" 2, 1213-15, the gods who were equated with the cardinal directions are discussed. The sons of Horus are conspicuous by their absence. in "Dialogue", p. 152). This is the essence of the argument which Stephen Thompson brings forth, and which lately our wonderful Capt. Angst has also postulated, though not as elaborately. So what of it? Here is what of it.
Thompson stops far, far short of the actuality of the situation. His diehard determination to force this into a funerary context is his overriding assumption for his entire article against the BofA. Thompson has ignored the rather strident discussion concerning the Book of the Dead and Book of Breathings as well as much of the supposed Egyptian funerary cultus having to do with the *living, in this life*. While these ideas *can* be adapted to a funerary cultus, they may not have been primarily funerary as Thompson has argued. Nowhere do we see anything in Thompson of W. Federn, "The Transformations in the Coffin Texts: A New Approach", "JNES" vol. 19 (1960), pp. 241-257. Thompson has not once cited Gertrud Thausing's "Sein und Werden: Versuch einer Ganz-heitsschua der Religion des Pharaonenreiches" in "Acta Ethnologica Et Linguistica," No. 23, (Vienna: 1971); or Kurt Sethe, "Dramatische Texte zu Altaegyptischen Mysterienspielen", "Untersuchunger zur Geschichte und Alter- umskunde," vol. 10, (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagbuchhandlung," 1964. Thompson hasn't cited or utilized Wolfgang Helck "Bemerkungen zum Ritual des dramatischen Ramesseumpapyrus," in "Orientalia" (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1950), vol. 23, #4, pp. 383f or Gertrude Thausing "Das Grosse Aegyptische Totenbuch" (Cairo: Oesterreichisches Kulturinstitut, 1969), p. 3ff. Aylward M. Blackman, "Some Notes on the Ancient Egyptian Practice of Washing the Dead" in "JEA" 5(1918), noted that both the living and dead king were necessary for their rituals. The rituals were far more than merely funerary as the living Phaoroah represented the embodiment of the sun-god on earth. (p. 117). Most interesting "Through the medium of the lustration-water, which was identified with that of Nun or of a pool sacred to the sun-god, the Pharoah was thought to be reborn, like that god himself...the living Pharoah being purified in the temple-vestry." (p. 118). Kate Bosse-Griffiths, "A Beset Amulet From the Amarna Period", in "JEA" 1977, notes that Beset knives and other supposed magical incantation objects far from being used just for the after life, was used more for the living. (p. 102). Could the knife in the hand of the figure in fac #1 be applied thusly?
It is as if Thompson has never even heard of this large and ongoing discussion occurring. And yet we almost cannot believe this because Thompson does quote Nibley who uses these sources as well as Michael Dennis Rhodes, so to put a bad light on it, Thompson is ignoring what refutes his assumptions, not a safe method of scholarship to be sure. Thompson needs the issues to remain *only* in the funerary context, and from this artificially induced setting, he can demolish the BofA with anachronisms and silly ideas. But *ONLY* if it is primary a funerary context, which it is most certainly not. And how do we know? Because of the figure on the lion couch! That figure is by no stretch of even the wildest imagination a mummy at all! That figure is stirring. There is no dead here being embalmed by Anubis whatsoever. Thompson, we feel, if he were to be correct, must demonstrate that *all* lion couch scenes are of Anubis embalming a mummy on the couch, in order for this single explanation to fit his scenario.
This is simply impossible to do. What must we do? Look at lion couch scenes and see if all of them have mummies or not. They do not. R.V. Lanzone's "Dizionario Mitologia Egizia" has a very fine collection of lion couch scenes. Pl. ccxci has a man with crook and flail in his hand, wearing a huge crown and turned around and bending upwards from his knees. And Anubis is nowhere to be found here either! Since Anubis is the embalmed, this argues persuasively that this is no funerary scene at all. This is no mummy. Pl. ccxc also is stirring. This is no mummy. Pl. cclxxxv also no mummy. Pl. cclxxxii no mummy and no Anubis. Pl. cclxxxi no mummy here either even though the four sons of Horus are underneath the lion couch. This guy is coming to life with his one hand up in front of his face and his one leg moving forward. Now since Lanzone's books are not as easy to get as E.A.W. Budge's, it will also be necessary to show his lion couches are not all mummy's either and then more of us can check and see for ourselves. In his book "Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection" vol. 2, we find many lion couch scenes, not all of them mummies nor necessarily funerary in context. Most of these are from the Temple at Denderah. The figure on p. 24 is not a dead mummy, but a person stirring on the lion couch. Anubis is not even pictured. P. 29 is certainly no mummy! Neither is p. 30. Notice p. 33 Anubis is here, but that is no mummy on that couch. P. 39 is no mummy and Anubis is not even pictured. P. 40 even says it is Osiris *rising from his bier*! Notice p. 42. Osiris Henka is *begetting a son by Isis, who hovers over him in the form of a bird*! Not only is this a living scene, but a sexy living scene! And Anubis is there also! The picture below is certainly not funerary. How about the one next to these on p. 43? This is labeled the *RESURRECTION of Osiris so and so*. Not funerary at all. This is a scene of the living. On p. 46 Osiris is smelling a flower presented by Horus.
Hardly an embalming scene to be sure, Anubis is nowhere in sight. I simply do not believe that Thompson has made his case stick for demanding a funerary context for the lion couch in the BofA. Not all lion couches are funerary in nature, hence it is arbitrary to demand that Smith's *must* be this context only. Kate Bosse-Griffiths article "The Great Enchantress in the Little Golden Shrine of Tut'Ankhamun" in "Journal of Egyptian Archaeology" (1973), p. 108 says that the implements found in Tuts grave have much more historical importance for his coronation rather than merely being important as funerary use only.
Now what about the idea that they represent the earth in its four quarters? And this idea being in the ancient world? Thompson argues against this because of his arbitrarily picked funerary context. So what do we find in the literature? To be sure, exactly what Smith said..... Consider: Lets start out with a bang, and a rather amusing one at that shall we? Consider the ever-learned Samuel A.B. Mercer's "Horus: Royal God of Egypt", Society of Oriental Research, Grafton, Mass., 1942. Mercer, as you will recall was one of the giants who the Right Reverend Spaulding called together to make a case against the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1912. He was one of the scholars who concurred wholeheartedly that absolutely none of Joseph Smith's interpretations of any of the facsimiles in the BofA was worth any salt at all. What did he say later on however? "On the walls of the burial chamber of the tomb of Amenemhet, as well as elsewhere, the sons of Horus are depicted. Imstj is man-headed, and represents the south; H3pj is dog-headed, and stands for the north; Dw3-mw.t.f is jackal-headed and represents the East; and Kbh-sn.w.f is falcon-headed and stands for the West." (p. 108). He further elaborates that in the Pyramid Texts these four sons of Horus are called the "Four Spirits." And further, "in the 2nd hypostyle Hall of Edfu (Rochem II, 23) These four sons are sometimes treated as celestial beings (PT 2078), being considered stars in the northern heavens (LD III, 170f), and as such are connected with the Great Bear and with Letopolis, through their association with the Imperishable Stars (JEA [Journal of Egyptian Archaeology] 18 (1932), 164). Otherwise they represent the four cardinal points (Budge - "Gods", I, 158; Muller - "Mythology", p. 112); or the four tresses (hnsktiw) which were conceived of as binding earth to heaven, or the four pillars of heaven, which eventaully became the four cardinal points (Budge - "Gods" I, pp. 157f). They sometimes appeared as four birds, who announced to the four quarters of heaven the accession of the King as Horus." (pp. 108f). And in case our readers missed this, Mercer says exactly and precisely what Joseph Smith said these figures were.
Another amusing example, this time from the great E.A.W. Budge, who was also one of the scholars to utterly condemn Joseph Smith's interpretations of the Facsimiles in 1912, saying, among other things that Smith's interpretations was sheer bosh! Yet note what he said in his book "Egyptian Magic", "The four children of Horus, or the gods of the four cardinal points..." (p. 89). "The four children of Horus...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." (p. 90f). Is this not what Joseph Smith said? It is amusing that in light of the "bosh" views of Joseph Smith, the great Budge also interpreted the figures in line with Joseph Smith!
Note how Budge also shows these four figures in the heavens in the "Egyptian Book of the Dead", p. 39. They are behind the thigh (the Big Dipper) in the northern heaven.
The great Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner in his review of Sir James Frazier's "Golden Bough" noted that the most interesting thing about the Harvest Festival of Min was when the four sons of Horus despatch [sic] geese to the four quarters of the world to announce the news that "Horus son of Isis and Osiris has assumed the great crown of Upper and Lower Egypt." (JEA, 1915, p. 125). The obvious political symbolism and idea behind this ceremony was shown by Alan Gardiner (Egyptian Grammar, p. 74), wherein the royal cartouches (snw) of the Pharoahs was to represent the king as the ruler of all that which is encircled by the sun. The Pharoahs bounds are set at the ends of the earth. (Hugh Nibley - "The Hierocentric State", in "The Ancient State", Deseret/FARMS, 1991, p. 105). Nibley demonstrated earlier that the famous ancient summons arrow was used by the Greeks, the American Indians, our ancestors of the North, Israel, as well as the famous "Olaf-Tryggvason Saga", with the idea being that "Throughout the ancient world a ruler was thought to command everything his arrow could touch." ("The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State" in "The Ancient State", p. 4). "An impressive demonstration of the authority of the summons-arrow is the early and widespread rite of the four world arrows. In the "Olaf-Tryggvason Saga" it states a number of times that summons-arrows were sent in the four directions. For the oldest and greatest festival in India, the Asvamedha, the king must send messengers in the four directions to order all who have been conquered by his arrows to appear before him. At the creation of the world, according to Zuni doctrine, four marked arrows, the word-painted arrows of destiny, were carried to the regions of men, four in number. A variant of this is the shooting of arrows in the four directions, as in the Ghostdance of the Sioux, where four sacred arrows were shot into the air towards the four cardinal points to symbolize the conquest of the earth by the tribe. A like practice is attributed in Jewish legend to the Emperor Titus and to Nimrod who, from Jerusalem and Babel respectively, shot arrows in the four directions and claimed dominion over all that lay within their range. The same rite appears also in Ino-Iranian creation myths and in the Sumerian story of Ada and the Zu-bird. In the Old World and the New it is also common to depict the swastika with its four arms formed of marked arrows - plainly the four world-arrows. [The swastika, of course, is a very ancient symbol to be sure, cf. Joseph Campbell, "The FLight of the Wild Gander", HarperPerennial, 1990, p. 147f; Marija Gimbutas, "The Civilization of the Goddess"; The Language of the Goddess", Index under "Swastika"] Related to the world-arrows is the worldwide practice of making a sanctuary by marking off an area on the ground with the point of an arrow, dividing it in four sections by a cross with its arms to the cardinal points. The apportionment of land by drawing of arrow-lots was common to the Assyrians and the ancient Norse (whence the expression "lot and scot"). (p. 5f). The Babylonian and Assyrian kings would build a temple/palace which was the hierocentric point where the four regions in the city of Assur, son of Shalmaneser, King of the universe, dwelt, and the four walls surrounding it with the four gates always facing the four winds were named. ("The Hierocentric State", in "The Ancient State", p. 112).
In other words, quite frankly Stephen Thompson simply hasn't done his homework regarding this issue at all. This idea is indeed throughout the ancient world.
Sir Alan Gardiner's article "The Baptism of Pharoah" in "JEA" (Journal of Egyptian Archaeology), 1950 has some interesting things about this number 4. In the purification ritual of the Pharoahs "the four gods here mentioned were the gods of the cardinal points...spell 217 of the Pyramid Texts places the matter beyond all doubt... evidently each of the four quarters of the world was intended to receive the news from its own special deity or deities." (p. 9). This is the whole philosophy behind the symbolism to be sure, and Joseph Smith is, indeed, right, directly on the mark.
C.J. Bleeker, "The Pattern of the Ancient Egyptian Culture" in "Numen" #11, 1964 says that "the renewal of the dignity of the king, as a sign of which four birds were set free, to announce the glad news to the East, the West, the North, and the South." (p. 80).
The four genies of the four winds and various deities covering the four directions was dealt with by Comte du Mesnil du Buisson in the article "Le groupe des dieux El, Betyle, Dagon et Atlas chez Philon de Byblos", in "Revue de L'Histoire des Religions", 1966, pp. 37-49. Jean Nougayrol "Les quatre vents" in "Revue D'Assyriologie et D'Archeologie Orientale", 1966, pp. 72-74 describes the archaeological discovered tablets dealing with this very ancient idea of four deities symbolizing the four directions. Note also C. De Wit's article "Les Genies des Quatre Vents au Temple d"Opet" in "Chronique D'Egypte 32(1957), pp. 25-39).
J. Gwyn Griffiths, "Motivation in Early Egyptian Syncretism" in M Heerma van Voss, ed., "Studies in Egyptian Religion: Dedicated to Professor Jan Zandee", Leiden E.J. Brill, 1982, noted that besides the ancient Egyptian idea of helping transform man into deity, the four sons of Horus are also connected with the ladder of celestial ascent. (p. 54).
Notice how Kurt Sethe in his magnificent "Ubersetzung und Kommentar zu den Altagyptischen Pyramidtexten", #1, Verlag von JJ Augustin, 1934, p. 219, says the hieroglyph for the city is the circle divided in four quarters. The same symbol and image is in the Mesoamerican calendar, drawn as a circle divide in quarters, in Dr. E.C. Krupp, "Echoes of the Ancient Skies", Harper and Row, 1983, p. 293. The symbolism of the number 4 is very strong in ancient Mesoamerica to be sure, "The number four's significance is rooted in the sky." (p. 287f). Cf. Anthony F. Aveni, "Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico", Univ. of Texas Press, 1980, pp. 155f).
Von Ludwig Borchardt "Der Kanopemkasten des Konigs Sbk-m-sf" in "Zeitschrift fur agyptische Sprache" 1894, shows how the stone coffin of this particular king was divided in 4 compartments (Innen war der Kasten fruher durch halbhohe Bretter in vier Abteilungen...), and in each of these compartments one of the canopic jars was each placed. Diagrams on p. 25.
Interestingly, in an old Adam legend we read how The four archangels - Gabriel, Michael, Isafiel, and Asrael - were required to bring earth from the four quarters of the world, that therefrom God might fashion man. (Rev. S. Baring-Gould, "Legends of the Patriarchs and Prophets", John B. Alden, Publisher, 1884, p. 19).
Walter Wili informs us that the number four is justice. The Pythagorean view of the number four represented the perfect, the harmonius proportion. ("The History of the SPirit in Antiquity", in "Spirit and Nature", Joseph Campbell, ed., Bollingen Series, Princeton Univ. Press, 1st paperback, 1982, p. 86).
Carl Jung noted that the number four represented also eternity or totality. "This symbol, I would add in passing, seems to indicate that extension in space signifies God's suffering (on the cross) and , on the other hand, his dominion over the universe." - A common enough theme. ("The Mysteries", Joseph Campbell, ed., Bollingen Series, Princeton Univ. Press, 1955, p. 288).
Most interestingly, Lewis Spence, "Egypt", Studio editions, 1994, p. 28f mentions that the four sons of Horus as points of the cardinal directions have a correspondence to the Maya who also possess four deities placed at each point of the compass to uphold the universe! They are Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac. The Maya also used funerary jars called "bacabs" which held the internal organs of their dead, as the Egyptian canopic jars did!
Jack Lindsay, "A Short History of Culture," Fawcett Premier Books, 1962, p. 503f, "The sky supports were the Four Sons of Horus at the cardinal points... Akbar's palace at Fatepur Sikri had a world-pillar or tree on which he sat enthroned. Indian domes commonly had the 8 ribs of the Wheel (the Law to the Buddhists, the Universe to the Hindus), related to the four quarters... note also the cosmic vision in Ezekiel and the part played by the four winds; also his four-square Holy City." (p. 504).
Note that the ancients conceptions of the Zodiac as well. The four essential points dominate the four seasons of the year. They knew of two equinoxes and two solstices which cut the year in half in an equal balance, the two intersections of the equator with the ecliptic, these four points together made up the four pillars of heaven, which made up the four corners of what was called the quadrangular earth. (Gergio Santilliana, "Hamlet's Mill", Nonpareil Book, 1977, p. 62).
Note how the Khans envisioned this: "Tolui Khan was the fourth son of Chingiz- Khan, the youngest of his four chief sons, who were called the four kuluks, that is, they were like four pillars... the four pillars of the kingdom." (John Andrew Boyle, "The Successors of Genghis Khan", Columbia Univ. Press, 1971, p. 159).
The Egyptologist John A. Wilson wrote in 1964 that "...the number four suggests that they were placed at the four points of the compass. Fortunately this arrangement appealed to the Egyptian as being both strong and permanent." In "Before Philosophy", Pelican Books, p. 55.
Robert Bauval/Adrian Gilbert, "The Orion Mystery", Crown Publishers, 1994, note that the four sons of Horus "symbolised the four cardinal points." (. 205).
Richard Hinckley Allen, "Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning", Dover, 1963, p. 256 said that in Arabia the leader of the Four Royal Stars of the ancient Persian monarchy, the four guardians of heaven. Dupius... said that the four stars marked the cardinal points... the same scheme appeared in India... four great circles in the sky, or generally the four quarters of the heavens." This would be in agreement with the ancient Egyptian idea of the Four Sons of Horus deriving from the heavens as well, as well as perhaps the origin of their symbolism of four as quarters. The point to be made is that this scheme was very ancient indeed.
We read in the Zohar that when a man's time to leave the world arrives "the four quarters of the world arraign him...and the four elements fall into dispute...upon the herald's proclamation, a flame issues from the North, going through the stream of fire and splitting up to pass into the four quarters of the world..." (Gerschom Scholem, ed., "Zohar:The Book of Splendor", Schocken Books, 1963, p. 56).
We are to understand that there are four suits in the Tarot Deck and that "The number 4 defines the mundane plane, there being four elements, and four directions, symbolized on one of the Tarot cards as a man, an eagle, a lion, and a bull, our familiar canopic jars! (Richard Roberts/Joseph Campbell, "Tarot Revelations," Vernal Equinox Press, 1987, p. 66).
Alexander Heidel has shown us that in a Prince's vision of the underworld, in the "Gilgamesh Epic", that canopic imagery is to be had anciently back then as well.("The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels," Univ. of Chicago Press, 1949, p. 132f - talking of the familiar four headed beasts).
I trust the point has been made that the concept certainly is throughout the ancient world, despite what Stephen Thompson maintains, and in fact, correspond to the exact philosophical point that Joseph Smith said they did. Their symbolism is correct in every way. Joseph Smith is directly confirmed on this interesting issue with his interpretations of the facsimile figures.
Stephen Thompson wrote an article "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham" in 1995 wherein he takes the Prophet Joseph Smith to task for his interpretations of the hypocephalus in the Book of Abraham, as well as various LDS scholars' analysis of those explanations. (1)
I have already covered his misconception of the Four sons of Horus as the four directions, now I want to analyze his view of Fac. 2, figure 4 which Joseph Smith says, among other things, that it "answers to the Hebrew word Raukeeyang, signifying expanse, or the firmament of the heavens..." Thompson admits that "certain identification of this figure is not possible with the information currently available to the Egyptologist." He then goes on to admit that Edith Varga identified the hawk as the god Sokar, and even described it as "the mummy of a falcon with outspread wings."
However, as Thompson sees it, there is no known iconography of this in the art, which at this stage of the Egyptian art game, is true enough, except for the same art in other hypocephali, which Thompson does not mention. Thompson then says "there is no evidence that the ancient Egyptians ever depicted the sky (firmament of the heavens) as a ship of any sort."
What Thompson is ignoring is the combination of the ship with the falcon though. He then twists the Mormon scholars "In order to get around this, Mormon apologists dissect the wings of the bird in the ship and compare them with depictions of the sky as outspread wings. Rhodes identifies the bird in figure 4 as Horus-Sokar and claims that 'Horus was a personification of the sky.'" Then Thompson says that Smith's interpretation must apply to the whole figure and not to just a part of it. (2) So lets look at this for a bit and see what comes of it.
First Thompson contends this art is unknown in Egyptian iconography. Adolf Erman in his study shows a solar bark of the god with Horus the "falkenkopfiger Gott", but in his combined human/animal form, not as a mummified hawk. (3) Erman also shows Sokar on his throne as the hawk-headed god. (4) Wilhelm Spiegelberg shows the hieroglyph for Horus as the standing hawk with the double feather crown. (5) Kurt Sethe shows the hawk in a bark, but it doesn't have the outspread wings as in the hypocephali. (6) So it would seem that Thompson has a point. This is not a popular way to depict the falcon in Egyptian art.
However, it is important to understand that Siegfried Schott has shown how in ancient Egypt the King was depicted as various birds, the falcon being one way, and he shows the depictions of the birds flying, including the falcon with outspread wings, as Horus, in the Chons Temple at Kernak, and at the Horus Temple of Edfu. (7) But what about the meaning? Here Thompson seems to be on shakier ground. Can the falcon with outspread wings signify the sky, the expanse? Absolutely!
In the Pyramid Texts themselves we get many descriptions of this idea:
"His (the King's) two wings have grown into (those of) a falcon, his two plumes are (those of) a sacred falcon." (pyr 250 c WN)
"This King flies like a bird; he alights as the Beetle Kheprer. He flies as a bird." (pyr 366 a-c WN)
"The King ascends to heaven to thy presence, O Re. The face of the King is (that of) falcons. The wings of the king are (those of ) birds, his talons are the claws of 'Anty-wy." (pyr 461 a-d WPN)
"Wepwawet has caused the King to fly to heaven among his brethren the gods. The King has flapped his wings as a kite. The flier flies , O people! The King flies away from you." (pyr 463 a-d WPN)
"He (the King) ascends to heaven. The top of his wings is (that of) a great bird." (pyr 1122 a PN) (8)
Sir Alan Gardiner in his analysis of the Hymns to Amon noted that in the 50th chapter, we read "Thy name is strong, thy might is heavy...divine hawk with outspread wings..." which shows, according to Gardiner, how the might of Amon is described in conventional ways, comparing Amon with a hawk, a bull, etc. (9) And where is this hawk? "crossing the sky by ship." (10) "Concealing (imn) thyself as Amon at the head of the gods...the dweller in heaven." (11) "His soul is in heaven." (12) "He is Hor-akhti who is in heaven... the main conception is that of a sky-god wedded to the earth." (13) Rudolf Anthes has noted that Re melded with Harachti and as Re-Harachti, was identified in the Pyramid Texts as the sun, i.e., in the expanse.(14) Klaus Koch describes a comb depicted early in Egyptian history depicting the king as a falcon who soars over his palace and up in heaven is another falcon on curved wings in a bark. (15) The King on the Narmer-Palette is also depicted as a hawk. (16) The same falcon/hawk is called the "Venerable (ehrwurdigen) falcon" at the Hebsed festival at Edfu, venerable because he was Horus, the god, who flew to the heavens. (17) The God Sokar of Memphis was a falcon in the ship or bark of the God, and was also named "ntj.wj", as was all falcon gods who appeared as falcons in ships. (18)
Whether depicted as a standing falcon or a falcon on the crescent moon stand he was identified with the Great God Horus, Horus the defeater (Schlager) of people, reminding us of His depiction on the Narmer Palette.(19) Wainwright noted that Junker demonstrated that there had been a nameless sky-god who fused in Protodynastic times with the hawkgod to form the compound deity Horus. He was called the Great or Greatest God. This represents, according to Wainwright, "a gradual personification of the primitive vague idea of the Power of the Sky." (20) Perhaps the most telling evidence in favor of Joseph Smith's interpretation, comes from Rudolf Anthes in his long study of Egyptian religion in the Third Millenium B.C. Anthes notes directly that "on the ivory comb of King Horus Serpent of the First Dynasty, the falcon Horus is represented twice: in the lower register he stands upon the symbol of the royal palace as the king, in the upper register he stands in a boat beneath which two wings representing the sky are spread....the sky was thought to be represented by the wide-spread wings of the same falcon." (21) We are even told that Horus represented a body in the sky!
"The idea that Horus appears in the horizon and on heaven obviously means that he is a celestial body." (22) "Horus who presides over the sky occurs in the name of a vineyard of King Djoser of the Third Dynasty." (23) Interestingly, we are told that the Pyramid Texts attest Horus as a star, yet Horus was the sun, yet he was the moon! He appears to have been whatever celestial body was dominating the sky as ruler of the sky and heaven, this makes sense. (24) Hans Bonnet in his "Reallexicon" assures us that even Osiris was equated with the moon, as was our Horus hawk God. (25) There seems to be all sorts of melding and confusion going on, and rightfully so, since Anthes has noted the importance of understanding that mythological concepts in Egyptian are often contradictory and difficult for we moderns to understand. (26) One thing is certain, "Horus presides over the sky." (27)
As Behdety, Horus was "confined to the hovering falcon" which is also a variant of the standing falcon, "identical with Horus as early as the Third Dynasty."(28) "There is no question that Schafer was correct in interpreting these wings as the sky because they are supported by the d'm supports, and the boat of Horus sails upon them."(29) We know that the sky was thought in Egypt usually as female. (30)
Yet interesting, the word "kbhw" is masculine, and it stood for the sky in the Pyramid Texts! In fact, it indicates heaven as the body of water that Re sails in his boat on, and the same holds good for the word "bi3", the sky, occurring in the Middle Kingdom. (31) Interestingly, Junker lists only Ptolemaic temple inscriptions as evidence of an equation of the wings of Horus with the sky, yet the Egyptians regarded the sun as a falcon flying in heaven, the idea that his wings represented the sky was incidental and naturally accepted in spite of logical objections.(32) In the early dynastic period, if a falcon was ever representative of the sky, it might have been possibly on the basis of the concept of the hovering Behdety. The wings of the depiction on the comb of the King Serpent "obviously represented the sky." (33) This is exactly and precisely what Joseph Smith said they represent.
(See Response to Criticism home page; Book of Abraham Criticism home page)
1. Stephen Thompson, "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham", "Dialogue", Spring 1995, pp. 143-160.
2. Thompson, p. 150f.
3. Adolf Erman, "Die Religion der Agypter", Walter and Gruyter, Berlin & Leipzig, 1934, p. 18.
4. Erman, p. 26.
5. Wilhelm Spiegelberg, "Ein Denkstein auf dem Tod einer heiligen Isiskuh", "Zeitschrift fur Agyptische Sprache", (hereafter ZAS), 1906, p. 129.
6. Kurt Sethe, "Urgeschichte und Alteste Religion der Agypter," Deutsche Morgenlandische Gesellschaft," Leipzig, 1930, p. 8.
7. Siegfried Schott, "Falke, Geier und Ibis als Kronungsboten," in "ZAS", 1968, plate IX between pp. 58 and 59, showing the falson, the vulture, and the Ibis with outspread wings.
8. as quoted in J. Gwyn-Griffiths, "Motivation in Early Egyptian Syncretism," in "Studies in Egyptian Religion", ed. M. Heerma Van Voss, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1982, p. 50f. Cf. W. Spiegelberg, "Die Falkenbezeichnung des Verstorbenen in der Spatzeit," in "ZAS," 1927, p. 29 - "Die den toten Konig als Falken zum Himmel zu den Gottern fliegen lasst."
9. Alan Gardiner, "Hymns to Amon from a Leiden Papyrus," in "ZAS", 1905, p. 26.
10. Gardiner, p. 23.
11. Gardiner, p. 30.
12. Gardiner, p. 34.
13. Gardiner, p. 39, cf. p. 41 - "his soul is he who is in heaven."
14. Rudolf Anthes, "Harachti und Re in den Pyramidentexten," in "ZAS", 1974, p. 77. Cf. Adolf Erman, "Die Religion der Agypter," wherein he says the sungod was also Harachti , Horus of the Horizon, and by this name became one of the major Gods, and in fact the great falcon-headed God, (p. 21). Later this God was combined into Atum-Re-Harachte, p. 27.
15. Klaus Kock, "Geschichte der Agyptischen Religion," Stuttgart, 1993, p. 60. He also notes the falcon on the back of Chephren's statue with his wings spread around the king, and notes that every king sat on the Horus throne taking on the properties of the god, usually as a falcon.
16. Kock, p. 60.
17. W. Guglielmi, "Die Gottin Mr.t," E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1991, p. 48.
18. Kurt Sethe, "Urgeschichte," p. 44.
19. Sethe, p. 51. All the falcon gods were destined to be identified with Horus, p. 155.
20. G. A. Wainwright, "The Sky-Religion in Egypt," Cambridge Univ. Press, 1938, p. 9.
21. Rudolf Anthes, "Egyptian Theology in the Third Millenium B.C.,
"Journal of Near Eastern Studies," July, 1959, p. 171.
22. Anthes, p. 185.
23. Anthes, p. 186.
24. Anthes, pp. 186f.
25. Hans Bonnet, "Reallexicon der Agyptischen Religionsgeschichte," p. 471ff.
26. Anthes, p. 174.
27. Anthes, p. 186.
28. Anthes, p. 188.
29. Anthes, p. 189.
30. Cf. Erik Hornung, "Der Agyptische Mythos von der Himmelskuh," Universitatsverlag Freiburg, 1982.
31. Anthes, p. 189.
32. Anthes, p. 189.
33. Anthes, p. 190.
Copyright by Kerry Shirts