Friday, March 14, 2014

Joseph Smith's Gamel, Mount Carmel, and the Egyptian K3m

The following is Joseph Smith's gamel character in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar:

The below is the version of the character from the Sensen Papyrus.


Here is the location of the glyph from the Sensen Papyrus (encircled in red):

From the evidence that we will discuss below, this is the hieroglyph in Gardiner's sign list numbered F32, which has a vocalization of KhRM or KhRY:

(Image credit:

(See  This is the animal belly with tail hieroglyph.  An alternate for this gamel character in the Egyptian alphabet is Gardiner's M12, the hieroglyph of the Lily Plant, also with the Kh vocalization, that resembles the animal belly and tail hieroglyph visually, but which stands vertical rather than sitting horizontal:

(Image Credit:

(See, Between Heaven and Earth:  Birds in Ancient Egypt, edited by Rrozenn Bailleul-leSuer, "Birds in the Ancient Egyptian and Coptic Alphabets," By Francios Gaudard p. 66.)

These two are the PHONETIC alternates of (i.e. they have the same phonetic sound as) Egyptian uniliteral Kh for the regular Egyptian Kh uniliteral (placenta/sieve/rising sun) that we had identified previously as:

(Image credit:

(See, Between Heaven and Earth:  Birds in Ancient Egypt, edited by Rrozenn Bailleul-leSuer, "Birds in the Ancient Egyptian and Coptic Alphabets," By Francios Gaudard p. 66.)

Both of the animal belly and tail character and the lily plant character are clearly the ones that resemble Joseph Smith's gamel as shown in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, which was the symbol for the KH sound in the name Taykhebyt which is found in the columns surrounding Facsimile #1 in the Sensen Papyrus.  However, Michael Rhodes, in his book The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary, on page 21, transliterated back into Hieroglyphic the name Taykhebyt, and in his transliteration, he chose to use the placenta/sieve symbol for the KH sound, rather then the animal belly and tail character (Joseph Smith's Gamel) which is what appears in the papyrus.  This is immaterial for Rhode's transliteration, but it is material for us in this current article.  Because we are trying to ascertain the background of the animal belly and tail character and the lily character specifically, because they are Joseph Smith's Gamel.  While they are interchangeable with the placenta/sieve character phonetically, they are not so visually.  And also, technically, they are not the same letter in the Egyptian Alphabet, according to the "Birds in the Ancient Egyptian and Coptic Alphabets" article reference above, which was published in a book by the University of Chicago.

Here is Joseph Smith's definition of his character gamel.  In the "second part, first degree," Joseph Smith had it pronounced as "gah mol."  And his definition is:

A fair prospect of anything; Landscape; a place or country; the face of the country; beautiful, situated; a country under a promontory, a promising situation for man.

As far as I can tell, that is the only definition given in any of the degrees for that character.  It is also useful to note that at times in the Egyptian Alphabet, that the ball looking part on the glyph for gamel is somewhat pointed, almost like an arrow or something, like the fact that the Ugaritic gamel is a pointed glyph.  In other parts, it was written as "gah-nel" or "gah-mel."  Anyhow, it is one of those characters in the Joseph Smith Egyptian Alphabet that we simply don't have a lot of context for in the first place.  At first I suspected that this was a cognate to "gamel/gimel" in other alphabets but now I am not so sure.  It is true that the general name resembles the Semitic name, but according to Joseph Smith's definition above, I can see that the etymology for his definition is different.  Nevertheless, it is most likely to me that the selection of the name of the glyph in the Egyptian alphabet is in keeping with the traditions of the Lunar Zodiac and the Proto-Sinaitic, to give a nod or salute to those traditions, even though the etymological derivation of the translation of the name seems to be Egyptian rather than Semitic.

There seems to be a cognate root in Hebrew that answers to Joseph Smith's definition, which is not the classic GML/GMR ("camel"/"throw-stick") derivation of the regular Semitic gimel/gamel in the Semitic Alphabet.  Rather, the cognate root that we are concerned with here is unrelated to those.  Here, the one that we are looking at is kerem (krm), which is Strongs 3754, meaning a vineyard.  And then, the related/derived place name Carmel (Strongs 3760), which is the name of a promontory that means "fruitful, plentiful field."  And the related word karmel (Strongs 3759) means "a plantation, garden land, fruit, garden growth."  There is a related Assyrian word, karanu, meaning vine.  Remember that one of Joseph Smith's readings of the word, which may or may not have been a mistake, was "gah-nel" with an N rather than an M. Now, there is indeed Egyptian cognates, which seem to represent both N and M forms.  As John Tvetdnes writes:

The cognate to kerem in most of the Semitic languages means "vineyard." . . . Lane gives karam the meaning of "generous, good, fertile land," which implies a more general meaning for the word.

Egyptian, which is related to the Semitic language family, has two basic forms for "vineyard." The older form has a final n and is variously written [Egyptian characters], etc. and is to be read k3nw. The use of both the tree and the vine determinative at the end of the word is evidence that it really means both "vineyard" and "orchard." Both meanings, along with "garden," are given . . . for the later form of the word, k3m, variously written [Egyptian characters], etc.

. . . the later form became Demotic k3m, "garden" . . . We may also note Egyptian k3my, "gardener of wine/flowers," which Černý lists with Demotic k3my, "gardener" . . . Compare also Egyptian k3ry, "gardener of wine/flowers," and k3ny, "gardener of wine/fruit."

Erman and Grapow list Hebrew krm as a cognate to the later Egyptian form k3m. Albright, however, believed that the younger Egyptian form was a borrowing from Semitic. If Egyptian borrowed from Semitic, however, we would expect the Egyptian form to be krm rather than k3n or k3m. Albright contends that the use of the glottal stop (3) shows that it is "a very old" loanword. However, the Egyptian form with the final m is, as Erman and Grapow have indicated, clearly the later form—the one which, as noted above, continued into Demotic and Coptic. It is much more likely that the Egyptian is merely cognate to Semitic.

The Encyclopedia Miqra'it notes that "The Egyptiam k3mu could be used for both a vineyard of vines and a plantation of mixed fruit trees. . . . The scribe Any counted twelve vines that he planted in his garden, and alongside them 100 fig trees, 170 date palms, and the like." (

Now, in Joseph Smith's translation, we were told that it was a promising, fair prospect, or beautiful or promising country.  This matches very well with the k3m/k3r/k3n cognates in Egyptian, and with the Semitic KRM/KRN cognates.  And it especially makes sense that one of the characters for the Egyptian gamel is the Lily Plant, keeping consistent with this theme of plants.