Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Egyptian N Uniliteral (Water Ripple) and Joseph Smith's "Iota Ni-Ta-Veh Ah Que": The Hieratic Repurposed as a Compound

As you can see, here is the Egyptian uniliteral character (single consonant) for the N sound.  It is the Water Ripple.  In the middle is the hieroglyphic version of it.  To the right are two versions of the hieratic (cursive) version.  In Gardiner's sign list, it is numbered as N35.  It may have the N sound by acrophony, because Nu in Egyptian is "Abyss" or "Watery One" (  The primeval waters of Nun are the waters of chaos or creation.  Nun was the god that was the personification of these waters (  There was also a female form of Nun named Nanuet (  One general word for water in Egyptian is "nwy," from whence the Greek word (as a corrupton) Neilos comes, and hence the word in English, the Nile. (  Nepthys was the goddess of Rivers. (  So, there are multiple things in Egyptian that explain why the N sound would be associated to the concept of water by acrophony.  But the most solid explanation is the connection with Nu and Nun.

Khnum-Ra, or Kolob, is closely related to Nun because the hieroglyph for Nun was placed right next to the Khnum character in the reconstruction of Figure 1 for Facsimile 2:

Kerry Shirts writes in that article:
This is the sign of the primeval ocean, "Nu." The three horizontal lines (Fig. A above) are the hieratic form of n n, transliterated as "Nun" or "Nu." The next part of the hieroglyph, part "B" is the determinative for q.r.t., representing half the sky, which, in Egyptian mythology is just below the "Nun", The final part of this hieroglyph (labeled "C") is the water emerging from the side of the half sky sign (following Harris).  How would Joseph Smith have known in the 1830's, years before the Rosetta Stone was even translated, that this hieroglyph was just the exact one associated with this figure of Chnum-Re? . . .
The q.r.t. in the hieroglyph of the Joseph Smith Hypo is the hollow, or cavern, which was thought to be the source of the Nile. We are told that "the Egyptians believed that the Nile rose in the First Cataract, in the Qerti, or Double Cavern..." . . .
. . . Chnum was the "Creator" god who arose from none other than the "Nun." And how do we know this central figure in the JS Hypo is Chnum? The one give away, identifying feature of the figure is his flat, curly rams horns, which Chnum was always associated with, he being the Ram God, Creator par excellence. And, it was the Nun that Chnum as well as the rest of the Ogdoad ("Council of the gods") arose . . .
And we read further that "The Nile was a river of creative the fount of Egypt's fertility, the (supposed) source of the Nile was linked to the ram-headed creator god Khnum, who was believed to have fashioned humankind from Nile mud on a potter's wheel."  We also now understand from Jan Assman that . . . "The potter's wheel is the instrument of the creator-God, that forms shapes from shapeless material." . . .
. . . Chnum was early on, we are informed, "regarded as the god of the Nile and of the annual Nile-flood."26 He was "the creative power which made and which sustains all things...identifying (ied) with Nu, the great primeval god of the watery abyss, and from being the local river-god of the Nile in the First Cataract, he became the god Hap-ur, the Nile of heaven."  All good things poured forth from this heavenly Nile from this "double cavern [Qerti - the JS Hypo hieroglyph] was, in fact, the 'couch of the Nile.'"
Here are some other Hieratic versions of this character:

As you can see, in some cursive versions of the N character, on the right hand side, there is either a curve, hook or dot.  Michael Rhodes identified it and which hieroglyph it was in his book on the Hor Sensen papyrus, in his translation of the columns.  Here is the placement of where it used to be in the column of the Sensen Papyrus (circled in red), but it appears to have flaked off:

But to see the hieratic version of it is possible in the Kirtland Egyptain Papers by carefully following the sequence of the same characters that were copied from these columns by Joseph Smith's scribes.

Here is Joseph Smith's version of the character.  As you can see he shows it visually as line with a dot under it toward the right side.  The reason he separates the dot from the line is because this character is repurposed visually as two separate characters in a compound, a line and a dot.  So in other words, to Joseph Smith, this was not one character, but two in a compound character, that are linked to one another in one idea:

Here is Joseph Smith's description of it next to the character (there are two other characters above and below it here:

Although someone didn't cross the T here in the description, it is not NiLaVeh, but elsewhere in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, it is clearly shown as NiTaVeh, like this:

As you can see, Joseph Smith identified this as "Iota Ni Ta Veh Ah Que" which he translates as "I see 25 persons."  In Joseph Smith's Egyptian Counting section of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, "Ni" means Two, "Ta" means Ten, and "Veh" means Five.  Thus, two times ten = 20, plus 5 = 25.  Therefore Ni-Ta-Veh is 25.  See the following article for my discussion on the number vocalizations in the Egyptian Counting section of the KEP, where I identify the vocalizations as having their origin in two separate language families (Indo-Iranian with Sino-Tibetan), making us have to question, why these types of vocalizations from these language families would have been used and associated with Egyptian, instead of classic Ancient Egyptian numerals (but facts are facts, and we go where the evidence leads):

While it is true that the hieroglyphic version of this character is the Water Ripple or uniliteral letter N, Joseph Smith was interpreting the Hieratic version differently, because he was interpreting it in light of being a compound character instead, which is the way some ancient interpreter repurposed it.  In the following article, I discuss compound Egyptian characters, and how Joseph Smith would visually break things up into component characters:

Elsewhere, I show that Joseph Smith identified the dot character component as Iota, meaning to see, or I see, or sight:

This is a version of the Egyptian Pupil of the Eye hieroglyph, which in ancient Egyptian is pronounced "Ir" or "Irt".  Other places, I have noted that Joseph Smith interpreted a straight horizontal line as what he called the "sign of the degrees."  It is basically the same character as the Egyptian hieroglyph for the number one, or tally mark:

As it says in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers about this character: "Zip Zi:  all women.  It took its origin from the earth yielding its fruit.  And from the first woman who bore children; and men were multiplied upon the earth, and is used in this degree as a numeral.  By being inserted above or below another character.  It increases by  by being drawn above, and signifies above, more, greater [or] more glorious.  And when inserted under, signifies beneath, less, smaller [or] least."

In other words, this is saying that the heiroglyph that this meaning is applied to is the EARTH yielding fruit.  In other words, the meaning of "woman," or "women," is a concrete or literal meaning applied to the abstract character for flat land yielding fruit.  Because the earth shares the fundamental criterion with a woman:  they both bring forth fruit.  Women produce children.  The earth produces or brings forth plants.  It is indeed the hieroglyph N16 and the variant form N17 as they are numbered in Gardiner's sign list:


Joseph Smith simply did not make this up, because he interpreted this hieroglyph correctly with a 100% bullseye.  And once again, you see that we see a relationship or association between an abstract, basic meaning of a hieroglyph, and a more literal meaning that was applied to it, that, as Joseph Smith said, "took its origin from" the other usage of the hieroglyph, because the two have something fundamental in common, or have a "likeness."

N16 or N17, as a component of the hieratic character for "water," that he called the "sign of the degrees," in the interpretive system in the KEP, when placed above a character, it would increase the amount of signification (i.e. the amount of items or persons referred to, or the degree of something referred to) by a certain number or amount.  When placed below a character, it reduces the amount of signification.  This does not match with the usage of the tally or number one hieroglyph in conventional Egyptian usage, but that is because this is a different system.  But still, this tally mark is the mark being used.  And that is key.  The tally mark is still fundamentally understood to be numeric in nature.  And that is the point, because it shows that the people using this system understood that nature.  Here is where the tick marks are used vertically to denote plurality, etc.:


In this case, above, in Gardiner's sign list, they are numbered as Z1, Z2, and Z3.  Other times they appear horizontally instead.  When in sets of two, they represent duality.

So, in summary, like other characters in the Egyptian alphabet that he visually interprets as compounds, Joseph Smith is visually breaking up this N character into components here.  When they are a character that is interpreted as a compound that has to be dissected or broken up, each character is on its own separate from the original context of the original character.  In other words, if this character is interpreted as two separate characters, then they have nothing to do with the original context of "water."  They now have two separate, new contexts.

From one point of view, this seems to translate into somewhat of a "sentence" of sorts, where Joseph Smith is saying it translates as "I see 25 persons," because the two characters were used in conjunction with each other.  In reality though, the characters themselves still do not translate into any meaningful kind of "text" on their own in any way.  So, the word "sentence" is wrong here.  Rather, these two characters can be used together as a sort of a unit.  Because it is still dependent on outside context-givers.  So, therefore, this does not make any of the characters that were repurposed in the Sensen Papyrus any kind of "text" in the conventional sense, in any way.  So it is important for the reader to understand that I'm not saying that the papyrus "contains" this text.  I'm saying that an outside interpreter could have imposed the idea that these two characters could be representative of an idea that can be expressed in English as a unit when they are used as a compound together.  But only because the external dependency said so.  There is nothing in the document that says that it ought to be so.

In the pictographic context, these characters are still too abstract to stand on their own in any meaningful sense, which is why, external context helpers are always required to make any sense of them for the context they are intended.  On their own, even if one were to try to force them together into a unit, without a declaration of any kind that says it ought to be so, these two characters only show that there is an "eye," or "sight" involved, and that some sort of numeration is intended by the character Zip-Zi or sign of the degrees.  Or, pictographically, without any other context, it could even be interpreted as "I saw land with grain," or "I saw a woman."  And so, who would be able to make sense of it unless someone told you something like "I see 25 persons" in a context helper or explanation?  It wouldn't be possible otherwise.  So, once again, as I have said elsewhere, the Sensen Papyrus in this usage doesn't "contain" text.  Things can be imposed or read into it from external contexts, but it doesn't "contain" this type of thing on its own.  And it is still fundamentally pictographic, even when it does have an external dependency.  So I'm not saying that the Sensen Papyrus contains any kind of text in this pictographic context for the Book of Abraham.  And hopefully nobody will minsinterpret what I'm saying.

The reason that Joseph Smith attached the number 25 to this particular character is because he states in the Grammar part of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers that, in this system of usage, a character on its own, or "independent and arbitrary," is in the "fifth degree."  Or, in other words, he says, "that is, without a straight mark inserted above or below it."  In other words, it is associated with the number 5 by default.  And then, "by inserting a straight mark over it thus, it increases its significance by five degrees."  And so, by this numerology, our character we are currently dealing with, has a straight mark over the dot.  This means that it is associated with the number 25, because 5 x 5 = 25.  However, once again this interpretation is imposed on it outside the document, not that it has this interpretation within itself.

Here is more information on these points:

So, we see here a clear indication that the visual components of the hieratic character in this case were the important thing to the person that was the interpreter.  This person was essentially not using the underlying hieroglyphic, and only giving consideration to the component characters that he visualized from the hieratic character.  However, since he correctly understood the meanings of the components that he visualized in the hieratic character, this demonstrates that he was still quite conscious of Egyptian meanings of the characters.  This demonstrates that he was still deliberately interpreting these things this way, and he was not ignorant of the meaning of the characters.  He was not ignorant of the underlying hieroglyphic meaning, even though he was not using it.