Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Strange Connections Between the Sensen Papyrus, the god Khonsu and the Semitic Alphabet, Part 1

This is a picture of the first part of the Hor papyrus (going from right to left).  As you know by now, the prophet Joseph smith translated these characters in the columns surrounding the picture of Facsimile #1 in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, as parts of the "Egyptian Alphabet."

Here, I have cut and pasted the four columns together so that they are easier to see.  As I said previously, some of these characters would be translated individually.  Others would be broken up into what Ed Ashment and Chris Smith call "lexemes," being either component pieces of characters, or individual strokes of characters.  Now, here are some strange connections that I have tried for a long time to wrap my head around.  Sooner or later, I will understand the full implications of what is happening here.  Much like Joseph Smith understood what he was doing only little by little, here a little, there a little, I am only understanding some of the things that are going on here little by little.  And the details of my opinions change as I go, but my central premise has not changed.

Now, it is clear enough that these characters in question give the genealogy and identity of the owner of the papyrus, Hor.  Michael Rhodes gives it as this:

The Osiris, God's father priest of Amon-Re, king of the gods, priest of Min, who massacres his enemies, priest of Khonsu, who is powerful in Thebes . . . Hor, justified, the son of one of like titles, master of the secrets, god's priest, Usirwer, justified, born of the house wife, the musician of Amon Re, Taykhebyt.  May your soul live in their midst.  May you be buried at the head of the West . . . May you give to him beautiful and useful things on the west of Thebes like the mountains of Manu.  (The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary, Studies in the Book of Abraham, Volume 2, pp. 22-23).

Other copies sometimes seem to contain parallel "identification" sections.  So Joseph Smith could have done the same thing with any other copy from the Sensen tradition.  In the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, Joseph Smith generalizes from these characters, and turns them into parts of his custom "alphabet."  This is a reconstitution of what someone was trying to do anciently.

I will start at a general place, rather than trying to analyze too many particulars about the characters above.  I will say that Joseph Smith sensed that somehow the Sensen Papyrus had something to do with an alphabet or at least, the concept of an alphabet, a customized alphabet, a new invention by someone anciently.  It is observable that the characters surrounding Facsimile #1 are at least different than the characters in the rest of the text of the Sensen Papyrus, insomuch as they are in columns, which is different than the rest of the text, which is like usual rows of text.  It is therefore, conceivable that Joseph Smith sensed in these columns some kind of chart or table or list of some kind, rather than being regular text.  Because Joseph Smith may have thought this about the papyrus, it is, therefore, conceivable that the ancients thought that the Sensen Papyri in general had something to do with the concept of alphabet, or that they invented the idea that a derivative, custom alphabet could be invented from it.

Now, as you know, this chart or table, giving the identification of the person, specifies the identity of "the Osiris," or the person laying down on the lion couch, which Joseph Smith identified as Abraham.  In the mechanical or Egyptological Egyptian, his identity is not only Osiris, but also Hor, the owner of the papyrus.  Furthermore, he is identified as the priest of the god Khonsu.  Furthermore, in the Sensen text, when it gives instructions for wrapping the papyrus in linen and putting it in with the mummy, the god Khonsu figures prominently in that text as well, where it says that the mummy will be towed on the lake or pool of Khonsu.  At certain points, Hugh Nibley interpreted this part of the papyrus text as a baptismal or washing scene.  Similarly, in Facsimile #1, it shows the figure of Osiris that Joseph Smith identified with Abraham, laying on the lion couch, above a river, where the god of Pharoah, or the crocodile is swimming.  However, this water is above what Joseph Smith in the explanation translated as "the pillars of Heaven."  Therefore, it seems that what we are dealing with is the waters in the heavens (the Heavenly Nile or the Milky Way), or that which is above the Raqia (Raukeeyang), or the firmament/expanse.

In this connection, it is interesting that among Australian natives, they have traditions about the stars where their heroes would be live among the stars, and this would play a part in their initiation rites:

In such a rite or bora at Mount Milbirriman, seven fires were lighted round an oval ring; at the south end stood a native threatening a big clay figure of a crocodile with a spear.  The seven fires represented the Pleiades, who were seen as seven young men dancing to a song sung by three young women in Orion's Belt.  The clay-figure in the middle of the ring was a giant crocodile frequenting the dark river of the Milky Way; the novices were told that this fiery monster would swallow them if they showed any weakness in passing through the rites. (Origins of Astrology, by Jack Lindsay, p. 93).

So, even in the Lion Couch scene, it is clear enough that the lake or pool of Khonsu is the expanse of the Heaven, and that the theme here is Celestial, and the notion of a celestial crocodile in the Milky Way is a theme that is not just found in Egypt.  It is not surprising, therefore, that Joseph Smith would translate these things in the "alphabet" as being things that are Celestial.  Some of these things are translated as Kolob, Kli-flos-ises, and so forth, things that are clearly celestial objects and concepts in the Book of Abraham.

Now, the person is "towed" along the lake or pool of Khonsu, as if he is travelling in a boat.  Lunar typology is what is going on here.  The concept of travelling shows the essential meaning of the word khenes).  The moon in Egyptian is Khonsu, the “Traveler.”

Khonsu, 'The Traveller', or 'Wanderer', refers to the moon wandering across the sky. The name Khonsu is considered deriving from the verb 'khenes', meaning 'to cross over or transverse'. He went through a complete transformation of character during time. In the 'Cannibal Hymn' in the Pyramid Texts, he is a bloodthirsty deity, the 'angry one of the gods' who helps the deceased king to slay deity enemies in the Underworld. (

This may be related to the Indo-European root mehnes, meaning moon or month.  The connection between the consonants are obvious:  mhns and hns.  Curiously enough, it is the wedjat eye that is also the moon.  If you remember, in a previous post, I showed that the wedjat eye is the prime example or prima facie prototype for the process of dissecting a character into its component parts.  It is broken up in its component pieces to represent various fractions.  This would appear to be directly linked to the Egyptian LUNAR CALENDAR:

We must admit that at all periods of Egyptian history there were real lunar months.  these were carefully worked out and noted, for they had deep religious significances; and they had their reflection in myth and in the tales of the loss and return of the moon's eye and its magical virtues. (Origins of Astrology, by Jack Lindsay, p. 154).