Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Analysis of Joseph Smith's "Grammar": His Definitions of the Usage of the Characters in the Sensen Papyrus, and the Sign of the Degrees or Plurality (Zip-Zi, or "Woman")

In Wikipedia, we read:

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules governing the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics . . .

The term "grammar" can also be used to describe the rules that govern the linguistic behaviour of a group of speakers . . . "An English grammar" is a specific description, study or analysis of such rules. A reference book describing the grammar of a language is called a "reference grammar" or simply "a grammar". (

This is the sense that I believe Joseph Smith was using the word grammar, that he was writing a reference that was describing the grammar of something, or the rules for that something.  The characters in his "grammar" are self-evident, and are the identifiers for that which he was describing the grammar or rules of interpretation of.  In other words, he is describing the rules of interpretation for the Sensen Papyrus, because the characters in question are from the Sensen Papyrus.  Since Egyptology has already spoken on the nature of the Sensen Papyrus as the Book of Fellowship (Breathings) from the Egyptological point of view, and Hugh Nibley has identified it as an Endowment, we already know its standard "Egyptological" identification.  Therefore, the grammar or rules of interpretation that Joseph Smith was writing about has to do with the rules of the secondary intent of the papyrus, or the intent that was imposed on it by secondary interpreters in derivative compositions employing its characters in a different way, people that interpreted it differently after the fact, in a fashion that is different than its standard Egyptological usage.  Even if people do not believe in Joseph Smith's identification of this system of usage, it is absolutely clear to all people that it is NOT the Egyptological way.  Therefore, for believers, the only option besides dismissing the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar is to accept that there was secondary intent involved here, a secondary way of using the characters in a novel way.  Secondary intent must be accepted, because multiple primary intent is very unlikely (in other words, it is very unlikely that the original author of the Sensen papyrus wrote it with the intent to use it as a representation of Abrahamic material, and therefore, the usage of it in derived documents or derived compositions in this way is secondary to its original intent).

Now, we will quote some of what Joseph Smith says about the translation or interpretation process of the characters of the papyrus.  We will quote pieces of what he is saying, and then elucidate and expand on its implications.

Joseph Smith says, speaking of the reed character, "In Translating this character, the subject must be continued . . ."

This is the same type of thing as what is says in the Explanation for Facsimile #1, figure 12:  "in this case, in relation to this subject, the Egyptians meant it to signify . . . ."

In other words, in describing the character Za Ki Oan Hiash or Chalsidon Hiash (which we have already identified as the Egyptian Reed character, the uniliteral letter I in Egyptian, he writes about the grammar structure of this secondary intent.  He speaks of a system where each character in the papyrus has a certain "subject" associated with it.  In previous posts, I have used the word "signature" to describe what this subject is.  In other words, the "subject" usually relates to the Egyptological meaning of a certain character.

For example, as we demonstrated in a previous post, the reed character itself can represent the Land of the Chaldees, because the reed symbol, when used as a pictograph, has historically been used in the middle east to signify Sumer or Babylonia, and was translated as "Kiengi" in its Sumerian usage.  Therefore, in the context of the Book of Abraham, it can indeed be used to signify Karduniash, the Land of the Chaldees.  So, the reed is the signature, and the Land of the Chaldees is the subject that is tied symbolically to the signature I was talking about.

Sometimes the component characters that must be "dissected" contain multiple components, each of which have their own meaning which is sometimes identifiable as a meaning that is able to be Egyptologically corroborated on its own.  As an example is the fact that we demonstrated in previous posts that the Hieratic W can be seen to be a component of the Wsir Wr character.  And the Hieratic W is Egyptologically corroboratible.  Next:

" . . . there are connections or connecting points found in the character . . ."

According to this description, it says each character has "connections or connecting points" in it.  He says that:

". . . there are five connecting parts of speech in the above character . . ."

This is because:

". . . there are as many of these connecting parts of speech as there are connections or connecting points found in the character . . ."

It is not clear what is meant by connecting points. whether they are something visual or otherwise.  But it may have to do with how many strokes or points a character has in it when a character is "dissected."  But there is some indication that a character may just have "5 connections" assigned to it by default.  Or in other words, just by being on its own without a line above or below it, the character happens to have five connections in it.

For example, see the following article:

In this case, the hieratic N character is split up in two.  One of these characters is a dot, identified as the "eye" character, meaning to see.  On its own, or when it is "arbitrary" and "independent," according to Joseph Smith, it has five connections.  Since the eye character happens to have a line over it that means that it has five times the number of connections it does normally on its own.

Fortunately, even though that detail about what constitutes a connection isn't really apparent or made clear, it's significance is still something that we can understand.  Because, the important thing to know is that a numerological tie is intended where the amount of text in the English Book of Abraham Manuscript is indicated by these "connections" of an Egyptian character that is lined up next to it.  In other words, the interpreter here has an indication of how much text belongs to a character, even though the character doesn't contain the text.  That is what is called metadata, like in computer science.  It is a description of something without having the actual data.  Or, it is information about information.  A description of information, without the information.

". . . These . . . connecting parts of speech, for verbs, participles, prepositions, conjunctions, and adverbs . . ."

In other words, the parts of speech represented by a character depend on the number of "connections" that exist in a certain character.  If there are five pieces of a character when it is dissected into pieces, then there are five parts of speech represented by the character.  And those parts of speech have to do with the "subject" at hand, that we had already described above.  Therefore, as described above, the number of parts of speech involved, can be all the parts of speech that we use to using in a sentence:

(1) nouns, (2) verbs, (3) adjectives, (4) adverbs, (5) pronouns, (6) prepositions, (7) conjunctions and (8) interjections.

Now for the "jobs" or "functions" of these listed parts of speech (see as an example

Nouns are persons, places or things.  Verbs are actions or states of being.  Adjectives are words that describe a noun.  Adverbs are words that describe a verb, adjective or adverb.  A pronoun is a word that replaces a noun.  A preposition links a noun to another word.  A conjunction links two phrases, clauses or sentences.  An exclamation is a short word or phrase put in a sentence to represent emotion and so forth.

So, what we mean to say here is, there are five connections in the reed character (ChalSidonHiash or reed symbol, or Egyptian I letter), so there are five parts of speech that are represented by this character.  However the content is not "contained" in the character, and cannot be mechanically extracted.  That is the absurdity of the Anti-Mormon critics, that they say, it is absurd to think that Joseph Smith thought that he could extract all this text these characters.  Rather, the whole point was to reconstruct a non-extant derivative composition.  Well, the evidence shows that he never expected that the characters themselves had that information.  The are more similar to what in computer science is called metadata.  They tell you about how much text is meant to be represented.  But it doesn't tell you the content of the text.  This is why Joseph Smith never claimed that these characters did contain all the text, and so, it is absurd to think that he got that text in any other manner than by revelation in the reconstitution of the derivative composition.

Next, in speaking more of the character ChalSidonHiash, he says:

". . . we have the degrees of comparison . . ."

Regarding the character Kli Flos Is Es, he says:

". . . it . . . is increased or lessened according to the sign of the degrees . . ."

In other words, the sign of the degrees has to do with increasing or lessening (decreasing) the degrees of something.  If we speak of degrees that are increased or lessened, we can think of temperature.  If you add heat, you increase the degrees.  If you take away heat, you decrease the degrees.  If someone goes to college, they are initiated into degrees.  The more degrees you have, the higher on the ladder you are in your certifications/rank for that specific domain of expertise.  If you are an apprentice in a trade, you are in a lesser degree of expertness.  If you are a journeyman, you are in a higher degree of expertness in the trade.  If someone is a "master" of his trade, then he is at the highest degree of expertise for it.  The same is so for degrees of black belt in a martial art.  The higher the degree, the higher the expertise.

Joseph Smith described a system of degrees that uses the "sign of the degrees" to represent the degree a certain character is in.  This sign or mark that represents the degrees is:

". . . a straight mark inserted above or below [a character] . . ."

This is the single stroke that is the same as the tick mark or stroke that represents the Egyptian number one in standard hieroglyphic Egyptian.  In standard hieroglyphic Egyptological Egyptian, the mark is used to represent multiplicity or plurality, and is used either horizontally or vertically, and typically in a set of three to denote plurality.  (  However, of course, the usage of the tick marks/plurality marks in Joseph Smith's conception are different, as we have seen.  For Joseph Smith, they represent this system of degrees.  But it is only natural that the symbol that would be selected for the sign of the degrees in Joseph Smith's system would be the same sign as the sign for plurality in hieroglyphic Egyptian.  So, this demonstrates that Joseph Smith was right on the money again.  In another place, he translated the sign of the degrees in another context, where it is specifically used in the context of a "woman," specifically, where in the Book of Abraham, it represents the woman who first discovered the land of Egypt when it was under water.  In that context, he describes the origin of the sign of the degrees thus.  It is defined as having the vocalization of Zip Zi, in the fourth degree:

"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 derived from is the EARTH yielding fruit.  In other words, it is the hieroglyph N16 and N17 from Gardiner's sign list:


It is very significant that Joseph Smith here specifically identified this sign as a numeral.

In the Coptic writing system (more late to modern Egyptian, not ancient Egyptian), the horizontal line (sign of the degrees) is used for many numbers.  When the Coptic alphabetic characters are used as numbers, they usually have the horizontal line over them.  (An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, In Two Volumes, Vol. 1, by E.A. Wallis Budge, p. cxlviii).  On the page referenced here, it shows all the Coptic letters used as numbers, the same as with the Hebrew or Greek alphabets.  But the horizontal line is placed above each one.  Then Budge writes in a footnote:  "When a letter has a double line over it, its numerical value is increased a thousandfold. . . "  In other words, in the Coptic numbering system, they are still using the sign of the degrees to denote an increase in numerical value!  And since the Coptic system is late Egyptian, it is clear that the usage of the Sign of the Degrees in this system in the Kirtland Egyptain Papers seems also to be a late Egyptian Practice, because it is from the Greco-Roman period at the time of the Sensen Papyrus.  Here are the Coptic Majuscules characters from their alphabet:

And here are the Coptic Minuscules from their alphabet:

Most of the Coptic letters are derived from the Greek Alphabet, while others are derived from Demotic Egyptian.  Here is a chart now of the Coptic letters being commonly used as numbers, with the "sign of the degrees":

Now, Joseph Smith was not "learned" in the use of Coptic Numerics, and so, it is unlikely that he would have known that Copts use horizontal lines to denote "signs of degrees" in their numeric.  As you can see, as one gets into the thousands the "sign of the degrees" is used in this manner above, as was described by Budge.  It is my contention that Joseph Smith would not have known this about Coptic.

Now more about the sign of the degrees, or Zip-Zi

  In the fifth degree, this sign means:

"[It] is the same of the fourth, only increases or lessens five degrees."

In the third degree, it means:

"Under or beneath, second in right or authority or government, a fruitful place or fruitful vine."

In the second degree, it means:

"A woman, married or unmarried or a daughter, or mother, or mothers, and sometimes the first woman, who was Eve."

In the first degree, it means:

"A woman, married or unmarried, or daughter.  Signifies all, or any woman."

Next, we go on to discuss characters in general:

".. . . in the fifth degree . . . it stands independent and arbitrary . . . without a straight mark inserted above or below it . . .

By default, or on its own, it seems that a character is in the fifth degree.  So, all Egyptian characters that have no straight mark are automatically in the fifth degree.  In order to either "lessen" or "increase" a degree, one must insert the Zip-Zi mark or "mark of the degrees" either above or below a character.  Joseph Smith says:

". . . by inserting a straight mark over [the character] thus, it increases its signification five degrees.  By inserting two straight lines thus, its signification is increased five times more.  By inserting three straight lines thus, its signification is again increased five times more than the last."

In other words:

 ". . . [if a] character alone has 5 parts of speech, [the number] is increased by one straight line thus:  5 x 5 is 25.  By two horizontal lines thus:  25 x 5 =125; and by 3 horizontal lines thus:  125 x 5 = 625."

Therefore, in the above case where there are 625 parts of speech represented we have one character that has a subject, and that subject, in order to be properly translated for what it represents, "in translating [the] character, the subject must be continued until . . ." there are 625 parts of speech in the translation of the subject of the character, in this case.  The character represents the subject.  The character does not have information packed into it for 625 parts of speech.

A character "independent, and arbitrary" and "alone" by itself, just is in the fifth degree, and does not represent 625 parts of speech in that case, but only as many parts of speech as there are "connections" or "component parts" in the character, which seems to be 5 by default.

Now, as for inserting the horizontal lines below a character:

". . . when [a] character has a horizontal line under it, it reduces it into the fourth degree.  Consequently, it has but four connecting parts of speech.  When it has two horizontal lines, it is reduced into the third degree and has but three connecting parts of speech.  And when it has three horizontal lines, it is reduced into the second degree and has but two connective parts of speech . . ."

As for the character Iota Ni Ta Veh Ah Que it says:

" . . . its signification may be lessened one half by the mark as in the margin . . ."

In this case, the "sign of the degrees" was used diagonally above the character.  And again:

". . . its signification is increased tenfold by the mark as in the margin . . ."

In this case, the "sign of the degrees" was used vertically below the character.

In summary:

Each character cued the interpreter as to the subject that it represents, and if there are "signs of the degrees" inserted above or below, the interpreter is cued as to how much material the subject at hand represents.  Therefore, the grand majority of the material is not represented by any content in the papyrus.  Only the SUBJECT of the material.  The interpreter must get the information elsewhere, namely by revelation.  This is why this is clearly something that is not meant to be text of anything, but rather a cue to receive information from the spirit.  If someone is initiated as to the meaning of the papyrus in ancient times, he already would have known the intent of the papyrus according to the secondary intent of the original ancient Egyptian Interpreter.  If he is a prophet, he is dependent on the Spirit to relay the intent of the ancients about what the papyrus was used to represent.  So, the papyrus in this secondary intent, in the end is a revelatory device giving cues to an interpreter.  It doesn't really have any content in it to speak of, with the exception of a subject.  And even the subject is not necessarily the literal translation of the Egyptian character at hand, but rather, there will be a signature, perhaps something thematic about the character that the character has in common with the intended subject that ties it to it.  So, even the character itself is not very helpful to even know the "subject" that it is intended to represent.  This is why I said in a previous post, this is not something that the casual translator can just "extract" from these characters.  The person doing the translating must know the intent of the person that used the papyrus in this fashion, as a source of characters for a derivative composition.

There is no indication whatsoever from the evidence at hand that Joseph Smith ever intended anyone to believe that whole paragraphs could be "extracted" from one character.  From all indications, he was quite conscious of the fact that only the "subject" was represented by any particular character, and that certain things in a text could cue the interpreter as to how much text ought to be provided in the translation.  But there is no indication that he believed that actual content of the text was ever represented by anything in the papyrus at all.   Therefore, it is more along the lines of acrostics as we had postulated before.  You have something that represents a subject or has a signature that ties it to that subject, and then you provide your own content for what that subject is.  Joseph Smith was quite conscious of the fact that he never had anything in his hands that represented itself as the actual  content of the text of the book of Abraham.  There were only things that represented subjects that are at hand.  And along with those "subjects," there was some information, numerologically, about how much text and what type of words such as adjectives, adverbs, etc. there were in the text.  So, again, its more like metadata.  It does not contain information.  It contains information ABOUT information.  This is why I say, this papyrus requires mappings to information that is external to itself.  Otherwise it is meaningless.  There are external dependencies that give it meaning.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Did Abraham himself invent the Proto-Sinaitic or Proto-Alphabet?

Right now, I pose this as a question for further research rather than a statement:  Did Abraham himself invent either the Proto-Sinaitic or Proto-Alphabet?  This statement is interesting:

It was argued that the Hindus who spoke Sanskrit must have penetrated to India about 2000 B.C., and that their original home was in Europe.  But their alphabet, according to Buhler, was Semitic, related to Phoenician, and was not introduced till about 800 B.C.  thus the original Hindus, like the Greeks, were regarded as Nordics who learned from the Semites the use of the written word, and, discarding all Semitic linguistic traits, adapted the borrowed alphabet to an Indo-European language.

The Brahmans claimed that the oldest Indian script was devised by the god Brahma, and therefore called it Brahma (or Brahmi lipi) . . . (Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 45, 1934, The Prehistory of the Alphabet by John Strong Newberry, pp. 107-108)

If taken seriously that the god Brahma may be a corruption of the name Abraham, this may suggest a tradition that indicates Abraham could have been the inventor of the original form Semitic alphabet.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Joseph Smith's Iota and the Egyptian Pupil of the Eye, and the Egyptian Biliteral Character Irt

Joseph Smith's Iota in his Egyptian Alphabet seems to be another character that has a name that at first would seem to derive from Semitic or Greek alphabets, but whose derivation in Egyptian isn't really related to the original forms in Semitic or Greek alphabets.  But in fact, its name has a lot in common with the Egyptian form.  In Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet, it is just a dot:


Joseph Smith translated this as "see, saw, or having seen."  Or "having been seen."  Or "me, myself."

It is possible that part of the reason the name was chosen for this Egyptian character by the ancients was because of the notion of smallness, not because of derivation from the Greek Iota or the Semitic Yod.  But it is also, no doubt, a nod and a salute to the alphabetic traditions in general, showing that what was going on in the Sensen papyrus is in the same tradition.  The Semitic Yod is a picture of an arm and a hand.  For example:

Iota and its successor Jot . . . from Greek iota, Hebrew yodh [are] the smallest letters in those two alphabets . . . ( word is used in a common English phrase, 'not one iota', meaning 'not the slightest amount', in reference to a phrase in the New Testament: "until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law" (Mt 5:18).  The word 'jot' (or iot) derives from iota.  The Portuguese and Spanish name for the letter J (jota) is derived from iota. (

It seems that the Egyptian Symbol derives from the character that is for the pupil of the eye:

This is character D12 from Gardiner's sign list.  Joseph Smith translated this as the idea of I, me, myself, to see, and so forth, which is very plausible, and makes a lot of sense.  It goes to show that the individuals behind the ancient understanding of the Sensen Papyrus were multilingual, having Greek, Hebrew, Semitic and Egyptian influence on them for their interpretations of the various characters.  Everything that we have seen so far has all the hallmarks of heavy syncretism between many traditions.

Another obvious evidence of Greek influence is the word Ha-dees (obviously the Greek Hades, being Spirit World, Sheol or Hell depending on the context), which Joseph Smith translated as:  "Another kingdom of wickedness, under the government of one who is an enemy to God . . ."

It is true that in the Semitic alphabets, the name of the eye character was ayin, and they also had the form of a circle, deriving from D12 or other similar eye characters, which turned into o-micron (small O) in Greek.  Other more ancient forms of Ayin look like this, from the Proto-Sinaitic:

(Image credit:

This one seems to be derived from Gardiner's D4, which we will speak about in a moment.  About the fact that a name shifted from a different character, we see that it is not the first time that such a thing has happened:

Somewhat analogous [to the shift between nahas and nun in the Semitic alphabets], though more complicated, was the situation in the case of the Greek sibilants:  in Doric Greek, the name san preserved the name of the Semitic shin, but took the alphabetic position and form of the tsade, while in other dialects sigma, retaining the position and form of shin, apparently took its name from still another sibilant, samekh. (American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 31, No. 3, July - Sep. 1927, p. 318)

Now we noted previously that the Egyptian uniliteral character for the I or Y sound was the reed.  However, the Egyptian BILITERAL, meaning for the IR sound, is the ideogram for the pronunciation "Irt," or "Jrt" and it happens to be the eye character:

(Image Credit:

On Gardiner's sign list, this is character D4, and is a determinative, for words related to vision. (;  Now, take notice that both the sounds I and T are both in the Egyptian vocalization Irt.  This is indeed Iota.  So, Joseph Smith was right on the money with his Egyptian Iota.  It seems absolutely clear that this is the Greek-ized pronunciation for Irt.  As Moran writes:

The Egyptian y, i sound is represented by yr , an eye. (The Alphabet and the Ancient Calendar Signs, p. 10.)

Indeed.  Joseph Smith got this one VERY RIGHT.  The bottom line is the alignment of IoTa and the Egyptian IrT is not coincidence.  This is one of those things where it is difficult to not suspect that it is just changes in the Egyptian language itself over time, as well as the fact that Egyptological Egyptian is an artificial reconstruction, that are the reason for the difference between the pronunciations of Joseph Smith's Iota and the Egyptologically-derived Irt.  Another possibility would be the principle that is known as Materes Lectiones, which means that in some alphabets, certain "consonants" sometimes represent vowel sounds, or that over time, a pronunciation of something that originated as a consonant is transformed into a vowel.  If such is the case, the R in the word IRT may represent a vowel.

A typical case of Materes Lectiones is with the Hebrew word Jehovah as the Tetragrammation (YHWH), with four letters thought to be consonants in most usages.  However, an interesting thing exists in the Book of Abraham and the Kirtland Egyptian Papers surrounding this name.  Nibley relates it to the name of Ja-oh-eh, meaning "Earth" or our world, which is the name applied to it in both the explanation for Facsimile #2 and also in the Kirtland Egptian Papers.  Hugh Nibley notes that this brings to mind, or suggests, Jaoel, the angel who visits Abraham in the Apocalypse of Abraham, an ancient extra-canonical text.  He notes that this name is identified by a scholar named George H. Box as Jehovah, and the name Jaoel means "Jehovah is God."  Nibley talks about various issues surrounding the tetragrammation (YHVH or YHWH), which are the consonants for the name Jehovah in Hebrew.  He notes that these letters actually referred to four vowels, U-A-I-E, which were uttered by the high priest in the temple once a year.  (One Eternal Round, p. 257-258).  It is interesting that the Jewish Encyclopedia says:
It was in connection with magic that the Tetragrammaton was introduced into the magic papyri and, in all probability, into the writings of the Church Fathers, these two sources containing the following forms, written in Greek letters: (1) "Iaoouee," "Iaoue," "Iabe,"; (2) "Iao," "Iaho," "Iae"; (3) "Aia"; (4) "Ia." . . . "Iabe" is designated as the Samaritan pronunciation. There are external and internal grounds for this assumption; for the very agreement of the Jewish, Christian, heathen, and Gnostic statements proves that they undoubtedly give the actual pronunciation . . . The "mystic quadriliteral name" . . . was well known to the Gnostics, as is shown by the fact that the third of the eight eons of one of their systems of creation was called "the unpronounced," the fourth "the invisible," and the seventh "the unnamed," terms which are merely designations of the Tetragrammaton . . . Even the Palestinian Jews had inscribed the letters of the Name on amulets . . . ; and, in view of the frequency with which the appellations of foreign deities were employed in magic, it was but natural that heathen magicians should show an especial preference for this "great and holy name," knowing its pronunciation as they knew the names of their own deities.  (
It is interesting that it is in relation to the Magical Papyri that this is used a lot in the Greek spellings of the name.  It shows that the ancients associated these letters with vowels in this name, even though in Hebrew, all they  had were consonants to spell them with.  This is the principle that is known as Materes Lectiones, that I have spoken of in other blog posts.  Which means that in some alphabets, certain "consonants" sometimes represent vowel sounds.  As we see above, we are assured by many ancient sources that the Tegragrammation was was actually pronounced something like IAOUE ("Yah-weh"), as a set of vowels.  And furthermore, many in the Greco-Roman period represented the name with the letters IAO as a shortened form, something similar to the representation of the word in Hebrew as "Yah," as we find in the Bible in various people's names.

Anyway, the point is, Nibley in the book One Eternal Round is trying to connect the name of earth "Ja-oh-eh" to the name Yahweh.  Does this demonstrate the possibility of ownership and dominion, that the very name of earth could either be connected to the name of God, or be a form of the name of God?  Anyhow, Nibley writes that one source states that the original Tetragrammation was Yod-Ayin-Waw-Aleph which he says "corresponds to "Joseph Smith's j-a-o-e" (which Joseph Smith gives as the name of the Earth), instead of the classic spelling of the Tetragrammation as Yod-Heh-Vaw-Heh.  It is interesting that there could be a connection here to the Magical Papyri once again, as we read above.

Anyhow, these principles may also apply to Joseph Smith's Iota.  It may well be that Iota goes back to the way it was pronounced at the Greco-Roman period:

While the consonantal phonology of the Egyptian language may be reconstructed, its exact phonetics are unknown, and there are varying opinions on how to classify the individual phonemes. In addition, because Egyptian is also recorded over a full two millennia, the Archaic and Late stages being separated by the amount of time that separates Old Latin from modern Italian, it must be assumed that significant phonetic changes would have occurred over that time. . . 
Since vowels were not written, reconstructions of the Egyptian vowel system are much more uncertain, relying mainly on the evidence from Coptic and foreign transcriptions of Egyptian personal and place names. The vocalization of Egyptian is partially known, largely on the basis of reconstruction from Coptic, in which the vowels are written. Recordings of Egyptian words in other languages provide an additional source of evidence. Scribal errors provide evidence of changes in pronunciation over time. The actual pronunciations reconstructed by such means are used only by a few specialists in the language. For all other purposes the Egyptological pronunciation is used, which is, of course, artificial and often bears little resemblance to what is known of how Egyptian was spoken. (
Another analogy to what I'm suggesting is what John Gee pointed out for the name Nephi, which seems to be derived from the common Egyptian NFR.  Bowen notes:

As John Gee first proposed, the name Nephi is best explained as a form of the Egyptian word nfr, which was later pronounced neh-fee, nay-fee, or nou-fee, especially during and after Lehi’s time. The word nfr denotes “good,” “goodly,” “fine,” fair.” (Nephi’s Good Inclusio, by Matthew L. Bowen,
Gee writes:

F. L. Benz . . . sees the name KNPY as the Phonecian for m of K
, an attested Egyptian name.  This equation was later confirmed by G. Vittmann, who added that the Aramaic spellings KNWP' and QNPHY were also attested.  Further, the Aramaic KNWPY is attested in the Elephantie inscriptions.  Vittmann also notes that the name 'HRNPY, attested in teh Aramaic inscriptions, was probably Egyptian 'nh-hr-nfr.  The name element NPY seems to be the Semitic (i.e., Aramaic, Phoenician) transcription of the Egyptian nfr, a common element of Egyptian personal names . . .
. . . Nfr itself is an attested Egyptian name.  At this time (fifth century B. C.) in Egyptian, the final r had fallen out of the pronunciation of nfr, and this remained the case in Coptic, where the from was noufi. (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 1/1, 1992, pp. 189-191)
As you can see, it seems this is pretty much the same principle that I'm talking about, a verbal shift in the r, especially when Semitic speaking peoples were using words that originated with the Egyptians, where this is essentially identical to or very similar to Materes Lectiones, where Aramaic/Semitic speakers were shifting the r to a y sound, treating it as a vowel, or just skipping the sound.

Ki-Abra-Oam-Zub-Zool-Oan, Abraham 1:2-3, and Wsir-Wr ("Osiris the Great")

(Source:  A poster named "Xander" at;

Even though this was originally taken from the columns, the copy of it in the Book of Abraham Manuscript margin above, as you can see, it is the third character down.  In other words, this was one of the characters Joseph Smith was using to fill in the lacuna.  Chris Smith prepared a graphic here, where he put them in order that they appear in the Book of Abraham Manuscript:

As you can see, the first one going from right to left on the top line here is the W or Reed character.  Next is the comma-looking W or Rope coil character.  And then, this character appears as the third character in the order Joseph Smith put them in.  But as I said, this is originally one of the characters in the Sensen Papyrus in the columns surrounding Facsimile #1.

As is shown in this post, Ed Ashment identified it:

It is Usiwer (Wsir-wr), the name of the father of Hor, the owner of the papyrus:


Here is the drawing of the character from the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar:


Here is the location of the figure on the Sensen Papyrus (encircled in red):

(See Ed Ashment's treatment of this character at

Wsir-Wr means "Osiris the Great."  Joseph Smith translated this as "Ki-Abra-oam-Zub-Zool-Oan."  It was one of the compound characters that he dissected into pieces, and translated each piece, as I described previously in previous blog posts, like for example the Wedjat Eye that is dissected into its pieces, and where each piece is a separate fraction mathematically.  This character shows once again that Joseph Smith has correctly identified this as the name of the person on the Lion Couch, which is Osiris, since he identifies it as Abraham, and its dissections as being how Abraham describes himself in Abraham 1:2-3.  Joseph Smith "plugged in" the identification of Abraham, using Osiris as the symbol for him, according to the intent of the ancient interpreters.  Once again, Joseph Smith scores 100% on the identification of this symbol.  Joseph Smith translated the various sections of this character in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar as this, which now appears in Abraham 1:23:

". . . having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me."

Chris Smith demonstrated the dependence of these verses on the translations in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar for this character.

As Ed Ashment showed, in the Egyptian Alphabet, the hieratic W (the symbol that looks like a comma), signifying Abraham, was seen as a component part of this character.  The left part of the Wsir-Wr character that was drawn this way:


Was also drawn this way (a little exaggerated, perhaps to show its component pieces better):


And it was dissected this way, after the same manner as the Wedjat eye is dissected, as we had discussed in a previous post:


Until finally, we have the hieratic W, which was represented as the right-most portion of the Wsir-Wr character.:


Update 2020:

My friend Ryan Larsen has posted this article:

I can't agree on many points in the article, especially that the author leaves open the possibility that W. W. Phelps was significantly responsible as mastermind for some of the contents of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers.  This is a popular but absolutely 100% false theory among apologists trying to distance Joseph Smith from the translations in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, because they want to leave open the possibility of mere "speculation" in some of the translations, so that they don't have to defend them, and can quickly and summarily dispose of them.

However, Ryan does point out Ed Ashment's hieroglyphic transcription of the hieratic Wsir-Wr symbols from the Hor papyrus.  Here is how Ed Ashment transcribed it:

Also, if you look at Michael Rhode's hieroglyphic transcription in his book on the Hor Papyrus, similarly, he transcribes it this way:

Ryan identified the hunched-over old man on the left as Gardiner's sign list symbol A19, and this identification is correct.  This is one of the hieroglyphs that means "great" in Egyptian.  In many cases it is vocalized as WR.  Similarly, another Hieroglyph in question for "great" (WR) is the swallow hieroglyph (Gardiners G36):

The vocalization, as we have seen for both is the same, with the pretty-much same meaning, so they are interchangeable, it seems.

Some have pointed out that WR as "great" corresponds to the Sumerian word for great, which is GAL.

Ryan gets it right that the "great" in the name Wsir-Wr, is clearly the element in ancient Egyptian that is the direct parallel to what Joseph Smith produced in the translation for Wsir-Wr, showing successive progression in greatness in this and that.  For example, Abraham 1:2 says that Abraham sought for greater knowledge even though he already had great knowledge, and to not just be a greater follower of righteousness than he had been.

Another friend, Vincent Coon, points out that the old man hunched over meaning "great," also means chief, eldest, etc.  And as he terms it, "ancient of days."  Indeed, in the Book of Abraham, Abraham says that the priesthood came down from the fathers, from Adam in Abraham 1:3, which seems to be a parallel to the "ancient of days" in the concept of WR.

Now, above, besides the hieroglyph for great, as the hunched over old man with the cane, we also see the hireoglyphic for the seated god Osiris (Wsir).  There is no number for this in Gardiner's sign list, but other signs for gods appear in section C of the list.  But we can be sure that it is indeed a picture of Osiris.  But now, let us discuss a bit more about the hieroglyphs for the name Osiris.

Now, looking up the regular way for spelling out the name Osiris in hieroglyphics, first, we have the particle WS, which is the picture of a throne (Gardiners Q1):

Now, interestingly, the vocalization in Sumerian for throne, ruler, etc. is Sumerian is barag, bara, bar, etc. (  As we showed in other posts, other symbols in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers like the W symbol (rope-coil hieroglyph in hieratic, quail hieroglyph in hieroglyphic) (which looks like a comma), can be associated with the words Abrek and Barak, both meaning to bow, to curl, etc.  In   This is why the W symbol is associated with Abraham.  In this case (the case of the throne hieroglyph), it is the Sumerian pronunciation of the throne that is the most interesting:  Barag.  It is yet another word play with the name Abraham.  Barag also means nest, which is an interesting coincidence for the quail hieroglyphic.

Then secondly, we have the particle IR, IRI or IR.T, which is the picture of an eye (Gardiners D4):

In Sumerian, the vocalization of eye is Igi (  As you can see, Joseph Smith was actually giving us the Sumerian pronunciation for the Osiris Hierolgyph of Eye and Throne, which Ki-Abrah-Oam, or as the Lexicon gives us, it is Igi Barag.  Ki is another pronunciation of Igi, and Abrah is another pronunciation of Barag (Barak/Abrek).

Therefore, Osiris the Great, is Abraham who successively is greater in various ways as he progresses.  This is why the symbol for Osiris is associated with Abraham in the Hor Papyrus.

The other word for eye here in Akkadian/Assyrian (Semitic Languages from the area of Sumer) is Inu.  This may explain the particle OAN, in Zub Zool Oan.  It is a cognate of the Hebrew Ayin, meaning eye.

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.

From the evidence that we will discuss below, this would appear to be 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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Egyptian T Uniliteral (Bread Loaf), the mythological god Thoth, and Joseph Smith's Veh-Kli-Flos-Is-Es (Limdi)

This is the image from the Kirtland Egyptian Papers/Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar for the vocalization Veh-Kli-Flos-Is-Es:


This is the image of the character from the Sensen Papyrus:


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

Michael Rhodes has identified this as the Egyptian symbol/uniliteral T, which various authorities have interpreted as a bread loaf:

(Image Credit:

In Gardiner's sign list, this is given the designation of X1.  It is listed as being the "major determiner of 'feminine' or 'female, woman'." (

As we had mentioned previously, in the Egyptian Counting part of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, Joseph Smith showed that Veh was a vocalization for the number five, and Kli-Flos-Is-Es is the vocalization for "star" or the "measurement of time."  In general, this means the fifth fixed star, which Joseph Smith identified as having the name "Limdi."

(Image Credit:

This is the mythological god Thoth (Djehuty).  As you can see, he has the head of an ibis bird.  You will no doubt notice the visual affinity with the head of the ibis bird in the picture of Thoth above and the bread loaf glyph shape.  The curve is immediately apparent.  We read:

Interesting is the cryptic reproduction of the name of Thoth with the hieroglyphic sign for bread, to be read t3 or t. The same sign can be found in the old style of writing thn, meaning 'ibis.'  If this sign is not an ordinary abbreviation, it could be the indication of the participum activum of the verb tj, meaning 'to crush'.  Thoth would thus be characterised as 'the crusher', the crusher of Seth and other foes.  Thoth is, indeed, the great combatant and destroyer of his opponents.  On this point, K. Sethe remarks that this cryptic style of writing is not unique.  Parallels are Hr, meaning 'the far one' for Horus, and Wd emaning 'the condemned' for Seth. (Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion, by Claas Jouco Bleeker, p. 107).

Thoth, of course, was identified with the ibis.  Similarly, the Hebrew word for bread is lechem (Strongs 3899), which is derived from lacham (Strongs 3898), meaning to feed on, to consume, to battle, to destroy.

It would seem, once again, we have yet again a mythological god that has been identified with a uniliteral glyph through acrophony.  And it is interesting that the Semitic lechem or lacham (LKhM) starts with L and has an M in it like Limdi.

Ibis in Hebrew is maglan, a wordplay/letterplay/anagram on these roots (MGLN), where the M and L are transposed, and the G is a hard sound like the Kh (  The word may be related to magal, a sickle (Strongs 4038), which historically would have the same shape as the beak of the Ibis, and could be considered a weapon.  In Arabic, a sickle is munagil (munajil), and an ibis is an 'abu munajil.

Thoth is the scholar god "popularly depicted as an ibis-headed man while consumed in the act of writing." (  He is known as the secretary of Re, "He is responsible for writing, mathematics, measurement and time as well as the moon and magic." (ibid.)  Remember, Veh-Kli-Flos-Is-Es (Limdi) and Kli-Flos-Is-Es have to do with the measurement of time, according to Joseph Smith.  Indeed, in the Hebrew, the root lamad means to goad, to teach, etc. (Strongs 3925).  Limmud (Strongs 3928), which derives from lamad means instructed, as being a disciple, learned, taught, and so forth.  This is clearly the root from which the name Limdi is derived, which is a clear association with the theme of Thoth/Hermes.  Limdi is clearly a word of Semitic derivation in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, answering to an Egyptian symbol carrying that same theme as its root meaning.  Lacham would seem to have an association with the root lamad.  Of course, the Hebrew letter lamed is a picture of an ox goad, according to some authorities.  It is also a character with a curve like the Egyptian T, and it appears one may ask the question question whether it derives from character V1 on Gardiner's sign list (a rope coil) as some people believe.  Or whether it actually derives from the Egyptian T uniliteral/bread loaf glyph (X1 on Gardiner's list).  Or perhaps it has a relation to both.  Here is the Proto-Sinaitic lamed, from whence our letter L derives:

 (Image credit:

Anyhow, back to Veh-Kli-Flos-Is-Es and Limdi.  Remember Veh is Five in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, and Limdi is the fifth fixed star.  Thoth's association with the number five is interesting:

This mythology also credits him [thoth] with the creation of the 365 day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with the Moon for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won.  During these 5 days, Nut gave birth to Kheru-ur (Horus the Elder, Face of Heaven), Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. (

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Egyptian KH Uniliteral, the god Khepri and Joseph Smith's Flos-is-es: Degrees of Light, the Sun or King of Day

The mythological god Khepri


Here is the location of the character on the Sensen Papyrus (encircled in red):

In the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, this is the round character that Joseph Smith identified as Flos-is-es.  Michael Rhodes identifies it as the Egyptian character for the Kh vocalization (uniliteral) in the name Taykheybt, the mother of Hor, the owner of the Sensen Papyrus. In Gardiner's sign list, it is given the designation of AA1. [i]

There has always been lots of controversy on the meaning of this glyph.  Some authorities have argued that it represents either a placenta or a circular sieve/sifter [ii].  The point is, among the authorities, there isn't a lot of agreement, and even when they suggest a meaning for it, they sometimes put a "?" or question mark after their suggestion.

Throughout the five "degrees" of the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, this glyph (Flos-is-es) is said to be either the "highest" degree of light, the "right" degree of light, or "King of Day" or the "central moving planet" from which others get their light, or the "Sun."

Others have made proposals that this glyph seems to have something to do with the Sun or the horizon.  One argument that has been made has to do with the use of the glyph in Khufu's cartouche [iii].  Others have argued against this, and it is unlikely that Egyptologists will take those theories seriously.

And even if it is linked to the Sun, which in my estimation, is very likely, it doesn't make the interpretations of "sieve" or "placenta" wrong, just an interpretation in a different context.  Various other glyphs of the Sun in Egyptian are circle-glyphs.  In this case, it is especially interesting however, that there are a number of lines going through the glyph.  Remember that Joseph Smith said that the "sign of the degrees" was a horizontal line.  It is possible that these horizontal lines represent the varying degrees of light.  They could also represent shading, or even clouds in the sky.

What seems obvious to me, is that this has the vocalization of KH because of the Egyptian Sun god Khepri.  So, it has the vocalization of KH by acrophony, much like how the Egyptian uniliteral for W has an acrophonic connection to Wsir or Osiris.  Of Khepri, we read:

Khepri was connected with the scarab beetle (kheprer), because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky. Khepri was thus a solar deity. Young dung beetles, having been laid as eggs within the dung ball, emerge from it fully formed. Therefore, Khepri also represented creation and rebirth, and he was specifically connected with the rising sun and the mythical creation of the world. The Egyptians connected his name with the Egyptian language verb kheper, meaning "develop" or "come into being" . . .

There was no cult devoted to Khepri, and he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra. Often, Khepri and another solar deity, Atum, were seen as aspects of Ra: Khepri was the morning sun, Ra was the midday sun, and Atum was the sun in the evening. [iv]

It makes sense that this glyph would represent the morning sun, because the Sun appears over the eastern horizon in the morning.  This is the embodiment of the Egyptian word khepher, as we saw in the quote above, because the sunrise in the east is the renewal of the sun.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Joseph Smith's Floees and the Egyptian "Psd": The Moon

Floees in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, as well as Facsimile #2 is the Moon.  Just where the vocalization Floees originates from, as many other things in the Book of Abraham and the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, will require further research.  In the Book of Abraham Text in Chapter 3, verse 13, the Moon is "Olea" which is obviously a Semitic pronunciation.  Other Semitic pronunciations are Oreach, Yareach, and so forth, deriving from the root Semitic root YRK.  This is another character that was not found in the Sensen Papyrus, but was restored to the Egyptian Alphabet by Joseph Smith by revelation:

It is a picture of the moon with a line in the middle, apparently signifying the first quarter and the third quarter phases of the moon, perhaps to symbolize all the phases of the moon.  Be that as it may, it matches with N9 from Gardiner's Sign List of hieroglyphs for the moon:


The only difference, of course, is that the line across the middle is horizontal, rather than vertical, because the orientation of the symbol has shifted, much like the Semitic/Greek Aleph/Alpha has been cranked around in various orientations.  That is simply not a material difference.  The Egyptian vocalization for this is "psd" (meaning to shine), such as in the Egyptian word for "Ennead" which is "psdt."  It means the number nine, deriving from psd.

Going back to the Semitic vocalization of Olea.  The L in that vocalization is a shift from the R in the regular Semitic Oreach or Yareach, it is clear that this is the same type of shift from an R to an L in the word Kolob, when the word Kolob clearly derives from the Semitic root KRB ("to be near"), because Abraham 3:3 says "the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me . . ."  This may be the same type of shift as well in the place name Chalsidonhiash (Land of the Chaldees) in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, which we know today as Karduniash.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Karduniash(Chalsidonhiash) and Ka-šakān(Zakion): The Reed Symbol and Land of the Chaldees(Kassites)


This is the hieroglyphic reed symbol (to the right) and to the left is our letter I from the Latin Alphabet.  This shows that this reed character has the Egyptian phonetic value for the letter I in our alphabet.

The character is acrophonic in Egyptian, meaning that, as a letter, it stands for the initial sound of the thing that it is a picture of.  In this case, it is Iaru or Yaru, a reed or reeds. (

This character was translated as "Land of the Chaldees" by Joseph Smith, calling it Chalsidon-haish (Kulsidonhish) or Zakioan-hiash.   But it is not a translation of content in the symbol.  It is the translation of an ancient Egyptian pun between the symbol and ancient content in a document we no longer have.  In other words, the symbol doesn't contain the text "Land of the Chaldees."  The symbol stands for a pun between the theme of reeds, and what they have to do with the ancient "Land of the Chaldees."  The pun made this symbol of use visually for a visual decoration to go along with the original ancient Egyptian text in the Book of Abraham where it mentioned "Land of the Chaldees."  This is because the ancient place name Kiengi that refers to "Land of the Chaldees" means "Land of Reeds," as we shall see.  Therefore, this forms a visual pun, and is not a "translation" of information in the reed symbol at all.  This is why Anti-Church individuals don't understand what is going on here, because they expect that this would be a translation of information contained in the symbol itself.  It is not, because the symbol is decorative, and contains no information.  The symbol has a decorative/artistic relationship to the content, but the content itself only appeared in an ancient Book of Abraham manuscript that was lost in antiquity.  Joseph Smith never had that, but he did have the Hor papyrus that happened to have symbols that ended up adapted or recycled.  This isn't rocket science, but one must be absolutely clear on the point that the reed symbol never *contained* the information it is associated with, despite Anti-Church attempts to make Joseph Smith into a false translator that thought it was the case.

Here is an image of where the so-called "translation" is given for this character in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar:


Here is an image of one of the Book of Abraham manuscripts showing the same character representing a marker for the text item Land of the Chaldees in Abraham 1:1:


And here is another section from another one of the Egyptian Alphabet Documents:


Before the part of the Sensen Papyrus containing these characters flaked off when the lacuna became bigger, Joseph Smith was able to translate this symbol along with the hieratic W symbol (that we had talked about in a different post).  Together, they represent a marker for the text "In the Land of the Chaldees, I Abraham..." (i.e. the very first part of Abraham Chapter 1, verse 1.)  Here is where it was located on the Sensen Papyrus before it flaked off (encircled in red):

Here is another 
illustration put together by someone that makes the point:

And also, this:

The "text" of the Sensen Papyrus goes from right to left.  As you can see, this is at the beginning of the so-called text.  However, in the system of interpretation of other Egyptians that used the text differently than the original author of it, as demonstrated in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, to them it was not an Egyptological text at all, but individual characters with individual meanings in their own contexts, more along the lines of how each symbol in the Hypocephalus or Facsimile #2 is interpreted separately from each other in Joseph Smith's explanation for the picture.  Some individuals like Ed Ashment have oughtright dismissed Joseph Smith's translation of the Chalsidonhiash character.  Hugh Nibley commented on the translation of it in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, saying:

. . . there cannot be the slightest doubt that the writer here intends to relate specific Egyptian characters to specific English words and ideas. Now this is something like it; this is the sort of demonstration for which we have been looking, in which things are properly pinned down. But alas, if this is the beginning of a rigorous demonstration it is also the ending; for with the second line of the text the project is lamely given up—at that early stage of the game any further attempt to number Egyptian symbols by way of matching them with definite English equivalents is abandoned. [i]

But, Nibley didn't follow up with deeper research on the character to check to see if it actually did translate.  It actually does.  Was not the Land of the Chaldees the land of Sumer?  Yes, indeed it was:

SUMER and Sumerian. The Babylonian name Shumer was used in the cuneiform inscriptions together with Akkad, viz. mat Shumeri u Akkadi, " land of S. and A.," to denote Babylonia in general (see Akkad). In the 'non-Semitic ideographic documents the equivalent for Shumer is Kengi, which seems to be a combination of ken, "land" -}- gi, "reed" i.e. "land of reeds," and appropriate designation for Babylonia, which is essentially a district of reedy marshes formed by the Tigris and Euphrates. [ii]

Indeed, Kiengi or Kengi is the Sumerian name for the place!  It was the Sumerians that used the reed symbol for the place.  And while Abraham was a Shemite, he certainly Sumerian by nationality.  There can be no doubt about the possibility that he spoke that language, being from Ur.  And further, we read:

The name Sumer was given by the Akkadians. The Sumerians referred to themselves as the Kiengi [iii]

And again:

All of the lowland folk were united in their enmity toward the plundering hillmen of Susa, or Elam as the Bible calls the hill country that surrounded Susa. The valley folk named their own region Kengi, or the land of reeds, since all about the marshy shallows of the river grew great reeds a dozen feet in height. [iv]

Paul Y. Hoskisson, a BYU Professor, notes that "The Kassites, the other possible referent of the Hebrew kasddīm, moved into Mesopotamia from somewhere in the north and became the ruling class during the Middle Babylonian period."  Then, in his note for this statement in the end notes, he states, “Their native word for Babylonia was Karduniash. Notice that the main element of this name, Kaldū . . .contains a liquid. . ."[v]  He is referring to the R or L in the varying versions of this name, such as Kardu or Kaldu or Kasdu, being what is termed in phonetics as a liquid consonant.[vi]  Joseph Smith’s phonetic reading for the reed character in the Egyptian Papers is “Chalsidonhiash.”  It is clearly the same exact place name, and manifesting an "ls", precisely where the "liquid" exists in the name.

Once again we see that the Egyptian actually does translate to what Joseph Smith said it did, yet he translated this from two letters:  the hieratic I and the hieratic W, of all things.  It is the use of the character as an abstraction and giving it a literal value assignment, very similar or almost identical to an alphabetical acrostic, like how the Hebrew letters are used in the acrostics in the Book of Psalms in the Bible.  It was a translation of alphabetic/phonetic characters, also treating them like pictograms, somewhat.  It is precisely the system of interpretation we were expecting, according to ancient precedent.

There is something going on here with representing place-names and other things using the letters pictographically at times.

Contrary to Brother Paul Hoskisson's beliefs and the beliefs of others that follow his same paradigm, however, it appears that Abraham's Ur was down south.  This unexpected evidence on the reed character from the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar demonstrates that the notion that Abraham's Ur was northward near Haran is an incorrect idea, because the Ur of Karduniash, Kiengi or the Land of Reeds is Southern Iraq down by the ruins of the fabled city of Eridu.

Wikipedia has this on the place name Karduniash, and shows that it specifically refers to southern Babylonia:

Karduniaš, or Karduniash (also Karaduniyaš, or Karaduniše), is a Kassite term used for the kingdom centered on Babylonia and founded by the Kassite dynasty. It is used in the 1350-1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence, and is also used frequently in Middle-Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian texts to refer to the kingdom of Babylon. The name Karaduniyaš is mainly used in the letters written between Kadashman-Enlil I, or Burna-Buriash, the Kings of Babylon, and the Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt-(called: Mizri), letters EA 1-EA 11, a subcorpus of letters, (EA for 'el Amarna'). Much later, a version of the name was used in the Babylonian Talmud as Kardunya referring to similar locations.[vii]

Interestingly enough, I was unaware until a google search turned up a presentation that John Tvedtnes gave at the 2005 FAIR conference, where he came to the same exact conclusion that I have on the name Karduniash:

Here’s one I kind of like- Kalsiduniash. The name Kalsiduniash is spelled in various ways in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. In one it appears as chalsidon hish(sp?) and is identified as the land of the Chaldeans. This meaning is also given in another of the text where it is spelled as Za Ki-oan hiash, and also chalsidon hiash(sp?). It appears in other spelling forms as well in those documents. The ending ‘iash’ is interesting to me. It is known from the name of the Cassite (inaudible) and the names of the Cassite kings of Babylon (inaudible). The Cassites controlled Mesopotamia during the 17th century B.C. This of course postdates the time of Abraham—he was 20th century B.C.—but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Cassites called Mesopotamia Kar-Duniash which closely resembles the name found in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers with the interchange of the ‘l’ and the ‘r’ again which are common between Semitic languages and those in the broader language family which includes Egyptian called Afro-asiatic.[viii]

Congratulations for noticing that Brother Tvedtnes.  I wish I would have known about this quotation several years back.  Here is some more information on the Kassites and their language:

The name of the Kassites is known from several sources:
- <gal-zu> and <gal-du, gal-šu> (?) which seems to be the native pronunciation, Kaššū <(d) kaš-šu-u> with Akkadianized phonetics (Balkan 1954:131sq), which seems to be their eponymic God-name . . .

“the phonemic systems of the two [Hurrian and Kassite] languages seem to be largely alike.” (NPN 184). It is interesting to note that several people of Ancient Mesopotamia are named after their eponymic deities:
- Assyrians after Aššur,- Urartians, apart from the profane Urarṭu, had an old and secret name based on the name of their god Ḫaldi, as noted in Friedrich (1932). This accounts for their name as Chaldeans, which was later attributed to the Assyrians. This word has a conspicuous trace of a lateral fricative in Hebrew: kaśdîm [ כַּשְׂדִּים ] ‘Chaldeans’, with the letter sin corresponding to the <-l-> of other languages [i.e. the letter S in Hebrew corresponds to the L of other languages!  Once again showing this to be the "liquid consonant" Brother Hoskisson was talking about, and Joseph Smith represented it with the letters LS!]. This is an important signal that Urartian and Hurrian indeed had lateral fricatives.

It is intriguing to compare the names of several people located to the north of the Mesopotamia:  Ḫald- for Urartians, Ḫatti for Hattic in central Anatolia, Kaška for another people to between Hattic and the Black Sea  and then we also have the Kassites: Galzu ~ Kaššu. All these names share the same
“pattern” which looks like a root: *Kašt-, *Kald- with some velar stop as initial. This ethnonymic
feature would tend to show that Kassites originate more to the north of Mesopotamia close to Hattic,
Urartian and Kaška and share with them the same ethnonymic formative. It can be further noted that
Kartvelian also seems to share that formative.[ix]

So, to translate this back to plain English, the L in some of these versions of the name is often swapped out with an S, and it is clear that Kassite is closely related if not just a dialect of Hurrian or Urartean (i.e. the language from the land of Ararat).  Its too bad that they didn't suggest an ancestral root, something like *Kalsd-, which would be consistent with the name Chalsidonhiash.  However, it is clear that one of the versions of the name anciently was either galzu or galsu, said to be the "native" pronunciations (i.e. the pronunciations that they called themselves).  As you see, these pronunciations place the S after the L just like in Joseph Smith's version of the place name.  However, in the Hebrew version of the name, Kasdim, the D comes after the S, preserving the ancient placement of the D after the S.  Joseph Smith once again gets an A+.  The identification of Chalsidonhiash as Karduniash and the Kassites of Babylonia as the "Chaldees" of the Book of Abraham is a pretty slam-dunk, except for the fact that they didn't move into the area of Babylon until after Abraham's time.  Before that time, some sources place them in the Zagros Mountains of Iran.

And from the same source as the quote above, it is from Old Iranian that comes another name for the land of the Kassites, which is Kašgān or Kašakān.  Notice, the contracted particles in these names, sgan or sakan which match the Za-Kion word from the KEP, the other one referring to the Kassites/Chaldees!

Others, as we have seen, place them to the North originally.  But the reed symbol places Ur of the Chaldees in the South.  The anachronism is probably due to Abraham's descendants acting in the capacity as editors or redactors, but the story is clear.

But one significant point is, the language referred to in the Book of Abraham as "Chaldee" is not Aramaic as some have believed.  It is Kassite, making it the language of the rulers of Babylon during the Kassite dynasties.  That means that it is the Kassite language of Hurro-Urartian extraction (i.e. part of that language family).  This means that the assumptions made by some people that these words such as Rahleenos or Egyptus (Zeptah) should be Semitic might be wrong about that.  We should be looking for an attestation of something like these words in Hurrian or Urartian in some cases, since we don't have enough of the Babylonian Kassite language left for comparison.  How many more words in the Book of Abraham and in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers may end up being Hurro-Urartian?  If it isn't confusing enough that it has been demonstrated that the "Egyptian Counting" pronunciations are Indo-Iranian with a sprinkle of Sino-Tibetan, now we have Hurro-Urartian in the mix.  And furthermore, we have words such as Ah-Mestrah, which is Semitic, meaning Egypt.  There is just a hodge-podge of influences here and it will not be simple to tease them all out.

The other part of this is Joseph Smith's alternate pronunciation for Chalsidon, which is Za Ki Oan.  The particles Ki and Oan in this are just the particles Ki En in the Sumerian Kien-gi (Ken-gi).  Ken or kien in Sumerian means "land."

[i] The Meaning of The Kirtland Egyptian Papers, Hugh Nibley,, emphasis added
[iv] The_Story_of_the_Greatest_Nations_and_the_Worlds_Famous_Events_Vol_1/ancientb_hc.html
[v] Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Where Was Ur of the Chaldees?” in The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God, ed. H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1989), 119–36.
[vi] See the following for more on this liquid consonant:
[viii], 2005 FAIR Conference, "Authentic Ancient Names and Words in the Book of Abraham and Related Kirtland Egyptian Papers," John Tvedtnes, 5 August 2005;
[ix] "The Kassite Language In a Comparative Perspective with Hurrian and Urartean," by Arnaud Fournet, The Macro-Comparative Journal, Vol.2 No. 1, pp. 2-3,