Book Of Abraham

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Book Of Abraham

By Elder Geo. Reynolds

Chapter VIII.


T'HE next task which we have assigned ourselves, is to show from the ancient pyramid of Cheops that the true system of astronomy, as taught by God to Abraham, was known to those who raised this mighty structure. To do this we desire to draw attention and consider separately three points.

1st. The historical reasons we have for believing that Abraham superintended the erection of this pyramid.

2d. The reasons why this vast structure was built, and the uses for which it was designed.

3d. The direct evidences from the dimensions, form, etc., of the pyramid of Cheops, that tend to prove that its builders were acquainted with the laws that govern the starry worlds.

The Pharaoh, or king of Egypt, who is generally regarded as the builder of the first pyramid, is known to secular history by the name of Cheops. To him and his actions in closing the idolatrous temples of Egypt, we have referred in a previous chapter, as well as to the statement of Herodotus, that the Egyptians so detested his memory that they would not even mention his name. Hence he states, "they commonly call the pyramids after Philition,[1] a shepherd, who at that time fed his flocks about the place." Remarking upon the above statement, Mr. Proctor, the celebrated astronomer, writes: "The mention of the shepherd Philition, who fed his flocks about the place where the great Pyramid was built, is a singular feature of Herodotus' narrative. It reads like some strange misinterpretation of the story related to him by the Egyptian priests. It is obvious if the word Philition did not represent a people, but a person, this person must have been very eminent and distinguished--a shepherd king--not a mere shepherd. Rawlinson suggests that Philitis was probably a shepherd prince from Palestine, perhaps of Philistine descent. Prof. Smyth comes to the conclusion that some She-mite prince, 'a contemporary of, but rather older than the patriarch Abraham,' visited Egypt at this time and obtained such influence over the mind of Cheops as to persuade him to erect the pyramid. According to Smyth, the prince was no other than Melchizedek, king of Salem, and the influence he exerted was supernatural. * * * It seems tolerably clear that certain shepherd chiefs who came into Egypt during Cheops' reign were connected in some way with the designing of the great pyramid. It is clear also that they were men of a different religion from the Egyptians, and persauded Cheops to abandon the religion of his people."

If Josephus be correct, Professor Smyth's deductions regarding Melchizedek are wrong, for the former says that the Egyptians were taught astronomy by Abraham; without Melchizedek followed Abraham into Egypt instead of preceding him, which, though possible, we have no account of in any of the sacred writings.

Mr. Proctor further writes: "In the first place, the history of the pyramids shows that the erection of the first great pyramid was in all probability either suggested to Cheops by wise men who visited Egypt from the east, or else some important information conveyed to him by such visitors caused him to conceive the idea of building the pyramid. In either case we may suppose, as the history indeed suggests, that these learned men, whoever they may have been, remained in Egypt to superintend the erection of the structure. * * * The astronomical peculiarities which form so significant a portion of the great pyramid were probably provided for entirely under the direction of the shepherd chiefs who had exerted so strange an influence upon the mind of king Cheops. * * * It is certain in any case that they [the shepherd chiefs] were opposed to idolatry; and we have thus some means of inferring who they were or whence they came. We know that one particular branch of one particular race in the east was characterized by a most marked hatred of idolatry in all its forms. * * * And the Bible record shows that members of this Chaldean family visited Egypt from time to time. They were shepherds too, which accords with the account of Herodotus. * * * But having formed the opinion on grounds sufficiently assured, that the strangers who visited Egypt and superintended the building of the great pyramid were kinsmen of the patriarch Abraham, it is not very difficult to decide what was the subject respecting which they had such exact information. They or their parents had come from the land of the Chaldeans, and they were doubtless learned in all the wisdom of their Chaldean kinsmen. They were masters, in fact, of the astronomy of their day, a science for which the Chaldeans had shown, from the earliest ages, the most remarkable aptitude. * * * It is highly probable that the astronomical knowledge of the Chaldeans in the days of Terah and Abraham was much more accurate than that possessed by the Greeks in the time of Hipparchus." Mr. Proctor ultimately comes to the conclusion that "the stranger called Philition by Herodotus, may, for aught that appears, have been Abraham himself." It is a matter of secondary moment, in this consideration, whether Abraham himself or some other divinely inspired man, was the actual) architect of the great pyramid; it is sufficient to know, which it itself testifies, that whoever that builder was, he was acquainted with the same grand astronomical truths that the Book of Abraham states the Lord revealed to that patriarch, and which, at the time Joseph Smith translated the papyrus, were unknown to modern scientists.

Our next inquiries are, with regard to the causes or reasons that led to the erection of the pyramids, and to the purposes for which they were used.

Various theories have been advanced on these points. Some have supposed that these vast structures were associated with the religious rites of the ancient Egyptians; others have suggested that they combined the purposes of tombs and temples; again, that they were astronomical observatories; also that they had primarily astrological import. It has also been argued that they were defences against the sands of the great desert, or places of refuge during the excessive overflows of the Nile; the idea has also been advanced that they were granaries, somewhat after the manner of those erected under the direction of Joseph, the Israelite. A very little reflection will manifest that some of the suggestions are entirely untenable. Take for instance the notion that they were granaries. If so, what a vast waste of material, how entirely does their structure and form unsuit them for such a purpose. As wise a people as their builders must have been would scarcely have constructed a mountain of masonry, with two or three relatively small rooms therein, for such a purpose. There is some show of reason for believing that some of them were tombs and temples combined, but this will not hold good with regard to the pyramid of Cheops. Nothing found therein has given the least ground-work for the supposition that it was used for sepulchral purposes. In what is called the king's chamber was found an empty stone chest or coffer, without a lid; but in form, ornament and material it is entirely different to the usual sarcophagus used by the ancient Egyptians for the reception of the embalmed dead.

Two of the reasons advanced above, as applied to the pyramids of Cheops, are worthy of our consideration.

1st. That it was an astronomical observatory.

2d. That it was associated with the religion of the ancient Egyptians.

The reasons for believing it to have been built as an observatory are cogent and numerous. There can be no doubt that in many respects it was intended by its builders to typify astronomical truths; evidence in proof of which will be hereafter adduced. It has been suggested that the granite coffer found in what is now called the king's chamber (simply that it may have a distinctive name) was filled, in whole or in part, as circumstances required, with water, and that the face of the heavens was reflected therein, through the slanting passages that pointed directly to the polar star. That this coffer was used as a receptacle for water is highly probable, from the fact that a well tapping the waters of the Nile is found in the pyramid.[2] In this inner chamber, surrounded by this vast mass of masonry, removed as far as possible from the atmospheric and electric perturbations existing on the earth's surface, it is argued that using the water in the coffer as a mirror, the most accurate observations could be taken that were then possible. This idea we deem untenable, as it appears to us that the inclines and angles in the passages would render such reflection next to impossible. According to certain Arabian historians "there were placed in the great pyramid divers celestial spheres and stars, and what they severally operate in their aspects, and the perfumes which are to be used to them, and the books which treat of these matters."

The evidences that it was an edifice erected for sacred purposes are not so strong as those that can be brought forward in favor of its astronomical uses. We incline to the opinion that it combined both purposes; but we are scarcely willing to admit that if it was a temple, it was erected by a believer in the faith that looked upon Osiris and associate deities as the true Gods. The style of this vast structure and the temples erected by the followers of that faith are the antipodes of each other. The perfect purity of the pyramid from every idolatrous ornament and reference as well as of all attempts to glorify the wealth, might or wisdom of its human builders, makes it differ entirely, generically and radically from all ordinary Egyptian temples, pictured from top to bottom with the praises of their false gods. Besides, it is asserted, as before shown that the man who built this pyramid shut up the temples, a very inconsistent act, if he were a worshiper at their shrines. We hold the opinion that if this pyramid was used for religious purposes at all, it was in connection with the doctrines taught by Abraham, and if the Lord permitted the patriarch to preach to the Egyptians that principle of the Gospel known to us as baptism for the dead, we can well imagine the use to which the coffer in the king's chamber was applied. Indeed, the idea that the coffer was a baptismal font has been suggested by more than one Gentile writer,[3] but if it were used especially in the ordinances for the salvation of those who had passed from this sphere of action the symbolism would be almost perfect; for we have here a font enshrined in the heart of an artificial mountain, that could be reached only through a straight, stony gate and by a long, narrow and mysterious passage. How accurately these typify the valley of the shadow of death, and the grave, and how perfect the imagery of going into the heart of this solid mountain to act for those who had been laid away in the sepulchre. There is one thing that greatly strengthens the idea that if its uses were religious, they were Abrahamic. It is that this very coffer is of the exact capacity of the ark of the covenant of Moses' day, also that an originally marked oft portion of the chamber in which the coffer stands is of the exact capacity of the brazen sea, or baptismal font, in Solomon's Temple. Surely there is something more than a mere coincidence in this.

We next desire to draw attention to some of the important truths relating to the earth and the heavens, revealed by God to Abraham (as stated in part in his book), of which the generality of mankind of that and every succeeding age have remained in ignorance, even to the day in which we live, but with which the builders of the great pyramid were evidently acquainted. Amongst these and kindred truths, as manifested in the construction of this vast artificial mountain, we may mention the law of planetary and solar motion, the distance of the earth from its centre--the sun, the exact size, shape and density of our terraquous globe, the precise length of its solar orbit, as also the value of the sacred cubit as the unit of measurement. Writing on this subject, in a recent number of the Juvenile Instructor, Elder Joseph L. Barfoot (Beth) remarks: "There has been a great deal of guess-work heretofore about the use of the great pyramid at Geezah. The prevailing opinion was that it had been intended for a tomb for one of the ancient kings of Egypt, Discoveries have recently been made which have led to the inference that it had far more important uses, in fact that it was an observatory, built upon mathematical principles, and designed to perpetuate, through all succeeding time, a correct knowledge of the heavens and the earth. * * * It is found that the measure by which the proportions of the great pyramid were determined is an exact proportional to the axis of the earth itself. This is a very important thing, for it is thus in harmony with natural standards of measure, such as used by Deity. This pyramid standard measure is called the sacred cubit, as it is found that the standard divinely recognized through Moses was the same as that of the pyramid. The sacred cubit was the pyramid cubit."

Now then, with this fact before our eyes, let us turn to the Book of Abraham. The explanation of Fig. 1, of the circular disc, reads thus: "Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God. First in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. The measurement, according to celestial time; which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years, according to the measurement of this earth, which is-called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-eh."

If we understand the above aright it means that with the Gods the unit of the measurement of time is one of the days of Kolob, or one thousand of our years, "which celestial time signifies one day to a cubit," or, that as one of Kolob's days is the unit of celestial time, so the cubit is the unit of celestial measurement, by which the size of the worlds are measured when the foundations thereof are laid; by which the distances of the suns and planets are regulated, and all the creations of the Holy Ones controlled. That this cubit, which was the unit of measurement of holy things on this earth--the ark of the tabernacle, the temple, etc., was also the unit of measurement when this earth was created, is further proven by the following extract from Elder Barfoot's writings: "The sacred cubit is in length rather more than twenty-five (25.025) inches of English measure. It is one ten-millionth part of the radius of the axis of the earth at the poles;" that is, it is 10,000,000 sacred cubits from the centre of the earth to either the north or south pole, or 20,000,000 through the earth from pole to pole. Brother Barfoot continues: "No higher or more reliable standard of extreme precision could be given to man than the measure of the polar radius, for all other terrestrial and celestial things relating to the earth are in proportion to this natural standard. So important are the discoveries made recently by means of the sacred cubit that men are surprised to think that the uses of the great pyramid have been so long concealed." To this remark of our esteemed brother we answer, the Lord had not turned the key; and here we pause for a moment to ask, and ask of all the world, how could Joseph Smith have possibly become acquainted with this great truth if God had not revealed it unto him. This one truth alone of which all the world was ignorant, of itself, in its revelation by him, proves him to have been a prophet of the Most High God.

We now turn to some of the peculiarities of the great pyramid, to which passing reference has before been made, gleaning our information from the writings of Petrie, Osborn, Smyth, Mackay, and others. We would observe, however, that our space prevents us from giving any but the more prominent references.

1st. For parts cosmocally and symbolically significant, the metric standard of the great pyramid is the sacred cubit, exactly one ten-millionth of the earth's polar radius, the only natural standard of both unique and extreme precision; a standard of divine origination, primeval, and preserved in the least disturbed line of Abraham's family (the Arabs) to the present day. (Mr. Wm. Petrie.)

Does not this testimony almost word for word confirm the statements of the Book of Abraham?

2d. The direction of the strait entrance passage, inclining at 26° 20' into the north side of the pyramid, was such that at the reputed date of its establishment[4] this direction was that of the primeval pole star, then at its lower culmination, while Alcyone[5] (the centre of, or governing planet which controls our solar system) then near the celestial equator, was at its upper culmination, or on the same meridian at midnight of the autumnal equinox. This definite combination cannot recur for 25,898 years; it marked the date of the pyramid, and of the year of the Pleiades," a commencement of a natural chronologic era, traditions of which have remained in most times and countries, or to put it in another shape, "the meridian of the primeval pole star became rigidly stationary on Alcyone at the date of the great pyramid, after which it commenced to retrograde."

3d. A thousand billion times the pyramid's weight, carefully computed, is the mass of the whole earth, namely, six thousand and fifty trillions of British tons.

4th. The annual circuit of the earth--that is, one year, is represented by the length of the base circuit of the pyramid, and each day of twenty-four hours by four cubits. Or each day of our year is represented by one cubit on each of the four sides of the pyramid, each side representing in its whole length one year of this earth. Or one day to a cubit as stated in the Book of Abraham. Can any one explain to us why this pyramid were so built that one cubit should represent one day exactly, if Abraham did not teach this to them? and if he did, then we have called the pyramids to bear witness to the truth of his book, which they most assuredly do, and at the same time to the truth of its translation by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Napoleon Bonaparte, when he gathered his armies in Egypt, pointing to the pyramids, told his legions that forty centuries looked down upon them. We have also called these mighty monuments of the past to bear record to the unity of revealed truth. Admit the above to be facts, and how is it possible to deny that Joseph Smith received his wisdom from a divine source, and consequently was a prophet of God.

Mr. Mackay, writing (1870) on facts in astronomy, states that the great pyramid has been "investigated and explored as no other monument, ancient and modern, ever was; and the indefatigable explorers have been rewarded with an abundant harvest of the most brilliant discoveries. One of these, discovered by Mr. Petrie, is the clear indication that the architect of this pyramid knew the mean distance of the sun from the earth with an exactitude to which modern science never approached till within the last seven years. * * * The best lineal and angular measurements have been combined by W. Petrie, who shows therefrom that the original height of the great pyramid, from the pavement to its base, was 486.25 British feet; this multiplied by the ninth power of ten--i.e., 1,000,000,000 gives a result of 92,093,000 British miles, for the mean distance of the sun. The latest collective result of science reckons the probable truth to be between 91,970,000, and 92,150,000; while the great pyramid gives 92,093,000 miles,[6] being completely within these minimum uncertainties of science." This, by other references, has been proven to have been no accident, but intended by the builders, as it constitutes but a small part of the evidence discovered in this direction.

Here, then, we have evidence that the ancient Egyptians had a knowledge of the true distance from the sun. That they obtained this knowledge only by divine light is evidenced by the abortive attempts of other ancient investigators to determine this question. For instance, in the days of Herodotus, (B. C. 500,) it was thought that the sun was distant only some eight or ten miles; fifty years later it was estimated by Anaxagoras at 1800; 150 years later, 5,300,000 was the computed distance; 1900 years later, Kepler calculated the distance at 26,400,000 miles; in A. D. 1750 the supposed distance was increased to 81,650,000, and so, from the dawn of creation until now, uninspired men have been groping after this truth, and even to-day they are not entirely satisfied that the exact measurement has been obtained.

It is unnecessary, for our present purpose, to enter into all the details of the varied geometrical, metrical, mechanical, geographical, astronomical and cosmical references found in the great pyramid, all of which, it is vigorously asserted, have been tested and proven correct by the very best scientific ability; nor will space permit us to follow a rapidly-increasing class of writers who find in its lines, angles and markings a prophetic history of the world; but we should scarcely feel satisfied if we did not summarize a few of its leading characteristics. "We find,"[7] to use the language of Dr. J. A. Seiss, of Philadelphia," a perfect geometric figure, so framed that the four sides of its base bear the same proportion to its vertical height as the circumference of a circle to its radius; that each of its base lines measures the even ten-millionth part of the semi-axis of the earth just as many times as there are days in the year; that its height multiplied by the ninth power of ten gives the mean distance between the earth and its great centre of light; that its unit of length is the even five hundredth millionth part of the polar diameter of the globe we inhabit; that its two diagonals of base measure in inches the precise number of years in the great processional cycle; that its bulk of masonry is an even proportion of the weight of the earth itself, and that its setting and shaping are squared and oriented[8] with microscopic accuracy." Regarding the coffer in the king's chamber he continues: "We perceive in it a most accurately-shaped standard of measures and proportions, its sides and bottom cubically identical with its internal space, the length of its two sides to its height as a circle to its diameter, its exterior volume just twice the dimension of its bottom, and its whole measure just the fiftieth part of the chamber in which it was put when the edifice was built," for it could not have been gotten into the chamber after the building was finished, by reason of the size and angles of the entrance passages. Now, then, let us add to these facts a statement by the same author, and we think our position regarding the veracity of the portion of the Book of Abraham we have lastly been commenting upon is amply vindicated. "Everywhere do we encounter the traditions of Abraham's skill in the knowledge of the heavens, how he argued from his observation of the heavenly orbs, and how he occupied himself in Egypt teaching the priests of Heliopolis in the lore of the skies. Doubtless this was not the naked science of astronomy as the schools conceive of it, but as respected the theological and Messianic truths symbolized in these celestial hieroglyphics, in which, as in the more literal promises, he rejoiced to see Christ's day, and saw it and was glad. (John, viii, 56.)" Which testimony of the Savior's is in direct accord with the statements of the Book of Abraham; nor need we be surprised thereat, when revelation, ancient and modern, states that Enoch, and indeed other antediluvian patriarchs, saw not only "Christ's day," but the world's history, even to the winding up scene.

Admitting that the shape of the pyramid, in connection with its other references, has a prophetic import, it becomes a remarkable fact that this stupendous four-sided monument, in this particular phase of its construction, typifies the number of days, according to the reckoning of the Lord and of Kolob, between the fall of man and the incarnation of our Savior (4000 years), and the time between the date of its own construction and the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ in the last days (also 4000 years), Two of the most important events then in the future of the world's history, and known in the economy of God, the first as the ushering in of "the dispensation of the fulness of time," the second as the ushering in of "the dispensation of the fulness of times."

[1] It is worthy of note that the root of the name Philition or Philitis signifies a lover of truth, a most appropriate name for Abraham.

[2] The assertion that this well connected with the Nile, is denied by Prof. Smyth and other explorers.

[3] Bryant, Faber, Goodsir and others.

[4] B. C. 2170, or exactly 4000 years before 1830, the date of the organization of the Church of Jesus Cfhrist in this dispensation.

[5] "The Pleiades are the seven stars, called cemah, which means an axle, that on or around which something turns. Now, a few years ago, Prof. Madler, the German astronomer, was awarded a gold medal by the scientific societies of Europe. And why? Because he was the first to advance the hypothesis of the existence of a central body in the stellar universe, about which all in our system revolved. He fixed, as that preponderating mass, upon the Pleiades, and upon the brightest star in the group, namely, Alcyone, as the very centre. Yet from Job we learn this scientific fact, and Prof. Madler had no special claim for such a discovery, nor had he any right to such a medal, unless he was a lineal descendant and heir of Job."--Dr. Wild, of New York.

[6] The most recent scientific estimate of the sun's distance from the earth actually places it within 270 miles of the exact pyramid figures.

[7] Miracle in Stone.

[8] Oriented--situated with respect to the four cardinal points.



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