Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book of Abraham Facsimile 2, Figure 5: An Egyptian Reading of Enish-go-on-dosh

Note to the Reader

For an updated, shorter version of the following essay, see:

The Prophet Joseph Smith begins his explanation of Figure 5 (the Hathor cow) on Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham as follows: "Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun." He speaks further of a certain "governing power" or "grand key" by means of which the sun, in successive cascade, receives its own light and power. The transfer of stellar and solar light from one god or one sphere to another is a motif in Egyptian art (see Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes, One Eternal Round). (Facsimile 2 and Explanation:

Is the name Enish-go-on-dosh Egyptian? Nothing about the form in which the name appears precludes such an origin, and it can certainly be so read. A larger question becomes whether any plausible Egyptian reading of the name also matches the depictions found on Facsimile 2 or the explanations the Prophet gives for the facsimile? Or can any parallels be found in the hieroglyphic record? Does Enish-go-on-dosh, in any way, recall Egyptian names for heavenly bodies? for example, Hor-dosh-dawy, a name for Jupiter? Mars as Hor-dosh? or spectacular Saturn, Hor-ko-pi-ranef-siu-yaminty-jo-pi?

The Latter-day Saints need not prove anything to a non-reflective and unbelieving world. We just have to be grateful. "Fools mock, but they shall mourn" (Ether 12:26). A seer gives insight into things "which otherwise could not be known" (Mosiah 8:17). Everybody already "knows" Re, Horus, Isis. The names the Prophet supplies, we must remember, likely address or describe the various figures in light of their placement and configuration on the hypocephalus. The word to keep in mind is nuance--and note the careful qualifiers: "In this case, in relation to this subject," the Sun is not "called in Egyptian" Re or Rait (the female sun), rather Enish-go-on-dosh (see Explanation for Facsimile 1, Figure 12). As Sir Norman Lockyer, a perceptive astronomer, pointed out long ago, the Egyptians had special Horus names for "the planets and constellations when rising" (The Dawn of Astronomy, 149, italics added).

Professor Kent Weeks further reminds the egyptologist, for whom such seeming ordinary things "can be terribly misleading," that labels, colors, names often speak to states, stages, phases, actions; they are not fixed stars ("Art, Word, and the Egyptian World View," in Egyptology and the Social Sciences, 63ff.). Long-established, generic animal names may thus turn out to name an animal in a particular ritual setting alone, and not in nature. An ordinary color word, like dshr (dosh), ultimately shows up the much-thumbed lexicon as being circular in definition and thus "nothing very imaginative" (dshr is not "just" red--it's also yellow).

Consider the following alternative name--a dosh name, no less--for one of the sons of Horus (the Prophet Joseph also introduces alternative, ritually specific labels for the very same entities): Dosh-iati-imi-hawt-ins (the one whose two eyes are red [dSr.ty], who dwells in the House of Scarlet, i.e., the Horizon; sometimes also called the House of Dosh, dSr.w, redness). Find that in the handbooks. Track down your local egyptologist. And let's certainly be grateful the Prophet spared the Latter-day Saints a like embarrassing monstrosity! Dosh?! Posh! Every bit as nonsensical appears Enish-go-on-dosh, which formally recalls the very same name, though in reverse order (jns-go-on-dosh = dosh-go-on-jns).

O, do go-on! And let's start by reviewing the iconography of Facsimile 2, the round Egyptian hypocephalus.

In the Lower Panel of the hypocephalus we find the bird-serpent Nehebkau offering the Wedjat Eye (Eye of Horus or Eye of Re) to the seated Horus Min. Next we see that same Eye personified as Wedjat, a divine lady, who, in turn, conveys her power to the Hathor Cow (or Rait, the feminine sun and Eye of Re). The scene then moves to the four mummified sons of Horus, standing face-to-face with Hathor, followed by the famous solar cryptogram of Lotus--Lion--Ram, a riddle of solar renewal. The stage-by-stage transfer of vital, renewing energy is what the Wedjat Eye is all about. The sun is about to rise. (For a full description and discussion of the panel see Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes, One Eternal Round, and Hugh Nibley, "The Three Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham," Provo: 1980.)

As I shall explain later on, I read the first element of the name, Enish-go-, as referring to the Wedjat Eye: Anesh- or Enish-go ('nx.t-q3j.t, the exalted Living Wedjat Eye). For -on-dosh I suggest both 'n(n) dsh (who turns back at the [solsticial or solar] borders; or who interlaces the borders, Eg. m'nn/m'nn.ty) and 'n.t-dsh, the Beautiful one [the beautiful eye] at the borders). It is not, in fact, an infrequent thing for a goddess to bear an epithet beginning with 'n.t (one Coptic spelling of which, auon, noted by John Darnell, sufficiently matches our -on). Some of these names much recall Enish-go-on-dosh: 'n.t x'w, the one who is beautiful [on-] in her (solar) manifestations [-go], that is, in her manifestations as the solar Eye, etc. Another reading, which I favor still more than the first, renders Enish-go-on-dosh as the Exalted Red Solar Eye (jnsj.t), even the Beautiful Eye in its Red Resplendence ('n.t dsh/dshr).

 In fact, none of these can be excluded, for it is in the nature of Egyptian to allow for more than one reading, especially where paronomasia and riddling come into play. Though reading Egyptian in the absence of hieroglyphs perforce remains a delicate matter, an interpretation which centers on the Wedjat Eye and its beauty (especially as manifest in the female sun) and on the working of solar reversal, or renewal partakes of such peculiar and specific clarity that we can approach rigorous demonstration.

A version of Book of the Dead Chapter 148 names or describes the solar Hathor as follows:

"She great of love, red of hair;/
oh foremost one residing in the mansion of the red one, beautiful rudder of the southern sky,/
she who is united with life, she of the red cloth."

"Red of hair" translates Egyptian dSr.t shnj.t (red of circuit, i.e., the circlets of hair--which also suggests the solar circuit); "mansion of the red one" (the red horizon) is Hw.t dSr.t; "she of the red cloth" (jns.t), may better be translated "she of redness," or the "red solar eye." The unique name-chain packs in a world complete: Solar Eye, Horizon, Redness, Scarlet, the Solar Circuit, the Beautiful Rudder ("one of the governing planets also") of the Southern Sky. Given such an elaborated name of redness for the Hathorian sun, can anyone lightly dismiss Hathorian Enish-go-on-dosh, "said by the Egyptians to be the sun"?

Hugh Nibley, in his 1980 article, "The Three Facsimiles from the Book of Abraham," gets the argument going, after first pointing out (ps. 72-3) that Enish- resembles Egyptian words like 'n and 'nt; and -dosh, the verb (or noun) t3sh (to delimit or mark boundaries; boundaries):

"En-ish, 'net, a ring, the smallest circle of time, (Worterbuch I, 188); 'n.s, 'n sw, etc., eternal return, turning in its course; 'nd.w the brilliance of the Sun (Wb. I, 207). . .-dosh Eg. d3sh, to divide up into parts (V, 487); the same as tash, to bound, to set limits, any boundary or marking off (V, 235)."

Nibley playfully calls Enish-go-on-dosh an "etymological salad bar" but concludes, with argument: "Each of these [corresponding Egyptian words] places the emphasis on the idea of marking off cycles of time or areas of space, as does the Explanation [of figure 5]," 73.

No further mention of the matter appears in Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes's One Eternal Round; for, according to Michael Rhodes: "The name does not seem to be Egyptian" but derives "from some foreign language" (Draper, Brown, Rhodes, The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary, 290-1). Yet the Prophet Joseph specifically says the name is Egyptian and that it was used by Egyptians to describe the sun.

Let's continue with Nibley's idea that -dosh has to do with the idea of boundary. 

On-dosh can be transcribed as Ayin-Nun or 'n + t3sh (pronounced d3sh). The verb 'n or 'nn means to turn or turn around or turn oneself about or around, turn away, return, turn back, bring back around, move counterclockwise, or can describe a ring or circle; or, as adverb: repeatedly. A like verb, n'w, signifies the same. t3sh refers to boundaries marked by stelae. To the point, the Berlin Dictionary informs us that the expression m-q3b can refer to something inside a t3sh, in this case clearly a circular delimitation or border. (M-q3b reminds us of Kolob = q-l-b ~ q-3-b).

In the inscriptions at Dendara Osiris appears in his shrine, then makes a ritual circumambulation (phr) of a temple, following which he descends to take his place in the midst of (m-q3b) his blessings, purifications, and so on, before going on to visit his sister amid great rejoicings (both marriage and homecoming); finally, he returns ('n=f sw r pr=f), as if a star in its revolutions, to his own "house" (Dendara I: 376, 9, ed., Sylvie Cauville). The entire divine progress describes a circle, with circles inside circles, and with the verb 'n(n) describing the "eternal return" to the place of beginning. Again, the procession, progress, or manifestation of Osiris, with its visits and descents to specific places, mirrors the stars.

The Egyptian verbs for rotation or the solar cycle include dbn, phr, and shnj. I further note the phrase: rdj 'n(n) hrw (causing to turn the day; who makes the day to turn (Woerterbuch I; Rainer Hannig, Grosses Handwoerterbuch), although in this case the phrase bespeaks "a turning of the day for the worst," an unlucky "downward spin" or "reversal." Still the expression intrigues, since the sun in its everyday course literally turns the day (repeats its circuit, retraces its bounds). 'n ever describes a circle: even the homonymous word for beauty ('n; 'nw) takes rise from the proportionality of a rounded countenance with its full, round eyes. Yet another variant, 'nn, according to Hannig, means to wind up, wrap; another, 'njw, signifies the circular appearance of sunlight on the horizon, and none of these ideas and images proves mutually exclusive. An Egyptian, reading the expression on-dosh, might well picture all three or four of these images: counterclockwise movement, the beauty of the eyes, the circle of light hovering on the horizon. Indeed, the word -dosh (border) describes the horizon as both limit and origin of light.

The phrase on-dosh thus could possibly mean the One who turns the circular boundary (markers as points of reference for measurement), which suggests the idea of royal as well as solar progress (progress: literally, to describe a circle), with the attendant visits to shrines like the pillar temple of Heliopolis along the way. Such shrines, when set in a circle, or the arc of a circle (in the shadow of the sun?), make up the boundary stones of a t3sh (all of which reminds the reader of the pilgrimage cycle described in the Egyptian text Leiden T32, which "mark[s] out the parameters of a 'cone of time'"). It is a turning from inside (m-q3b), not necessarily a rotation outside or around the border, that is being described here. All of which also recalls the wording found in the explanation for figure 5 about the "four quarters" of the earth and the "annual revolutions" of the sun, a clear reference to a tracing or mapping of solar movement by means of markers designed as points of orientation (compare the pyramidal benben stone of Heliopolis, Eg. Iunu, or place of the stone pillar, so prominent in Facsimile 2, as well as the emphasis on measurement in the Prophet's Explanation).

Yet turning the boundaries doesn't fit the transitive usage for 'nn. Another reading might consider 'n as the adverb for repetition and renewal now followed by the verbal form of the root d3sh: "delineating or marking the boundaries anew." As the sun goes a-progress, it forever marks the bounds of the heavens.

Here's a better idea: 'nn, given its root meaning of turning back, reversing, curving, bending (as in the shape of claws, jars, etc.), evokes the idea of the solstice. Upon reaching the farthest boundary stela (the t3sh or, later, d3sh), the sun reverses its course; the sun, like Osiris, comes back home. "The solstice," explains Giorgio di Santillana, "is the 'turning back' of the sun at the lowest point of winter [the dark depths of the Lower Panel of Facsimile 2] and at the highest point [where stands Oliblish] of summer" (Hamlet's Mill, 62). In the Books of the Netherworld m'nn.ty names the intertwined serpents, an Egyptian caduceus; Hugh Nibley sees the two serpents found by the figure of Kolob in Facsimile 2, fig. 1, as a reflection of the caduceus (see One Eternal Round). These serpents together represent both the moment of sleeping (potentiality) and also the moment of resurrection (actualization) (see David Klotz, Adoration of the Ram). It is the sun at winter solstice that binds the serpents into one m'nn.t, or one eternal round. (For the sun as universal binder the article to read is Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, "The Iconography of Durer's 'Knots' and Leonardo's 'Concatenation.")

The phrase on-dosh (if not the entire name, Enish-go-on-dosh) may thus describe the moment of winter solstice. The name describes but a moment--but what a moment! Life will go on. It also heralds the moment of resurrection, and for Hugh Nibley resurrection is the governing idea behind Facsimile 2. (In the scriptures trumpets interrupt the darkest hours with the brightest news.) And according to Professor B.H. Stricker, the Book of Breathings, the writing discovered with Facsimile 2, belongs to the celebration of the winter solstice (Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 5, 29). The depiction of Sokar on Facsimile 2, Figure 4, leaves us with no other conclusion: the rites of Sokar, or in other words, the rites of Facsimile 2, are those of winter solstice (Nibley, Message, 268, etc). Columns (i.e., boundary stones; Heliopolis) mark the solstice: "I set up the columns to mark the solstice at the temple of Atum" (CT 79). The column receives the first solar plectrum-ray and transmits, or trumpets its song of life to the lowest depths (Message, 268-9). Although Hugh Nibley doesn't specifically tie the name Enish-go-on-dosh to these rites, Enish-go-on-dosh does appear as the governing planet of the dark side of the hypocephalus, the place where the sleeper comes soon awake.

To "-on ('nn) a -dosh (d3sh)" can be read either as "to run counter-clockwise" or "the one who runs counter-clockwise the marker," or "to counter or spin back the marker," meaning, to reverse course "at" the stone marker or pole. I know of no text attesting the phrase, although -dosh, as we shall see, does occur in Egyptian names for planets and stars. Worthy a glance is a possible phonological match between -dosh and the Hebrew star or constellation most often associated with the distant, northern, wintry sphere, 'sh or 'aysh (and Ayin and Daleth often correspond in Afroasiatic languages), although t3sh/tsh/dsh (boundary) as 'sh does stretch things. Etymologically, Ash is the Lioness (if 'sh and 'sh do match Arabic and Syric 'ayyut or 'yut as seems certain), although the Hebrews associate it with the arctic stars. Indeed, for Egyptians, the northern portion of a map (and the hypocephalus constitutes a map, according to Nibley) is to be found at bottom, with south at top. How so? Because South marks the cardinal point for the Egyptians, the source of the Nile as also the equatorial regions of Egypt. South evokes summertime. (Indeed, according to Book of the Dead Chapter 162, figure 2 of the hypocephalus, our Oliblish, standing on the southern apex of the circle, is the Mighty Lion).

From another perspective, fully Egyptian (and Semitic), when a vertical line divides the hypocephalus, North marks the left-hand side; South, the right (see Nibley, One Eternal Round, 596). And presto--the winter solstice idea remains firmly in place, for on the left we find both the Sokar Ship and the four mummified sons of Horus, who with the solar trigram Lotus-Lion-Lamb signal both the circumpolar stars and the machinery that works life's renewal (again the lion, a word that also means renewal).

On certain hypocephali (e.g., Shai-enen, Brussels E 6319) we further find three images of what I decode as another trigrammatic solar cryptogram: Ram shrine--Re Horakhty--Khepri-beetle, a puzzle which yields the well-known pair of Lotus-Lion-Ram, zr-3x-xpr (the ram, or setting/solstice sun becomes a radiant Akh, or glorified being; the sons of Horus also bear the label Akh). When read acrophonically (as Professor Ryhiner suggests we do), the cryptogram further yields s3x (to glorify as Akh; to make radiant), a dead ringer for the winter constellation s3h, which often, though not always, names Orion as the bright constellation lying opposite the Great Bear. (Orion constitutes the stellar manifestation, or ba of Osiris.) What for me clinches the connection between s3x and s3h are the following parallel lines in the Book of Breathings (l.3), the text most closely tied to the hypocephalus, which bring the words together: r s3x b3=f m p.t (to glorify his [Osiris'] Ba in heaven, etc.)/r psd h3.t=f m s3h m h.t nn.t nwt (to cause to shine his corpse as Orion in the nethersky womb of Nut; text found in Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 84; see also the comments about Orion and the afterlife and resurrection on ps. 84-5). Given the place of Orion in the womb of Nut, it is obvious why Orion, as earnest of the resurrection, appears in the cryptography on the Hathor cow panel right next to the contrasting Dipper. On the right-hand side of the hypocephalus, the blessed South, we find mirroring images of God seated upon His Throne in the bosom of eternity and revealing the key words of the Holy Priesthood (as symbolized by the Wedjat-eye).

The Return of Hathor, as Solar Eye, from a far land, forms part of an ageless epic cycle in Egyptian literature. As Wilhelm Spiegelberg shows, the ancient journey of Tefnut, the Solar Eye, (which is later on associated to the Hathor story) is "a nature-myth of cosmic origin based on the winter solstice" (One Eternal Round, 89, with reference to Spiegelberg, Der aegyptische Mythus vom Sonnenauge, 1917, p. 2; for Hathor's assumption of the Tefnut story, see also Geraldine Pinch, Handbook of Egyptian Mythology, 138). In the tale the Distant Goddess takes the form of cat or lioness and comes from the North (or sometimes from the East), One Eternal Round, 90f. And Hugh Nibley notes how Sirius, which the Book of Abraham names Shagreel, fits into the ritual picture: the attempt to sacrifice Abraham, a prophetic type of the sufferings and resurrection of Jesus Christ, takes place at the dark and dreary winter solstice.

The phrase on-dosh, like Shinehah, while marking the solstice, the return of the sun from darkness, also signifies One Eternal Round. (According to Nibley, the Book of Abraham word for the sun, Shinehah, describes that body in its eternal revolutions: shnj-nhh.) Most fitting, it is immediately behind the Four Sons of Horus, who face the Hathor cow, where we descry the cryptogram Sarpat Mawy Zar (Lotus Lion Ram), a mysterious expression which both describes the daily (and seasonal) phases of the sun and, by riddling, signifies sms (the One who continually brings into being, or brings to birth). S-m-s also makes up a palindrome, as the tag tz-phr (vice-versa) that often accompanies it makes doubly clear. On-dosh, sms, and Shinehah all come together as expressions of the eternal solar round. And each turn, each circumambulation, each wheeling about the axis of the world, leads to a higher rung on the great ladder, just as the hawk (Horus) ascends as it wheels. Re is the pivot of the cosmos, the center, as well as the one who circles. The Round described, the circular boundary, matches the image of the hypocephalus with its surrounding rim.

Inside (m-q3b) the rim is the Eye. So where can we find the Eye in Enish-go-on-dosh? Simple: Enish and on, as noted above, both recall the Egyptian word 'n.t or 'n.t=ts (beauty or the beautiful one/your beautiful one), which word takes the determinative for Eye or Eye with eye-paint, often represented as encircling the Eye. The word often describes Hathor, as Solar Eye, all of which recalls the Hathor cow termed Enish-go-on-dosh. (The masculine form of the word, 'n, also serves to describe the beauty of the Sun.)

Hathor embodies the solar power as the Eye. Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks note how Hathor's unblushing depiction "as a female countenance seen face-on" evokes "the face-to-face encounter between the sun and the element in which he appears at the moment of the creation [the four sons of Horus]. Thus Hathor can represent the solar eye" (The Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods, 236). No wonder Hathor is the mirror, the reflection of solar glory and, thus, of all creation. The Latin (and Greek) verb re-flect conveys the precise notion found in the Egyptian 'nn, that is, curving, shaping, turning, bending, refraction. Hathor, in a seasonal about-face, turns back the visage of the hidden sun to a forlorn world. Each reflection also marks an upward turn on the cosmic ladder, from light to light, in a dazzling ascent.

And yet her face is masked (see Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, 433). The face of the sun but masks the god behind the glory. We should remember also that for the Egyptians names are masks--and they are often secret. Enish-go-on-dosh is such a hidden name, a mask within a mask. As Heraclitus says: Nature loves to hide.

How about -go? The attested Egyptian phrase 'n.t x'w (the one who is beautiful of appearance or rising, or the one who is beautiful in respect of manifestation/rising = on-go-?) describes Hathorian Sunrise (Sylvie Cauville, Dendara I and III [Index]). Enish-go-on-dosh something evokes the beautiful solar Eye bursting upon the world at dawn and making its rounds about the sky, and especially that moment of seasonal turning. The Ancient Egyptians divide the solar role between male and female manifestations of the sun: thus Re and Rait (the morpheme -.t marks a feminine noun). Of the two, Rait is a sort of shadow sun, or yin, the sun masked in darkness. The phonological correspondence between x'j and -go isn't perfect, but the theme of sunrise does belong to Facsimile 2 in abundance: Kolob, in the turnings (Eg. dnb) of the universe, is depicted at the very moment of x'j, the sunburst, a crowning moment also fully captured in the thematically parallel root q3j (to be high, exalted). The verb dnb (to turn), by the way, etymologically matches the Semitic qrb/qlb, according to Professor Antonio Loprieno; q-r/l-b again being the root Rhodes and Nibley link with our Kolob. As the heart star turns or revolves, so turns the world--and all resolves into dawn.

The Greeks also spoke of stones and turning: "The heavens there turn around in the way a millstone turns" (Cleomedes, AD 150, cited in G. di Santillana, Hamlet's Mill). In Heraclitus' cosmos of paradox we find at center: "the slow seasonal pendulum swing [tropos] of the sun back and forth, the palintropos harmonie [a tie re-flected, turned back upon itself] by which the diversity and uniformity of the life cycle of nature is guaranteed" (Charles Kahn, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus, 199-200). The tropai (turnings) of the sun at the posts of the solstice stitches the very cord of life; it is "the law by which all things are governed" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:13), all of which mirrors Enish-go-on-dosh as "The One whose appearing is beautiful." Another try: Your beauty ['nt=ts] rises), [even] the one who brings about the Winter Solstice (returns at the boundary marker)."

The sun turns back at the universal bounds at the horizon, i.e., the two mountain peaks of the horizon ('n.t=ts/'n.t s.t x'j 'n[n] t3shw). The hieroglyph for horizon shows both evening and morning peaks, marking the boundaries of both day and night (time and space). It's all turned inside-out in fact, in-and-out of time, for the sun reverses night by an act of turning. Night is turned-away--rejected. Dawning, like solstice, becomes a curving back ('n, turn back, go counterclockwise), rather than a linear procession. Dawn becomes for the Egyptians a solstice in miniature: each sunburst reflects New Years' Day. Indeed, according to Nibley's comments in One Eternal Round, the actions described in the lower panel of the hypocephalus, Figures 5 through 7, are not only to be read in a line, from right to left, the reader must also consider the panel as turning, with hypocephalus as revolving globe.

The idea of sunrise calls up a line from the Joseph Smith Book of Breathings that describes the resurrected soul as x'j (arising, dawning) to a fullness of glory, step one, step two, step three (the coming full circle like the "three rounds of Jacob's ladder"--so Joseph Smith), and then setting forth on progress: "May you shine forth (x'j=k) in (m) your Perfect Form, in (m) the Adornments you have gathered about yourself, in (m) Life! So that your health may spring forth speedily as the morning (cf. Isaiah 58:8) that you may walk and breathe in every place" (cf. Greek, topos, place, world; compare translation by Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri). Or, succinctly: "May your path be straight and your course one eternal round." The hypocephalus and the Book of Breathings are intimately linked: you cannot have one without the other. That's why the Book of Breathings must be found with the other Abraham documents. The facsimiles illustrate both documents at once (Abraham's life and the Book of Breathings, Abraham and Osiris) in one unified whole.

Though the phrase 'n.t x'w [kh'w] does show phonological correspondence to our -on and -go-, I'm not convinced. A g for Egyptian x or kh? Two other options spring to mind. First, the phonological correspondence between the g and an Egyptian consonant represented by the cobra and conventionally, (that is, fictively), transcribed in textbook Egyptian as underlined d or D. The pronunciation of this second d becomes a matter for debate, but a correspondence with English g is not beyond the pale. For example, Professor Loprieno links that all-encompassing Egyptian word dshr, which refers to the sacred, to the Hebrew root g-z-r (recalling Gazelem in Alma 37:23). And one Egyptian root that possibly matches -go appears in Heinrich Brugsch's planetary tables: D3j [or j3, etc.], a verb of sailing, traversing space. To the Semitic ear, D3j might answer to -go. Here is an apparent closer fit, phonologically, than x'j, and the word specifically appears in names and descriptions of planets. Yet we must take into account the evidence from Coptic, evidence which shows the vocalic outcome of D3j as ch'i.

A better match (my favorite), both phonologically and conceptually, is perhaps then to be found in q3j (to be high, exalted). The god of the hypocephalus, the god of the Living wedjat-eye is described in the rim inscription as q3j! q3j! 3x! 3x! (Exalted in the highest; glorified beyond measure), and the word can also describe the stars of heaven (Woerterbuch V, 1.7). The Woerterbuch (V, 1. 16) also tells us that q3j and x'j often appear together and come to share a single or parallel significance, and thus q3j (to be raised high, exalted) often amounts to a synonym of x'j (to be manifest, manifest in glory). Such a nuance in meaning, which signals the dawn resurrection of the renewed sun, works best for both the rim inscription on the hypocephalus and for our -go: "The Living Solar Eye, raised, or manifest in glory."

For yet another try at -go-on, Hugh Nibley suggests a look at the word gnw.t (annals, records). That sounds like a longshot, but consider the following: "To be meaningful, the motions of the heavenly bodies must be measured and those measurements recorded: the Imperishable Stars of the Dipper are nothing less than the 'makers of the Annals (gnwt) of Hpr-Re, which reveal the secrets of the Places'" (Coffin Texts 125), The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 153. If the element -dosh reflects the Dipper, might not the element -go-on refer to the stellar Annals? (And compare the phrase gnw.t n.t Dr.w, in which Dr.w (borders, limits) recalls dsh.)

Enish- is another puzzler. But a bull's eye for Enish- appears in the epithet for Hathor as Ankhet (to be pronounced Ansh, or the like: the x-phoneme often, and early on, being realized as an sh), the "living" Wedjat Eye (Eye of Re, etc.). The word 'nx.t or, as a variant hieroglyphic spelling shows, 'ansh (Woerterbuch I, 205; Hannig II.1, 542: Coffin Texts IV 91k) is easily transcribed as Anish, Anesh, Onish, or Enish). Here Wedjat Eye spells Life, just as in the Lower Panel of the hypocephalus, in which a goddess whose head is represented as the Wedjat transfers vitality to the Hathor Cow, the mother of the sun god. And consider the following text, which shows much word play (translation in David Klotz, Adoration of the Ram, 176):

'nx.t '
The 'nx.t-eye lives [or the Living One (fem.) lives]
the pupil is protected [or the little maiden in the pupil is rejuvenated = hwn.ty],
dfd smn(.w) m st.=f
the iris [or pupil] is established in its seat.

According to Klotz, this text correlates closely to the themes and wording of the hypocephalus (ibid., Chapter 7).

Enish-go-on-dosh might then yield: "The Living One (fem), as Exalted Eye of Re (or, as traversing the heavens [Eye and boat = Figure 3]), even the One who turns back at the farthest boundary (ie, at the moment of Winter solstice)." Again, another interpretation would be to understand the element -on as a noun, 'n.t, the beautiful one (or the beautiful eye). According to the Woerterbuch, the noun first appears only in Greek texts; yet, as Professor Antonio Loprieno reminds us, in certain dialects of ancient Egyptian the hieroglyphic expression for eye (written as jr.t) was always pronounced "ain" or the like (A. Loprieno, in Festschrift J. Lopez). And, as we have seen, 'n, when written with the determinative sign of a painted eye, also means beauty, including solar and Hathorian beauty.

To read Egyptian is to eschew exclusivity: the mind must remain open to multiple readings. Though I read -on-dosh in relation to the solsticial windings of the sun, at the same time I very much like the idea of -on-dosh as 'n.t dsh, "the beautiful one (= solar eye) of the boundary (or, horizon)." "The exalted Living Wedjat Eye, the beautiful eye of the (solsticial or horizontal) boundary": the translation is simple and makes sense. Consider how the two halves of the name, Enish-go and on-dosh, come together paronomastically and thematically. Enish ('nsh) and on ('n), phonetic matches, play on each other as expressions of the beautiful and life-granting solar Eye, while -go (q3j) and -dosh (dsh) answer to the idea of borders, limits, and the far. By reading the name as an elaborate play on words, we descry a lively northern star glistening, resplendent, at the borders of the sky; and I can't resist comparing yet again Egyptian -dosh in planetary names with the phonologically similar 'ysh (-d ~ 'ayin), the celestial object in Job 38:32, which the KJV renders as Arcturus.

Our resplendent Enish-go-on-dosh makes up a circular, gemlike couplet: 'nsh q3j/'n dsh. Here we have something of the "peculiar and specific," which for Hugh Nibley becomes the criteria for any explanation of names in the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. But can such a name match any known Egyptian designations for heavenly objects?

We noted how the verb D3j describes movement through space: D3j-bnw-wsir (Traverses by boat--Phoenix--Osiris) names the planet Venus; Hr-k3-p.t-rn=f-sb3-imntj-D3j-pt (Horus--Bull of Heaven--His Name--Star-Western--Traversing Heaven), Saturn. If such concoctions (names? really?) somehow recall the Prophet's eye-popping Kae-e-van-rash, Enish-go-on-dosh, and Kli-flos-isis (Brugsch even employs the Prophet's dashes to separate the disparate elements of the name-chains), note further the striking possibilities in verbal correspondence: Kae and k3 (and the astronomical x'j), sb3 (or sjw) and -isis, -vanrash and bnw-wsjr, and -go and q3j and D3j. 

Now let's turn to: -dosh and dshr and t3sh, ch3sh, tsh, or ds. Consider a variant of the Egyptian name for the planet Jupiter: Hr t3shw-t3.wj (Hor-dosh-dawy: Horus, the circling falcon, the divider, setter of bounds for the Two Lands), a name found in connection with the verb of traversing the heavens: D3j. Two Lands here signifies not only Egypt, but the mirroring cosmos itself. Another celestial Hor-dosh is Mars. But in this case -dosh metonymically describes Horus as the red (tosh) planet, and we must also imagine the color of the Ihet-cow as red (Woerterbuch V, 489.7). A note on phonology: The most common Egyptian color word for red is d-sh-r, but, through the workings of metathesis, the weak -r phoneme changes places with the -sh, and thus comes to yield darsh or tarsh (so Coptic); the word also often appears simply as d-sh.

The female sun attains poetic heights in one version of Book of the Dead Chapter 148:

"She great of love, red of hair;/
oh foremost one residing in the mansion of the red one, beautiful rudder of the southern sky,/
she who is united with life, she of the red cloth."

(John C. Darnell, The Enigmatic Books of the Solar-Osirian Unity: Cryptographic Compositions in the Tombs of Tutankamun, Ramesses VI, and Ramesses IX, dissertation, 105).

The phrase Hnm.t-'nx jnsj.t (she who is united with life, even she, the red one, or redness) plays on the words 'nx/'nsh (life) and jnsj.t (the lady of redness). To unite with life is here to unite with the sun on the red horizon, or "mansion of the red one" (the hw.t dshrw: tosh): red (jns) thus answers to life ('nx). Because the Woerterbuch (I, 100.14) defines jnsj.t as a name of the Eye of Horus (the color word jnsj comes from a bright red linen called jnsj), we are fully justified in drawing a correlation between jnsj.t and 'nx.t as names for the Female Solar Eye (cf. Woerterbuch I, 100 passim); unsurprisingly, dshr.t also names or describes the red Eye of Horus (Woerterbuch V, 489). Another playfully elaborated jnsj.t-name (for one of the sons of Horus) runs round as follows:, Dosh-iati-im-hawt-ins, He of the two red eyes who resides in the mansion of the red one (Matthias Rochholz, Schoepfung, Feindvernichtung, Regeneration, 111). And we must recall the vivid red that yet appears on a hypocephalus housed in Turin's Egyptian museum: red circles encompassing red circles, red Kolob, and red disks of the sun (best shown in a photograph by Art Pollard, on Flikr).

Because both jnsj.t and 'nx.t much recall our Enish, I might suggest the following reading for Enish-go-on-dosh:

The Exalted Red Solar Eye,
even the Beautiful One (or Beautiful Eye)
in its Redness (or in its quality as the Red Eye)
jns.t q3.t, 'n.t dshr ~ Anis-qo-on-dosh

The name--brim though it is with mirrorings and metonymy--doesn't quite match our own idea of beauty until we recognize that the solar red is anything but a red barn: it is a bright, clear, resplendent tide that flames like a ruby. Here is a precious "living stone," as well as "living Eye," a translucent diadem among stars (see 1 Peter 2:4-5). (The chapter to read on the connection between hypocephalus and rubies and sapphires is Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes, "The Jewel of Discernment," One Eternal Round, Chapter 10, 423-462.) The Egyptians brought much poetry together into compact cryptonyms, and I favor the idea of the elements enish and dosh as radiating both life and redness, both beauty and the (red) borders (or border stones). After all, the epithet "red (or yellow) of hair" (lit. "that curled round red" = dshr.t shnj) clearly plays on the idea of the "red circuit" or "red eternal round" of the sun (circuit, shn.t). Redness, Beauty, Life, the Eye of Horus: all is one--and one eternal round. The exalted female sun, the Eye, as she navigates (D3j ~ the rudder) from the southern borders to the north, is both vibrantly and gloriously beautiful--both sun by day and flaming Arcturus by night.

The piercing jewel set in Hathor's crown shows the rubied sun itself, ensconced, as it is, between the rounded borders (or bows) of her two horns (cf. Joseph Smith--History 1:35). The correlation of Eye and Stone (and Crown), by the way, comes to perfection in the hypocephalus design: If the "hypocephalus itself," as Nibley says, is "a giant eye" (318), then it is also a fiery solar stone. The object, like a round sea of glass and fire, can therefore serve its purpose "to spark a flame under the head of a radiant spirit" (Book of the Dead Chapter 162; Doctrine and Covenants 88:11 = the two eyes, both the visible as also intellectual light). "And I, Abraham," as we are taught many times over in One Eternal Round, "had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees [And I, Abraham, had the hypocephalus: it is not given to us this Urim and Thummim, but we do have Abraham's hypocephalus and Abraham's matchless stars!]; And I saw the stars, that they were very great" (Abraham 3:1-2). . .

These are the governing ones (Abraham 3:3). As the great planet Jupiter--a governing power--journeys through time and space in its "annual revolutions," it sets the bounds (because it knows the bounds) of the cosmos. Another name for Jupiter bespeaks the same thing. Horus, the Determiner (wpj, to judge, determine, divide) of the Two Lands really means Horus, the Determiner of the bounds of the Two Lands (Hr wpj t3.wj = *Hr wpj t3sh.w t3.wj). A third name meets the first, with the letters t, 3, and sh playfully, mysteriously, transposed: Hr wpj sht3 (Horus, opener of the mystery). Here, wpj sht3 takes rise, by means of word play, from the hieroglyphs of expanses of water and tracts of land, and the mystery may thus be explained as the mystery of knowing the universe in its entirety. The opener of water and land becomes the discerner (wpj) of mysteries (for the names of the planets see Heinrich Brugsch, Thesaurus Inscriptionum Aegyptiacarum I, 67ff., published 1883).

And is it too much to suggest a correspondence between the planetary Horus who sets the bounds and makes the rounds and the four sons of Horus that the Hathor cow faces in Facsimile 2, Figure 6? The four sons, as if four stones, represent both "this earth in its four quarters" and the four corporal extremities, even as they further reflect the four bright corner or bowl stars of the Dipper (Pyramid Texts, 573, Hugh Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri, 113; An Approach to the Book of Abraham, 301). Next to these four come the three cryptic figures (Lotus-Lion-Ram) that stand for the renewing revolutions of space, time, and the sun, the universal crank that turns the starry heavens. "If the world can find out these numbers, so let it be": 4 + 3 = 7, the number of completion, the universe in its entirety, and the tally of the Dipper. And, to be sure, the sons of Horus at times number seven (Matthias Rochholz, Schoepfung, Feindvernichtung, Regeneration, 111-12). No wonder, then, given the positioning of the Hathor cow as facing earth's four boundary markers, followed by the three added symbols of solar renewal, that "in this case, in relation to this subject" the cow "is said by the Egyptians to be the sun." The symbols (which make up -on-dosh) "fitly framed together," the long, descriptive name begins to make sense. The cow represents, at once, both sun and bright northern star.

To see things entire, we need to add 1 to 4, the center place plus the cardinal points, (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Abraham, 329ff). All of which explains why the number fifteen is so central to Facsimile 2 and the Egyptians. Fourteen plus one builds on the analogy of four plus one, in which the odd number completes the whole. We only need to get past the deep number ten: 4 and 14 and 5 and 15--then we ascend (for 10 as the deep number, see Antonio Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian; Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 295ff). In the Book of the Netherworld (Amduat), the 15th star, soaring above two rows of seven stars, is the greatest of them all, the sun with outstretched wings. It soars above the man with outstretched arm: At the lowest point of the netherworld [winter solstice], the heavens are opened (Erik Hornung, Amduat, 66-7). The Book of Abraham, as the Prophet Joseph pointed out in his final doctrinal discourse, has much to say about the idea of 2 things (or 2 intelligent men), and of a third who may be greater (wiser) still. And then: "I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all" (Abraham 3:19).

These name-or-number-chains--again, much recalling Enish-go-on-dosh, Kli-flos-isis, and Kae-e-vanrash--all show Horus Jupiter in the likeness of the sun (Re Horakhty = Re-Horus of the Horizon), a mirror image coursing the higher regions. The names are interchangeable; the power is one. Do the sun and Jupiter share (i.e., receive, exchange, borrow and lend) their powers in the fashion described by the Prophet in his Explanation of Facsimile 2? With Horus dosh-tawy as Jupiter in the image of the sun, we find a reflection of Enish-go-on-dosh as "one of the governing planets also, and [it] is said [note that disclaimer said] by the Egyptians to be the Sun."

In like manner, what Egyptians (and Egyptologists) also call the Sun, even dominant Figure 1 of the hypocephalus, the Prophet, with an eye on the mirroring of power, hierarchy, and glory, terms Kolob, a super-sun. Re is sometimes called a star (sb3), and indeed any star can be called a Re (r'), thus any star or planet can be "said by the Egyptians to be the Sun." The Egyptians knew the sun to be a star.

What is on earth is mirrored in the sky, world upon world, "one planet above another, until thou come nigh to Kolob" (Abraham 3).


I've updated the material in this essay several times. The essay is intended for young readers of the Book of Abraham who love to reflect on the meaning of scripture--or who love puzzles (as Hugh Nibley puts it, speaking of these odd names). Another purpose is that of the "second look": I invite other readers, including those new to the Book of Abraham, to take a second look at what that book has to offer. I have no interest whatsoever in polemics or religious controversy. A copy of the Book of Abraham may be found online on

Hugh Nibley, in "The Liahona's Cousins," Improvement Era 64 (Feb. 1961), 104, explains his method of reading Book of Mormon names. Etymologies approach "rigorous demonstration" when the names meet the criterion of "peculiar and specific" to both the Book of Mormon context and that of a known fact, time, place, custom, literary topos or motif, place in a text, or ritual from the Ancient Near East. Short of such rigor, it's okay, even great fun, to guess at the meaning of a name, absent pontification.

One Eternal Round is the book to consult for: the etymology of Kolob and Shinehah (250ff; 333f.); the pilgrimage cycle on papyrus Leiden T32 (120f.); the significance of the Heliopolis (pillar) signs on the rim of Facsimile 2 (202); the construct of the hypocephalus as Solar Eye (315ff.); and the connection between the hypocephalus and the Book of Breathings: 142ff., 205-6). A reproduction of the Shai-enen hypocephalus can be found on page 638.

"The three principal rounds of Jacob's Ladder:" Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304-5 (as so often cited by Hugh Nibley in his writings on Egypt. Sara Leavitt reportedly saw "Jacob's Ladder" depicted on the Joseph Smith Papyri (source: Book of Abraham Project Web page of W.V. Smith). We have no idea what Sister Leavitt might have seen; on the other hand, could the term ladder also apply to the rounds of the hypocephalus?

Lotus Lion Ram: For both its significance as representative of the solar phases (noted in Nibley and Rhodes, 302ff.) and as a cryptogram with acrophonic reading, see M.-L. Ryhiner, "A propos les trigrammes pantheistes," Revue d'Egyptologie 29 (1977). To the point is the following statement found on another hypocephalus (Berlin 7792: jh.t wr.t ms(j) r' (the great cow who gives birth to the sun), see John Gee, "Toward an Interpretation of Hypocephali" in Le Lotus qui sort de terre, 2001; a reproduction of Berlin 7792 may be found in One Eternal Round, 322, Figure 37. Further discussion of Lotus Lion Ram and Ram Akh [Re-Horachty] Khepri-beetle (and other solar or Re/Osiris) cryptograms can be found in my Papyrus British Museum 10808 and Its Cultural and Religious Setting (Brill, 2006), 149 n. 23, 162 n.78, 168f.

Dipper: The names of the four stars of the bowl of the Dipper, in accord with the four corners of the earth, might just as well also be termed Elkenah, Libnah (or Zibnah), Korash, and Mahmackrah. After all, Brother Phelps, in the Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, lists a certain Crashmackraw as a celestial body.

What Hugh Nibley Meant: Since the word bs (spark or flame), associated with the purpose of the hypocephalus in Book of the Dead 162, finds as homonym the word for initiation into the Egyptian secrets, we are safe in concluding that the hypocephalus, just like the Book of Breathings, also is a document of initiation. No wonder Facsimile 1, attached as it is to a Book of Breathings, is followed--but only in the inspired Book of Abraham!--by the hypocephalus, as Facsimile 2. I trace the idea of two meanings back to Hugh Nibley, and if I cannot find an exact page reference, the notion yet is everywhere implied throughout his writings. Page 233, for instance, suggests the Wedjat Eye as source of the bs. Given the notion of Wedjat Eye as a key unlocking the heavens to the patriarchs, shall we not also then say that the notionality of bs here, too, suggests initiation? This is what Brothers Rhodes and Nibley are trying to express. 

The idea of Father Abraham as initiand would be sufficient reason for including his record among these scraps of papyrus. The priest, Hor, who owned some of these documents aspires to possess "greater knowledge," even as Abraham, and through Abraham, Pharaoh. The Theban priesthood in Ptolemaic times would have included direct line descendants, or claimants, from the Pharaoh of Abraham's day. And the preservation (and copying) of such records throughout the centuries? Is it far-fetched? No, Abraham himself gives the example of just such textual transmission from the most ancient fathers in Abraham 1. That's the pattern; that's all we need to know, really. These records of Abraham and Joseph, including documents therewith associated (as these either existed in Abraham's day or also were later articulated or composed according to ancient Abrahamic ritual patterns), were passed down directly (or rediscovered, then passed down) through the royal lineage of the fathers to their priestly heirs in Thebes. The Egyptians had libraries, but every indication suggests the Joseph Smith papyri were family (lineage) documents, and indeed constituted the very authority (i.e., secret knowledge) that confirmed priests like Hor and his father in their offices. They, too, "would fain claim the priesthood," through Abraham and Pharaoh. . . 

Since Nibley published his study of the Book of Breathings as an Egyptian Endowment Ceremony, Latter-day Saint Egyptologists, following the lead of Professor Mark Coenen's clarifying publications on the ancient owners and dating of the Joseph Smith Book of Breathings, have all noted that Hor's lot in the priesthood includes an Ancient Canaanite Resheph-Min office (Resheph or Min who [ritually] massacres his enemies), and thus answers to the action of sacrifice depicted on Facsimile 1! The Egyptian priesthood would equate the notion of sacrifice and that of resurrection, for each notionally requires the other. To students of Egyptology that paradox of Osirian ceremony in which the sharp-clawed jackal, Anubis, both cuts into and wraps the body, preparatory to its resurrection, is well-known. Facsimile 1, at once, illustrates both the theme, or priestly action of Osirian resurrection found in the Book of Breathings and the sacrifice and escape (in token of resurrection) of Abraham as pattern or reflection thereto. The Egyptians found in Abraham's heralded escape from certain sacrificial death a living token, or surety of Osirian promise. That's what Brother Nibley meant to convey, and the latest findings are bearing him out. 

In fact, there is nothing that attests more to the reality of an actual Egyptian record of Abraham and Joseph than the Hor Book of Breathings (an Egyptian Endowment), along with its Facsimiles 1 and 3. The discovery of the papyri, as we now have it, thus paradoxically delivers more evidence of an authentic Egyptian context for Abraham (including related texts like the Apocalypse of Abraham)--speaking to intellectual history--than if we had simply recovered the very papyrus portions from which the Prophet Joseph had translated the record itself. And that's what Hugh Nibley meant.

Copyright 2010 by Val Sederholm

1 comment:

  1. Hi Val. I just happened to come across your site today and thought you and your readers might like to read my introduction to Hamlet's Mill. Please feel free to leave a comment.

    I particularly enjoyed reading your post above. Have you studied or found anything that might provide a fuller explanation of Hathor as "the House of Horus" which "rules" the revolution of a particular celestial body (Hamlet's Mill, p. 73)?


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