Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Primeval Tower Mound in the Book of Ether, Book of Abraham Facsimile 2, and Egyptian Heliopolis

As many as three names in the brief Jaredite onomasticon, Gilead, Gilgal, and Gilgah, signify standing stones or standing circles of stone, an indication of the archaic megalithic nature of Jaredite civilization. The Book of Ether is clear: Jared and his people all come from the place of a "great tower."
(For the Book of Ether:

Yet another window onto the universal concern with raising great stone centers for assembly and remembrance--to "remember how great things the Lord had done for their fathers" (Ether 6)--comes from the 13th Chapter of Ether:

2 For he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded‍ from off the face of this land‍ it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve‍ him who dwell upon the face thereof;

3 And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come‍ down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord.

No place in Egyptian literature better describes the purpose behind the enterprise of raising monumental pillars on top of mounds, or places of emergence, and thus "marking the first land to emerge from the great waters, the place where the sun first rose on the day of creation," an event newly celebrated at the season of the Nile flood (Hugh Nibley and Michael Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 171). Preeminent above all Egypt's sacred centers was 'Iwnw (Stone Pillar), which the Greeks called Heliopolis (Sun City), at center of which stood the ben-ben pillar, originally raised on a mound (see One Eternal Round, 172). Indeed: "The hieroglyph for a sacred mound (j3.t), is a mound surrounded by standing stones," what the Semitic peoples call ha-gilgal (One Eternal Round, 172). A gilgal is a stone circle set on a circular mound as a memorial of "how great things" the Lord had done for their Israelite fathers.

For Ether, all Jaredite territory, from the moment of creation, or birth from the waters, becomes the sacred emergent land, marked off by a sacred fence above and from all other lands. America becomes the place of the New Creation, the New Year, the New Place of Assembly, even the New Jerusalem.

A stunning vignette in the Book of the Dead of Khonsu-mes (Dynasty 21) so depicts the Mound of Creation, upon its emergence from the waters, as the symbolic representation of the whole land, washed and purified by Isis and Nephthys and prepared for life by the eight beings who represent, or bring about, the First Time, Order, and also promise the continuing renewal of life, time, and order (see Ancient Egypt, ed., David Silverman, 120-1; see also

The archaic Jaredite text, in form and feel, better matches the Egyptian scenario than anything else; we're not dealing with a mere reworking of John's Revelation here:

After the [primeval] waters [of Nun], [even the waters of the Nile], had receded from off the face of this land [of Kuma, ie, Egypt, or 'Iwnw, Heliopolis], [Kuma] became a choice land above all other lands [Egypt was anciently known as "the temple of the whole world"], a chosen land of [Atum-Re, i.e., the god of creation]; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof [the great assembly or panegyris to which all men gather to celebrate the New Year].

Hugh Nibley notes how megaliths were "territorial markers" that "celebrate the greatness of a ruler or tribe and draw the world to them from a distance," One Eternal Round, 171-2. Going back to Ether, we find yet another significant Jaredite name, "the plains of Heshlon" (h-sh-l ~ Arabic h-sh-r/h-s-d + morpheme of place -on). Heshlon, like Gilgal, whispers of the archaic rites, for heshl- comes from an archaic Semitic root, and Heshl-on signifies an open field or place of gathering and assembly (Ether 13:28). Such a place serves well for a fair fight, and thus made for a natural battleground. It may have been an archaic center of Assembly. The Quranic instance is hasharnaahum ("We shall gather them together"; verb hashara, yahshuru, to collect, gather together, raise from the dead":

And that it was the place of the New Jerusalem [Iunu, Pillar City], which should come down out of heaven [in Egyptian writings the primary locus of Heliopolis is in heaven, then on earth], and the holy sanctuary of Atum-Re, i.e., the Sanctuary of the ben-ben stone, the place so prominently featured, says Nibley, on the encircling oceanic rim of Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham.

The connection with Facsimile 2 is no happenstance either, for no text more fully explains the purpose and meaning of that striking representation, or map, of cosmic governance and of creation's unceasing cycle than does Ether 13. Facsimile 2, which at once celebrates birth of sun and of state, depicts the moment of emergence of the mound and sun from the primeval waters, these last represented by the rim. The rim also depicts the stone markers (the Heliopolitan pillars) that set the bounds of governance. How striking that so much--if not all--of the brief Book of Abraham speaks to the same motifs: receding waters, the foundation of universal governance, hills and altars, and descent from heaven. No wonder the facsimile makes up an essential part of Abraham's books: it perfectly encompasses the entire theme of order and creation in heaven and on earth.

Abraham, the Facsimiles, and the Book of Ether: each reflects the other in full thematic unity.

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