Friday, January 28, 2011

Stonehenge, Gilgah, Gilgal, and Gilead in the Book of Ether

The Gil- names in the Book of Ether open a window onto the archaic culture of the Jaredites. The word signifies stone pillar or pile and points at the archaic practice of making monuments of standing stone, sunstone pillars, and the like. Hugh Nibley has much to say about how the builders of these ageless piles all belong to one universal civilization having one universal rite, fragments of which civilization and of which rite defy all the tides of time (see H. Nibley and M. Rhodes, One Eternal Round, 126ff, 171-, 527; and H. Nibley, "The Circle and the Square," in Temple and Cosmos, 1992, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, vol 12). Avebury and Stonehenge thus have everything to do with Egyptian Heliopolis (Sun City), the native name of which was Iwnw, that is, Stone Pillar, the sacred standing stone dedicated to Re. Four other ancient Egyptian cities bear a variant of the same name.

Moroni's abbreviated tale of Jared and his people leaves but limited hope of being able to tie that archaic civilization to the others. Yet consider the names. The American Valley of Gilgal signifies the Valley of Standing Stones, Circular Stone Heap or Pile; Gilead (the name of the Brother of Shared), Stone Heap of Witness, Pillar of Memorial or Witness; Gilgah (a son of Jared) derives from the selfsame root and doubtless signifies Pillar, or the like. Might Gilgah signify foundation stone (cf. Egyptian grg, to dig a foundation)? What does it all mean? In our circumscribed onomasticon of the Jaredites, we notably have three names that all derive from the root gil-. We descry in the Jaredites yet another archaic people obsessed with the memorialization of things of greatest import by setting up monuments of stone. Saxa loquuntur signifies "the stones speak": Gilgah, Gilead, and Gilgal make up a saxa loquuntur.

And note how these names specifically and authentically reveal the Jaredites, not the Nephites, to be among the great archaic cultures. It's all a bit different with the Nephites and their stone works. There is a Nephite city named Gilgal (an old Hebrew place and personal name), and, of course, the Ancient Israelite Gilead comes to mind, but all this is but the remnant, though very old in its own way, of a quite archaic folk practice. The Jaredites come to us laden with the culture of stone; the Hebrews and Nephites shadow but distant mirrors of Stonehenge.

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