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A Partial Review of Stephen Thompson's "Dialogue" Article Against the Book of Abraham, Facsimile #1, Figures 5,6,7,8; Fac. #2, Figure #6
Research by Kerry A. Shirts
The contest has arisen again that these figures are incorrect in our vignettes to the Book of Abraham. I will argue otherwise. If anywhere, here is where Joseph Smith shines brighter and with greater accuracy and precision than anywhere else in the scriptures. Let me explain, as there is a rather huge cultural background to these figures to be sure.
Joseph Smith identifies these figures in Fac. 1 as idolatrous gods of the names of Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash. The same figures in fac 2 he says represents the earth in its four quarters. This is the claim. Is there a correlation?
In one of the more interesting articles on the BofA in recent years, Stephen Thompson "Egyptology and the Book of Abraham" in "Dialogue", Spring 1995, says many thing I would like to cover, however, I will deal at this time with only his argument against Joseph Smith with these figures.
Thompson's argument is straight forward. He claims that Daniel C. Peterson in his article "News From Antiquity" saying that these figures can represent the earth in its four quarters as well as being found in the ancient world is incorrect. Thompson does note that M. Heerma van Voss in the "LA"3.53 notes that the context of this idea, i.e., the sons of Horus representing the four quarters is when They were sent out in four directions, in the form of birds, at the king's coronation. "In this setting, Duamutef (Fac 1, fig 6) went to the East, Qebehsenuef (facsimile 1, fig 5) to the West, Amset (facsimile 1, fig 8) to the South, and Hapi (facsimile 1, fig 7), to the North. Thompson then says "I must emphasize that it is *only* in this context, and in the form of birds, that these gods were associated with the cardinal points. In a funerary context no such relationship is evident. Furthermore, the fact that these gods were sent to the four quarters of the earth does not mean that the Egyptians *equated* them with those directions. There is no evidence that they did so. (He cites D. Kessler, "Himmelsrichtungen," in "LA" 2, 1213-15, the gods who were equated with the cardinal directions are discussed. The sons of Horus are conspicuous by their absence. in "Dialogue", p. 152). This is the essence of the argument which Stephen Thompson brings forth. So what of it? Here is what of it.
Thompson stops far, far short of the actuality of the situation. His diehard determination to force this into a funerary context is his overriding assumption for his entire article against the Book of Abraham. Thompson has ignored the rather strident discussion concerning the Book of the Dead and Book of Breathings as well as much of the supposed Egyptian funerary cultus having to do with the *living, in this life*. While these ideas *can* be adapted to a funerary cultus, they may not have been primarily funerary as Thompson has argued. Nowhere do we see anything in Thompson of W. Federn, "The Transformations in the Coffin Texts: A New Approach", "Journal of Near Eastern Studies" vol. 19 (1960), pp. 241-257. Thompson has not once cited Gertrud Thausing's "Sein und Werden: Versuch einer Ganzheitsschua der Religion des Pharaonenreiches" in "Acta Ethnologica Et Linguistica," No. 23, (Vienna: 1971); or Kurt Sethe, "Dramatische Texte zu Altaegyptischen Mysterienspielen", "Untersuchunger zur Geschichte und Alterumskunde," vol. 10, (Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagbuchhandlung," 1964. Thompson hasn't cited or utilized Wolfgang Helck "Bemerkungen zum Ritual des dramatischen Ramesseumpapyrus," in "Orientalia" (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1950), vol. 23, #4, pp. 383f or Gertrude Thausing "Das Grosse Aegyptische Totenbuch" (Cairo: Oesterreichisches Kulturinstitut, 1969), p. 3ff. In fact, Aylward M. Blackman, "Some Notes on the Ancient Egyptian Practice of Washing the Dead" in "JEA" 5(1918), noted that both the living and dead king were necessary for their rituals. The rituals were far more than merely funerary as the living Phaoroah represented the embodiment of the sun-god on earth. (p. 117). Most interesting "Through the medium of the lustration-water, which was identified with that of Nun or of a pool sacred to the sun-god, the Pharoah was thought to be reborn, like that god himself...the living Pharoah being purified in the temple-vestry." (p. 118). Kate Bosse-Griffiths, "A Beset Amulet From the Amarna Period", in "JEA" 1977, notes that Beset knives and other supposed magical incantation objects far from being used just for the after life, was used more for the living. (p. 102). Could the knife in the hand of the figure in fac #1 be applied thusly? There is no reason why not.
It is as if Thompson has never even heard of this large and ongoing discussion occurring. And yet we almost cannot believe this because Thompson does quote Nibley who uses these sources as well as Michael Dennis Rhodes, so to put a bad light on it, Thompson is ignoring what refutes his assumptions, not a safe method of scholarship to be sure. Thompson wants and needs the issues to remain *only* in the funerary context, and from this artificially induced setting, he can demolish the Book of Abraham with anachronisms and silly ideas. But *ONLY* if it is primary a funerary context, which it is most certainly not. And how do we know? Because of the figure on the lion couch! That figure is by no stretch of even the wildest imagination a mummy at all! That figure is stirring. There is no dead here being embalmed by Anubis whatsoever. Thompson, we feel, if he were to be correct, must demonstrate that *all* lion couch scenes are of Anubis embalming a mummy on the couch, in order for this single explanation to fit his scenario.
This is simply impossible to do. What must we do? Look at lion couch scenes and see if all of them have mummies or not. They do not. R.V. Lanzone's "Dizionario Mitologia Egizia" has a very fine collection of lion couch scenes. Pl. ccxci has a man with crook and flail in his hand, wearing a huge crown and turned around and bending upwards from his knees. And Anubis is nowhere to be found here either! Since Anubis is the embalmed, this argues persuasively that this is no funerary scene at all. This is no mummy. Pl. ccxc also is stirring. This is no mummy. Pl. cclxxxv also no mummy. Pl. cclxxxii no mummy and no Anubis. Pl. cclxxxi no mummy here either even though the four sons of Horus are underneath the lion couch. This guy is coming to life with his one hand up in front of his face and his one leg moving forward. Now since Lanzone's books are not as easy to get as E.A.W. Budge's, it will also be necessary to show his lion couches are not all mummy's either and then more of us can check and see for ourselves. In his book "Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection" vol. 2, we find many lion couch scenes, not all of them mummies nor necessarily funerary in context. Most of these are from the Temple at Denderah. The figure on p. 24 is not a dead mummy, but a person stirring on the lion couch. Anubis is not even pictured. P. 29 is certainly no mummy! Neither is p. 30. Notice p. 33 Anubis is here, but that is no mummy on that couch. P. 39 is no mummy and Anubis is not even pictured. P. 40 even says it is Osiris *rising from his bier*! Notice p. 42. Osiris Henka is *begetting a son by Isis, who hovers over him in the form of a bird*! Not only is this a living scene, but a sexy living scene! And Anubis is there also! This demonstrates that Anubis is *not* always an embalmer. The picture below is certainly not funerary. How about the one next to these on p. 43? This is labeled the *RESURRECTION of Osiris so and so*. Not funerary at all. This is a scene of the living. On p. 46 Osiris is smelling a flower presented by Horus. Hardly an embalming scene to be sure, Anubis is nowhere in sight. I simply do not believe that Thompson has made his case stick for demanding a funerary context for the lion couch in the Book of Abraham. Not all lion couches are funerary in nature, hence it is arbitrary to demand that Smith's *must* be this context only. Kate Bosse-Griffiths article "The Great Enchantress in the Little Golden Shrine of Tut'Ankhamun" in "Journal of Egyptian Archaeology" (1973), p. 108 says that the implements found in Tuts grave have much more historical importance for his coronation rather than merely being important as funerary use only.
Now what about the idea that they represent the earth in its four quarters? And what of the idea being in the ancient world? Thompson argues against this because of his arbitrarily picked funerary context. So what do we find in the literature? To be sure, exactly what Smith said..... Consider:
Lets start out with a bang, and a rather amusing one at that shall we?
Consider the ever-learned Samuel A.B. Mercer's "Horus: Royal God of Egypt", Society of Oriental Research, Grafton, Mass., 1942. Mercer, as you will recall, was one of the giants who the Right Reverend Spaulding called together to make a case against the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1912. He was one of the scholars who concurred wholeheartedly that absolutely none of Joseph Smith's interpretations of any of the facsimiles in the BofA was worth any salt at all. What did he say later on however? "On the walls of the burial chamber of the tomb of Amenemhet, as well as elsewhere, the sons of Horus are depicted. Imstj is man-headed, and represents the south; H3pj is dog-headed, and stands for the north; Dw3-mw.t.f is jackal-headed and represents the East; and Kbh-sn.w.f is falcon-headed and stands for the West." (p. 108). He further elaborates that in the Pyramid Texts these four sons of Horus are called the "Four Spirits." And further, "in the 2nd hypostyle Hall of Edfu (Rochem II, 23) These four sons are sometimes treated as celestial beings (PT 2078), being considered stars in the northern heavens (LD III, 170f), and as such are connected with the Great Bear and with Letopolis, through their association with the Imperishable Stars (JEA 18 (1932), 164). Otherwise they represent the four cardinal points (Budge - "Gods", I, 158; Muller - "Mythology", p. 112); or the four tresses (hnsktiw) which were conceived of as binding earth to heaven, or the four pillars of heaven, which eventaully became the four cardinal points (Budge - "Gods" I, pp. 157f). They sometimes appeared as four birds, who announced to the four quarters of heaven the accession of the King as Horus." (pp. 108f). And in case our readers missed this, Mercer says exactly and precisely what Joseph Smith said these figures were.
Another amusing example, this time from the great E.A.W. Budge, who was also one of the scholars to utterly condemn Joseph Smith's interpretations of the Facsimiles in 1912, saying, among other things that Smith's interpretations was sheer bosh! Yet note what he said in his book "Egyptian Magic", "The four children of Horus, or the gods of the four cardinal points..." (p. 89). "The four children of Horus...originally represented the four supports of heaven, but very soon each was regarded as the god of one of the four quarters of the earth, and also of that quarter of the heavens which was above it." (p. 90f). Is this not what Joseph Smith said? It is amusing that in light of the "bosh" views of Joseph Smith, the great Budge also interpreted the figures in line with Joseph Smith!
Note how Budge also shows these four figures in the heavens in the "Egyptian Book of the Dead", p. 39. They are behind the thigh (the Big Dipper) in the northern heaven.
The great Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner in his review of Sir James Frazier's "Golden Bough" noted that the most interesting thing about the Harvest Festival of Min was when the four sons of Horus despatch [sic] geese to the four quarters of the world to announce the news that "Horus son of Isis and Osiris has assumed the great crown of Upper and Lower Egypt." (JEA, 1915, p. 125). The obvious political symbolism and idea behind this ceremony was shown by Alan Gardiner (Egyptian Grammar, p. 74), wherein the royal cartouches (snw) of the Pharoahs was to represent the king as the ruler of all that which is encircled by the sun. The Pharoahs bounds are set at the ends of the earth. (Hugh Nibley - "The Hierocentric State", in "The Ancient State", Deseret/FARMS, 1991, p. 105).
Nibley demonstrated earlier that the famous ancient summons arrow was used by the Greeks, the American Indians, our ancestors of the North, Israel, as well as the famous "Olaf-Tryggvason Saga", with the idea being that "Throughout the ancient world a ruler was thought to command everything his arrow could touch." ("The Arrow, the Hunter, and the State" in "The Ancient State", p. 4). "An impressive demonstration of the authority of the summons-arrow is the early and widespread rite of the four world arrows. In the "Olaf-Tryggvason Saga" it states a number of times that summons-arrows were sent in the four directions. For the oldest and greatest festival in India, the Asvamedha, the king must send messengers in the four directions to order all who have been conquered by his arrows to appear before him. At the creation of the world, according to Zuni doctrine, four marked arrows, the word-painted arrows of destiny, were carried to the regions of men, four in number. A variant of this is the shooting of arrows in the four directions, as in the Ghostdance of the Sioux, where four sacred arrows were shot into the air towards the four cardinal points to symbolize the conquest of the earth by the tribe. A like practice is attributed in Jewish legend to the Emperor Titus and to Nimrod who, from Jerusalem and Babel respectively, shot arrows in the four directions and claimed dominion over all that lay within their range. The same rite appears also in Ino-Iranian creation myths and in the Sumerian story of Ada and the Zu-bird. In the Old World and the New it is also common to depict the swastika with its four arms formed of marked arrows - plainly the four world-arrows. [The swastika, of course, is a very ancient symbol to be sure, cf. Joseph Campbell, "The Flight of the Wild Gander", HarperPerennial, 1990, p. 147f; Marija Gimbutas, "The Civilization of the Goddess"; The Language of the Goddess", Index under "Swastika"] Related to the world-arrows is the worldwide practice of making a sanctuary by marking off an area on the ground with the point of an arrow, dividing it in four sections by a cross with its arms to the cardinal points. The apportionment of land by drawing of arrow-lots was common to the Assyrians and the ancient Norse (whence the expression "lot and scot"). (p. 5f). The Babylonian and Assyrian kings would build a temple/palace which was the hierocentric point where the four regions in the city of Assur, son of Shalmaneser, King of the universe, dwelt, and the four walls surrounding it with the four gates always facing the four winds were named. ("The Hierocentric State", in "The Ancient State", p. 112).
In other words, quite frankly Stephen Thompson simply hasn't done his homework regarding this issue at all. This idea is indeed throughout the ancient world, from almost every ancient nation! Consider further.... it is so easy to multiply sources on this as to almost be embarassing.
From C. De. Wit, "Les Genies des Quatre Vents au temple d'Opet", in "Egypte Pharaonique", 32(1957)
"Quant au nombre de quatre, il semble bien devoir être mis en rapport avec les quatre points cardineux.Comme il y en a quatre, cela explique pourquoi le bélier a quatre têtes."
As for the number of four, it seems well (to be our) duty to report this with the four cardinal points. As there are four of them, it explains why the ram has four heads. (p. 32).
It is interesting to remember that most hypocephali have the middle ram figure with four heads.
"Aux fêtes du dieu Min, on lâche quatre oiseaux vers les points cardinaux, pour qu'ils annoncent le couronnement du roi aux quatre coins de la terre. Ces oiseaux sont identifiés aux quatre fils d'Horus, mis en rapport avec les points cardinaux."
At the feasts of the god Min, four birds are set free toward the cardinal points, so that they announce the king's coronation to the four corners of the earth. These birds are identified with the four sons of Horus, which agrees with the cardinal points. (p. 37f).
"Il est difficile, après tout ce qui précède, d'échapper à la conclusion que le chiffre quatre, est un nombre sacré, auquel est rattachée une idée de perfection, d'universalité. Il est même tentant du supposer que tout cela dérive du culte d'Héliopolis, lui-même en rapport avec les quatre points cardinaux."
It is difficult, after everything that precedes, to escape the conclusion that the number four, is a sacred number, to which is reattached an idea of perfection, of universality. It is even tempting to suppose that it is from the cult of Héliopolis, itself in correlation (?) with the four points cardinals. (p. 39). He literally gives 52 examples of how the number four is involved in the ancient buildings, religious ceremonies, and gods of the ancient Egyptians!
From Hans Bonnet - "Reallexicon der Agyptischen Religionsgeschichte", Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1952, p. 466:
At the feast of Min four birds are released and we are specifically told that they are similar in function to the four sons of Horus who represent the four cardinal directions. "Diese Vögel werden den vier Horussöhnen als den Vertretern der Kardinalpunkte" (p. 466)
Again from Bonnet, who does not make his point lightly! He hammers it home. p. 315:
"Ihrer Vierzahl entsprechend begegnen die Horuskinder weiterhin vielfach als Vertreter der Himmelsrichtungen, wobei Amset der Süden, Hapi der N., Duamutef der O., und Kebehsenuf der W. zugeteilt zu werden pflegt. So tragen die Vögel, die nach der Krönung als Herolde nach den vier Weltgegenden ausgesandt werden die Namen der Horiskinder. Und wenn an Särgen des M.R. ihre Bilder, ihre Namen, an den vier Ecken angebracht oder auch nur auf die Eck nägel geschrieben sind, so ist dies gleichfalls durch die Beziehung der Horuskinder zu den Himmelsrichtungen bestimmt. Sie garantieren die richtige Orientation."
The number four accordingly meets the children of Horus as representatives of the directions many times furthermore, with which Amset the south, Hapi that North, Duamutef that East, and Kebehsenuf, to be allotted West. So the birds, who are sent out after the coronation as heralds after the four quarters of the world, carry the names of the children of Horus. Their names, are installed at four corners of the coffin, or are also only written on the corner nails, so likewise this is certain through the relationship of the children of Horus to the directions. They guarantee the right Orientation.
Bonnet even claimed that their children of Horus original function was as the four stars of the constellation of Ursa Major! (p. 315.) - "Sie begegnet im Totenbuch, das im 17 Kapitel von den Horuskinder als denen redet, die hinter dem Oberschenkel des Nordhimmels (= großer Bär) sind und dieses Sternbild des Seth im Dienst des Osiris bewachen." (We find that in the Book of the Dead section 17 it speaks of the children of Horus as those who are behind the thigh of the Northern heaven (= the Big Bear).
The Egyptologist Carol Andrews notes in her book "Amulets of Ancient Egypt", British Museum Press, 1994, pp. 88f that the "Heh" represents "literally infinity and the related concept millions." It was one of the four male frog Demiurges worshipped at Hermopolis with four female snake counterparts as creators of the world.
The Egyptologist E.A.W. Budge - "The Dwellers of the Nile", Dover, 1977, p. 275 notes that the four pillars of Shu supports the sky. The other form of the sky was a cow, with her four legs forming the four pillars of the sky.
p. 195 - The number four was sacred to the Egyptians:
Four sons of Horus
Four quarters of the World
Four blazing flames (Book of the Dead Chapter cxxxviia)
Four doors of heaven
Four rudders of heaven
Four vessels of blood
Four vessels of milk
J.E. Manchip White, "Ancient Egypt: Its Culture and History", Dover 1970, p. 21 - The sky was supported by four pillars placed at the four cardinal points.
Nicholas Reeves, "The Complete Tutankhamun", Thames & Hudson, 1990, p. 120 shows the canopic arrangement in a group of four. Cf. Nicholas Reeves, Richard H. Wilkinson, "The Complete Valley of the Kings," Thames & Hudson, 1996, p. 42f
The Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner's article "The Baptism of Pharoah" in "JEA", 1950 has some interesting things about this number four. In the purification ritual of the Pharoahs "the four gods here mentioned were the gods of the cardinal points...spell 217 of the Pyramid Texts places the matter beyond all doubt... evidently each of the four quarters of the world was intended to receive the news from its own special deity or deities." (p. 9). This is the whole philosophy behind the symbolism to be sure, and Joseph Smith is, indeed, right, directly on the mark.
From Dynasty XVIII, 1501-1447 B.C., in Sir Alan Gardiner's "Egyptian Grammar", Griffith Institute, Revised 3rd edition, 1994, we read where Amon-Re, the god of Thebes, addresses the Pharaoh Tuthmosis III: "I place thy might (and) the fear of thee in lands all, the dread of thee to the limits of the (four) supports of heaven." (p. 90)
C.J. Bleeker, "The Pattern of the Ancient Egyptian Culture" in "Numen" #11, 1964 says that "the renewal of the dignity of the king, as a sign of which four birds were set free, to announce the glad news to the East, the West, the North, and the South." (p. 80).
The four genies of the four winds and various deities covering the four directions was dealt with by Comte du Mesnil du Buisson in the article "Le groupe des dieux El, Betyle, Dagon et Atlas chez Philon de Byblos", in "Revue de L'Histoire des Religions", 1966, pp. 37-49. Jean Nougayrol "Les quatre vents" in "Revue D'Assyriologie et D'Archeologie Orientale", 1966, pp. 72-74 describes the archaeological discovered tablets dealing with this very ancient idea of four deities symbolizing the four directions. Note also C. De Wit's article "Les Genies des Quatre Vents au Temple d"Opet" in "Chronique D'Egypte 32(1957), pp. 25-39, with literally dozens and dozens of examples! This one article alone dismantles Thompson's argument).
The Egyptologist J. Gwyn Griffiths, "Motivation in Early Egyptian Syncretism" in M Heerma van Voss, ed., "Studies in Egyptian Religion: Dedicated to Professor Jan Zandee", Leiden E.J. Brill, 1982, noted that besides the ancient Egyptian idea of helping transform man into deity, the four sons of Horus are also connected with the ladder of celestial ascent. (p. 54).
Von Ludwig Borchardt "Der Kanopemkasten des Konigs Sbk-m-sf" in "Zeitschrift fur agyptische Sprache" 1894, shows how the stone coffin of this particular king was divided in 4 compartments (Innen war der Kasten fruher durch halbhohe Bretter in vier Abteilungen...), and in each of these compartments one of the canopic jars was each placed. Diagrams on p. 25.
Interestingly, in an old Adam legend we read how The four archangels - Gabriel, Michael, Isafiel, and Asrael - were required to bring earth from the four quarters of the world, that therefrom God might fashion man. (Rev. S. Baring-Gould, "Legends of the Patriarchs and Prophets", John B. Alden, Publisher, 1884, p. 19).
Walter Wili informs us that the number four is justice. The Pythagorean view of the number four represented the perfect, the harmonius proportion. ("The History of the Spirit in Antiquity", in "Spirit and Nature", Joseph Campbell, ed., Bollingen Series, Princeton Univ. Press, 1st paperback, 1982, p. 86).
Carl Jung noted that the number four represented also eternity or totality. "This symbol, I would add in passing, seems to indicate that extension in space signifies God's suffering (on the cross) and , on the other hand, his dominion over the universe." - A common enough theme. ("The Mysteries", Joseph Campbell, ed., Bollingen Series, Princeton Univ. Press, 1955, p. 288).
Jack Lindsay, "A Short History of Culture," Fawcett Premier Books, 1962, p. 503f, "The sky supports were the Four Sons of Horus at the cardinal points... Akbar's palace at Fatepur Sikri had a world-pillar or tree on which he sat enthroned. Indian domes commonly had the 8 ribs of the Wheel (the Law to the Buddhists, the Universe to the Hindus), related to the four quarters... note also the cosmic vision in Ezekiel and the part played by the four winds; also his four-square Holy City." (p. 504).
Note that the ancients conceptions of the Zodiac as well. The four essential points dominate the four seasons of the year. They knew of two equinoxes and two solstices which cut the year in half in an equal balance, the two intersections of the equator with the ecliptic, these four points together made up the four pillars of heaven, which made up the four corners of what was called the quadrangular earth. (Gergio Santilliana, "Hamlet's Mill", Nonpareil Book, 1977, p. 62).
Note how the Khans envisioned this: "Tolui Khan was the fourth son of Chingiz-Khan, the youngest of his four chief sons, who were called the four kuluks, that is, they were like four pillars... the four pillars of the kingdom." (John Andrew Boyle, "The Successors of Genghis Khan", Columbia Univ. Press, 1971, p. 159).
The Egyptologist John A. Wilson wrote in 1964 that "...the number four suggests that they were placed at the four points of the compass. Fortunately this arrangement appealed to the Egyptian as being both strong and permanent." in "Before Philosophy", Pelican Books, p. 55.
The Egyptologist Robert Bauval and co-author Adrian Gilbert, "The Orion Mystery", Crown Publishers, 1994, note that the four sons of Horus "symbolised the four cardinal points." (205).
Richard Hinckley Allen, "Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning", Dover, 1963, p. 256 said that in Arabia the leader of the Four Royal Stars of the ancient Persian monarchy, the four guardians of heaven. Dupius... said that the four stars marked the cardinal points... the same scheme appeared in India... four great circles in the sky, or generally the four quarters of the heavens." This would be in agreement with the ancient Egyptian idea of the Four Sons of Horus deriving from the heavens as well, as well as perhaps the origin of their symbolism of four as quarters. The point to be made is that this scheme was very ancient indeed.
We read in the Zohar that when a man's time to leave the world arrives "the four quarters of the world arraign him...and the four elements fall into dispute...upon the herald's proclamation, a flame issues from the North, going through the stream of fire and splitting up to pass into the four quarters of the world..." (Gerschom Scholem, ed., "Zohar: The Book of Splendor", Schocken Books, 1963, p. 56).
We are to understand that there are four suits in the Tarot Deck and that "The number 4 defines the mundane plane, there being four elements, and four directions, symbolized on one of the Tarot cards as a man, an eagle, a lion, and a bull, our familiar canopic jars! (Richard Roberts/Joseph Campbell, "Tarot Revelations," Vernal Equinox Press, 1987, p. 66).
Alexander Heidel has shown us that in a Prince's vision of the underworld, in the "Gilgamesh Epic", that canopic imagery is to be had anciently back then as well. ("The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels," Univ. of Chicago Press, 1949, p. 132f - talking of the familiar four headed beasts).
Egyptologist John Anthony West, "Serpent in the Sky," says "in Egypt, the intimate connection between Four and the material or substantial world was applied in symbolism. We find the four orientations, the four regions of the sky, the four pillars of the sky (material support of the realm of the spirit), the four sons of Horus, the four canopic jars into which the four organs were placed after death, the four children of Geb, the earth." (p. 38).
Notice how Kurt Sethe in his magnificent "Ubersetzung und Kommentar zu den Altagyptischen Pyramidtexten", #1, Verlag von JJ Augustin, 1934, p. 219, says the hieroglyph for the city is the circle divided in four quarters. The same symbol and image is in the Mesoamerican calendar, drawn as a circle divide in quarters, in Dr. E.C. Krupp, "Echoes of the Ancient Skies", Harper and Row, 1983, p. 293. The symbolism of the number 4 is very strong in ancient Mesoamerica to be sure, "The number four's significance is rooted in the sky." (p. 287f). Cf. Anthony F. Aveni, "Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico", Univ. of Texas Press, 1980, pp. 155f).
Roberta & Peter Markman, "The Flayed God: The Mythology of Mesoamerica", note the very seriously integrated philosophical systen of the number four, with connections in the sky and on earth as four quarters of the earth as well as the Itzam representing the four directions (p. 92-93, 161-169) "Xiuhtecuhtli and the four directions" as well as Tlaloc as the Four Quadrants of Space and Time:, etc."
Most interestingly, Lewis Spence, "Egypt", Studio editions, 1994, p. 28f mentions that the four sons of Horus as points of the cardinal directions have a correspondence to the Maya who also possess four deities placed at each point of the compass to uphold the universe! They are Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac. The Maya also used funerary jars called "bacabs" which held the internal organs of their dead, as the Egyptian canopic jars did!
I trust the point has been made that the concept certainly is throughout the ancient world, both in the Old and New Worlds in fact, but especially in Egypt, despite what Stephen Thompson maintains, and corresponding to the exact philosophical point that Joseph Smith said they did. Their symbolism is correct in every way. Joseph Smith is directly confirmed on this interesting issue with his interpretations of the facsimile figures.
At this point let me just note that I have received criticism that I wandered all over hell and back with this four quarters idea. True enough, but Thompson's claim that they are not found in the ancient world is what I was demonstrating to be so incorrect. John Tvedtnes, the Senior Research Manager of FARMS has also shared these fascinating insights and sources concerning just this idea, again showing that the critics need to start doing some serious research before coming to their erroneous conclusions.
Sir E. W. Wallis Budge, The Bandlet of Righteousness: An Ethiopian Book of the Dead [London: Luzac, 1929], p. 109, cites from The Prayer of the Virgin Mary on Behalf of the Apostle Matyas in Parthia: "O ye Four Angels, who stand on the four corners of the earth (Rev. vii.1), and whose names are Fertiyal, Ferfai, Famual and Fananyal." NOTE: Budge makes a point of the fact that the Ethiopic material is based on the Egyptian, after Christianization.
The Ethiopic document known as "The Testament of Our Lord and Our Savior Jesus Christ" speaks, at the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 48, of "the four quarters of the earth."
"the four corners (angles) of the earth" (Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of the Mysteries of the Heavens and the Earth and Other Works of Bakhayla Mika'el (Zosimas)(Oxford, 1935), p.67)
"the four heavenly directions" (1 Enoch 76:14, in an astronomical text)
Zohar I,218b, speaks of the "four spirits of the world" who judge the dead and how judgment comes "from the four corners of the world." CF. MANDAEAN APPEARANCE OF SOUL BEFORE THE FOUR TO WHOM ARE OFFERED THE HANDCLASP AND WHO JUDGE THE SOUL, MENTIONED BY NIBLEY IN CONNECTION WITH THE FOUR SONS OF HORUS.
"In the hour that Abraham our father was born, one star arose from the east and swallowed four stars of the four directions of the heavens." John Tvedtnes translation of the opening sentence of the Hebrew account of Abraham's conflict with Nimrod entitled "The Story of Abraham." The Hebrew was published by Adolf Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch(reprint Jerusalem: Wahrmann, 1967) 2.118-19. (The full document will be included in the Abraham traditions book that FARMS will publish.)
"The sages tell that when our forefather Abraham was born a star appeared, which swallowed up four other stars from the four sides of the heavens. When the astrologers of Nimrod saw this they forthwith went to Nimrod and said, Nimrod, of a certainty there is born to-day a lad who is destined to inherit both this world and the world to come. Now, if it is thy wish, let us give his father and mother a large sum of money, and then kill him. Whatever his father and mother wish shall be given to them.' What kind of child is he whom ye seek to kill?' asked Nimrod. A boy,' said they, was born to-day, and a star appeared which swallowed up four stars of the heavens, and he is destined to inherit this world and the world to come'" (Chronicles of Jerahmeel 34:1, in Moses Gaster, The Chronicles of Jerahmeel; or, The Hebrew Bible Historiale (19___, reprint New York: Ktav, 1971).).
"And when all the wise men and conjurors went out from the house of Terah, they lifted up their eyes toward heaven that night to look at the stars, and they saw, and behold one very large star came from the east and ran in the heavens, and he swallowed up the four stars from the four sides of the heavens" (Jasher 8:2). When reporting the incident to Nimrod, the wise men said: "And when thy servants went out from the house of Terah, to go to our respective homes to abide there for the night, we lifted up our eyes to heaven, and we saw a great star coming from the east, and the same star ran with great speed, and swallowed up four great stars, from the four sides of the heavens" (Jasher 8:10). "And when Abram was come, the conjurors of the king and the sages saw Abram, and they cried out to the king, saying, Our sovereign lord, surely this is the man whom we know to have been the child at whose birth the great star swallowed the four stars, which we declared to the king now fifty years since" (Jasher 12:9).
Zohar Genesis 61b, 130b, and 175b mention the four quarters of the world. According to Zohar 155b, the four directions comprise the entire world. The "four corners of the world" are mentioned in Zohar Genesis 205b, 218b.
Zohar Genesis 155b-156a, citing Genesis 13:14 and noting that God showed Abraham all the land he would inherit: "But the truth is that in surveying the four directions of the world he saw the whole land, since the four directions embrace the whole world. Furthermore, God raised him high above the Land of Israel [156a] and made him see how it is bound up with the four cardinal points." Harry Sperling, Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: The Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 2:100. Zohar Genesis 188b speaks of the "quarters of the universe." Harry Sperling, Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 2:219.
Zohar Genesis 205b, "Observe that when the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He gathered his earthly matter from the four corners of the world." Harry Sperling, Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 2:280. Zohar Exodus 195b speaks of "the four quarters of the world." Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 4:157.
Zohar Exodus 197b speaks of "the four directions of the world." Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 4:167. Zohar Exodus 218a speaks of "the four corners of the world." Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 4:242.
According to Zohar Exodus 230a, the four rows of three into which the twelve stones were arranged on the high priest's breastplate represent "each of the four cardinal points." Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 4:293. Zohar Exodus 234a speaks of "the four directions of the world." Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 4:299.
Zohar Numbers 118b speaks of "the four cardinal points," represented by Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael. Maurice Simon, and Harry Sperling, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 5:168. Zohar Numbers 209a speaks of the "four sides of the world." Maurice Simon, and Harry Sperling, The Zohar (New York: Rebecca Bennet Publications, 1958), 5:314.