Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Joseph's Prophecy of Two Deliverers


In the Book of Genesis we read:

24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
(Gen. 50:24-26 KJV)

The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to these verses, inserts a prophecy by Joseph, about two deliverers that are to come (Moses and another):

24 And Joseph said to his Brethren Behold, I die; but the Lord remembering will remember you and will bring you up from this land, into the land which He sware to Abraham, to Izhak, and to Jakob.
25 And Joseph adjured the sons of Israel to say to their sons Behold, you will be brought into servitude in Mizraim; but you shall not presume to go up out of Mizraim until the time that two Deliverers shall come, and say to you, Remembering, remember ye the Lord. And at the time when ye go up ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
26 And Joseph died, the son of a hundred and ten years. And they embalmed him with perfumes, and laid him in an ark, and submerged him in the midst of the Nilos of Mizraim.
(Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Gen. 50:24-26)

It just so happens that this passage is also exactly where the Joseph Smith Translation places a prophecy by Joseph (also referenced in the Stick of Joseph (2Nefi 2:3)), which is also concerning two deliverers to come: Moses and the Choice Seer:

Gen 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die and go unto my fathers; and I go down to my grave with joy. The God of my father Jacob be with you, to deliver you out of affliction in the days of your bondage; for the Lord hath visited me, and I have obtained a promise of the Lord that out of the fruit of my loins the Lord God will raise up a righteous branch out of my loins; and unto thee, whom my father Jacob hath named Israel, a prophet (not the Messiah who is called Shilo); and this prophet shall deliver my people out of Egypt in the days of thy bondage.
Gen 50:25 And it shall come to pass that they shall be scattered again; and a branch shall be broken off and shall be carried into a far country; nevertheless, they shall be remembered in the covenants of the Lord when the Messiah cometh; for he shall be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the Spirit of power, and shall bring them out of darkness into light--out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.
Gen 50:26 A seer shall the Lord my God raise up, who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins.
Gen 50:27 Thus saith the Lord God of my fathers unto me, A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins, and he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give commandment that he shall do a work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren.
Gen 50:28 And he shall bring them to the knowledge of the covenants which I have made with thy fathers; and he shall do whatsoever work I shall command him.
Gen 50:29 And I will make him great in mine eyes, for he shall do my work; and he shall be great like unto him whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel, out of the land of Egypt; for a seer will I raise up to deliver my people out of the land of Egypt; and he shall be called Moses. And by this name he shall know that he is of thy house; for he shall be nursed by the king's daughter and shall be called her son.
Gen 50:30 And again, a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins, and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins--and not to the bringing forth of my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them in the last days;
Gen 50:31 Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write, and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah shall grow together unto the confounding of false doctrines, and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to a knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.
Gen 50:32 And out of weakness shall he be made strong in that day when my work shall go forth among all my people, which shall restore them who are of the house of Israel in the last days.
Gen 50:33 And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father; and he shall be like unto you; for the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand shall bring my people unto salvation.
Gen 50:34 And the Lord sware unto Joseph that he would preserve his seed forever, saying, I will raise up Moses, and a rod shall be in his hand; and he shall gather together my people, and he shall lead them as a flock; and he shall smite the waters of the Red Sea with his rod.
Gen 50:35 And he shall have judgment and shall write the word of the Lord. And he shall not speak many words, for I will write unto him my law by the finger of mine own hand. And I will make a spokesman for him, and his name shall be called Aaron.
Gen 50:36 And it shall be done unto thee in the last days also, even as I have sworn. Therefore, Joseph said unto his brethren, God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware unto Abraham, and unto Isaac, and to Jacob.
Gen 50:37 And Joseph confirmed many other things unto his brethren and took an oath of the children of Israel, saying unto them, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
Gen 50:38 So Joseph died when he was a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and they put him in a coffin in Egypt; and he was kept from burial by the children of Israel, that he might be carried up and laid in the sepulcher with his father. And thus they remembered the oath which they sware unto him.
(JST-Gen 50:24-38 = KJV Gen. 50:24-26)

Not only does the Targum and the Joseph Smith Translation both have Joseph making a prophecy about two deliverers to come, Moses and another, but both the Targum and the Joseph Smith Translation place this prophecy in exactly the same place corresponding to Genesis 50:24-26!


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Lost Fragments of the Book of Abraham? Part 2 The Testament of Abraham



Another candidate for a lost portion of the Book of Abraham is a Pseudepigraphal book known as the “Testament of Abraham.”  This book records events immediately before the death of Abraham, in which Abraham has an apocalyptic experience shortly before his death.  The account, as it has come down to us, flows in and out of the first person.  But there is something else which connects this document closely with the Book of Abraham.


The Book of Abraham is said to have been derived in some manner from Egyptian Papyri which came into the hands of Joseph Smith.  There are many theories on how the Book of Abraham came to be derived from these Papyri, which are beyond the scope of this article. 


What is clear is that there are three Facsimiles which are presented with the Book of Abraham.  Facsimile 2 appears to be an ancient Egyptian Hypocephali.  Facsimiles 1 and 3 appear to be variations of vignettes from the Book of Breathings, a simplified version of the Book of the Dead, but with explanations that differ from those Egyptologists assign to them in relation to their context in the Book of the Dead.  Instead, the Book of Abraham interprets these vignettes as illustrations related to the Book of Abraham.


Likewise  the Testament of Abraham contains a section which also appears to parallel a common vignette appearing in many copies of the Book of the Dead:


XII. While he was yet saying these things to me, behold two angels, fiery in aspect, and pitiless in mind, and severe in look, and they drove on thousands of souls, pitilessly lashing them with fiery thongs. The angel laid hold of one soul, and they drove all the souls in at the broad gate to destruction. So we also went along with the angels, and came within that broad gate, and between the two gates stood a throne terrible of aspect, of terrible crystal, gleaming as fire, and upon it sat a wondrous man bright as the sun, like to the Son of God. Before him stood a table like crystal, all of gold and fine linen, and upon the table there was lying a book, the thickness of it six cubits, and the breadth of it ten cubits, and on the right and left of it stood two angels holding paper and ink and pen. Before the table sat an angel of light, holding in his hand a balance, and on his left sat an angel all fiery, pitiless, and severe, holding in his hand a trumpet, having within it all-consuming fire with which to try the sinners. The wondrous man who sat upon the throne himself judged and sentenced the souls, and the two angels on the right and on the left wrote down, the one on the right the righteousness and the one on the left the wickedness. The one before the table, who held the balance, weighed the souls, and the fiery angel, who held the fire, tried the souls. And Abraham asked the chief-captain Michael, What is this that we behold? And the chief-captain said, These things that thou seest, holy Abraham, are the judgment and recompense. And behold the angel holding the soul in his hand, and he brought it before the judge, and the judge said to one of the angels that served him, Open me this book, and find me the sins of this soul. And opening the book he found its sins and its righteousness equally balanced, and he neither gave it to the tormentors, nor to those that were saved, but set it in the midst.


XIII. And Abraham said, My Lord chief-captain, who is this most wondrous judge? and who are the angels that write down? and who is the angel like the sun, holding the balance? and who is the fiery angel holding the fire? The chief-captain said, "Seest thou, most holy Abraham, the terrible man sitting upon the throne? This is the son of the first created Adam, who is called Abel, whom the wicked Cain killed, and he sits thus to judge all creation, and examines righteous men and sinners. For God has said, I shall not judge you, but every man born of man shall be judged. Therefore he has given to him judgment, to judge the world until his great and glorious coming, and then, O righteous Abraham, is the perfect judgment and recompense, eternal and unchangeable, which no one can alter. For every man has come from the first-created, and therefore they are first judged here by his son, and at the second coming they shall be judged by the twelve tribes of Israel, every breath and every creature. But the third time they shall be judged by the Lord God of all, and then, indeed, the end of that judgment is near, and the sentence terrible, and there is none to deliver. And now by three tribunals the judgment of the world and the recompense is made, and for this reason a matter is not finally confirmed by one or two witnesses, but by three witnesses shall everything be established. The two angels on the right hand and on the left, these are they that write down the sins and the righteousness, the one on the right hand writes down the righteousness, and the one on the left the sins. The angel like the sun, holding the balance in his hand, is the archangel, Dokiel the just weigher, and he weighs the righteousnesses and sins with the righteousness of God. The fiery and pitiless angel, holding the fire in his hand, is the archangel Puruel, who has power over fire, and tries the works of men through fire, and if the fire consume the work of any man, the angel of judgment immediately seizes him, and carries him away to the place of sinners, a most bitter place of punishment. But if the fire approves the work of anyone, and does not seize upon it, that man is justified, and the angel of righteousness takes him and carries him up to be saved in the lot of the just. And thus, most righteous Abraham, all things in all men are tried by fire and the balance."


Vignettes from one Book of the Dead to another had variances, but this material certainly seems to be related to a vignette like the one below:


If the Testament of Abraham contains a form of the conclusion of the Book of Abraham, then a vignette similar to the one above would certainly be a “Facsimile” at the end of the Book of Abraham.How could Joseph Smith had known that a close relationship exists between ancient first person accounts attributed to Abraham, and vignettes found in ancient Egyptian texts of the Book of the Dead?

Are any of these documents lost fragments of the Book of Abraham?  Certainly their amazing parallels make us ask the question: How could Joseph Smith known?


Friday, April 23, 2021

Lost Fragments of the Book of Abraham? Part 1 The Genesis Apocryphon



The translation of the Book of Abraham itself was never completed, the project being interrupted by Joseph Smith’s death.  However, certain ancient Abraham texts which have come down to us, may well be fragments of the lost Book of Abraham, and may give us clues as to the content of the rest of the book.


The Book of Abraham as we currently have is outlined as follows:


Chapter 1 – This Chapter deals with an account otherwise unknown effort by the Priest of Pharaoh to offer Abraham up as a sacrifice to Elkenah (the god of Canaan).

Chapter 2 – This chapter generally parallels Genesis 12:1-13.

Chapter 3-5 –  Here we have an apocalyptic parenthetical in the life story of Abraham that evolves into a retelling of the Creation story thru Genesis chapter 2.


The Book of Abraham also has three “facsimiles” or illustrations:


Facsimile 1 parallels Abraham chapter 1

Facsimile 2 parallels the apocalyptic parenthetical

Facsimile 3 relates to Abraham in Egypt


Since Facsimile 3 seems to have its setting in material parallel to Gen. 12:14-20 , we can logically conclude that the book would have closed the apocalyptic parenthetical section, and returned to the life of Abraham right where it had left off at the end of chapter 2. 



I, Abraham


Interestingly, a first person account of the life of Abraham was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, in a document commonly called the Genesis Apocryphon.  The first part of this scroll is badly damaged, but contains a first person accounts of Lamech (Noah’s father), Enoch and Noah.  There is a great deal of missing text (eaten by worms) and then at column 20 the text picks back up with a first person account of the life of Abraham 


As if by providence, the damaged scroll picks up the first person account of the life of Abraham, just before the account in the Book of Abraham as we have it, breaks off. 


There are some amazing parallels between these two first person accounts of the life of Abraham.


Whose Idea?


The first major parallel is in the two accounts of the events of Genesis 12:11-13. In the canonical account, it appears to be Abraham’s idea for Sarai to claim to be Abraham’s sister:


11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

(Gen. 12:11-13 KJV)


However, in the Book of Abraham, just before entering Egypt, Abraham receives a warning in a revelation, and it is YHWH’s idea for Sarai to identify herself as his sister:


22 And it came to pass when I was come near to enter into Egypt, the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon;

23 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see her, they will say-She is his wife; and they will kill you, but they will save her alive; therefore see that ye do on this wise:

25 And it came to pass that I, Abraham, told Sarai, my wife, all that the Lord had said unto me-Therefore say unto them, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my soul shall live because of thee.

(Abraham 2:22-25)


Remarkably, in the Genesis Apocryphon, Abraham also receives such a revelation as a dream-vision from YHWH:


So I moved to [enter] the land of Egypt [ … … … ] I reache[d] the Carmona River, one of the branches of the river [ … … ]. Now we [ … ] our land, and I [cro]ssed the seven branches of this river which [ … … … ]. Now we passed out of our land and entered the land of the children of Ham, the land of Egypt. vacat

And I, Abram, dreamed a dream during the night of my entering the land of Egypt. I saw in my dream one cedar tree and one palm tree, [a very beautifu]l one, and huma[n] figures came and tried to chop down and uproot the cedar in order to leave the palm by itself. But the palm restrained (them) when she said, ‘Do not chop down the cedar, for both of us are from o[ne r]oot!’ And the cedar was left alone thanks to the protection of the palm and was not [chopped down]. vacat

I woke up from my dream in the night, and said to Sarai, my wife, ‘I have (just) dreamed a dream, [and I] am afraid [on account of] this dream!’ And she said to me, ‘Tell me your dream that I might know (it), and so I began to relate this dream to her. [And I revealed] to [her the meaning of that] dream, and I [said, ‘… …] for they will seek to kill me, but you they will spare [… …] this, every favor [which you must do for me] in every [place] where [we are, say] of me that “he is my brother,” and I will remain alive by your protection and survive thanks to you.’ [… … ‘they will try] to remove you from me and to kill me!’ And Sarai wept over my words that night.



Abraham in Egypt


Another amazing parallel occurs in their accounts of Abraham in Egypt (Gen. 12:14-20) . Now this portion of the Book of Abraham is not directly available to us, but is represented by Facsimile 3 which is generally described in the “Explanation” as “Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court”



No parallel to this event occurs in Genesis 12.  However in the Genesis Apocryphon parallel to Gen. 12:14 we read:


…] Sarai to go to Zoan [with me, for she was v]ery [careful] with her person so that no [one] would see her […]. But after those five years, three men who were princes of Egypt [came … …] of Pharaoh Zoa[n] about my affairs and about my wife, and they presented [me numerous gifts and aske]d m[e to teach them] values, wisdom, and truth. So I read in their presence the [book of] the words of [En]och [… … …] in the famine which [… … 1 ½ lines garbled … …] with much eating and [much] drinking [… … ] wine [… … … remainder of column, approximately 6-7 lines, lost … …


Though the scroll is damaged, this certainly creates a likely setting for Facsimile 3.  The parallel is even more meaningful when one realizes that one of the five sections of the Book of Enoch is the Astronomical section!  So this very easily could include Abraham teaching the principles of astronomy in the court of the King of Egypt.


One final parallel between these two documents is the inclusion of an individual who is an important official to Pharaoh.  In the Genesis Apocryphon this person is named  הרקנוס which seems to be the name “Hyrcanus.” If this Abraham account is authentic, then this name must be a revision, since it is a Greek name meaning “crane”.  Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham mentions “Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters.”  Could the Genesis Apocryphon’s “Hyrcanus” originally have been “Shulem”?  



The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Genesis Apocryphon were not discovered until 1947.  These parallels with the Book of Abraham are especially significant, because they could not have been known to Joseph Smith Jr. over a hundred years earlier.  It is very likely that the Genesis Apocryphon has incorporated into it, material form the lost Book of Abraham.  


Joseph's Prophecy of Two Deliverers

  In the Book of Genesis we read: 24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land...