What’s Wrong with Joseph Smith’s Restoration? – Facsimile #1 / Facsimile #3
- The Restoration
- The Identifications
- The Subject Matter
- The Date / Age
What’s Wrong with His Restoration?
Joseph Smith’s attempts at “Restoration”:
- He copied a boat from Ta-Sherit-Min
- He copied demotic upside down on rim
- He copied demotic upside down and backwards in main body of hypocephalus
Joseph Smith the Prophet, Seer and Revelator was not able to identify Sheshonq as the dead woman that this hypocephalus was written for. A hypocephalus is a circular sheet of papyrus, containing extracts from the 162d chapter of the Book of the Dead, stiffened with plaster linen, and placed as an amulet under the head of the mummy in the coffin. Joseph didn’t distinguish the difference between Egyptian demotic (denoting a simplified, cursive form of ancient Egyptian script) and Egyptian hieroglyphics (one hieroglyphic is a stylized picture of an object representing a word, syllable or sound, as found in ancient Egyptian and other writing systems).
He haphazardly copied demotic characters from the male priest’s papyrus into blank spaces in a female’s hypocephalus. The female was not a priest.
He copied “Sin-Sin,” the word for “breathing,” upside down and backwards into the box labeled #14. Joseph doesn’t even attempt to translate this box but states that the translation “will be given in the own due time of the Lord.” This is the theme of Hor’s Book of Breathings papyrus that contained facsimiles #1 and #3. Joseph had a chance to translate this word for breathing at least twice; once in the original papyrus (demotic) belonging to the priest Hor, and the other time when he copied it into #14 of the hypocephalus belonging to a woman named Sheshonq. The fact that Joseph Smith couldn’t recognize that this was a hypocephalus and was written totally in hieroglyphics, not demotic, shows that he couldn’t read anything Egyptian.
Hor’s mother’s name appears first in hieroglyphics in the left columns and then again in the demotic text section of Hor’s Book of Breathings. Joseph mistakenly copied the last portion of her name (demotic version) into the rim of the hypocephalus upside down and backwards. Her partial name appears twice, one right after the other. Her name is Taikhibit and Joseph only used the last portion, “Khibit.” Joseph also made another mistake. He translated this same part of Hor’s mother’s name into the Book of Abraham 2:1-9. These are the words Joseph “translated” from the last part of her name.
“NOW the Lord God caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur, insomuch that Haran, my brother, died; but Terah, my father, yet lived in the land of Ur, of the Chaldees. And it came to pass that I, Abraham, took Sarai to wife, and Nehor, my brother, took Milcah to wife, who was the daughter of Haran. Now the Lord had said unto me: Abraham, get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee. Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and I took Lot, my brother’s son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me, unto the land which we denominated Haran. And the famine abated; and my father tarried in Haran and dwelt there, as there were many flocks in Haran; and my father turned again unto his idolatry, therefore he continued in Haran. But I, Abraham, and Lot, my brother’s son, prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord appeared unto me, and said unto me: Arise, and take Lot with thee; for I have purposed to take thee away out of Haran, and to make of thee a minister to bear my name in a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession, when they hearken to my voice. For I am the Lord thy God; I dwell in heaven; the earth is my footstool; I stretch my hand over the sea, and it obeys my voice; I cause the wind and the fire to be my chariot; I say to the mountains–Depart hence–and behold, they are taken away by a whirlwind, in an instant, suddenly. My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations.”
That was a total of 59 words including 10 unique proper names. No honest, direct translation has ever been performed on anything like this in any language. Could Joseph get all those words and names from a partial name?
Joseph decided the hieroglyphs in the vertical columns of the Book of Breathings were not words but were letters in an Egyptian alphabet. However, the characters, or hieroglyphs, were not part of any alphabet. The hieroglyphs were made up of actual words and names. Joseph missed three names that appear in the columns. Hor’s mother’s name Taikhibit, was written in the closest column on the right of facsimile #1 and the name of the Dead priest, Hor, and the name of his Father, Osorwer, are in the second column.
Joseph didn’t get one Egyptian word correct.
Assuming that Joseph Smith could get 59 words out of a partial name, why would he copy this partial word twice, next to each other, on the rim of the hypocephalus? Does Joseph intend us to use those 59 words twice in a row also? That’s not how he did it in the Book of Abraham. He went on to the next glyph. Because of Joseph’s inconsistency in his use of the Egyptian glyphs, it is difficult to take him as a serious translator.
Joseph missed the real purpose and subject matter, which was purely of religious resurrection content. The purpose of the hypocephalus was to warm up the head prior to resurrection of the body in the afterlife. The Egyptians recognized that live bodies have warm heads. For a corpse to regain life, it must get warm again.
It is also interesting to note that facsimile #2 is a different part of the resurrection process and is not part of the Book of Breathings and therefore, not part of the Book of Abraham. In a quote from History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 543, Joseph stated that facsimile #2 was about astronomy; “Friday March 4th 1842, ‘At my office exhibiting the Book of Abraham in the original to Brother Reuben Hedlock, so that he might take the size of the several plates or cuts, and prepare the blocks for the Times and Seasons; and also gave instruction concerning the arrangement of the writing on the large cut, illustrating the principles of astronomy.’” If Joseph could read Egyptian, he would have known the purpose of the hypocephalus.
Joseph Smith claimed that his translation was part of “The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.” This statement dates the papyrus at the time of Abraham about 4,000 years ago. All modern scholars have agreed that a hypocephalus is only about 2000 years old. Joseph dated this Book of Abraham 2000 years before it ever existed. Joseph the Seer was wrong.
Joseph Smith, the prophet, seer and revelator, was not able to restore the papyrus to its original because he couldn’t read any of it and didn’t know its purpose, date or subject matter. If Joseph really knew how to read and translate Egyptian, then he would have known these basic Egyptian things.
My conclusion is that Joseph lied and The Book of “Abraham” should start with these words:
“Once upon a time in a land far, far away!”
Learn more by reading two books. The first one is good for a serious, overall coverage of most major issues and is a pretty fun read. The second one is more for the seriously studious and is comprehensive, in-depth and thorough.
- By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus by Charles M. Larson
- The Joseph Smith Egyptian Papyri: A Complete Edition by Robert K. Ritner
(Egyptologist at the University of Chicago)
Definitions are from Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, G & C Merriam Company, 1950.