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Does The Book Of Abraham Say Egypt And Chaldea Are The Same Place?


Olavarria

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The following are INsearch4trith's arguments for a "Chaldea in Egypt" reading of the BoA, what say you?

Actually, Im gonna play ball and assume for the sake of argument that Joseph did write the BoA and BoM.

1) One does not need mesopotamian discoveries* to know that Ur of the Chaldees and Egypt are not the same place. Its in the Bible.

Ah, yes, in modern renditions! However such was not the case in Joseph Smith's day. Nevertheless, I doubt you can show me any evidence that Smith knew there was a difference... and I will show your alleged BOA evidence doesn't hold under scrutiny.

2) If Joseph was the author of the BoM, then he was able to dictate chapters of Isaiah while sticking his face in a hat.

This is obviously another subject, but to indulge you... either he possibly was able to "dictate chapters of Isaiah while sticking his face in a hat" which is certainly a valid possibility as we see all kinds of people with unusual talents such as the ability to memorize long passages verbatim.... OR some or all of the witnesses were in on the fraud. Either of these scenarios is quite plausible.

Ok, how do you get so sufficientlyliterate in the Bible to dictate chapters of Isaiah, while looking into a hat, and not know that "Ur of the Chaldees" and Egypt are two different places?

Please show me any evidence that Joseph knew the difference.

Seriously, can you give me any example that shows any biblically literate person, from any religion, thought they were the same?

That's a rabbit trail. We're not talking about anyone... we're talking about what Joseph Smith knew and what he didn't know. The internal evidence from a simple, straightforward reading of the text of the BOA suggests that he thought they were one and the same.

Now here's what you state to prove your point:

No, that is not what we find in the BoA.

Again:

Abraham 2:1,4,21

1 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.

4 Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and I took Lot, my brotherâ??s son, and his wife, and Sarai my wife; and also my father followed after me, unto the land which we denominated Haran.

21 And I, Abraham, journeyed, going on still towards the south; and there was a continuation of a famine in the land; and I, Abraham, concluded to go down into Egypt, to sojourn there, for the famine became very grievous.

Canaan, is south of "Ur of the Chaldees". Abraham went south to Canaan, and then went further "down" to Egypt. Why? Because Egypt, unlike "Ur of the Chaldees" and Canaan was famine free.

I have BOLDED the flaw in your logic. Where does the text say "Abraham went south to Canaan"? Answer: it doesn't. That is your interpolation. In fact the text says the drought was severe in Ur of the Chaldees. And then it says: "Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan." There is no direction of travel given! Furthermore, you left out verse 5, possibly because it makes your case even weaker in that we are given a clear indication that the famine abated, which would require a substantial length of time:

5 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.

In fact there are several indicators of a substantial time period here as

1. the famine abates

2. his father tarries and "dwelt there"

3. he then turns again to idolotry

This hardly presents an image of events that happened along a steadily southward road trip.

You further argue that: "Canaan, is south of 'Ur of the Chaldees'" to make your point that "Abraham went south to Canaan." This is classic tautology! I am arguing that Smith didn't know that! You have no text to back up your assertion! Instead you use geography which is the very thing you're trying (unsuccessfully) to show that Smith understood!

And why is it that the text mentions south when traveling from Haran to Egypt? Because Joseph knew that Egypt was south of Haran! Yet he's careful NOT to mention a direction when he refers to travel from "Chaldea" to Haran! Why not? He wasn't sure where Chaldea was! But the remainder of the text strongly suggests he thought it must be somewhere in the "land of Egypt."

V.8 and V.9: The altar was in Chaldea, not Egypt. The sacrifices were done after the manner of the Egyptians and not the Chaldeans. If Chaldea and Egypt were the same, there would be no need for clarification.

The only "clarification" going on is that of Joseph's misunderstanding that Chaldea was a city or, more likely, a region in Egypt such as Goshen or the Nile Valley.

Let's consider this as it is told.... you've already admitted that:

The altar was in Chaldea,

In fact the whole story is set in "Chaldea"

1 In the land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my fathers, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence;

...then we read:

5 My fathers, having turned from their righteousness, and from the holy commandments which the Lord their God had given unto them, unto the worshiping of the gods of the heathen, utterly refused to hearken to my voice;

6 For their hearts were set to do evil, and were wholly turned to the god of Elkenah, and the god of Libnah, and the god of Mahmackrah, and the god of Korash, and the god of Pharaoh, king of Egypt;

So if we're going to believe your pro-JS version, we's also have to believe that the Chaldeans--a completely separate and distant culture somehow inexplicably set up (alleged) Egyptian gods one of which was a representation of a foreign king!

Not only that, but they start offering human sacrifices to these Egyptain gods:

7 Therefore they turned their hearts to the sacrifice of the heathen in offering up their children unto these dumb idols, and hearkened not unto my voice, but endeavored to take away my life by the hand of the priest of Elkenah. The priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharaoh.

And here's where it gets even more difficult to accept:

8 Now, at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to offer up upon the altar which was built in the land of Chaldea, for the offering unto these strange gods, men, women, and children.

So we have a priest of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, offering human sacrifices on an alter built in Chaldea on a regular basis! Did he make regular commutes? Was this priest of a foreign king merely stationed in Chaldea by Pharaoh? One of the problems with all this is that the Egyptians never exported their religions (rather they incorporated foreign religions into their own) and there is no evidence of an Egyptian religious influence in Mesopotamia.

But the internal evidence gets worse:

14 That you may have an understanding of these gods, I have given you the fashion of them in the figures at the beginning, which manner of figures is called by the Chaldeans Rahleenos, which signifies hieroglyphics.

This verse makes it clear that Smith understood that Chaldeans wrote in "hieroglyphics" when in fact Chaldean script is cuneiform. This is the only possible interpretation since this verse refers to the glyphs on facsimile #1. Additional damning evidence can then be found on fac #1 in the form of fig #10 which Joseph tells us represents: Abraham in Egypt. This figure is repeated in Fac #3 which can only be set in Egypt as Smith says it is Abraham "reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the kingâ??s court."

It is clear then that Smith's understanding is that this story--Abraham being offered on an alter that was set up in Chaldea--took place in Egypt!

In fact the rest of the chapter makes it even clearer that he is referring to Egypt: (again keep in mind that Joseph thought Ur was in Egypt)

20 Behold, Potipharâ??s Hill was in the land of Ur, of Chaldea. And the Lord broke down the altar of Elkenah, and of the gods of the land, and utterly destroyed them, and smote the priest that he died; and there was great mourning in Chaldea, and also in the court of Pharaoh; which Pharaoh signifies king by royal blood.

21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.

22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.

23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;

24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.

25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.

26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

The best you can argue.... is that for some inexplicable reason an altar to an Egyptian king and Egyptian gods was set up thousands of miles away from Egypt in Chaldea--for which there is no known parallel--on which an alleged priest of a foreign king offered human sacrifices on a regular basis--either being stationed there permanently by Pharoah or making regular commutes!

You also would have to asume the Chaldeans wrote in heiroglyphs (verse 14) as that is what appears on the facsimiles.

Or you could simply accept that the evidence indicates that Jospeh Smith erroneously thought Ur and Egypt were one and the same, or that Ur was a district or region in Egypt like Goshen. If I were a betting man, that's where I'd put my money.

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I personally doubt that JS thought Chaldea and Egypt were the same place, especially since he and Oliver were applying insights from Josephus. The only thing I see in Abraham 1 that implies that Chaldea was in Egypt is in verse 20, where we read that "there was great mourning in Chaldea, and also in the court of Pharaoh." It seems unlikely that the court of Pharaoh would be disturbed by an event that happened so far away. This verse is remarkable for another reason: it is the only verse that suggests that Chaldea was actually politically connected with Egypt. For the most part, the narrative could be read as implying that the idol made in Pharaoh's image was just one of the several pagan deities to whom the Chaldean people have turned. In other words, they're following Egyptian religious practices, but are not necessarily an Egyptian-controlled polity. If Joseph Smith is projecting American religious pluralism back into the ancient world, Egyptian religion and political control would not necessarily go together.

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Appreciate your post. When you wrote the following, it is a bulls eye or smoking gun that supports your correlation.

This verse makes it clear that Smith understood that Chaldeans wrote in "hieroglyphics" when in fact Chaldean script is cuneiform. This is the only possible interpretation since this verse refers to the glyphs on facsimile #1. Additional damning evidence can then be found on fac #1 in the form of fig #10 which Joseph tells us represents: Abraham in Egypt. This figure is repeated in Fac #3 which can only be set in Egypt as Smith says it is Abraham "reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the kingâ??s court."

It is clear then that Smith's understanding is that this story--Abraham being offered on an alter that was set up in Chaldea--took place in Egypt!

In fact the rest of the chapter makes it even clearer that he is referring to Egypt: (again keep in mind that Joseph thought Ur was in Egypt)

Of interesting note also written by Nibley;

(the Herweben Papyri) ... Herweben celebrates her delivery in a gesture of the combination and position of the ram and the huge plants closely resembles objects found in the royal cemetery of Ur, designated by their discoveries of the ram in a thicket, is Herweben here giving thanks and praise to the ram as a substitute sacrifice? from the JS Papyri an Egyptian endowment page 93

If Nibley is correct here this would have the story of Abraham and Isaac's sacrifice in another hieroglyphic than the JSP

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