The Rivals

The very things that move the critics to treat the Abraham story as religious fiction or as hopelessly garbled tradition are what, in the opinion of the present writer, carry the greatest conviction of authenticity. In terms of ritual practices they all make sense. It is remarkable how completely the present Abraham literature avoids giving any countenance to the ritual explanation of things, even taking pains to warn the student, as does James L. Kelso, that there is not a trace of anything of a ritual or cultic nature in the Abraham tradition.1 This is the more remarkable since scholars who deal with the parallel literature so important to understanding the patriarchal situation express a growing feeling of dependence upon the ritual elements of the tales they study. Two studies in the Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache not only illustrate this point very well, but are also of prime importance for the study of Abraham.

The first is by Jan Assmann, who has taken the famous Egyptian Tale of the Two Brothers, a very popular moralizing story suggesting the patriarchal narratives of Israel at many points, and shown the significance of some of its main episodes, first noting that it is only during the past fifteen years or so that it has become the practice to subject Egyptian literary pieces to such treatment.2 Central to the Two Brothers theme is a love triangle, much like those met with in the patriarchal narratives, the most famous being that of Abraham, Sarah, and Pharaoh, which we have treated at some length.3 This theme Assmann finds to be combined with the perennial conflict between the farmer and the herdsman, a confrontation that Werner finds most prominent in the Abraham legends. Related to this in turn is the departure of the hero from his home as an outcast—as was Abraham.4 As Assmann lays it out, the pattern of the Two Brothers is remarkably like that of Joseph Smith’s book of Moses, chapter 1; when compared with the Apocalypse of Abraham and the Book of Adam, Moses 1 tells essentially the same story, all of which shows strong Egyptian influence. Here is how Assmann puts it: (1) The hero is cast out of his happy home, his original condition of life, against his will, but for his own good as he realizes. (2) He must go forth to undergo a series of trials and tests, (3) symbolic of overcoming death by resurrection, and so (4) return to his former home as a changed person, (5) being received back when he identifies himself in a formal testing (“Identifikation in Form einer Prüfung“). (6) Transfiguration and exaltation go with coronation and marriage.5

All this, according to Assmann, is to be explained in terms of a ritual background, an idea, he notes, that is at present enjoying a vigorous revival among scholars: “A wealth of tales are now traced back to a type of initiation-ritual which belongs to an earlier level of culture.” This “Initiationsthematik” has, moreover, “global connections,” recurring all along the Fertile Crescent at the dawn of history. Whether it rests on oral or written transmission, its universality is assured, according to Assmann, because it deals with the basic problems of human existence.6 Though such stories were preserved and transmitted for entertainment and moral improvement, they always retained a perceptible “memory of their ritual origin.” Assmann concludes by asking whether the Two Brothers really lends itself to the old ritual interpretation that at present is enjoying increasing favor among scholars and replies with a resounding affirmative—through the literary facade of the texts, the old Egyptian initiation ritual is still undeniable.7

The other article, by Strother Purdy, is even more enlightening and deals with the even more famous story of Sinuhe, which, as many scholars have noted, touches on the Abraham question at many points. Right at the outset we are confronted with the now-familiar Abraham enigmas, for Purdy assures us that we still “do not know whether it [the story of Sinuhe] is autobiographical or fiction, history or belles lettres—whether, in short, the events it relates ever happened or were an imaginary projection.” To illustrate this point, he lists six totally different interpretations of its literary nature, each defended by eminent Egyptologists.8 We need not leap to negative conclusions about Abraham when we learn “that Sinuhe has both fictional and historic identity [as] is now presumed by most scholars,” and that the same holds true for the hero of the much later story of Wenamon.9 How can you tell that there is any real history behind it? “Because the conditions he [the writer] describes are supported by purely historical sources.” Purdy concludes, “Indeed, it is impossible to keep the literature of ancient Egypt out of an interlinked literary-historical nexus.”10 Though there is the widest disagreement among the specialists as to which part is history and which is fiction, with Abraham as with the Egyptians we are no longer justified in following the established school procedure of treating the whole thing as mythical.

The main issue raised by Egyptologists regarding the history of Sinuhe is the same one that confronts the reader of the Book of Abraham at the outset—just what is Pharaoh’s business and influence in Canaan at the time? On that there is no agreement. Many experts view Egypt’s presence in Palestine and Syria in Sinuhe’s day as pure literary invention. Purdy, on the other hand, points out that since so little documentation exists from the time, and since trade and intermarriage between Egypt, Palestine, and Syria continued over long periods of time, there is no justification for denying it in Sinuhe’s day.11 Indeed, so little is known about the period that the Sinuhe story itself has been called, along with the Khusobk stele, the only evidence that Egypt ever was in Palestine or Syria during the great Twelfth Dynasty.12 Need we recall that the mingling of the cult of Pharaoh with that of the Canaanites was derided as one of the absurdities of the Book of Abraham? Purdy warns us against the pitfalls of reading Egyptian like English, noting that it may be Egyptian literary usage “to have Sinuhe talk so much about what he doesn’t specify,” things which could not escape an Egyptian audience but which leave us often in the dark.13 In particular the court scenes (cf. our Facsimile 3) display discretion, where the hearer is “to imagine things tacitly occurring.” All of which can be most instructive for the student of Abraham’s account.

Though the story of Sinuhe furnishes a wealth of convincing details from which one may construct an account of Egypt in Canaan in those early days, Purdy finds the main thrust of the story, as Assmann does that of the Two Brothers, to be ritual in nature: Sinuhe’s return to court is a kind of popular allegory of holy dying, with all its ritual accompaniments so near to the Egyptian heart.14 The story mixes divine with human reference in the court of Pharaoh, which is a foretaste of heaven: Sinuhe, on his return to the court, is being initiated into the glory of the eternities and enters the other world; the king’s letter inviting him to return to Egypt is “his passport to the West”15—his “Book of Breathings,” as we have described it elsewhere.16

Likewise in the story of the Shipwrecked Sailor, that hero, laden with treasure got from a dragon in a lost world, and though a commoner, heads straight for the court of Pharaoh, where he is received in glory by the king and all the great and noble ones.17 Such heavenly homecomings, reminiscent of the early Christian Pearl story, are routine in Egypt from the earliest times, e.g., in Utterance 422 of the Pyramid Texts.18 It is also the subject of the Testament of Abraham and has a spiritual interpretation in the “Lebensmüde.”19

Purdy points out one “proof” for the historicity of Sinuhe that keeps emerging unexpectedly but forcefully from time to time in the story. It is “the ring of truth” which “we intuit breaking through an artificial surface narrative with some convincing hint of actual experience.”20 Herbert Werner also notes how veristic touches and glimpses of a real world keep breaking through in Abraham stories.21 As an example of this, Purdy notes how Sinuhe goes out of his way to explain the customs of Canaan to his Egyptian readers, e.g., “how an Egyptian funeral differed from an Asiatic one. . . . Clearly, the writer . . . wanted to give the reader enjoyment of things he would not otherwise know about; clearly he had a different kind of reader in mind.”22 Which is exactly what Abraham does when he explains Egyptian customs to the people back in Palestine (Abraham 1:12, 14): “Now, at this time it was the custom of the priest of Pharaoh . . .” (Abraham 1:8), “. . . after the manner of the Egyptians” (Abraham 1:11); describing for their benefit, e.g., just how an Egyptian altar looks (Abraham 1:12—13), and telling them where to turn for his drawing of one, exactly as the Egyptian funeral texts (e.g., the Amduat) tell the reader where to turn for a picture of a ship or monster.23 The “ring of truth” strikes home again in Abraham’s use of the first person in his narrative, the total absence of dialogue in it, the little shock that comes with being told that two royal ladies, Hathor and Maat, are “Pharaoh and the Prince of Pharaoh,” respectively, though both are very obviously women. That is not the way one fakes old records.

What Alster says of Mesopotamia applies with double force to Egypt, that the latest studies should hopefully “teach us to hold the spiritual achievements of the early Mesopotamian world in greater respect” than we have. The real dimension of the thinking of both peoples is shown in what is “archetypal and paradigmatic” among them.24 He quotes Eliade: “Reality is acquired solely through repetition or participation; everything which lacks an exemplary model is ‘meaningless,’ i.e., it lacks reality.” Hence in ancient times “great monarchs considered themselves imitators of the primordial hero.”25

To sum up, the latest studies of ancient tales long recognized by scholars as having significantly close points of resemblance to the biblical patriarchal narratives, with Abraham’s story at their head, now assure us (1) that we cannot exclude the possibility of their containing historical elements because they also happen to have a mythical allure, for (2) myth and reality meet in ritual, a ritual that, while rehearsing something that is supposed to have happened far away and long ago, is nonetheless an overt act, an actual historical event in its own right. In a world in which every major occurrence in the life of the individual and the society was accommodated to ritual treatment and invested with cosmic significance, there is no point to distinguishing between ritual and history.26 The stories of the Two Brothers and Sinuhe are now viewed as ritual inspiration specifically representing initiation rites. This, we have always maintained, goes also for the Abraham story as set forth in the Book of Abraham; the ritual features of these tales—Egyptian and Hebrew alike, especially with reference to initiation—we have demonstrated in a book on some of the Joseph Smith Papyri.27 Everything in the Joseph Smith Papyri suggests the possibility that Abraham’s history is not to be separated from his involvement in certain royal rites of great significance, so that these particular episodes of his life could be truly represented in ritual texts which are at the same time historical. But this is not a discovery of the writer’s. The revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith made it clear from the beginning that we follow Abraham’s example in ordinances as well as rules of life, for the archetype held up as the example for all Latter-day Saints to follow is certainly Abraham. As the very “seed of Abraham” (D&C 103:17), they are admonished to “go . . . and do the works of Abraham” (D&C 132:32). Regardless of the culture gap, as one scholar reminds us, we can still get a grasp on these ancient heroes because the “paradigmatic pattern” they provide is one that fits our own experience throughout life.28 What is impossible about the reality, personality, or deeds of a man whose experiences we duplicate in our own lives?

Kings in Collision

All Abraham scholars begin by noting that the apocryphal material is no mere extension of the biblical, but deals with matters unmentioned in the Bible. The episodes on which they concentrate have to do with the infancy, boyhood, and young manhood of the patriarch, upon which the scriptures do not touch. “We must not lose sight of the fact,” wrote Geo Widengren, “that the Old Testament, as it is handed down to us in the Jewish canon, is only one part—we do not even know if the greater part—of Israel’s national literature.”29 Hence it is significant that the Abraham apocrypha, widely scattered in time and place, tell very much the same stories, suggesting their common origin in a lost portion of the record, for which “a number of scholars are beginning to recognize historical foundations to important parts of the tradition.”30 The central theme throughout is the machinations of a great cosmocrator, who fears, due to the findings of his astrologers, that the infant Abraham is a threat to his kingship and priesthood, a deadly rival. In a series of dramatic encounters he tries to prevent the birth of the child and then to destroy it, is duly confounded by the boy Abraham, and attempts to sacrifice the young man on an altar. To Abraham’s challenge that his God is the giver of life, the would-be ruler of the world responds: “It is I who give life and I who take it!”31 The supermonarch often goes by the name of Nimrod in the stories, but in the oldest versions he is plainly identified with Pharaoh.32 In making the confrontation between Abraham and Pharaoh the pivotal theme of its history, with rival claims to priesthood and kingship the issue, the Book of Abraham has got off on the right foot and cleared a formidable hurdle.

The story of the sacrifice of Abraham (not Isaac!) we have treated elsewhere, and it will suffice here to quote our earlier summary of it.

   Briefly, this is the story. Abraham is bound on a specially constructed altar and raises his voice in prayer to God. As the priest brings the knife near to the victim’s throat, God sends an angel who offers to rescue him from his dire predicament; but Abraham refuses the proffered help, saying that it is God and God alone who will deliver him. At that moment God speaks to Abraham, the earth trembles, fire bursts forth, the altar is overthrown, the officiating priest is killed, and a general catastrophe fills the land with mourning. . . . Nimrod, baffled in every attempt to dispatch his arch-rival, is convinced at last that Abraham possesses a power greater than his, and suddenly turns from cursing the prophet to honoring him, humbly soliciting the privilege of personally offering sacrifices to the God of Abraham. More surprises: Abraham refuses the astonishing offer, saying, “God will not accept from thee after the manner of thy religion.” To this Nimrod replies, “O Abraham, I cannot lay down my kingship, but I will offer oxen,” and after that time [he] left Abraham, whom God had delivered from his power, in peace.33

Here we have the strange paradox of a king who was, as the Book of Abraham puts it, blessed in the kingship “with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed . . . as pertaining to the Priesthood” (Abraham 1:26). This puts everybody in an embarrassing situation: the proud monarch has made an unheard-of concession to Abraham, but Abraham refuses to meet him halfway—he cannot give him what he wants. It was a painful and awkward impasse to which there was only one solution: Nimrod loaded Abraham with royal gifts and ordered his entire court to pay obeisance to him, after which “the king dismissed Abraham.”34 In the oldest version of the story, the Genesis Apocryphon, Pharaoh, after being rebuffed and offended by Abraham, whom he had “sought to slay,” swears a royal oath to him, loads him with the highest honors, and orders him out of the country.35

What can Nimrod, the Asiatic terror, possibly have to do with Pharaoh? A good deal, to judge by the legends in which the two are constantly confused and interchanged. In the Clementine Recognitions the dispensations of the gospel, following an ancient Jewish formula, are given as ten, each being established by a prophet and revelator who finds himself opposed by a satanic rival and pretender;36 when we get to Abraham (the third dispensation), we expect his opponent, in view of the rabbinic traditions, to be Nimrod, but it is not: it is Pharaoh. Why is that? In the legends, Bernard Chapira notes, “Nimrod has become the equivalent of Pharaoh,” yet he is already Pharaoh in the oldest legends, including the one edited by Chapira himself.37 Wacholder has noted that while Nimrod is indeed the archenemy in the rabbinical accounts, in the older “Hassidic” versions he is Pharaoh, a clear indication that the original stories go back to the time “when Egypt was a major power,” when “the encounter between Pharaoh and the traveler from Ur of the Chaldees seemed a crucial event in the history of mankind”; only later, “from the rabbinic sources, Abram’s journey into Egypt is relatively ignored,”38 for the rabbis were strongly averse to having Abraham spending his time in Egypt.39

From the Egyptian side also come distinct echoes of the clash between the king and the holy man. In a story dating back at least to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, Onchsheshonq, the priest of Re of Heliopolis (Moses and Joseph were both related by marriage to holders of that significant office), was falsely suspected by Pharaoh of plotting against his life. After the priest had spoken in his own defense, “Pharaoh had an earthen altar constructed at the gate of the palace.” But instead of sacrificing Onchsheshonq, “he caused Horsiese the son of Ramose to be cast into the fire with all his (household) and all those who had conspired to overthrow Pharaoh.”40 Horsiese was the bosom friend of Onchsheshonq—Pharaoh calls him his “brother.” Onchsheshonq, saved from the flames and the altar by this “substitute” in the manner of Abraham’s escape by the sacrifice of his brother Haran and the holocaust of all his house, was led off to prison by “the shepherd Pinehas”—another Jewish connection, suggesting Abraham’s servant Eliezar, also a black man.41 (Pinehas derives from the Egyptian pa neúsi, meaning a Nubian or black man. It is the Jewish pinchom or Pincus.)42 Though in jail, he was daily fed with dishes sent from the palace, his go-between with Pharaoh being the courtier Thoth, who was his jailer. On the anniversary of his coronation Pharaoh freed all the prisoners but Onchsheshonq; expecting death, that hero asked for papyrus to make a book for the instruction of his progeny. The king allowed him pen and ink but no paper, so he wrote on potsherds his Book of Wisdom, to show forth to posterity how God had dealt with him. He begins with fervid admonition to trust in God no matter what happens and closes with the ultimate wise counsel: “Be not weary in calling upon God, for in his own time he will hearken to the scribe.”43 Ties between Egyptian and Hebrew wisdom literature are of great age, and this story is full of familiar overtones of Abraham and Joseph, the most striking being the special altar erected for a rival threatening the throne who is delivered from the flames and then goes to prison, as Abraham is imprisoned by the king, who nonetheless holds him in high esteem. Incidentally, the expression “Grant that the Ba of the Osiris Sheshonq live (ankh)” in figure 8 of Facsimile 2 contains the elements of the name Onchsheshonq.

Werner Foerster has observed that “the highlights of . . . divine action” in the history of Israel are “firstly, the basic event of Abraham’s call, God’s covenant, . . . secondly, the deliverance from the ‘furnace of Egypt.'”44 The furnace of Egypt is here the equivalent of the “furnace of the Chaldees,” the most venerable epithet of Abraham being “he who was delivered from the furnace of the Chaldees.”45 Of the moment of delivery a very old account says, “From that day until today it is called Kaldawon, [signifying] what God had said to the children of Israel: ‘It is I who brought you forth from Egypt!'” Which was it, Egypt or Chaldea (Kaldawon)?46

The legends make Hagar an Egyptian woman of the royal court and even a daughter of Pharaoh (Genesis 16:1, 3; 21:9, 21),47 so that when the old Jerusalem Targum on Jeremiah says that Hagar belonged to those very people who threw Abraham into the furnace, we are obliged to view his attempted sacrifice as an Egyptian show.48 Even more specific is the Pseudo-Jonathan, which reports that Hagar was “the daughter of Pharaoh, the son of Nimrod,” which makes Nimrod, if not a pharaoh, the father of one. In one of the better-known stories, when Sarah lost her temper with Hagar (and it is significant that we have here the same sort of rivalry between Sarah the true “princess” and Hagar the Egyptian woman as we do between Abraham and Nimrod), she complained to Abraham, accusing her rival of being “the daughter of Pharaoh, of Nimrod’s line, he who once cast thee into the furnace!”49 Having Pharaoh as a son or descendant of Nimrod neatly bridges the gap between Asia and Egypt: one of the most famous foreign potentates to put a son on the throne of Egypt did in fact bear the name of Nimrod, and his son bore the family name of Shishak or Sheshonk, which turns up as the owner of Facsimile 2, a coincidence to be pursued hereafter.

The sort of thing that used to happen may be surmised from an account in the Sefer ha-Yashar, according to which “at the time Abraham went into Canaan there was a man in Sinear called Rakion [also Rikyan, Rakayan, suggesting the famous Hyksos ruler Khian]. . . . He went to King Asverus [cf. Osiris] in Egypt, the son of Enam. At that time the king of Egypt showed himself only once a year.” In Egypt this Rakion by trickery raised a private army and so was able to impose a tax on all bodies brought for burial to the cemetery. This made him so rich that he went with a company of a thousand richly dressed youths and maidens to pay his respect to Asverus, who was so impressed that he changed the man’s name to Pharaoh, after which Rakion judged the people of Egypt every day, while Asverus only judged one day in the year.50 This would not be the first or the last time that a usurping Asiatic forced a place for himself on the throne, but the ritual aspects of the tale—the annual appearance of Osiris, the rule over the necropolis, the one thousand youths and maidens (as in the story of Solomon and Queen Bilqis)—are also conspicuous. We are also told that that wily Asiatic who came to throne by violence and trickery was the very same pharaoh who would take Sarah to wife.51

The close resemblance between Nimrod’s treatment of Abraham and Pharaoh’s treatment of Moses has often been noted.52 And just as the careers of Abraham and Moses can be closely and significantly matched (which is not surprising, since the founders and makers of dispensations of the gospel necessarily have almost identical missions), so in the Koran, Nimrod and Pharaoh represent a single archetype—that of the supremely successful administrator who thinks he should rule everything. Likewise in the Koran it is not Nimrod who builds the tower to get to heaven, but Pharaoh—a significant substitution.53 Even in the Jewish accounts, Pharaoh and Nimrod are like identical twins: both call themselves a Great Magician,54 try to pass themselves off as God, order all the male children put to death, study the heavens, and pit the knowledge and skill of their wise men against the powers of the prophet.55 The palace in which Nimrod shuts up the expectant mothers has conspicuous parallels in Egyptian literature (e.g., the Doomed Prince), and is designated in the Jewish traditions as the Palace of Assuerus—the Osiris or king of Egypt in the Rakion story above.56 When the young Moses refuses to worship Pharaoh as the young Abraham refuses Nimrod, the idolatrous priests accuse both heroes of magic and trickery, the converts of both are put to death by the king, the subjects of both rulers offer up their children to idols, and Pharaoh, like Nimrod, finally declares war on God and builds a great tower, which falls.57

On the romantic side, Pharaoh sacrificed his own daughter because “she no longer honored him as a god”58 and refused to lose her virginity in the fertility rites he sponsored, just as Ratha, the daughter of Nimrod, who fell in love with Abraham, also refused to participate in the licentious rites and sought even to join him in the sacrificial flames.59 The situation is clearly indicated in the Joseph Smith Book of Abraham, where “three virgins at one time” were sacrificed, “the daughters of Onitah, one of the royal descent. . . . These virgins were offered because of their virtue; they would not bow down.” In short, they refused to participate in the fertility rites and so “were killed upon this altar, and it was done after the manner of the Egyptians” (Abraham 1:11).60

One can appreciate the wisdom of the rabbinic distinction between Pharaoh and Nimrod, without which the wires would be hopelessly crossed between a Moses and an Abraham, who go through identical routines with the same antagonist—Pharaoh. Yet in the original version it was Pharaoh in both cases: the Nimrod who calls his magicians and wise men to counter the claims of Abraham, who loses the contest and ends up bestowing high honors on his guest, and who turns up as Pharaoh in the Genesis Apocryphon, the oldest known version of the story.61

Pharaoh’s Misgivings

According to the Book of Abraham, the Egyptian pharaoh ruling “his people wisely and justly” “would fain claim” the priesthood and went ahead and acted as if he really had it, “seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations” (Abraham 1:26—27). The statement is exhaustively confirmed in Egyptian literature. While some intellectual and benevolent pharaohs like Psammetichus, Tefnakht, and Bocchoris were in the latter days of philosophical disillusionment amused by their own “divinity,” they put on the best act they could for their subjects.62 Other pharaohs, rough cynical conquerors or cunning politicians, adapted themselves to the traditional patterns and conducted the solemnities in their capacity as sacred monarch and high priest.63 In either case it was an example of what Hermann Kees called the official state “Cant” of the Egyptians. The Egyptians “understood perfectly well how to twist and adjust things,” wrote Hermann Kees, “so that the ideal concept of power matched the facts of history [tradition],” embracing “in the same high-sounding words both the highest human concept of ideal kingship and the most vicious self-interest.”64 Kings and high priests did not hesitate to manipulate divine oracles (usually statues) and forge documents.

All of which indicates that Pharaoh was always unsure of his authority over his own people. A newly discovered document that goes clear back to the Fifth Dynasty, the Inscription of Mtty, is an appeal for loyalty to Pharaoh that clearly shows how shaky his divine authority was at that early time,65 teaching as later texts do that the king must set an example of loyalty.66 Opinions still differ among scholars as to whether “the king thought of himself as a mere human being,”67 being to his subjects just another Oriental potentate,68 the Orientals being “able to see him as he was with clarity and detachment,”69 or whether all detected a divine element, though not necessarily “total divinity” in the pharaoh.70

Of particular interest are those devout and sincere pharaohs who spent their days in the archives engaging in the constant search of Egyptian rulers for divine authority,71 such men as King Neferhotep in the Thirteenth Dynasty,72 the great Amenophis I, “a wise and inspired man,” according to Manetho, who yearned to see the gods but feared to risk any force or trickery to get his wish,73 or Ptolemy the son of Glaucias, “the recluse of the Serapeum,” spending all his days in the library,74 as does the hero of the Setne Khamuas story, searching in the House of Life for the book that bestows the knowledge of divine dominion and authority.75

The trouble was that they lacked revelation. In Egypt, Henri Frankfort observed, “The actions of individuals lacked divine guidance altogether.”76 The only hope was to cling to Pharaoh, so that when the throne shook everybody was left “without certainty or direction,”77 and though “living under the rule of a god incarnate, they were dependent on human wisdom alone for direction in their way of life.”78 Though Pharaoh is the “Great Intercessor,” as François Daumas points out, “what he does is not miraculous . . . but only wonderful, . . . it is the normal power by which the course of the world continues.”79 Surprisingly, as Siegfried Morenz notes, the Egyptians claimed no inspired writings, and no Egyptian wise man ever claims to be commissioned from heaven.80 Edwin R. Bevan noted long ago that the ancients have left us not a single instance in which men were supposed to have conversed with Zeus (in contrast with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Moses, who each conversed with God); all revelation came to the gentiles through voices, letters from heaven, natural objects, omens, inspired utterance (dreams, fits, etc.).81 In the late times we hear of messages from the oracle of Ammon of both the Egyptians and the Greeks, but they were all delivered by sortes (lots, dice, books, moving statues, etc.).82 It is important to bear this in mind, lest we fall into the error of supposing that the religion of Abraham and Israel was simply another tribal superstition or an offshoot from the archaic order. Between the gospel and the numerous spin-offs from the pristine faith taught by Adam to his children, there is all the difference between light and darkness—and the Egyptians felt the difference most keenly.

Abraham and Pharaoh in a Strange Setting

Now we come to the next hurdle—how to get Abraham and the pharaoh together in the days of Abraham’s youth and long before his famous journey into Egypt. To do this, the Book of Abraham has “the idolatrous god of Pharaoh” go clear up into “Ur of the Chaldees”—where various other idolatrous gods representing local regions or rulers with exotic names gather to pay their respects and participate in solemn annual sacrificial rites.83 One of the eminent critics of 1912 found the situation simply preposterous; it “displays an amusing ignorance,” he declared loftily, since the “Chaldeans and Egyptians are hopelessly mixed together, although as dissimilar and remote in language, religion and locality as are today American and Chinese.”84 Actually, this is another one of those cases in which the Book of Abraham sets forth a situation well attested in Egyptian literature.

One of the striking things about the Abraham figure is the way in which the hero “is curiously involved in the pagan world,”85 which is not surprising since, as one scholar puts it, “Abraham had no address,” and was in danger wherever he went. The Book of Abraham brings the patriarch in his earlier years together with a priest of Pharaoh in “the land of Chaldea.” Though until the late nineteenth century the consensus of scholarly opinion placed the Ur of Abraham in the Haran area of northern Mesopotamia, as Cyrus Gordon notes, “the excavations at Sumerian Ur [in the 1930s] threw us off the track,” and for a while the great Sumerian Ur was favored as Abraham’s city, but today “Ebla is putting us back on it.”86 When I discussed the matter in the April 1969 Improvement Era, the experts were about evenly divided between the northern and southern Ur,87 but in 1976 Ebla definitely turned the scales in favor of the north. Robert Martin-Achard, observing that the ancient sources support both the Ur in Lower Mesopotamia and the home in Upper Mesopotamia, suggests that Abraham’s parents perhaps lived in both places. After championing the southern Ur, he finally concludes, however, that “the true cradle of the patriarch’s family is the country in the Harran region which the Bible calls Aram of the Two Rivers,” a center of commerce and pilgrimage.88 Cyrus Gordon would push into the extreme northwest, “the Urfa-Haran region of south central Turkey, near the Syrian border, rather than in southern Mesopotamia.”89 Noel Weeks finds that names like Nakhur (Nahor) and Banuyamina (Benjamin) in the Mari tablets “may confirm the northern Mesopotamian origin of the patriarchs,”90 while James L. Kelso rests everything on the proposition that Abraham “was a caravaneer running a trade route from Haran to Damascus to Egypt.”91 In the Ebla tablets the key passage is “a reference to ‘Ur in Haran.'” “Does this mean,” asks the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, “that the Ur from which Abraham originally came was near Haran rather than 1,000 miles further away in southern Mesopotamia where ‘Ur of the Chaldees’ is supposedly located?”92 This source is to be taken seriously in view of the fact that it mentions not only Abraham’s Cities of the Plain in their correct geographical setting, but also Canaan, Haran, and “Harran in the territory of Ur.”93

Granted that Abraham could be found in the Haran area, what about Pharaoh’s priest? He, it would seem, held a double office, for “the priest of Elkenah was also the priest of Pharaoh” (Abraham 1:7). This was only a temporary state of affairs, however, for Abraham’s “now at this time it was the custom” (Abraham 1:8) definitely implies that at the time of writing it was no longer so. Theodor Böhl’s observation that when the curtain rises on the patriarchal dramas “Egypt no longer rules Canaan” suits well with the picture in the Book of Abraham where Pharaoh rules in Canaan only at the outset.94 Also consistent with the modern reconstruction of the picture is the mixture of outlandish “strange gods,” among whose number was counted “a god like unto that of Pharaoh.” This is borne out by Abraham’s careful specification that the sacrifices were made “even after the manner of the Egyptians,” clearly implying that there was another tradition. One of the deities was “the god of Pharaoh” and the other “the god of Shagreel,” who, we are flatly told, “was the sun.” That deserves a brief notice.

The old desert tribes—whose beliefs and practices, as Albrecht Alt has demonstrated at length, are of primary importance in understanding the background of the Abraham traditions95—worshipped the star Sirius under the name of Shighre or Shaghre, and Shagre-el in their idiom means “Shagre is God.” Sirius is interesting in ritual because of its unique association, amounting at times to identity with the sun. Shighre, according to Lane’s Dictionary, designates whatever star is at the moment the brightest object in the heavens.96 Raymond O. Faulkner has emphasized the identity of the king (the original Roi Soleil) with Sirius.97 The king of Egypt in the rites of On is able, “with the Dog Star [Sirius] as a guide,” to find the place of resurrection at “the Primeval Hill, an island . . . pre-eminently suitable for a resurrection from death.”98 The most important event in the history of the universe, according to the Egyptians, was the heliacal rising of Sirius, when Sirius, the sun, and the Nile all rose together in the morning of the New Year, the Day of Creation, as officially proclaimed from the great observatory of Heliopolis.99 Without expanding on the theme, it will be enough here to note that the sun, the hill, and Sirius are inseparably connected in the rites, as they are in the Book of Abraham, where we find “the god of Pharaoh, and also . . . the god of Shagreel . . . the sun” receiving sacrifices side by side at Potiphar’s Hill (Abraham 1:9).

Since the above paragraph was written, the name of Shigr (vowel unknown) “has turned up in a Ugaritic sacrificial list,” i.e., as a local god receiving sacrifices in Canaan, and “though the data are quite scarce,” according to Jacob Hoftijzer, even the gender of the name being uncertain, this deity, to whom “mighty acts” are attributed, may be “linked with Astar and . . . Ashtarte,” to whom we refer presently.100 Thus Shigr now moves beyond the realm of Arabic tradition into the very time, place, and situation most vividly suggested by the Book of Abraham Shagreel.

Incidentally, Potiphar meant “given of Re (the Sun),” and Abraham’s native city, Aram Naharaim, was originally called Phathur or Petor, which may be a derivative.101 It was an old cult place,102 and of recent years attention has been drawn to the fact that all the main events of Abraham’s life seem to take place at ancient cult centers.103

Pharaoh and Canaan—Visiting Celebrities

That “country in the Haran region which the Bible calls Aram of the Two Rivers” was that Naharina (“Two Rivers”) which Martin Gemoll describes as “the classic land of the Chaldeans between Ararat and Mesopotamia,”104 which contained that “Ur in Haran,” which the Ebla tablets now identify as the most likely home of Abraham. It was a land that figures largely in the dynastic histories of the New Kingdom of Egypt, and important members of the royal family came from there. The annals of the great Eighteenth Dynasty have much to say of the heroic pharaohs and their daring campaigns in that part of the world. Their stories depict the conquerors in a formal ritualistic capacity consistent with their divine callings, but at the same time are full of romantic and human excitement. Thus Amenophis II, while telling how the Mitanni and Naharina brought tribute to him, takes special pride in his personal prowess with the bow (fig. 33), in which he excelled even the chiefs of the hill tribes of Retenu.105 His son Amenophis III married the famous Queen Tiy, the daughter of a great prince who ruled from Karay in the south to Naharina in the north,106 and later took to wife also the famous daughter of the Lord of the Mitanni. To his forefather, the great Thotmes III, the lands of Chaldea, Naharin, and Shinar (the biblical Shinar in northern Mesopotamia) all brought their tribute together.107

In dealing with these various lands, as William H. Stiebing points out, little is to be learned by attempting to make sharp distinctions of time and place, for we are concerned with “a cultural period” rather than a “chunk of time,” during which “Palestine formed one cultural province with little diversity or local variation,” in which “quite possibly, Amorites and Canaanites were ethnically and culturally identical.”108

The most interesting ties between the court of Egypt and the Abraham country are a number of tales that might rightly be called missionary stories, all having to do with healing missions between the two lands, in all of which the leading character is a princess—like Sarah.

We begin with the famous Bentresh or Bakhtan stele (fig. 34).109 It tells how it had been the custom of Pharaoh to make a trip every year to Naharina, where all the local rulers would hasten to pay him homage, rivaling each other in the richness of their gifts. On one occasion, the great idol, Khonsu of Thebes, as the special god of Pharaoh, was sent to that land to heal the daughter of the king of Bakhtan. Having miraculously fulfilled its mission, the image was retained in the land for over three years, during which time the gods of the surrounding regions (i.e., their idols) would come to Bakhtan to attend solemn annual rites in its honor. Finally, the god Khonsu appeared to the King of Bakhtan in a dream in the guise of the Horus-hawk, i.e., Pharaoh himself, in which form he flew back to Egypt. The king took the hint and returned the idol to Thebes with accumulated glory.

The Bentresh romance receives support from a better-attested historical event of the same type, namely the account of how the Lord of Mitanni (also in Naharina) sent his beautiful daughter (some believe it was none other than the gorgeous Nefertiti) to Egypt to become the wife of the aged and uxorious Amenophis III (fig. 35). She brought with her the image of Ishtar of Nineveh, the idolatrous deity of another great king, to heal the ailing pharaoh and to become a center of missionary activity. The ancient correspondence arranging the affair recalls that the same Ishtar of Nineveh had made such a courtesy call to Egypt years before under an earlier reign and had at that time been greatly honored in the land.110

An odd coincidence of the later journey deserves mention. For we learn from a scarab of Amenophis III that on her missionary junket from Naharina to Egypt the Princess Gilukhipa was accompanied by a train of 317 harem ladies, which with herself made a pious band of 318.111 That number of 318 has always intrigued the doctors of the church and the rabbis alike, who have seen in it all manner of mystic symbolism, for that was the number of male converts that Abraham had made and joined to his household in Haran, and who also accompanied him out of the land of Naharina when he sallied forth on his fateful missionary calling into Canaan and Egypt.

In the stories of Bentresh, of Gilukhipa, of the earlier visit of Ishtar, and of Sarah in Egypt (in the Genesis Apocryphon), we see how royal missionaries circulated between Naharina and Egypt, making their conversions by healing members of the royal family on both sides of the line, a sort of stock theme that brings Sarah and Abraham into the picture. We also see how “the idolatrous god of Pharaoh” could visit “Ur of the Chaldees” to receive the homage of local idols, however strange the situation may have sounded to the critics of Facsimile 1. A surprising wealth of Egyptian and Asiatic lore revolves around the four particular idols depicted in Facsimile 1, but for the present the general situation suffices.

With a few bold, confident strokes, the Book of Abraham not only evokes the romantic and adventurous qualities of the Hebrew Abraham legends while recalling the details of those stories, but it also catches the spirit and sets the scene for an Egyptian idyll that is surprisingly akin to the ancient romances and annals celebrating the influence of Pharaoh in Canaan. The Princess of the Mitanni, with missionary zeal, brings the image of the Lady of Nineveh to help her restore the vitality of a failing pharaoh; another pharaoh is smitten with impotence and then healed when his relationship with Sarah, another princess, from “the classic land of the Chaldeans” is properly established. The same thing happens twice, with Sarah and Rebecca, to the king of Gernar. Wenamon, an Egyptian emissary and missionary of Amon to Palestine, was saved from death in Cyprus by the timely interposition of a queen during a religious ceremony. And the great Odysseus was saved when he clasped the knees of another queen in the palace of Phaeacia, another romantic island. These episodes seem to belong to the stock heroic repertory of the eastern Mediterranean just after the middle of the first millennium B.C., which also supplies us with an abundance of romances recalling in detail the story of Abraham on the altar, the most famous of such accounts being the Busiris stories of Egypt.112

And yet we can go back more than five hundred years earlier to the early Middle Kingdom, to the most famous of all Egyptian romances, and find yet another hero from Canaan and Naharina in mortal dread of an offended pharaoh, saved by the intercession of a gracious queen in the palace. This is our friend Sinuhe.113

Sinuhe’s story begins, like Abraham’s, with the hero under dire necessity of running away from home (cf. Abraham 1:1). After a harrowing journey in the desert, where he almost died of thirst, he was taken into the family of a great chief of the Retenu, who valued his knowledge of Egyptian—a clear indication of long-standing Egyptian influence in the area. The chief had heard about him from Egyptian visitors to his country, for like Abraham, Sinuhe had acquired something of a reputation for wisdom throughout the Near East, his fame having spread from the Egyptian court. Like Abraham also, Sinuhe was an outcast by his own choice, who through his prudence, courage, and courtesy acquired great herds and riches, becoming a wise and hospitable leader and benefactor of the people of his adopted tribes. He drove marauding bands from the pastures and wells of his friends, as did Abraham; and, like Abraham, he was forgiven for an unwilling offense to Pharaoh and loaded with royal gifts—courtly garments and ointments—for he was a prince in his own right. While Sinuhe was still in Naharina, Pharaoh summoned the princes of the four principal surrounding regions to testify as character witnesses for the hero, reminding us of the four canopic figures invited to Abraham’s reception, which, we are told in the Book of Abraham, represented the four regions and were identified with local kingdoms, coming to offer homage to the idolatrous god of Pharaoh in Abraham’s Ur of the Chaldees. As we have seen, the latest study of Sinuhe treats it as a ritual, specifically an initiation text.

Along with Sinuhe’s story, the Tale of the Two Brothers114 also qualifies as a ritual and initiation text. Here again familiar “patriarchal” motifs have attracted the notice of scholars from the beginning, in particular the striking parallel to the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife with which the account begins. As a result of such a domestic triangle, Bata, the exploited and overworked younger brother, is forced to flee his homeland (Abraham and Joseph again), settling down in the Valley of the Cedar, which can only be Canaan, the land where the conifers (ash) grow on the mountains. There Bata built himself a magnificently furnished palace to which the local gods of all the surrounding lands would gather to pay him homage: “Hail Bata,” they greet him. “Have you abandoned your city because of your brother’s wife? Behold, he has slain her, and until you return there is great mourning in the land.” At once numerous rites and legends spring to mind: the romantic triangles of the Heroic Age. Here the story culminates in the sacrificial death of Bata at the great year rite ordered by Pharaoh at the persuasion of a wanton queen—exactly matching an important Abraham legend.115 The main thing to note here is that in this tale of some antiquity we again find an Egyptian prince being royally received at an assembly of local gods in the land of the Chaldees. When the Lady has been brought to Egypt from the Valley of Cedar, she instigates the sacrifice of Bata in the form of a bull at a great festival held by Pharaoh, which takes us back to Abraham on the altar where, in the Jewish legends, he is placed in jeopardy by the machinations of the wicked hierodules.

Yet another tale, the Tale of the Doomed Prince,116 starts out on an Abraham theme with a childless king praying for a son, as Abraham did for Isaac. His prayer is answered, but the babe is put under a curse, to keep him safe from the effects of which he is shut up in a high tower. This recalls the like precautions taken to save the babe Abraham when a jealous king of Babylon sought his life. The prince, grown older, escapes from the tower, goes forth into the desert, and comes to Naharina. Upon his arrival there, all the local princes come to greet him and pay their respects “to the prince of Egypt.” They tell him how the great overlord of Naharina has shut his daughter up in a high tower with seventy windows seventy cubits above the ground; all the princes of the land have tried to win her hand by climbing up to her but all have failed. Again we are reminded how Nimrod shut all the young women of the land in a high tower to prevent the conception of Abraham. Naturally the prince of Egypt succeeds in getting the damsel, but the lord of Naharina absolutely refuses to let his daughter marry an Egyptian. This is the ethnic complication that enlivens the famous story of Joseph and Asenath, with elements of the Abraham and Sarah vicissitudes added—it was Pharaoh who kept them apart. In the Doomed Prince version the fair princess threatens to sacrifice herself if she is not allowed to marry her beloved, even as Pharaoh’s daughter Ratha insisted on being sacrificed on the altar rather than be separated from Abraham. Finally the king relents and the lovers are united in the manner of Abraham and Sarah in Egypt and in Gerar. In this story, rivalry between the Egyptian and the princess of Canaan again comes to the fore, with the “Chaldean” princes again paying reluctant homage to the representative and heir of Pharaoh.

The story of Astarte is a tale equally at home in Egypt and Canaan. It is assumed that it was brought to Egypt from the north and became adapted to a Memphite audience.117 While a “romantic interest attached to the Syrian goddess Astarte,” and “her worship spread over almost the entire Near Eastern area,” according to Alan H. Gardiner,118 the story turns up at a very early time among the Hittites and Hurrians far to the north.119 In Egypt it was thoroughly naturalized at Memphis, the ceremonial heart of the land, where Astarte appears as the daughter of Ptah, no less, in whom Theodor H. Gaster sees “simply an Egyptianization” of Baal of Canaan.120 His office in the story is to bestow victory and “kingship eternal” on a monarch—Pharaoh, in this case; it is the old coronation drama.

The central theme of the tale is how the Lady made a journey to Egypt, bringing a payment of tribute as well as a healing influence to the land to appease the troubled forces of nature. Both versions of the myth, Egyptian and Ugaritic (Canaanite), contain important details binding it to the Book of Abraham, which we shall note below; here it will suffice to point out some particulars that bring it into the Egyptian-Canaanite circuit. Thus the overlord of Canaan, Baal, objects to the placing of windows in a palace or tower under construction lest certain virgins, “his daughters (or brides!) . . . abscond or be abducted through them.”121 This is not only an old Egyptian motif, as we have just seen, but is an important theme in the Abraham legends;122 it was in Canaan that Abimelech looked out of the window at Rebecca (Genesis 26:8; cf. 2 Samuel 11:2). Again, a message is carried to Astarte by a messenger bird, who sings the telegram under her window, thus identifying the story firmly with the Solomon-Sheba cycle, in which Solomon’s hoopoe carries his message to the queen, flying with it through the window. Scholars have also noted the undeniable ties with the old Egyptian story of the Two Brothers—the tower motif among them.123

Right on the border between Egypt and Canaan was discovered the so-called al-Arish shrine, a naos cut from a single block of granite (fig. 36) and covered with inscriptions telling an epic tale to which we shall refer below. Here it suffices to recall that the happy ending of the story calls for a great celebration in Memphis to which Pharaoh invites or rather summons all the Asiatics to be present before the throne of the universe where stand the four idols of Pharaoh.124 So again we find “the [four] idolatrous gods of Pharaoh” meeting together with Canaanites and Egyptians in a great common year-rite.

From all this it would appear that the situation depicted and explained in the Book of Abraham, with the idolatrous gods of a country for which the designation “Ur of the Chaldees” can now be fully justified participating in yearly sacrificial rites involving both Egypt and Canaan, far from being a wild fantasy of Joseph Smith, was really the correct routine situation.


1. James L. Kelso, “Abraham as Archaeology Knows Him,” Perspective 13 (Winter 1972): 21.

2. Jan Assmann, “Das ägyptische Zweibrüdermärchen (Papyrus d’Orbiney),” ZÄS 104 (1977): 5.

3.   Hugh W. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 73 (April 1970): 79—82; reprinted in this volume, pp. 343—81.

4. Assmann, “Ägyptische Zweibrüdermärchen,” 19—20.

5. Ibid., 23—24.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Strother Purdy, “Sinuhe and the Question of Literary Types,” ZÄS 104 (1977): 112.

9. Ibid., 113.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 119.

12. Ibid., 114.

13. Ibid., 117.

14. Ibid., 123—25.

15. Ibid., 127.

16. Hugh W. Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1975), 75—76.

17. Adriaan de Buck, The Egyptian Readingbook (Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1963), 100—106.

18. Pyramid Texts, Utterance 422, nos. 752—64.

19. See Eugene D. Welch, “The Lebensmüde and Its Relationship to the Harpers’ Songs of the Middle-New Kingdoms” (Ph.D. diss., Brandeis University, 1978).

20. Purdy, “Sinuhe and the Question of Literary Types,” 120.

21. Herbert Werner, Abraham der Erstling und Repräsentant Israels (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1965), 70.

22. Purdy, “Sinuhe and the Question of Literary Types,” 124.

23. Erik Hornung, Das Amduat: Die Schrift des verborgenen Raumes, 3 vols. (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1963—67), 1:62—74.

24. Bendt Alster, “The Paradigmatic Character of Mesopotamian Heroes,” Revue d’Assyriologie 68 (1974): 51, 60.

25. Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955), 34, 37, as quoted in Alster, “Paradigmatic Character of Mesopotamian Heroes,” 51.

26. Nikolaus Schneider, “Götterthrone in Ur III und ihr Kult,” Orientalia 16 (1947): 59.

27. Nibley, Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri.

28. Alster, “Paradigmatic Character of Mesopotamian Heroes,” 51—54.

29. Geo Widengren, “Early Hebrew Myths and Their Interpretation,” in Myth, Ritual and Kingship, ed. Samuel H. Hooke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958), 158.

30. Marcel Mauss, “Critique interne de la ‘Legende d’Abraham,'” REJ 82 (1926): 35.

31. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (January 1969): 28—31.

32. Ibid., IE 72 (April 1969): 69—72.

33. Ibid., IE 72 (May 1969): 88.

34. Ibid., IE 72 (March 1969): 76—84.

35. Nahman Avigad and Yigael Yadin, eds., A Genesis Apocryphon (Jerusalem: Hebrew University Press, 1956), col. 20:9, 26—34.

36. Clementine Recognitions III, 61, in PG 1:1308—9.

37. Bernard Chapira, “Légendes bibliques attribuées à Kaʿb el-Ahbar,” REJ 69 (1919): 101.

38. Ben Zion Wacholder, “How Long Did Abraham Stay in Egypt?” Hebrew Union College Annual 35 (1964): 43—45.

39. Ibid., 45.

40. Bruno H. Stricker, “De Wijsheid van Anchsjesjonq,” JEOL 15 (1958): 14.

41. Bernhard Beer, Leben Abraham’s nach Auffassung der jüdischen Sage (Leipzig: Leiner, 1859), 194 n. 853.

42. Ephraim Stern, “Phineas,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 13:465—66.

43. Stricker, “Wijsheid van Anchsjesjonq,” 15—33.

44. Werner Foerster, From the Exile to Christ (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964), 141.

45. Werner G. Kümmel, “Christian Dietzfelbinger Pseudo-Philo: Antiquitates Biblicae (Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum),” in Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit, 6 vols. (Gütersloh: Mohr, 1975), 1:117 n. 18b.

46.   Wolf Leslau, trans., “Teū’eūzaēza Sanbat,” in Falasha Anthology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951), 28 n. 195.

47. Micha J. bin Gorion, Die Sagen der Juden, 5 vols. (Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening, 1913—27), 2:188.

48. Beer, Leben Abraham’s, 148.

49. Ibid., 35.

50. Bin Gorion, Sagen der Juden, 2:148—53.

51. Beer, Leben Abraham’s, 128.

52. Israel Lévi, “Le lait de la mère et le coffre flottant,” REJ 59 (1910): 9—10.

53. Qur’an, Sūra 40:37.

54. Chapira, “Légendes bibliques attribués à Kaʿb el-Ahbar,” 94.

55. Ibid.; Isidore Loeb, review of Le Mistére du Viel Testament, by James de Rothschild, REJ 4 (1882): 304.

56. Chapira, “Légendes bibliques attribués à Kaʿb el-Ahbar,” 94.

57. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 1:177—81.

58. Gustav Weil, The Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud (New York: Harper, 1846), 145.

59. Beer, Leben Abraham’s, 16, 112.

60. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (February 1969): 64—67; (March 1969): 76—84.

61. Ibid., IE 73 (April 1970): 79—95; reprinted in this volume as chapter 7, “The Sacrifice of Sarah.”

62. Alexandre Moret, Histoire de l’Orient (Paris: Presses universitaires, 1929), 726.

63. Cf. Ibrahim Harari, “Nature de la stèle de donation de fonction du roi Ahmôsis à la reine Ahmès-Nefertari,” ASAE 56 (1959): 139—201.

64. Hermann Kees, Aegypten (Munich: Beck, 1933), 172.

65. Peter Kaplony, “Eine neue Weisheitslehre aus dem alten Reich,” Orientalia 37 (1968): 1—62, 339—45.

66. Peter Kaplony, “Das Vorbild des Königs unter Sesostris III,” Orientalia 35 (1966): 405.

67. Rudolf Anthes, “Egyptian Theology in the Third Millennium B.C.,” JNES 18 (July 1959): 181.

68. Hermann Kees, review of La divinité du pharaon, by Georges Posener, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 64 (1962): 476—77.

69. François Daumas, “Le sens de la royauté égyptienne à propos d’un livre récent,” RHR 160 (1961): 136, quoting Georges Posener, De la divinité du pharaon (Paris: Societé Asiatique, 1961), 103.

70. Kees, review of Divinité du pharaon, 476—77.

71. Siegfried Morenz, Äegyptische Religion (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960), 260.

72. Max Pieper, Die grosse Inschrift des Königs Neferhotep in Abydos (Leipzig: Hinrichs 1929), 13—14.

73. Josephus, Against Apion I, 232—36.

74. Euguene Revillout, “Le reclus du Sérapéum, sa bibliothèque et ses occupations mystiques,” Revue Égyptologique 1—2 (1880—82): 160—63; 143—45.

75. Francis L. Griffith, Stories of the High Priests of Memphis (Oxford: Clarendon, 1900), 20.

76. Henri Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion (New York: Harper, 1961), 81.

77. Ibid., 85.

78. Ibid., 81.

79. Daumas, “Sens de la royauté égyptienne,” 147.

80. Siegfried Morenz, Gott und Mensch im alten Ägypten (Leipzig: Koehler and Amelang, 1984), 24.

81. Edwyn R. Bevan, Sibyls and Seers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1929), 99—100.

82. Itinerarium Alexandri 50—52, in Fontes Historiae Religionis Aegyptiacae, comp. Theodor Hopfner (Bonn: Marcus and Weber, 1924), 512.

83. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (February 1969): 67; (March 1969): 76—85; (April 1969): 66—72.

84. Franklin S. Spalding, Joseph Smith Jr. as a Translator (Salt Lake City: Arrow, 1912), 28.

85. Robert Martin-Achard, Actualité d’Abraham (Neuchatel: Delachaux and Niestlé, 1969), 130—37.

86. Cyrus Gordon, “Where Is Abraham’s Ur?” BAR 2 (June 1977): 52.

87. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (April 1969): 66—72.

88. Martin-Achard, Actualité d’Abraham, 14.

89. Gordon, “Where Is Abraham’s Ur?” 20.

90. Noel Weeks, “Man, Nuzi and the Patriarchs,” Abr-Nahrain 16 (1975—76): 74.

91. Kelso, “Abraham as Archaeology Knows Him,” 7.

92. “The Promise of Ebla” (editorial), BAR 2 (December 1976): 42.

93. Ibid.; David N. Freedman, “The Real Story of the Ebla Tablets,” Biblical Archaeologist 41 (December 1978): 148—64.

94. F. M. Theodor de Liagre Böhl, “Babel und Bibel (Pt. II),” JEOL 17 (1964): 138—39.

95. Albrecht Alt, Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, trans. R. A. Wilson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1966), 30—45.

96. Edward W. Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon, 8 vols. (London: Williams and Norgate, 1863), s.v. “shigre.”

97. Raymond O. Faulkner, “The King and the Star-Religion in the Pyramid Texts,” JNES 25 (1966): 158—59.

98. Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 120.

99. Faulkner, “King and the Star-Religion in the Pyramid Texts,” 159—60.

100. Jacob Hoftijzer, “The Prophet Balaam in a 6th Century Aramaic Inscription,” Biblical Archaeologist 39 (March 1976): 15—16.

101. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (March 1969): 80—81.

102. Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1909—13), 1:298—99; Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (March 1969): 82.

103. Alt, Essays on Old Testament History and Religion, 3—77.

104. Martin Gemoll, Israeliten und Hyksos (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1913), 36—37.

105. James H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, 4 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1906—7), 2:310.

106. Ibid., 2:345.

107. Ibid., 2:204 n. b.

108. William H. Stiebing, “When Was the Age of the Patriarchs?—of Amorites, Canaanites, and Archaeology,” BAR 1 (June 1975): 17, 21.

109. De Buck, Egyptian Readingbook, 106—9; Paul Tresson, “Un curieux cas d’exorcisme dans l’antiquité: La stèle égyptienne de Bakhtan,” Revue biblique 42 (1933): 57—78; Adolf Erman, “Die Bentreschstele,” ZÄS 21 (1883): 54—60.

110. Moret, Histoire de l’Orient, 504—7.

111. De Buck, Egyptian Readingbook, 67.

112.   Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (November 1969): 116—17; reprinted in this volume, pp. 182—89; ibid., IE 73 (April 1970): 84—95; in this volume, pp. 356—76.

113. Aylward M. Blackman, Middle-Egyptian Stories (Brussels: Fondation égyptologique reine Elisabeth, 1932), 1—41.

114. “The Tale of the Two Brothers,” in Alan H. Gardiner, Late Egyptian Stories (Brussels: Fondation Égyptologique reine Élisabeth, 1932), 9—30; cf. n. 2.

115. Nibley, “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” IE 72 (February 1969): 65—67.

116. “The Tale of the Doomed Prince,” in Gardiner, Late Egyptian Stories, 1—9.

117. Theodor H. Gaster, “The Egyptian ‘Story of Astarte’ and the Ugaritic Poem of Baal,” BiOr 9 (1952): 84.

118. Alan H. Gardiner, “The Astarte Papyrus,” in Studies Presented to F. L. Griffith (London: Oxford University Press, 1932), 74.

119. Gaster, “Egyptian ‘Story of Astarte’ and the Ugaritic Poem of Baal,” 84.

120. Ibid., 83.

121. Ibid.

122. Beer, Leben Abraham’s, 2.

123.   Gardiner, “Astarte Papyrus,” 77.

124. M. Georges Goyon, “Les Travaux de Chou et les tribulations de Geb, d’après le Naos 2248 d’Ismaîlia,” Kêmi 6 (1936): 18, 37—38.