Sunday, April 11, 2010

Facsimile 2, Figure 2

For the past week or two I've been reading the new Hugh Nibley book "One Eternal Round". There is a paragraph or two that talks about figure 2 in facsimile number 2 (the hypocephalus) on pages 109 - 110 that I thought was really interesting. Here it is:

"Any point on the rim of a speeding wheel is going either up or down, and no matter how fast the vehicle is moving, that point must stand dead still when it touches the earth - or else the wheel would be skidding. One might call it a singularity, moving up and down at the same time. Yet it is clearly displayed in the important 17th chapter of the Book of the Dead. There we see the sun on the horizon, but it is neither yesterday nor tomorrow...

"The same idea is expressed in Facsimile 2, Figure 2, the two faced god that represents the sun at the zenith and symbolizes the joining together of Re and Osiris... The two come together at, and only at, the indefinable instant of time when the sun reverses its course from a southerly to northerly direction. The Egyptian text explains that this is indeed the combined oneness of Re (who looks forward to the day) with Osiris (who is looking back on it). At that moment his two faces are in both worlds at once, and on some hypocephali the figure is drawn with a double body as well. But it is only for an unthinkable instant, the passing of time from past to future, the fatal paradox or the moment in which we are all living."

I also thought I would add Joseph Smith's commentary on this figure:

"Fig. 2. Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides; holding the key of power also, pertaining to other planets; as revealed from God to Abraham, as he offered sacrifice upon an altar, which he had built unto the Lord."

In BYU Studies, vol. 17 (1976-1977) p. 268 Michael Rhodes gave a translation of facsimile 2 and this is what he had to say about figure 2:

"A two-headed deity wearing the double-plumed crown of Amen, with Ram's horns mounted on it. On his shoulders are jackalheads, and he is holding the jackal standard of Wepwawet. To his right is an altar with offerings on and around it. In most hypocephali, he is holding the ankh, or symbol of life, in his right hand. Also to his right a line of hieroglyphics reading: "The name of this Mighty God.

"P.J. de Horrack considers this to be Amen-Re; the two heads illustrating the hidden and mysterious power of Amen combined with the visible and luminous power of Re. fn William Petrie agrees that it is Amen-Re, but sees the two heads as representing the rising and setting sun. fn That the deity is a form of Amen is clear from the fact that he is wearing the double plume crown mentioned in chapter 162 of the Book of the Dead, but why he has jackals' heads on his shoulders and is holding a jackal standard is not so evident. The jackal is generally is used as a symbol of Anubis and Wepwawet, both funerary gods. Anubis being specifically the god assigned to guide the dead through the afterworld to the throne of Osiris. Perhaps due to the funerary character of the hypocephalus, it was thought that Amen should also carry emblems indicative of his power over that realm as well.

"Again, we can compare here the significance ascribed to these characters by Joseph Smith. Where the hypocephalus depicts the two-headed deity holding the symbol of life or power over death, Joseph mentions "holding the key of power." Where an altar is shown, Joseph identifies the principle of "sacrifice upon an altar" as revealed by God to Abraham. A hidden power seems to be associated with the name of the two-headed God, who probably serves as a guide for the dead bring them into the presence of God. This might concur with Joseph's explanation that this figure "stands next to Kolob," as a guide surely must do if the is going to be able to lead the dead to God."


  1. I wish you were with us when we went to Luxor, I know we missed so much because we had little idea what we were looking at.

  2. Yeah that would have been super fun. I really don't know much about Egypt however so I probably wouldn't have been much help. Maybe Ellie and I will make it out there at some point. Who knows?