Facsimile 2 – Egyptian God Min

Facsimile #2 and the Egyptian God Min

As with so many other interpretations advanced by The CES Letter, this simplistic explanation of the Min figure is incomplete.

One of Min's attributes was that of a fertility god, or a god of procreation. He is often portrayed as a man sitting on a throne and is referred to as a god of creation, the father, etc. The figure of Min was simply called "the great god" by the Egyptians themselves.

A more complete explanation is given by Michael D. Rhodes, who studied Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University, the Free University of Berlin and the University of Oxford: 

A seated ithyphallic god with a hawk's tail, holding aloft a flail. This is a form of Min, the god of the regenerative, procreative forces of nature, perhaps combined with Horus, as the hawk's tail would seem to indicate. Before the god is what appears to be a bird presenting him with a Wedjat-eye, the symbol of all good gifts. In other hypocephali it can also be an ape, a snake, or a hawk-headed snake that is presenting the eye.

This figure represents Nehebka, a snake god and one of the judges of the dead in the 125th chapter of the Book of the Dead. Nehebka was considered to be a provider of life and nourishment and as such was often shown presenting a pair of jars or a Wedjat-eye. As for the bird found in Facsimile 2, this could symbolize the Ba or soul (which the Egyptians often represented as a bird) presenting the Wedjat-eye to the seated god.

Joseph Smith said this figure represented God sitting upon his throne revealing the grand key-words of the priesthood. . .  Joseph also explained there was a representation of the sign of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove. The Egyptians commonly portrayed the soul or spirit as a bird, so a bird is an appropriate symbol for the Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith explained that the remaining figures contained writings that cannot be revealed to the world. Stressing the secrecy of these things is entirely in harmony with Egyptian religious documents such as the hypocephalus and the 162nd chapter of the Book of the Dead. For example, we read in the 162nd chapter of the Book of the Dead, “This is a great and secret book. Do not allow anyone's eyes to see it!”

Joseph also says line 8 “is to be had in the Holy Temple of God.” Line 8 reads, “Grant that the soul of the Osiris, Shishaq, may live (eternally).” Since the designated purpose of the hypocephalus was to make the deceased divine, it is not unreasonable to see here a reference to the sacred ordinances performed in our Latter-day temples.

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Christina Riggs, who specializes in ancient Egyptian art, concludes, “Near naked goddesses, gods with erections, and cults for virile animals, like bulls, make sense in [ancient Egyptian] religious imagery because they captured the miracle of life creating new life.”

Karel Van der Toorn describes Min as “represented anthropomorphically as an ithyphallic figure” that “personifies male potency and fertility,” and thus was “regarded as the creator god par excellence” in ancient Egypt, as fertility “can be subsumed under the general notion of creativity.”

At least one Egyptian hypocephalus straightforwardly identifies Min as “the great god,” a fitting match with Joseph Smith’s own interpretation.

The author of The CES Letter appears to want to simply shock his readers into agreeing with him because he is upset by the sexual iconography associated with Min, but this is little more than an appeal to emotion, and not a valid argument.


Book of Abraham/Joseph Smith Papyri/Facsimiles/Facsimile 2/Identification of the ithyphallic Egyptian god "Min" as "God sitting upon his throne"

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