"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
May 23, 2014
Of Crocodiles and Kings
by Jeff Lindsay

Facsimile 1 in the Book of Abraham shows an Egyptian priest of Pharaoh attempting to slay Abraham on an altar. The figure shows canopic vessels under the altar, and beneath the feet of the priest is a crocodile.

Joseph Smith's explanation of the crocodile, printed with the facsimile, is that it represents the "idolatrous god of Pharaoh." This may be the Egyptian crocodile god Sobek, now known to have been venerated in Mesopotamia during what may have been Abraham's time.

The Egyptian god Sobek

See "Sobek: The Idolatrous God of Pharaoh Amenemhet III" (PDF) by Quinten Barney, Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, 22/2 (2013): 22-27.

A story in the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith's interpretation of at least part of Facsimile 1 now has increased plausibility. This is one of several recently recognized examples of ancient Egyptian influence in Mesopotamia and adjoining areas, consistent with some elements in the Book of Abraham.

I mention this and some related issues on my Mormon Answers (LDSFAQ) page about the Book of Abraham (Part 2), which includes some evidences for the plausibility or authenticity of the BOA. See also Part 3, "Ancient Evidences for the Book of Abraham: Other Records Confirm its Story." 

By the way, Barney's article appears in the last ever issue of the Journal of the Book of Mormon. Sigh. That apologetic torch appears to have been passed on to the Mormon Interpreter and other resources. 

That final issue contained some real gems, such as John Gee's speculative but intriguing suggestion that Olishem in the Book of Abraham may have been discovered. Will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Below is Facs. 1. The idolatrous god of Pharaoh is the crocodile at the bottom, Figure 9.

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.

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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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