LDS Scholar Ed Goble's transtextual "Shulem"
interpretation focuses on the last four symbols in
front of figure 5, Book of Abraham
Facsimile No. 3. These four symbols follow immediately after the hieratic
Egyptian characters which read, "Osiris Hor the justified". Converted
from hieratic script to pictorial hieroglyphs, the four symbols
more clearly depict (in descending order) a mouth (),
a serpent (),
a small bread loaf (),
and the symbol for a flat, fertile land with seeds beneath the soil ().
In solving the Shulam cryptogram, Ed keeps these four symbols in the same
order in which they appear in the Egyptian text. Ed treats the Egyptian
symbols as an esoteric word game, and applies the following uniform approach
to revealing hidden meaning:
First Ed identifies an equivalent Hebrew word for each of
the four symbols. He then puts the separate Hebrew words together in a seemingly meaningless string. After that, he
repartitions the string, having perceived new meanings in new parts based on
what each part sounds
like in Hebrew.
Ed will agree that this is not the only possible approach to finding transtextual
meaning in Egyptian symbols, but Ed's approach is remarkably fruitful and straight forward.
There is another "translation" of
the figure 5 symbols, which demonstrates a wider range of interpretive
options. These are general options that Joseph Smith's Egyptians
could have resorted
to in revealing meanings beyond the obvious intent of Egyptian texts.
Hieroglyphic equivalents of characters above the hand of figure 5
are subject to various interpretive
One option is based on the understanding that the symbols can be rearranged. There is
precedence for this in Joseph Smith's
"translation" of the opening line from the Amenhotep papyrus.
This is discussed in "Princess of On":
Take for instance the
temple flag symbol (,
Gardiner's R8), which designates divinity
(a god). This symbol is included with the symbols representing Osiris. This
symbol can be removed without changing the phonetic spelling of Osiris ("Wsir",
spelled with the throne (Gardiner's Q1)
eye (Gardiner's D4)
symbol). We will use the flag symbol later - at the very end of the transtextual "translation".
The temple flag
appears with the top most characters in the first column, above the falcon
These symbols are all above the hand of
figure 5. Include the falcon with the symbols above it, and we get the title of the deceased "Wsir Hr", or "Osiris Hor":
Rearranging these symbols, and
reading them right to left like
Hebrew, we get:
= Wsir Hr = Osiris Hor (symbol of divinity, "god" removed to be used
[represents] is implied
= Shu-lehem (לחם)
Thus the upper characters above the hand of figure 5 spell
the Egyptian name of the owner of the papyrus scroll - Osiris Hor. This is the
Egyptian name of the same figure representing "Shulem" in Joseph Smith's Ah-meh-strah-an
styled reinterpretation. The Prophet's explanation to figure 5: "Shulem,
one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above
his hand" is true in even a direct sense. The character "Osiris Hor" represents "Shulem".
The name "Shulem" is revealed by making use of another
interpretive option: putting together symbols associated with sounds, the
combination of which simulates a word, or name. In this case the Egyptian
(, Gardiner's H6)
+ the Hebrew word for bread (),
simulates "Shulem". This was noted in "Abraham in Egypt and the Papyrus Solar Ferry",
Note , "JOSEPH SMITH LEARNS TO THINK LIKE AN AH-MEH-STRAH-AN", Fig. 5.
The name "Shulem" could be a form of "Shaulam" (שאולם).
The feather comes from the Egyptian symbols that read "justified"
in the line "Osiris Hor, the justified ..." Do you see a parallelism at work in the Egyptian symbols representing justification
()? The feather is to the lighter medium
(air), as the oar is to the denser medium (water),
possibly suggesting: “As above, so below – justified.”
Re-associating the feather and oar symbols with other
symbols, we may see other parallel meanings:
Take for example the goddess of truth (Maat), represented by the Shu
feather (), holding the hand of the Hebrew servant
trusted to bring bread
to the king. We will shortly consider a similar theme in the oar like tilling tool
combined with the fertile earth symbol. Note the theme of the Shu feather,
bread and western land (representing the afterlife, Sheol,
tied to the word "shaal" (שאל), as in Shaulam)
in the characters just to the left of Maat (on her right) in Facsimile No.
Characters associated with figure 4, read
Lady of the western
hill-country [indicative of the afterlife, Hebrew Sheol (שאול),
place of inquiry, suggesting "shaal" (שאל), as in Shaulam,
the head waiter whose name could mean requested of them]".
= sar (שר) = prince, chief of
Here we make use of another interpretive option: allowing the cobra symbol to represent the sound of the first letter spelling the
Hebrew word for fiery serpent, "saraph"
The last letter in the spelling of "saraph" is the symbol "pey"
which means "mouth". It just so happens that the Egyptian
mouth symbol, placed after the saraph, makes an "r"
imitating the Hebrew word "sar"
as in "sar ha-mashqim", "chief of
the butlers" (Genesis 40:2).
But instead of "the butlers", we have chief of
ha (ה) - mashot (משוט) +
(הארץ) + ayv (יו)
(המשרתיו) = the waiters of him
(1 Kings 10:5,
2 Chronicles 9:4)
See also Tehilah 103:21;
Here the duck, with its wings spread out in flight (Gardiner's G40), is
taken to be equivalent to a Hebrew
letter hey (ה). The letter hey attached at the beginning
of a noun typically designates "the". In fact, the letter hey was
long ago represented by a man with his
arms spread out ().
Next, the Hebrew word for "oar",
is combined with "the land",
and made plural, and third person
(masculine) possessive with the letters
added at the end.
The temple banner symbol in hieratic script
is a look-alike for the Hebrew
This demonstrates a look-alike interpretive option.
שוט, the root of the word
(oar), means to push forth, lash, whip, go about, go through, to and fro. (Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius
7751, 7752, pp. 1001 -1002) The
symbol of the oar combined with the fertile land, brings to mind moving back
and forth, working the land. From the implied symbolism alone one may think
to replace "mashot + ha-arets" (oar + the land) with "mesharet" (servant).
The Hebrew root of the noun "mesharet" (minister, waiter, servant) is the verb
(i.e. to minister, serve) noted by Ed Goble.
Put altogether, the symbols above the hand of figure 5 can be seen to mean, "Osiris Hor
[represents] Shulem, a chief of the king's waiters (servants)":
שאולם שר המרשתיו
This is remarkably close to
Joseph Smith's "Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as
represented by the characters above his hand."
The fertile land symbol
(), bread (), and
mouth () agree with the essential service
theme of slaves and trusted servants bringing healthy food to the
king. And what shall the ultimate reward of the faithful servants and slaves be?
tell us. Thus the Facsimile No. 3 endowment scene, added to the
Book of Abraham from the Hor Book of Breathings, is a
scene depicting the progress of the soul.
It may be significant that
above the raised arm of Osiris Hor the justified (figure 5, whose head
is anointed with
a cone of aromatic grease, having a lotus blossom
through it; who is fully clothed, and wearing an apron) are the following symbols:
In Hebrew these symbols may be seen as
= "mouth of a serpent", indicating the name
Pinhas (Phinehas), the African/Hebrew priest,
the grandson of Aharon (Aaron), who was endowed with an "everlasting priesthood".
Thus the symbols may also be interpreted to read "Osiris Hor the justified,
as Phinehas the Priest, he shall forever eat the good of the land".
Appropriately, the ancient Hebrew spelling of "Priesthood" is represented by
the adapted Egyptian symbols representing: the palm of the hand,
a man with upraised arms, the serpent (or
sprouting seed), and ending with a
man with upraised arms:
These symbols spell out the feminine word "Kehunah"
Replace the palm of the hand with the full hand
(forearm) extended, and replace the sprouting seed (representing
"Continue, Heir, Son") with the sign of the tent
peg, veil supporting
Isaiah 22:22-25) and the Hebrew word for Priesthood becomes the sacred name of
So that in fully taking upon oneself the Holy Priesthood, one fully takes
upon oneself the sacred name of the Eternal.
This is somewhat similar to the Egyptian priest Hor, in his Book of Breathings, receiving the name of
the resurrected god Osiris. (Isaiah 26:19)
We see that the last Egyptian symbols above the
hand of figure 5, which Ed Goble
chose to focus on in his transtextual interpretation, collectively mean "forever". The determinative
symbol for eternity that goes along with the Egyptian word
for eternity, "d.t" is a symbol of the earth
This may be a key to understanding why Joseph Smith's esoteric Egyptians, the Ah-meh-strah-ans,
who worshipped the Hebrew God
(Isaiah 19:21-22), related the sacred name of
the Eternal to the earth in her
(Facsimile 2, Fig. 1,