The Names of Moses as “Keywords”

Book of Moses Essay #39

Moses 1:25

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Temple Names as Signposts on the Covenant Pathway

The use of temple names as signposts on the covenant pathway is ancient. It is reflected in the second-century account of the early Christian theologian, Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215 CE). His account is drawn from a group of “initiates” (= Greek mystai) who described the three successive names that they understood to have been given to Moses at different junctures of his life: “‘Joachim,’ given him by his mother at circumcision; ‘Moses,’ given him by Pharaoh’s daughter; and ‘Melchi,’1  a name he had in heaven which was given him, apparently by God, after his ascension.”2  Though interpretations of the name “Melchi” vary, the eminent scholar of Second Temple Judaism, Erwin Goodenough, saw it as representing the “eternal priesthood of Melchizedek,”3  reported in Genesis as being a “king” and “the priest of the Most High God.”4  Going beyond these three names reported in Clement’s account, Moses 1:25 can be seen as the bestowal of a final, fourth name, implied in the divine declaration that Moses is to be “made stronger than many waters.”

Who were the “initiates” from whom Clement received this information? It is possible that he received it as part of his own initiation into the mysteries of Christ, an event to which he alludes indirectly in his own writings.5  Among other things, such mysteries seem to have included unwritten temple teachings not to be shared with new Christian converts or with the world at large.6  In addition, a controversial letter purportedly written by Clement and discovered by Morton Smith, mentions certain “secret” doings and writings that were part of the “hierophantic teaching of the Lord [that would] lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth,” but that were “most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”7  Other alternatives have also been advanced. For example, although Clement “names as his immediate informants a circle of religious savants,” some scholars conclude that “the ultimate source” for this reference “was presumably a written document.”8

In support of the idea that the practice of applying a series of sacred names to individuals was known not only by some early Christians but also hundreds of years earlier in some strands of Second Temple Judaism, we turn to a non-sectarian Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript entitled the Visions of Amram. Texts such as this one might have attracted the attention of groups of Jewish initiates that outsiders called Essenes and Therapeutai about whom the Philo of Alexandria (ca. 15 BCE–45 CE) wrote in treatises with which Clement was very familiar.9  In one of three examples this naming pattern included in the Visions of Amram, an angel identifies his three names as being Michael, Prince of Light, and Melchizedek — the latter being interpreted as a title that means “Ruler of Righteousness.”10  In further support of the idea that the Michael’s third name of Melchizedek is meant as a title rather than as a unique individual name is that it corresponds to the third name of Moses as reported by Clement. Intriguingly, a later passage in the Visions of Amram seems to portend the giving to Moses of his own names.11  The relevant line begins with the words “I will tell you your(?) names,” but unfortunately the text breaks off there and the names are not mentioned elsewhere in the fragments.12

In this Essay, we will argue that the elegantly reflective, multi-lingual nuances of the series of names and titles ascribed to Moses by Clement’s initiates can be seen as various enriched likenesses of himself, interpreted and amplified to reveal the latent character and identity of the prophet as a “God in embryo.”13  Although we cannot know whether the report that a particular series of names was given to Moses is historically authentic, the suggestions remain of interest because the meanings of the names are so remarkably apropos. A series of names of this sort would have helped Moses to discover aspects of his past, present, and future destiny while also enabling him to accomplish his heavenly ascent. It does not seem impossible that the initiates who reported these names may have known that such names were meant to be used as “keywords” in heavenly or ritual ascent.

Below, we will argue that each one of the three “ciphered” names for Moses reported by Clement is rich in meaning when “deciphered” in light of Moses’ premortal and mortal mission. And, remarkably, when the fourth title (“stronger than many waters,” foreshadowing Moses’ eternal destiny) is appended to the rest, each member of the complete set of four names is arguably “present” in Moses 1.

We will begin with a brief overview of the function of names as “keywords” in temple contexts. We will then show how the four names he was purportedly given serve to illuminate Moses’ life and mission. Finally, we offer concluding thoughts about patterns of ritual and heavenly ascent.

Figure 2. J. James Tissot, 1836–1902: Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod Seen from the East, ca. 1886–1894

Temple Names as “Keywords”

The idea of “keywords” has been associated with temples since very early times. In a temple context, the meaning of the term “keyword” can be taken quite literally: the use of the appropriate keyword or keywords by a qualified worshipper “unlocks” each one of a successive series of gates, thus providing access to specific, secured areas of the sacred space.14

In temples throughout the ancient Near East, including Jerusalem, “different temple gates had names indicating the blessing received when entering: ‘the gate of grace,’ ‘the gate of salvation,’ ‘the gate of life,’ and so on,”15  as well as signifying “the fitness, through due preparation, which entrants should have in order to pass through [each one of] the gates.”16  In Jerusalem, the final “gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter,”17  very likely referred to “the innermost temple gate”18  where those seeking the face of the God of Jacob19  would find the fulfillment of their temple pilgrimage. The last gate, like each of those previously encountered, could be opened only to entrants who had passed every prior test. Importantly, these tests were designed not only to demonstrate knowledge relating to specific keywords but also to assess whether the entrant met the qualifications of moral fitness and experience.

These keywords can also be associated with names. As Joseph Smith taught, “The new name is the key word.”20  In this regard, it is important to understand that in each stage of that passage one was expected not only to know something but also to be something.21  Some ancient exegetes went so far as to assert: “all ancient traditions agree that the true name of a living thing reflects precisely its nature or its very essence.”22  For example, as René Guénon illustrates this particular view:23  “It is because Adam had received from God an understanding of the nature of all living things that he was able to give them their names” in the Garden of Eden.24  The idea of a strong connection between names and personal attributes is evident in Old Testament examples of figures such as Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob, who received new names only after they had been sufficiently tested and found worthy of them.25

Figure 3. Harold I. Hopkinson, 1918–2000: The Commissioned

Joachim

The first name, Joachim, meaning “Yahweh has raised up”26  is closely associated with the well-known prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 that speaks of a prophet “like unto” himself that the Lord will later “raise up.”

However, more pertinent to the present discussion than references to later prophets that the Lord would “raise up” is the question of how the meaning of the name “Joachim” — “Yahweh has raised up” — might be shown as being relevant to Moses himself, he being the one to whom these subsequent figures were likened. While no relevant passages justifying the application of the name to Moses are given in the Bible, these allusions to the meaning of the name appear in Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith Translation passages containing the prophecies of Joseph, son of Israel, long prior to Moses’ birth. In one of these passages, the Lord declared that He would surely “raise up” Moses “to deliver [Israel] out of the land of Egypt.”27

Thus, it is apparent that Joachim, the first name said to have been given to Moses — and which would have been consistent with the premortal foreordination he received in anticipation of his earthly mission — would have been completely at home if it had been explicitly included in Moses 1:41. There, the Lord, in subtle wordplay that functions by omission, refers directly to the meaning of the most important element of Moses’ first purported sacred name (“raise up”) without explicitly mentioning the name itself in the English text.

Moses

Figure 4. Arnold Friberg, 1913–2010: The Finding of Moses by the Daughter of Pharaoh, 1953

The Hebrew etymology of Moses is given in Exodus 2:10: “And she called his name Moses [mōšeh] and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.” On the other hand, the commonly accepted Egyptian origin of the name Moses means “begotten” or “born.” Significantly, the Egyptian form of the name Moses is typically paired with the name of a god, e.g., Ramesses (“Rēʿ is begotten”), Thutmose ( “Thoth is begotten”), Ahmose ( “the moon [-god] is begotten”), and so forth.

Despite the surface level differences between the Hebrew and Egyptian etymologies, it can be shown that the two derivations function very well together. To be “drawn” from evokes “birth” imagery of being “drawn” from amniotic waters.28  One can virtually substitute the meaning of the Egyptian verb for the meaning of the Hebrew verb in the explanation for Moses’ name in translation: “And she called his name Moses: and she said, ‘Because I birthed him from the water.’”29

Significantly, the words of Joseph in JST Genesis 50:29 further illuminate the dual derivation of ‘Moses’: “For a seer will I raise up to deliver my people out of the land of Egypt; and he shall be called Moses. And by this name he shall know that he is of thy house; for he shall be nursed by the king’s daughter, and shall be called her son.30

Finally, it should be observed that Moses’ second name, the name he was given by his adoptive mother in Egypt and by which he was known throughout his mortal life, appears a remarkable twenty-five times within the forty-two verses of Moses 1. As we will see later on, the initial Hebrew and Egyptian meanings of the name “Moses” that can be seen in Exodus 2:10 anticipate the richer significance of the name that will unfold in Moses 1:25.

Figure 5. J. James Tissot, 1836–1902: The Offerings of Melchizedek, ca. 1886–1894

Melchi

Erwin Goodenough comments as follows with respect to “Melchi,” the third name of Moses that is reported by Clement: “The significance of ‘Melchi’ is not explained, but it at least suggests the eternal priesthood of Melchizedek.”31  In this context, we concur not only with Goodenough but also with Margaret Barker, who goes on to say that Melchizedek (Melchi-zedek32 ) should be regarded as a title as much as a name.33  According to Barker, the title:34

was associated with the original temple priesthood in Jerusalem, and it was a title that the first Christians gave to Jesus. … The account of Solomon’s enthronement in 1 Chronicles 29 originally described how he became the human presence of the Lord, the king (“I have begotten you with dew” [i.e., with a confirmatory anointing35 ], Psalm 110:3) and also the high priest (“a priest for eternity,” Psalm 110:4). He became Melchi (king) – Zedek (righteous one).

In this connection, it should be remembered that the blessings of the fulness of the Holy Priesthood, given to Moses and representing the roles of a king and priest, were originally connected not with the name of Melchizedek but rather with the “Son of God.”36  Only later was the name of “Melchizedek Priesthood” substituted as a description of this priesthood order, “out of respect or reverence” to the sacred name of the “Son of God,” so as “to avoid [its] too frequent repetition.”37

Thus there is no inconsistency in the fact that Moses 6:68 describes an individual who has received the fulness of the priesthood as having become, when divinely ratified, “a son of God.”38  This description resonates with the royal rebirth formula of Psalm 2:7: “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” spoken on the occasion of the Davidic king’s enthronement.

Thus, we should not be surprised that God’s description of Moses as “my son” appears three additional times in Moses 139  — which we take, for the reasons just mentioned, as being equivalent to his being called “Melchizedek.” The importance of Moses’ status as “a son of God” is highlighted by Satan himself when the legitimacy of that title is the subject of the opening controversy in his challenge to the prophet.40

We further note that the declaration that Moses is “a son of God” hints at one possible reason why previously, in Exodus 2:10, he was given only “half a name.” Remember that the name “Moses” is lacking the theophoric prefix that is often present in the names of royal Egyptian figures with similar names, names like Ra-messes, Thut-mose, Ah-mose, and so forth. Remember that the names of these figures declared them to have been begotten as one or another of the Egyptian gods. Only now, in the account of Moses 1, is it revealed that Moses has been begotten with the name of the God of Israel, the heretofore missing theophoric prefix.

Figure 6. Moses Enthroned and Holding Stone Tablets,
the Tetragrammaton in top center (detail), ca. 1616

“As If Thou Wert God”

The closest statement to the phrase “as if thou wert God” (Moses 1:25) in the Bible is found in Exodus 7:1. Surprisingly, the verse does not say that Moses was to be “like a god” to Pharaoh. Rather, the Lord’s words to the prophet in Hebrew read literally: “I have made you God/god to Pharaoh.”41  This concept has been difficult for some scholars to accept. For example, Gary Rendsburg sees “Moses’ [temporary] elevation to the divine plane” as violating “a basic tenet of the ancient Israelites” in order to respond to “the exigency of the moment.”42  However, there are both ancient and modern sources that argue that Moses’ divine status was neither exceptional nor provisional.

Figure 7. Arnold Friberg, 1913–2010: The Lord Speaks to Moses from the Burning Bush, 1953

Moses as god and king. Drawing on Jewish sources, Wayne Meeks has written a classic chapter citing sources that portray Moses as “God and King.”43

In some accounts, Moses’ divine status is associated with that of Yahweh. For example, the promise to Moses of power over the waters resembles that given to David in Psalm 89:25.44  Like Moses, David is there depicted as a god — a “lesser YHWH” — on earth,45  consistent with the extended discussion by David J. Larsen of the enthronement of Moses and other figures in the literature of the ancient Near East.46

In other accounts, Moses’ ultimate divine status is compared to Elohim rather than Yahweh. For example, Wayne Meeks finds instances in the Samaritan literature where “the name with which Moses was ‘crowned’ or ‘clothed’ is … Elohim.”47  He further reports that the name of Elohim, conferred on Moses, was “distinguished from YHWH, ‘the name which god revealed to him’”48  on Mount Sinai.49

The theme of God’s personal disclosure of His own name to those who approach the final gate to enter His presence is reminiscent of the explanation of Figure 7, Facsimile 2 from the Book of Abraham. In the Prophet’s interpretation of that figure, God is described as “sitting upon his throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood.” The same concept was operative elsewhere in the ancient Near East. For example, in the Old Babylonian investiture liturgy, we might see in the account of the fifty names given to Marduk at the end of Enuma Elish a description of his procession through the ritual complex in which he took upon himself the divine attributes represented by those names one by one.50  Ultimately, it seems, he would have passed the guardians of the sanctuary gate to reach the throne of Ea where, as also related in the account, he finally received the god’s own name and a consequent fusion of identity with the declaration: “He is indeed even as I.”51

Figure 8. Arnold Friberg, 1913–2010: Moses Subdues the Shepherds at Jethro’s Well, 1953

The “rod” and “word” of Moses as symbols of his authority. Of interest in this context is that the “rod” and the “word” of Moses are associated with the authority of God through Egyptian and Hebrew wordplay. This wordplay is woven throughout both ancient and modern accounts of the life of Moses (e.g., the slaying of the Egyptian, the crossing of the sea, and the smiting of the rock).

In connection with this idea, Nephi’s multi-lingual puns on “rod” and “word” revolve around the polysemy of Egyptian term for “rod, staff”; “word” and the homonymy of the Egyptian term with the Hebrew maṭṭeh (“rod,” “staff”), the latter Hebrew term perhaps being derived from the Egyptian former.52  Moses’ repeated use of “word” and “rod” in close proximity brings together the “word of God” as creative act (“word of my power”) with power of command over the “many waters”53  and the “word of God” as scripture: “and he shall smite the waters of the Red Sea with his rod. And he shall have judgment, and shall write the word of the Lord”;54  “I will raise up a Moses; and I will give power unto him in a rod; and I will give judgment unto him in writing.”55

Figure 9. Arnold Friberg, 1913–2010: The Crossing of the Red Sea (detail), 1953

Moses the deliverer. Remarkably, the Hebrew derivation of Moses’ name is invoked in another elegant literary twist. Moses, who was said in Exodus 2:10 to have been delivered from the water as a weak and helpless infant, is told in Moses 1:25 that he is to be “made stronger than many waters.”56  The most obvious allusion here is to the power Moses will be given to divide the Red Sea.57  However, the phrase also recalls God’s subduing of the waters at Creation, particularly in light of the phrase that follows: “as if thou wert God.” Moreover, as God Himself explains the significance of Moses’ name, He links it with one of His own titles: “Almighty.”58  Fittingly, the divine name of “Almighty”59  in Moses 1:4, 25 is also closely tied to the demonstration of God’s power over the waters of chaos as the first act of Creation60  as well as the divine destruction of the Egyptian army.61

Consistent with this idea, ancient sources universally witness that the name Moses, rather than suggesting the “passive” meaning of one who is “drawn” or “pulled” out of the water as one would expect in the context of the naming scene in Exodus, is instead vowelled as a “pseudo-active” participle suggesting his future as one who will “draw” or “pull” others out of the water.62  The “many waters” or “great waters” ultimately obeyed Moses’ “command even as if [he] wer[e] God” (Moses 1:25–26) as he provided temporal deliverance to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus. Moses also used the same divine authority—the authority with which one “draws” or “pulls” (mōšeh) from the water—to deliver the Israelites spiritually through baptism.63  Elder Bruce R. McConkie commented on this idea as follows:64

Moses—mighty, mighty Moses—acting in the power and authority of the holy order, gathered Israel once. What is more fitting than for him to confer upon mortals in this final dispensation the power and authority to lead latter-day Israel out of Egyptian darkness, through a baptismal Red Sea, into their promised Zion?.65

In summary, speaking of Christ as the premortal prototype not only for Moses, but also for all those who were foreordained to priestly offices and subsequently ordained in mortal life, the Gospel of Philip suggests that the general meaning, symbolism, and sequence of the ordinances has always been the same: “He who … [was begotten] before everything was begotten anew. He [who was] once [anointed] was anointed anew. He who was redeemed in turn redeemed (others).”66  Thus, in the declaration that Moses is to be “made stronger than many waters,”67  God is saying that Moses, the delivered, will now become Moses, the deliverer.68

Conclusion

We have seen how the four names that were said to have been given to Moses fittingly summarize the whole of his divinely appointed mission. “Joachim,” a personal name that is first in sequence, anticipated the mission he was “raised up” to fulfill in the premortal world. The second, “Moses,” also a personal name, reflected the dual role he played during his mortal life as an Egyptian prince and a Hebrew prophet. The title “Melchi” was bestowed upon Moses “after his ascension” when he became “a son of God,” holding the fulness of the higher priesthood and, in likeness of Melchizedek, becoming a king and a priest forever in the holy order. And his final, fourth name was a title that represented the name of God the Father Himself. Philo Judaeus likewise argued that Moses was not only as a prophet, priest, and king, but also (like Jesus) a god, having been “changed into the divine” through his initiation into the “mysteries.”69

Elsewhere it has been argued that the narrative of Moses’ visions in chapter 1 of the Book of Moses fits squarely into the ancient literary genre of “heavenly ascent.”70  But there is evidence that the symbolism of this journey may also have been enacted in various forms of ritual ascent among Jews and early Christians. For example, in his discussion of late Second Temple Jewish mysticism, Erwin Goodenough summarized Philo’s descriptions of “two successive initiations within a single Mystery,” constituting “a ‘Lesser’ Mystery in contrast with a ‘Greater,’” as follows:

For general convenience we may distinguish them as the Mystery of Aaron and the Mystery of Moses. The Mystery of Aaron got its symbolism from the great Jerusalem cultus. … The Mystery of Moses … led the worshipper above all material association; he died to the flesh, and in becoming reclothed in a spiritual body moved progressively upwards … and at last ideally to God himself. … The objective symbolism of the Higher Mystery was the holy of holies with the ark, a level of spiritual experience which was no normal part of even the high-priesthood. Only once a year could the high priest enter there, and then only … when so blinded by incense that he could see nothing of the sacred objects within. The Mystery of Aaron was restricted to the symbolism of the Aaronic high priest.71

According to Goodenough “Philo had himself been ‘initiated under Moses’ [i.e., received the mysteries of the higher priesthood] and it seems to me quite likely that the Elder Samuel [who built the synagogue of Dura Europos] may have been so ‘initiated’ also.72  Hinting at the possibility of such ritual in the synagogue at Dura Europos, Goodenough noted: “In [a] side room were benches and decorations that mark the room as probably one of cult, perhaps an inner room, where special rites were celebrated by a select company. … So far as structure goes, it might have been the room for people especially ‘initiated’ in some way.”73  Bradshaw has written at length how the Ezekiel mural at the synagogue might be seen as a witness of ancient Jewish mysteries of the sort that Philo described.74  The controversial idea of initiation rites at the Dura synagogue receives support from Crispin Fletcher-Louis’ subsequent findings on what he calls the “angelomorphic priesthood” of the Qumran community.75  Of equal significance is David Calabro’s research hinting that the Christian Church at Dura Europos, just down the road from the synagogue, may have likewise partaken of teachings and ordinances of an esoteric nature, including baptism for the dead.76

In all this Moses was not only the model disciple, but also the model leader. Observes Old Testament scholar C. T. R. Hayward: “Philo saw nothing improper … in describing Moses as a hierophant: like the holder of that office in the mystery cults of Philo’s day, Moses was responsible for inducting initiates into the mysteries, leading them from darkness to light, to a point where they are enabled to see [God].”77  Hayward’s view echoes the teachings of Doctrine and Covenants 84:21–23:

21  And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;

22  For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

23  Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God.

 

 

This article is adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Matthew L. Bowen. “‘Made Stronger Than Many Waters’: The Names of Moses as Keywords in the Heavenly Ascent of Moses.” In Proceedings of the Fifth Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 7 November 2020, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. Temple on Mount Zion 6, in preparation. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2020. www.templethemes.net.

Further Reading

Bowen, Matthew L. “‘What meaneth the rod of iron?’.” FARMS Insights 25, no. 2 (2005): 2–3. https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/archive-files/pdf/farms-staff/2019-10-07/insights_25-2.pdf. (accessed July 11, 2020).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos: A tangible witness of Philo’s Jewish mysteries?” BYU Studies 49, no. 1 (2010): 4–49. www.templethemes.net.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 53–79. www.templethemes.net.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 36 (2020): in press.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Matthew L. Bowen. “‘Made Stronger Than Many Waters’: The Names of Moses as Keywords in the Heavenly Ascent of Moses.” In Proceedings of the Fifth Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 7 November 2020, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. Temple on Mount Zion 6, in preparation. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2020. www.templethemes.net.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, p. 31.

Johnson, Mark J. “The lost prologue: Reading Moses Chapter One as an Ancient Text.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 36 (2020): 145–186. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/the-lost-prologue-reading-moses-chapter-one-as-an-ancient-text/. (accessed June 5, 2020).

Nibley, Hugh W. “To open the last dispensation: Moses chapter 1.” In Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 1–20. Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978, p. 12.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 220–221.

Reynolds, Noel B, and Jeff Lindsay. “‘Strong like unto Moses’: The case for ancient roots in the Book of Moses based on Book of Mormon usage of related content apparently from the Brass Plates.” Presented at the conference entitled “Tracing Ancient Threads of the Book of Moses’ (September 18–19, 2020), Provo, UT: Brigham Young University 2020.

References

Adler, William. “Introduction.” In The Jewsih Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity, edited by James C. VanderKam and William Adler, 1-31. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

Arp, Nathan J. “Joseph knew first: Moses the Egyptian son.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 32 (2019): 187-98. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/joseph-knew-first-moses-the-egyptian-son/. (accessed July 11, 2020).

Baker, LeGrand L., and Stephen D. Ricks. Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord? The Psalms in Israel’s Temple Worship in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2009.

Barker, Margaret. “Who was Melchizedek and who was his God?” Presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Session S19-72 on ‘Latter-day Saints and the Bible’, San Diego, CA, November 17-20, 2007.

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Bowen, Matthew L. “‘What meaneth the rod of iron?’.” FARMS Insights 25, no. 2 (2005): 2-3. https://archive.bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/archive-files/pdf/farms-staff/2019-10-07/insights_25-2.pdf. (accessed July 11, 2020).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos: A tangible witness of Philo’s Jewish mysteries?” BYU Studies 49, no. 1 (2010): 4-49. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol49/iss1/2/.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ronan J. Head. “The investiture panel at Mari and rituals of divine kingship in the ancient Near East.” Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 4 (2012): 1-42. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sba/vol4/iss1/1/.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/download/140123IGIL12014ReadingS.

———. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/151128TempleThemesInTheOathAndCovenantOfThePriesthood2014Update ; https://archive.org/details/140910TemasDelTemploEnElJuramentoYElConvenioDelSacerdocio2014UpdateSReading. (accessed November 29, 2020).

———. 2018. What Did the Lord Mean When He Said Moses Would Become “God to Pharaoh” During the Plagues of Egypt? (Old Testament KnoWhy JBOTL013A, 26 March 2018). In Interpreter Foundation. https://interpreterfoundation.org/knowhy-otl13a-what-did-the-lord-mean-when-he-said-moses-would-become-god-to-pharaoh-during-the-plagues-of-egypt-2/. (accessed July 4, 2020).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/moses-1-and-the-apocalypse-of-abraham-twin-sons-of-different-mothers/. (accessed July 29, 2020).

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Calabro, David. “From temple to church: Defining sacred space in the Near East.” In Proceedings of the Fifth Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 7 November 2020, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. Temple on Mount Zion 6, in preparation. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2020.

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Notes on Figures

Figure 1. BYU Magazine, Fall 2017, https://magazine.byu.edu/article/eight-heads-ten-commandments/ (accessed July 12, 2020). “Through the generosity of Rex G. (’62) and Ruth Methvin Maughan (BS ’60), BYU acquired eight Arnold Friberg portraits used for Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments. Photo by Roger Layton.” With permission from Bruce Patrick, Art Director, BYU Magazine.

Figure 2. Image: 8 7/8 x 16 3/8 in. (22.5 x 41.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.7. Published in J. F. Dolkart, James Tissot, p. 204. With permission.

Figure 3. With the kind permission of Glen Hopkinson, son of Harold I. Hopkinson. As published in “The Foreordination of Abraham,” Book of Abraham Insight #21, https://www.pearlofgreatpricecentral.org/the-foreordination-of-abraham/ (accessed October 14, 2020).

Figure 4. From 1957 packet containing reprints of a series of inserts which appeared in “The Instructor” magazine beginning in March 1957 (https://ia802800.us.archive.org/2/items/instructor923dese/instructor923dese.pdf [accessed July 12, 2020]). © 1957 by The Arnold Friberg Foundation and Friberg Fine Arts.

Figure 5. Offerings. J. J. Tissot, Old Testament, 1:47. The Jewish Museum, No. 52–94. Public domain. See Genesis 14:18–20.

Figure 6. The British Museum, Asset Number 978337001, https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/image/978337001. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license for non-commercial use.

Figure 7. From 1957 packet containing reprints of a series of inserts which appeared in “The Instructor” magazine beginning in March 1957 (https://ia802800.us.archive.org/2/items/instructor923dese/instructor923dese.pdf [accessed July 12, 2020]). © 1957 by The Arnold Friberg Foundation and Friberg Fine Arts.

Figure 8. From 1957 packet containing reprints of a series of inserts which appeared in “The Instructor” magazine beginning in March 1957 (https://ia802800.us.archive.org/2/items/instructor923dese/instructor923dese.pdf [accessed July 12, 2020]). © 1957 by The Arnold Friberg Foundation and Friberg Fine Arts.

Figure 9. From 1957 packet containing reprints of a series of inserts which appeared in “The Instructor” magazine beginning in March 1957 (https://ia802800.us.archive.org/2/items/instructor923dese/instructor923dese.pdf [accessed July 12, 2020]). © 1957 by The Arnold Friberg Foundation and Friberg Fine Arts.

Footnotes

 

1Other sources where this name or similar variants appear include (H. Jacobson, Pseudo-Philo, pp. 492-493 n. 9:16; R. R. Duke, Social Location, p. 75): Melchiel (“God is my king” H. Jacobson, Pseudo-Philo, 9:16, p. 492; 135 BCE-100 CE), Melchias (“king” George Syncellus, Chronographia (9th century CE) and George Cedrenus, Synopsis historion (11th-12th centuries CE), Amlâkâ (Shelemon, Book of the Bee, 29, p. 48), Malkēl (probably a corruption of “Malkel” — “God has ruled” M. Sprengling et al., Barhebraeus’ Scholia, Part 1, pp. 102-103; 13th century C), and Yamkil (Ishodad, Commentary on Exodus, 2:10, cited in H. Jacobson, Pseudo-Philo, p. 493 n. 9:16).

Robert Duke (R. R. Duke, Social Location, pp. 69-79) suggests that the Visions of Amram 1:9 records “Moses’ original Hebrew name. He renders the Aramaic ml’kyh, [more commonly] translated as “the messengers” as the Hebrew name, Malachiah, which he argues refers to Moses” (A. D. Gross, Visions of Amram, p. 1508 n. 1:9). Differing in this regard with Duke, Edward Cook, along with Gross, translate the passage as “the messengers” (D. W. Parry et al., DSSR (2013), 4Q583, Fragment 1 a-c, line 10, p. 883; A. D. Gross, Visions of Amram, 1:9, p. 1508).

2E. R. Goodenough, Light, pp. 292-293. The whole of the relevant passage in the writings of Clement reads as follows (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 1:23, p. 335 (ca. 198-203 CE)):

Thereupon the [Egyptian] queen gave the babe the name of Moses, with etymological propriety, from his being drawn out of the water, — for the Egyptians call water mou,— in which he had been exposed to die. For they call Moses one who breathed [on being taken] from the water. It is clear that previously the parents gave a name to the child on his circumcision; and he was called Joachim. And he had a third name in heaven, after his ascension, as the mystics say — Melchi.

Apart from the digression on the names given to Moses at circumcision and “in heaven,” Clement’s account is based on Philo, Moses, 1:5, op. 279ff.

3E. R. Goodenough, Light, pp. 292-293. See Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 1:23, p. 335 (ca. 198-203 CE).

4Genesis 14:18. See also JST Genesis 14:25–40.

5Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 1:5, p. 307. For more about Clement’s view of Christianity as a “mystery religion,” see J. Ferguson, Achievement of Clement, pp. 62–63.

6Mark 4:11. Cf. M. Barker, King of the Jews, p. 84.

7Purported letter of Clement to Theodore, published in M. Smith, Secret Gospel, p. 14. Though some scholars dispute the nature of the “Secret Gospel of Mark” cited in the latter and some of Smith’s interpretations, most accept that the letter is an excellent match to the style of Clement. Hugh Nibley cites the work without qualification in H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 515. For a summary of the debate on the nature and authenticity of this document, see, e.g., B. D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities, pp. 67–89; Secret Gospel, Secret Gospel.

8W. Adler, Introduction, p. 22. Whereas J. Tromp, Assumption of Moses, pp. 270-285 argues that Clement obtained his information from the lost ending of the pseudepigraphal Assumption of Moses (ca. 100 BCE–100 CE), some other scholars hold differing views (see W. Adler, Introduction, p. 22 n. 96).

9For more on these groups and their names, see G. Vermes, Etymology of ‘Essenes’; G. Vermes, Essenes – Therapeutai – Qumran; G. Vermes, Essenes and Therapeutai. On Clement’s familiarity with the writings of Philo, see D. T. Runia, Clement, pp. 256–258.

10The extant text and English translation of the relevant passage is published in D. W. Parry et al., DSSR (2013), 4Q544 (4QVisions of ’Amramb ar), fragment 2 line 13 and fragment 3 line 2, p. 891. Though the complete set of names is not preserved in the extant text, J. T. Milik has made a strong case for his reconstruction of the missing names based on related texts (11Q13 and 1QM 13 1. 10–11. See J. T. Milik, 4Q Visions de ‘Amram, pp. 85-86; P. J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchireša’, p. 28; K. Dalgaard, A Priest for All Generations, pp. 57-60). Here is text, with reconstructed portions shown within brackets:

[And these are his three names: Belial, Prince of Darkness], and Melchiresha’ … [and he answered and sa]id to me: [My] three names [are Michael, Prince of Light and Melchizedek].

“Milik and others since him have found this hypothetical list of names to represent the most plausible reconstruction of the surviving text” (ibid., p. 58). For a brief overview of Melchizedek in Second Temple literature, see B. A. Jurgens, Reassessing the Dream-Vision, pp. 29-33

11According to R. Jones, Priesthood and Cult, p. 17 n. 69, at 4Q545, fragment 4 line 15b “the angelus interpres has likely just finished a description of Moses in the material preceding line 15, and is now beginning a description of Moses’ brother Aaron.” Thus, according to this view, the statement “I will tell you your(?) names” is being addressed to Moses.

12D. W. Parry et al., DSSR (2013), 4Q545 (4QVisions of ’Amramc ar), fragment 4 line 14, p. 895.

13J. E. Talmage, Articles (1984), p. 474 n. 4, citing J. E. Talmage, Story and Philosophy of ‘Mormonism’, p. 109.

14See, e.g., S. Mowinckel, Psalms, 1:180, 1:181 n. 191; J. H. Eaton, Psalms Commentary, 118:19–22, p. 405; J. Gee, Keeper; J. M. Bradshaw et al., Investiture Panel, pp. 11, 20–22.

15S. Mowinckel, Psalms, 1:181 n. 191.

16J. H. Eaton, Psalms Commentary, 118:19–22, p. 405. See also Psalm 24:3–4.

17Psalm 118:20.

18S. Mowinckel, Psalms, 1:180.

19Psalm 24:6. Donald Parry sees an allusion to a prayer circle in this verse (D. W. Parry, Psalm 24).

20D&C 130:11, emphasis added.

21See D. H. Oaks, To Become, p. 32. See also J. E. Faulconer, Self-Image; D. A. Bednar, Power to Become, pp. 1–35.

22R. Guénon, Symboles, p. 36. Others, such as Basil of Caesarea in the 4th century, held, less radically, that each name had a distinct primary meaning, or notion, as well as signifying, secondarily, certain properties, but not essence itself (M. DelCogliano, Basil of Caesarea’s Anti-Eunomian Theory of Names, pp. 153–260). For a discussion of modern name theory, see S. Cumming, Names

23R. Guénon, Symboles, p. 36, emphasis added.

24Genesis 2:19–20.

25Genesis 17:5, 15; 32:28.

26F. Brown et al., Lexicon, p. 220c.

272 Nephi 3:10. Cf. v. 17; JST Genesis 50:26, 28.

28Philo (like Josephus ) gave a derivation from Egyptian, explaining that “Mou is the Egyptian word for water” (Philo, On the Life of Moses, 1:17, p. 168). Niehoff explains: “Philo’s interpretation takes into account the historical background of the story, assuming that it is far more likely for an Egyptian princess to call her adopted son by an Egyptian name” (ibid., p. 968 n. 1:17).

29The insistence of the Egyptian princess that Moses was literally begotten through her is clearly reflected the name she gave him. It is also consistent with the careful actions she is said to have taken to mimic the conditions of expectant motherhood, as reported by Philo: “[She] took him for her son, having at an earlier time artificially enlarged the figure of her womb to make him pass as her real and not a supposititious child” (ibid., 1:19, p. 968).

30Note that the JST Genesis phrase “and shall be called her son” corresponds neatly to the “adoption” or “rebirth” formula or notice in Exodus [2:10]: “and he became her son.” The JST Genesis prophecy also points to the or double-meaning of Moses. The expression “her son” constitutes a pun on the Egyptian meaning of Moses in terms of ms (or mesu), “child”/“son,” as Nathan Arp has noted (N. J. Arp, Joseph Knew First). Nevertheless, the prophecy indicates that the name Moses would be a sign by which he would know that he belonged to the house of Israel (and the house of Joseph[?]). In other words, the phrase “by this name he shall know that he is of thy house” seems to indicate that the name Moses would mark him an Israelite thus implying the intelligibility of the Moses/mose/mōšeh in Hebrew also. Moses would have a “double-identity” as an Egyptian and an Israelite.

31E. R. Goodenough, Light, pp. 292–293. See Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 1:23, p. 335 (ca. 198–203 CE). For an assessment of Goodenough’s views on ancient Jewish mysteries grounded in ritual, see J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural, especially pp. 32–34.

32The appearance of “Melchizedek” as two words is not consistent in the Bible and ancient texts. On the one hand, it is written as two words in the Masoretic Text of Genesis 14, Psalm 110, the Samaritan Pentateuch (S. Lowy, Principles, p. 320), the Targums (J. W. Etheridge, Onkelos, 14), and 11QMelchizedek (F. G. Martinez, Melchizedek, 2:9, p. 140). On the other hand, Samuel Zinner notes these counter-examples: “The LXX read it as one word, that is, as a name. In subtle ways we can determine that the gospels presuppose the LXX interpretation of the Hebrew text, whereas Shepherd of Hermas Command 1 seems to understand it as two words. … It is written as one word in the Genesis Apocryphon (J. A. Fitzmyer, Now This Melchizedek, pp. 312–313)” (S. Zinner, November 3 2020).

It may be possible to identify how four additional ancient authors read “Melchi-zedek,” either as a title consisting of two words or as a name consisting of one word. Zinner extends the evidence by using arguments that take into account the possibility that the numerical architecture of some biblical passages “are based on numerical values of the letters of the names of God” (I. Knohl, Sacred Architecture, p. 189). For example, the Song of Moses’ exordium (Deuteronomy 32:1-3) contains a total of 26 words, congruent with a hint at the numerical value of YHWH — namely 26 (ibid., p. 194). In an in-progress monograph (S. Zinner, Recovering), Zinner points out that:

MT Psalm 110 has a total of 65 words, congruent with the numerical value of the divine name ʾAdonai that occurs in the text. The 65 words are divided between a 2-word superscription + a 63-word main text, the result of the MT reading mlky-ṣdq in v. 4 as 2 words. By contrast, the LXX translators read in Psalm 110:4 mlkyṣdq, a single word, that is, the name Melchizedek. The LXX translators therefore counted only 62 words in the main text. The NA28 text of Mark 12:35-37, Jesus’ discussion of Psalm 110, contains 62 words. The NA28 text of the parallel in Matthew 22:41-45 also contains 62 words, despite Matthew’s significant variations in wording. The main parallel in Luke is found in 20:41-44. However, given the introductory elements gar and de in vv. 39 and 40 respectively, it seems that Luke intended these two transitional verses to introduce vv. 41-44. The parallel passage in Luke 20:39-44 shows even more variation in wording than does Matthew compared to Mark, but the NA28 text of Luke 20:39-44 also keeps the word total to exactly 62. These three examples’ matching word counts are hardly the result of chance. Arguably, they seem to indicate that the three gospel writers counted 62 words in the Hebrew text of Psalm 110, in accord with the LXX translators, and thus read not mlky-ṣdq but mlkyṣdq, i.e., the name Melchizedek. In Matthew and Mark, the discussion of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (The Greatest Commandment) and of Psalm 110 form a single pericope. Shepherd of Hermas Commandment 1 almost doubtless has in mind the gospel pericope of the Greatest Commandment and Psalm 110. Hermas Commandment 1 in Bart Ehrman’s Loeb Greek text has a 2-word superscription and a 63-word main text, matching the MT word count for Psalm 110. Apparently, Hermas read mlky-ṣdq, not mlkyṣdq, in Psalm 110:4.

33M. Barker, Who Was Melchizedek. That the third name in the sequence of names is meant as a title is supported by similar passages in the Visions of Amram that were reconstructed by Józef Milik. See J. T. Milik, 4Q Visions de ‘Amram, pp. 85–86; P. J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Melchireša’, p. 28; K. Dalgaard, A Priest for All Generations, pp. 57–60.

34M. Barker, King of the Jews, pp. 81-82, 83.

35Note that in Israelite practice, as witnessed in the examples of David and Solomon, the moment when the individual was made king would not necessarily have been the time of his first anointing. The culminating anointing of David corresponding to his definitive investiture as king was preceded by a prior, princely anointing. See L. L. Baker et al., Who Shall Ascend, p. 353–358. See also 1 Samuel 10:1, 15:17, 16:23; 2 Samuel 2:4, 5:3; 1 Kings 1:39; 1 Chronicles 29:22. Cf. J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 519–523.

36See Doctrine and Covenants 107:2. The various names of this order are also illustrated elsewhere in scripture: “after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was [ultimately] after the order of the Only Begotten Son” (D&C 76:57. Compare B. Young, 26 June 1874, p. 113).

37Doctrine and Covenants 107:4.

38Emphasis added. See J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 53–65; B. R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, 1:229; B. R. McConkie, Ten Blessings, p. 33.

39Moses 1:6, 7, 40, emphasis added.

40Satan’s first words to the prophet are “Moses, son of man” (Moses 1:12, emphasis added). In immediate response, Moses highlights the difference in title and glory between himself and his adversary: “Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory that I should worship thee?” (Moses 1:13, emphasis added).

41B. Wells, Exodus (Zondervan), Exodus 7:1. For a more extensive treatment of this topic, see J. M. Bradshaw, What Did the Lord Mean.

42G. A. Rendsburg, Moses as Equal, p. 204.

43W. A. Meeks, Moses.

44Zinner observes that verse 25 in the King James Bible is verse 26 in the Hebrew Masoretic Text (counting the superscription as verse 1)—suggesting the numerical value of YHWH (26) (S. Zinner, November 3 2020).

45See D. J. Larsen, Psalm 24, pp. 212–213. Speaking more broadly, Peter Schäfer is reluctant to take passages with similar implications taken to their logical conclusions in the medieval Jewish mystical literature “at face value” because they are so “common,” leaving one to conclude that there must be an “enormous number of deified angels in heaven” (P. Schäfer, Jewish Jesus, p. 137). However, he does concede that this is “just one more indication that the boundaries between God and his angels in the Hekhalot literature … become fluid” and that when references to individuals bearing God’s name are made, “we cannot always decide with certainty whether God or his angels are meant” (ibid., p. 137). Cf. J. L. Kugel, God of Old, pp. 5-36.

46See D. J. Larsen, And He Departed.

47W. A. Meeks, Moses, p. 359.

48ibid., p. 360.

49Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that Jarl Fossum takes issue with Meeks’ reading, arguing that in the instances cited by Meeks name “Elohim” is “a secondary notion, derived from the original idea of his investiture with the Tetragrammaton.” See J. E. Fossum, Name of God, p. 90. For the full argument, see pp. 88–92.

50Talon elaborates (P. Talon, Enūma Eliš, p. 27):

The importance of the names is not to be understressed. One of the preserved Chaldaean Oracles says: “Never change the Barbarian names” and in his commentary Psellus (in the 11th century) adds “This means: there are among the peoples names given by God, which have a particular power in the rites. Do not transpose them in Greek.” A god may also have more than one name, even if this seems to introduce a difficult element of confusion, at least for us. We can think, for example, of Marduk, who is equated with Aššur and thus named in many texts (especially Assyrian texts written for a Babylonian audience). He then assumes either the aspect of the One himself or the aspect of only an emanation of the One. The same occurs when Aššur replaces Marduk in the Assyrian version of Enuma Elish.

51E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic, 7:140, p. 72. Foster elaborates (B. R. Foster, Epic, pp. 437-438):

The poem begins and ends with concepts of naming. The poet evidently considers naming both an act of creation and an explanation of something already brought into being. For the poet, the name, properly understood, discloses the significance of the created thing. Semantic and phonological analysis of names could lead to understanding of the things named. Names, for this poet, are a text to be read by the informed, and bear the same intimate and revealing relationship to what they signify as this text does to the events it narrates. In a remarkable passage at the end, the poet presents his text as the capstone of creation in that it was bearer of creation’s significance to humankind.

52See M. L. Bowen, What Meaneth the Rod of Iron?

53Moses 2:7.

54JST Genesis 50:35.

552 Nephi 3:17.

56Moses 1:25, emphasis added. Jeff Lindsay illustrates the resonance of this imagery with the Book of Mormon. He points out an allusion to the strength of Moses in 1 Nephi 4:2 that corresponds to Moses 1:20–21, 25 while having no strong parallel in the Bible (J. D. Lindsay, Arise, Part 1, pp. 189–190). In a personal communication, Lindsay further explains that 1 Nephi 4:2 “has Nephi urging his brethren to be strong like Moses, as if they were familiar with this concept, but the [King James Bible] has nothing about Moses being strong” (J. D. Lindsay, August 5 2019). Elsewhere, Noel Reynolds and Jeff Lindsay write (N. B. Reynolds et al., Strong Like Unto Moses):

Mark J. Johnson (M. J. Johnson, Lost Prologue, pp. 178-179) observed that the three references in Moses 1 to strength involving Moses describe a three-tiered structure “for personal strength and spirituality” in which strength is described in patterns reminiscent of sacred geography, each tier bringing Moses closer to God. The first instance depicts Moses having “natural strength like unto man,” which was inadequate to cope with Satan’s fury. In fear, Moses called upon God for added strength, allowing him to gain victory over Satan. Next, Moses is promised additional strength which would be greater than many waters. “This would endow Moses with powers to be in similitude of YHWH, to divide the waters from the waters (similar to Genesis 1:6) at the shores of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21).” Johnson sees the treatment of the strength of Moses as one of many evidences of ancient perspectives woven into the text of Moses 1. In light of Johnson’s analysis, if something like Moses 1 was on the brass plates as a prologue to Genesis, to Nephite students of the brass plates, the reference to the strength of Moses might be seen as more than just a random tidbit but as part of a carefully developed literary tool related to important themes such as the commissioning of prophets and becoming more like God through serving Him. If so, the concept of the strength of Moses may easily have been prominent enough to require no explanation when Nephi made an allusion to it.

57Exodus 14:21–22; Joshua 3:14–17.

58Moses 1:25.

59Note the plausible connection between šadday and Akkadian šadu(m) (= “mountain, range of mountains”), significant in a creation context. See D. Biale, God with Breasts. “The ancients thought of breasts as mountains, for obvious reasons, so one cannot really separate mountains and breasts in the tradition” (S. Zinner, November 3 2020).

60Moses 2:1–2.

61A. Marmorstein, Doctrine, p. 64 #5. In addition, the authority of God’s law, given through Moses, rested on the argument that it came “from the mouth of the all-powerful, Almighty” (ibid., p. 82 #32, emphasis added).

62As one example of how the relevant participle is interpreted as active rather than passive, we can compare the King James Bible translation of Isaiah 63:11 (“Then he remembered … Moses”) to the Jewish Publication Society translation (“Then they remembered … Him, who pulled His people out [of the water]” [A. Berlin et al., Jewish, Isaiah 63:11, p. 909]). While it is not directly consequential to the active-passive interpretation of the name, we note a comment from the editors of the JPS Study Bible stating that “it is not clear whether ‘He [he] who pulled …’ refers to God or to Moses” (ibid., p. 909 n. 11).

63Cf. analogous symbolism used in 1 Peter 3:18-21.

64B. R. McConkie, New Witness, p. 529.

65See Doctrine and Covenants 110:11.

66W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 70:36–71:3, p. 152.

67Moses 1;25.

68President Russell M. Nelson has recently pointed attention to the similar role reversal reflected in the two names given to Jacob/Israel (R. M. Nelson, Let God Prevail). In reviewing this reversal, Victor P. Hamilton observes that up until his “wrestle” with God in Genesis 32, “Jacob may well have been called ‘Israjacob,’ ‘Jacob shall rule’ or ‘let Jacob rule.’ In every confrontation he has emerged as the victor: over Esau, over Isaac, over Laban”—and now, startlingly, he attempts to prevail in his conflict with God (V. P. Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, p. 334). Speaking of this “crucial turning point in the life of Jacob,” President Nelson taught:

Through this wrestle, Jacob proved what was most important to him. He demonstrated that he was willing to let God prevail in his life. In response, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28), meaning “let God prevail.” God then promised Israel that all the blessings that had been pronounced upon Abraham’s head would also be his (Genesis 35:11–12).

69Philo, Exodus, p. 70. For an up-to-date review of the literature on the deification of Moses, see M. D. Litwa, Deification of Moses . For more on the specifics of how this description of the deification of Moses might be understood, see J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural, pp. 41–42, Endnote 68. See also ibid., pp. 19–21.

70J. M. Bradshaw et al., Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham.

71E. R. Goodenough, Light, pp. 95–96. See Philo, Giants, 54, 2:473. See C. T. R. Hayward, Israel, pp. 156–219, regarding Philo’s explanation of the name Israel as meaning “the one who sees God.”

72E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:118, 121, 122. Observes Hayward, “Philo saw nothing improper … in describing Moses as a hierophant: like the holder of that office in the mystery cults of Philo’s day, Moses was responsible for inducting initiates into the mysteries, leading them from darkness to light, to a point where they are enabled to see [God]” (C. T. R. Hayward, Israel, p. 192).

Philo said the following about his initiation: “I myself was initiated (muetheis) under Moses the God-beloved into his greater mysteries (ta megala mysteria),” and readily became a disciple of Jeremiah, “a worthy minister (hierophantes) of the same” (Philo, Cherubim, 49, 2:37).

73E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 10:198; see also, E. R. Goodenough, Summary, 12:190–97. Often criticized for his interpretations, Goodenough showed ambivalence in his writings about the terms “initiation” and “mystery,” speaking in his early writings in ways that at least sometimes seemed to imply a literal ritual, while in his last writings leaning toward a figurative sense of the word (R. S. Eccles, Pilgrimage, pp. 64–65).

74J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural.

75C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Glory, pp. 212–13, 476 (emphasis in original).

76D. Calabro, From Temple to Church.

77C. T. R. Hayward, Israel, p. 192, emphasis in original.

Moses Passes Through the Heavenly Veil

Book of Moses Essay #38

Moses 1:25-27

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In light of our cultural and conceptual distance from the milieu of Moses 1, we are fortunate that imperfect documents from antiquity like the Apocalypse of Abraham (ApAb) may nevertheless provide keys for understanding that “mysterious other world,”1  even when existing manuscripts were written much later and, not infrequently, have come to us in a form that is riddled with the ridiculous.2  C.S. Lewis once addressed the potential of ancient sources, even those of poor quality, to inform modern scholars in surprising ways. He illustrated his point by saying:3

I would give a great deal to hear any ancient Athenian, even a stupid one, talking about Greek tragedy. He would know in his bones so much that we seek in vain. At any moment some chance phrase might, unknown to him, show us where modern scholarship had been on the wrong track for years.

In a few instances, our experiences in comparing Moses 1 to ApAb have revealed the truth of Lewis’ claim. For example, as we looked carefully at Moses 1:27, a seemingly gratuitous and initially inexplicable phrase stood out: “as the voice was still speaking.”4  Surprisingly, we found that ApAb repeated similar phrases in analogous contexts.5  This discovery provided a welcome clue to a possible meaning of this enigmatic phrase in both Moses 1 and ApAb—a finding we will describe in more detail below.

Figure 2. Moses and Abraham pass through the veil (Moses 1:25, 27)

Passing Through the Heavenly Veil: The Voice of God

In ApAb 17:3, the voice that accompanies Abraham’s passage through the veil is that of the angel Yaho’el. Yaho’el mediates God’s self-revelation to Abraham, as he previously mediated Abraham’s dialogue with Satan.6  Yaho’el, standing with the prophet in front of the veil, gives encouragement to a fearful Abraham, provides instructions to him, and promises to remain with him, “strengthening” him, as he comes into the presence of the Lord.7

In contrast to ApAb’s account of mediated revelation, Moses experiences the voice of God directly. At first, Moses hears God’s voice but does not yet see Him “face to face.”8  His experience parallels that of Adam and Eve, when they also “called upon the name of the Lord” in sacred prayer.9  We read that “they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not,10  for they were shut out from his presence.”11  The “way toward the Garden of Eden” is, of course, the path that terminates in “the way of the Tree of Life.”12  In the corresponding symbolism of the Garden of Eden and the temple, the Tree of Knowledge hides the Tree of Life, just as the veil hides the presence of God in His heavenly sanctuary.13  To proceed further, the veil must be opened to the petitioner.

In Moses 1 and ApAb, multiple openings of various veils are signified explicitly, if somewhat cryptically. We observe that in Moses 1:25, a significant inclusio opens with a description of how, after “calling upon God,” the Lord’s glory “was upon” Moses “and he heard a voice.” In verses 30–31, the inclusio closes in similar fashion but states, significantly, that Moses sees God rather than just hearing Him: “Moses called upon God … the glory of the Lord was upon Moses so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face.” Sandwiched between the opening and closing of the inclusio is a phrase that is intriguing because at first blush it seems both gratuitous and inexplicable: “as the voice was still speaking.”14

Figure 3. The phrase “as the voice was still speaking” within an inclusio in Moses 1, and at junctures representing traversals of the veil in ApAb

To our surprise, we discovered that ApAb repeats variants of a similar phrase (e.g., “And while he was still speaking.”15). Further examination of these instances revealed a commonality in each of the junctures where it is used. In short, in each of the four instances where this phrase appears in ApAb,16 —as in its single occurrence in Moses 1:27—the appearance of the phrase seems to be associated with an opening of a heavenly veil.17

In Moses 1, the phrase appears at the expected transition point in Moses’ ascent. We have already argued that when he “heard a voice” in v. 25, he was still positioned outside the veil. Immediately following the phrase “as the voice was still speaking,” he seems to have traversed the veil, allowing him to see every particle of the earth and its inhabitants projected on the inside of the veil. In this fashion, the veil serves in the Book of Moses as it typically does in similar accounts of heavenly ascent,18  namely as “a kind of ‘visionary screen.’”19  After the vision closes, Moses stands “in the presence of God” and talks with him “face to face.”20

We see a similar phenomenon repeated in ApAb. For example, the account explicitly describes how Abraham, after his upward ascent and while the angel “was still speaking,” looked down and saw a series of heavenly veils open beneath his feet, enabling his subsequent views of heavenly things.21  Moreover, as Abraham traverses the heavenly veil in a downward direction as part of his return to the earth, the expression “And while he was still speaking” recurs.22  Consistent with the change of glory that typically accompanies traversals of heavenly veils in such accounts, Abraham commented immediately afterward, “I found myself on the earth, and I said … I am no longer in the glory which I was above.”23

Passing Through the Heavenly Veil: The Voice of the Petitioner

In ancient literature, passage through the veil is frequently accompanied not only with the sorts of divine utterance just described but also with human speech. For example, instances of formal prayer24  and exchanges of words at the veil are variously described in Egyptian ritual texts,25  Jewish pseudepigrapha,26  and the Book of Mormon.27  Similarly, in ApAb, a recitation of a fixed set of words, often described as a “hymn,” “precedes a vision of the Throne of Glory.”28

Figure 4. Moses with the sun, moon, and seven stars (i.e., planets) above his head from the Jewish synagogue at Dura Europos. It represents Moses’ recitation of a “hymn” near the end of his heavenly ascent

In ApAb, Abraham is enjoined by the angel Yaho’el to recite a “hymn” in preparation for his ascent to receive a vision of the work of God.29  Significantly, Martha Himmelfarb observes that ApAb, unlike other pseudepigraphal accounts of heavenly ascent, “treats the [hymn] sung by the visionary as part of the means of achieving ascent.”30  Near the end of Abraham’s recitation, he implores God to accept the words of his prayer and the sacrifice that he has offered, to teach him, and to “make known to your servant as you have promised me.”31  Then, “while [he] was still reciting the [hymn],” the veil opens and the throne of glory appears to his view.32

Also of importance is that Abraham’s “form of ascension, where the literary protagonist reaches the highest sphere [of heaven] at once [rather than in stages] is only described in ApAb and cannot be found in any other apocalyptical text.”33  Thus, ApAb’s account of Abraham’s direct entry to the highest heaven without first traversing a set of lower heavens provides another unique resemblance to Moses 1.34

“Stronger Than Many Waters”

Figure 5. Parallels with Moses 1:25 to “many waters”

While both texts explicitly invoke the same concept of “many waters,” their contexts initially seem to be rather different. In Moses 1:25, the promise that Moses would be “made stronger than many waters” seems to relate most directly to the power he would be given to part the Red Sea, allowing his people to escape the advancing Egyptian army. As Moses communes through the veil, God enumerates specific promises to him, including the promise that he will “be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.”35

By way of contrast, in ApAb the “many waters” is part of several sensory images involved Abraham’s heavenly ascent. After Abraham traverses upward through a veil “while [the angel] was still speaking,” he sees “a fire” and hears a “sound [i.e., voice] … like a sound of many waters.”36  Though a “comparison with the tumult of an army camp is not drawn explicitly here [like it is in Ezekiel 1:24], one may recognize in the sound an allusion to the triumphant procession of a conqueror returning from war.”37  “The heavenly light is of dazzling brilliance, the divine voice is like thunder.”38  The resulting sensory-infused description announces to all the arrival of the Lord of Hosts in the fulness of His glory.

While the “many waters” images may seem at first glance to be unrelated, a connection becomes more apparent when the context of the Moses account is more fully understood. Rather than just signaling Moses’ future parting of the Red Sea and describing the godlike power that he will exercise in that and other regards, the imagery of “many waters” may evoke one of four symbolic names that ancient sources claim were given to Moses. These names seem to be ciphers for “keywords” related to temple worship, which would allow Moses to discover his past, present, and future destiny and eventually allow him to enter into God’s presence.

In the next Essay, we will discuss these names in more detail.

This article is adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 59–62.

———, David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, p. 31.

Nibley, Hugh W. “To open the last dispensation: Moses chapter 1.” In Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 1–20. Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978, pp. 11–12.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, p. 220.

References

Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Attridge, Harold W., and Helmut Koester, eds. Hebrews: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Frank Moore Cross, Klaus Baltzer, Paul D. Hanson, S. Dean McBride, Jr. and Roland E. Murphy. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1989.

Barker, Margaret. King of the Jews: Temple Theology in John’s Gospel. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2014.

Barney, Kevin L., ed. Footnotes to the New Testament for Latter-day Saints. 3 vols, 2007. http://feastupontheword.org/Site:NTFootnotes. (accessed February 26, 2008).

Bauckham, Richard, James R. Davila, Alex Panayotov, and James H. Charlesworth, eds. Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. 2 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2013.

Block, Daniel I. The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25-48. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. Robert L. Hubbard, Jr. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1998.

Box, G. H. 1918. The Apocalypse of Abraham. Translations of Early Documents, Series 1: Palestinian Jewish Texts (Pre-Rabbinic). London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919. https://www.marquette.edu/maqom/box.pdf. (accessed July 10, 2020).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos: A tangible witness of Philo’s Jewish mysteries?” BYU Studies 49, no. 1 (2010): 4-49. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol49/iss1/2/.

———. “The tree of knowledge as the veil of the sanctuary.” In Ascending the Mountain of the Lord: Temple, Praise, and Worship in the Old Testament, edited by David Rolph Seely, Jeffrey R. Chadwick and Matthew J. Grey. The 42nd Annual Brigham Young University Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (26 October, 2013), 49-65. Provo and Salt Lake City, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2013. https://rsc.byu.edu/ascending-mountain-lord/tree-knowledge-veil-sanctuary ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfIs9YKYrZE.

———. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/download/140123IGIL12014ReadingS.

———. Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2014. https://archive.org/download/150904TempleThemesInTheBookOfMoses2014UpdatedEditionSReading ; http://www.templethemes.net/books/171219-SPA-TempleThemesInTheBookOfMoses.pdf.

———. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/151128TempleThemesInTheOathAndCovenantOfThePriesthood2014Update ; https://archive.org/details/140910TemasDelTemploEnElJuramentoYElConvenioDelSacerdocio2014UpdateSReading. (accessed November 29, 2020).

———. “Faith, hope, and charity: The ‘three principal rounds’ of the ladder of heavenly ascent.” In “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, edited by Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson, 59-112. Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/faith-hope-and-charity-the-three-principal-rounds-of-the-ladder-of-heavenly-ascent/.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Could Joseph Smith have drawn on ancient manuscripts when he translated the story of Enoch? Recent updates on a persistent question (4 October 2019).” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019): 305-73. www.templethemes.net. (accessed October 23, 2019).

Christian Symbols. In Fish Eaters. http://www.fisheaters.com/symbols.html. (accessed September 29, 2008).

Elkaïm-Sartre, Arlette, ed. Aggatdoth du Talmud de Babylone: La Source de Jacob – ‘Ein Yaakov. Collection “Les Dix Paroles”, ed. Charles Mopsik. Lagrasse, France: Éditions Verdier, 1982.

Fletcher-Louis, Crispin H. T. All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

Ginzberg, Louis, ed. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Translated by Henrietta Szold and Paul Radin. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909-1938. Reprint, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Goodenough, Erwin Ramsdell. Symbolism in the Dura Synagogue. 3 vols. Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period 9-11, Bollingen Series 37. New York City, NY: Pantheon Books, 1964.

Gregory Nazianzen. ca. 350-363. “Oration 39: Oration on the Holy Lights.” In Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. 14 vols. Vol. 7, 351-59. New York City, NY: The Christian Literature Company, 1894. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004.

Hanhart, Robert, and Alfred Rahlfs. 1935. Septuagint with Logos Morphology: Rahlfs Edition. Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979.

Himmelfarb, Martha. Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Hyde, Orson. 1853. “The man to lead God’s people; overcoming; a pillar in the temple of God; angels’ visits; the earth (A discourse delivered by President Orson Hyde, at the General Conference held in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, October 6, 1853).” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 1, 121-30. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. Hebrews: A Commentary. The New Testament Library, ed. C. Clifton Black and John T. Carroll. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.

“Keys.” Nauvoo, IL: Times and Seasons 5:23, December 15, 1844, 748-49.

Kulik, Alexander. Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: Toward the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham. Text-Critical Studies 3, ed. James R. Adair, Jr. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004.

———. “Slavonic apocrypha and Slavic linguistics.” In The Old Testament Apocrypha in the Slavonic Tradition: Continuity and Diversity, edited by Christfried Böttrich, Lorenzo DiTommaso and Marina Swoboda Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, 245-70. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2011. https://www.scribd.com/document/124601634/Article-Slavonic-Apocrypha-and-Slavic-Linguistics-1. (accessed December 3, 2019).

———. “Apocalypse of Abraham.” In Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, edited by Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman. 3 vols. Vol. 2, 1453-81. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 2013.

Lewis, C. S. 1955. “‘De Descriptione Temporum’.” In Selected Literary Essays, edited by Walter Hooper, 1-14. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Ludlow, Victor L. Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1982.

Margalioth, Mordecai, ed. Midrash ha-Gadol ‘al hamishah humshey Torah: Sefer Bereshit. Jerusalem, Israel: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1947.

Mayerhofer, Kerstin. “‘And they will rejoice over me forever!’ The history of Israel in the light of the catastrophe of 70 C.E. in the Slavonic Apocalypse of Abraham.” Judaica Olomoucensia 1-2 (2014): 10-35. https://judaistika.upol.cz/fileadmin/userdata/FF/katedry/jud/judaica/Judaica_Olomucensia_2014_1-2.pdf. (accessed December 3, 2019).

Moffitt, David M. Atonement and the Logic of Resurrection in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 141, ed. M. M. Mitchell and D. P. Moessner. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011.

Mopsik, Charles, ed. Le Livre Hébreu d’Hénoch ou Livre des Palais. Les Dix Paroles, ed. Charles Mopsik. Lagrasse, France: Éditions Verdier, 1989.

Neusner, Jacob, ed. Genesis Rabbah: The Judaic Commentary to the Book of Genesis, A New American Translation. 3 vols. Vol. 2: Parashiyyot Thirty-Four through Sixty-Seven on Genesis 8:15-28:9. Brown Judaic Studies 105, ed. Jacob Neusner. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1985.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

———. 1978. “The early Christian prayer circle.” In Mormonism and Early Christianity, edited by Todd M. Compton and Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 4, 45-99. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1987.

———. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004.

———. 1993. “A house of glory.” In Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple, edited by Stephen D. Ricks. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 17, 323-39. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008.

Origen. ca. 234-240. Homilies on Luke: Fragments on Luke. Translated by Joseph T. Lienhard. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996.

Orlov, Andrei A. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 107. Tübingen, Germany Mohr Siebeck, 2005.

Palmer, Richard E. The liminality of Hermes and the meaning of hermeneutics. In MacMurray College Faculty Writings. https://www.scribd.com/document/256305040/The-Liminality-of-Hermes-and-the-Meaning-of-Hermeneutics-Richard-Palmer. (accessed August 21, 2020).

Parry, Donald W., Jay A. Parry, and Tina M. Peterson, eds. Understanding Isaiah. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1998.

Philo. b. 20 BCE. “On drunkenness (De Ebrietate).” In Philo, edited by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker. 12 vols. Vol. 3. Translated by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker. The Loeb Classical Library 247, ed. Jeffrey Henderson, 307-435. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1930.

———. b. 20 BCE. “On the Virtues (De Virtutibus).” In Philo, edited by F. H. Colson. 12 vols. Vol. 8. Translated by F. H. Colson. The Loeb Classical Library 341, 158-305, 440-50. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1939.

Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds. A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included Under That Title. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Romney, Marion G. “The oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.” Conference Report, April 1962, 16-20.

Rona, Daniel. Israel Revealed: Discovering Mormon and Jewish Insights in the Holy Land. Sandy, UT: The Ensign Foundation, 2001.

Rubinkiewicz, Ryszard. “Apocalypse of Abraham.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 681-705. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

———. L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave : Introduction, texte critique, traduction et commentaire. Towarzystwo Naukowe Katolikiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego, Zrodlai i monografie 129. Lublin, Poland: Société des Lettres et des Sciences de l’Université Catholique de Lublin, 1987.

Sandmel, Samuel, M. Jack Suggs, and Arnold J. Tkacik, eds. The New English Bible with the Apocrypha, Oxford Study Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.

Scholem, Gershom, ed. 1941. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. New York City, NY: Schocken Books, 1995.

Schwartz, Howard. Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Van Orden, Bruce A. We’ll Sing and We’ll Shout: The Life and Times of W. W. Phelps. Provo, UT and Salt Lake City, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University and Deseret Book, 2018.

Vermes, Geza, ed. 1962. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Revised ed. London, England: Penguin Books, 2004.

Weitzman, Steven. “The song of Abraham.” Hebrew Union College Annual 65 (1994): 21-33. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23508527. (accessed September 6, 2015).

Witherington, Ben, III. Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reidersche_Tafel_c_400_AD.jpg (accessed June 22, 2020). In Hebrews 6:18‑20 Paul addresses as his audience all those who “have claimed his protection by grasping the hope set before us” (S. Sandmel, et al., New English Bible, Hebrews 6:18, p. 280). Continuing the description, he writes: “That hope we hold. It is like an anchor for our lives, an anchor safe and sure. It enters in through the veil, whose Jesus has entered on our behalf as a forerunner, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (S. Sandmel, et al., New English Bible, Hebrews 6:18–20, p. 280). Cf. Ether 12:4: “which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast.” See J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity, pp. 97–100.

Alluding to the blessings of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood (D&C 84:33–48. See also M. G. Romney, Oath, p. 17 and J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath), Paul wanted to assure the Saints of the firmness and unchangeableness of God’s promises symbolized in “grasp[ing] the hope set before [them]” (S. Sandmel, et al., New English Bible, Hebrews 6:18, p. 280). The “two irrevocable acts” that provide that firm assurance to disciples are “God’s promise and the oath by which He guarantees that promise” (K. L. Barney, NT Footnotes, 3:82; See also M. G. Romney, Oath, p. 17). By these verses, we are meant to understand that so long as we hold fast to the Redeemer, who has entered “through the veil on our behalf … as a forerunner,” we will remain firmly anchored to our heavenly home, and the eventual realization of the promise “that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3. See also Hebrews 4:14; H. W. Attridge, et al., Hebrews, pp. 118–119).

Christian use of anchor imagery goes back at least to “the first century cemetery of St. Domitilla, the second and third century epitaphs of the catacombs” (Christian Symbols, Christian Symbols). Comparing the symbol of the anchor to an image in Virgil, Witherington concludes that he was “thinking no doubt of an iron anchor with two wings rather than an ancient stone anchor” (B. Witherington, III, Letters, p. 225). The shape of the anchor recalls God’s two assurances: the covenant itself and the oath by which the former is “made sure” (2 Peter 1:10). The symbol of the anchor evokes the tradition of pounding nails into the Western Wall of the Jerusalem Temple. Daniel Rona writes: “Older texts reveal a now forgotten custom of the ‘sure nails.’ This was the practice of bringing one’s sins, grief, or the tragedies of life to the remains of the temple wall and ‘nailing’ them in a sure place. The nails are a reminder of Isaiah’s prophecy [22:23–25] that man’s burden will be removed when the nail in the sure place is taken down” (D. Rona, Revealed, p. 194). Victor Ludlow concurs, concluding that “some of the terminology of [the wording in Isaiah 22:20–25] seems to refer to the priesthood keys and atoning powers of Jesus Christ” (V. L. Ludlow, Isaiah, p. 235. Cf. D. W. Parry, et al., Isaiah, p. 202). In an unsigned article in the Times and Seasons, probably written by William W. Phelps or John Taylor (see B. A. Van Orden, We’ll Sing, pp. 333-337), we read: “‘The nail fastened in a sure place,’ remains a mystery to the world, but the wise understand” (Keys, Keys, p. 748).

According to Margaret Barker, there is undoubtedly the sense in Hebrews 6:18–20 that “Jesus, the high priest, [stands] behind the veil in the Holy of Holies to assist those who [pass] through” (M. Barker, King of the Jews, pp. 42–43. Cf. 2 Nephi 9:41. See also Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 39, 7:358; Origen, Luke, p. 103; 1 Corinthians 3:13). According to Harold Attridge: “The anchor would thus constitute the link that ‘extends’ or ‘reaches’ to the safe harbor of the divine realms … providing a means of access by its entry into God’s presence” (H. W. Attridge, et al., Hebrews, p. 184; cf. pp. 185, 222–24. See also L. T. Johnson, Hebrews, pp. 172–73).

David Moffitt argues that just as Jesus was “exalted … above the entire created order—to the heavenly throne at God’s right hand,” so “humanity will be elevated to the pinnacle of the created order” (D. M. Moffitt, Atonement, pp. 300–3011). And just as the Son received “all the glory of Adam,” so “His followers will also inherit this promise if they endure … testing” (D. M. Moffitt, Atonement, p. 301).

The phrase “all the glory of Adam,” applied by Moffit to Jesus Christ and His followers, originated with the Jews in Qumran. See Rule of the Community (1QS), 4:22–26 in G. Vermes, Complete, p. 103. For a more detailed study of the meaning of this phrase in the context of the theology of the Qumran Community and of early Christians, see C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Glory.

Figures 2, 3, 5. Copyright Jeffrey M. Bradshaw.

Figure 4. E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 11, Plate V. Jewish tradition avers that “when the righteous see the Shekinah, they break straightway into song” (H. Schwartz, Tree, p. 341). Such “hymns” are often described as hymns of praise, emulating the Sanctus of the angels. For a broader overview of the function of hymns in later Jewish accounts of heavenly ascent in G. Scholem, Trends, pp. 57–63. For a discussion of the “tongue of angels” in 2 Nephi 31 and the hymn Moses sang during his heavenly ascent as recounted by Philo (Philo, Virtues, 72–78, pp. 207–209; cf. Deuteronomy 32:1–43) as illustrated in this mural (J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural, pp. 17–19), see J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity, pp. 103–104. See also The Inquiry of Abraham, in R. Bauckham, et al., Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, pp. 59–63.

Footnotes

 

1As Richard Palmer observed (R. E. Palmer, Liminality):

Ancient texts are, for moderns, doubly alien: they are ancient and they are in another language. Their interpreter … is a bridge to somewhere else, he is a mediator between a mysterious other world and the clean, well-lighted, intelligible world in which “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

2For a summary of arguments and sources bearing on this question, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., Could Joseph Smith Have Drawn (2019), pp. 320–321.

3C. S. Lewis, Descriptione, p. 13.

4Moses 1:27.

5A. Kulik, Retroverting, 17:1, p. 22; 18:1, p. 23; 19:4, p. 25; 30:1, p. 34.

6Explaining the mediating function of the angel Metatron (who is sometimes identified with Yaho’el (A. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham, p. 1463 n. 10:3) and whose name is sometimes derived from the Latin mediator (ibid., p. 1663 n. 10:8)), Andrei Orlov writes (A. A. Orlov, Enoch-Metatron, p. 114 n. 125):

The inability of the angelic hosts to sustain the terrifying sound of God’s voice or the terrifying vision of God’s glorious Face is not a rare motif in the Hekhalot writings. In such depictions Metatron usually poses as the mediator par excellence who protects the angelic hosts participating in the heavenly liturgy against the dangers of direct encounter with the divine presence. This combination of the liturgical duties with the role of the Prince of the Presence appears to be a long-lasting tradition with its possible roots in Second Temple Judaism. James VanderKam notes that in 1QSb 4:25 the priest is compared with an angel of the Face.

7A. Kulik, Retroverting, 16:2–4, p. 22. G. Scholem, Trends, p. 69 mentions the teaching in “a manuscript originating among the twelfth century Jewish mystics in Germany [Ms. British Museum, Margoliouth n. 752 f.; published in M. Margalioth, Midrash ha-Gadol] that Yaho’el was Abraham’s teacher and taught him the whole of the Torah. The same document also expressly mentions Yaho’el as the angel who—in [a] Talmudic passage [A. Elkaïm-Sartre, Ein Yaakov, Sanhédrin, 39a, p. 1031]—invites Moses to ascend to heaven.”

8Moses 1:31. The opening inclusio in v. 25, corresponding to Moses 1:30, seems to be an “announcement of plot,” previewing what is going on generally in verses 25–31. What vv. 25–30 appear to emphasize is the voice in response to Moses’ calling upon the Lord as a prelude to the climactic encounter in v. 31.

9Moses 5:4. For more on the nature of the prayer that is implied in this verse, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 5:4a, pp. 355–357; J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 185–192.

10Cf. “whom himself you will not see” (A. Kulik, Retroverting, 16:3, p. 22).

11H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 19, p. 233:

[Adam and Eve] could hear [God’s] voice speaking from the Garden, but they saw him not. They were shut out from his presence, but the link was there. This is what the rabbis call the bat ḳōl. The bat ḳōl is the “echo.” Literally, it means the “daughter of the voice.” After the last prophets, the rabbis didn’t get inspiration, but they did have the bat ḳōl. They could hear the voice. They could hear the echo. You could have inspiration, intuition, etc. (not face-to-face anymore, but the bat ḳōl).

12Moses 4:31.

13For more on this symbolic correspondence, see J. M. Bradshaw, Tree of Knowledge, pp. 52–54.

14Moses 1:27.

15A. Kulik, Retroverting, 17:1, p. 22; R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, 17:1, p. 696.

16A. Kulik, Retroverting, 17:1, p. 22; 18:1, p. 23; 19:4, p. 25; 30:1, p. 34. The first time the speaker is the angel Yaho’el (just before they bow and worship as the divine Presence approaches), the second time it is Abraham (reciting the “hymn” just prior to the vision of the seraphim), and in the last two instances God is the interlocutor (first, prior to Abraham’s vision of the firmaments, and then as Abraham descends again to earth).

17Our search through the relevant literature revealed no commentary discussing this odd, repeated phrase in ApAb. However, from a sampling of contexts for the use of similar phraseology in the Old Testament (e.g., Genesis 24:15, 45: “before he/I had done speaking”; Job 1:16, 17, 18: “while he was yet speaking”; Daniel 7:20, 21: “whiles I was speaking”), it seems to indicate the immediacy of the subsequent action. In the Genesis and Job passages, it is a person who appears before the speech can conclude, while in Daniel, the words herald the coming of an angel.

The most relevant usage to the context in Moses 1 and ApAb is in the Septuagint version of Isaiah 58:9, which reads a little differently than in the Hebrew Bible to describe the immediacy of God’s appearance when a righteous individual petitions Him in the most perilous of circumstances by means of the most sacred form of prayer: “Then you shall cry out, and God will listen to you; while you are still speaking, he will say, ‘Here I am’” (A. Pietersma et al., Septuagint, Isaiah 58:9, p. 869). Greek: τότε βοήσῃ, καὶ ὁ θεὸς εἰσακούσεταί σου, ἔτι λαλοῦντός σου ἐρεῖ Ἰδοὺ πάρειμι (R. Hanhart et al., Septuagint, Isaiah 58:9, electronic edition). Citing the experience of Stephen, who saw the Lord “in the agonies of death,” Elder Orson Hyde taught (O. Hyde, 6 October 1853, p. 125):

True it is, that in the most trying hour, the servants of God may then be permitted to see their Father, and elder Brother. “But,” says one, “I wish to see the Father, and the Savior, and an angel now.” Before you can see the Father, and the Savior, or an angel, you have to be brought into close places in order to enjoy this manifestation. The fact is, your very life must be suspended on a thread, as it were. If you want to see your Savior, be willing to come to that point where no mortal arm can rescue, no earthly power save! When all other things fail, when everything else proves futile and fruitless, then perhaps your Savior and your Redeemer may appear; His arm is not shortened that He cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear; and when help on all sides appears to fail, My arm shall save, My power shall rescue, and you shall hear My voice, saith the Lord.

18E.g., P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 45:1, p. 296. Cf. 45:6, pp. 298–299.

19A. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham, p. 1470 n. 21:2. Kulik notes that the “visionary screen” is called a “pargod`, ‘veil`,’ … in hekhalot literature.” For an extensive notes on the derivation and usage of this Persian loanword, see P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 45:1, p. 296 n. a; C. Mopsik, Hénoch, pp. 325–327 nn. 45:1–2.

20Moses 1:31.

21A. Kulik, Retroverting, 19:4-9, pp. 24-25; cf. Abraham 3:1–18.

22Ibid., 30:1, p. 34; R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, 30:1, p. 704.

23A. Kulik, Retroverting, 30:1, p. 34; R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, 30:1, p. 704.

24Accounts purporting to reproduce the words of such prayers have long puzzled interpreters, principally because the introductions to such prayers or the prayers themselves are frequently portrayed as being given in unknown tongues. For example, during the ascent of ApAb, Abraham describes “a crowd of many people … shouting in a language the words of which I did not know” (A. Kulik, Retroverting, 15:6–7, p. 22; cf. A. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham, p. 1467 n. 15:7, probably referring to the special language of angels [A. Kulik, Slavonic Apocrypha and Slavic Linguistics, p. 252]). For more on this motif, see J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity, pp. 102–104.

Repetition is another hallmark of solemn prayer. For example, at the dedication of the Kirtland temple the Prophet prayed following the pattern of “Adam’s prayer” (H. W. Nibley, House of Glory, p. 339) with threefold repetition: “O hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord! … that we may mingle our voices with those bright, shining seraphs around thy throne” (D&C 109:78-79). Similarly in ApAb, Abraham, having “rebuilt the altar of Adam” at the command of an angel (H. W. Nibley, Prayer Circle, p. 57), is reported as having repeatedly raised his voice to God, saying: “El, El, El, El, Yaho’el … Accept my prayer” (cf. A. Kulik, Retroverting, 17:13, 20, p. 23). Kulik conjectures that “the fourfold repetition of the transliterated Hebrew ‘God’ might have come as a substitution for the four letters of God’s ineffable name [the Tetragrammaton]” [A. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham, p. 1467 n. 17:13]). Abraham’s prayer was also in imitation of Adam (“May the words of my mouth be acceptable” [L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:91]; cf. Psalm 54:2: “Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth”).

25Compare H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), pp. 449-457.

26See J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity, pp. 103–104.

27See ibid., p. 103.

28A. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham, p. 1468 n. 18:1–14.

29Drawing on Philo (Philo, Drunkenness, 105, p. 373) and Midrash Rabbah (J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 2, 43:9 C-E, p. 123), Steven Weitzman (S. Weitzman, Song of Abraham, pp. 27–33) argues that the Hymn of Abraham in ApAb 17 is an exegesis of Genesis 14:22–23. This reading interprets Abraham’s raised hand (Genesis 14:22) or perhaps the raise of both his hands (“he lifted up his right hand and his left hand to heaven” [J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 2, 43:9 C, p. 123]) prior to the opening of the veil to him as a prayer or “hymn” rather than as an oath.

30M. Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, p. 64, emphasis added.

31A. Kulik, Retroverting, 17:20–21, p. 23.

32Ibid., 18:1–3, pp. 23–24.

33K. Mayerhofer, And They Will Rejoice, p. 28. Cf. M. Himmelfarb, Ascent to Heaven, p. 63. See also p. 137 n. 59.

34Of course, it could be argued that Moses has implicitly ascended from the telestial world (where he encountered Satan) to the terrestrial world (where he called upon God in formal prayer) prior to his passage through the veil that defines the boundary of the celestial realm. Be that as it may, Moses’ upward journey, like Abraham’s upward journey, bears very little resemblance to the elaborately described passages through a series of lower heavens typically found in the extracanonical literature.

35Moses 1:25.

36A. Kulik, Retroverting, 17:1, p. 22. See similar imagery in Ezekiel 43:2; Revelation 1:15, 14:2, 19:6; D&C 133:22. Cf. Psalm 29:3; 2 Samuel 22:14. “The same terms are used in the ‘Greater Hekhaloth’ in describing the sound of the hymn of praise sung by the ‘throne of Glory’ to its King—‘like the voice of the waters in the rushing streams, like the waves of the ocean when the south wind sets them in uproar’” (G. Scholem, Trends, p. 61).

37D. I. Block, Ezekiel 25-48, 43:1–2, 4, p. 579.

38G. H. Box, Apocalypse, 17 n. 9, p. 36. Cf. 2 Enoch 39:7: “like great thunder with continual agitation of the clouds” (ibid., 17 n. 9, p. 36). See further discussion of this imagery in R. Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, pp. 155, 157 n. 1.

Moses Ascends to Heaven

Book of Moses Essay #37

Moses 1:24

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In this Essay, we compare the symbolism in the Apocalypse of Abraham (ApAb) description of the ascent of Abraham to the Book of Moses and other accounts in Latter-day Saint scripture. Though, in contrast to Moses 1, ApAb rejects the idea that God can be seen by man, it accepts the idea that God can reveal Himself from behind the veil by means of His voice. God’s voice was depicted for centuries in the art of Jewish synagogues and Christian churches as a divine hand, often shown as emerging from behind a cloud or veil.

Moses and Abraham Ascend to Heaven

In the figure above, we see Abraham and Yaho’el ascending to heaven on the wings of the two birds that were provided by God but not divided at the time of the sacrifice.1  The imagery of heavenly ascent on the wings of birds is a convention that goes back at least two thousand years.2  As in other ApAb illustrations, Yaho’el holds Abraham firmly by the wrist, using the right hand.3

Figure 2. Resemblances in ApAb for Moses’ and Nephi’s Ascents to Heaven (Moses 1:24)

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi was similarly “caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which [he] never had before seen.”4  Nephi later said that “upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains,”5  imagery that is arguably similar to the ApAb description of Abraham being raised up to heaven on the wings of a bird.6

In the Book of Moses, a context of priesthood ordinances seems implied in the account. For example, having banished Satan by calling upon the name of the Only Begotten7  (a motif that precedes baptism in some ancient Christian sources8), Moses was immediately afterward “filled with the Holy Ghost.”9

Further support for this idea is found in the fact that the description of Moses being “caught up”10  (as Nephi was “caught away”) is phrased in what is sometimes termed the “divine passive.”11  This syntactic form implies that his ascent was accomplished by God’s power and not his own.12  The scriptural use of the divine passive may also indicate a context of priesthood ordinances. For example, we are told elsewhere that Adam was “caught away by the Spirit of the Lord” into the water and baptized.13  Note that the Apostle Paul, in a description similar to that of the experiences of Moses and Abraham, was “caught up” to the third heaven.14  Going further, Hugh Nibley explained:15

In the Old World accounts the hero is taken up to heaven by a dove; in the Joseph Smith revelations, it is by the Holy Ghost. The two are strikingly brought together in Abraham’s cosmic chart ([Book of Abraham,] facsimile 2), which has as its central theme the theophany, a design which does not depict but “represents God sitting upon His throne, revealing through the heavens the grand Key-words of the Priesthood; as, also, the sign of the Holy Ghost unto Abraham in the form of a dove” (explanation of Facsimile 2, figure 7). So there you have the whole situation—the dove that takes one to heaven is the Holy Ghost, who also instructs and teaches “through the heavens,” “revealing … the grand Key-words … as, also, the sign” by which alone supernal knowledge can be conveyed. It is exactly the same scenario in the Abraham apocrypha as in the Joseph Smith Book of Abraham.

Figure 3. Resemblances for Moses Seeing God (Moses 1:25)

Seeing God

Moses 1:25 tells us that Moses “beheld [God’s] glory.” However, in an important divergence from the Book of Moses, ApAb has Yaho’el declare to Abraham: “the Eternal One … you will not see.”16  Thus, the redactor of ApAb explicitly rejects any visualization of God and “insists on expressing the divine Presence in the form of the Deity’s Voice”17  alone.

Importantly, however, the divine whisper or echo (Hebrew bat ḳōl בּת קול—literally, “daughter of the voice”) through which, in Jewish tradition, divine revelation continued aurally even after the open visions of the prophets had ceased,18  was depicted for centuries in the art of Jewish synagogues and Christian churches as a divine hand. In portrayals of ritual or heavenly ascent, this hand was often shown as emerging from behind a cloud or veil, representing the obscuring boundary that separates earth from heaven.19

Figure 4. Detail from the Torah shrine of the Dura Europos synagogue

A relevant example is shown in this illustration from a decoration on the Torah shrine of the synagogue at Dura Europos. It is the “earliest known depiction of the hand of God in either Jewish or Christian art.”20  Isaac, depicted behind the scene of his near sacrifice and clad in white clothing marked with red clavi,21  is shown entering behind the veil of a tent sanctuary at the top of Mount Moriah.22  This reading is supported by Jewish and early Christian texts suggesting that, in the Akedah, Isaac literally died, ascended to heaven, and was resurrected.23  The disembodied hand, a visualization of God’s body in “pars pro toto24  (i.e., the part shown representing all the rest) and of His heavenly utterance from behind the veil (i.e., the bat ḳōl25), is shown above the scene of the arrested sacrifice and to the immediate left of the tent sanctuary.26

Moses 1:25–31 describes the revelation of God as a progressive phenomenon, beginning with “a voice” and ending with a “face to face” encounter. Notably, the same sequence of divine disclosure is present in the story of the brother of Jared’s intimate encounter with the Lord “at the veil.”27  In that account, the prayer of the brother of Jared is answered first with a divine voice,28  then with seeing the finger of the hand of the Lord,29  and finally with a view of the “body of [His] spirit.”30

When the accounts of Moses’ and Abraham’s subsequent passage through the veil in the Book of Moses and ApAb are combined, the details revealed are illuminating. These surprising details will be the focus of the next Essay.31

This article is adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, p. 59.

———, David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 30–31.

Nibley, Hugh W. “To open the last dispensation: Moses chapter 1.” In Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 1–20. Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978, p. 11.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, p. 220.

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Barney, Kevin L. E-mail message to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, June 21, 2006.

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Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Photographs of the originals of the illustrations are from Otkrovenie Avraama (Apocalypse of Abraham or ApAb), which comprises pages 328–375 of the Codex Sylvester. The Codex Sylvester, “the oldest and the only independent manuscript containing the full text of ApAb” (A. Kulik, Retroverting, p. 3), is known to scholars as manuscript “S.” It is the only illustrated manuscript of ApAb. Photographs of the illustrations from the original manuscript are published in this article for the first time with the kind permission of the Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov (RGADA — Russian State Archive of Early Acts, formerly TsGADA SSSR = Central State Archive of Early Acts) in Moscow. We express our sincere gratitude to Evgeniy Rychalovskiy, Head of the Publication Department and Vladislav Rzheutsky of the German Historical Institute in Moscow, for their assistance on 4 and 6 December 2019. Within the RGADA collection, the Codex Sylvester is catalogued as folder 381, Printer’s Library, no. 53, folios 164v-186. The six illustrations can be found in these folios: 182v, 174, 172v, 170v, 168b v, and 168a.

Photographs of the illustrations from a rare printed copy of the first facsimile edition (1891) were taken on 26 April 2009 and are © Stephen T. Whitlock and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. We express our special thanks to Carole Menzies and Jennifer Griffiths who facilitated our access to the facsimiles for filming purposes in the Taylor Bodleian Slavonic and Modern Greek Library, Oxford University, Oxford, England. The facsimile edition was originally published as N. Novickij (Novitskii, P. P., Otkrovenie Avraama and later as a reprint. Whitlock’s Image IDs are as follows: ApAb-OX10, ApAb-OX19, ApAb-OX20, ApAb-OX26, ApAb-OX30, ApAb-OX33, ApAb-OX50. For this article, the photos have been enhanced digitally for readability and size consistency, and a colored mask has been added to the backgrounds of all photos except ApAb-OX10.

Figures 2-3. Copyright Jeffrey M. Bradshaw.

Figure 4. C. H. Kraeling, et al., Synagogue, plate 51.

Footnotes

 

1They had been told not to divide these birds, evidently so that the birds could provide the means of their ascent (A. Kulik, Retroverting, 12:8, p. 19, cf. 15:2, p. 22). Translation of caption: “And the angel took two birds and the angel took me by the right hand and set me on the wing of a pigeon, on the right, and himself set on the wing of a turtledove. And we ascended into the regions of fiery flame and went up into the heights.” Cf. Ibid., 15:2–3, p. 22. Note that Abraham is shown on the left wing, though ApAb reads that he was set on the right wing. Though both Abraham and Yaho’el are both described in the text and shown in the illustration mounting to heaven on the wings of birds, Brian Hauglid mistakenly concluded that only one of them is ascending. He wrote: “It is not Abraham who ascends to heaven on the ‘wings of the birds’ (which is the main force of the parallel) but the angel to whom Abraham is talking” (B. M. Hauglid, New Resource, p. 59).

2Lourié notes “a medieval legend of the ascension of Alexander the Great, which goes back to the Hellenistic era. In the legend Alexander reaches the heaven (or even heavenly Jerusalem) transported by four griffins. This motif suggests that the griffins as the psychopomps transporting visionaries to heaven were not an invention of the authors of the hekhalot literature but were a part of the early Jewish environment” (B. Lourié, Review, p. 233).

3A. Kulik, Retroverting, 12:10, p. 19; 15:2, p. 22; R. Rubinkiewicz, Apocalypse of Abraham, 12:10, p. 695; 15:2, p. 696. Cf. H. W. Nibley, Abraham 2000, p. 18; Genesis 15:9ff.

41 Nephi 11:1. Cf. Exodus 19:3, Ezekiel 40:2; JST Matthew 4:8; Revelations 21:10; Moses 7:2.

52 Nephi 4:25. Cf. “wings of his Shekinah” (J. Goldin, Fathers, p. 68). Joseph Smith explained that: “The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the Devil cannot come in the sign of a dove” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 29 January 1843, p. 276; cf. B. R. McConkie, Mortal Messiah, 1:404; J. Smith, Jr., Words, 21 March 1841, p. 66).

6Brian Hauglid argues that “equating the ‘Spirit’ with ‘birds’” in this case “is a stretch” (B. M. Hauglid, New Resource, p. 59). However, in G. H. Box’s comment on the ascent of Abraham and Yaho’el (G. H. Box, Apocalypse, XIII, note 8), he had no qualms about this association, reminding readers of the “symbolism of the dove” as it “applied to the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 3:16). R. Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, p. 151 n. 1, citing the symbolism of the angel mounting on the left wing of the turtledove, noted that the turtledove is “identified [in Jewish tradition] with the Holy Spirit, the source of prophecy” (see C. Perrot et al., Pseudo-Philon, p. 147, cited in F. J. Murphy, Pseudo-Philo, p. 111 n. 23, referencing in turn Targum Canticles 2:12). Moreover, because the turtledove is said explicitly elsewhere to be a symbol of the prophets (Pseudo-Philo, Biblical Antiquities, 23:7, p. 142), he conjectured that the scene in ApAb is a way to describe the prophetic investiture of Abraham.

The resemblance between ApAb and 2 Nephi was first proposed in H. W. Nibley, To Open, p. 11, who has written extensively on the symbolism on related imagery in H. W. Nibley, Approach to Abraham.

7Moses 1:21.

8See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified, pp. 144–146.

9Moses 1:24.

10Moses 1:1.

11K. L. Barney, June 21 2006.

12Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Moses 7:27.

13Moses 6:64.

142 Corinthians 12:2.

15H. W. Nibley, Abraham 2000, pp. 56–57.

16A. Kulik, Retroverting, 16:3, p. 22, emphasis added. This Jewish belief is found in Exodus 33:20 and rabbinic commentaries (R. Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, p. 155 n. 3).

17A. A. Orlov, Gods of My Father, p. 53; see also A. A. Orlov, Praxis, p. 160. Andrei Orlov has argued that there may be some connection between the anti-anthropomorphism in the heavenly ascent of Abraham and its prelude in the destruction of Terah’s idols (A. A. Orlov, Divine Manifestations, pp. 217–235). He has also shown that this attitude has Deuteronomic precedents (ibid., pp. 8-12). Importantly, Robin M. Jensen depicts similar ambivalence to divine anthropomorphism in early Christianity (R. M. Jensen, Invisible Christian God).

18“A. When the latter prophets died, that is, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, then the Holy Spirit came to an end in Israel. B. But even so, they made them hear [Heavenly messages] through an echo [bat ḳōl]” (J. Neusner, Tosefta, Sotah 13:3, 1:885).

19Citing E. R. Goodenough, Hugh Nibley explained (H. W. Nibley, Atonement, pp. 561–562):

In a stock presentation found in early Jewish synagogues [see, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural, pp. 11–12, 22–23] as well as on very early Christian murals [see, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity , pp. 64-65, 96], “the hand of God is represented, but could not be called that explicitly, and instead of the heavenly utterance, the bat ḳōl [echo, distant voice, whisper] is given (E. R. Goodenough, Archeological Evidence, 1:246). From the hand “radiate beams of light” (ibid., 1:246). “To show the hand and light thus emerging from central darkness,” writes Goodenough, “is as near as one could come in conservative Judaism to depicting God himself” (ibid., 1:248). In early Christian representations the hand of God reaching through the veil is grasped by the initiate [i.e., in ritual ascent] or human spirit [i.e., in heavenly ascent] who is being caught up into the presence of the Lord.

Goodenough is specifically describing a hand that appears next to an illustration of the Akedah in the Beth Alpha synagogue (E. R. Goodenough, Illustrations, figure 638), where the message of the bat ḳōl is represented in Hebrew words written below the hand explicitly tell Abraham “do not raise [your hand against the boy]” (al tishlaḥ [yadkha el ha-naʻar]) in order to stop the sacrifice (Genesis 22:12). The same symbolism is in play in the Dura synagogue Torah shrine (E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:71; cf. C. H. Kraeling et al., Synagogue, p. 57). However, extending the meaning of the hand in Beth Alpha, the hand at Dura may have been intended to signify two events at the same time: God’s speech at the altar as well as at the entrance to the sanctuary-tent. Significantly, Rachel Hachlili notes that the hand of God in this scene “differs from all the others [in the Dura synagogue] by the addition of two lined borders” (R. Hachlili, Ancient Jewish Art, p. 144). She interprets this border tentatively as “a cloud?” but the two-lines more plausibly resemble layered fabrics of a veil, as in the illustration of the veils surrounding the throne of God from the Codex Sylvester shown below.

20S. Lander, Revealing and Concealing, p. 205.

21A. Grabar, Le Thème, p. 145: “clavi rouges.” In this image, the clavi can be seen as reddish purple stripes descending diagonally from left to right on what is usually taken to be a white chiton (tunic or outer robe). More generally Goodenough comments ((E. R. Goodenough, Garments, pp. 228–229):

The feeling of a special meaning in the Jewish-Christian version of the pallium tradition [large rectangular cloak associated with Greek philosophers and still used, e.g., as an emblem of the pope in the Roman Catholic Church] is intensified by the common use of the marks in the corners of the himation [outer garment associated with the ancient Greeks worn over the left shoulder and under the right] as well as of the stripes on the chiton. … I find it hard to believe that even the stripes were “purely ornamental,” though I cannot trace their origin or explain their meaning. … [The mark] came in Christianity [in the shape of a half-square] to be called a gam or gamma or gammadia. Whatever it originally represented, obviously it had some sort of religious potency, perhaps explained or re-explained as it went from religion to religion, or perhaps just persisting as a symbol in its own right without explanations.

In a speech by Tertullian, On the Mantle [De Pallium], he describes how the pallium was used in Greek mysteries, but “now that Christians have adopted it, … it surpasses all the clothing of the gods or priests” (Tertullian, On the Mantle, 4:10 as paraphrased in E. R. Goodenough, Garments, p. 228).

Some scholars have dismissed the depictions of distinctive clothing of this sort as merely the product of slavish copying by the mural makers from standard design books. Others assert that different marks may serve merely to distinguish between male and female garments (M. Avi-Yonah, Critique, pp. 120–121). However, Erwin Goodenough notes that distinctive marks are found not only in the Dura murals, but also in a cache of white textile fragments also discovered at Dura that “may well have been the contents of a box where sacred vestments were kept, or they may have been fetishistic marks, originally on sacred robes, that were preserved after the garments had been outworn” (E. R. Goodenough, Garments, p. 225; cf. E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:127–129; see also discussion of “cultic refuse pits” in A. Wrathall, Cult Objects). Such marks on Christian robes, as well as on clothing in Hellenistic Egypt, Palmyra, and on Roman figures of Victory are thought to be “a symbol of immortality” (E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:163). For further discussion of Goodenough’s conclusions and a report of similar patterns found at Masada and elsewhere, see J. W. Welch et al., Gammadia. See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 571–573, 654–657; H. W. Nibley, Vestments.

22A. Grabar, Le Thème, pp. 145–146 (translation by Bradshaw):

[The Targum] explains every detail of this particular image, including its setting. The hut with the child at its door is “The House of God” at the summit of the mountain. Before it stands the youth Isaac that his father has brought there as an offering[, clad in a tunic adorned with red clavi]. The crimson color of the interior of the modest hut raises its status to that of a sanctuary (according to the Pirke de R. Eliezer, chapter 31, this summit had already served as the site of the sacrifices of Adam, Abel and Noah [M.-A. Ouaknin et al., Rabbi Éliézer, 31, p. 186]). Each of the figures are seen from the back because, having been placed between the observer and the mountain, they are turned toward its summit and the sanctuary that crowns it. Abraham and Isaac, according to what is written in the Targum, thus foreshadow the “future generations” of Israel reunited behind them who stand before the Torah of the synagogue. Thus, the setting of the scene is completely explained, as well as the connection, within the same panel, between the sacra of the Temple and this Sacrifice of Isaac that includes an image of the first sanctuary of Yahweh.

On the tradition of Abraham’s vision of God’s presence on the top of Mount Moriah and the identification of this site of sacrifice with the Jerusalem Temple mount, see, e.g., M. McNamara, Targum Neofiti, 22:14, p. 119; H. N. Bialik et al., Legends, p. 41; L. Ginzberg, Legends, 5:253 n. 253; W. G. Braude, Midrash on Psalms, Psalm 76:3, 2:14-15; Rashi, Genesis Commentary, 22:14, 2:237; A. J. Rosenberg, Mikraot, Genesis 22:14 Vayera, 1:259; M. Zlotowitz et al., Bereishis, Genesis 22:14, 1:806–807; H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Genesis (Vayera) 56:10, pp. 500–501.

23See M. Barker, Hidden, p. 36. “This motif is based in part on the fact that only Abraham is mentioned as returning after the incident in Genesis 22:19” (J. L. Kugel, Traditions, p. 325).

H. Schwartz, Tree, p. 171 gives the following summary of relevant Jewish traditions about “Isaac’s Ascent”:

When the knife touched Isaac’s throat, his soul flew from him. … Then the angel spoke “Lay not your hand upon the lad,” and at that instant Isaac’s soul returned to his body. And when Isaac found that his soul had been restored to him, he exclaimed: “Blessed is He who quickens the dead!” (cf. M.-A. Ouaknin et al., Rabbi Éliézer, 31, p. 187, which adds” “Then Isaac became acquainted with [connut] the resurrection of the dead and knew that the dead would someday live again”).

Afterward, “the angels on high took Isaac and brought him to the schoolhouse of Shem the Great” (M. Maher, Pseudo-Jonathan, 22:19, p. 81). While he was there (H. Schwartz, Tree, p. 171):

all the Treasuries of Heaven [were] opened to Isaac[, including] the celestial Temple, which has existed there since the time of Creation …, for no mystery of heaven was deemed too secret for the pure soul of Isaac. There, too, Isaac found his own face on the curtain [heavenly veil] of God known as the Pargod. [Regarding the tselem (= image) of souls of individuals on the veil, see C. Mopsik, Hénoch, pp. 51ff., 326–327.]

Regarding ancient sources for relevant Jewish traditions of the “death” and “resurrection” of Isaac, see H. Schwartz, Tree, p. 172; L. Ginzberg, Legends, 5:251 n. 243; H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Genesis (Vayera) 56:11, p. 502.

Barker refers to early Christian texts that “compared the death and resurrection of Jesus to Isaac; others contrasted the death of Jesus and the Akedah, because Abraham offered a ram in his place, implying that Isaac did not die” (M. Barker, Temple Themes, p. 31. Cf. p. 28). See also J. L. Kugel, Bible As It Was, pp. 177–178; J. L. Kugel, Traditions, pp. 306–307, 324–325; Hebrews 11:17–19; S. Kierkegaard, Fear, Preliminary Expectoration, pp. 47–48; J. D. Levenson, Death and Resurrection, especially pp. 111–114, 125–142 (an argument against the story of Abraham as an etiology for animal sacrifice). In this regard, James L. Kugel notes one particularly revealing passage (J. L. Kugel, Traditions, pp. 324–325):

The allusion in Romans 8:32 to the Genesis narrative came to have great significance, indirect though it may have been. The allusion itself is certainly felt in Paul’s use of the word “spare,” but it also may be carried in the expression “His own son,” Greek tou idíou huiou. This phrase is sometimes rendered “only son” since idíou here may represent a translation of Hebrew “your only [son]” … in Genesis 12:2, 12, and 17; see also John 3:16. It was taken up by Origen (Homilies in Genesis, 8) and Irenaeus (Against the Heresies, 4:5.4). [See also Augustine (City of God, 16:32).]

Kugel also notes that “the same idea was sometimes represented visually, with the ram depicted as hanging from a tree (= crucified)” ((ibid., pp. 324–325. Cf. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis 20:3), as in the Akedah mosaic at Beth Alpha.

24S. Lander, Revealing and Concealing, p. 205.

25According to ibid., p. 208, Joseph Gutmann sees “the whole image [of the Akedah at Dura Europos as] ‘symbolic of the bat ḳōl = voice from heaven.’ This view is supported by the use of the bat ḳōl in the expansive Palestinian Targum Neofiti on Genesis 22:10 (M. McNamara, Targum Neofiti, Genesis 22:10, p. 118; see also p. 39). … According to Jensen, late antique Christianity shares this understanding of the divine hand, yet the divine voice is identified with the first person of the Trinity. … Jensen ponders the choice of this human body part to represent God’s voice: ‘Does God have hands?’”

26Other scholars have given different interpretations, but none account for all the data as well as Grabar and Du Mesnil de Buisson. Goodenough (E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:71), Kraeling (C. H. Kraeling et al., Synagogue, p. 57), and Perkins (A. Perkins, Art, p. 57) are in agreement that the structure with the figure at the entrance is a tent. However, despite the fact that every woman depicted elsewhere in the synagogue is wearing a head covering and colored clothing (see W. G. Moon, Nudity, pp. 596–597), Goodenough differs from these and other scholars in insisting that the figure is a female (Sarah) rather than a male (E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:72–75; cf. E. R. Goodenough, Method, pp. 189–190). Goodenough also clearly misinterprets the figure at the door of the tent as looking outward from the tent rather than inward toward its interior (E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:73: “Sarah face[s] the hand of God” vs. A. Grabar, Le Thème, p. 145: “Turning his back to the observer—like the other two figures in the scene—the child [Isaac] seems to be entering the hut” [Tournant le dos au spectateur — tout comme les deux autres figures de la scène—l’enfant semble entrer dans la cabane]). Though admitting that many aspects of Goodenough’s interpretations are brilliant, Michael Avi-Yonah faults him at times for “disregarding inconvenient facts” when they contradict his overarching “vision” of the meaning of the murals (M. Avi-Yonah, Critique, pp. 121, 120)—which, in his analysis of the Dura Europos wall painting of the binding of Isaac, required him to define a key role for Sarah.

Alternative interpretations suffer from their own problems (for a list of these interpretations see R. Hachlili, Ancient Jewish Art, p. 239). For example, C. H. Kraeling et al., Synagogue, p. 58, although accepting that the small figure at the entrance of the tent is a male, implausibly concludes that he is intended to represent “one of the two ‘young men’ left behind a short distance before proceeding to the sacrifice” (similarly A. Perkins, Art, p. 571). However, as E. R. Goodenough, Dura Symbolism, 9:72 points out, this interpretation is made improbable because the young men in Genesis 22:5 are occupied with tending an ass, not keeping a tent (as shown in the related mural at the Beth Alpha synagogue—see E. R. Goodenough, Illustrations, figure 638). Moreover, only one male figure rather than the expected two young men is depicted.

In light of all the data, the interpretation of Grabar, Hopkins (C. Hopkins, Discovery, pp. 144–145), and Du Mesnil de Buisson seems the best resolution of these difficulties. From de Buisson’s perspective, “the tent has been interpreted as a temple or the Temple, and the small figure on its threshold as either Abraham (which is unlikely because of the dress) or Isaac himself” (C. H. Kraeling et al., Synagogue, pp. 57–58, citing the findings of C. Du Mesnil de Buisson, Les Peintures, pp. 23–27; A. Grabar, Le Thème, pp. 144–146). See also M. Barker, Temple Themes, p. 28.

27For a description of this Book of Mormon account as an encounter “at the veil,” see M. C. Thomas, Brother of Jared.

28See Ether 2:22–25.

29See Ether 3:6–10.

30See Ether 3:13–20.

31See Essay #38.

Moses Defeats Satan

Book of Moses Essay #36

Moses 1:12-23

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In Moses 1:21 we read the dramatic culmination of Moses’ confrontation with Satan: “And Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.” Carl Bloch’s dramatic painting of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness above parallels Moses’ encounter with Satan. The placement of the prostrate adversary at the feet of Savior recalls the prophecy that the head of the serpent would be crushed beneath the heel of the seed of the woman—meaning Jesus Christ.1

In this Essay, we will describe the defeat of Satan as portrayed in Moses 1:12–23 and the Apocalypse of Abraham (ApAb). Though the general similarity between the type scenes depicted in Matthew 4 and Moses 1 is indisputable, the detailed resemblances between ApAb and Moses 1:12–23 are even more striking.

Figure 2. Resemblances for Moses Defeats Satan (Moses 1:12–14)

Satan disrupts the worship of God. Recalling Satan’s encounter with Christ in the wilderness,2  the Adversary tempts the prophet—in his physically weakened state—to worship him (Moses 1) or, in the case of ApAb, to “Leave [Yaho’el] and flee!” In the Book of Moses, the title conferred by Deity on Moses as a son of God is explicitly challenged by Satan, who calls him a “son of man.”3

According to David Halperin, Satan’s tactics to deceive Abraham are a “last-ditch effort to retain his privileged place in heaven.”4  If he can persuade Abraham “not to make his ascent, he will perhaps be able to keep his own privileged status.”5

Satan’s identity is questioned. Each prophet asks his adversary for credentials, which, not unexpectedly, he fails to provide.6  In the Book of Moses, the prophet questions Satan directly. By way of contrast, in ApAb, the angel Yaho’el mediates Abraham’s question. But it is an interesting sort of mediation, as indicated by the following summary of the conversation flow:

1.       Satan addresses Abraham;

2.       Abraham ignores Satan and converses with Yaho’el;

3.       Yaho’el directly addresses Satan;

4.       Abraham addresses Satan but only when and how Yaho’el instructs him to. Later, in 14:9, Abraham slips up and addresses Satan directly, for which he is sharply rebuked by Yaho’el.

Nowhere does Satan address Yaho’el.

Satan contrasted with the prophet. In both accounts, Satan’s attempt to disguise his identity is recognized. Lacking divine glory and heavenly inheritance, the Devil is easily and humiliatingly exposed.7

Figure 3. The Temptation of Christ, King Gagit I of Kars Gospels, ca. 1050

Documenting related instances of the Adversary’s deception, the Apostle Paul, drawing on early Jewish tradition,8  spoke of Satan transforming himself “into an angel of light.”9  With similar language, Joseph Smith also spoke of the Devil having appeared deceptively “as an angel of light.”10

Michael Stone sees a passage in the Latin Life of Adam and Eve as implying that “all Satan lacked to look like a heavenly angel was the glory. He lost the glory when he fell, and he could take it on temporarily in order to deceive Adam and Eve.”11  Thus, Satan is depicted in illustrations of the temptation of Christ, as elsewhere in early Christian art, as angelic in form but differing in color—e.g., appearing with “false glory” in a blue tint rather than in a bright whiteness of glory.12 Alternatively, one might interpret Satan’s blue color as his appearing, deceptively, in a form corresponding to the blue robe of the high priest, a robe which represented being clothed in the likeness of the body—the blue-black “shadow”—of the incarnate Logos.13

Moses, having received a taste of the celestial heights, had already learned to distinguish God’s glory from Satan’s pale imitation.14  He challenged the Adversary, saying: “Where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God.”15

Figure 4. Resemblances for Moses Defeats Satan (Moses 1:16–18)

Satan told to depart and cease his deception. In similar terms, the Book of Moses and ApAb both relate a first command for Satan to depart. Both accounts specifically admonish him not to engage in further deception. In ApAb, as previously, Yaho’el mediates Abraham’s dialogue with Satan.

The prophet received the glory that Satan lost. Satan is reminded that the glory he previously possessed now belongs to the prophet. Moses’ words constitute a second “humiliating exposure of Satan” as an enemy rather than a son of God—reminding him of the divine declaration that Moses “actually is what his adversary falsely claims to be.”16  In ApAb, Satan’s false pretensions and the prophet’s right to glory are both confirmed by the affirmation of Yaho’el that Satan’s heavenly garment is now reserved for Abraham17  and that his erstwhile glory will be exchanged for Adam’s bodily “corruption.”18

Satan told to depart a second time. In both texts, Satan is again forcefully told to leave with no further discussion. Moses curtly commands, “Depart hence, Satan,” while in ApAb he is told: “Vanish from before me!”—or, in Rubinkiewicz’ translation, “Get away from me!”19

The wider context of Moses’ command for Satan to depart is noteworthy. In verse 6, Yaho’el instructs him to preface his command for Satan to depart by saying: “May you be the fire brand of the furnace of the earth!” which sounds like an artful way to say “Go to hell!”

Figure 5. Resemblances for Moses Defeats Satan (Moses 1:19–23)

Satan’s final attempt to win the prophet’s worship. In ApAb, Abraham momentarily gives in to Satan’s ploy to continue the dialogue, answering him deferentially: “Here am I, your servant!”20  To ward off further danger, the angel gives Abraham a stern warning: “Answer him not! … lest his [i.e., Satan’s deceptions] will affect you.”21  In the Book of Moses, the goal of Satan’s demand is expressed more directly: “Worship me” (Moses 1:19).

Significantly, the cosmic battles depicted in Moses 1 and ApAb are not head-on clashes between the titanic forces of opposing gods or demi-gods. Rather, they are the conflicts of mortals who are caught between those forces, being compelled to choose by devilish adversaries while at the same time being enabled to stand by heavenly powers. Marc Philonenko’s analysis of this unusual aspect of ApAb applies equally well to Moses 1:22

The interaction between the [good and malevolent powers] does not occur directly but rather through a medium of a human being — Abraham. … Abraham thus becomes [the] place of … battle between two spiritual forces. … In [this] struggle … the Prince of Lights and the Angel of Darkness are fighting in the heart of a man.

 

Satan’s definitive departure following the invocation of the name of the Son of God. In contrast to Satan’s warrantless demand, Moses executes his authoritative command; forcing his adversary to depart through the power of the priesthood after the order of the Son of God.23  The dramatic turning point of this episode hinges on Satan’s desperate, false claim to be the Only Begotten, countered by Moses’ triumphant invocation of the name of the true Only Begotten.

No corresponding passage is found in ApAb. However, a medieval Ethiopian text provides a relevant parallel. As in Moses 1, it argues the potency of the name of God in driving Satan away. In an account of the battle between Satan’s rebellious armies and the hosts of heaven, the angels twice charged Satan’s ranks unsuccessfully. However, prior to their third attempt, they were given a cross of light inscribed “In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” and “when Setna’el [Satan] saw that inscription he was vanquished.”24

 

This article is adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 52–59.

———. Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2014, pp. 40–41.

———, David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 24–29.

Holland, Jeffrey R. 1999. “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence” (BYU Devotional Address, 2 March 1999).  In BYU Speeches (Reprinted in Ensign, 30:3 [March 2000]). https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland/cast-not-away-therefore-your-confidence/ , https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2000/03/cast-not-away-therefore-your-confidence?lang=eng. Video dramatization: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/video/2011-03-50-i-am-a-son-of-god?lang=eng (accessed June 13, 2020)

Nibley, Hugh W. “To open the last dispensation: Moses chapter 1.” In Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 1–20. Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978, pp. 8–11.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 204, 208-209, 216-220.

References

Anderson, Gary A., and Michael Stone, eds. A Synopsis of the Books of Adam and Eve 2nd ed. Society of Biblical Literature: Early Judaism and its Literature, ed. John C. Reeves. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1999.

Barker, Margaret. The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 1991.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

Cowdery, Oliver. “Letter 8 on the rise of the Church.” Kirtland, OH: Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2:1, October, 1835, 195-202. https://ia802700.us.archive.org/18/items/latterdaysaintsm01unse/latterdaysaintsm01unse.pdf. (accessed October 30, 2014).

Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

Jackson, Kent P. The Book of Moses and the Joseph Smith Translation Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 2005. https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/book-moses-and-joseph-smith-translation-manuscripts. (accessed August 26, 2016).

Kulik, Alexander. Retroverting Slavonic Pseudepigrapha: Toward the Original of the Apocalypse of Abraham. Text-Critical Studies 3, ed. James R. Adair, Jr. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004.

———. “Apocalypse of Abraham.” In Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture, edited by Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman. 3 vols. Vol. 2, 1453-81. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 2013.

Malan, Solomon Caesar, ed. The Book of Adam and Eve: Also Called The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan: A Book of the Early Eastern Church. Translated from the Ethiopic, with Notes from the Kufale, Talmud, Midrashim, and Other Eastern Works. London, England: Williams and Norgate, 1882. Reprint, San Diego, CA: The Book Tree, 2005.

Matthews, Robert J. “What is the Book of Moses?” In The Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson. Studies in Scripture 2, 25-41. Salt Lake City, UT: Randall Book Co., 1985.

Mika’el, Bakhayla. ca. 1400. “The book of the mysteries of the heavens and the earth.” In The Book of the Mysteries of the Heavens and the Earth and Other Works of Bakhayla Mika’el (Zosimas), edited by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1-96. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1934. Reprint, Berwick, ME: Ibis Press, 2004.

Nibley, Hugh W. “To open the last dispensation: Moses chapter 1.” In Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless: Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 1-20. Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978. http://farms.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=71. (accessed October 10).

Orlov, Andrei A. “The garment of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham.” In Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology, edited by Andrei A. Orlov, 47-81. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2011.

———. Heavenly Priesthood in the Apocalypse of Abraham. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Pratt, Parley P. Key to the Science of Theology. Liverpool, England: F. D. Richards, 1855. https://books.google.com/books?id=-rJWAAAAcAAJ. (accessed November 12, 2015).

Rubinkiewicz, Ryszard. L’Apocalypse d’Abraham en vieux slave : Introduction, texte critique, traduction et commentaire. Towarzystwo Naukowe Katolikiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego, Zrodlai i monografie 129. Lublin, Poland: Société des Lettres et des Sciences de l’Université Catholique de Lublin, 1987.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Smoot, Stephen O. 2012. ‘I am a son of God’: Moses’ ascension into the divine council.  In 2012 BYU Religious Education Student Symposium. https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/byu-religious-education-student-symposium-2012/i-am-son-god-moses-ascension-divine-council. (accessed September 29, 2018).

Stone, Michael E. Adam’s Contract with Satan: The Legend of the Cheirograph of Adam. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002.

Vermes, Geza, ed. 1962. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Revised ed. London, England: Penguin Books, 2004.

Williams, Wesley. 2005. The Shadow of God: Speculations on the Body Divine in Jewish Esoteric Tradition.  In The Black God. http://www.theblackgod.com/Shadow%20of%20God%20Short%5B1%5D.pdf. (accessed December 21, 2007).

Witherington, Ben, III. Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Copyright original is located in the chapel of the Frederiksborg Castle, Denmark. Used by permission of the Frederiksborgmuseum, with the assistance of Erik Westengaard. Thanks also to the Visual Resources Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the assistance of Carrie Snow, Nancy Sargent, and Bruce Pearson.

Figures 2, 4-5. Copyright Jeffrey M. Bradshaw.

Figure 3. Jerusalem: Armenian Patriarchate, Calouste Gulbenkian Library, Armenian Cathedral of St. James, Ms. 2556, fol. 244 (Index of Armenian Art Number: J2556G) Public Domain. http://armenianstudies. csufresno.edu/iaa_miniatures/image.aspx?
index=0178 (accessed January 19, 2015).

Footnotes

 

1Moses 4:21. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary 4:21-d, p. 266.

2Matthew 4:8–9.

3For more on this topic, see S. O. Smoot, I Am a Son of God, p. 136.

4A. A. Orlov, Heavenly Priesthood, p. 140.

5David Halperin, cited in ibid., p. 140.

6See D&C 129:8.

7Rubinkiewicz concludes that the phrase “Reproach upon you!” is an explicit allusion to Zechariah 3:2 (cf. Jude 1:9) (R. Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, p. 145 n. 7).

8B. Witherington, III, Conflict, p. 449.

92 Corinthians 11:14.

10D&C 128:20. See also 2 Nephi 9:9; D&C 129:4–7; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 1 April 1842, pp. 204–205. Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote that “although [spirits not worthy to be glorified] often attempt to pass as angels of light there is more or less of darkness about them. So it is with Satan and his hosts who have not been embodied” (P. P. Pratt, Key, p. 72.).

11M. E. Stone, Adam’s Contract, p. 18. Cf. S. C. Malan, Adam and Eve, 1:27, pp. 27–29, 1:60, pp. 67–70, and 2:5, pp. 110–111.

12M. E. Stone, Adam’s Contract, pp. 18-19. See also A. A. Orlov, Garment of Azazel, pp. 69–71.

13M. Barker, Gate, pp. 119–120; W. Williams, Shadow.

14Moses 1:13–15.

15Moses 1:15, emphasis added. Similarly, in the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, God warns Adam and Eve about Satan, saying: “This is he who promised you majesty and divinity. Where, then, is the beauty that was on him? Where is his divinity? Where is his light? Where is the glory that rested on him?” (S. C. Malan, Adam and Eve, 1:51, p. 56). Orlov describes the very face or countenance of the Devil as being clothed with darkness, while the face of the glorified visionary is bathed in light (A. A. Orlov, Garment of Azazel, p. 79).

Joseph Smith also had to learn “by experience, how to discern between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the Devil (O. Cowdery, Letter 8, p. 200, spelling and capitalization modernized). According to an account by Oliver Cowdery, the Prophet, prior to obtaining the Book of Mormon plates, “beheld the prince of darkness, surrounded by his innumerable train of associates” and afterward was told the purpose of this vision by the angel Moroni: “All this is shown, the good and the evil, the holy and impure, the glory of God and the power of darkness, that you may know hereafter the two powers and never be influenced or overcome by that wicked one” (ibid., p. 198).

16H. W. Nibley, To Open, p. 5.

17For the role of sacred clothing in ApAb, see A. A. Orlov, Heavenly Priesthood, pp. 119–153. Cf. Zechariah 3:3, 5.

18A. Kulik, Apocalypse of Abraham, 13:14, p. 1466. Similarly, in the Apocalypse of Moses, God tells Adam that he will be “seat[ed[ on the throne of [his] deceiver” (G. A. Anderson et al., Synopsis, 39:2, p. 86).

19Écarte-toi de moi !” (R. Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, 14:7, p. 149). See a discussion of the translation of this phrase in ibid., p. 149 n. 7.

20A. Kulik, Retroverting, 14:9, p. 21. Cf. Genesis 22:1, 11.

21Ibid., 14:10, 12, p. 21. R. Rubinkiewicz, L’Apocalypse d’Abraham, p. 149 n. 10 notes that according to the Qumran Rule of the Community 10:16 it is forbidden to argue with the ungodly (G. Vermes, Complete, p. 111).

22As summarized in A. A. Orlov, Garment of Azazel, p. 154 n. 63.

23The rhetorical complexity of Moses 1:20–21 seems deliberate. In v. 20, Moses received strength after calling upon God. In v. 21, these events are reported in reverse order. Rather than seeing in vv. 20–21 two instances of the same command for Satan to depart, we would suggest that the threefold report (calling upon God, receiving strength, command to depart) in the two verses is a description of the same event, repeated twice for emphasis. The description of the command to depart in verse 20 highlights the exclusivity of Moses’ worship and the corresponding description of the same event in verse 21 underlines the use of the name of the Only Begotten as part of the formal command.

Note that v. 21 has a complex history of revisions. Cf. S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, p 84; ibid., p. 593; 1866–67 RLDS Publication; and current edition of the Book of Moses used by Latter–day Saints. See also K. P. Jackson, Book of Moses, p. 62; R. J. Matthews, What Is, pp. 35–36.

24B. Mika’el, Mysteries, p. 17.