Perhaps the first thing that the symbolic images in Joseph’s explanations of the facsimiles in the book of Abraham tell us is that he is not revealing some deep mysteries known only to the Egyptians. This is the common perception of the Saints who read these, but it is flawed. What he is telling us is what the Egyptians believed about these symbols.
This is a vital concept that must be mastered in order to see these images properly. Joseph was not revealing gospel truths here. He was simply interpreting these images to the best of his ability. So, what we are confronted with in his explanations are Egyptian concepts, not gospel concepts.
This is implicit in the language he used. For example, of Figure #3, in the hypocephalus, he wrote, “Is made to represent God, sitting upon his throne, clothed with power and authority, with a crown of eternal light upon his head.” The words he chose to explain this depiction of Horus seated in his solar boat — “made to represent” — clearly indicates he is interpreting the meaning attributed to it by the Egyptians. The “who” that made this images to represent things were the Egyptians themselves — not God, not Joseph Smith. The phrase can have no other interpretation.
Thus, we learn that even Joseph’s explanations of the facsimiles are nothing but descriptions of the symbolism.
If we extend that principle or point of view to the term Kolob, then we must admit that he is also describing something that the Egyptians believed and used in their iconography. He is not describing some distant place, star or planet far from the Egyptians’ view. It must have been something with which they were very familiar for it to become part of their belief system.
This corroborates the “local principle.” That is, not only did God say he was going to explain to Abraham only those things having to do with our solar system, we can now see that Joseph’s explanations did not extend beyond the beliefs of the Egyptians. Thus, both concepts point to a local perspective, implying that Kolob was/is a local star or planet. In fact, all the icons Joseph explains can be thus designated, as we will see.
This concept is vital to understanding the symbolism of the creation account. Only by understanding the role this symbolism plays in the real events and actors in the ancient celestial drama can we begin to understand the actual astral agents at work in the creation account.
Notice, too, that in calling this “governing” planet Kolob, God was using an Egyptian or Semitic word to name it. Thus, Abraham would have known exactly which planet or star he was looking at. Since Abraham came from an area known for its expertise in astronomy, Ur of Chaldea, he would have known the traditions of that planet, the one the ancients called the “best Sun,” the one the Babylonians called Shamash, (the Old Testament god Chemosh).
God wanted to eliminate any confusion. After all, planets have certain commonalities that make them hard to differentiate unless we know which one we’re looking at. In effect, God said to Abraham, “See this planet? It is the one your people call Kolob. It’s the star your traditions say governed all the others in heaven.”
Next, we will identify the planet Saturn as the Kolob of Abraham and the Egyptians.
© Anthony E. Larson, 2008