Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Aha! Interesting Evidence in National Geographic

The April 2005 National Geographic provides at least two facts of interest to students of the LDS scriptures. Look at their Web page for the April 2005 issue. Notice especially the opening and closing sentences. Do you see the relevance? Here is an excerpt:
King Aha, "The Fighter," was not killed while unifying the Nile's two warring kingdoms, nor while building the capital of Memphis. No, one legend has it that the first ruler of a united Egypt was killed in a hunting accident after a reign of 62 years, unceremoniously trampled to death by a rampaging hippopotamus. News of his demise brought a separate, special terror to his staff. For many, the honor of serving the king in life would lead to the more dubious distinction of serving the king in death. . . .

Outside, situated around the enclosure's walls, were six open graves. In a final act of devotion, or coercion, six people were poisoned and buried along with wine and food to take into the afterlife. One was a child of just four or five, perhaps the king's beloved son or daughter, who was expensively furnished with ivory bracelets and tiny lapis beads.

Is this how a pharaoh's funeral in 2900 B.C. actually unfolded? It's a plausible scenario, experts say. Archaeologists have been sifting through the dry sands of Abydos for more than a century. Now they have found compelling evidence that ancient Egyptians indeed engaged in human sacrifice, shedding new—and not always welcome—light on one of the ancient world's great civilizations.
Did you notice? Aha! There it is, a Book of Mormon name in ancient Egypt. It's a name that is not found in the Bible (though critics have claimed he plagiarized it from phrases like "Ah!") or in any of the sources that Joseph theoretically had access to, as far as I know (even if Joseph had managed to secretly acquire the vast frontier library that his critics seem to imagine he had).

For the Egyptians, Aha was the name of a great king, also called "the Fighter." In the Book of Mormon, Aha was the name of another fighter, a Nephite military officer, son of the chief captain over the Nephite armies. His name is reported in Alma 16:5-6 (about 80 B.C.). Perhaps even more significant, the ancient Jaredite people had a king named Ahah, mentioned in Ether 1:9 and Ether 11:10. (And he was a wicked king that caused much bloodshed - apparently another fighter.)

The Book of Mormon's use of Aha and Ahah as the name of ancient male authority figures (both fighters, no less) makes sense, given that an ancient Egyptian king from around 2900 B.C. was Aha, "the Fighter."

Naturally, this could just be a coincidence, but it's at least an interesting one. It may provide support for the plausibility of the name Aha in the Book of Mormon. (As always, please don't mistake evidence for plausibility with the issue of "proving" the Book of Mormon.)

Did you notice the other thing relevant to LDS scriptures? As mentioned in the National Geographic summary, there is growing evidence that the Egyptians practiced human sacrifice, supporting the allegedly incredible claim in the Book of Abraham that a priest of the Egyptian religion had sacrificed children and attempted to sacrifice Abraham. Add this to a large body of evidence from other ancient texts that there was an attempt to sacrifice Abraham for his refusal to worship idols, and we have an interesting case for the authenticity of the story reported in the Book of Abraham. Far from being the weak underbelly of Mormon scripture, it is an increasingly impressive witness of the reality of Joseph Smith's divine calling as a prophet. The critics are unable to explain how Joseph could have made up so many details in the text that have recently become credible in light of other ancient accounts.

Thanks to T. Allen Lambert for e-mail calling my attention to the National Geographic article.

3 comments:

Sis. H. Carmichael Houlton, ME said...

I really love this site. When I had to give a speech in a college class, I gave out this site as a great place to visit if you wanted more accurate information about the LDS church.
Thankyou and keep up the great work

Chris said...

Very interesting. Thank you for the information. It brought back memories of a feud on a message board that I read once where one woman refused to believe that human sacrifice was practiced in ancient Egypt as depicted in the Pearl of Great Price. She insisted on being directed to scholarly works outside of LDS circles for information regarding the idea. Well, what do you know. Time vindicates the prophets.

Anonymous said...

Trth is self substantiating, or however the quote goes....