The Origins of the Book of AbrahamPosted: November 12, 2011
A key to unlocking the origins of the Book of Abraham can be found in the book itself:
21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.
22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.
23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;
24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.
26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;
We can see from this that the King of Egypt (Pharoah) was a Caananite, who was cursed “pertaining to the Priesthood.” Regardless of this curse Pharoah attempted to perform the outward ordinances of the Priesthood which Noah had taught his sons, with the hope that God would respect the ordinances and grant him Priesthood power. You can see evidence in the Book of Jasher that he was continuing along a path his predecessor Ham started. In the Book of Jasher it mentions that Ham stole his father’s garment and gave it to his grandson Nimrod. This garment may have actually been the original garment that Adam was given when he was cast out of the Garden of Eden, which was passed down from father to son until it was finally given to Noah. According to the Book of Jasher, this garment was imbued with power to make the wearer of it a mighty man. So it is that Nimrod was able to use this garment and gather men around him to build the Tower of Babel. Thus the first world empire was born: Babylon. Sometime later Shem (Melchizedek) hunted down Nimrod and killed him and divided his body into many pieces and sent them to the priests with the message that they would suffer a similar fate if they continued to perform child sacrifices in the temples. This caused these wicked priests to take their religion underground and thus we get the “mystery” religion spoken of in the Book of Revelation (which continues to this day amongst the world’s elite).
Abraham lived in Ur of Bablyon (the Chaldees) in the days of Nimrod. His father was caught up in a semblance of Priesthood that the priests of Ham’s descendants were working under which had spread from Egypt to Babylon. When Abraham relocated to Egypt, the Pharoah there was practicing a similarly corrupted religion. If I understand things correctly, the papyrus scroll which Joseph Smith paid about $50,000 in today’s dollars to obtain (a pearl of great price) was a temple document written during Abraham’s time. Given that Pharoah’s lineage didn’t have the Priesthood, they undoubtedly made changes to the original temple ceremonies handed down to Noah and Shem (not having access to the mysteries of God granted by revelation via the Melchizedek priesthood). This is why Abraham had to seek out Melchizedek and receive the Priesthood from him. He couldn’t get the Priesthood power from Ham’s descendants, because even though they performed all the outward ordinances, they didn’t have the right to the Priesthood.
As you would expect, when you make changes to temple ordinances without the inspiration of God, you mess things up. This is exactly what Pharoah’s priests were doing. Over time their ordinances looked less and less like the originals, even though some parts were maintained. In some cases, where the priests didn’t know what something meant, they transcribed it verbatim. However in other places where they thought they understood the meaning, they felt more at liberty to make modifications. So when Joseph got these temple scrolls, which moden day Egyptologists have translated to be a portion of the “Books of Breathing”, an Egyptian funeral rite for the dead, it’s not surprising to find that Joseph didn’t translate it word for word. What he did for us was much more valuable. He gave us some of the history behind the scrolls and an explanation of some of the symbols that even the Egyptian priests of Abraham’s day probably didn’t even understand. In essence he restored what those priests many thousands of years ago corrupted.