March 2, 2009
Tonight I'm going to talk about some relatively unknown ancient history that might be interesting to Masons. Now, before you roll your eyes and close your minds let me assure you that I want to know why someone did or didn't do something, not necessarily when he did it. For example, why did Moses, when he came down with the Ten Commandments, burn the golden calf into powder and then mix it with water and make the people drink it?
Following the ancient history is not as straightforward as we'd think. There are three main sources; the Bible, the lists of Pharaohs from Egypt, and the Mesopotamian Kings list. Each source of history counted time differently. For example, the Old Testament counts time by generations which might be forty years or twenty-five depending on the interpretation of ancient Hebrew, while the Pharaohs' reigns were recorded in lunar years tied to the flooding of the Nile. Dates don't match between the sources and the only Pharaoh mentioned by name in the Bible, Shoshunq, doesn't exist by that name in the lists of Pharaohs. Because of this uncertainty about time, we're not completely sure who the Pharaoh was who 'let my people go', and there is even some question about who Moses really was.
Through independent verification, we are pretty sure that most historical stuff happened to some extent or another. The city of Troy was found. Excavations show Jericho did tumble down. Whoever Moses was apparently did lead an exodus of the Hebrews out of Egypt via the Red Sea and into the Sinai desert headed for the land of Canaan. He did erect a Tabernacle and he did bring down the Divine Law to the people. He did some other things during the Exodus that we recount but don't understand so well. For instance, the holy writings say that when he came down from the smoking, flaming mountaintop with the Ten Commandments his face glowed as though burned and he had to keep it covered. His face probably got even redder when he found the people worshipping a golden calf. During his long absence the Hebrews had turned in all their gold jewelry, melted it, and made this golden calf to worship. The holy writings say that in anger he broke the tablets of the law, burned the golden calf into powder, mixed that with water, and caused his people to drink it. Now there's some tough love! But why did he do it? To punish them? Maybe not; this is where history can get interesting.
First, common sense says you can't turn gold into powder. It just melts or it burns away into a gas plasma if things get hot enough, or so modern science thought until the 1980s. That's when some amazing properties in metals like platinum and gold were discovered. If gold is electrically 'shocked' into releasing electrons from its outer atomic shell, something is left called 'high spin monatomic gold', in the form of a whitish powder! This conversion process produces an intense flash of light and releases all sorts of other radiation including deadly gamma rays.
This powder does strange things. Put it in a weighing pan, heat it, and its weight gradually goes down to zero. It also disappears. But at that point, the weighing pan actually weighs less than when it started, empty! And as it cools, the powder reappears, and the weight goes back up. The theory is that there may be a dimensional shift occurring; both the US and UK Defense interests are looking into this stuff. It has been found in our brains and our endocrine glands like the pineal and pituitary. Lastly, it occurs naturally in space at about 6 parts per million. So, modern science has caught up to the fact that Moses could have turned the gold into powder nearly 3,000 years ago just as the holy writings say. But why would he make his people drink it?
In the written texts of Mesopotamia and in the hieroglyphics of Egypt there are multiple references to something called 'mfkzt'. This was a white cake formed like a beehive, or 'shem', and served to the kings and pharaohs. It was supposed give them great powers of concentration and physical health and allow them to visit the land of the gods to consult with the divinities. The kings and pharaohs were even said to glow with a strange light or aura after consuming it and old texts refer to these kings and pharaohs as "the Shining Ones". In inventories of pharaoh's treasures, the 'mfkzt' was always listed at the start of the gold items. But Egyptologists did not really know what 'mfkzt' really was.
In 1904, a British pioneer of Egyptian archeology, Sir Flinders Petrie, undertook an expedition to retrace the Exodus, funded by an organization dedicated to proving the facts that supported Christian religious teaching. First, Petrie determined the Red Sea crossing point and then moved on into the Sinai desert in search of the mountain associated with the Ten Commandments. Now, tradition says that this mountain was the present Mt. Sinai, found just a way beyond the crossing point. But that tradition was started in the 5th century by an order of monks who established a monastery at the base of a mountain and proclaimed it to be Mt Sinai, thereby establishing one of the first religious tourist traps. Petrie's research led him to believe the correct mountain was Mt Horub, further north in the Sinai desert, and his expedition investigated that mountain.
At its flat summit, he found the only Egyptian temple outside of Egypt. It was 270 feet long, with one end extending into caves inside the mountain. The hieroglyphs on the columns and statues recorded pharaohs from the time of the pyramids through Akhenaton, a period spanning over 1,500 years! The temple appeared to be a workshop, with benches and strange recesses, some with crucibles and stone bowls still on them. The most puzzling thing he found was tons of white powder stored under the flagstones of the temple. There were many hieroglyphs of 'mfkzt' showing the temple's high priest giving the beehive-shaped white cakes to the pharaohs and showing the pharaohs radiating light rays. Petrie took samples but, when he left the site, the unknown powder remained exposed to the desert winds and eventually blew away. And because Petrie's overall findings did not go along with the orthodox Christian teachings supported by his funding agency, his findings were suppressed. He was not allowed to publish and what is now known comes from his notes.
There is speculation that this powdered 'mfkzt' or white cake 'shem' was made of our recently rediscovered monatomic gold. Could Moses have made it? Moses was said to have been trained in the Egyptian Priesthood. The Egyptian Priesthood was making 'mfkzt' in that temple. Moses caused the Ark of the Covenant to be built at that time, and models of the Ark have shown it to have the properties of an electrical capacitor capable of gathering and storing 50,000 volts. The Holy Writings say the Ark was said to float inches off the ground despite weighing a ton or more. The Hebrews used it in battle and no army could stand before it. In 1st Samuel, the story is told that when the Philistines managed to capture it, its rays killed so many in their cities that they begged to gave it back. So, there may be a remarkable convergence between Moses, the Ark, and this mysterious mountaintop Egyptian temple producing powdered gold. And, keeping in mind the peculiar powers said to derive from ingesting the white cakes, it may be that in causing his people to drink the gold powder, Moses was doing something other than punishing them. Who knows, maybe he was fortifying them for their generation-long stay in the desert.
One final historical note and then I'll wrap it up. In the ancient world, temples housed the presence of the deities in their sanctum sanctorum or holy of holies. The rest of the temple was devoted to workshops for the deity where the lesser priests and temple attendants performed "workship". Our Anglo-Saxon word "worship" was "workship" in its earlier forms. Lastly, recall that as Masons, we make a symbolic journey as workmen into the temple for accounting and receiving wages.
There is more unknown than known in history. Our histories come down to us from the past through the lenses of other times, other beliefs. Sometimes the events have been rewritten along the way, several times over, to conform to the belief system of whoever was in power at the time. Sometimes, pieces are lost to time or suppressed by contrary interests. Looking back through the lenses of time into the why of history can be both fascinating and troubling.
How far back, how deeply embedded in time, and through what twists of historical meaning, is our desire for "Light"?
Br. Stephen C. Harrington