Multiple Incarnations: Recurring Voices From Ages Past
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"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." -- Thomas Watson.
MELCHIZEDEK, KING OF HEAVEN
We are told on no less than three separate occasions that Abram paid
Tithes to Melchizedek. The writer has often wondered of what possible
Relevance is such a disclosure. That a tithe would be required of him, and
That such resources are used to ameliorate the suffering of the impecunious is
Not a subject bereft of scriptural support. But is it important for the reader
To know specifically to whom these tithes were paid? Is it a subject of such
Consequence that the author of Genesis tells us TWICE in the same chapter that
It was to Melchizedek that these offerings were given? Such intrigue
Invites closer examination.
Melchizedek brought to Abram "Bread and wine; and (Broke) and blest it
... (For he was a) priest of the most high God." Who is this Melchizedek,
Of whom it is said "There were many before him, and also there were many
Afterwards, but none were greater"? Rather high praise when you consider
The caliber of Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Job, and others men, whom the
Scriptures aver as perfect. And let us not forget Jesus Christ, whose
Greatness and glory requires no introduction. For even He, we are told, was
"Made an high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." But before we
Adjudge such rhetoric hyperbole, we should carefully review what is written
About the man. From Genesis we glean the following:
Melchizedek was a man of faith and honor who evidenced power over the
Elements and life-forms. He was ordained an high priest after the order of the
Covenant God made with Enoch. Inducted into this holy order, he was allowed to
Dwell in God's presence, for such worthy were "Translated and taken up into
Heaven." Having become a priest of this order more specifically a Prince of
Peace, a King of Heaven, and a King of Peace he returned to establish peace
In Salem among a righteous people. As the incarnation of Heaven's Prince, it
Was TO him that Abram paid his tithes, and FROM him that he was blessed.
Melchizedek was no ordinary man. Having proven unmitigated allegiance, he
Was ordained an High Priest "After the order of the Son of God."
Found within the recondite musings of Alma, we learn that "The Lord God
Ordained priests, AFTER HIS HOLY ORDER, which was AFTER THE ORDER OF HIS
SON." To Joseph Smith, the Lord God said that, "(This) priesthood which is
AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK, (Was) AFTER THE ORDER OF MINE ONLY BEGOTTEN
SON." By rhetorical analysis, if we are to understand that "his Son" And
"Mine Only Begotten Son," Identify the same individual, then who is
Melchizedek, if not the Lord God? The reader cannot be faulted for challenging
What some may categorize as outrageous, if not blasphemous claims. Yet
Consider the following: Joseph Smith taught that "Christ is the Great High
Priest; Adam next." Yet we are also told that Melchizedek was a "Great
High priest," and that Shem, the son of Noah, too, was "The great high
Priest." As this writer will attempt to show, the Lord's course is an
"Eternal round"; and with each round comes a requisite reincarnation.
Those ordained to this order were granted noble distinction in measure
For "Their exceeding faith and good works"; for as the Genesis account
Detailed, Melchizedek was a man of great faith. Divine coronation comes as the
Initiate evidences compliance with the terms governing celestial advancement.
All ordained to the "Order of the Son of God" Are given power over the
Elements and, among other privileges, may stand in God's presence. The
Doctrine and Covenants reminds us just how supreme and omnipotent is this
Melchizedek or Higher Priesthood; for with it one may have the privilege of
Receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened
Unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn
[see also JST Gen. 9:23], and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the
Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
Those inducted into this grand order are "Translated and taken up into
Heaven." Professor emeritus Hugh Nibley has frequently noted "The hero
Dies but he does not die." Baruch, too, was reassured that "(He would)
Surely depart from this world, nevertheless not to death but to be kept unto
(The end) of times." As the Hindu wisdom literature parrots,the "Ancient
One is unborn, imperishable, eternal: though the body be destroyed, he is not
Killed." Or as David Silverman asserts, Osiris  could be slain but not
Killed. Acclaimed Egyptologist Erik Hornung makes a similar observation:
Like men, the gods die, but they are not dead. Their existence and all
Existence is not an unchanging endlessness, but rather constant renewal. ...
TO BE DEAD IS NOT THE SAME AS NOT TO EXIST.
But how is such possible? To die without dying? Is not such reasoning an
Appalling absurdity? Not at all; for as the desert plains of Egypt echo, with
Every death comes a rebirth with every sunset comes a glorious sunrise. The
Hero (In this case Melchizedek) takes leave of his celestial home to come and
Dwell among HIS people as their King of Heaven, their King of Peace, their
Prince of Peace. In truth, they revere him as their god.
Lest the reader look askance at such confidence, we recall Christ's
Dealings with the people of this hemisphere. Addressing the subject of prayer,
His instructions were very clear:
Ye must always pray unto the FATHER in my name;
And whatsoever ye shall ask the FATHER in my name, which is right,
Believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
Pray in your families unto the FATHER, always in my name, that your wives
And your children may be blessed.
And how did they respond to his directive?
And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto JESUS, calling HIM
THEIR LORD AND THEIR GOD.
Wilful disobedience? Hardly. They knew then what many resist
Acknowledging now: The Son of God IS the very "Eternal Father of heaven and of
Earth" (Alma 11:39). 
THE GODS OF ANCIENT EGYPT
The subject of gods incarnating is very familiar, if not central, to the
Religion of ancient Egypt; as are the reasons surrounding their liaisons
Between heaven and earth. Because the writer claims no expertise in this
Arena, outside of an insatiable interest, we defer to the scholars to serve as
"After the world had been created, the gods and men took up their abode
In it. The gods ruled on earth, one succeeding the next. This was the Golden
Age.But the human race eventually rose up in rebellion, and the gods withdrew
To the sky." As Hermes Trisemegistus tells Asclepius,
A time will come when Egypt, "The temple of the cosmos," Will be left
Desolate. Human beings will become weary of life and will cease to regard the
Universe as worthy of reverence or wonder.Religion will be felt as burdensome,
And people will "Prefer darkness to light." In that time the gods will depart
From humankind, and their voices will no longer be heard.
Although troubled by man's obstreperous nature,the gods were not
Altogether indifferent to his perilous state. Desirous to secure their release
From the abyss, the Egyptians detail how the gods worked in concert to
Orchestrate their crowning achievement: The emancipation and exaltation of the
Powerless and the vulnerable.
As Silverman instructs us, "Like mortal creatures, the gods were created,
But the deities ultimately derived from a primordial being who had been
Responsible for his own creation. When the gods came into being, their births
Were described as extraordinary or miraculous." In their religious
Literature we learn that "Re, the king of the gods, was said to die
Symbolically every sunset and to be reborn at the dawn of each new day."
The pharaoh, God's representative on earth "Was frequently described as acting
Like a particular god [usually Horus], or as being 'in the likeness of' a
Specific deity." He was seen as a king and God's high priest. From the
COFFIN TEXTS we find indication that "The divine had intended the king for
Rule even BEFORE he was born." The oldest corpus of Egyptian religious and
Funerary literature, the PYRAMID TEXTS, tell us that "The King was fashioned
By his father Atum before the sky existed, before the earth existed, before
Man existed, ... Before death existed." In the INTRODUCTORY HYMN TO
OSIRIS, Osiris is heralded as "King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Ruler of Rulers,
Who took possession of the Two Lands even in the womb of Nut." One thinks
Of God's disclosure to Jeremiah:
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest
Forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto
The "Teacher of Righteousness" From the Qumran community, claims
Similar distinction. From THE THANKSGIVING HYMNS (1QH), we read his joyful
For Thou has known me from (The time of) my father, [and hast chosen me]
From the womb. [From the belly of] my mother Thou hast dealt kindly with me,
And from the breast of her who conceived me have Thy mercies been with me.
The authors of select early Christian hymns speak similarly of God's
Commitment to His elite:
For I turn not my face from my own, because I know them. And before they
Had existed, I recognized them; and imprinted a seal on their faces.
(For as Eli told Hannah), a prophet [Samuel] had been foreordained to be
Born from her.
"Everything, including the divine, has an end, insofar as it dies, but is
Also endless, insofar as it is reborn." Death is inescapable, as Justin
Martyr observed; "A debt due by every man that is born." "From the
Nineteenth Dynasty onward the sun god's 'old age' in the evening after his
Long, exhausting journey through the day is part of a common formula, in which
The 'old man' [Ancient of Days?] in the evening is contrasted with the newborn
'child' in the morning." During the journey through the netherworld, "The
Sun god Ra (And the spirit of the dead king) passed through various
Incarnations before being reborn on the eastern horizon in the morning."
The sun god's "Daily death and rebirth is a dominant motif and also a promise
That all the blessed dead will enter through death into a new, rejuvenated
Life." Philosopher and cultural historian Jeremy Naydler, expresses such
Widely accepted beliefs in these terms:
Just as the sun ceases to be physically perceptible when it enters the
Dwat,so do all creatures when they die. For like the sun, all creatures
Lose their outwardly manifest forms when they enter the Dwat. Though the Dwat
May be conceived of as a kind of place, it is in reality less a place than a
"Condition of being" That things have when they pass out of physical
Existence, and before they pass back again into physical existence. So it is
Where the dead go, and equally where the living come from. Just as the sun,
When it rises in the east, is in fact born from the womb of the great goddess
[Nut], so too are all creatures the children of her womb, the Dwat. All things
That come into being in the manifest world come from the Dwat. That is where
They PREEXIST, before they are born into the light of day, and that is where
They return having relinquished their physical forms.
In the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Chapter 17), "The creator of the world
Is responsible not only for the existence of all living beings, but also for
Their end, without himself being imperishable."
To the Egyptians, death was nothing more than rejuvenation and
Regeneration. Paradoxically, death is the means whereby the aging process is
Reversed Death instills life! As the Pyramid Texts affirm, "You sleep that
You may wake; you die that you may live." Professor Breasted tells us the
Egyptians gave "Victorious disregard [for] the invincibility of death."
However, to make regeneration possible, that which is old and atrophic must be
Immersed into the "healing and dissolving powers of the primeval ocean
Nun....Those who sleep are rejuvenated in Nun ... (And) 'slough off' their
Previous existence, and 'put on' another, as a snake does its skin."
"Regeneration is possible only outside the ordered world of creation. In order
To be rejuvenated, that is, to reverse the course of time, one must step ...
Outside time and see oneself at the beginning of the temporal world, at
Creation or even in the world before creation, which knows no time. Rebirth
... Is therefore a RENEWAL OF CREATION, and is achieved with the help of the
Primeval gods who sent the sun forth from their midst on the 'first
Occasion' [first estate?] at the beginning of creation." According to
A late libation text, "The aging gods return to their place of origin, the
Primeval world of creation.They return to the world before creation from
Whence they went forth on the 'first occasion,' and from where they will
FOREVER AGAIN (GO) FORTH."
We are told that the "Reigning king addresses the gods as his 'fathers'
And the goddesses as his 'mothers'; only after his death may he greet them as
His 'siblings.' Over and above all of them there is a primeval universal
'father of the gods,' who created all living beings. (Before creation we find
This god) in the primeval ocean (Where he arose) in order to accomplish the
Work of creation and set in motion the origin of the world."
Abraham confided that it was his express desire to be a "Father of many
Nations, a prince of peace." As such, with time he "Became a rightful heir, a
High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers." For it was
"Conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers ... From
The beginning ... (From) the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through
The fathers unto me."
The Egyptians knew "The world would come to an end only to be reborn, in
An eternal cycle, a rhythm resembling a vast cosmic breathing." From the
Royal Canon "The gods who ... Reigned on earth belonged essentially to
What is known as the Ennead of heliopolis, the family line of Atum, the
Creator-god." "Each of the gods succeeded 'his father' and devoted himself
To defending and improving existing laws... Succession from father to son was
A rule that admitted of no exceptions other than the usurpation of Seth... At
The beginning of the world, the Primeval Ocean, Nun created 'His Majesty,'
That is, the sovereign sun...Atum [Adam?]. (It was he who) was the first to
Exercise this royal office ... 'the office of Atum.'"
"Every king was his predecessor's son, whatever the actual blood ties
Between them might have been. Every royal death was a disaster, and every new
Monarch a SAVIOR who restored cosmic order."
A subject of great delicacy, but integral to the Egyptian religion, was
How the gods consorted with mortal women a Royal Theogamy. It was usually
The wife of Pharaoh or the wife of a high priest who was the beneficiary of
Divine affection. In no way were such sexual liaisons promiscuous or
Salacious, but reserved for the express purpose of reestablishing a divine
According to the divine birth legend of Ramses II, "Having decided that
He would personally sire the next king of Egypt, the supreme god Amun appeared
One night in the queen's bedchamber IN THE GUISE OF THE KING...Quickly
Approaching her bed, Amun revealed his true form, and the union was
Consummated." Professor Jan Assmann provides this additional detail:
[Amun] commands Khnum, the god who creates individuals and models humans
On his potter's wheel, to fashion the child in his (I.e., Amun's) image.Khnum,
Along with Heqet, the goddess of childbirth, fashions the child. Thoth is sent
To the queen to announce her pregnancy to her. Khnum and Heqet personally lead
The expectant mother to the bed where she will give birth. A number of helpful
Deities and protective genies stand beside her as she gives birth. The deity
Of the "Birthing brick" And personal destiny pronounces a blessing on the
Newborn child. The child is to be raised by the deities: Amun immediately sets
It on his lap and recognizes his offspring, divine nurses suckle the child,
And deities bestow blessings on it. As the child grows, it is circumcised,
Purified, and presented to the assembled deities of the land as the new
Among others, Breasted informs us that "The legend was so persistent that
Even Alexander the Great deferred to the tradition, and made the long journey
To the Oasis of Amon in the western desert, that he might be recognized as the
Bodily son of the Egyptian Sun-god; and the folk-tale preserved in
Pseudo-Callisthenes gave the legend currency as a popular romance, which
Survived until a few centuries ago in Europe." Widely accepted was the
Belief that Pharaoh was the physical offspring of a copulating sun-god "With
An earthly mother."
During a separate era, "Wishing to put an end to the line of pharaohs of
The Fourth-Dynasty, Re coupled with the wife of one of the priests. Three
Children, destined to found the Fifth-Dynasty, were born of this union."
Engraved on the walls of certain temples are found scenes describing the
"Royal conception and birth." Specifically, "Pictorial versions of the god's
Mystical marriage with the earthly queen, pharaoh's wife." On a wall at the
Temple of Luxor is found an ideogram of Amun-Re, who had "Intervened ... To
Beget a descendant and representative on earth." Other authors describe
This same engraving as the "Procreation and birth of the king....The images
And the text (Demonstrate such with respectful modesty), yet dwell frankly
Upon the act of sexual union." The god approaches the queen and allows her
To see "him in his divine form." At the birth of the divine offspring, "(The
Child) was given a name that prefigured the royal destiny that had been
Promised him, and was given the kind of care that his status as a newborn baby
And future sovereign called for."