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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Watchtower and the Great Pyramid, then and now

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Judge J. F. Rutherford, who succeeded Russell after the pastor died in 1916, eventually discarded Pyramidology entirely. Writing in the November 15 and December 1, 1928, issues of The Watch Tower, Rutherford releases a double-barreled blast against it, and advances many ingenious arguments that the so-called Altar in Egypt was really inspired by Satan for the purpose of misleading the faithful. Did Jesus ever mention the Pyramid? Of course not. To study it, the Judge writes, is a waste of time and indicates lack of faith in the all-sufficiency of the Bible. Regardless of what some anti-JW fault-finders might say, the current Watchtower Society rejected all teachings on the Great Pyramid in 1928. For this reason, most Jehovah's Witnesses (1931 - 2011) know nothing about it. However, many (not all) of
the current Bible Students still teach this "Bible in Stone" dogma.

These theories gained worldwide influence when they were integrated into the works of Charles Taze Russell, who founded the Bible Student movement in the 1870s. Russell adopted the earlier coined phrase that the pyramid was the Bible in stone continuing to teach this view until his death in October, 1916. Russell believed that the Great Pyramid of Giza was part of God's Divine Plan basing his interpretation on a passage of scripture in Isaiah 19:19-20, reading, "In that day shall there be an altar (pile of stones) to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar (Hebrew "matstsebah" or monument) at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign, and for a witness unto the LORD of Hosts in the land of Egypt." However, Russell's successor, Joseph F. Rutherford denounced pyramidology in 1928 as not only unscriptural, but inspired by the Devil. When a widespread schism developed in the movement throughout the 1920s one side formed the Jehovah's Witnesses who to this day are both non-supportive and unfamiliar with Russell's views on pyramidology. The other side known as Bible Students continue to study Russell's writings, as well as the topic of pyramidology as it relates to the Bible and world history.

Two brothers John and Morton Edgar, scientists, Bible Students, and personal associates of Charles Taze Russell, wrote extensive treatises on the history, nature, and prophetic symbolism of the Great Pyramid in relation to the then known archaeological history, along with their interpretations of prophetic and Biblical chronology. They are best known for their extensive and highly detailed book entitled Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers, originally published in 1910 and greatly expanded in 1923.

What was Pastor Russelles views regarding his writings; "Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible, or on a par with the holy Scriptures. The most we claim or have ever claimed for our teachings is that they are what we believe to be harmonious interpretations of the divine Word, in harmony with the spirit of the truth. And we still urge, as in the past, that each reader study the subjects we present in the light of the Scriptures, proving all things by the Scriptures, accepting what they see to be thus approved, and rejecting all else. It is to this end, to enable the student to trace the subject in the divinely inspired Record, that we so freely intersperse both quotations and citations of the Scriptures upon which to build."

Below are some Watchtower comments on the subject that you might enjoy reading.

Additional Reading:

Product of the true worship or the false?

THE Great Pyramid of Giza is one of “the seven wonders of the ancient world.” It is the largest of nine pyramids found in Giza, in the valley of the Nile. The Great Pyramid is 486 feet high, or about the height of a modern 40-story building, and each of its four sides is 764 feet long; its base covers thirteen acres. The ratio of its height to the perimeter of its base is the same as that of the radius of a circle to its circumference, a most remarkable feature according to some mathematicians and astronomers. Its four sides line up perfectly with the four directions of the compass.

The date that Herodotus gives for its building would make the Great Pyramid about three thousand years old today, but others insist that he is mistaken and that it was built about four thousand years ago. According to Herodotus and Manetho (Egyptian historian of the third century before Christ), the Great Pyramid was built by Cheops, one of the Shepherd kings who invaded Egypt and easily subdued it, closed all the temples and then compelled one and all to labor for them. “A hundred thousand men laboured constantly and were relieved every three months by a fresh lot. It took ten years’ oppression of the people to make the causeway for the conveyance of the stones, a work not much inferior, in my judgment, to the pyramid itself.” This causeway was three fifths of a mile long, sixty feet wide and reached a height of forty-eight feet, was “built of polished stone, and [was] covered with carvings of animals. . . . The Pyramid itself took twenty years to build.” The two lesser pyramids of Giza, Herodotus tells us, were built by Cheops’ brother and son.

There has been much speculation as to the reason why these pyramids of Giza were built, and in particular why the Great Pyramid was built. Some have disposed of the problem by claiming that it was built solely as a tomb for Cheops, but is it reasonable that a ruler would direct all the resources of a land such as Egypt toward the building of a tomb, and that for thirty years? Others have concluded that it was built to house royal treasure, but the cost involved in building such a structure far exceeded all the value of whatever treasure a king might want to place in it! Others have ventured the opinion that it was built to serve as a temple, but that likewise does not seem to be the right explanation, as its smooth and slanting sides made access to its entrances very difficult.

Because none of these theories fully and satisfactorily explain the purpose of building the Great Pyramid, others have developed the hypothesis that it was built under divine inspiration; that perhaps Melchizedek was its builder and that God provided it as a witness in stone to corroborate the Bible. Such men as John Taylor of London, Professor Smyth and Dr. Edgar of Scotland advocated the theory that the measurements of the Great Pyramid and particularly the measurements of its internal passageways and chambers, were full of Scriptural meaning.

What are the facts? Is the Great Pyramid truly a witness to Jehovah? Was it built by his true worshipers to corroborate the Bible, or was it built by the devotees of pagan religions?


First of all let us note that since God’s Word is a ‘lamp to our feet and a light to our path,’ and was furnished so that we might “be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work,” there is no unfulfilled need that the Great Pyramid with its measurements would serve.—Ps. 119:105; 2 Tim. 3:15-17, NW.

Jehovah God used some forty writers over a period of sixteen centuries to provide us with his Word. Is it reasonable to conclude that even before Moses began to write the Pentateuch God caused a massive structure to be built that was to corroborate his Word? Rather, is it not an insult to God to hold that he felt it necessary to corroborate his inspired Word by some mute edifice? And that its meaning should be hidden from man for several thousand years and revealed only at a time when the structure had been robbed of all its external beauty?

Further, is it reasonable to hold that God would direct the construction of a building covering thirteen acres of ground, consisting of 90 million cubic feet of quarried stone, with stones as much as thirty feet long and estimated to weigh as much as 880 tons each, when all such work had to be done by slave labor? The very fact that the memory of the invading Shepherd kings who constructed these pyramids was so detested by the Egyptians for generations afterward would certainly put the building of the pyramids in the class of Pharaoh’s building program rather than that of King Solomon.

Besides, if the Great Pyramid were built at God’s command should we not expect to find some reference to its construction in God’s Word, the Bible? The Bible tells us of the building of Solomon’s temple and that built under the direction of Governor Zerubbabel; also of the building of a water aqueduct by King Hezekiah, yes and also of the building of the tower of Babel, but not a word about any of the pyramids. Relevant to this argument also is the fact that none of the structures described in God’s Word employ the design of a pyramid.

The fact also cannot be gainsaid that none of the measurements given in the Great Pyramid throw light on the all-important issue of universal sovereignty or why God has permitted evil. Remarkable as some of its measurements seem to appear, it also cannot be denied that these have led to false hopes resulting in disappointments and none of them serve any purpose in magnifying the name of Jehovah and preaching “this good news of the kingdom,” nor are those who put so much store by the Great Pyramid sharing in such preaching work. If there are facts about the Great Pyramid that cannot be explained solely on the basis of human wisdom, then in view of all the foregoing we have no alternative but to conclude that it must have been accomplished by means of demon power rather than by the active force of Jehovah God.


One Scripture text that has been used in times past to support the position that the Great Pyramid is of divine origin reads: “In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to Jehovah. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto Jehovah of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of oppressors, and he will send them a saviour, and a defender, and he will deliver them.” By an ingenious set of lines an attempt was made to show how the Great Pyramid was both in the midst of the land of Egypt and at the same time at its border. But no literal structure could literally be both in the midst and at the border of a literal land.—Isa. 19:19, 20, AS.

However, the Bible does use the term Egypt in a figurative sense, as at Revelation 11:7, 8 (NW) where the condition of God’s servants in 1918 and 1919 is described as follows: “And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled.”

The term “altar” as used in the above scripture means a place of sacrifice, and today God’s people are offering sacrifices to Jehovah in the midst of antitypical Egypt, Satan’s world. They are also serving as a pillar, as a monument or witness to Jehovah. While it would be impossible for a literal structure to be both in the midst and at the border of a literal land, this can be true in a figurative sense. The witnesses of Jehovah are today found in the midst of or throughout modern Egypt, that is, Satan’s world; and yet in another sense it can be said that they are also at its border in that they are standing at its edge, ready to pass over into the new world after the battle of Armageddon. That they are to serve as witnesses is stated time and again in the Scriptures: “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, . . . and I am God.” And as for their being a sign, note the words of the Greater Isaiah, Christ Jesus, in which he refers to his followers as children given him: “Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders.”—Isa. 43:10-12; 8:18, AS; Heb. 2:13.

Regardless of how interesting, fascinating or intriguing the mathematical, chronological and astronomical implications of the Great Pyramid of Egypt might be, they fade into insignificance when compared with the great work Jehovah is having done today by his altar in the midst of Egypt and his pillar at the border. What the people need today is not just an implied corroboration of Bible chronology but the truth regarding the great issue to be settled, Who rules supreme, Jehovah God or Satan the Devil? They need to see the clear line of demarcation that exists between God’s organization and that of the Devil, and they must be shown the urgency of seeking Jehovah, righteousness and meekness before it is too late.—Zeph. 2:1-3.

Since all the evidence points to the fact that the Great Pyramid was not constructed at God’s direction, for Christians to take it seriously would be tantamount to going down to Egypt for help. (Isa. 31:1) Not by means of a pagan slave-labor-built pile of stone but by means of his Word, his organization and his active force, his holy spirit, Jehovah God is training his dedicated servants for the ministry.


There remains but one question. Since it is clear that the Great Pyramid was not built at the direction of Jehovah, and since it appears that it was not built solely to serve as a tomb nor as a storehouse for treasure nor as a temple for pagan worship, can any satisfactory explanation be given of Cheops’ motive for having it built?

Yes, there is one theory that has much to recommend it and that is based on the prominence that the Great Pyramid gives to the sciences of mathematics and astronomy. It is known that in ancient times astronomy and astrology were considered as one. And from Scriptural and secular history it is apparent that the Chaldeans excelled in both. And it further appears that Cheops and those with him, who conquered Egypt with apparently so little effort, came from Chaldea. Therefore, in view of “the mysterious influence which astrologers ascribe to special numbers, figures, positions, and so forth, the care with which the Great Pyramid was so proportioned as to indicate particular astronomical and mathematical relations is at once explained.”

And further, when we consider that “the Chaldeans from the earliest times pursued the study of alchemy in connection with astrology,” by which they hoped to discover the ‘philosopher’s stone,’ and by which in turn they believed they would be able to transmute base metals to gold and silver and at the same time discover the secret of life, then we can find a justification for the building of the Great Pyramid, as a monument erected to astrology with the hope of discovering the fundamental secrets of life and all matter.—The Great Pyramid, R. A. Proctor.

Thus, this most logical explanation of all as to the reasons underlying the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza would indicate that it certainly was not built by those engaging in the true worship of Jehovah God but by those devoted to astrology, a manifestation of Devil religion, and was built in furtherance of such religion.


Bible Students also held to this thought prior to 1928.

May 15, 1956 Watchtower, WTB&TS

A Progressive Cleansing

During some 40 years up until Christ’s heavenly rule began in 1914, the Bible Students had been freed from many of the non-Biblical doctrines of Christendom, such as infant baptism, immortality of the human soul, purgatory, hellfire torment, and a Trinitarian God. But it took additional time to purge all wrong ideas. For example, in the 1920’s many Bible Students wore a pin featuring a cross-and-crown emblem, and they celebrated Christmas and other pagan holidays. However, for worship to be pure, all vestiges of idolatry must be discarded. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, must be the sole basis of the Christian’s faith and way of life. (Isaiah 8:19, 20; Romans 15:4) It is wrong to add to God’s Word or to take anything away from it.—Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18, 19.

One example will underline how important this principle is. In 1886 when C. T. Russell published a book that came to be called The Divine Plan of the Ages, this volume contained a chart linking the ages of mankind with the Great Pyramid of Egypt. It was thought that this memorial of Pharaoh Khufu was the pillar referred to at Isaiah 19:19, 20: “In that day there will prove to be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to Jehovah beside its boundary. And it must prove to be for a sign and for a witness to Jehovah of armies in the land of Egypt.” What relationship could the pyramid have with the Bible? Well, as an example, the length of certain passages in the Great Pyramid was said to indicate the time for the beginning of the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:21, as it was then understood. Some Bible Students became engrossed with measuring different features of the pyramid to determine such matters as the day they would be going to heaven!

This so-called Bible in Stone was held in esteem for some decades, until the Watchtower issues of November 15 and December 1, 1928, made clear that Jehovah needed no stone monument built by pagan pharaohs and containing demonic signs of astrology to confirm the witness given in the Bible. Rather, Isaiah’s prophecy was seen to have a spiritual application. As at Revelation 11:8, “Egypt” is symbolic of Satan’s world. The “altar to Jehovah” reminds us of the acceptable sacrifices made by anointed Christians while they are temporary residents in this world. (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15, 16) The pillar “beside [Egypt’s] boundary” points to the congregation of anointed Christians, which is “a pillar and support of the truth” and which stands as a witness in “Egypt,” the world that they are about to leave.—1 Timothy 3:15.

January 1, 2000 Watchtower, WTB&TS


During the late nineteenth century a strange intellectual phenomenon, pyramidology, found its way to both sides of the Atlantic. In his book, Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Peter Tompkins relates in full how modern pyramidology, as distinct from its ancient counterpart, (1) got its start.

As discussed in Secrets of the Great Pyramid and also in Martin Gardner's Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, in 1859 John Taylor, an eccentric British publisher, produced a work entitled The Great Pyramid: Why Was It Built? And Who Built It? Accordingly, Taylor posited that the architect who had planned and supervised the building of the Great Pyramid of Cheops was not an Egyptian but probably the biblical patriarch Noah. Later pyramidologists suggested that its designer was Melchizedek,(2) but in many other ways they accepted Taylor's hypothesis.

Although Taylor had never been to Egypt, the Great Pyramid had long interested him. What he ascertained from his study of it was that the architectural proportions of the Great Pyramid had many interesting geometric and mathematical properties. For example, Taylor discovered that the ratio of the perimeter of the base of the pyramid to twice its height gave a fairly close approximation of the number , or the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Taylor believed that this important universal constant was intentionally incorporated in the dimensions of the pyramid. The presence of the ratio was regarded as particularly amazing in view of the fact that there is no historical record of anyone having calculated an accurate value for it until many centuries after the construction of the Great Pyramid.

With this geometric proportion in mind, Taylor searched for other related properties. He noted that is approximately equal to 366/116.5. Of course, it is an irrational number and therefore cannot be precisely represented as such a fraction. Taylor, however, was intrigued by the similarity of the number 366 in the numerator of this ratio to the number of days in a year. By manipulating the number 366 and other dimensions of the pyramid, he concluded that its builders had used a unit of length which differed from the British inch by only a few thousandths of an inch. Twenty-five of these "pyramid inches" made a "pyramid cubit," and 10 million pyramid cubits approximates the length of the radius of the earth on its polar axis fairly closely. These and a series of similar calculations provided what Taylor considered to be adequate evidence that the Great Pyramid had been built as a model of the earth, to serve as a record for mankind of the important dimensions and proportions of the globe.(3 )

Taylor's ideas would probably never have become popular except for Professor C. Piazzi Smyth, a British Israelite and the Astronomer-Royal of Scotland. Not only did Smyth accept Taylor's basic assumptions, but he built on them and popularized pyramidology in Great Britain, America, and on the European continent as well. He published a number of works on the subject including Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1864), Life and Work at the Great Pyramid (1867) and On the Antiquity of Intellectual Man (1868).

Smyth set himself the task of testing Taylor's ideas. As Taylor had done, he studied the measurements and observations made by others who had taken an interest in the pyramid. He did not allow the matter to rest there, however. Largely at his own expense, Smyth traveled to Egypt and spent considerable time in collecting vast quantities of data relating to the pyramid. As a result, he not only convinced himself of the validity of Taylor's claims, but discovered many more facts demonstrating, as he thought, the special nature of the pyramid. The number and variety of geometric, mathematical, physical, geographical and astronomical measurements made by Smyth is truly amazing. A brief description of few such characteristics of the Great Pyramid serve to indicate Smyth's perseverance, attention to detail, and imagination in searching for evidence that the pyramid was more than a mere pharaoh's tomb.

The architecture of both the exterior and the interior of the pyramid supplied Smyth with the majority of the "proofs" for his conjecture. He verified the existence of the ratio by simple trigonometry and a careful measurement of the ascending angle of one of the few remaining casing stones which had originally covered the exterior of the pyramid. He also went to great trouble to measure accurately the length of a side of the base of the pyramid.(4 )Using this length, he satisfied himself that the "pyramid inch" had indeed been the unit of length used in building the Great Pyramid,(5 )and that this and other pyramid dimensions were closely related to the length of the year in days as supposed by Taylor.

Smyth derived a complex set of numerical interrelationships between such things as the number of stones used in the construction of the inner chambers of the pyramid, the volume and shape of the stone coffer found in the King's Chamber of the pyramid, the number of faces and angles of the pyramid, and the number of courses of masonry between various chambers within the pyramid, among many other things. For some reason Smyth considered relationships of involved combinations of numbers such as 25, 50, 10, 366, and 9 as particularly significant. He felt that these numbers were included in the pyramid's dimensions as a record of the "perfect" standards of measurement that God intended man to use.(6 )

Besides linear measurements, Smyth spent much time investigating other physical properties of the pyramid such as the temperature and barometric pressure in the inner chambers and the weight and density of the stone coffer in the King's Chamber.(7) Again, he derived supposedly important relationships between these measurements, and he concluded that perfect units of weight and temperature were embodied in these dimensions.(8 )

The pyramid was found to have interesting geographical and astronomical properties. For example, it is oriented so that its sides point almost precisely due north and south. Smyth believed that it was so constructed by intention, and that this proved that the earth's crust had not shifted significantly since the time that the pyramid was built. He also maintained that the parallel of latitude and the meridian which intersect at the Great Pyramid traverse more land area (as opposed to water) than any other parallels or meridians.(9 )Taylor's thesis that the pyramid was a model of the earth was reinforced in Smyth's mind by his verification of the fact that the distance of the earth from the sun is approximately ten raised to the ninth power multiplied by the height of the Great Pyramid.(10) He regarded these numbers as significant, for some unknown reason. These are but a few of the hundreds of measurements and calculations that he put forward as evidence of the pyramid's special nature.

While it is doubtlessly true that the pyramid does have many of the interesting properties ascribed to it by pyramidologists, the real difficulty lies in judging what one can reasonably infer from the presence of them. For example, Taylor and Smyth were both certain that the ratio was present in the pyramid's dimensions by design, and that this indicated some special knowledge on the part of the builders of the pyramid-likely knowledge of divine origin. Yet Taylor himself was aware of the belief apparently held by Egyptians of earlier periods that the pyramid had been constructed so that the area of one of its faces would equal the square of its height.(11)

The mathematical sophistication required to achieve this is not great, and in any case a trial and error calculation would soon lead to a close approximation of this proportion. The point is this: if, in fact, the pyramid builders had intended to incorporate the above mentioned proportion, then the ratio of the perimeter of the base to twice the height would be 3.145, which differs from only in the third decimal place. This is essentially as accurate an approximation of as Smyth was able to claim from his investigation. So, the ratio could occur as a completely coincidental by-produce of a design which would not have been concerned at all with the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Thus the inference that the ratio must have been consciously included is unwarranted.

Many of Smyth's calculations and the inferences he based upon them seem artificial and arbitrary. What, for example, is the significance of the number 109 as used in relating the height of the pyramid to the distance of the earth from the sun? What meaning does the number ten million have, other than the fact that there are approximately ten million pyramid inches in the polar radium of the earth? The pyramid is a rich source of the kind of data Smyth worked with, and it would be surprising if he had been unable to come up with some interesting number combinations after manipulating such data.

The general philosophical problem of attaching the proper meaning to empirical evidence is very difficult. There seems to be no simple, satisfactory way to determine what criteria one should use in deciding, for instance, that certain constructed objects include particular pre-planned geometrical forms and measurements within them if historical evidence is lacking. Clearly individual notions vary greatly. John Taylor and Piazzi Smyth were utterly convinced that nearly every detail of the architecture of the Great Pyramid was included intentionally, that is, designed. On the other hand most scientists, historians, and even interested laymen are immediately convinced, upon reading Smyth's claims, that he inferred far too much from the data he gathered.

In addition, Smyth was hardly a dispassionate, objective scientist when dealing with the pyramid. His writings shows that he certainly had a deep emotional commitment to demonstrating "scientifically" that the Christian religion is true, and that he saw his work with the pyramid as a means by which he could do so. Smyth also had a great antipathy towards the metric system, which he regarded as the flawed produce of the minds of atheistic French radicals. Over and over again in his book The Great Pyramid, Smyth heaps ridicule and scorn upon the metric system and its inventors for using "unnatural" standard units of measurement. For example, Smyth pointed out that the meter was devised by dividing the distance from the equator to the pole into 10 million parts, while the pyramid inch (and thus the closely related British inch) was based upon a division of the length of the radius of the earth, as discussed above.(12 )He felt that such distinctions made the British system obviously vastly superior, while many readers of his work (even among his contemporaries) regarded such comparisons as ludicrous.(13 )Again, Smyth's conviction in this matter was related to the fact that he believed that the British system reflected God's will in that the British units of measure were close to those "discovered" in the pyramid. His reasoning in this respect was quite circular and emotionally and religiously motivated.

It turns out to be more difficult to pinpoint what it is about Taylor's and Smyth's work that makes it seem so implausible than it would at first appear to be. This is perhaps because the underlying problems are somewhat more subtle than they seem on the surface, as in the case of determining what criteria to use in judging how a thing has been designed.

Reflecting upon the nature of Smyth's work, and his character, one is left with the suspicion that a similar kind of analysis, with equally astonishing results, could be done on other structures. Given the lack of a powerful, general philosophical or scientific response to pyramidology, it is perhaps reasonable to deal with the matter by supplying a counter example. This is exactly what Martin Gardener has done in the book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. He states:

Just for fun, if one looks up the facts about the Washington Monument in the World Almanac, he will find considerable fiveness. Its height is 555 feet and 5 inches. The base is 55 feet square, multiplied by 60 (or five times the number of months in a year) it gives 3,300, which is the exact weight of the capstone in pounds. Also, the word "Washington" has exactly ten letters (two times five). And if the weight of the capstone is multiplied by the base, the result is 181,500-a fairly close approximately of the speed of light in miles per second. If the base is measured with a "monument foot," which is slightly smaller than the standard foot, its side comes to 56 1/2 feet. This times 33,000 yields a figure even closer to the speed of light.

And is it not significant that the Monument is in the form of an obelisk-an ancient Egyptian structure? Or that a picture of the Great Pyramid appears on a dollar dill, on the side opposite Washington's portrait? Moreover, the decision to print the Pyramid (i.e., the reverse side of the United States seal) on dollar bills was announced by the Secretary of the Treasury on June 15, 1935-both date and year being multiples of five. And are there not exactly twenty-five letters (five times five) in the title, "The Secretary of the Treasury"?

It should take an average mathematician about fifty-five minutes to discover the above "truths," working only with the meager figures provided by the Almanac. Considering the fact that Smyth made his own measurements, obtaining hundreds of lengths with which to work, and that he spent twenty years mulling over these figures, it is not hard to see how he achieved such remarkable results.(14)


A number of Christian religious leaders accepted the Taylor-Smyth theory and made it an article of faith. Numerous Englishmen took it up, and in France the abbé F. Moigno, the cannon of St. Denis at Paris, became its foremost advocate.(15) It was in America, however, that it obtained its greatest support. There, a book first published in 1877 by Joseph Seiss entitled Miracle in Stone became popular and because of such popularity "ran through fourteen editions."(16) Although many persons of many religious backgrounds came to subscribe to pyramidology, in the United States it received its primary acceptance among the heirs of the Millerites or the followers of William Miller who had expected Christ to return in 1843 and then in 1844.

Piazzi's Smyth's ideas concerning the Great Pyramid were no doubt already known in American earlier, but in June 1876 he published an article in the Bible Examiner, a journal owned by George Storrs of Brooklyn, New York. Thus Smyth made known the "Glory of the Great Pyramid" to the American Second Advent community. The Bible Examiner served as an outlet for a great variety of persons both important and unimportant in the English-speaking, nonconformist world.

It is not surprising, then, that a few years later George Storrs published a series of major articles on the Great Pyramid and its prophetic significance in the Herald of Life and the Coming Kingdom,(17) the official organ of a small Adventist movement, the Life and advent Union which Storrs had helped to found. Quite evidently the Union was influenced directly by Smyth's Bible Examiner article and by Joseph Seiss's study as well.(18) Significant is the fact that pyramidology was taken up by the leader of what was to become a fairly large, better-known religious group-Charles Taze Russell, the first president of what is now the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and the founder of the International Bible Students and their spiritual descendants, Jehovah's Witnesses.

Although Russell never regarded himself as a Second Adventist, many of the persons who influenced him in a major way were. According to his own admission, Storrs and an Advent Christian preacher, George Stetson, had the greatest influence on him.(19) And in 1876 he adopted a whole system of prophetic speculation regarding the parousia of Christ and the approaching end of the world from Dr. Nelson Barbour, another Second Adventist who had-like Storrs and Stetson-been involved with William Miller.(20) So while he rejected the name, in fact Russell was basically an Adventist in the Second Adventist tradition.

It is quite probable that Russell came to accept pyramidology because of the influence on him of such men as Dr. Joseph Seiss and George Storrs. Following their lead, he announced that God had placed the great Pyramid as a sign in Egypt on page 3 of the September, 1883 issue of Zion's Watch Tower. Yet he did not stress the importance of pyramidology until 1897 when he published Volume iii of his famous Studies in the Scriptures entitled Thy Kingdom Come.

With a full chapter devoted to the Great Pyramid in Thy Kingdom Come, Russell, went beyond Taylor, Smyth, Seiss, Storrs and others. What he did was to give a major historical-eschatological interpretation of the structure of the pyramid which he related to Barbour's system of biblical chronology and prophetic speculation.(21) Accordingly, he came to teach that the Great Pyramid was the "divine plan of the ages in stone." Interestingly, he submitted his ideas to Smyth for examination and received the latter's approval for them.(22)

John and Morton Edgar, two Scottish brothers, became faithful members of Russell's Bible Students and pursued pyramidology with a passion. John, a professor of gynecology at Glasgow, published a number of works on the Great Pyramid until his death in 1912. Morton, who had collaborated with him, continued his studies and published several books on the subject during the following decades.(23) Only after Charles T. Russell's successor, Judge Joseph F. Rutherford denounced pyramidology as unscriptural and of the devil in 1928,(24) did Bible Students connected with the Watch Tower Society abandon it. Hence their spiritual heirs today, Jehovah's Witnesses, are hardly aware of its existence, but several schismatic Bible Student groups still advocate it.(25)


Why, then, did pyramidology manifest such attraction to Charles T. Russell, the Edgars, and Bible Students in general? Were they, Taylor, Smyth, Moigno, Seiss, Storrs, and others simply naïve devotees of fadism as unofficial groups such as the disciples of Immanuel Velikovsky and the neo-gnostic followers of Karl Jung are accused of being today?

One factor was that many of Smyth's contemporaries and disciples were as hostile to the metric system as was he. With some amusement Martin Gardner recounts the fact that in the United States the pyramidologist Ohio Auxiliary Society, of which President James A. Garfield was a supporter, published a journal entitled The International Standard to defend the "true inch" and other measurements against the metric system. Its president, an engineer "who prided himself on having an arm exactly one cubit in length," wrote:

We believe our works to be of God; we are actuated by no selfish or mercenary motive. We depreciate personal antagonisms of ever kind, but we proclaim a ceaseless antagonism to that great evil, The French Metric System .... The jests of the ignorant and the ridicule of the prejudiced, fall harmless upon us and deserve no notice .... It is the Battle of the Standards. May our banner be ever upheld in the cause of Truth, Freedom, and Universal Brotherhood, founded upon a just weight and a just measure, which alone are acceptable to the Lord.(26 )

Later The International Standard published a poem, the fourth verse of which reads:

Then down with every "metric" scheme Taught by the foreign school, We'll worship still our Father's God! And keep our Father's "rule"! A perfect inch, a perfect pint, The Anglo's honest pound, Shall hold their place upon the earth, Till time's last trump shall sound!(27 )

But Russell and the Bible Students were not particularly concerned with anti-metric sentiment nor did they become involved with anti-metric movements. The Bible Students were all, in one way or another, the heirs of William Miller and as such had long tried to calculate the time of Christ's parousia or second advent from Daniel, the Revelation, and other prophetic books of the Bible. Thus they were greatly intrigued by the mysterious numbers often found in those Scriptures and regarded them as a key to understanding eschatological prophecy. In addition to that, they were also greatly impressed by the natural sciences which they considered a key to knowledge of things metaphysical as well as physical. Charles T. Russell was, if anything, a rationalist. Like all in the Adventist tradition, he was also an heir of the Enlightenment. In the introduction to his first volume of Studies in the Scriptures, The Divine Plan of the Ages, he appealed to reason. Therein he states that he had "endeavored to build upon that foundation the teachings of Scripture, in such a manner that, so far as possible, purely human
judgment may try its squares and angles by the most exacting rules of justice which it can command." (28 )

Nelson Barbour, a physician, had written from the same standpoint. His first major publication was a paean of praise to the natural sciences as well as an Adventist prophecy of the Second Coming.(29 ) In consequence, these men and others such as George Storrs and members of the Life and Advent Union were impressed by Piazzi Smyth's arguments respecting the Great Pyramid. Smyth claimed there were three "keys" required for the "opening" of it. Those were "pure mathematics, as supplied chiefly in medieval and modern times;" "applied mathematics, or .. astronomical and physical science"; and "positive human history-past, present and future-as supplied in some of its leading points and chief religious connections by Divine Revelation to certain chosen and inspired men of the Hebrew race ...."

(30) Thus in taking up pyramidology, Charles Russell was later able to state:

The Great Pyramid, however, proves to be a storehouse of important truth-scientific, historic and prophetic-and it testimony is found to be in perfect accord with the Bible, expressing the prominent features of its truths in beautiful and fitting symbols. It is by no means an addition to the written revelation: that revelation is complete and perfect and needs no addition. But it is a strong corroborative witness to God's plan; and few students can carefully examine it, marking the harmony of its testimony with that of the written Word, without feeling impressed that its construction was planned and directed by the same divine wisdom, and that it is the pillar of witness referred to by the prophet [Isaiah at Isaiah 19: 19, 20](31)

1 Anciently, the Pythagoreans regarded the pyramid as a form with special significance.
2 Notably Charles T. Russell and his followers.
3 Peter Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), p. 72
4 Piazzi Smyth, The Great Pyramid: Its Secrets and Mysteries Revealed (New York: Bell Publishing Company, 1978), pp. 26-30
5 Ibid., pp. 193-210
6 Ibid., pp. 11-14, 343-358
7 Ibid., pp. 143-85
8 Ibid., p. 313
9 Ibid., pp. 89-90
10 Ibid., pp. 56-63
11 Tomkins, p. 70
12 Smyth, pp. 51-4
13 Tomkins, chapter VIII
14 New York: Dover Publication, 1957, p. 157
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid., p. 180
17 Various issues in 1878
18 Seiss, a Lutheran, had a great deal of influence on the Adventists as well as other nineteenth-century, Protestant, premillennialist movements.
19 The Watch Tower, 1906, reprints pp. 3820-6
20 Nelson H. Barbour, The Midnight Cry (Rochester, NY: printed privately, 1871), passim
21 Brooklyn, NY: International Bible Students Ass., 1913, pp. 313-80
22 Ibid., p. 312
23 These included The Great Pyramid: Its Spiritual Symbolism (Glasgow: Bone and Hulley, 19240 and The Great Pyramid: Its Time Features (Glasgow: Bone and Hulley, 1924).
24 The Watch Tower, 1928, p. 339-45
25 This is particularly true of the Dawn Bible Students, but pyramidology is certainly not limited to them.
26 Gardner, p. 180
27 Ibid.
28 Brooklyn, NY: International Bible Students Ass., 1924, pp. 10-11
29 This work, Three Worlds, was published in 1877 with Russell's financial support.
30 Smyth, pp. xv-xvi
31 Russell, Thy Kingdom Come, pp. 314-15


The "Altar to Jehovah in the Land of Egypt" (Isaiah 19:19).

This Is Appendix 81 From The Companion Bible. By E.W. Bullinger

The fulfillment of this prophecy took place in 1 B.C., and is recorded by Josephus (Antiquities xiii. 3. 1-3; 6; Wars 7. 10, 3; and Against Apion, 2. 5) :-

In consequence of wars between the Jews and Syrians, ONIAS IV, the High Priest, fled to Alexandria; where, on account of his active sympathy with the cause of Egypt against Syria, he was welcomed by PTOLEMY PHILOMETOR, and rewarded by being made prince over the Jews in Egypt,1 with the title of Ethnarch and Alabarch. Josephus says :-

"Onias asked permission from Ptolemy and Cleopatra to build a temple in Egypt like that at Jerusalem, and to appoint for it priests and Levites of his own Nation. This he devised, relying chiefly on the prophet Isaiah, who, 600 years before predicted that a temple must be builded in Egypt by a Jew to the supreme God. He therefore wrote to Ptolemy and Cleopatra the following epistle :-

'Having come with the Jews to Leontopolis of the Heliopolite district, and other abodes of my Nation, and finding that many had sacred rites, not as was due, and were thus hostile to each other, which has befallen the Egyptians also through the vanity of their religions, and disagreeing in their services, I found a most convenient place in the fore-mentioned stronghold, abounding with wood and sacred animals. I ask leave, then, clearing away an idol temple, that has fallen down, to build a temple to the supreme God, that the Jews dwelling in Egypt, harmoniously coming together, may minister to thy benefit. For Isaiah the prophet has predicted thus : "There shall be an altar in Egypt to the LORD God"; and he prophesied many other such things concerning the place.'

"The King and Queen replied : 'We have read thy request asking leave to clear away the fallen temple in Leontopolis of the Heliopolite nome. We are surprised that a temple should be pleasing to God, settled in an impure place, and one full of sacred animals. But since thou sayest that Isaiah the prophet so long ago foretold it, we grant thee leave, if, according to the Law we may not seem to have offended against God.'" (Antiquities. xiii. 6.)

The place of this temple was the identical spot where many centuries before, Israel had light in their dwellings while the rest of Egypt was suffering from a plague of darkness. Here again was light in the darkness, which continued for more than 200 years (about 160 B.C. to A.D. 71), when it was closed by Vespasian.

The Jerusalem Jews were opposed to, and jealous of, this rival temple; and, by changing two letters almost identical in form ( = H (or CH) to = H) turned "the city of the sun" (cheres) into "the city of destruction" (heres). But the former reading is found in many codices, two early printed editions, and some ancient versions, as well as in the margins of the Authorized Version and Revised Version. The Septuagint reading shows that the Hebrew Manuscripts from which that version was made, read 'ir-ha-zedek = "the city of righteousness."

The "five cities" of Isaiah 19:18 were probably Heliopolis (the city of the sun, where this temple was built), Leontopolis, Daphne, Migdol, and Memphis. -

Jewish Temple at Leontopolis

The account of Josephus in the The Wars of the Jews, refers to the Onias who built the Temple at Leontopolis as "the son of Simon", implying that it was Onias III, and not his son, who fled to Egypt and built the Temple. This account, however, is contradicted by the story that Onias III was murdered at Antioch in 171 BCE. Josephus' account in the Antiquities is therefore more probable, namely, that the builder of the temple was a son of the murdered Onias III, and that, a mere youth at the time of his father's death, he had fled to the court of Alexandria in consequence of the Syrian persecutions, perhaps because he thought that salvation would come to his people from Egypt. Ptolemy VI was King of Egypt at that time. He probably had not yet given up his claims to Coele-Syria and Judea, and gladly gave refuge to such a prominent personage of the neighboring country. Onias now requested the king and his sister-wife, Cleopatra, to allow him to build a sanctuary in Egypt similar to the one at Jerusalem, where he would employ Levites and priests of his own clan; and he referred to the prediction of the prophet Isaiah that a Jewish temple would be erected in Egypt.

According to Josephus, the temple of Leontopolis existed for 343 years, though the general opinion is that this number must be changed to 243. He relates that the Roman emperor Vespasian feared that through this temple Egypt might become a new center for Jewish rebellion and therefore ordered the governor of Egypt, Lupus, to demolish it. Lupus died in the process of carrying out the order; and the task of stripping the temple of its treasures, barring access to it, and removing all traces of divine worship at the site was completed by his successor, Paulinus, which dates the event to c. March - August 73.

In Flinders Petrie dig of Tell al-Yahudi in 1905/6 he identified remains of this temple.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Jan. 2, 2011, Also See:

Charles T. Russell and "Pyramid Chronology"

Pyramid Chronology

Opposers of Jehovah's Witnesses occasionally cite Charles T. Russell's interest in "Pyramid Chronology" as another one of their attempts to discredit the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. In order to address this subject properly, a brief look at the history of the subject and the broad general perception at that time would be beneficial.

In 1859, an "eminently respectable Nottinghamshire Victorian" (Moffett quote) and respected London publisher, John Taylor, published his book, The Great Pyramid: Why Was It Built? And Who Built It?.

Taylor was also an earnest student of mathematics who had spent many long hours examining and analyzing the most accurate and detailed measurements then available for the Great Pyramid: Howard Vyse's survey in 3 volumes - Operations Carried On At The Pyramids Of Giza.

Taylor's eight-volume work claimed the Great Pyramid had been built through the inspiration of the God of the Bible. The various measurements of that pyramid were, he said, God-inspired messages to His people.

Then Dr. Charles Piazzi Smyth took over. He was "a fellow of the Royal Society, Britain's august high command of the sciences, [and] his father, Admiral William Henry Smyth, had been one before him. At the time the younger Smyth encountered Taylor's theories, he was both professor of astronomy at Edinburgh University and Astronomer Royal of Scotland." - Moffett.

Inspired by Taylor's studies, Smyth launched into a fresh analysis of Howard Vyse's figures. His calculations and conclusions startled the world: not only was Taylor correct, he declared, but there were many new revelations to be found!

From 1864 until 1890 (at least) Piazzi Smyth was the greatest authority on the revelations of the Great Pyramid measurements. This respected scientist sincerely believed and taught, among other things, that the various measurements in and on the Pyramid were put there through inspiration from God by its Hebrew builders to encourage and inform God's modern people.

Many later studies by others came up with slightly different measurements and different interpretations, but Piazzi Smyth's were certainly the most impressive from the standpoint of scholastic authority, scientific sincerity, and world-wide endorsements. "As late as 1932," Moffett tells us, "there were still those ready to take up the cudgel for the Astronomer Royal." Others, however, also became popular in this field.

"The heyday of pyramidology was to dawn in 1924, with the publication of The Great Pyramid: Its Divine Message. This was primarily the work of an English structural engineer named David Davidson." - Moffett.

Many intelligent, knowledgeable people around the world were convinced that the Great Pyramid had been divinely constructed to reveal Biblical truths. True, there was some argument as to which of the many different measurements being reported were the proper measurements. And there were various interpretations as to what each measurement actually represented. And there were a number of stuffy "curmudgeons" who still wouldn't be convinced by what seemed to be overwhelming statistical proof. But "Pyramid Fever" ran high, nevertheless.

And in 1890 the respected Dr. Piazzi Smyth was the Pyramid Chronology expert!

So, when C. T. Russell began examining Dr. Smyth's work and comparing it to his own attempts at chronology based on the Bible alone, it is no wonder he became very excited at what appeared to be an exact proportional match between the lengths of various consecutive measurements in the Pyramid and the lengths of consecutive time periods in his own Bible chronology.
As a result, in 1890, Russell's "Pyramid" calculations and their interpretation by him were forwarded to Piazzi Smyth in England. Smyth heartily endorsed them in his Dec. 21, 1890 letter which was reproduced in Studies in the Scriptures when Russell published his Great Pyramid testimony. - see pp. 311-312, Thy Kingdom Come.

As Russell tells us in that very same work which Piazzi Smyth had reviewed and praised:

"The first work of importance on the subject, proving that the Great Pyramid possessed scientific features, was by Mr. John Taylor, of England, A.D. 1859, since which time the attention of many able minds has been given to the further study of the testimony of this wonderful `Witness;' especially since Prof. Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer Royal for Scotland ... gave to the world the remarkable facts of its construction and measurements, and his conclusions therefrom. To his scholarly and scientific work, `Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid,' we are mainly indebted for the data made use of in this chapter....

"A few years after Prof. Smyth's return, came the suggestion that the Great Pyramid is Jehovah's`Witness,' and that it is as important a witness to divine truth as to natural science .... The suggestion came from a young Scotsman, Robert Menzies, who, when studying the scientific teachings of the Great Pyramid, discovered that prophetic and chronological teachings co-exist in it.

"Soon it became apparent that the object of its construction was to provide in it a record of the divine plan of salvation, no less than the record of divine wisdom relating to astronomical, chronological, geometrical, and other important truths." - pp. 319-320, Thy Kingdom Come, Studies in the Scriptures.

Later confirmation for Russell's "pyramid chronology" came from Dr. John Edgar, M.A., B.So., M.B., C.M., F.F.P.S.G., of Glasgow, Scotland, who, with his brother Morton, visited the Great Pyramid in 1909 to critically test Russell's interpretations.

"Their verdict, after a most elaborate investigation, was a thorough endorsement of Pastor Russell's interpretation" - p. 4953 [bound volume], Jan. 1, 1912 WT.

However, it must be noted that it was extremely difficult to determine exactly where to start (or end) many of the measurements in the Great Pyramid, and more and more differing measurements began to be made and promoted as Smyth's theories became more and more popular. It is even claimed that Smyth himself had used two different measurements for one of the passages - WT, p. 3451, Nov. 1, 1904, letters from readers.

Also, as Moffett, in his book debunking the various pyramidology theories, points out:

"if you took enough measurements and chose selectively, it would be possible to prove virtually anything." - p. 38, Secrets of the Pyramids Revealed.

I have no doubt that Taylor, Prof. Piazzi Smyth, and C. T. Russell (and thousands of others) were sincere, religious men who truly believed their interpretations of the Pyramid measurements. They were victims of statistical coincidences and multiple variables: it all honestly appeared to be mathematically precise proof - inescapably certain!

Although convinced of the accuracy of his pyramid chronology interpretations, Russell, nevertheless, considered it as merely corroborating the testimony of the Bible. It was "for a sign and a witness unto the Lord of Hosts." He wrote: "IF this, indeed, prove to be a Bible in stone; IF it be a record of the secret plans of the Great Architect of the universe, displaying his foreknowledge and wisdom; it should and will be in full accord with his written word." - pp. 317, 326, 341, Thy Kingdom Come.

Nevertheless, we must finally conclude, as with some other date interpretations, that Russell was incorrect. This does not make him a False Prophet. He was no more (or less) than what he continually proclaimed himself to be: a mere imperfect man striving (with the aid of God's Spirit) for the truth. That his imperfect flesh did not always allow him perfect accord with the Holy Spirit should come as no surprise. Otherwise we would be treating him as an Inspired Prophet and regarding his every word as "Scripture" (which, as we know, he strongly opposed). Instead, he is merely a brother, a fellow servant.

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