|Circumpolar star trails in a long-exposure photo of several hours, showing that stars closer to Polaris move on shorter trails, thus moving more slowly. The circumpolar stars always stay above the horizon. Courtesy of Wikipedia. By LCGS Russ – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
In Dan Vogel’s new book, Book of Abraham Apologetics (discussed in Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of this series), after stating that a knowledge of Egyptology is not necessary to address the issues regarding the Book of Abraham, he critiques LDS Egytpologists several times for their statements about ancient Egypt. While I believe amateurs should be able to challenge scholars and that good can come from anyone’s reasonable critique or analysis of past scholarship, we amateurs should also recognize that those with formal training in their field may know what they are doing, so our critiques need to be backed with good evidence or logic and still may be wrong. In his attack on the views of John Gee and others regarding the astronomical content in the Book of Abraham, Vogel’s critique strikes me as highly flawed.
One of the more subtle and interesting evidences that LDS scholars have offered for the antiquity of the Book of Abraham involves the astronomical information that the Lord gives Abraham in chapter 3 to prepare him for an encounter with Pharaoh. Only recently did LDS scholars note that the astronomical model that Abraham would use to teach Pharaoh makes the most sense when viewed as a type of geocentric model, one that Pharaoh could accept, in order to teach Pharaoh some important spiritual truths. The Lord seems to have given Abraham more advanced knowledge as well, but much of the discussion seems couched in terms of what one observes from the earth and with principles that could related well to the geocentric views of the Egyptians. See John Gee, “Abrahamic Astronomy,” in An Introduction to the Book of Abraham (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2017), 115–120, and John Gee, William J. Hamblin, and Daniel C. Peterson, “‘And I Saw the Stars’: The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy,” in Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, ed. John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2005), 1–16. (Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant is available online, either as one PDF of the entire volume or via links to individual PDFs of each chapter.)
In “Abrahamic Astronomy,” Gee makes the basic case for a geocentric model that would Abraham could have used in talking with the Egyptians:
The astronomy in the Book of Abraham uses as its point of reference “the earth upon which thou standest” (Abraham 3:3, 5–7). It mentions various heavenly bodies, such as “the stars” (Abraham 3:2), among which is Kolob (Abraham 3:3–4). These provide a fixed backdrop for the heavens. Among the stars are various bodies that move in relation to the fixed backdrop, each of which is called a “planet” (Abraham 3:5, 8) or a “light” (Abraham 3:5–7), though since the sun and moon and certain stars are each also called a “planet,” we should not think of them as necessarily being what we call planets. Each of these planets is associated with “its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof” (Abraham 3:4). These lights revolve around something, and that is the fixed reference point, “the earth upon which thou standest” (Abraham 3:3, 5–7). The Book of Abraham thus presents a geocentric astronomy, like almost all ancient astronomies, including ancient Egyptian astronomy.
Each heavenly body, with its revolution, is associated with something called a “set time” (Abraham 3:6, 10) or “the reckoning of its time” (Abraham 3:5), which seems to be its revolution around the earth and for the earth, its rotation. The greater amount of time is associated with a higher orbit and thus being “above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest” (Abraham 3:5). The higher orbits are larger and take more time to traverse; thus, the longer the time of revolution, the higher the light is above the earth.
The ancient Egyptians associated the idea of encircling something (whether in the sky or on earth) with controlling or governing it, and the same terms are used for both. Thus, the Book of Abraham notes that “there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, . . . which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest” (Abraham 3:9, emphasis added). The Egyptians had a similar notion, in which the sun (Re) was not only a god but the head of all the gods and ruled over everything that he encircled. Abraham’s astronomy sets the sun, “that which is to rule the day” (Abraham 3:5), as greater than the moon but less than Kolob, which governs the sun (Abraham 3:9). Thus, in the astronomy of the Book of Abraham, Kolob, which is the nearest star to God (Abraham 3:16; see also 3, 9), revolves around and thus encircles or controls the sun, which is the head of the Egyptian pantheon.
The conversation between Abraham and the Lord shifts from a discussion of heavenly bodies to spiritual beings. This reflects a play on words that Egyptians often use between a star (ach) and a spirit (ich). The shift is done by means of a comparison: “Now, if there be two things, one above the other, and the moon be above the earth, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it; . . .as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other” (Abraham 3:17–18). In an Egyptian context, the play on words would strengthen the parallel.
With an interesting Egyptian wordplay, the purpose of the astronomical material being given to Abraham becomes apparent. By teaching Pharaoh about the order seen in astronomy, with one star near God governing all others because it is in order most high with the longest time of reckoning, so can the same principle be implied when it comes to souls, with God being higher than all. Using this roundabout astronomical approach to lay a metaphorical foundation, Abraham can help Pharaoh see that there is a God higher even than the Sun, higher than the Egyptian pantheon, and higher than Pharaoh. Speaking such things directly could be seen as an attack on Pharaoh and Egyptian religion, a capital offense, but the astronomical analogy could help Pharaoh learn the principle without getting Abraham killed.
Vogel is not impressed. He begins a rather meandering discussion of astronomical issues with this:
However, the model they use to interpret Abraham Chapter 3 requires the earth to be spherical with the sun, moon, and planets revolving in concentric circles around it, a model that, in fact, dates many centuries after Abraham. Indeed, all (but one) of the authors’ examples range from the third century BCE (Greek philosophers) to fourteenth-century-CE Italy (Dante). (pp. 133-134, Kindle edition–the printed version may be around p. 112; emphasis added)
This is a very unfortunate misreading of Gee, Hamblin, and Peterson. Their argument absolutely does not require the advanced Ptolemaic version of geocentrism and, in fact, is compatible with flat earth models from ancient Egypt. Vogel’s footnote at this point adds another argument or two:
The exception [the alleged “one” example relied on by Gee et al. not dating to many centuries after Abraham] is the Egyptian belief that the earth, personified by the god Geb, and sky, personified by the goddess Nut, are separated by Shu, god of air. While Gee et al. state that this concept of the cosmos “goes back at least as far as the Middle Kingdom (and thus to the approximate time of Abraham),” they do not explain that in the Egyptian cosmos the earth is flat and instead emphasize an Egyptian text which says the “Sun-disk encircles, that which Gen and Nut enclose” (Gee et al., “‘And I Saw the Stars,” 7). Thus they imply that Egyptians believed the sun revolved around the earth. In their description of the first of the four types of geocentricity, they state that the “sun, moon, stars, planets, etc.–surrounded and encompassed the earth in a single undifferentiated heaven” (ibid., 5). In the footnote they reference the “view of the heavens from the tomb of Seti I,” which clearly shows the earth as flat with the heavens over it. The ancient Egyptians believed the sun (Ra) traveled on a barge at night to emerge in the east the next morning, and not that the sun revolved around the earth.
Vogel seems to assume that a flat earth model is contrary to a geocentric view, perhaps because he assumes that “geocentric” must refer to the latest, well-known versions of geocentrism with heavenly bodies acting as if connected to revolving spheres moving around a spherical earth. But more primitive flat earth models can accurately be described as geocentric. If it is the sun literally moving across the sky rather than the earth rotating on its axis, and if the motion of the stars each night is from their motion relative to the earth, we clearly have a geocentric model, regardless of how the sun gets back to its starting point each morning.
Vogel chastises Gee et al. for only considering one piece of evidence from ancient Egypt. Here he has not carefully read the article he criticizes. Speaking of the ancient Egyptian views on astronomy, Gee et al. state that “numerous references make it clear that their worldview was fundamentally geocentric” (Gee et al., “I Saw the Stars,” p. 7, emphasis added). Their footnote here cites James P. Allen, Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts (New Haven: Yale Egyptological Seminar, 1988), pp. 3-7, a work that considers the astronomical implications of 16 Egyptian sources. It has significant evidentiary value in support of the point made in “I Saw the Stars.” We’ll come back to that in a moment.
Vogel goes on to propose that Joseph Smith in his revelations was just borrowing from the modern cosmology expressed by authors such as Thomas Dick, an argument that is no more reasonable than when Fawn Brodie proposed it decades ago. See my treatment of that flawed proposal as a slight detour in “Joseph Smith’s Universe vs. Some Wonders of Chinese Science Fiction,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 29 (2018): 105-152.
In responding to Vogel’s arguments against the geocentric features in the Book of Abraham proposed by Gee et al., I wish to first suggest that the pro-Book of Abraham articles discussing Egyptian astronomy might have been more clear if they had discussed the different types of stellar motion the Egyptians and other ancients saw in their stargazing and how that related to Egyptian belief. Of special interest, in my opinion, are the Egyptian views on the pole star and the nearby “circumpolar stars,” depicted in the figure at the beginning of this scroll post. The circumpolar stars are the ones that stay in the north part of the sky and never set below the horizon (for those in the Northern Hemisphere), revolving around the pole star, currently Polaris (different stars in that region have been the pole star anciently as things slowly shift over time–Thuban was the pole star from the 4th to 2nd millennium BCE). In considering recent investigations of ancient Egyptian cosmology, it seems to me that the evidence for the Book of Abraham based on the astronomical passage in Abraham 3 may be even stronger than Gee et al. have indicated.
I should also explain that while it appears that Abraham was given some advanced information about the nature of stars and perhaps the earth (speaking of the “set time” of the earth as well as other bodies itself implies that the earth rotates, for example), he is given information couched in terms of what is seen from the earth, as Gee, Hamblin, and Peterson note, including the various times of “reckoning” which we now know were very important to the Egyptians. What I think is happening is that God is sharing some advanced information with Abraham, but giving him the terminology and perspectives to relate to what is observed from earth and the attendant geocentric model of the Egyptian court. Abraham will be able to discuss the various categories of stars and their differing “set times” and relate that and other details to the spiritual order with God as the Supreme Being, just as there are special slow-moving stars (relative to the horizon in the sky as seen on earth) in Egyptian mythology that are “immortal.” associated with deity, and govern the cosmos. Accurate details on observed set times and times of reckoning from a terrestrial perspective are not “wrong” but tailored for the paradigm of the Egyptians. Abraham may have shared more in his discourse, we don’t know, but it’s not accurate to frame Abraham 3 as the Lord lying to Abraham about the cosmos. He’s revealing grand information, letting Abraham see important truths, but also enabling Abraham to relate his knowledge to terrestrial observations and the Egyptian’s astronomical model. His purpose, of course, in the proposals of Gee et al., was not to upgrade Egyptian science but to use astronomy as a tool to discreetly share spiritual truths. With that preface, we now briefly gaze at Egyptian astronomy. [This paragraph was added April 2, 2021.]
Let’s begin with Bernadette Brady in her chapter “Star Phases: the Naked-eye Astronomy of the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts,” in Fabio Silva and Nicolas Campion, eds., Skyscapes: The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology (Oxford: Oxbow 2015), pp. 76-86, a chapter available via Academia.edu. Bernadette notes how many scholars have failed to recognized the meaning of seemingly confusing passages in the very ancient Pyramid Texts due to a lack of awareness of the different behaviors of stars that can be identified and categorized by simple visual observation. She categorizes star behaviors into four groups (pp. 78-79), showing that Ptolemy’s various labels are reasonable: 1) stars that are always in the sky and never set (Ptolemy called these the circumpolar stars, which is the modern term as well); 2) stars that are visible every night, though they may sometimes descend below the horizon for a while (Ptolemy’s “Circumpolar Curtailed Passage” stars); 3) stars that are sometimes visible, at some times of the year rising or setting during the night while at other times not seen at all during the whole night (Ptolemy’s “Arising and Laying Hidden” stars), and 4) stars that never rise for a viewer at a given local (Ptolemy’s “Never Rises” category). She pays special attention to the third category, abbreviated as ALH (“Arising and Staying Hidden”) stars, for which two different behaviors or “star phases” can be seen in their annual motions, elucidated in her Table 7.2 (p. 82), and then resolves some sources of confusion about the Pyramid Texts:
With an awareness of these two distinct star phases we can now consider the Pyramid Texts. Samuel Mercer (1956, 4) describes the texts as being, ‘remnants of much earlier literature than that of the historical period in Egyptian history.’ Thus although the first Pyramid Texts are dated to the pyramid of Unis (also written as Unas), whose reign is estimated to have been from 2375–2345 BCE, in terms of their contents, they are considered to have come from an earlier period, at least from the 4th Dynasty if not considerably earlier. According to Allen (2005, 9), at the time of the Old Kingdom the Egyptian sky consisted of a skyscape which was a reflection of their landscape: The Marsh of Rest or Offerings were located in the northern parts of the sky, The Marsh of Reeds occupied the southern sky, and the path of the sun was known as the Winding Canal. Located around these places were the stars. The Egyptians recognised three separate groups of stars, with three different sky-narratives, each defined by their relationship to these places. The Imperishable Stars, those that dwelt in The Marsh of Rest, were the circumpolar stars, and they were imperishable as they were never taken below the earth (Faulkner 1966, 156–157; Lesko 1991, 99). Joseph Bradshaw (1990, 38) refers to the holiness that the Egyptians attributed to the northern part of the sky and points out that their entire universe hung from the northern pole. Upon their death, the divine kings, not only had the right to re-join these stars but were required to do so for the cosmic health of the nation (Davis 1977, 164). Allen (2005) translates an utterance from Unis’ pyramid as, ‘The populace will cry out to you once the Imperishable Stars have raised you aloft’ (W147). Hence, in the 5th dynasty, the observation that the circumpolar stars remained visible for the whole night throughout the whole year and thus never touched the horizon was considered to be a statement of their divine nature. These stars were immortal beings who the king was destined to join and thus rule the cosmos. As Davis (1977, 166) puts it, ‘In the ascent, the King re-enters the realms of celestial divinity and is given royal authority, just as he entered the world of men and was invested with similar authority.’ (pp. 81-82)
Brady continues to relate other classes of star and their various phases to references in the Pyramid Texts, always with religious meaning.
Read the quote from Brady in light of what the Lord is seeking to teach Abraham and Pharaoh. The link between stars, souls, and deity is not a completely foreign concept that would puzzle Pharaoh. At least for Pharaoh, his destiny would be immortality, joining the gods in the sacred circumpolar realm near the polar star, a realm that governed the cosmos. A view that would seem to resonate well with Egyptian astronomy is the concept that a star that was slower in its time of reckoning than all the rest would be associated with ruling the cosmos. Abraham 3 is genuinely interesting!
So where did Joseph Smith get the idea of stars associated with deity, that moved more slowly, and that governed the cosmos? This was not something plucked from a local Methodist sermon or common knowledge among farmers on the frontier. Yet it fits some aspects of the ancient geocentric model of the Egyptians and their sacred cosmology, conveying information to Abraham in terms well suited for engaging with the Egyptians.
Here Hugh Nibley’s grand and overly neglected work, One Eternal Round, should be consulted. Early in the book Nibley lays out the importance of starts to the Egyptians as sacred places that also represent our destiny, and the circumpolar stars were of special importance. See Chapter 2, especially pp. 41-52. Hugh Nibley and Michael D. Rhodes provide extensive analysis of the Book of Abraham, including details of the Facsimiles, giving what may be the leading source of fascinating apologetic information in support of the Book of Abraham (more on that later). How does Vogel address the extensive arguments Nibley’s magnum opus? The book doesn’t even get a mention. Nothing. For a book directed to LDS apologetics, to neglect the wealth of material in the richest source of Nibley’s Book of Abraham work seems rather surprising. But at least Nibley gets mentioned a few times. [This and the previous paragraph were added April 5, 2021.]
The Egyptians long before Abraham’s day were keenly aware of the different motions of celestial bodies, with the slowly rotating but never setting circumpolar stars being associated with immortality and deity. They equated the rising and setting of bodies such as the sun birth and death, with the sun being born each day as it passed over the earth — of course this is heliocentric! — only to be reborn again the next day. The immortal stars, the circumpolar ones, never seemed to set. The sun and the moon would rise and set daily, but both also had their own times describing their periodic motion relative to other stars, with the sun taking a year and the moon taking a lunar month.
But, Vogel may object, if the sun returns to the east by sailing in a boat instead of revolving around a spherical earth on a celestial sphere, how can that be geocentric? Please note that the Egyptians were concerned with what they observed and their purpose was not to describe physical reality, but religious or mythological concepts (Allen, pp. ix-x). They conceptualized the sky as a goddess stretched over the earth, but that doesn’t mean they literally thought you might be able to see a belly button or shoulders in the sky on a clear day. How the sun returned to be reborn from the east was explained in a couple of different ways, as we’ll see in a moment, but however that happened, it was the sun that moved across the sky as they observed each day, not the earth rotating relative to the sun. Ditto for all other celestial bodies: they moved in different ways, at different speeds, relative to the earth, and some very special ones moved very slowly and never set. What else can this be called but a geocentric model? And not just any geocentric model, but one that makes Abraham 3 an ideal presentation of concepts that Pharaoh could understand. Concepts of concentric celestial spheres had not yet been worked out, and are not hinted at in Abraham 3. The models of Ptolemy or Dante or others are not needed to qualify as ancient and geocentric. In fact, it might be a strike against the Book of Abraham if such relatively modern geocentric formulations were inherent to Abraham 3, but one could argue that they might have been written later when the documents were physically prepared and when geocentric ideas were better fleshed out (though still before the enrichment Ptolemy would provide). But for my tastes, its neater if the astronomical concepts in the Book of Abraham really were at home in Pharaoh’s court. It would be a primitive geocentrism that the Pharaoh of Abraham’s day likely embraced, but may have still have been relatively sophisticated in terms of employing centuries of detailed astronomical observation.
Let’s turn now to the primary source cited by Gee et al. as evidence of Egyptian geocentric views, James P. Allen’s Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts (New Haven: Yale Egyptological Seminar, 1988), available at Archive.org. Exploring the first of his Egyptian texts, the Cenotaph of Seti I (ca. 1280 B.C.), Allen explains that the sun moves across the sky (the goddess Nut) after bring born anew each day, and at night enters the mysterious Duat and returns back to the east. Duat is sometimes described as being below the earth or it can be within the body of Nut:
The relationship between Nut and the Duat in this scene reflects an ambivalence m the Egyptian conception of the Duat. On one hand, the Duat is thought to lie inside Nut’s body, as in Text ICl and 1C4. This is a concept as old as the Pyramid Texts:
The sky has conceived him, the Duat has given him birth. (Pyr. 1527a)5
On the other hand there are indications—equally as old—that the Duat was also envisioned as lying beneath the earth. The Pyramid Texts associate the Duat with the earth and its gods Geb and Aker, and the Coffin Texts refer to the “lower Duat.” This ambiguity is probably no more than a reflection of the fact that the Duat, though part of the world, is inaccessible to the living, outside the realm of normal human experience— though its topography and inhabitants are nonetheless conjectured in great detail in the Amduat and similar funerary “books.”
Together, sky, land and Duat comprise the world of the ancient Egyptian—a kind of “bubble” of air and light within the otherwise unbroken infinity of dark waters. These elements form the background to the Egyptian understanding of the cycle of life and I human destiny, determined by the daily drama of sunset and sunrise. They are also the starting-point for all Egyptian speculation on the origins of the universe. (Allen, pp. 6-7)
Later Allen again discusses the ambiguity the Egyptians had about Duat, nothing that it may be in the sky, below the earth, or both (p. 56). “The Duat is a dangerous region, yet full of the power of regeneration. Like a mother’s womb, it is where the sun, and the human dead, are reborn to rise into new life each dawn.”
Allen also speaks of “the Egyptians’ concept of the universe as a limitless ocean of dark and motionless water, within which the world of life floats as a sphere of air and light. The texts describe this ocean as existing above the sky (Text lAl, 11)” (p. 4). This seems similar to the “firmament” of heaven in Genesis.
Allen also reminds us that the cosmos of the Egyptian is not about things, but personalities. The sky, the sun, the earth, the air, the waters, Duat, etc., are all gods (p. 8). To understand the cosmos, one must understand the actors, the gods. I would then suggest that we should not expect sacred Egyptian texts to be written to explain their views on physical reality.
Interest in astronomy, however, also had some practical, non-mythological aspects. At least by the 24th century B.C., “star clocks” had been developed using the rising and setting of stars to assist in telling time. See R.A. Parker, “Ancient Egyptian Astronomy,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences 276, no. 1257, The Place of Astronomy in the Ancient World (May 2, 1974), pp. 51-65, https://www.jstor.org/stable/74274. In spite of the star clocks Parker in this 1974 article seems to feel that astronomical knowledge in ancient Egypt was highly primitive, or “Egyptian astronomy, in a quantitative sense, was almost non-existant” (p. 65). Later research would challenge that perspective and strengthen our understanding of how advanced Egyptian understanding was in terms of quantitative knowledge regarding the times of reckoning related to celestial bodies. See Joanne Conman, “It’s about Time: Ancient Egyptian Cosmology,” Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 31 (2003): 33-71, https://www.jstor.org/stable/25152883. Conman rejects the old “decanal belt” theory that had stood in the way of appreciating the physical reailty behind Egyptian documents describing the actions of stars and shows that Egyptian astronomical statements can make a great deal of sense. Conman concludes:
They understood that time manifests itself through the continually changing sky, a concept that was personified by the goddess Nut. The constantly turning sky was not a stationary background but an active force that moved the sun and stars around. The sun was attached to the sky and functioned as a mobile meridian, so that time and direction were not easily separable concepts in ancient Egyptian thought. The star model from the tombs of Seti I and Ramses IV, as explained in the Carlsberg papyri, works properly only if stars are observed in the same location (the msqt region) in the same state (rising) at different times of the year. The Asyut coffins’ decan lists are part of this same system, tracking stars during their “work” phase. Ancient Egyptian sacred texts were not and should not be mistaken for “primitive” astronomy…. (p. 68, emphasis added)
With an emphasis on the times of reckning in their astronomical work, the Egyptians, then, would likely appreciate Abraham’s reference to the “times of reckoning” and the “set times” of celestial bodies (Abraham 3: 4-11). There also appears to be a spectrum of “set times” for the stars that vary with position as one looks toward or moves toward the location of Kolob:
7 Now the set time of the lesser light [the moon] is a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of the earth upon which thou standest.
8 And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;
9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
I would suggest that this may be metaphorical or intended as a way of representing the hierarchies of the heavens in a way the Egyptians could relate to.
If the pole star was considered the most sacred star of all, the point upon which the sky is hung, the abode of the immortal ones and the destiny of Pharaoh, and was noted for not rotating in the sky or rotating only very slowly and, of course, never “dying” by passing below the horizon, it would seem to be a plausible fit to represent Kolob in the astronomical explanations being given to Abraham to aid in teaching Pharaoh. Everything in that passage is being referenced to the earth upon which Abraham stood, as also occurred in the Egyptian model.
Based on several factors, the Book of Abraham not only makes sense in terms of explanations being given in terms of a geocentric model, but also as an excellent way to engage with the Egyptian court and provide teachings in terms they would easily grasp but that could also help teach religious truth without committing a capital offense. It’s a brilliant chapter, complete with an Egyptian word play that perfectly fits the scene, ideally crafted for the geocentric model of the Egyptians using concepts and terms that they would readily grasp. It and the writings of John Gee et al. on Abraham 3 deserve a little more respect.
Update, 3/31/2021: One reader raised a good question about the references to the earth’s set time, as if the revolution of the earth about its axis were involved. Yes, it seems to me that what was revealed to Abraham included much more than just the geocentric model that he may have needed for effective engagement with the Egyptians. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the earth’s “set time” was defined as equal to one day based on the all-important impact of the sun’s journey on the earth, without necessarily revealing why it was the same. But it also appears that Abraham was shown some scenes through the Urim and Thummim that may have allowed him to have a better feel for the nature of the cosmos and the stars. So it’s possible that what Abraham learned was complex and not limited to geocentric views, though I would guess that the advanced perspective was not part of what he shared directly with Pharaoh, thought it may have played a role in their discussion. We really don’t know. But there is a reasonable case to believe that more than geocentrism alone was conveyed to Abraham, though I think all the terminology could fit well within Egyptian models except for the set time of the earth, unless its set time was viewed as a direct by product of the sun’s effect and this equal to the sun’s time of reckoning or set time.
Update, 9/8/2022: Ptolemaic astronomy with its complex system of multiple rotating spheres dates to around 150 AD when Ptolemy published The Almagest). However, the closely related concept of the celestial sphere or multiple concentric spheres were being discussed centuries earlier by Aristotle (see “Celestial Sphere,” Wikipedia, accessed Sept. 8, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_sphere#Greek_history_on_celestial_spheres) and Eudoxus (see Eudoxus of Cnidus,” Wikipedia, accessed Sept. 8, 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eudoxus_of_Cnidus). More primitive related geocentric concepts such as celestial objects rotating around the earth or the sky as a sphere were more ancient still.