THE DESCENDING PASSAGE
“Speaking of the Great Pyramid, C. T. Russell says: ‘But while the outward testimony of this great structure is thus complete and in accord with God’s written revelation, its inner construction is even more wonderful. While its outward form illustrates the completed results of God’s Plan of Redemption, the inner construction marks and illustrates every prominent feature of that plan as it has developed from age to age, down to its glorious and complete consummation.”
However in order to obtain an intelligent and appreciative understanding of the Great Pyramid specifically in regards to the symbolical aspects of this structure, one must first acquaint themselves with the interior system of this structure. The names given to the various passages and chambers are those commonly accepted by Pyramid students.” (Great Pyramid Passages, Page 57)
In our examination here of the interior we will be simply following along with Brother John and Morton Edgar in their examination of the structure adding any thoughts or comments that we might have as we go along (in italics as always). Now it is apparent that since their original visit further excavations have taken place (and continue to do so), and so with this in mind we may from time to time note some differences between the older photos and the newer ones, however this does not diminish the value of some of the older photos, in fact when the true symbolical significance of some of the various features of this structure are properly understood some of the older photos will prove of far more value than the newer ones.
“As was mentioned in one of our earlier posts there is but one original Entrance to the interior of the Great Pyramid High up on the face of the northern flank (about 50 feet vertically above the ground), and nearly twenty-four feet to the east of the middle line of the structure, there is a small doorway which leads into the Descending Passage, which, like all the other primary passages, runs from north to south.
So low is the roof of this passage (barely four feet), that we are required to stoop considerably, and the difficulty of progression increases by its slipperiness and steep downward inclination (as can be seen by the above photo). For the first seventy-eight feet or so the center of the floor is hewn and worn into a series of irregular trenches. These tended to increase the difficulty of our descent, though here and there the extra vertical height which they afford enabled us to walk upright.” (Page 57)
In this old photo you can see the “trench” spoken of above, cut into the floor of the descending passage; this trench was obviously not a part of the original design but was no doubt something which was added at a later date most likely to better facilitate movement up and down the passage. It appears from the account given by the Edgar’s that this trench only extended to just shy of the point where the descending passage begins its decent through the solid rock core beneath the Pyramid.
“Continuing on now a few feet further down the passage we noticed above us a depression in the roof, into which a rectangular, dark granite block is fitted. This is the lower butt-end of a series of three large granite stones, named collectively the Granite Plug, because they completely stop up the lower end of the First Ascending Passage. (Page 57)
“The small space between the lower end of the Granite Plug, and the roof-line of the Descending Passage, was originally closed by a smooth limestone block similar to the other stones which form the roof of the Descending Passage, and in line with them (Shown above). So effectually did this limestone block conceal the entrance of the First Ascending Passage, that none of the classic nations knew of the existence of the upper passages and chambers. Later, the little of what was once known by ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, was lost, for even the site of entrance to the Great Pyramid became forgotten.” (Page 63)
“At this particular juncture in the passage the floor beneath us is found to be composed of such hard limestone, that the traffic and vandalism of centuries have made little impression on it. For a length of about ten feet the surface is so smooth that to walk on it is impossible, unless one is wearing rubber soled shoes, or bare feet, and even then the support afforded by the side walls may not be disdained.” (Pages 57-59)
The photo above is a picture of the Descending Passage as it appears today looking north back up the passage toward the original entrance standing just beneath the granite plug, you will note that the trench has been completely covered by walking planks most likely designed to aid the custodians of the structure in maintaining this part of the pyramid. This original entrance is closed to the public with entrance now being facilitated through the entrance cut by Al Mamoun’s men.
“Returning once again now to the Edgar’s account from just below the granite plug, ‘Visitors who are wearing boots and have no one to assist them, have to sit on their heels at this point, and slide down until their further descent is arrested by a fragmentary block of limestone, this block rests against a large fractured granite stone, which is tightly wedged across the floor of the passage (possibly a little hard to make out at first in this black and white photo, but it’s there, you just have to look very closely, it’s located just behind the limestone block which is resting against the east side of the passage). Along the top of the granite stone, between it and the roof, a small iron grill-door has been adjusted. (Neither the two stones in the present position, nor the grill-door form any part of the original design.) So confined is the space between the upper surface of the block of granite and the roof, that, whenever we required to descend to the lower parts of the Pyramid in pursuance of our work, we were compelled first to sit on the granite stone with our feet thrust through the narrow opening, and then, taking firm hold of the thin iron lintel of the grill-door, lower ourselves cautiously through the opening until our feet rested on the inclined floor of the passage below. This grill-door is usually locked, but the Director-General of Antiquities in Egypt kindly permitted it to remain unlocked all the time of our visit.” (Page 59)
The original gate, limestone fragment and granite stone spoken of by the Edgar’s above has long since been removed and replaced with a much newer gate one which better affords the visitor much easier access to the lower part of the passage.
“Immediately above or north of the granite stone on which the grill-door was originally fixed, there is an irregular opening in the west wall of the Descending Passage (red arrow). When we stepped through this opening, we found ourselves in a large cavernous space. This cavity with its opening from the Descending Passage was hollowed out in the masonry eleven hundred years ago by Caliph Al Mamoun… In the photo below we are standing in this cavity roughly about where Brother John Edgar is seen in the second photo below, from this vantage point we are looking back down towards the Descending Passage with its newly installed grill door leading to the Subterranean Chamber.
After entering the cavity, we observed the west end of the upper two-thirds of the Granite Plug, which had previously been exposed by Al Mamoun’s excavation. (Pages 59-63)
Retuning back down to the Descending Passage with the gate open we are looking south down the descending passage, walking planks along with hand rails and Florissant lighting now aid the visitor in his decent into the abyss. Even now with the additional lighting the passage still looks a bit ominous one could only imagine how it must have appeared to the Edgar’s using only candles, especially after having to climb through that little iron grill door previously installed.
“Only one-fourth of the total length of the Descending Passage runs through the Pyramid proper. The remaining three-fourths, progressing southwards at the same steep angle (approximately 26 degrees), is forced through the solid rock upon which the Pyramid stands, and ends in the Small Horizontal Passage which continues in the same southerly direction, and leads first to a small ante-chamber or Recess, and then to a large Subterranean Chamber carved out in the heart of the rock about one hundred feet vertically below the center of the base-line of the Pyramid.” (Page 91) We will take a closer look at this Subterranean Chamber or Pit as it is sometimes referred in our next post.
In the first photo below Brother John Edgar is seen sitting right at the juncture of the Descending Passage where it meets up with the Small Horizontal Passage which leads to the Subterranean Chamber. Our second photo is taken from the Subterranean Chamber looking back north down through the Small Horizontal Passage toward the juncture where it meets up with the Descending Passage you can just make out the walking planks where they end. Also of note just beyond the Florissant light to the left is the small “Recess” spoken of earlier.
“In the Descending Passage, about 24 feet up from the lower end (where John is seen sitting), there is an opening in the west wall. It is the entrance into a small passage, six feet in length, which leads to the lower end of an almost vertical shaft, only a little over two feet square in bore, named the Well.” (Page 59)
In our first picture below we are kneeling in the Descending Passage looking (west) down the little six foot passage toward the lower end of the Well-Shaft. The almost vertical incline of the shaft is self evident from Judah’s (their Arab attendants) ascent up the passage. The rod seen here in Judah’s hand is being held parallel with the incline of the lower reach of the well-shaft.
The second photo below one which we had seen previously is a view of the little six foot passage looking (east) or back toward the Descending Passage where Brother John Edgar is found descending the passage on his way to the juncture of the Descending Passage and the Small Horizontal Passage. It will also be noted here that this little six foot passage, “does not completely lie at right angles to the Descending Passage, but inclines slightly to the north with its floor gradually dipping down toward the western extremity by about two feet in the whole length of the passage. The roof and south wall of this little passage are very uneven, but the north wall is fairly straight and level.
How much the roughness and brokenness of the mouth of the lower end of the well may be due to dilapidation or mishandling since the time it was cut by the ancient workmen, it is difficult to say. If the opening was originally covered by a stone (a concealing block) as Professor Petrie believes, and as is quite probable, those who removed it may have knocked away the edges of the mouth in their endeavors to dislodge it from its setting.” (Great Pyramid Passages, Pages 192-195)
The Symbolic significance of the Descending Passage
“Because of its downward slope and very small bore, the whole Descending Passage suggests the thought of the world of mankind bowed under the curse, hastening towards destruction. Recall how “The Broad way that leads to destruction” is typified in the “Basement Sheet” located just beneath the Descending Passage.
Since the transverse height of the Descending Passage is scarcely four feet in height, the man who travels down this passage is required to stoop very low. The steep downward inclination of the roof compels him to bow his head and shoulders even lower than if the passage were horizontal. So cramped is the posture, that before he has gone far his back, head, and legs begin to ache, and he soon longs for an opportunity to stand upright once again; but there is no relief, and as he continues his downward course he finds it more and more laborious and painful. At first, the light streaming in from the Entrance aids him in choosing his footing, but the further he proceeds the gloomier becomes the way, until at length he requires to grope along in almost complete darkness, unless he possesses a lamp to light his way. (Prov 4:19; 2 Sam 22:29; Psa 119:105) When he has reached the lower extremity of the passage, should he look back, he will see the light at the Entrance now reduced to a mere point owing to the distance, and serving him only as a reminder of the freedom and light once enjoyed. But after he passes the bend of the passage at the small horizontal portion, even this small link with the past is lost. As the roof here is even lower than that of the Descending Passage, at this part of the journey he will be forced to his knees, and if he should continue without the aid of a lamp, he will be require to creep on in complete darkness, until at last he stumbles into the ‘Pit.” A few feet before the end of the way, the passage is a little roomier (at the “Recess”), and this may cause him to imagine that he will obtain more freedom if he perseveres: but the hope is a delusive one, for the passage becomes as narrow as it was before, and remains so until the Pit is reached.
Is not this a graphic illustration of the condition of the world, bowed under the yoke of the Adamic condemnation to death, groping and stumbling in the darkness, and finding no permanent peace and happiness in spite of all its plans and speculations. This downward course had its first beginning at the fall when God, in passing the sentence of death upon Adam, the head of the race of mankind, said to him: ‘Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shall thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, until thou return unto the ground; for out of it were thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return“-Rom 8:22; Gen 3:17-19.
Though, as we have seen, God has been silently choosing a special people to himself and has been carrying out his beneficent purposes in them, ‘the whole world [still] lies in the wicked one“-1 John 5:19, R.V. The only hindrances placed by God in the way of the downward course of mankind have been (1) the indirect restraining influence of the truth manifested in the lives and sayings of his people (Matt 5:13, 14), and (2) the direct prevention of anything which would interfere in any way with the outworking of the Divine plane of salvation. Had men been given complete liberty, their evil desires and lack of judgment would long ago have precipitated matters, but God restrained them, as we read in Psa 76:10-“Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shall thou restrain.” (Great Pyramid Passages, Pages 91-93)
In our next post we shall take a closer look at the Subterranean Chamber or Pit as it sometimes is called.