Concluding thoughts on the significance of the Well-shaft
The Mouth of Well
“The Scriptures declare that it was not possible that he, the Holy One, the Prince of Life, could be “Holden of death,” but that God burst the bond of death and raised his beloved Son the third day, no longer a human being, however, but a spirit being on the highest plane. So the Well-Shaft symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is no longer represented as standing on the plane of the Queen’s Chamber, but high above in the King’s Chamber condition of spirit life. We know that the Scriptures declare that Jesus was made perfect through the things that he suffered in the flesh. That is, he was made perfect as a New Creature and High Priest; and when he rose from the dead the third day all power in heaven and earth was given unto him, as he declared to his disciples. Here, then, we see the great significance of the Well-Shaft. Briefly stated, it represents the ransom-sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, belief in which alone can enable men to pass from death unto life.
Jesus declared that the hour was coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth. He also declared that, if he was lifted up from the earth he would draw all men unto him (John 5:28, 29; 12:32). Also the apostle Paul declares that, as in Adam all die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22). Adam brought condemnation and death upon the world, but Jesus Christ brought righteousness and an opportunity for life to every man (Rom. 5:18-22). The Descending Passage very well symbolizes the condemnation through Adam, while the Well-Shaft symbolizes Christ Jesus as the only “way of escape” from that condemnation. (xiv-xv)
“The descending Passage symbolizes the downward course of “this present evil world” (Gal. 1: 4) to destruction, represented by the Pit, or Subterranean Chamber. It is important to notice that it is not the people, but “this present evil world “—the present evil institutions (governments, authorities, religious institutions)—which will be destroyed in Gehenna. These evil institutions will, thank God, never be re-awakened.
The Pit thus symbolizes Gehenna, the condition of death from which there will be no awakening, just as the Well symbolizes Hades, the condition of death from which there will be an awakening.
From the Descending Passage, representing the plane of Adamic condemnation, to the upper planes of life and immortality- represented by the Queen’s Chamber and the King’s Chamber respectively, two ways are shown in the Great Pyramid, namely, the First Ascending Passage, and the Well. A glance at the illustration shown above reveals that of these two ways, the First Ascending Passage, representing the Law Covenant, appears to be much easier to ascend than the other. That is how the Israelites regarded the Law Covenant. When Moses laid before them the words which the Lord commanded him, “All the people answered together and said, ` All that the Lord hath spoken we will do “—Exod 19: 8. They thought they could keep the Law and thus gain life, for God had said: “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord “—Lev 18: 5.
They did not recognize that it is impossible for fallen flesh to obey the Divine Law. What is it that blocks this way to life? It is the perfect Law of God. Just as the Granite Plug completely blocks the entrance of the First Ascending Passage of the Great Pyramid, so the Divine Law blocks the way of life which the Law Covenant offered to the Jew. Thus the Granite Plug symbolizes the Divine Law. As the Apostle put it, “The commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death “—Rom. 7: 10. Through the Atonement Sacrifices, however, which the Lord instituted, the Israelites were typically justified (not really justified, because “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” Heb. 10: 4), and were accordingly reckoned by God as typically obeying the Law and progressing along the Law Dispensation. The First Ascending Passage, therefore, symbolizes both the Law Covenant and the Law Dispensation.
As the First Ascending Passage is blocked, and the passage forced by Al Mamoun is no part of the original design of the Great Pyramid, it follows that there is only one way open from the Descending Passage, symbolical of Adamic condemnation, to the upper passages which symbolize life and immortality, namely, by the Well-shaft. But this way is vertical for a great part of its course. In fact it is not a passage at all in the proper sense of the term. As already intimated, it symbolizes Christ’s Ransom sacrifice. Thus the teaching of the Great Pyramid corroborates that of the Word of God, which intimates that the way to life and immortality was first opened up through the death and resurrection of Christ, and that salvation is by faith. “By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast “—Eph. 2: 8, 9, none can ascend from the plane of condemnation and death, to the plane of justification, except by faith. Justification by faith is not the result of works.
Only two men have been capable of keeping the perfect Law of God, because none but these two began life in this world on the plane of human perfection. The first one, Adam, willfully broke God’s Law (2 Tim. 2: 14) and sold the whole human race under sin and death. The other, on the contrary, the man Christ Jesus, kept the Law, and did not require to die; but delighting in the will of God, he voluntarily gave up his life as a sacrifice, the just for the unjust (1 Pet. 3: 18); and then, as it was not possible that he, the innocent one, should be Holden of death (Acts 2: 24), God burst the bonds and raised his beloved Son from hades, the death-state. Through the risen Christ as the Last Adam, the First Adam with all of his family will eventually also be raised from the death-state—1 Tim. 2: 4-6.” (Great Pyramid Passages, Page 81, 83 par. 122-125)
“Speaking of the peculiar Grotto which intercepts the course of the Well-shaft, and its possible symbolical meaning, C. T. Russell writes: “Moreover, the location of the ` Grotto’ and the fact that it was natural and not hewn are significant. It evidently symbolizes the death of our Lord Jesus. The fact that it was natural teaches that the Lord’s sacrifice of himself was not an expediency, but a foreordained, pre-arranged matter in Jehovah’s plan, before the outworking of the plan, symbolized by the Pyramid began. The fact that it is located above and not below the basal line (base line or rock level) of the Pyramid seems to teach another lesson in harmony with the Scriptures that though our Lord died as a ransom for sinners, he did not descend into sin and degradation, but even in his death was within the limits and bounds of the divine plan, as symbolized in the Pyramid structure above the basal line.”
It is appropriate that the upper end of the Well should be so centrally situated, namely, at the junction of the First Ascending Passage, the Horizontal Passage, and the Grand Gallery, because it symbolizes the ransom-sacrifice of Christ which is the center or hub of the great plan of salvation Plate XXIV. Just as the Well is situated at the end of the First Ascending Passage and at the commencement of the Grand Gallery, so it was the death of Christ which closed the Law Dispensation and commenced the Gospel Dispensation; and just as the Well is also at the beginning of the Horizontal Passage leading to the Queen’s Chamber, so the ransom- sacrifice of Christ was the beginning of the loving scheme devised by God for the ultimate salvation of the entire world.” (Great Pyramid Passages, Page 111 par. 183,184)
A unique confirmation of the symbolic significance of the well-shaft found elsewhere
“While the Edgar brothers were in the Holy City (Jerusalem) they had time to visit the “Tombs of the Kings”, situated some distance to the north of the city.
After descending a broad flight of rock-hewn steps, we turned to the left, and through an archway entered a large open quadrangle, about 30 feet or more deep, also cut in the rock. On the left wall we noticed a large opening like the stage and proscenium of a theatre—Plate CXII (The black and white photo above is the same photo as found in the Edgar’s book, but taken from another source and of course the colored photo a more recent depiction). On the left side of this stage at the back, there is a depression in the floor leading down to a low open doorway, propped up beside which is a large stone like a mill-stone. If freed, this stone would roll down and effectually close the entrance.
We crept through this doorway, and stood upright in a large chamber hollowed out in the solid rock. Extending our explorations with lighted candles, we found a number of rock-cut rooms, large and small, connected by little passages. The small rooms were used as the sepulchral-chambers of the tombs, as these contain the familiar niches for the dead. It is tombs such as these that are referred to in Mark 5:3, where a spirit-possessed man is spoken of as “dwelling among the tombs.” They are to be found everywhere in Palestine and Egypt. Both Professors Smyth and Petrie lived in rock-cut tombs, named by them “East Tombs,” while conducting their work at the Great Pyramid. Professor Petrie occupied East Tombs for two years, and said he preferred them to the houses.
What attracted our special attention in the Tombs of the Kings is the bench, or ramp, cut in the natural rock, which runs along each wall-base in the larger compartments, similar to the ramps at the base of each side wall in the Grand Gallery in the Great Pyramid of Gizeh. In one of the rooms the resemblance of the low benches to the Ramps in the Grand Gallery is remarkable, for in the north-west corner of this chamber a portion of the bench is broken away, disclosing an open shaft—Plate CXIII below. At a short distance down, this shaft leads to a small subterranean chamber, on three sides of which are niches for the repose of the dead. Situated at a lower level than the other sepulchral rooms, this little chamber reminds us of the “lowest hell“, or “sheol“, spoken of in the Scriptures—Deut. 32:22; Psa. 86:13.
The appearance of the broken bench, and the open mouth of the downward shaft in the chamber, is much like the north-west corner in the Grand Gallery where the Ramp is broken away, forming the Well-mouth. In the Great Pyramid the Well-mouth is not at the immediate upper end of the shaft, but opens into a low horizontal passage, from the end of which the shaft proper descends—Plate XIX. In the Tombs of the Kings, also, the opening in the north-west corner of the chamber is not the top of a perpendicular shaft, but an opening by which, a short distance down, a few steps lead through a little passage to the niche- chamber.
We have always, since we studied the symbolical aspect of the Great Pyramid, understood that the ” Well ” represents Hades, the tomb or death-state; and now that we have seen this example of a tomb-chamber, with its broken bench or ramp making a “well-mouth” opening, down through which the dead were lowered to their resting-places, our belief in the reasonableness of the accepted symbolism of the “Well” in the Great Pyramid is strengthened.
In early times fanciful ideas were entertained regarding the purpose of the Well-shaft in the Great Pyramid. In those days, as Professor C. Piazzi Smyth wrote, “nothing was known of the Pyramid’s Entrance Passage further down its course than its junction with Caliph Al Mamoun’s forced hole and the entry to the First Ascending Passage”. Therefore, when men ventured to look into the Well-mouth from close to the north-western corner of the Grand Gallery, near the broken Ramp-stone, as mentioned above, they found themselves overhanging a dark and dismal abyss, no one knew how deep or where leading to.
“What Caliph Al Mamoun and his immediate followers thought of it is not recorded; but soon after his time, ‘ the well begins to figure in Arab accounts, as an open pit of preternatural depth and fearful qualities. A party of twenty men, from the Fayoum district, was once formed to investigate the mystery, but was frightened when one of their numbers fell down the aperture such a terrible distance, that he was said to have been three hours in the act of falling!”
One has to picture the scene from their perspective at the time, there was a spooky and narrow dark hole leading straight down into darkness, remember the first part of the well-shaft is 25 feet deep straight down before it meets with the irregular part of the shaft and begins to venture toward the south. All they had for lighting at the time were torches or oil lamps neither of which would reveal much looking down into this abyss.
(Great Pyramid Passages, Pages 248, 251,252 par. 406-412)
In our next post we will begin our investigation of the Grand Gallery.