LEGEND OF ENOCH
FALSE BUT FASCINATING
Bro. Harry M. Furniss
Prince of Wales Lodge No. 100
Some of the more fascinating "historical facts" about Freemasonry concern events which modern scholars believe are pure figments of imagination.
The Legend of Enoch, for instance, makes great reading although there is not a shred of evidence to substantiate it.
In his huge "History of Freemasonry" Mackey included such stories for the record, and for the opportunity to demolish their premises. He viewed these legends as allegorical attempts to symbolise certain ethical or religious ideas and wrote:
"Their symbolic interpretation cannot be rejected unless we reject the whole fabric of Freemasonry into which they have been closely interwoven."
The Legend of Enoch, seventh of the biblical patriarchs, is one which appears in many forms and in many lands.
Inspired by a vision from the Most High, Enoch is said to have built a system of nine brick vaults in the bosom of Mount Moriah. The vaults were beneath each other and entered through holes in the arches.
Inside the ninth and innermost vault, Enoch placed a cubical block of marble in which was set a triangular plate of gold, encrusted with precious stones and engraved with the ineffable name of God. The entrance to the vaults was sealed with a stone door and covered with earth.
While Enoch lived, he entered the vaults once a year, but told no one of their whereabouts. Consequently, after his death, the vaults were not located until workmen began digging the foundations for the temple of King Solomon.
The legend says that after Enoch finished building the vaults, he had another vision, of the great flood yet to come. To preserve the knowledge he had cultivated, he erected a marble pillar to resist fire and a brass pillar to resist corrosion.
On the brass pillar, Enoch engraved the history of creation, principles of the arts and sciences, and the doctrines of Speculative Masonry. On the marble pillar he inscribed, in hieroglyphics, the information that a precious treasure was hidden nearby in a subterranean vault.
This legend, of course, has not the slightest historical support but possesses value as a symbolic idea, the germ of which, Mackey said, is the preservation of the Ineffable Name through the efforts of an antediluvian Patriarch.
There is no hint of this story in the Legend of the Craft. Nor does the name Enoch appear in the old manuscript Constitutions which indicates the legend was probably fabricated some years after the first Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons was formed in 1717.
But outside Masonry there are references to caves in Mount Moriah. A Talmudist tradition holds that King Solomon, when building the temple, constructed underground vaults in which the ark was later hidden, placed on a cubical stone.
The Arabians (Mohammedans) have a tradition which tells how Abraham found a sacred stone which he used in the temple which Jehovah ordered him to erect.
Nicephorus Callistus, a fourteenth century Greek writer, recounted quite an elaborate tale. Workmen rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem found the opening to a cave and lowered a man on a rope to investigate. Water covered the floor of the cubical cave, but safe and dry atop a pillar was found a book — the Gospel.
Enoch was first introduced to Freemasonry as one of the founders of geometry and masonry by the historian Anderson in his 1723 Constitutions. Subsequent writers did not add to the bare facts, leading Mackey to believe the legend was of continental origin, possibly from the fertile brain of Chevalier Ramsay who fabricated so many of the earliest "high degrees."
In 1749 Ramsay wrote of a tradition of all nations — a great man or legislator, before the floor who was the first author of sacred symbols and hieroglyphics, and who taught the people sacred mysteries and religious rites.
This man, held Ramsay was called Thaut by the Phoenicians; Hermes by the Greeks; Edris by the Arabians; all of which names are synonymous with Enoch.
And just to give the legend a final touch of mystery, the bible records that Enoch lived 365 years, a sacred number in early history.