MASONRY AND KING SOLOMON'S TEMPLE
Bro. Wm. A. Paine, Jamaica
Paine, William A., of English parentage, date of birth unknown; a man of business and a gentleman of the old school; Master of King Solomon's Lodge, Kingston, Jamaica, also a Royal Arch Mason; lost his life in the earthquake disaster at Kingston, Jan. 14th, 1907. He was a man of noble character, of winning personality, learned in the lore of Freemasonry, devoted to its service, and a pioneer in his jurisdiction in the cause of Masonic study. The essay here published is of unusual value for its wide research and its clear reasoning; and while all of its readers may not agree with the position taken, they must reckon with its argument opposing the Jewish claims of Masonic origin. (The Builder)
IT is necessary that we look at this important and instructive factor in the system of Speculative Freemasonry from two separate and distinct points — the positive and the negative.
The positive asserts itself from the fact that Solomon's Temple, the traditions connected therewith, and prominent Jewish Scriptural characters, are very extensively introduced; and, in fine, that the Jewish Ceremonials and Types are considerably availed of as the foundations on which the three Craft Degrees have been erected. With a limited knowledge of the origin and history of the Ritual, and of the Symbolism in Freemasonry, it is not to be wondered at that a very large proportion of Masons consider they are orthodox in holding the opinion that Solomon, King of Israel, and the two Hirams, were Freemasons, and that Speculative Freemasonry originated at the building of the First Temple. I need hardly say that it is only natural every Jewish Mason should hold firmly to such a view.
The negative side of the question is this: "That Hiram Abiff was not slain. Solomon and the two Hirams were not Masons, and that Freemasonry did not originate at the Temple." And as I shall be able to show that we have Masonic history to support this negative, and that we have only to deal with a series of interesting and instructive legends, the sooner we recognize and admit the same, by placing the Temple and the Jewish characters connected therewith under the legitimate and intelligent classification, — allegory. The sooner we seek for the origin of the Legend of the Temple, and the period in the history of Freemasonry, when it was introduced, the earlier and the better shall we be able to understand really what Speculative Freemasonry is; or, as in the words of one of our important charges, "Be the better able to distinguish and appreciate the connection of our whole system, and the relative dependency of its several parts."
If so great a Masonic student as Dr. Oliver, in his early career, believed literally all that had been told him in the Lodge Room, is it to be wondered at that the like erroneous view still exists? The Doctor's experience can be best given in his own words: "The Legend of the 3°, when given as a naked and unexplained fact, and recited with all the solemnity of truth, 99 out of every 100 candidates believe it implicitly, and would esteem it a casus belli if any one were to express a doubt respecting the most improbable particulars which it professes to record; and when I was first initiated at an early age, I confess that such were my own impressions."
Ragon, who died in 1866, and was considered one of the ablest of French Masonic writers, thus refers to the 3°: "All the fables which are introduced to excite the wonder and astonishment of the Neophyte, and repeated as undoubted facts as preserved by an ancient and accredited tradition, may be termed fanciful monstrosities, because the Holy Scriptures tacitly disprove them, for they contain no reference to the circumstances which constitute the Legend."
Grand Master Dalcho, in one of his orations, says: "I candidly confess that I feel a great degree of embarrassment, while I am relating to Ministers of God's Holy Word, or to any other gentlemen, a story founded on the grossest errors of accumulated ages; errors which they can prove to me to be such, from the sacred pages of Holy Writ, and from profane history; and, that too, in a minute after I have solemnly pronounced them to be undeniable truths, even by the Holy Bible on which I have received their obligation."
Oliver says also, on the same subject: "It is indeed indefensible as a sober matter of History, and the most rational application of it, which the W. M. could make at the conclusion of the ceremony, would be — to explain to the Candidate, that the drama in which he has sustained so conspicuous a part, is merely symbolical; and, then subjoin the reference. This course would be plausible, and prevent the Candidate leaving the Lodge, either with a fallacy on his mind, if he believes it to be true, or with a conviction that a clumsy and unworthy imposition has been practiced on him; which, from a better knowledge of the facts, he at once repudiates with a combined feeling of pity and disgust."
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Such being the opinions of eminent Masonic writers, printed and published for the instruction even of entered apprentices, let us then ascertain the true definition as given by Oliver and others. "Freemasonry is confessedly an allegory, and as an allegory only must it be supported, for its traditional history admits of no palliation. Whoever would remove Freemasonry out of the category, as an allegorical institution, might as well destroy its existence; for in no other character would it be able to hold its own. It is one consistent and intelligible assemblage of symbols, and any attempt to explain it, by reference to facts, is sure to fail: instead of a clear, beautiful, and harmonious system connected in all its parts, a distorted caricature will be produced without a single redeeming trait of character."
Dalcho, holding similar views, says in addition: "Neither Moses, nor Solomon, nor Joshua, nor the two Hirams, nor the two Saints John belonged to the Masonic Order. It is unwise to assert more than we can prove, and to argue against probabilities. There is no record, sacred or profane, to induce us to believe that these holy and distinguished men were Freemasons. To assert which may make the ignorant stare, but will rather create the contempt than the admiration of the wise — let Freemasons give up their vain boastings, which ignorance has foisted into the Order, and relinquish a fabulous antiquity, rather than sacrifice common sense."
I invite your attention to the consideration of this fabulous antiquity as applicable to Solomon's Temple. Locke, the philosopher of the 17th century, and whom we know was a Freemason, says: "Religion is the only tie which will bind men, and where there is no religion, there can be no Masonry." Max Muller asks us to bear in mind — "That without a belief in a personal immortality, religion surely, is like an arch resting on one pillar, or like a bridge ending in an abyss;" and Bulwer Lytton truly adds: "Though all the world were carved over, and inscribed with the letters of divine knowledge, the characters would be valueless to him who does not pause to inquire the language, and meditate the truth." These three quotations supply religion, immortality, symbolism, a most appropriate triad, pointing to the pillars of wisdom, strength, and beauty: for wisdom abides in the man, who, with revealed religion as his guide, is strengthened in his belief in immortality, by recognizing the beautiful symbolism of Freemasonry, by which it inculcates so important a dogma.
Dr. Oliver considers that wherever and whenever the true God was worshiped, in the midst of idolatry, as in the time of Israel's apostasy under Ahab and Jezbel, that such worshipers of Jehovah were the representatives of ancient speculative Freemasons, and therefore he adds, at the erection of the First Temple, the Jews represented the pure speculative element which, joined to the Tyrian pure operative Masonry, was the first combination of speculative with operative. This can only be viewed at the most as merely sentimental — nothing historical as bearing on the point that either the Jews were architects, or that Solomon and the two Hirams were Freemasons. Nor can any such sentimental amalgamation of the Jew and Tyrian, at the first temple, be urged as analogous to the combination of Pagan and Christian architects in the time of Constantine the First at Byzantium, or of Romanist and Protestant architects in the 17th century under Wren at the erection of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Findel, that great German Masonic writer, entirely ignores Jewish origin and Temple traditions, and although admitting much that is historical, is only willing to trace Freemasonry from the German Gilds of the middle ages. Fort, a renowned American writer, admits Jewish influence not Jewish origin, but that influence as of a period long subsequent to the Second Temple, for he commences his line of argument at the early Byzantium period of architecture.
Woodford, Past Grand Chaplain of Grand Lodge of England, and equally a writer of note, considers "our present speculative system, in its modern development, as undoubtedly lineally and archaeologically the successor of the Gild Fraternities of the operative Masons, but he asks 'whence did the Gilds obtain the Masonic legends?' and he adds, I am not inclined to give up the legend of the temple, or even a connection with the ancient mysteries altogether."
Mackey, the American Masonic writer, referring to the 3rd degree, says, "When I speak of the antiquity of Freemasonry, I must say, if I must respect the axioms of historical science, that its body came out of the middle ages, but that its spirit is to be traced to far remoter periods, for Freemasonry is the successor of the Building Corporations of the middle ages — and through them with less certainty, but with great probability of the Roman Colleges of Artificers — its connection with Solomon's Temple as its birthplace may have been accidental or a mere arbitrary selection of its inventors, and bears therefore only an allegorical meaning. The Temple of Solomon has played an important part in Freemasonry. Time was, when every Masonic writer subscribed to the theory that Masonry was there first organized, that there Solomon and the two Hirams presided as Grand Masters, initiated the symbolic degrees and invented the system of initiation, and that — from that period in unbroken succession and unaltered — form has it passed to us, down the stream of time." But Mackey goes on to say, "The modern method of reading Masonic history has swept away this edifice of imagination as efficiently as the Babylonish King demolished the structure itself, upon which it is founded. No writer who values his reputation as a critical historian would now attempt to defend the theory that Masonry originated at the building of the First Temple."
Findel, Fort, Mackey — three of as great celebrities in Masonic literature as are to be found entirely ignore the Jewish origin; and if we bear this in view, together with the other important fact, that Freemasonry is only a beautiful system of symbolism and allegory, we cannot but admit that the Rabbi Mamonides' Commentary on the Legends of the Talmudists is very appropriate, and a fitting Commentary on the Symbolism of Freemasonry. His words are: "Beware that ye take not the words of the wise men in their literal signification, for this would be to degrade and sometimes to contradict the Sacred Doctrines. Search further for the hidden sense, and if you cannot find the kernel, let the shell alone, and confess you cannot — understand it."
FREEMASONRY is so closely interwoven with the History of Ancient Architectural Societies that it would be almost impossible to deal fairly with the subject before us, were we to exclude the important Factor Architecture. Our Ancient Brethren considered Geometry and Masonry as synonymous terms. Without a thorough knowledge of the science of Geometry, Architectural Societies in their very perfection could not have existed. We are therefore brought face to face with the pointed and important question. Were the Jews ever promoters of Architecture or Geometry, one of the liberal arts and sciences? If it can be historically shown that they were, then the advocates of the Temple Origin might have something substantial on which to support their theory; but we have to deal with a question of fact, not one of sentiment or tradition, and therefore, under the first heading, we will consider the characteristics of the Jewish people and their legitimate connection with the First and Second Temples.
From the Scriptures and Josephus we gather that the Jews, as a nation, were pastoral in habits and inclination, warlike by force of necessity. The ruins of antiquity disclose no trace of anything that would warrant the opinion that, as a nation, they were skilled in architecture. Their sojourn in Egypt was that of bondage in some of its very worst phases; and in so far only as being labourers, had they any connection with the erection of the Temples, public works and other buildings, for which Egypt was then so renowned. No individual Jew is referred to as having excelled in the mysteries of architecture, or of having been initiated into the mysteries of Egypt; and if perchance Moses, who is said to have been learned in the wisdom of the Egyptians (and in which might have been included the knowledge of architecture, taught him by the Priests) was the exception, yet, his sojourn for so long in the plains of Midian as a shepherd, and his subsequent wanderings in the wilderness with the Israelites, could have afforded neither the opportunity for him to have instructed them, nor for them to have learned and practiced the art of building, as known by, and so thoroughly understood and practiced by the Egyptians. As therefore they could have learned nothing from Moses, by whom could they subsequently have been instructed, and presuming that they had instructors, what opportunities had they to avail of them, and benefit thereby?
Under their Judges, they had to hold their own at times by exterminating the surrounding nations and tribes, and were in turn held in subjection by others, and what could have been more demoralizing and preventative to architectural pursuits, than the wholesale slaughters recorded in the Jewish Scriptures?
Under Saul and David they experienced somewhat a repetition of the period when Joshua ruled. Incessant warfare, resulting in such close contact with the idolatrous nations by whom, at times, they were conquered and held in subjection, afforded them many opportunities of witnessing their false worship, and thus forgetting the God of Israel. When He saw them adopting the idolatrous habits and customs of their neighbours, we would be justified in presuming that He deemed it advisable that they should have a building in which to worship Him — a building and a ceremonial which would be attractive to the senses and tend to preserve for Him that worship and adoration which, as the true God, was His due. To accomplish this, and further check their idolatry, we may further presume that He put it into the heart of David, who had a most wonderful conception of the attributes of the Most High T. G. Geometrician of the Universe to build for Him a temple, one which would be a worthy tribute from the Jewish nation, then so powerful, and as vastly superior to anything which the world had then seen, as the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega was superior to the Gods of the Heathen — a temple whose ornate ritual and appointments should transcend those of the mysteries of Adonis, Osiris, &c., &c., as had been practiced by and amongst them. David was privileged to conceive the idea of a building to the God of Israel, but to our traditional Grand Master, Solomon, was afforded the opportunity of carrying it into execution.
Had the Jews at that period possessed architects or Architectural Societies, surely David would have availed of them, in preference to seeking aid from the heathen?
His correspondence, and that subsequently by Solomon with Hiram, King of Tyre, prove conclusively that, without the Tyrian's aid, nothing could have been done on the scale that was accomplished. Referring to I. Chronicles, 22nd chap., 2-4 verses, we find thus: "And David commenced to gather together Strangers that were in the Land of Israel, and he set Masons to hew wrought stones and build the House of God, also cedar trees in abundance, for the Sidonions and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David." Compare also Kings v. chapter, 6th verse.
The Tyrian architects were known as Dyonisiacs, and one of their peculiarities of construction was "to have the timber and the stones hewn and prepared in the quarries and forests, so that they could be readily fitted together when carried to the locality where the building was being erected"; and therefore, after carefully comparing the Scripture and other accounts of the building of the temple, the only correct conclusion we can arrive at is, that to Solomon, King of Israel, personally can be accorded no credit, save and except for carrying out his father's wishes, and for supplying the funds and costly jewels.
He knew no more of architecture than the meanest of his subjects, and in this respect was no wiser than his father David. We have no record of Solomon having visited Egypt, or that he had been initiated into the mysteries of that country, although, from I. Kings, 3rd chapter, 1st verse, we learn that he "took to wife the daughter of Pharoah, King of Egypt."
For him to have been conversant with architecture, and thus qualified to have been one of the Grand Masters, and one of the three only who possessed the alleged Master Mason's word, he must necessarily have been thus instructed by the Priests; but nowhere do we gather, even by inference, that he was addicted to the Egyptian superstitions — as at times he had been to those of the surrounding nations, from whom he had taken many of his wives — therefore we may safely hold the opinion that architecture with its peculiar mysteries was a subject not included in the wisdom of Solomon.
We ask ourselves, therefore, this other equally important question: Why do the First and Second Temples form such prominent factors in the system of Freemasonry? — and why is King Solomon claimed as one of the first three Grand Masters? Of the trio, two were Tyrians — the one a King, the other the most skillful artist and worker in metals. They were worshippers in the rites of Bacchus or Dyonisus — certainly not worshippers of the God of Israel.
As therefore Solomon's Temple could not have been built, but with the assistance of the Dyonisiacs, supplied by Hiram, King of Tyre, and superintended by Hiram Abiff, and as Solomon himself knew nothing of architecture, and all that the Jews had to do with the construction of the Temple was merely in the capacity of overseers or superintendents of the labourer, as labourers, for felling the trees in the forests of Lebanon, and in excavating the stones from the quarries nigh to Jerusalem — in carrying to Jerusalem the prepared materials — leaving it to the skilled Tyrian workmen to complete from the foundation to the cope stone. On what ground can Jewish Masons of today claim that from their ancestors of the temple period are to be traced the origin of speculative Freemasonry?
Did the labours of the Dyonisiacs and of Hiram Abiff cease with the completion of the temple? We know to the contrary, for from Scripture we learn that Solomon built palaces for his wives and that his reign was noted for the magnificent public buildings at Jerusalem and elsewhere, which were erected under the superintendence of Hiram Abiff, whose death did not occur until several years subsequent. Josephus refers to him as Abdemon, and tells us that he returned to Tyre, where he died at a good old age. We thus ascertain that Hiram Abiff did not die at Jerusalem — so much therefore for the legend of the 3rd degree which, to be applicable to such a system as speculative Freemasonry, and thoroughly appreciated by us, can only be accepted as a most beautiful allegory — introduced with the view of inculcating that important Masonic doctrine, that man's body is as immortal as his soul.
At King Solomon's death, the kingdom having been split up into the contending factions led by Rehoboam and Jeroboam, we can here readily reconcile the decadence of architectural pursuits and the departure of the foreign architects and workmen from the midst of civil warfare.
The subsequent history of the Jewish people until their captivity into Babylon, was one of warfare, civil and otherwise, and even admitting that during Solomon's reign the Jews had been instructed by the Dyonisiacs in the mysteries of architecture, the wars subsequent to his death, and the period of their captivity, left them no opportunities for co-operation and keeping intact as an association, the principles which they might have learnt from those whom Hiram of Tyre had originally sent to them. To a certain extent, Scripture is silent as to their occupation when in bondage. They might, or they might not have assisted the Babylonians in the erection of the buildings and other works of that period for which that city was so famous; but, granting that they had the advantages practicing with the Babylonians that which they may have learnt from the Tyrians, they must have, at a later period felt themselves sadly deficient in essentials, and incompetent alone to undertake the erection of the Second Temple, for we learn from Ezra (chap. iii.) that Zerubbabel, the last of the kingly race, and Joshua, the Priest anno mundi 3468, before the foundations were yet laid, "gave money also unto the Masons and to the Carpenters, and meat and drink and oil unto them of Zidon, to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the Sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus, King of Persia;" and if we compare Ezra vi. chap. 3rd, and 4th verses, it will be found that to Cyrus were the Jews indebted not only for permission to build the Second Temple, not only for means to purchase materials and defray the expenses of the hired foreign labour (Tyrian), but they were indebted to him for the general plan, both as to size, and stability.
Consequent on the Samaritan's obstruction, they were compelled to cease for a time, and we note that it was not until A. M. 3484, or 16 years after, that Scripture makes any reference to the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah, therefore A. M. 3468, when the Jews had returned from Babylon, and the rubbish of the First Temple had been cleared away for the foundations of the second, we note that, as a Scriptural historical fact only, Zerubbabel and Joshua, the one the descendant from the kingly line, the other the priestly, took part, the conjoint action of four inclusive of Haggai and Zechariah (the Prophets), so that the three orders, kingly, priestly, and prophetical, should be simultaneously represented, was not, until A. M. 3484, when Darius had forbidden all opposition to them; and if we but note from II. Chron. chap. xxxiv vers. 8, 11, 14, that it was in Anno Mundi 3381 that Josiah, the King, set about repairing the First Temple, and that in so doing, Hilkiah, the priest, then found "a book of the Law of the Lord given to Moses." I would ask my Masonic brethren of a higher degree: how is the discovery of the Law at the erection of the Second Temple reconcilable with Scripture? Here we have another legend, but which I leave for the present.
I have advisedly gone somewhat lengthily into details connected with the First and Second Temples. The historical facts connected therewith differ so materially with the Masonic legends, is it reasonable to suppose that to the Jewish nation Freemasonry is indebted for the construction of the Craft Degrees? Had the Jewish doctors originated the system, or anything similar thereto, for the purpose of teaching morality and inculcating certain doctrines, surely they would have perceived the gross inconsistency (1) of claiming for King Solomon and their ancestors credit for architectural qualifications, knowing full well that the history of their race, from the days of Abraham, is a direct contradiction thereto — (2) of framing a degree based on the discovery of the Sacred Law by Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Joshua, at a time when their own Scriptures disprove it in every respect by 100 years earlier.
Never have the Jews had anything to do with architecture. From the Architectural Societies of ages past have sprung up the Building Fraternities of, comparatively speaking, a later period, and the portion of Jewish history gathered from the Scriptures, with reference to the First and Second Temples and the characters connected therewith on which the speculative system is based, was availed of by the clergy, at three distinct periods, and lastly in the early part of the 18th century by means of the temple symbolism (a temporal building) they allegorized on the erection of a Spiritual Temple.
Conquered by the Romans, the Jews, as prisoners at Rome, were employed as labourers and compelled to take part in the erection of the Colosseum, and we may safely take this as an example of the occupation which the Romans put them to, in other parts of the empire. Thus employed gives them no claim as a people, or nation, for preserving the mysteries of architecture, and thus the link by which to connect and trace the origin and progress of Freemasonry. The Jewish theory is entirely contrary to history, and must be set aside. From the introduction of Christianity, all during the early history of the church, the middle ages, and even as late as 1717, known as the revival period, what status had the Jews? Unfortunately none; and thus the eternal disgrace of Christendom.
Fort, in his "Antiquities," deals lengthily with the influence exercised by the Jews at Byzantium and elsewhere in moulding the social habits and corporate associations of the Roman Empire when it officially recognized Christianity as the religion of the State: such does form a most interesting epoch in Jewish history, and the better to realize it, I deem a brief review of the Jewish question as late as the reign of Charlemagne very appropriate.
Objecting to pay taxes to the Romans brought the Jews into constant scenes of rebellion against that very power which, but comparatively speaking a short period before, as a nation, they had submitted to. During such periods of contest between the Jews and the Romans, it became a somewhat difficult matter for one to decide which of the two disclosed the worst phases of human character — the Massacres by the Jews of the inhabitants of the various cities of Egypt, Cyprus at Cyrene, and elsewhere, or the like massacres of the Jews in retaliation by the Romans, particularly under Hadrian. One naturally turns with disgust from such records of horror and persecution.
Had the Jews yielded to the temporal power of Rome their religion would have met with no persecution, their praiseworthy, although futile endeavours to throw off the Roman yoke brought on them as a people, and as a consequence on their religion, all that they suffered. Therefore with satisfaction one turns to the reign of Antonias Pius, when "the Jews were restored to their ancient privileges and were permitted to form and maintain considerable establishments both in Italy and the Provinces, to acquire the freedom of Rome and to enjoy municipal honors." With such toleration they had the privilege of erecting synagogues in the principal cities of the empire, thus enabling them to observe their fasts, Sabbaths and festivals in a public manner. At such a period in Jewish history, there is nothing to render it improbable that there did exist Jewish Building Associations attached to their Synagogues, as was also the custom with the Pagans and Christians, although nothing is known of such a state of affairs either historically or traditionally. Yet the supporters of a Jewish origin of Freemasonry might be justified in considering it as possible. The civil immunities obtained by the Jews from previous Emperors, confirmed by Severus, and enjoyed by renewed concessions from Constantine A.D., 330, were repealed by the Emperors at Byzantium commencing with Constantius and the edict of Hadrian renewed and enforced. Thus any Jewish Building Associations which might have existed during periods of toleration, must have become inoperative during periods of oppression. Massacred at Alexandria by orders of Cyril the Patriarch, massacred at Naples, Rome, Ravenna, Milan and Genoa, their synagogues levelled and destroyed during the reign of Theodisius, although not with his knowledge or consent; stripped of all their immunities by Justinian, we find the Jews for a considerable period of the Christian era socially incapable of combining for architectural pursuits. In the West we find that they were treated with great severity even as late as the reign of Charlemagne, although individuals noted for their learning and scientific abilities were availed of by that astute ruler.
Thus, briefly we have considered the status of the Jews, to the reign of Charlemagne; then, during the Middle Ages, as Christianity spread, and with it, consequent on the enthusiasm engendered by the Crusades, an unfortunate spirit of intolerance increased, only to embitter the relations between Jew and Christian; and to leave records discreditable to the professors of Christianity, viewed either as nations or as individuals.
Spain, during the Gothic period, was the stronghold of European Jews; and, having assisted the Saracens in their first invasion of Spain, as against the Goths, they were, as a people in return for such services, protected by the Saracenic Conquerors; and, thus, they had the opportunities of availing of the Educational Seminaries of the Saracens, for the study of Astronomy, Medicine, &c., &c. At that period, several of the great masters of the various sciences then known were Jews; but no trace exists of any proficiency made by them in architecture, or of a combination of individuals for that purpose, as existed elsewhere, among Christian builders.
The Mosques, Baths, and other public buildings of Cordova, were of a purely Oriental style, and constructed by the Saracenic builders, who, in their associations, professed having no secrets or mysteries to communicate. They were builders in a purely secular sense. We must recollect that the Saracenic Commander, Tarik, found in Spain a net-work of monasteries. Abolishing nearly all the places of worship he appropriated only seven of them for the Archbishop and his Monks: thus at the period of invasion, now under review, there existed Christian Building Associations attached to the monasteries, which had in time to make way for the secular Saracenic, seeing that Christianity in Spain was only barely tolerated, and that too to a very limited extent by the Saracens. This view is strongly supported by the fact that, at a later period, when one of the Emirs desired to beautify Cordova, he had to send to Byzantium for the skilled architects for which the city was then renowned. Had the Jews of Spain then boasted of any architectural skill, or had they been the conservators of ancient building art, thus connecting them with their ancestors of the Temple Period, having the advantage of being in the very stronghold of Judaism, surely it is only reasonable to suppose that they would have supplied that which was needed, instead of the necessary skill he obtained elsewhere. I consider this historical fact one of the many which suffice to refute the Jewish claim to the origin of Freemasonry and the connecting link between the builders of the Temple and the Speculative Masonry of today.
Grand in its way as was the Saracenic style of architecture, yet much grander must have been that of the early Roman Colleges of Architecture, when it called forth such an encomium as follows from Musa, the Saracenic leader, on his entering the ancient capital of Luisitania: "I should imagine that the human race must have united their art and power in the foundation of the city. Happy is the man who should become its master."
The annals of Judaism abound in eminent warriors, legislators, musicians, orators, astronomers, mathematicians and masters of other sciences, but there the long roll of renown should end. No claim to being masters of the mystic art of building can be supported — not from any fault of their own, but simply owing to force of circumstances. The Jews scattered amongst all nations, finding it impossible to withstand the cruel persecutions which have disgraced Christianity both in nations and individuals, yet preserving for centuries their religion intact, performing in secret its most solemn rites, in no land having a temple of their own, into which they could freely and publicly enter for the worship of their Creator, yet notwithstanding oppression of every kind, displaying some of the grandest instances of the beauties of domestic life and social virtue. Struggling with and beset by oppression and cruelty for close on 1700 years, what opportunity had they, even if there had existed amongst them the talent and inclination for practicing architecture, and thus preserving its mysteries? Had the link ever existed, if even as late as the destruction of the Second Temple, it certainly was severed then.
Did the daily intercourse between the Jews as labourers, and the Tyrians as skilled architects bring about a fraternal union, culminating in the origin of Speculative Freemasonry? This is a pointed question, which may fairly be put; but I submit that the reply can only be in the negative.
Some consider that during the period of the erection of Solomon's Temple and Palaces, that as the Jewish labourers were thrown into such close contact with the Tyrian stone-cutters, and hewers of the cedars of Lebanon, and that these latter had their association, or lodges so to speak, for the instruction of the workmen, and perfecting of the plans, that many of the Jews became members thereof and were thus made conversant with the Dionysian mysteries of initiation, and the peculiar doctrines inculcated in those Architectural Schools or Lodges.
Such a theory is possible, but I cannot agree with the theory that any such union as might thus have existed between the Jews and Tyrians must necessarily be the origin of speculative Masonry, on the ground that the purely heathen skilled operative workman, combined with the Jewish labourers, worshippers of the God of Israel. For this to have been so, we must admit one of two things, either that all agreed to believe in the Tyrian mysteries of Adonis, or in Jehovah. At that period, no Universal Cosmopolitan School could have existed at Jerusalem and its vicinity. The belief only in a Grand Architect could not have been the compromise between Jew and Tyrian.
We learn that at a later period, the Jews who had gradually been forgetting their God, carried their apostacy to the extent of using Solomon's Temple for the worship of, and the celebration of the rites to the Tyrian Deity, Adonis: for on perusal of Ezekiel viii. chap., we find that Prophet, then a captive at Babylon with Daniel, and only a few years before the destruction of the temple, describes by way of a vision the practice at that time common at Jerusalem by those Jews left there under Zedekiah, tributary to Nebuchadnezzar, viz., "The women weeping for Thummez and the men with their faces to the East worshipping the sun," thus putting into practice the religious ceremonial of the Tyrians, — the women by their weeping for Thummez being indicative of their sorrow at the aphanism of Adonis, — and although the description is cut short by the Prophet, yet we know that to an aphanism, of necessity there must be the Heurisis, so we can picture the same women rejoicing at the recovery of Thummez or Adonis. All this is a beautiful allegory, but part and parcel of Tyrian worship of the "Sun."
Passing over the period of the captivity and their subsequent return and rebuilding of the Temple, and again starting from the period of Judas Maccabeus, B.C. 164, who reinstated the worship of the temple, we find reference made to the "Chasidim," a sect existing at Jerusalem, whose duty it was specially to preserve the ancient Jewish faith and worship intact from all innovations, to which sect is supposed to have subsequently merged into the Essenes, existing at the advent of Jesus Christ. Josephus first speaks of the Essenes as existing 166 years B. C. about the time of Jonathan Maccabeus, and later on in his history he makes mention of them as existing at subsequent periods.
The Essenes, as a sect, were soon lost sight of, as soon as they become converts to Christianity. St. John the Baptist is considered to have been a member. With their extinction ended the only Secret Society amongst the Jews on which the supporters of a Jewish origin have endeavoured to erect their theory.
Laurie, in his "History of Freemasonry," has endeavoured, to trace our order from the Essenes, because in some respects there may exist some similarity; but as at no period from the building of the Temple to the advent of Christ can any trace be found of Secret Associations amongst the Jews other than the Chasidim and Essenes already referred to, and as neither were in any way connected with architecture: — the one being a combination to preserve intact the Jewish Ritual of the temple, and the other for the rearing of flocks and growing of herbs for the mutual support of a Pastoral Secret Fraternity, — no other satisfactory conclusion can be arrived at, but that Brother Laurie's theory is untenable; for the similarity between the Essenes and Freemasonry is no more than that of Speculative Freemasonry of the 19th century, were its history to be written 1800 years hence, and then to be traced from, or as similar to the Good Templars, Odd Fellows, and such like Secret Associations of the present day.
The legitimate and intelligible origin of Freemasonry may safely be traced from the Ancient Building Fraternities of Syria, Egypt, Tyre, &c., thence into Greece, from which ancient Rome borrowed all the knowledge and wisdom of the East. We then take up the early Roman Colleges, which, having become Christianized, spread all over Europe, and having blended with the Germans on the one hand, and the Byzantium Monks on the other, culminated in the Ecclesiastical Architectural Associations of the middle ages, then into the German Building Gilds, whose regulations we have discovered in the Raliston and Torgau Constitutions, with which the English Constitutions agree very considerably. During the transition period, gradually there was an admission of the non-operative element, which revived the order from that state of almost total extinction brought about by the Reformation, and the thirty years' Continental War. Inigo Jones, in the early part, and Sir Christopher Wren, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, by the building operations of their respective periods throughout Great Britain, were the means of bringing to London and elsewhere architects from all parts of the Continent and Great Britain, but just so soon as the demand for the workmen ceased, so the operative lodges ceased also to meet, until we arrive at the year 1717, when, on the old operative system of Freemasonry, those great men and Masons, Desaguliers and Anderson, framed the system which we now practice as Speculative Freemasonry.
As Christianity is the direct descendant from Judaism, and it in turn from Patriarchal dispensation, so speculative Freemasonry is the direct descendant from the Operative Building Associations of the past, through all the varied changes to which they had been subject, but retaining from the time converted from Paganism these peculiar doctrines as to a future state, which we gather from the Great Light in Freemasonry — the Volume of the Sacred Law. Without entering on any detailed analysis of the several Mysteries of the past ages, suffice for us to recognize the mysteries of Syria, Egypt, Greece, Persia, Samathrace, Scandinavia and Rome, as all inculcating the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and in some a debasing idea of a future body.
Originating in Egypt with the rites of Osiris — that God, slain by Typhon, and his remains searched for by Isis; throughout Greece, by the rites of Dyonisus or Bacchus — He slain by the Titans, and searched for by Rhea: at Bybles, by rites of Adonis — He slain by the wild boar of Lebanon, and searched for by Venus: at Samathrace, as the Cabiric Mysteries — Cadmullus the youngest of the Cabiri, slain by his three brethren: in Persia, by the Sun God Mithras slaying a Bull, whose blood is licked up by a dog; and lastly, the Scandinavian in the legend of Balder's death, in their Triune system, taught as Odin, Thor and Balder.
The peculiarity of each and every one of the foregoing, was the Aphanism of the slain body of the Hero God, and the subsequent heurisis or resurrection of the same. Let it be granted, that in many, if not in all, the Legend was a symbolism, allegorical of the sun, in its Winter and Summer Solstices, yet those who have considered the subject, have always admitted that throughout all these Mysteries the Priests had in view, and so taught what they themselves believed in — The Immortality of the Soul.
"If, for example, we take up the Mysteries of Mithras we find that the candidate was made to personate a corpse, whose restoration to life dramatically represented the resurrection; these Persian Mysteries passed into Europe and were introduced at Rome, in the time of Pompey — where they flourished, until A. D. 378, when prohibited, the Sacred Cave was destroyed by the Pretorian Prefect." Commodus the Roman Emperor had been initiated into these Mysteries, and we learn from Lampridius, in his lives of the Emperors — "that during the Mithraic ceremonies, Commodus, in one of his mad freaks — where a certain thing was being done to inspire terror, polluted the rites by a real murder, from which expression, it is very clear, that part of the ceremonial of initiation formed a scenic representation of a fictitious death."
All these ancient Legends are of great interest to the Masonic Student, and cannot fail to educate him to a proper comprehension of the Mystery of the Master Degree. We have so far briefly considered the Eastern and Southern European Legends; and if we turn to the Gothic or Scandinavian, we find a similar Legend known as Balder's Death: and the great object of these Northern nations in their Mysteries, was to teach something exactly similar to that of the Egyptians, Greeks, Tyrians.
During the period that the religion of the Roman Empire was that of Paganism, these several Mysteries flourished, and were each practiced in Rome; but, as Paganism yielded to Christianity, so the ancient Builders or members of the Pagan Architectural Societies, who were chiefly Priests being Christianized, attached themselves to the Christian places of worship, as they had done to the Pagan. Christianity and its doctrines were openly taught, and the Mysteries then polluted and finally abolished. As these Christian Building Associations extended into Northern Europe, and as the several Germans and other Northern nations and tribes became incorporated into — first, the German and then the Carlovingian Empires; so the Germans, when Christianized, brought with them certain of their religious ceremonials which the Architectural Societies availed of — in addition to what they already possessed. Fort has most exhaustively and conclusively shown, that from the ancient German religious ceremonials, the Freemasons took much of that which today forms part of our Ritual.
These Christian Building Associations bent on promulgating the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, with, on the one hand, the Southern, and, on the other, the Northern Legend, both having the same end in view, worked on the lines of the ancient institutions, as practiced in the Mysteries, by making a dramatical representation of the Heurisis succeeding to the Aphanism, form a principal part in Operative Freemasonry. The Benedictine Monks were principally the inhabitants of Northern Europe, and their ceremonial which ultimately formed the principal working of the German Stone Masons, is as like that of Freemasonry of today as it is possible for anything to be. If no other proof existed, this alone is enough to trace the connection and direct descent.
I will now read you the Constitution of the Roman Collegia Fabrorum, which became incorporated into the Monastic building associations, and if we now look at the ceremonial of the Benedictines, we cannot fail clearly to be satisfied as to the true origin of Freemasonry, and thus perceive how unreliable is the alleged Jewish or Solomonic origin.
There is what is known as the Legend of the Craft. Thanks to the researches and careful compiling by Brother Hughan and others, we have had brought prominently before us several very old Masonic Mss. which profess to be the history of the craft from early ages, the principal are the Edwin, Halliwell, Alnwick, Harlem, Sloane, Kilwinning, Lansdowne, York, and Dowland, of dates ranging between 926, 1390 and 1714. They are in essentials and in phraseology so very similar, although discovered at different periods and in various parts of England and Scotland, that it is very evident they are copies of an original, or have been committed to writing and printing by the Masons of the middle ages and by others just prior to the transition period. That the clergy originally framed these Mss. is evident from the fact that they all commenced with an invocation to the Holy Trinity. They all refer to the seven liberal arts and sciences, attributing their origin to Lamech's children, five of them refer to Abraham and his son as having visited Egypt, and that Abraham taught the seven sciences to Euclid, seven of them state that Solomon, son of David, sent after Masons of divers land and gathered them together, and was assisted by the King of another region named Hiram, and that he had a son who was chief master of all the works, his name is given differently, as Agnon, Dyan, Aynon, Amon, but never as Hiram Abiff, and in none of them is it said that he was slain, nor are Solomon and Hiram of Tyre stated to have been Masons, but in seven of them we do find this statement, "a certain Mason named Maynus Grecus, who had been at the making of King Solomon's temple came into France, and taught the craft of Masonry to men of France and to their King Charles Martel who gave them a charter," this King's name is given as Charles Marshall, Charles Martelle, Charles Martle, and the Masons name as Minus Grecus, Namus Grecus, Nymas Groccus.
Charles Martell, whose name thus appears in all the Mss., was evidently held in great esteem by the clerical builders, for he laid those foundations on which his grandson Charlemagne built so successfully in extending Christianity and civilization through Saxony. We note the gross error in chronology in making Maynus Gracus contemporary with Solomon, but these old manuscripts supply us with the origin of the introduction of Solomon's name and the temple into the system of Freemasonry, and we see clearly that to the Christian clerical builders, those of the Romish Church are to be indebted for so important a symbol. The individual Maynus Groccus means Minus the Grecian, a skilled architect who had been induced to leave Byzantium for France; and, if the statement that Maynus the Grecian, was present at the building of King Solomon's temple be taken only as an allegorical expression, it becomes intelligible, and we have the application as follows. The Building Associations had introduced the dramatical representation of death and resurrection founded on the ancient mystical legends already referred to; the clergy were answerable for and are to be credited with, having availed of Solomon's Temple and of Hiram the builder; the latter to take the place of Osiris, Adonis, Balder, and this Minus Grecus who is stated to have been at the building of Solomon's Temple, (the symbolical temple, which even at that early period formed part of the system of Freemasonry,) was a master in the peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory, illustrated by symbols, and in search after Divine truth as practiced by and taught in the Building Associations. The seven liberal arts and sciences. metaphysically considered the paths of learning and divided into Trivium and Quadrivium were also known to, and extensively practiced by the Saracens in Spain; and therefore when the Architectural Associations controlled by the clergy made them part of the curriculum of the apprentices, and that the doctrines to be held by the entire craft should be those of Christianity, we find the Saracenic Seminaries of Learning, with the irreligious creed of Mahomet and his repulsive dogmas as to the future state, pitted against the Christian Building Associations and their doctrine of the Resurrection as taught by them. Charles Martell's victory at Poictiers over the Saracens, brings forcibly before us the moment when, in Europe, Christianity fought for mere existence with the creed of Mahomet; and as Masons, we of today, when carefully studying those ancient manuscripts, with the aid of contemporary events, can reconcile the veneration in which Charles Martell was held by our ancient clerical Brethren.
We have observed that it was the clergy who originally introduced the temple and King Solomon's name into the symbolism of Freemasonry, and we can with safety fix the earliest period as that of Charles Martell's rule. Owing to the action of Leo, the Isanrian, and many of his successors of the Bysantium or Eastern throne, contemporary with Charles Martell, Pepin and Charlemagne of the Western Empire, the controversy as to image worship was carried to such an extent, that at first, France and the Italian States were overrun with the Monks from Constantinople and elsewhere, who would not yield to the views of the Iconoclasts, and I submit this is the period when the Scriptural Hiramic legend may fairly be considered to have been first introduced into the Clerical Architectural Associations.
But at a later period of the history of our Order it was found necessary from force of circumstances to revive and bring most prominently into the lodge ceremonials, the dramatic Heurisis and Aphanism. "When the Orthodox Church was at the very height of its glory, and Papacy in the very plentitude of its power, and the Corporation of Architects in their very fullest splendour, their ranks were considerably increased by the entry into Europe from the Island of Ceos of the descendants of those Dyonisiac builders, whom B.C. 800 the Kings of Pergamos had incorporated there, specially to preserve and perpetuate certain mysteries connected with their art." These architects entered Europe as Pagans, for if we except the short period when Julian the apostate re-established Paganism, we find Ceos as the only stronghold of the ancient mysteries in Southern Europe, when for centuries Paganism had yielded to Christianity. These Pagan builders brought with them their rites of initiation after the mysteries of Bacchus, for them to be of substantial service to the church in the erection of cathedrals and churches, it was necessary that they should become Christians, and this brings us face to face with a state of affairs in Medieval Masonic History, as follows: — The dramatic representation teaching the resurrection of the body had fallen, it is supposed into disuse; the church in her services was able alone to propagate such a dogma, all the builders being Christians; but as soon as the Pagan Element presented itself, the Ecclesiastics, so as to meet the prejudices and the customs of these Dyonisiac builders, as far as could be reconcilable with Christianity restored again the dramatic ceremonial, availed again of the scriptural structure, Solomon's Temple, the Biblical Artist, Hiram Abiff, and thus the clerics once more brought prominently forward the Legend of Hiram's death and the restoration of his body; when we consider that the clerical builders about the time of Charles Martell with the Legend of Osiris, Adonis, etc., from the South, and the Scandinavian legend of Balder's death from the North, had used the same as the basis on which to teach the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, we must not forget that at this medieval period there was the second adaption of the same ceremonial by the same Romish Church through its handmaid Freemasonry; but as time rolled on, and those who originally had come from Ceos died, and individual prejudices had no longer to be consulted, the dramatic ceremonial again fell in disuse. We find nothing of it as time advanced and Architectural Seminaries declined, until the Transition Period, the 17th century, paved the way for that Grand Revival of 1717. Our masters' degree, as we have it, and its sublime ceremonial, belongs to the 18th and 19th centuries, and demands separate consideration.
That the Hiramic Legend is neither as ancient as King Solomon's Temple, nor as modern as the Revival period of 1717, has, I think, been clearly established. We have ascertained the intermediate period; but this not in a dogmatic manner; but supported by very creditable circumstantial evidence, in the absence of direct ritual knowledge. The legend hangs on the central and important point, death and resurrection. The Mithraic Monuments and Medallions, still extant in the European Museums, bring to our view such a scenic representation. Woodford tells us "that the Legend of the 3rd degree was of very ancient usage amongst the Operative Masons, and that years ago he saw an old operative lodge token or seal of the 14th century, which referred to Hiram Abiff, in an unmistakable way, and he never could and could not now understand why there should be any question as to the possibility or probability of the preservation of such a special and distinct legend." Let us fix its introduction at the very earliest — A. D. 730 in Charles Martell's time; here we have after 600 years, its preservation amongst the operatives by means of a lodge token. That Solomon's Temple and King Solomon, as connected with Freemasonry, is neither as ancient as the Temple Period, nor as modern as the 18th century, is proven to us by the medieval reference thereto, by a secret society which flourished in France during the middle ages, and which borrowed then much from the operative, as today the Good Templars, Odd Fellows, Foresters etc., borrow from Speculative Freemasonry.
During the 13th century, there existed a large number of Lay Master Builders, who having been trained by the clerics and possessed of the arcane secrets of architecture, separated from the Monasteries, bound themselves closely together as members of an Universal Architectural Association retaining the Legend, Symbols, Doctrines and Ritual which the clerics had used and taught. This separation caused the first blow to the Monastic Association of Architects. The Lay Builders, although thus independent, were still protected by the Romish Church.
The fraternity thus unfettered, some members peculiarly qualified for that special style of architecture, combined under the name of Polites and devoted themselves exclusively to the construction of bridges and fortresses. They retained their decided religious character and symbolic mode of instruction.
During the 12th century, there sprang up into existence, only in France — and remained only as an institution of that country, a combination of all the gilds or trades for mutual protection, and known as "The Compagnions de LaTour"; to this association belonged individual Masons of the separate lay and clerical fraternities: and as such individuals carried with them the Legend: &c., known by them as Freemasons — we can, thus readily, trace the introduction of the same, amongst the Compagnions de LaTour and, although we do not possess legitimate Masonic documentary evidence of that period — we have the direct information afforded by the Compagnions de LaTour, as to the application of Solomon's Temple. At first this Society made use of the Temple Legend, and its members styled themselves, Children of Solomon. Owing to internal dissensions and jealousies, they became split up into two more Societies — each taking a name from its separate leader. Becoming in time irreconcilable enemies, and having lost the membership of the Freemasons of the lay and clerical divisions, for discord and hatred was then, as now, contrary to the principles inculcated by the ancient Masonic charges which they retained: these two societies lost the support of the church, whilst, at the same time, the church extended its protection as heretofore, to the Freemasons. "Francis I., by a decree, interdicted them from binding themselves by an oath, or of assembling in a greater number than five. And in the next century, the faculty of Theology in Paris, condemned their mystical practices as most impious."
Thus, when it is asserted that Freemasonry of the Middle Ages was opposed both by Church and State, we know such to be false, and caused by its calumniators not having taken the care to discriminate between Freemasonry and associations, such as the Compagnions de LaTour.
Mackey, in his researches, has brought to light the protection afforded the Freemasons by the Romish Church. He tells us — "That in one of the Papal decrees, the Supreme Pontiff stated that these regulations have been made after the example of Hiram, King of Tyre, when he sent artisans to King Solomon for the purpose of building the temple at Jerusalem."
We have considered the Ancient Mysteries to as late as the period of their Abolition. We have not lost sight of the German Mysteries. We have glanced at that period when the Clerical Builders introduced the Temple Symbolism, and if we recollect that Freemasonry of the 19th century inculcates the two-fold doctrine. the Resurrection of the Body and the Immortality of the Soul, we must admit that between the one extreme and the other, after a lapse of 3000 years from their institution and 1400 years from the time Theodosius prohibited the Mysteries throughout the Roman Empire, (A. D. 438), there does exist a close affinity as to the doctrine to be taught — the lesson inculcated by the like symbolism — and substantially the same scenic representations — not because necessarily, Freemasonry is a lineally descendant of the Ancient Mysteries, but as a great Masonic writer (Mackey) aptly puts it — "Because at all times there has been a proneness in the human heart, to nourish the belief in a future state, and to clothe that belief in a symbolic dress."
I submit this Paper for your consideration, and 1 have endeavoured from Scriptural, Masonic, and Secular History, to point out the true Source of the Temple Symbolism; and I hope I have succeeded in clearly showing that our Jewish Brethren cannot in any way accord the origin of Freemasonry to their ancestors of any period, either in Masonic or Scriptural History.