The Origin of Masonry 5

Part V. The Holy of Holies and the Resurrection

E. Cromwell Mensch

The Holy of Holies of King Solomon's Temple was called the Oracle, and was sometimes entirely different and apart from thee room called the "middle chamber" of the Temple. The Temple itself was a stone building, 60 cubits long, 20 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high. Around the outside of the main structure were three chambers, superimposed one above the other. These three chambers were designated as the nethermost, the middle, and the third chambers, respectively. They were narrow, corridor-like rooms, for the nethermost was 5 cubits wide, the middle 6 cubits, and the third, 7 cubits wide. The nethermost was on the ground floor level, and evidently served as a robing room, as well as a place for the storage of implements and vessels used in the ceremonials. The middle chamber was one flight up, and served as a storage vault, as did the third chamber above it. Estimates as to the value of gold, silver, and other valuables stored in these upper chambers of the Temple, run all the way from five to ten billions of dollars. In short, this middle chamber of the Temple served as the storage vault for the material wealth which found its way into the coffers of the priesthood. These chambers were an innovation peculiarly adapted to the Temple, for there was nothing comparable to them in the original Tabernacle.

The Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle was a perfect cube, formed of the veil, and the 4 pillars which supported it. This cube was the central theme of its design, and the unit of measurement by which all parts of the Tabernacle were apportioned. For practical purposes, one edge of this cube was divided into 10 equal parts, and each of these parts was called a cubit. In other words, the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle was 10 cubits long in each of its three dimensions. The Oracle of the Temple, on the other hand, measured 20 cubits in each of its three dimensions. This increase in size destroyed the perfect harmony of design which had prevailed in the Tabernacle. In the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies was placed in the middle of the structure, and the celestial angle of 23½ degrees was brought down to the center of the cubical room. This descending angle was the essential ingredient of Jacob's ladder, and below the center of the cubical it exactly subtended the 1½ cubits of the Ark of the Covenant in section. It also did the same for the Ark in longitudinal section. The 7th ordinate of Jacob's ladder intersected the Arc in its exact center, and joined the celestial and terrestrial spheres. It was the axis about which the Tabernacle formed a symmetrical design. These celestial ingredients set the Holy of Holies up as a material token that the Tabernacle was indeed none other but the House of God. This did not hold true of the arrangement in the Temple, for its Oracle was at the rear of the main room, and its volumetric displacement was 8 times that of the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies.

The resurrection, or raising of the body from the dead, was exemplified as a ritual long before Moses came onto the, scene. The very temples where he was initiated into the mysteries contain graphic illustrations of this ceremony. The central figure is Osiris, who was raised from his bier at the command of Horus. The departed soul of Osiris is shown as a graven image in the form of a bird, perched in the Erica tree at the head of the bier. Moses transposed this into a nobler conception, by coupling the rebirth of nature with the phenomenon of the spring equinox in the celestial. This position he gave to Reuben the first born, as the beginning of Israel's strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power, Genesis 49:3. But Reuben was unstable as water, and destined not to excel, because he went up to his Father's bed, and then defiled it, Genesis 49:4. The tribe of Reuben corresponded with the constellation of Taurus, the bull. This bull was called Apis by the Egyptians, and was part of the animal worship and deification practiced by them. The doctrine of Moses pointed out that the beneficence of God came from the celestial sphere, and this figure of Apis the bull in the constellation of Taurus defiled his Father's bed. Reuben was named as the firstborn because at the time of the Exodus the spring equinox occurred in the constellation of Taurus. The rebirth is now symbolized by the Acacia, instead of the Erica tree.

It was this paganism of the bull in Taurus that caused Moses to shift the leadership to the tribe of Judah, from whence comes the strong grip of the Lion's paw. As a matter of fact, the 12 tribes of Israel originated in the Father's house, for they all correspond with the characteristics of the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. Every third one of these constellations contains one of the 4 guardian stars of the heavens; namely, Aldebaran in Taurus, Regulus in Leo, Antares in Scorpio, and Fomalhaut in connection with Aquarius. Reuben corresponded with Taurus, who defiled his Father's bed. Judah represented Leo, the lion, with the guardian star of Regulus. Regulus is described in Genesis 48:10 as the lawgiver, which shall not depart from between his (Leo's) feet until Shiloh come. The next guardian star is Antares, in the constellation of Scorpio. It was represented by Dan; for he was to be a serpent by the way, that biteth the horse heels, Genesis 49:17. This designation comes from the fact that the scorpion is the only "serpent" whose striking range is limited to the heel of the horse. The fourth guardian star is Fomalhaut, actually in the constellation of Pisces Austrinus; but the stream of water which flows from the jar of Aquarius is inseparable from Fomalhaut in this mythological presentation. Aquarius was represented by Ephraim, one of the sons of Joseph, who Genesis 49:22 says was a fruitful bough by the well. These 4 tribes, which corresponded with the constellations containing the 4 guardian stars, occupied the 4 corners of the encampment about the Tabernacle. The other eight were interspersed between - these four encamped at the corners.

The rendition of the so-called Hiramic legend has a great deal more fact in it than fiction. All that is needed is to replace the Temple with the Tabernacle. It was Moses who lived under the tyranny of Ramses II, and it was such a tyrant as he who struck first at the free speech of the individual. This is the episode that is enacted at the first station. If this blow at the power of guttural expression failed to quench the fire of independent thought, sterner measures were taken by striking at the very heart of such characters as Moses. Finally, the lash and the burdens were increased to the point where the workmen literally fell dead at their feet. The three stations which epitomize these episodes may be identified with the three stations in the Tabernacle; namely, the Altar in the east, the Candlestick in the south, and the Table of Shewbread in the north. The 12 tribes are still preserved in the 12 Fellowcraft, who are assigned to the same positions in which the tribes were encamped about the Tabernacle. According to Chapter 2 of the Book of Numbers, 3 of the tribes were encamped in the east, 3 in the south, 3 in the west, and 3 in the north.

It is a common error to confuse that which was lost with the so-called "lost" word. This word is one of the most peculiar words in the dictionary, which gives it a prominence no lost word could ever assume. That which was really lost are the secrets of the Tabernacle's design, although, in a broader sense, they were merely concealed in the cabalism of the writings of Moses. As a matter of fact, the layout of the modern lodge room more closely follows the design of the Tabernacle than it does that of the Temple. The central feature of that design was the Holy of Holies, and the Ark of the Covenant, which was subtended below its center by the angle of the ecliptic. The modern altar is in the identical position occupied by the Ark in the Tabernacle, which was in the exact center of the structure. The token of the "Word" is now on top of the Altar, whereas in the Tabernacle it was deposited inside the Ark. The Candlestick still stands at the south, although its lights have now been reduced to 3. The Golden Altar in the east still retains its position as the station of the master of ceremonies. The Table of the Shewbread originally was in the north, but this station has now been shifted to the west. The modern master of ceremonies would be somewhat at a loss in an attempt to arrange the 10 candlesticks and the 10 tables specified for the Temple of Solomon, I Kings 7:49. He would be a little more successful with the "lost" word, for a clue to both it and the design of the Tabernacle is to be found in the cabalism of Moses, when he changed the name of Abram to Abraham, and the name of Jacob to Yisrael.