Today's poets, today's poems. Share yours, send to email@example.com
According to 1 Kings 6:1, construction of Beit HaMikdash, the First Temple built by king Shlomo (Solomon), began "in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel." According to the 2nd-century "Seder Olam Rabbah," that would have been in 832 BCE, but modern scholarship places it at ca. 966 BCE. It took 20 years to construct the temple/palace complex, though the temple alone took only 7 years to complete. Its actual location is unknown, though it is believed to have been on the same site as the 1st century Second Temple, the Temple Mount where the Muslims' Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque are situated; these were constructed by the Sufi sect al-Banna ("The Builders"), who may have influenced some Crusade-era masonic guilds which borrowed heavily from the area's architecture when they developed the Gothic style. Masonic rituals refer to the temple's construction, and their lodges are located in buildings called "temples." Hiram Abif is the central character of an allegory presented to all candidates during the third degree in Freemasonry to indicate the importance of fidelity and the certainty of death. He is presented as the chief architect of the temple, where he was murdered by three fellow masons after he refused to divulge the esoteric knowledge possessed only by himself, Shlomo, or the Phoenician king Hiram I of Tyre. At each refusal to divulge information, an assailant struck him with a different mason's tool (generally a plumb rule to the right temple, a level to the left temple, and a maul to the forehead). His murderers hid his body under a pile of rubble, then returned at night to bury it in a shallow grave marked with a sprig of acacia. Schlomo sent out a search party after 7 days, his body was recovered, and the "three ruffians" were brought to justice. Schlomo informed the workers that the secrets of a master mason had been lost and replaced them with substitutes based on gestures given and words spoken upon the discovery of Hiram's body.
(In other forms of Freemasonry, a number of master masons (not just Hiram, who is often named Adoniram instead) were working on the temple, and the three ruffians wanted the passwords and signs that would give them a higher wage; the secrets were not lost, but Schlomo ordered them inscribed on Hiram's grave under the temple. In 1851 Gérard de Nerval used these traditions in his "Voyage en Orient," in which Adoniram, before his ssassination, undertook various mystical adventures involving and "Soliman" Prince of the Genii and Balkis the "Queen of the Morning." in 1862, Adoniram's love for Balkis and his murder by three workmen in the pay of Solomon were the subject of Charles Gounod's opera, "La reine de Saba.")
"Ahiram" was the Hebrew word for "the exalted one" or "high-born;" some scholars have derived the name from a deity referred to as "the coiled or twisted one." Abif meant "his father." "Ab" (father) was often used as a title of respect, and may have signified friend, counselor, wise man, master, inventor, chief operator, benefactor, teacher, or one who excels in anything. The 12th-century scholar Mošeh ben-Maymon ("Maimonides") discussed the ranks into which the Rabbinical doctors were divided: "The first class consists of those each of whom bears his own name, without any title of honor; the second, of those who are called Rabbanim; and the third, of those who are called Rabbi, and the men of this class also receive the cognomen of Abba, Father." Schlomo asked his ally, king Hiram (who furnished architects, workmen, gold, and cedar wood for its construction, which began in the 12th year of Hiram's reign), to send him "a man cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in iron, and in purple, and crimson, and blue, and that can skill to grave with the cunning men that are with me in Judah, and in Jerusalem." Hiram responded, "I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, Huram my father's, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone and in timber, in purple and blue and fine linen, and in crimson, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men and with the cunning men of David, thy father." The "of Huram my father's" part is puzzling, since the king's father was Abibaal; and Hiram was also referred to as "Solomon's father, his father." This must be a textual error of some sort; possibly it referred to "Huram my father" as a sign of respect; when Martin Luther translated the Bible into German he chose to regard "huram abif" as a proper name. It may be that throughout the books of "Kings" and "Chronicles" Ab always referred to the builder of the Temple.
The Bible also claims that Schlomo "sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass; and he was filled with wisdom and understanding and cunning to work all kinds of brass. And he came to King Solomon and wrought all his work." The 1st-century historian Titus Flavius Josephus described him as of Naphtali on his mother's side, his father being Ur of the stock of Israel. In 2 Chronicles he was given a large role in the temple's construction, but in 1 Kings he was given responsibility only for the temple's brasswork (the molten sea with its 12 oxen, the 10 layers with their bases, the shovels and basins, and two pillars at the entrance of the temple, Jachin and Boaz).
From these few, and contradictory, references Freemasonry created a figure associated on an equal basis with the two kings; they either invented or received the secrets and mysteries of the High and Sublime Degree, which could not be communicated to anyone else without the consent of all three. The oldest Masonic manuscript (Regius Poem, ca. 1390) traced the order to Nimrod and Euclid, not to Schlomo. The 13th-century Graham Manuscript mentioned similar legends connected with Noah and Bezalel. By ca. 1550 the Dowland Manuscript mentioned Hiram Abif but only as one of many. Until the Grand Lodges were established, the Freemasons seem to have consisted of only one or two degrees, but, ca. 1825, two London clergymen, James Anderson, a Presbyterian, and John Theophilus Desaguliers, an Episcopalian, developed the third degree and the role of Hiram Abif within it. (He was already regarded as a Christ-like figure by the English Rosicrucians, who regarded HIRAM as an anagram derived from two Latin phrases, "Homo Jesus Redemptor AnimaruM" and "Homo Ius Rex Altissimus Mundi.") The Masons and the Rosicrucians had derived their notions from "The Legend of the Temple" (which borrowed heavily from the myths surrounding Orisis) in which Hiram was described as a descendent of Tubal-Cain, "who first constructed a furnace and worked in metals;" as related by Charles William Heckethorn's "The Secret Societies of all Ages and Countries" in 1897, the legend related that when Balkis, the queen of Sheba, visited Jerusalem she agreed to marry Schlomo but insisted on meeting the temple's architect and colleagues; Schlomo, who was jealous of Hiram's fame and skill, reluctantly agreed but protested that it was impossible to assemble all of the workmen who had built the temple, whereupon Hiram leaped onto a promnent stone and summoned all of the workmen by making the Tau sigm in the air with his hand; Balkis repented her engagement to Schlomo and fell in love with Hiram instead, so Schlomo plotted with three workmen to whom Hiram had refused to grant master mason status due to their ignorance and idleness; they sabotaged the casting of the brazen sea, and the molten metal overflowed its molds and treatened the crowd of onlookers; Tubal-Cain then rendered Hiram incombustible, sent him into the furnace to end the emergency, and presented him with his own hammer with which to complete "the work left unfinished through man's stupidity and malignity;" then Schlomo had his three accomplices murder Hiram in the temple; they buried him under a sprig of acacia; the assassins committed suicide after Hiram's corpse was discovered a fortnight later. Anderson and Desaguliers transformed this acount into new ritual, adapting familiar esoteric materials derived from solar myths: The three fellow-crafts, as the ceremonial of the degree takes form, are stationed in the west, south, and east entrances, the regions illuminated by the sun; Hiram is slain at the west door, where the sun sets; acacia typifies new spring vegetation; the body of Osiris was cut into 14 pieces. The early development of his role within Freemasonry may also have been influenced by the late-12th-century chanson de geste, "Quatre fils Aymon," in which Renaud de Montauban was killed by a hammer blow to the head while working as a mason at Cologne Cathedral. (Kabbalah also places high value on the temple as representative of the metaphysical world and the descending light of the creator through Sephirot of the Tree of Life. The outer, inner, and priest's courts represent the three lower worlds of Kabbalah, the Boaz and Jachin pillars the active and passive elements of the world of Atziluth, the original menorah and its seven branches the seven lower Sephirot of the Tree of Life, and the veil of the Holy of Holies and the inner part of the temple the Veil of the Abyss on the Tree of Life, behind which the Shekhina or Divine presence hovers.)
Very complete explanation!
Join the conversation! What is your reaction to the post?