of King Solomon's Temple
The Origin of the
Phoenix as a symbol in Phoenixmasonry
The old mythological legend of the Phoenix is a familiar one. The bird
was described as of the size of an eagle, with a head finely crested,
a body covered with beautiful plumage, and eyes sparkling like stars. She was said
to live six hundred years in the wilderness, when she built for herself a funeral pile of aromatic woods, which she ignited with the fanning of her wings, and
emerged from the flames with a new life. Hence the phoenix has been adopted universally as
a symbol of immortality. Higgins (Anacalypsis, ii., 441) says that the phoenix is the
symbol of an ever-revolving solar cycle of six hundred and eight years, and refers to the
Phoenician word phen, which signifies a cycle. Aumont, the first Grand Master of the
Templars after the martyrdom of DeMolay, and called the "Restorer of the Order,"
took, it is said, for his seal, a phoenix brooding on the flames, with the motto,
ut vivat" - She burns that she may live. The phoenix was adopted at a very
early period as a Christian symbol, and several representations of it have been found in
the catacombs. Its ancient legend, doubtless, caused it to be accepted as a symbol of Jesus Christ's resurrection and immortality.
Here at Phoenixmasonry, we believe that each of us has had the feeling
of being consumed by fire. That the problems of our lives have left us in
the pit of despair, the ashes of destruction, although it may not have been the fire that creates those ashes. Adversity and the overcoming of it makes us stronger. Just as the beautiful Temple of King Solomon rose from the
rubbish and ashes of barbarous forces to become an even more magnificent and resplendent
structure, our belief and faith in living a moral life allows us to rise up from the
ashes to become stronger and better Freemasons.
The Meaning of Masonry
In all the rich symbolism of Ancient Craft Masonry two symbols, or
symbolic themes, predominate. One is the "Search for Light"; the other
is the "Labor of Building". The source of light is the Holy Bible, and the
grand representation of the builder's art is King Solomon's Temple.
Searching persistently and building carefully, the candidate travels
slowly towards the East. As he pursues his quest for light and more light
and still further light in Masonry, he learns by the way to use the working
tools of the stone craftsman, until at last he finds himself portraying the
character of the greatest of all legendary builders, the master architect of King Solomon's Temple Hiram Abiff. Searching and building, light and the
Temple, - the two dominant Masonic themes are distinct but not separate, complementary rather than supplementary.
And the search and the labor are not completed by the
the Lodge. Light is revealed, and the sacred source of all light is clearly
indicated, but the search for complete illumination must be eternal. The
Temple in the Masonic ritual is almost but not quite completed; the allegory rises from a physical to a spiritual Temple; "a house, not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens." Regardless of symbolic revelations in Masonic degrees apart from the Lodge, the unending search and that labor toward
perfection, begun in the Lodge, must continue with the initiated Mason throughout his life.
The Tradition of Solomon
It was natural that imaginative stone Mason's, long before the
development of anything like our modern fraternity, should have felt a
kinship with the great builders of all ages. It was natural also that they
should have acknowledged a peculiar attraction for the most famous and
glorious of all building enterprises, King Solomon's Temple and Citadel.
Interest and attraction for the wonderful structure on Mt. Moriah have
increased rather than diminished during the six hundred and more years of recorded Masonic history, until today the Temple of Solomon is the spiritual
home of Freemasonry. What do we know about the Temple, its form, its
beauties, its historical and religious background?
The Tabernacle in the Wilderness
A thorough understanding of the details of the primitive Tabernacle of
Israel is essential to grasp fully the fundamental principles involved in
the construction of King Solomon's Temple. An intimate knowledge of the Tabernacle's contents and their relation to one another is necessary to
comprehend the ritualistic system developed by Solomon and his priests. A study of the ceremonies, the sacrificial offerings, and the priestly
ministrations of the Tabernacle will reveal the great spiritual mystery of the Indwelling God, as made manifest by Moses during the sojourn in the
Moses, during his prolonged stay of forty days and forty nights on Mt.
Sinai, appears to have visualized the form which the Tabernacle should
take. The subsequent building of the Tabernacle, the system of worship
adopted, and the structure of government developed by Moses under divine guidance, have inspired his race and impressed the whole of mankind.
Moses chose as his chief architect, Bezaleel, a direct descendant of Terah, one of the master builders of Ur of the Chaldeans, and as chief
assistant, Aholiab, also a direct descendent of Terah and by marriage of the line of Tubal-cain, traditionally the first instructor of artificers in
brass and other metals. Bezaleel was unusually endowed with the Spirit of God in wisdom, understanding and knowledge. These three outstanding geniuses gave to the
world the most beautiful and magnificent religious structure ever conceived and erected
for a nomadic people. Exodus 24-31; Genesis 4:22.
Materials for the Tabernacle
Gold, silver, brass, and iron; silks, fine linen and a fabric of goats' hair;
rams' skins, and badgers' skins; shittum wood or acacia timber; onyx stone,
sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure, agate, amethyst, beryl and jasper; also blue, purple and scarlet dyes; all of these
went into the construction of the Tabernacle. Exodus 25:3; 35: 5-10.
How the Materials were Acquired
The Israelites, a nomadic tribe roaming about through Chaldea, Assyria, and Caanan. and
finally locating in the land of Goshen in Egypt, naturally
accumulated wealth by trading with the natives through whose countries they passed. They increased their flocks through attention and by seeking the
well-watered localities for pasture. They industriously converted the wool from the sheep, and the hair from the goats and camels, into cloth, and wove
grass fibers into fabrics, from all of which they made tents, rugs, clothing, and other useful articles. But, possibly, their greatest wealth
was acquired just before they left Egypt, when we are told that they "spoiled the Egyptians"
Exodus 11: 2, 12: 35-36.
Now, when the Lord spoke through Moses, requesting an offering from
every man who would give with his heart and in accordance with his means for the building
of the Tabernacle, the people responded with gold, silver, brass, blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen; goats' hair, rams' skins,
shittim wood, oil, spices, sweet incense and precious stones. In addition, every wise hearted among them gave personal services as needed. So great was their
response that Moses finally gave commandment, saying: "Let neither man nor woman make
any more work for the offering of the Sanctuary." So the people were restrained from bringing more wealth.
The Architecture of the Tabernacle
The Tabernacle, Tent, or Portable Temple, being so constructed that it
could be readily taken down, moved from place to place, and erected at will, was especially adapted to the needs of a nomadic people. Being constructed on geometrical
and scientific principles, it readily lent itself to a practical system of removal and erection which was essential in the case of
so large and costly a structure. The Tabernacle consisted of an oblong or rectangle,
called the Court, in the rear half of which was the tent or covering of the Sanctuary.
Under this Tent, the Holy and Most Holy Places were defined by partitions of boards and
pillars, securely joined by means of rods, rings, etc. A careful study of the entire
structure reveals an architectural gem, servicably conceived, beautifully designed,
mystically embellished, celestially canopied, and inspiring the beholder with profound
reverence and peaceful security in the thought of an ever present and Indwelling God, and
typifying the encampment of the Angels of the Lord around about them that fear
The Court of the Tabernacle
The Court, the walled curtain of which surrounded the enclosure
containing the Holy and Most Holy Places, with their furnishings - the Tent, Laver, Altar of Sacrifice, bowls and other sacrificial utensils - was oblong
in shape; "100 cubits long and 50 cubits wide" (200 feet by 100 feet - A
cubit was a Standard of measurement adopted by ancient builders, the distance from the elbow to the end of the middle finger.)
Exodus 27: 9-19; 38: 9.
This court was enclosed by a wall "5 cubits high" (10 feet),
composed of linen and canvas, supported by pillars of brass, which rested in
brass. The pillars were ornamented at the top with capitals of silver, to which were
attached hooks of silver to hold in place the rods. The rods kept the pillars an equal
distance apart and supported the canvas or linen wall. This wall was further supported by
guy ropes attached to pins driven into the ground on both sides. This enclosure, composed
of 60 pillars of brass, filleted with silver, with their 60 capitals of silver, 60 sockets
of brass, and 120 hooks of silver, was only broken on the eastern side by the
entrance, which was "20 cubits wide" (40 feet). This entrance, or gate curtain,
was of fine twined linen, wrought with needle work in the most gorgeous shades of blue,
purple, and scarlet. One can visualize its appearance and effect as it stood in the midst
of the encampment of Israel.
The Altar of Burnt-Offering
The Altar stood in the midst of the eastern half of the oblong Court
enclosure, the sacrificial tables and utensils being upon the left of the
main entrance within the Court. The Altar of Burnt-offering was the
instrument used for the purpose of reconciling man with his Maker. The
Altar was 5 cubits long, 5 cubits broad and 3 cubits high (10 feet by 10 by 6). It was a large hollow case, made of shittim wood, overlaid with brass,
and ornamented with huge wooden horns overlaid with brass, one for each of the four
A grating or network of brass, having a ring at each
of its four corners,
was hung in the middle of the top of the Altar, and on it was laid the wood for the fire which consumed the sacrifice. On two sides of the Altar were
rings of brass, through which were laid staves of shittim wood overlaid with brass, to carry it from place to place. The pots, shovels, basins,
flesh-hooks and fire pans, as well as all other vessels or utensils
necessary to the service of the Altar, were made of brass. Exodus 27: 1-8; 38: 1-7.
The Brazen Laver
The Laver consisted of a large bowl or fountain, which held fresh water
used by the priests in the services. It stood in a fount, or pool, as a
base to catch the waste water. Here the sacrifices were washed and the
priests cleansed before entering the Tabernacle. From the mention of the "Laver and its Foot" one gets the idea of two containers, like a cup and
saucer. Exodus 30: 1-8; 38: 1-7.
The Biblical statement that the Laver was made of the looking glasses
of the women of the congregation which assembled at the door of the
Tabernacle, reveals the deep religious emotion which prevailed.
The Sanctuary in the Tabernacle
The Sanctuary was erected in the center of the western half of the
oblong Court enclosure, and consisted of two chambers, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The tent, or covering, protected and formed a cover
round about the Sanctuary, and was used by the priests and attendants as chambers or rest rooms.
The western end and the two sides of the Sanctuary
were enclosed by
boards made of shittim wood overlaid with gold. The length of one board was10 cubits (20
feet), and the breadth was 1 1/2 cubits (3 feet). Each board had two tenons at the base
equally distant one from the other, with two sockets of silver for each board to fit the
tenons and form the foundation. On the outside of each board were rings to receive the bars to join one
board to the other. There were 20 boards for the north side and 20 boards for the south side, held in place by five bars for each side. Four bars
joined in the center of the wall and one bar passed through all the rings of the 20 boards, on each side. For the western end of the Sanctuary there
were six boards and twelve tenons, with two corner boards and four tenons. They were so cut and coupled together as to form a perfect right angle for
each corner, coupled at top and bottom. All the boards stood upright, edge to edge.
The Most Holy Place was divided from the Holy Place
by four pillars of
shittim wood overlaid with gold, resting upon sockets of silver. These
pillars supported a hanging of most sumptuous tapestry of fine twined linen, a splendid fabric in blue, purple, and scarlet, beautifully embroidered with
cherubim in gold.
A most beautiful covering of splendid linen fabrics
in blue, purple,
and scarlet, embroidered with figures of cherubim in gold formed the canopy for the two sacred rooms. This, together with the two hangings previously
described and the boards of gold, produced an enchanting effect in gorgeous colorings,
dazzling beyond description. The covering was composed of ten curtains of fine linen all
in blue, purple and scarlet. Each curtain was 28 cubits (56 feet) long and the breadth of
4 cubits (8 feet). The ten curtains were joined permanently into two great curtains of
five each by means of couplings. On one edge of one of the great curtains were loops of
blue, 50 in number; on the edge of the other great curtain were taches of gold, 50 in number. The loops and taches coupled the curtains together into
a one-piece covering. This splendid fabric of blue, purple, and scarlet colored linen, magnificently embroidered with figures of cherubim, formed
the ceiling of both the Holy and Most Holy Places. It was drawn down on the outside of the golden boards and fastened to the center rod upon all sides
except the eastern entrance.
To protect this beautiful and delicately wrought
curtains of goats' hair were provided, each 30 cubits (60 feet) long and 4 cubits (8 feet) wide. Five of these curtains were permanently united into
one great curtain and six into another. These in turn were provided with 50 loops on the edge of one curtain and 50 taches opposite the loops. The two composite curtains were joined to make one great covering carefully drawn
over the entire Sanctuary and securely fastened on all sides except the eastern entrance. To complete the protection against inclement weather, a
tent, oblong in shape, was also provided, consisting of two coverings, an inner one of rams' skin, dyed red, and an outer of badgers' skins. The tent
had a ridge over which the coverings were drawn and then fastened by means of guy ropes to
pins driven into the ground at regular intervals upon all sides.
The Holy Place
This was an oblong room 20 cubits in length, 10 cubits in width and 10
cubits in height (40 feet by 20 by 20). The entrance gate consisted of a
beautiful tapestry of blue, purple, and scarlet fabric, gorgeously
embroidered with cherubim in pure gold. The tapestry was hung upon five
pillars of wood overlaid with gold, having beautiful capitals of silver and
sockets of brass. The pillars, which were arranged in regular interval
across the east entrance of the room, had hooks at the very top of the
capitals to receive the loops at the top edge of the curtain or veil of the
Tabernacle, which was thus suspended across the entire front at the west so as to separate the Holy from the Most Holy Place. Above, and forming the
ceiling, was the brilliant colored linen covering, and on the north and south sides were the highly polished golden walls reflecting in radiant
splendor the varied colored drappings and richly rugged floor.
The Holy Place contained three articles of furniture, the Altar of
Incense, which stood in the center, the Golden Candlestick with all its
vessels, which stood on the left side center, and the Table of Shewbread with its dishes, spoons, covers, and bowls, which stood on the right side
center. The priests entered the Holy Place each day to offer incense, and to renew the lights in the Golden Candlestick.
The Altar of Incense
The Golden Altar or Altar of Incense was made of shittim wood overlaid
with pure gold. In form, it was two cubits high and one cubit broad
(four-square, 4 feet by 2) on each of the four sides. Upon the top edge
round about, it was ornamented with a crown of gold of unique design. On the four corners were horns made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold, in shape like unto rams' horns. Under the crown, on each of two sides, were
four rings of gold, two on each side, through which the staves, made of shittim wood overlaid with gold, were passed. These staves were for
carrying it. Exodus 39: 38. The Censer was placed on the top center of the Golden Altar, and in it
sweet incense was burned every morning. Exodus 30: 1-10.
The Golden Candlestick
The Golden Candlestick was made of pure gold of "beaten work" with a
central shaft ornamented with knobs, flowers, and bowls. There were six
branches going out of its sides, three branches out from one side and three out from the other. All the branches, like the shaft, were ornamented with
knobs, flowers, and bowls. The bowls were made after the fashion of almonds. On the top of the shaft, and on each one of the six branches, were lamps large enough to hold sufficient oil and cotton to burn all night.
Exodus 26: 31-39; 37: 17-24.
The Biblical text does not define the height or
breadth of the candelabrum. However, proportionate harmony with the rest of the furniture
would suggest a height of 3 cubits (6 feet) and a breadth of 2 1/2 cubits (5 feet).
The Table of Shewbread
The table was made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold 2 cubits
long, 1 cubit broad and 1 1/2 cubits high (4 feet by 2 by 3) and finished,
like the Altar, with a crown or rim of gold round about at the top edge, and four rings and two staves with which to carry it. It was furnished with
dishes, spoons, bowls, and covers, all of pure gold. Exodus 35:
23-30; 37: 1-16.
Upon this table were placed twelve cakes of fine flour, in two rows,
six in a row, called "Shewbread." "And thou shall set upon the table
Shewbread before me alway." Exodus 25: 30.
The Most Holy Place
The second or inner chamber, called the Most Holy Place, was 10 cubits
(20 feet) on each side and consequently a perfect cube. It contained the
Ark of the Covenant, in which were the two Tables of Stone.
This place, the Holy of Holies, the most sacred portion of the divinely
appointed structure, was surrounded on three sides by highly polished walls of pure gold. The "Veil" of fine twined linen in blue, purple, and scarlet,
richly embroidered and ornamented with figures of cherubim in gold, hanging from the tops
of four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold, and resting in sockets of silver,
defined the eastern and only entrance. Over all this magnificent, foursquare,
resplendent place hung the blue, purple, and scarlet curtain, richly embroidered with golden cherubim. The
reflection of these brilliant hues, and of the Cherubim, upon the walls of polished gold, must a produced have weird, startling, awe-inspiring and
overpowering effect upon all those who were ordained to enter this most sacred place. Within this enclosure there was but one article of furniture and its
contents, that is, the Ark of the Covenant containing the Testimony.
The Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant was an ark or chest of shittum wood two and
one-half cubits long, and one and one-half cubits high (5 feet by 3 by 3)
overlaid with gold, and embellished with a crown of gold extending around the chest upon the top edge. Four rings of pure gold were set in the four
corners, two on one side and two on the other, through which were passed the wooden staves
overlaid with gold used in carrying the sacred chest. Exodus 25: 10; 37: 1-10.
The lid, or covering was the Mercy Seat, and was one piece of of pure
gold, two and one-half cubits long and one and one-half cubits broad (5 feet by 3). Upon each end of this Mercy Seat were Cherubim, made of pure
"beaten" gold. These cherubim stretched forth their wings on high, so as to
cover the Mercy Seat, their faces being inward toward the Mercy Seat. In this Ark, or Chest, and directly under the Mercy Seat, were the most sacred religious
items of Judaism which included the Testimony or Ten Commandments upon two tables of
stone, Manna from Heaven and Arron's Rod.
The Ark of the Covenant, thus fittingly enshrined, was the only piece
of furniture in the Most Holy Place. It was visited but once each year by
the High Priest, on the Day of Atonement, to make "atonement for the sins of
the people." This was the most solemn ceremony of the Hebrew worship.
King Solomon's Temple and Citadel
The comprehensiveness of the Tabernacle, its hidden grandeur, and its
mysterious splendor, appealed to David to such an extent that he longed to build, with the Tabernacle as a model, a permanent Temple dedicated to the
worship of the true God. David loved the Tabernacle as the house of the Lord. He desired to dwell in its courts forever, that he might behold the
glory of God, make manifest His eternal presence, and sing His praise. David had the Tabernacle ever in mind when he prepared plans and
patterns for the Temple to be erected upon Mount Moriah, the most sacred spot on Earth. He bequeathed the plans to Solomon, who with the Tabernacle as a guide,
erected a Temple the grandeur of which has so impressed the world that men, never tiring
in its praise, have placed it foremost in legend, romance, history, and religion.
The Tabernacle was the pattern which guided the master builders in the
construction of King Solomon's Temple, as well as the priests in its
ritualistic services. The physical Temple was completed about 1005 B.C. according to the received chronology.
1 Chron. 28:11-21.
Location of the Temple
Mount Moriah, in the days of Abraham, was one of the hills in the vicinity of Salem, the
one chosen by Abraham upon which to sacrifice his
only son Isaac "as a burnt offering" unto the Lord. In later years it came under
the control of the Amorites, whose principal city, Jebus, occupied a hill westward from Moriah.
Genesis 22: 2.
In the days of King David, who subdued the Jebusites,
it became a part of the city named Jerusalem. It is 14 1/2 miles from Jordan, 15 miles
from Salt Sea, and 41 miles from the Mediterranean. The location was not the most
desirable one on which to erect the Temple, but was chosen by Solomon because of its
sacred associations. It was fitting that the great Temple to be dedicated to the God of
his fathers should be erected upon the very spot where Abraham made manifest that faith in
Him which was accepted ever after by the children of Israel and the world. On this spot
also, where Abraham offered Isaac, David made an acceptable offering unto the Lord, and by
faith saved Jerusalem from destruction. David no doubt realized the significance of the
name given to the Mount by Abraham, "Jehovah Sees," and ever after the children
of Abraham found consolation in the thought, "In the Mount of Jehovah He will be
seen." Solomon, in deciding to erect the Temple upon this sacred spot, fulfilled the
wishes of his father, King David, and of all in whose breasts these sentiments were
cherished. "Beautiful for Situation, the Joy of the whole Earth."
Materials for the Temple
"Gold for things to be made of gold; silver for things of silver; brass
for things of brass; iron for things of iron; wood for things of wood; onyx
stones and stones to be set, glistening stones of diverse colors, and all
manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance." Nails of gold
were used, and nails of brass and iron; chains of gold; ivory from Ophir; hewn stones, stones sawed with saws, great stones (granite), costly stones
(marble of various colorings); cedar wood from Mt. Lebanon, algum wood from Mt. Lebanon
and from Ophir, fir wood, sycamore, shittim wood or acacia, olive wood and palm, juniper,
balsam and mulberry wood. 1 Chron.29:2.
Leather came from ox skins and chamois; fur from
goats and badgers;
wool from sheep. Fine (white) twined linen was used, and goats' and camels' hair made
textile fabrics of purple, crimson, and blue. Varicolored dyes were produced from clays,
stones, fish, and vegetation. For the services were furnished oils, spices, incense, myrtle, fitches,
myrrh, sweet cinnamon, calamus, cassia, stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense, - Nature's contributions to the handiwork of Man.
How the Temple Materials were Acquired
King David, one of the world's greatest generals and statesmen, founded an imperial dominion which theretofore had not been realized, though it had been promised to Abraham. David became King on the scale of the great
sovereigns, demanding and receiving tribute, and forming alliances which enabled him to control the great trade route of which Jerusalem was the
center. Yet, during the turmoil and struggles attending his rise to supremacy, he never ceased to make preparation for carrying out his one ambition, that of
erecting a Temple to the worship of God. "Behold in my trouble I have prepared for
the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talants of gold, and a thousand thousand talents
of silver; and of brass without weight, for it is in abundance; timber also and stone I
have prepared," declared David. Again he repeats, "I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold
for things to be made of gold; and the silver for things of silver; and the brass for things of brass; the iron for things of iron; and wood for
things of wood; onyx stones and stones to be set, glistening stones, and of diverse colors, and all manner of precious stones and marble stones in
abundance." In addition to the sums he "prepared" he donated from his own
private purse, "three thousand talents of gold, seven thousand talents of
silver," all of which he carefully tabulated and dedicated to the Lord, in
the presence of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, who stood in awed silence before their venerable and God-fearing sovereign.
Genesis 15: 18-21.
In his final and supreme effort to arouse his hearers
to respond with
contributions of their own, David shouted: "Who then is willing to
consecrate his service this day unto the Lord?" "Then the chief of the
fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands
and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly of
gold, five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten
thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And they with whom precious stones were found
gave them to the treasure of the house of the Lord." 1 Chron. 29.
Hiram, King of Tyre, the friend of David, gave
Solomon cedar, algum and fir trees according to all Solomon's needs, also great stones (granite),
costly stones (marbles), and hewed stones, shaped for pillars and squared by stone
squarers.during the course of the construction of the Temple, King Hiram and King Solomon
caused periodical trips to be made to Ophir for gold, algum trees, and precious stones to
add to the apparently inexhaustible store. "King David rejoiced with great
joy." Hiram, King of Tyre, "blessed the Lord God of Israel, that made heaven and
earth, who hath given to David the King a wise son, endowed with prudence and
understanding, that might build an house for the Lord."
Co-operation of Allied Nations
King David was thirty years old when the elders of Judah called him to
the City of Hebron, gave him their allegiance, and publicly anointed him
King. Seven years later, he received the allegiance of the entire nation.
He then began to build the empire of his dreams, as promised to Abraham, which was to be the glory of Israel and the world. His first act was to set
up the Tabernacle in the New City, restored, embellished, and unequalled for permanence
and beauty. All his thoughts were for the religious interests of the people. Although he
was recognized as "a man after God's own heart," he was not perfect. He was a
man of great stature, a physical giant, a mighty warrior, and a great general, "every
inch a King," a shrewd politician and sagacious statesman. His outstanding political
act was the seizure of the city of Jebus, the key to control of the great trade route
between the East and West, which he called Jerusalem. This also gave him possession of the
most sacred spot on earth, Mount Moriah.
The commanding position of his capitol brought the Phoenicians into an
alliance, and "Hiram, King of Tyre, sent messengers, and cedar trees, and
carpenters, and masons, and built David an house (palace)." Realizing his
strength, David fought and conquered the Philistines, thus making a trade alliance with Egypt possible. Having made these alliances, he was free to
turn his victorious armies eastward. There he conquered the Moabites, who "became David's servants and brought gifts." He next conquered the
Zobahites, which brought him into battle with the Syrians, whom he utterly routed and thus gained control of Damascus and part of Syria. The spoils of these wars were great; he received much gold, silver and brass, besides
placing the Syrians under allegiance, so that they too "became servants to
David, and brought gifts." Having conquered the Syrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, Amalekites, Rehobites and Hittites with his thirteen hundred thousand fighting men, he forced tribute, withstood all enemies, and
raised his kingdom to superior strength, opulence, and splendor. Having built an empire unequalled in his time and established peace with the world,
he bequeathed to his son, Solomon, untold wealth, a commanding army, a multiple allegiance, a vast empire, and
sympathetic international accord.
Through his energy, shrewdness, skill, unusual fairness, generosity, and
devotion, he also left to his heir an affectionate people. "Now the days of David drew
nigh that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son." This dying charge, a
magnificent state paper and one of the most remarkable readings in the Bible, related
principally to the building of the Temple, whose erection David had not undertaken because
of wars. "So David slept with his fathers and was buried in the City of David."
1 Kings 2; 1 Chron. 28, 29.
Solomon, King of Israel
Solomon was the son of Bath-sheba, a direct descendant of Ishmael,
whom Hagar bore unto Abraham. David, through the house of Judah, was a direct descendant of Issac. Thus, the two great families founded by Abraham were united in
Solomon. He was about 14 years old when he was anointed King of Israel in Gihon, and about
21 at the death of David, so that when he was fully established on the throne, he was
familiar with the elaborate designs and abundant preparations of his father for the
building of the Temple. Solomon, having been carefully nutured by his God-fearing
queen mother, had grown into a young man of great mental vigor. Having been schooled under
the greatest masters of the times, reared in one of the richest and most brilliant courts
of the then known world, he was preeminently gifted for the stupendous task before him,
and undertook with enthusiasm to carry it on. The secret of Solomon's success is
faithfully portrayed in his request at the time the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and
asked what he (the Lord) should give him. Solomon's request was "for an understanding
heart" that he might "discern between good and evil," that he might know
how to walk before his people. This submission to God, this desire to have God make
manifest through him the righteousness of God, was the first indication of his future
greatness. He gathered about him the wonders of Nature, both of animal and vegetable life,
drew from them the secrets of their existence, and learned that God was made manifest in
the heavens above and in the earth beneath, and that God was all and in all.
He soon set about to fulfill the wishes of his father and to glorify the God of his dream
by creating a Temple, monumental in design, exceedingly
magnificent, and peculiarly fitted to amplify the mysteries of Godliness. He took counsel with his wise men, held conference with his allies, and sought out master builders from all great nations. Thus equipped, he laid the
foundation and carried to completion the Temple, not only as a place for worship, but as a structure of dazzling architectural glory.
Workmen at the Temple
Hiram of Tyre, the principal architect and engineer, was of mixed
race. "He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a
man of Tyre." He was "skilled to work in gold and in silver, in brass, in
iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in
crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him. Cunning, a man richly endowed by Nature in
wisdom and knowledge, he was preeminently fitted for this almost supernatural task. With him were associated the trained and "cunning" men
of David, who had "trained workmen in abundance, hewers and workers of stone and
timber." 1 Kings 7: 13-14.
"Solomon numbered the strangers that were in the
land of Israel, and
they were found an hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hundred." He set three score and ten thousand of them to be bearers of
burdens, and four score thousand to be hewers in the mountain. In addition, Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel of thirty thousand men, which he
sent to Lebanon. Over this great army of workers, in order to obtain the greatest efficiency and results, he set three thousand six hundred
overseers, besides the chief of his officers, which were over all the work. 2 Chron. 2: 17-18.
Solomon having married a daughter of Egypt's king,
and thus cemented
his alliance with that powerful monarch, and having, at the same time, a
workable trade pact with the Phoenicians, drew from these nations skilled workmen to assist his already well-trained and formidable force. In
addition, nearly all the neighboring nations as well as those of more
distant realms were drawn upon for builders and artisans skilled in wood,
metal, and stonework. 1 Kings 5: 18.
Architecture of the Temple
The assemblage of the world's architectural genius at Jerusalem, and
the amassed store of materials of gold, silver, brass, iron, granite, and
marble, together with the precious stones and costly woods and fabrics
brought from foreign shores, resulted in a structure distinctive in design,
gigantic in proportions, and glorious in embellishments, the like of which
Israel and the people of that day had never before seen, and which will
never again be equaled, much less excelled. The Temple and the Palace together, as a unit, consisted of a series of terraces round about Mount Moriah, the highest point of which was crowned by the Great Porch, with the Holy and the Most Holy Place.
The second highest terrace, surrounding the Mount, was an oblong or
rectangle, 1,600 feet long and 800 feet wide, having a retaining wall rising from the base of the Mount to a height of from 80 to 240 feet as conditions
required for support, for defense, and to produce a uniform raised level about the Mount. Within this first enclosure the architects provided homes
for the porters and singers, as well as havens for the worshipers. The upper terrace was 800 feet long and 400 feet wide, surrounded by a
retaining wall of great stone. The eastern half of this second enclosed terrace or court was embellished by three rows of hewed stones or pillars,
round about, forming a colonnade and supporting an entablature of cedar beams and costly stones. The Covert for the King was located on the north side and was of solid brass. In the western half of this oblong enclosure,
and on the north side, was the Court for the women, surrounded by high walls and enclosing
a series of chambers suitably arranged. To the south was the Court of the Priests,
containing the chambers for those who were actively engaged in the Temple services. In the
center of the western half of the great court was the inner court, 400 feet by 200 feet in
size, in the form of a rectangle, surrounded by a cloistered colonnade of three rows of
pillars supporting a beautiful entablature of cedar beams and costly stones. The only
entrance to the inner court was through the Great Gate on the eastern side. In the center
of the eastern half of the inner court stood the Great Altar of Burnt-offering. In the
southeast corner was the Molten Sea, and on the north and south sides, five on each side,
were the Lavers. The western square of the inner court contained the House, or Holy and
Most Holy Places, surrounded by a series of chambers. The approach to these sacred
precincts was through the Great Porch, rising to a height of 240 feet.
These crowning terraces which supported the Temple and King Solomon's Palace or Citadel, including his house, the House of the Forest of Lebanon,
the Queen's Palace, the Porch of Pillars, and kindred structures, were surrounded for the sake of security by a wall which began at the bottom of
the Mount. Some of the sides of this wall were reared 280 feet in height before they attained the desired level, and these massive and curious bases, together with
the super-structure, formed an impressive prospect, which was the marvel of all beholders.
2 Chron. 3: 4.
Approaching the Temple terraces from the southwest was a road leading through a gate into the great citadel, within the walls of which were the
numerous buildings. The citadel was on an elevation just below that of the Temple, and visitors to the latter had to pass through the former. Here
were the King's Palace, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Porch of Pillars, the Queen's Palace, the Tower of David, the Palace of the Captain
of the Host, the Palace of the High Priest, and the Judgment Seat or Throne. Within this same enclosure were to be found the homes of the Royal
Harem, and of the immediate official family and attendants. Here also were the Royal Gardens in which were to be found a great variety of trees and
beautiful shrubbery, and enclosures for wild and domestic animals and birds.
The King's Palace, the House of the Forest of Lebanon, and the other
royal buildings were of a size and magnificence such as Israel had never seen before, and were prized because they reflected the high political rank of the nation, as the Temple reflected the glory of its religious institutions.
The road from the southwest gate ran diagonally northeastward to a central square which was dominated by the Tower of David. At the south of
the square was the Court of Guards, at the west of the Queen's Palace, and at the east the Palace of King Solomon.
The Banquet Hall in the Palace
A banquet in King Solomon's Palace presented a scene of unparalleled
magnificence. Here royal visitors, including the Queen of Sheba, were given sumptuous entertainment. Here also, according to tradition, the humble iron
worker assumed the place of honor at a banquet celebrating the completion of the Temple, -
to the consternation of the other guests but with the approval of the wise King.
The Palace of the Queen
It is stated that he built her "an house"; by that we understand that
he meant it was a palace, in style Egyptian, where she could enjoy the music from her native land, isolated, as it were from Israel. Above all the women that
surrounded Solomon, it is said that the only one that he really loved was his wife, the
Queen; and so ardent was his love that she was able to draw him from the worship of his
God and the God of his fathers.
The Porch of Pillars
North of the Queen's Palace was the famous Porch of the Pillars. This
monumental structure was erected in honor of the Princes of Milo and was considered the most beautiful entrance to the Citadel of King Solomon. A
famous picture portrays a Prince from Milo being received at this great portal. Important visitors such as Kings, Governors, Potentates and others
of national and international standing, whom the King delighted to honor, were received at this Gate. The Porch of Pillars consisted of thirty-two
pillars, beautifully entabulatured, resting upon a foundation or platform one hundred feet long and sixty feet wide.
Kings 7: 6.
The Porch of Judgment
Directly to the east, across an open space, was the Great Porch of
Judgment. The Bible portrays a momentous event. Solomon is on his throne; at his right is
his life-long friend, Zabod, and on his left, a scribe;
immediately in front of the scribe is the High Priest; on the steps an
orator, presenting the complaints of the Princes of the Tribes of Israel.
On the right, in front of the throne, a Prophet of the Desert, dressed in
leopard skin and carrying a sheppard's crook. So important was this meeting, that Solomon called out his personal bodyguard.
"He is being condemned by this Prophet as having wandered away from the faith of the true God; he is being
condemned by the Princes as having squandered money in riotous living, over-taxing the people, causing
universal complaint, and threats of secession from the House of Judah." 1 Kings 7: 10, 18, 19, 20.
The House of the Forest of Lebanon
Northward, extending almost to the wall of the Temple terrace, was the
monumental House of the Forest of Lebanon. In the foreground were the elaborate and beautiful sunken gardens. Upon the right and left of this
building, enclosed by entablatured walls, were the international bazaars and shops.
The Inner Court of the Temple
The avenue from the southwest gate of the citadel, having passed the
Palaces, the Porches, and the House of the Forest of Lebanon, proceeded again northeastward to an open space before the House of the High Priest,
where there was a gate leading upward to the Forecourt of the Temple. This outer court occupied the whole of the eastern half of the Temple terrace,
and on its northern side was the great brass Covert for the King. At the western side of the Forecourt was the gate to the Inner Court,
whence rose the facade of the Temple itself.
The Altar of Burnt-Offering
In the center of the eastern half of the inner court stood the most
indispensable part of the apparatus of worship, the Altar of Burnt-offering, made of brass, "twenty cubits in length, twenty in breadth and ten cubits in
height" (40 feet long, 40 broad, and 20 high). 2 Chron. 4: 1.
The Molten Sea
The inner court, the southeast corner, stood the most striking of the
creations of Solomon's Phoenician artist, Hiram of Tyre. This was the
Molten Sea. It was a large circular tank of bronze, "thirty cubits in
circumference, ten cubits in diameter and five cubits in height" (60 feet
around, 20 feet across, and 10 feet high), with a brim the thickness of a
handbreadth. These measurements show that Hiram understood the principles of circular form
and construction. This great sea rested on the backs of twelve bronze bulls which, in
groups of three, faced the four cardinal points. 1 Kings 7: 23-27; 2 Chron. 4: 2-5.
There were ten Lavers of brass raised on bases resting upon wheels.
They were used for washing the animals to be sacrificed in the
burnt-offering and in the general cleansing of the court after the
services. Each one was "four cubits long, four cubits wide and three cubits
high" (8 feet by 8 by 6). The Lavers, bases, and wheels were highly ornamented, and symbolically embellished with lions, oxen, cherubim and palm trees. Five
of the Lavers stood on the north side of the inner court and five on the south side.
1 Kings 7: 27-39.
The Great Porch
The Great Porch was a monumental structure "one hundred and twenty
cubits high" (240 feet), built over the entrance to the Sanctuary. This
entrance or vestibule was "twenty cubits long and ten cubits broad" (40 feet
by 20). Through this porch the priests were admitted to the Sanctuary. 2 Chron. 3: 4; 1 Kings 6: 3.
The Two Pillars of Brass
These two great bronze shafts, standing in relief, formed an important
feature in the architecture of the Temple. Each one was "thirty-five cubits
high and twelve cubits in circumference" (70 feet high and 24 feet in
circumference). They were highly ornamented by a network of brass, overhung with wreaths
of bronze pomegranates, each row containing one hundred. Upon the pillars and the top of
the chapiters were pommels (great bowls or vessels for oil) over which were hung,
festoon-wise, wreaths of pomegranates, interspersed here and there with lily work. They bore the
names of Jachin and Boaz and were placed in front of the porch leading to the Sanctuary.
2 Chron. 3:15; 1 Kings 7: 15-22; 2 Chron. 4: 12-13.
The Treasure Room
This room occupied the space above the Holy and Most Holy Places,
extending the entire length of the House. It was "sixty cubits long, twenty
cubits wide and ten cubits high" (120 feet by 40 by 20). Here were stored
the many things King David had dedicated to the Lord. Here also were the silver and gold vessels and instruments, and all the dedicated things such
as gifts from allied kings, princes, potentates, and all other important personages. It was also the royal treasury where Solomon deposited and from whence he
disbursed all things of value. 1 Kings 6: 2.
The Chambers Round About the Temple
A series of chambers surround the house on three sides, the north,
west, and south, all three stories high. The uppermost chamber was "five cubits," 10 feet broad, the middle one was "six cubits" (12 feet) and the
third or lower chamber was "seven cubits" (14 feet). Access to these
chambers was by means of a peculiar and secret winding stairway on the south side of the
house from the lower into the middle and from thence to the upper chambers. These chambers
were all finished in fine wool and overlaid with pure gold, affording quiet and secluded
spots for secret communion with God and for the preparation and proper clothing of the
priests, as well as storage room for the vessels and instruments used every day in the
ritualistic services. 1 Kings 6: 5, 6, 8, 10.
The Holy Place
The Holy Place, or Greater House, was a double cube "forty cubits long,
twenty cubits wide, and twenty cubits high" (80 feet long, 40 wide, and 40
high), "ceiled with fir tree," overlaid with fine gold and settings of palm
trees and chains, with engraved cherubim on the walls. The entire house was garnished with
precious stones for beauty. The entrance to the house was by a large double door, two
leaves to the one door and two leaves to the other, of olive wood, carved with cherubim,
palm trees, and open flowers, all overlaid with pure gold.
The furniture of the Holy Place consisted of ten candlesticks of pure
gold, five on the right side and five on the left, together with their lamps
and snuffers; also ten tables with pure gold, five on the right side and
five on the left, together with their bowls, basins, spoons, and covers. To
these must be added the golden altar of incense and its censer, the table of
shewbread, and the golden candlestick of the Tabernacle, all harmoniously arranged within the walls, ceilings, and floors of gold set with precious
stones. 1 Kings 7: 49; 2 Chron. 4: 8.
The Most Holy Place
The Holy of Holies was a perfect 40 foot cube "twenty cubits broad,
twenty cubits long, and twenty cubits high." All the walls round about were
carved with figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, all overlaid
with pure gold; even the floor was overlaid with gold, and all was garnished with precious stones for beauty. The two doors leading to this Most Holy
Place were of olive wood, cunningly carved with cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid with pure gold. Each door had two leaves which
folded. Over this entrance hung the veil of blue, purple, and crimson of the finest fabric, cunningly wrought with cherubim, palm trees, and open
flowers. This beautiful tapestry defined the entrance to the Oracle. The only piece of furniture in the Most Holy Place was the Sacred Ark
of the Covenant of the Lord, containing the testimony. This was the place within the oracles shadowed by the wings of two gigantic cherubim of olive wood, overlaid with pure gold. Each cherubim was "ten cubits high" (20
feet) with an outspread of wings of "twenty cubits) (40 feet). 1 Kings 6:23.
The Temple and Early Masonry
History is an afterthought, written only when greatness has already
been achieved. There was no Hebrew history before David, who united the tribes and conquered their enemies. Nor was there any Masonic history, as
we know it, until the operative stone masons of England had established their craft by building some of those marvelous monuments to Christian
civilization, the Gothic cathedrals. But there were Masons and there were Hebrews long before their were books about either. In the widely separated
beginnings of both Hebrew and Masonic history we find references to the building of a Temple. We have seen that King Solomon's Temple was not built in a day, or
without the accumulation and expenditure of a vast treasure in materials, craftsmanship,
and human organization. We have seen that a generation of intensive preparation (David
concentrating the energies of a kingdom on a project he was never able to behold) preceded
the actual building, and that long ages of venerating the simpler Tabernacle in the
Wilderness came before that.
The Masonic fraternity started simply, too, and the magnificent
brotherly structure of the past two hundred years was many centuries in the making. Unlike the Temple, the fraternity in its formative years had no
powerful king to protect and support it, and its growth was far less
spectacular than that of the great monument on Mount Moriah.
The Temple and Eternity
King Solomon's Temple was the perfect architectural expression of the
religious faith of a people. As such, it has never been equaled in the
history of the world, much less excelled. Its actual life was short, but is influence has
been incalculable. Built to endure for centuries, only a few years elapsed before it was
desecrated and then completely destroyed by invading armies. Yet its fame did not die. The
children of Israel, with fervid determination, rebuilt it twice, and twice more it was
destroyed. The descendents of its builders were scattered far and wide over the face of
the earth, but the traditions of their labor and their unity and their accomplishment have
remained to inspire all subsequent ages, and the magnificence of the Temple they built is
still acknowledged as the epitome of gorgeous architecture. To arrive at recorded Masonic
history, we must leave the age of King Solomon and the builders of the temples at
Jerusalem far behind, coming up to the British Isles during the Christian Middle Ages.
Medieval History and Legend
The legends of Masonry are very old, and they tell of times far older
then themselves. The earliest legendary Masonic writing which has survived in manuscript is a little book consisting of 33 leaves of parchment, written
in English, probably before 1390 A.D. "Here begin the constitutions of the
art of Geometry according to Euclid," are the opening lines, in Latin. Then
the manuscript proceeds, in old English doggerel, to tell how "that worthy
clerk, Euclid," taught the useful art of geometry to unemployed sons of the
Egyptian nobility, how the knowledge which he taught spread to France and England, and how he admonished his pupils, in fifteen articles and fifteen
points, to be good men and worthy exponents of the art of geometry. By geometry he meant Masonry. This medieval stone masons' organization,
forerunner of modern Masonry, was already of respectable age when the book of
"Euclid's constitutions" was written. It was old enough so that its living members saw nothing ridiculous in tracing their history back to
Lamech, the grandson of Adam, and through him to Pythagoras of Greece and Hiram, King of
Tyre, and King Charles Martel of France and Athelstane, King of England, even though these
celebrities were separated from each other by centuries rather than by years. It was old
enough so that not only stone masons but gentlemen and dignitaries of the Church were
interested in its legends, and impressed with its supposed continuity since Biblical
times. The next oldest Masonic manuscript, written only a few years later, tells substantially the same story in a somewhat different manner, and also
includes a reference to King Solomon's Temple. Solomon is represented as having confirmed Euclid's articles and points for the government of Masons.
These two Masonic manuscripts are the oldest of a long series known to have been written over a period of more than 300 years, between the end of
the 14th century and the beginning of the 18th. They are sometimes called the Old Charges of Masonry, and sometimes the Manuscript Constitutions of the Craft.
Because they link modern Freemasonry with an immemorial past, they are also called
"the title deeds of the Fraternity." In all of them is an account of the Temple of Solomon, or "Templum Dei," or "Temple of
Jerusalem," or "Templum Domini," and an attempt at the establishment of a
kinship between the builders of this Temple and the English stone masons for whom the
manuscripts were written. King Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre, are always in the story,
and usually a third builder who is represented as Aynon, a son of Hiram. Thus the dominant
theme of the builder's art appears in the very earliest history of the Craft.
The Bible and Early Masonry
In the oldest Masonic legends the building of King Solomon's Temple was not the only, or even the principal event commemorated. Nor is the Bible
mentioned in these early times as the central light of the Lodge. But the Masonic organizations in which these legends were cherished, like Masonic Lodges today, were religious bodies. Masons working on the abbey at Hirsau in southern
Germany, 300 years before our first manuscripts were written in England, were actually
organized as Lay Brothers under the Benedictine rule. Almost as early, there were
Cistercian Lay Brothers working on a church in Yorkshire. Their motto was "Ora et
Labore," "pray and work." Practically every one of the old manuscripts
containing Masonic legends begins with an invocation to deity: "In the name of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen." Practically every one closes with an
oath, or a reference to an oath, "So help you God, and by the contents of this
book," and often with the further admonition, "It is a great peril for a man to
forswear himself upon a book." In many manuscripts an actual ceremony is described, practically always in Latin: "One of the Eldest taking the Book
shall hold it forth that he or they which are to be made Masons may impose and lay their right hand upon it and the Charge shall be read."
The Church and the Bible
The repeated references to the "book" in these old manuscripts almost
certainly mean the Bible. And as far as recognition of the Bible by early
Masons is concerned, this is quite as much as could be expected in an age before printing had been invented, when every book in the world had to be
laboriously copied by hand, and when the Bible, moreover, was written only in Latin. Few people could read the Bible, and fewer still could own a
copy. It was a book to be venerated, but not read. The religious instruction and inspiration which the Bible supplies nowadays was then
derived from three sources: (1) ecclesiastical symbolism and ceremony; (2) mystery plays or Biblical entertainments; and (3) architecture. Masons
may have participated in the second; they were of primary importance in the third. When people could not read books, the lessons of religion had to be
taught in other ways. They were taught by sermons of the priests and by the ritual of the sacraments. They were also taught dramatically through
mystery plays, performed often by the craft guilds. The Masons may possibly have used a mystery play whose story survives in the third degree. Above
all, the lessons of religion were taught during the Middle Ages through architecture and sculpture. Every village church was a message from God,
and the cathedral was an entire Bible. The general plan of the church, the choir, the chapels, the carved figures of saints, the painted windows, - all
told the story of God's fatherhood as clearly to the people of that day as our Bible tells it to us. The Masons' part in telling this story was a most
important one, and this as well as other circumstances set the Masons apart from other crafts.
The Letter and the Word
This medieval period, which saw such a growth of Masonry, was
essentially an age of symbolism. Everything in architecture, in ceremonial, in heraldry, in religion, had its symbolical meaning. Interpretation of the
symbolism was left almost entirely to one division of the community, the Church, and to a few thinking people it must have seemed that as time went on the symbols grew in importance and the meaning faded. The letter became dominant, and
the Word was lost. Toward the end of the medieval period, at just about the time the
Masonic Old Charges were being written, the first complete English translation of the
Bible was compiled by William Wycliffe. Here was the word itself, and those who had an
opportunity to read it could go beyond the symbolism of architecture and heraldry and
ceremonial to the religious reality on which it was based. A new authority was challenging
the supremacy of the Church. That new authority was the Bible. The progress of the
challenge was called the Reformation.
The invention of printing made possible the rapid dissemination of the
new religious literature, especially the Bible. The Church ceased to be the unquestioned interpreter of religious truth; its place was gradually taken
in Protestant countries by the Bible. The importance of religious
architecture as a teacher of the people decreased rapidly, and with it
diminished the importance of the operative stone mason's craft.
Operative to Speculative
Membership in medieval craft guilds, including whatever type of
organization the Masons had at that time, was not strictly confined to the
workers of one particular craft. Other workers, and sometimes gentlemen and noblemen,
occasionally sought and gained admission. This must have been especially true in the
Mason's organizations. The writer of the earliest Masonic manuscript was almost certainly a priest, and no doubt many
churchmen held a kind of Masonic membership. Later, after church building had practically ceased, and the nature of the Masonic organization changed
with the new conditions, members from outside the craft continued to be accepted. These "accepted" members, or "speculative masons" as they
were later called, were no doubt few in number at the time of the Reformation. Their
presence, however, and the legendary background which attracted them, must have encouraged
the survival of a craft whose operative reason for existence was rapidly disappearing.
Even with economic ruin which the Reformation brought to the stone masons' industry, it
was a long time before the "accepted" masons reached the majority and took
possession of the organization.
The Bible and the Temple
The Bible is many centuries old, but as a literal force in the life of
western Christianity it began to grow only with the invention of printing
and the success of the Reformation. Its growth as the Great Light in
Masonic Lodges paralleled its growth in the churches and in the homes of pious men. Masons, like other people, took up the reading of the Bible as soon as it was
translated out of the Latin and printed in sufficient quantities to bring it within reach. Always present in the Lodge for the swearing of
candidates, it became increasingly important in the minds and lives of its readers. Masons became aware of the Biblical source of many of their
Legends, and perhaps became inclined to attribute Biblical significance to legends which originally had none. At any rate they could see that the
fundamental precepts of Masonic morality were actually to be found in the Volume of Sacred Law. They saw also that King Solomon's Temple occupied a prominent place
in divine as it did in Masonic history. The growth of popular interest in the Temple paralleled very closely
the growth of Bible reading. Perhaps Masonic interest also increased from a more or less
incidental notice of the Temple to a final preoccupation with it as a symbol of spiritual man. The Bible hardly came into its own as a
widely read book until after the publication of the King James version in 1611. The Temple began to appear prominently in religious literature at
about the same time. Hugh Broughton, who died in 1612, left some writings on the Temple, as did John Selden (1584-1654). Nicholas Fuller referred to
it in a book published at Heidelberg in 1612 and at Oxford in 1616. Christopher Cartwright (1602-1658) had a good deal to say about the Temple in his writings
on the Talmud. Samuel Lee, in 1659, published a very suggestive work: Orbis Miraculum, or the Temple of
Solomon, Portrayed by Scripture-light . . .
Models of the Temple
Late in the 17th century there were several attempts to create models
of King Solomon's Temple. Some of them attracted wide notice in England at just the time
the operative Masonic craft was being gradually transformed into what we know as speculative Freemasonry. Gottfried Hensel, rector of Hirschberg
in Germany, made a model. Rabbi Jacob Jehuda Leon was displaying one in England in 1675. A
little later, Gerhard Schott was building his in Hamburg. This one was still being shown
in London in 1725, eight years after the first Grand Lodge was organized.
Solomon's Temple Spiritualized
Even before the Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians,
spoke of man as "the Temple of God," the idea of a spiritual temple in the
human soul has had religious currency. It was natural that Solomon's great building should come to be regarded as the ideal prototype of such a
temple. It was natural, also, that this idea should be an integral part of the first essay in which the word "Freemason" ever appeared in print. In
The Pilgrimage of Perfection, by William Boude (1526), the following appeared: "We were but as apprentices bound to learn the craft of the
exercise of virtues; and now this day we shall be masters of the craft. Example. The free mason setteth his apprentice first a long time to learn to hew stones, and when he can do that perfectly, he admitteth him to be a free
mason and chooseth him as a cunning man to be master of the craft, and maketh him a setter or orderer of the same stone . . . And so to build to
Almighty God a glorious and pleasant temple in our souls, we as the workmen, and He as the
principal author and master of the work. Now in diverse degrees, according to their
exercise in grace, every person buildeth in his soul a temple to God, some more some less,
as the clearness of their consciences requireth . . ." The next section of the book drew lessons from
the Tabernacle and Temple.
Antiquarians and Freemasons
Many non-operative members of Masonic lodges, the "speculative" or
"accepted" Freemasons, must have been interested in the Temple, as well as in
the cathedrals, now old, which the operative Masons had built. In the century following the Reformation, the craft attracted philosophers,
scientists, and antiquaries, as well as gentlemen and soldiers. Elias Ashmole and Randle Holme were two distinguished examples, and there is no doubt that
several of the original members of the Royal Society were Masons.
To these men, if not to the operative Masons generally, the place of
King Solomon's Temple in Masonic legend and symbolism must have become increasingly
important. They were interested in the Temple as Solomon actually constructed it, and they
were almost certainly interested in it also as a symbol of man's struggle for perfection.
Francis Bacon, who may or may not have had direct connection with then existing Masonic
organizations, wrote a few years before 1626 a fable called The New Atlantis, an important feature of which was a marvelous society known as
"Solomon's House." This had nothing directly to do with King Solomon's
Temple, but it showed the disposition of learned men of the 17th century to associate any organized search for wisdom and truth with the symbolism of
the Temple which Solomon built in Jerusalem.
Grand Lodge Masonry
The exact position of the Temple and the Bible in operative and early
speculative Masonry is still in question. Enough has been shown to indicate that both must have been of considerable importance. It is especially
evident that King Solomon's Temple, since it was attracting so much attention in the world at large and among the class of men who became
speculative Masons, must in the 17th century have been one of the outstanding legends of the Craft.
Early in the 18th century (1717), four old Lodges in
together to form the first Grand Lodge, and Freemasonry was well on its way toward becoming the organized fraternity which we know today. Probably as
early as 1720 or 1730, George Payne, John T. Desaguliers, and their associates had developed a ritual of three degrees, with the legend of King
Solomon's Temple holding the central position. This legend, of which there were possible suggestions in the earliest manuscripts, had grown to be one
of the dominant themes in Masonry.
Concerning God and Religion
Probably we should never know just how different or how similar Grand
Lodge Masonry may be to the operative and speculative Masonry that came before it, but of one important change there is no doubt. The operative
Masonry of the Middle Ages, and also the increasingly speculative Craft of the 17th century, were Christian and Trinitarian. In contrast, the first
Charge in the Grand Lodge Book of Constitutions, 1723, was as follows: "A
Mason is obliged by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious
Libertine. But though in ancient time Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis
now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves; that is, to be
good Men and true, or men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever Denominations or Persuasions
they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the center of Union, and the means of
conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must else have remained at a perpetual
distance." Still deeply religious, Masonry had become universal.
Important as the Bible undoubtedly was in early speculative Masonry,
its dominant position became more rather than less pronounced after the organization of Grand Lodges in the 18th century. Although this first
charge Concerning God and Religion in the Grand Lodge Book of Constitutions does not
specifically mention the Bible, the implication is that its immemorial status as an
essential part of the Lodge was well understood, and was to remain unchanged. A little
later, when printed references to Masonry became more plentiful, the Bible appeared
prominently in them. As early as 1730, the Bible, Square, and Compasses were mentioned in
London as "furniture of the Lodge." According to The Boston Evening Post, June
20, 1743, reporting an incident in Vienna, a Lodge there had "a Bible on the table,
open at the first chapter of Genesis." In Helston, Cornwall, April 21, 1752, a
Brother Issac Head delivered a Charge: ". . . Let our whole deportment testify for us
that we have formed our lives upon the perfect model of God's revealed will, exhibited to
us in the Holy Bible; that this Book is the basis of all our Craft, and that it is by this
piece of Divine furniture, so essential to our society, we are taught wisdom, to contrive
in all our doings. . ." The Bible is now so closely identified with the Lodge that,
for Christian countries, it is one of the very few undisputed Landmarks of Freemasonry.
Another is belief in God. These two essentials, belief in a Supreme Being and reverence
for His Word, establish beyond question the character of the Fraternity.
How the Pictures were Obtained
It is known to every reader of the Bible and student of Solomon's days,
that an amazingly detailed description of the Temple and its associated
structures has been carried down from the mists of antiquity by the
Scriptures. Lineal measurements, materials employed, and ornamental detail are so
graphically presented that restoration of the Temple, at any time within a score of
centuries past, awaited only the coming of a man with the vision to recognize its historic
value, and the imagination to undertake the task. Notwithstanding the universal interest
in King Solomon's Temple, -- a fascination which has created innumerable legends and
romances during the intervening centuries -- the incredible fact remains that no
scientific effort to restore the Temple was made until John Wesley Kelchner, Archaeologist, Bible Student and Lecturer began eighty years ago to make
real his vision of the Scriptural description. His personal fortune went freely into the
world-wide search for archaeological data and period decorative technique, from which to
render accurately, down to the minutest detail, the ornamental scheme revealed by the
Biblical story. Other noted archaeologists collaborated with Dr. Kelchner, and at length
the work was completed. In 1923 Dr. Kelchner had assembled all that was needed to erect an
exact replica of a Temple which had vanished 3,000 years ago.
The next step was to display the entire conception, from the foundation
up, in graphic sketches, paintings, working drawings and plans. In his New York studio, he surrounded himself with expert draftsmen and capable
artists, laying before them the models, plans and designs of this, his life work. As Moses after receiving the Designs of the Tabernacle of Israel
called to his aid the "cunning" master mechanic, Bezaleel, who was "filled
with the spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship," and as Solomon "sent and fetched Hiram out of
Tyre," filled with wisdom and understanding, and a cunning skilled workman,
so did John Wesley Kelchner labor with these experts. Together they dropped out of the
Twentieth Century, back into the years 1011-1004 Before Christ. The difference was only
thirty centuries between; the creative objective the same; and the results identical.
Now the art of our period is enriched by a set of paintings and
drawings of unparalleled historical value. Nothing so marvelous of its kind has ever been achieved for the illustration of any subject. The paintings
and drawings were prepared by the ablest artists of their field in America and Europe. They translate to the layman's vision the architect's technical
plans as worked out in modern builders' specifications.
special "Thanks" to Artist and Lecturer - Rev. David Hamilton of
Mishkan Ministries for allowing us to photograph and display his beautiful Ark
and other Temple furniture in our museum. David has a website of his own where you can see other
reproductions of Temple artifacts like the Golden Candlestick, Table of Shewbread and Altar of Incence. David travels the United States giving
lectures on these sacred objects. You can visit his website by clicking
on the link below:
To get books related to King Solomon's Temple and Freemasonry..