Hand-carved Ivory

 Masonic Shoe or Slipper

IvoryMasonicShoe1.jpg (31551 bytes)     IvoryMasonicShoe2.jpg (15010 bytes)

Among the ancient Israelites, the shoe was made use of in several significant ways.  To put off the shoes, imported reverence, and was done in the presence of God, or on entering the dwelling of a superior.   To unloose one's shoe and give it to another was the way of confirming a contract.  Thus we read in the Book of Ruth, that Boaz having proposed to the nearest kinsman of Ruth to exercise his legal right by redeeming the land of Naomi, which was offered for sale, and marrying her daughter-in-law, the kinsman, being unable to do so, resigned his right of purchase to Boaz: and the narrative goes on to say (Ruth iv, 7 and 8), "Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to change all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.  Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee.  So he drew off his shoe."  The reference to the shoe in the First Degree is therefore really as a symbol of a Covenant to be entered into.   In the Third Degree the symbolism is altogether different... It is called the Rite of Discalceation.  This ceremony of taking off the shoes, is a token of respect, whenever we are about to approach holy ground.  It is referred to in Exodus (iii, 5), where the angel of the Lord, at the burning bush, exclaims to Moses:  "Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off they feet. for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."  The Rite, in fact, always was, and still is, used among the Jews and other Oriental and Islamic nations when entering their temples and other sacred edifices.  It does not seem to have been derived from the command given to Moses; but rather to have existed from time immemorial, and to have been borrowed, by the Gentiles, through tradition, from the patriarchs.  The direction of Pythagoras to his disciples was, Offer sacrifice and worship with thy shoes off.  The Mohammedans, when about to perform their devotions, always leave their slippers at the door of the mosque.   The Druids practiced the same custom whenever they celebrated their sacred rites; and the ancient Peruvians are said always to have left their shoes at the porch when they entered the magnificent temple consecrated to the worship of the sun.  Finally, Adam Clarke (Commentary on Exodus)  thinks that the custom of worshiping the Diety barefooted, was so general among all nations of antiquity, that he assigns it as one of his thirteen proofs that the whole human race was derived from one family.




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