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THE LEGENDS OF FREEMASONRY
From the Grand Lodge of Missouri
Enoch then cause a triangular plate of gold to be made, each side of which was a cubit long. He enriched it with the most precious jewels and stones, and encrusted the plate upon a stone of agate of the same form. On the plate he engraved, in ineffable characters, the true name of Deity, and, placing it on a cubical pedestal of white marble, he deposited the whole within the deepest arch.
When this subterranean building was completed, he made a door of stone, and attaching to it a ring of iron, by which it might be occasionally raised, he placed it over the opening of the uppermost arch. He then so covered it over that the aperture could not be discovered. Enoch himself was permitted to enter it but once a year; and on the Enoch, Methuselah and Lamech, and the destruction of the world by deluge, all knowledge of this Temple, and of the sacred treasure which it contained, was lost until, in much later times, it was accidentally discovered by another worth of Freemasonry, who, like Enoch, was engaged in the erection of a Temple of the same spot on Mt. Moriah.
The Legend goes on to inform us that after Enoch had completed the subterranean Temple, fearing that the principles of those arts and sciences which he had cultivated would be lost in that general destruction of which he had received a prophetic vision. Therefore, he erected two pillars -- the one of marble, to withstand the influence of fire, and the other of brass, to resist the action of water. On the pillar of brass he engraved the history of the creation, the principles of the arts and sciences, and the doctrines of Speculative Freemasonry as they were practiced in his times. On the one of marble he inscribed the characters in hieroglyphics.
Enoch, having completed these labors, called his descendants around him on Mount Moriah, and having warned them in the most solemn manner of the consequences of their wickedness, exhorted them to forsake their idolatries and return once more to the worship of the true Supreme Being. Masonic tradition informs us that he then delivered up the government of the Craft to his grandson, Lamech, and disappeared from earth.
Our intent is to tell you trulie how and in what manner these stones were found, that thise sciences were written in. The great Hermarynes that was Cubys sonn, the which Cub was Sen's sonn, that was Noyes sonn. This Hermarynes, afterwards was called Harmes the father of wise men; he found one of the two pillars of stone, and found the science written there, and he taught to other men. And at the making of of the Tower of Babylon there was Masonrye find made much of. And the Kinge of Babylon that height Nemrothe, the Kinge of Babilon, sent thither threescore Masons at the rogation of the Kinge of Nyneve his cosen. And when he sent them forth, he gave them a charge on this manner: That they should be true each of them to other, and that they should love truly together, and that they should serve their lord truly for their pay; soe that the master may have sorshipp, and all that long to him. And other moe charges he gave them. And this was the first tyme that ever Masons had any charge of his science.
Moreover, when Abraham and Sara his wife went into Egipt, there he taught the Seaven Scences to the Egiptians; and he had a worthy Scoller that height Ewclyde, and he learned right well, and was a master of all the vij Sciences liberall. And in his dayes it befell that the lord and the estates of the realme had soe many sonns that they had gotten some by their wifes and some by othe laryes of the realme; for that land is a hott land and a plentious of generacion. And they had not competent livelode to find with their children; wherefore they made much care. And then the King of the land made a great Counsell and a parliament, to witt, how they might find their children honestly as gentlemen. And they could find noe manner of good wan. And they did crye through all the realme, it their were any man that could informe them, that he should come to them, and he should be soe rewarded for his travail, that he should hold him pleased.
After that this cry was made, then come this worthy clarke Ewclyde, and said to the king and to all his great lords: "If yee will, take me your children to governe, and to teache them one of the Seaven Scyences, wherewith they may live honestly as gentlemen should, under a condicion that yee will grant me and them a commission that I may have power to rule them after the manner that the scyence ought to be ruled," And that the Kinge and all his Counsell granted to him anone, and sealed their commission. And then this worthy Doctor tooke to him these lords' sonns, and taught them the scyence of Ceometrie in practice, for to work in stones all manner of worthy worke that belongeth to buildinge churches, temples, castells, towres, and mannors, and all other manner of buildings; and he gave them a charge on this manner:
The first was they should be true to the Kinge, and to the lord that they owe. And that they should love well together, and be true each one to the other. And that they chould call each other his fellowe, or else brother and not by servant, nor his nave, nor none other foule name. And that they should deserve their paie of the lord, or of the master that they serve. And that they should ordaine the wisest of them to be master of the worke; and neither for love nor great lynneage, ne riches ne for noe favour to lett another that hath little conning for to be master of the lord's worke, wherethrough the lord should be evill served and they ashamed. And also that they should call their governors of the worke, Master, in the time that they worke with him. And other many more charges that longe to tell. And to all these charges he made them to sweare a great oath that men used in that time; and ordayned them for reasonable wages, that they might live honestly by. And also that they should come and semble together every yeare once, how they might worke best to serve the lord for his profitt, and to the own worshipp; and to correct within themselves him that had trespassed against the science. And thus was the scyence grounded there; and that worthy Mr. Ewclide gave it the name of Geometrie. And now it is called through all this land Masonrye.
Sythen longe after, when the Children of Israell were coming into the Land of Beheast, that is now called amongst us the Country of Jhrim, King David began the Temple that they called Templum D'ni and it is named with us the Temple of Jerusalem. And the same King David loved Masons well and cherished them much, and gave them good paie. And he gave the charges and the manners as he had learned of Egipt given by Ewclyde, and other charges moe that ye shall heare aftewards. And after the decease of Kinge David, Salamon, that was David's sonn, performed out the Temple that his father begonne; and sent after Masons into divers countries and of divers lands; and gathered them together, so that he had four-score thousand workers of stone, and were all named Masons. And he chose out of them three thousand that were ordayned to be maisters and governors of his worke. And furthermore, there was a Kinge of another region that men called Iram, and he loved well Kinge Solomon, and he gave him tymber to his worke. And he had a son, that height Aynon, and he was a Master of Geometrie, and was chiefe Maister of all Masons, and was Master of all his gravings and cravinge, and of all other manner of Masonrye that longed to the Temple; and this is witnessed by the Bible in libro Regum the third chapter. And this Solomon confirmed both charges and the manners that his father had given to Masons. And thus was that worthy science of Masonrye confirmed in the country of Jerusalem, and in many other kingdomes.
Curious craftsmen walked about full wide into divers countryes, some because of learninge more craft and cunninge, and some to teach them that had but little conynge. And soe it befell that there was one curious Mason that height Maymus Crecus, that had been at the making of Solomon's Temple, and he came into France, that height Charles martell; and he was a man that loved well such a science, and drew to this Maymus Grecus that is above said, and learned of him the science, and tooke upon him the charges and manners; and afterwards, by the ggrace of God, he was elect to be the Kinge of France. And when he was in his estate he tooke Masons, and did helpe to make men Masons that were none; and set them to worke, and gave them both the charge and the manners and good paie as he had learned of other Masons; and confirmed them a Chartor from yeare to yeare, to hold their semble wher they would; and cherished them right much; And thus came the science into France.
England in all this season stood voyd as for any charge of masonrye unto Saint Albones tyme. And in his days the King of England that was a Pagan, he did wall the towne about that is called Sainct Albones. And Sainct Albones was a worth Knight, and steward with the Kinge of his Household, and had governance of the realme, and also of the makinge of the town walls; and loved well Masons and cherished them much. And he make their paie right good, standinge as the realm did, for he gave them ijs. vjd. a weeke, and iijd. to their nonesynches. And before that time, through all this land, a Mason took but a penny a day and his meate, till Sainct Albone amended it, and gave them a chartour of the Kinge and his Counsell for to hold a general councell, and gave it the mane of Assemble; and thereat he was himselfe, and helpe to make Masons, and gave them charges as yee shall heare afterward.
Right soone after the decease of Sainct Albone, there came divers warrs into the realme of England of divers Nations, soe that the good rule of Masonrye was destroyed unto the time of Kinge Athelstone days that was a worthy Kinge of England and brought this land into good rest and peace; and builded many great works of Abbyes and Towres, and other many divers buildings; and loved well Masons. And he had a son that height Edwinne, and he loved Masons much more than his father did. Ane he was a great practicer in Geometry; and he drew him much to talke and to mcommune with Maasons, and to learne of them science; and afterward, for love that he had to Masons, and to the science, he was made a Mason, and he gatt of the Kinge his father a Chartour and Commission to hold every yeare once an Assemble, wher that ever they would within the realme of England; and to correct within themselves defaults and trespasses that were done within the science. And he held himself an Assemble at Yorke, and there he made Masons, and gave them charges, and taught them the manners, and commanded that rule to be kept ever after, and tooke ordinance that it should be renewed from Kinge to Kinge.
And when the assemble was gathered he made a cry that all old Masons and young that had any writeinge or understanding of the charges and the manners that were made before in this land or in any other, that they should show them forth. And when it was proved, there were founded some in Frencne, and some in Greek, and some in English, and some in other languages; and all of them was founden all one. And he did make a booke thereof, and how the science was founded. And he himselfe bad and commanded that it should be readd or tould, when that any Mason should be made, for to give him his Charge. And for that day unto this tyme manners of Masons have beene kept in that forme as well as men might governe it. And furthermore divers Assembles have beene put and ordayned certaine charges by the best advice of Masters and fellowes.
The above, in its original Middle English, has been taken directly from the Dowland Manuscript from the early sixteenth century.
The King of Tyre gave a favorable response, and sent workmen and materials to Jerusalem, by the aid of which Solomon was enabled to carry our his great design. Historians have documented the friendly discourse between these monarchs, and state that the correspondence between them in respect to the building of the Temple was reserved in the Archives of the kingdom of Tyre.
In return for this kindness, Solomon gave King Hiram 200,000 bushels of wheat and 1,500,000 gallons of oil -- an incredible amount, but not disproportioned to the magnificent expenditure of the Temple in other respects. After Solomon had finished his work, he presented the King of Tyre with twenty towns in Galilee. But when King Hiram viewed these places, he was so displeased with their appearance that he called them "the land of Cabul" -- which signifies barren or desolate.
The connection of the King of Tyre with King Solomon in the construction of the Temple has given him a great importance in the legendary history of Freemasonry. The tradition is that King Hiram had been Grand Master of all Masons, but when the Temple was finished, King Hiram came to survey it before its consecration, and to commune with Solomon about wisdom and art. On finding that the Great Architect Of The Universe had inspired Solomon above all mortal men, King Hiram very readily yielded the pre-eminence to Solomon Jedediah, the "beloved of God."
King Hiram reigned over the Tyrians for thirty-four years. He permitted Solomon's ships to participate in the profitable trade of the Mediterranean, and Jewish sailors, under the instructions of Tyrian mariners, were taught how to bring from India the gold necessary to enrich their people and to beautify the Temple of their king. Tradition says that King Hiram gave his daughter in marriage to King Solomon.
The most important accomplishment of Solomon's reign was the erection of a Temple to honor the Lord God Jehovah. Prior to his death, King David had numbered the workmen whom he found in his kingdom, had appointed the overseers of the work, the hewers of stones, and the bearers of burdens; had prepared a great quantity of brass, iron, and cedar; and had amassed an immense treasure with which to support the enterprise. But on consulting with the prophet Nathan, David learned from the holy man, that although his pious intent was pleasing to God, David would not be permitted to build the Temple as he had "shed blood abundantly." The task was reserved for the more peaceful Solomon, his son and successor.
Hence, when David was about to die, he charged Solomon to build the Temple of God as soon as he should have received the kingdom. He also gave him directions in relation to the construction of the edifice, and put into his possession the money, amounting to ten thousand talents of gold and ten times that amount of silver, which he had collected and laid aside for defraying the expense. In today's dollars, it was approximately $4 billion dollars.
Solomon had scarcely ascended the throne of Israel, when he prepared to carry into execution the pious designs of King David. For this purpose, however, he found it necessary to seek the assistance of Hiram, King of Tyre, the ancient friend and ally of his father. The Tyrians and Sidonians, the subjects of Hiram, had long been distinguished for their great architectural skill; and, in fact, many of them, as members of a mystic operative society, the fraternity of Dionysian artificers, had long monopolized the profession of building in Asia Minor. The Jews, on the other hand, were rather more eminent for their military valor than for their knowledge of the arts of peace, and hence King Solomon at once realized the necessity of invoking the aid of these foreign architects if he expected to complete the edifice he was about to erect, either in a reasonable time or with the splendor and magnificence appropriate to the sacred object for which it was intended. He, therefore, contacted Hiram, King of Type, to implore his aid and assistance.
King Hiram, mindful of the former amity and alliance that had existed between himself and Davide, was disposed to extend the friendship he had felt for the father to the son, and provided the workmen, guidance, and assistance requested by Solomon.
King Hiram lost no time in fulfilling the promise of assistance which he had thus given. Accordingly, we are informed that Solomon received 33,600 workmen from Tyre, besides a sufficient quantity of timber and stone to construct his Temple. Hiram also sent him a far more important gift than either men or materials in the person of an able architect, "a curious and cunning workman," whose skill and experience were to be exercised in superintending the labors of the craft, and in adorning and beautifying the Temple. His name was Hiram Abif.
King Solomon commenced the erection of the Temple on Monday, the second day of the Hebrew month Zif, which is the 22nd of April on our calendar, and 1012 years before the Christian era. King Solomon, King Hiram and Hiram Abif constitued the three Grand Masters of the Craft.
To Hiram Abif was entrusted the general superintendence of the building, while subordinate stations were assigned to other eminent artists, whose names and offices have been handed down in the traditions of the Order.
The Temple was at length finished in the month of Bul, our November, in the year of the world 3,000, being seven and one-half years from its commencement.
As soon as the magnificent edifice was completed, and fit for the sacred purposes for which it was intended, King Solomon directed that the Ark of the Covenant be brought up out of Zion where it had been depositied by King David. It would be placed in the special part of the Temple prepared just for that purpose.
Here the immediate and personal connection of King Solomon to the Craft begins to draw to a conclusion. That King Solomon was the wisest monarch that ruled Israel is the unanimous opinion of posterity.
So much was he beyond the age in which he flourished, in the attainments of science, that both ancient Jewish and Arabic writers have attributed to him a thorough knowledge of the secrets of magic. This, of course, is pure fallacy. He did, however, give us in his Proverbs an insight to a deeply religious philosopher, while the long peace and prosperous condidion of his empire for the greater part of his reign, the increase of his kingdom in both wealth and refinement, and the encouragement he gave to the architecture, the mechanical arts, and commerce, testify to his profound abilities as a sovereign and a statesman.
After a reign of forty years, he died, and with him expired forever the glory and the power of the Hebrew empire.
Thys craft com ynto Englond as y yow say,
The above was taken from the Halliwell Manuscript, dated 1390, from the City of York. It is believed to have been copied from a manuscript several hundred years older. For those that do not read English from the Early Middle Ages, a modern translation is shown below.
This craft came unto England, as I tell you, in the time of good King Athelstan's reign; he made then both hall, and also bower, and lofty temples of great honor, to take his recreation in both day and night, and to worship his God with all his might.
This good lord loved this craft full well, and purposed to strengthen it in every part on account of various defects that he discovered in the craft.
He sent about into all the land, after all the masons of the craft, to come straight to him, to amend all these defects by good counsel, if it might so happen.
He then permitted an assembly to be made of divers lords in their rank, dukes, earls, and barons, also knights, squires, and many more, and the great burgesses of that city, they were all there in their degree; these were there, each one in every way to make laws for the estate of these masons.
There they sought by their wisdom how they might govern it; there they found our fifteen articles, and there they made fifteen points.
The following is taken from the Lansdowne Manuscript, dated 1590, and includes information on King Athelstan's son, Prince Edwin, a strong supporter of early Freemasonry.
Soone after the Decease of St. Albones, there came Diverse Warrs into England out of Diverse Nations, so that the food rule of Masons was dishired (disturbed) and put down until the tyme of King Adilston. In his type there was a worthy King in England, that brought this Land into good rest, and he builded many great workes and buildings, therefore, he loved well Masons, for he had a sone called Edwin, the which Loved Masons much more than his Father did, and he was soe practized in Geometry, the he delighed much to come and talke with Masons and to learne of the the Craft.
And after, for the love he had to Masons and to the Craft, he was made a Mason at Windsor, and he gott of the King, his Father, a Charter and commission once every yeare to have Assembley, within the Realme where they would within England, and to correct within themselves Faults & Tresspasses that were done as touching the Craft, and he held them an Assembley, and there he made Maasons and gave them Charges, and taught them the Manners and Comands the same to be kept ever afterwards.
And tooke them the Charter and comission to keep their Assembley, and Ordained that it should be renewed from King to King, and whenn the Assembley were gathered togeather he made a Cry, that all old Masons or young, that had any Writeings or Vnderstanding of the Charges and manners that weere made befor their Lands, wheresoever they weere made Masons, that they should shew them forth, there were found some in French, some in Greek, some in Hebrew, and some in English, and some in other Languages, and when they were read and over seen well the intent of them was vnderstood to be all one, and then he caused a Book to be made thereof how this worth Craft of Masonrie was first founded, and he himselfe comanded, and also then caused, that is should be read at any tyme when it should happen any Mason or Masons to be made to give him or them their Charges, and from that, until this Day, Manners of Masons have been kept in this Manner and forme, as well as Men might Governe it, and Furthermore at diverse Assemblyes have been put and Ordained diverse Charges by the best advice of Masters and Fellows
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Last modified: March 22, 2014