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The gavel, when wielded by the Master of the Lodge, is sometimes called the Hiram, because as the workmen at the Temple were controlled and directed by Hiram, the chief builder, so the Master keeps order in the Lodge by proper use of the gavel.
HIRAM or HURAM.
In Hebrew, or'n or otln meaning noble-born. The more correct pronunciation according to the true value of the Hebrew letters, is Athuram or Shurum: but universal Masonic usage renders it now impossible. or, at least, inexpedient, to make the change. The name of the King of Tyre is spelled Hiram everywhere in Scripture except in First Chronicles (xiv, 1), where it occurs as Huram. In First Chronicles xiv, 1, the original Hebrew text has Hiram, but the Masorites in the margin direct it to be read Huram. In our authorized version, the name is spelled Hiram, which is also the form used in the Vulgate and in the Targums; the Septuagint has Xecpau, or Cheiram.
There is no character in the annals of Freemasonry whose life is so dependent on tradition as the celebrated architect of King Solomon's Temple. Profane history is entirely silent in respect to his career, and the sacred records supply us with only very unimportant items. To fill up the space between his life and his death, we are necessarily compelled to resort to those oral legends which have been handed down from the ancient Freemasons to their successors. Yet, looking to their character, I should be unwilling, says Brother Mackey, to vouch for the authenticity of all; most of them were probably at first symbolical in their character; the symbol in the lapse of time having been converted into a myth, and the myth, by constant repetition, having assumed the formal appearance of a truthful narrative. Such has been the case in the history of all nations. But whatever may have been their true character, to the Freemason, at least, they are interesting, and cannot be altogether void of instruction.
When King Solomon was about to build a temple to Jehovah, the difficulty of obtaining skilful workmen to superintend and to execute the architectural part of the undertaking was such, that he found it necessary to request of his friend and ally, Hiram, King of Tyre, the use of some of his most able builders; for the Tyrians and Sidonians were celebrated artists, and at that time were admitted to be the best mechanics in the world. Hiram willingly complied with his request, and despatched to his assistance an abundance of men and materials, to be employed in the construction of the Temple, and among the former, a distinguished artist, to whom was given the superintendence of all the workmen, both Jews and Tyrians, and who was in possession of all the skill and learning that were required to carry out, in the most efficient manner, all the plans and designs of the King of Israel.
Of this artist, whom Freemasons recognize sometimes as Hiram the Builder, sometimes as the Widow's Son, but more commonly as Hiram Abif, the earliest account is found in the First Book of Kings (vii, 13, 14), where the passage reads as follows:
And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass, and he was filled with wisdom and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to King Solomon and wrought all his work.
He is next mentioned in the Second Book of Chronicles (ii, 13, 14), in the following letter from Hiram of Tyre to King Solomon:
And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my fathers. The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skilful to work in gold and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone and in timber, in purple, 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, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David, thy father.
In reading these two descriptions, everyone will be at once struck with an apparent contradiction in them in relation to the parentage of their subject. There is no doubt for in this both passages agreeŚ that his father was a man of Tyre; but the discrepancy is in reference to the birthplace of his mother, who in one passage is said to have been "of the tribe of Naphtali," and in the other, "of the daughters of Dan." Commentators have, however, met with no difficulty in reconciling the contradiction, and the suggestion of Bishop Patrick is now generally adopted on this subject. He supposes that she herself was of the tribe of Dan, but that her first husband was of the tribe of Naphtali, by whom she had this son; and that when she was a widow, she married a man of Tyre, who is called Hiram's father because he brought him up and was the husband of his mother.
Hiram Abif undoubtedly derived much of his knowledge in mechanical arts from that man of Tyre who had married his mother, and we may justly conclude that he increased that knowledge by assiduous study and constant intercourse with the artisans of Tyre, who were greatly distinguished for their attainments in architecture. Tyre was one of the principal seats of the Dionysiac fraternity of artificers, a society engaged exclusively in the construction of edifices, and living under a secret organization, which was subsequently imitated by the Operative Freemasons. Of this association, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Hiram Abif was a member, and that on arriving at Jerusalem he introduced among the Jewish workmen the same exact system of discipline which he had found of so much advantage in the Dionysiac associations at home, and thus gave, under the sanction of King Solomon, a peculiar organization to the Freemasons who were engaged in building the Temple.
Upon the arrival of this celebrated artist at Jerusalem, which was in the year 1012 B.C., he was at once received into the intimate confidence of Solomon, and entrusted with the superintendence of all the workmen, both Tyrians and Jews, who were engaged in the construction of the building. He received the title of Principal Conductor of the Works, an office which, previous to his arrival, had been filled by Adoniram, and, according to Masonic tradition, formed with Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre, his ancient patron, the Supreme Council of Grand Masters, in which everything was determined in relation to the construction of the edifice and the government of the workmen.
The Book of Constitutions, as it was edited by Entick (edition of 1756, page 19), speaks of him in the following language:
This inspired Master was, without question the most cunning, skilful and curious workman that ever lived; whose abilities svere not confined to building only, but extended to all kinds of work, whether in gold, silver, brass or iron; whether in linen, tapestry or embroidery; whether considered as architect, statuary, founder or designer, separately or together, he equally excelled. From his designs and under his direction, all the rich and splendid furniture of the Temple and its several appendages were begun, carried on, and finished. Solomon appointed him, in his absence, to fill the Chair as Deputy Grand Master, and in his presence, Senior Grand Warden, Master of Work, and general overseer of all artists, as well those whom David had formerly procured from Tyre and Sidon, as those Hiram should now send.
This statement requires some correction. According to the most consistent systems and the general course of the traditions, there were three Grand Masters at the building of the Temple, of whom Hiram Abif was one, and hence in our Lodges he always receives the title of a Grand Master. We may, however, reconcile the assertion of Anderson, that he was sometimes a Deputy Grand Master, and sometimes a Senior Grand Warden, by supposing that the three Grand Masters were, among the Craft, possessed of equal authority, and held in equal reverence, while among themselves there was an acknowledged subordination of station and power. But in no way can the assertion be explained that he was at any time a Senior Grand Warden, which would be wholly irreconcilable with the symbolism of the Temple. In the mythical Master's Lodge, supposed to have been held in the Temple, and the only one ever held before its completion, at which the three Grand Masters alone were present, the office of Junior Warden is assigned to Hiram Abif.
According to Masonic tradition, which is in part supported by Scriptural authority, Hiram was charged with all the architectural decorations and interior embellishments of the building. He cast the various vessels and implements that were to be used in the religious service of the Temple, as well as the pillars that adorned the porch, selecting as the most convenient and appropriate place for the scene of his operations, the clay grounds which extend between Succoth and Zaredatha; and the old lectures state that the whole interior of the house, its posts and doors, its very floors and ceilings, which were made of the most expensive timber, and overlaid with plates of burnished gold, were, by his exquisite taste, enchased with magnificent designs and adorned with the most precious gems.
Even the abundance of these precious jewels, in the decorations of the Temple, is attributed to the foresight and prudence of Hiram Abif; since a Masonic tradition, quoted by Doctor Oliver, informs us, that about four years before the Temple was begun, he, as the agent of the Tyrian king, purchased some precious stones from an Arabian merchant. who told him, upon inquiry, that they had been found by accident on an island in the Red Sea. By the permission of King Hiram, he investigated the truth of this report, and had the good fortune to discover many precious gems, and among the rest an abundance of the topaz. They were subsequently imported by the ships of Tyre for the service of King Solomon.
In allusion to these labors of taste and skill displayed by the widow's son, our lectures say, that while the wisdom of Solomon contrived the fabric, and the strength of King Hiram's wealth and- power supported the undertaking, it was adorned by the beauty of Hiram Abif's curious and cunning workmanship.
In the character of the chief architect of the Temple, one of the peculiarities which most strongly attract attention was the systematic manner in which he conducted all the extensive operations which were placed under his charge. In the classification of the workmen. such arrangements were made, by his advice, as to avoid any discord or confusion; and although about two hundred thousand craftsmen and laborers svere employed, so complete were his arrangements, that the general harmony was never once disturbed. In the payment of wages, such means were, at his suggestion adopted, that every one's labor was readily distinguished, and his defects ascertained, every attempt at imposition detected, and the particular amount of money due to each workman accurately determined and easily paid, so that, as Brother Webb remarks, "the disorder and confusion that might otherwise have attended so immense an undertaking was completely prevented.
" It was his custom never to put off until tomorrow the work that might have been accomplished today, for he was as remarkable for his punctuality in the discharge of the most trifling duties, as he was for his skill in performing the most important. It was his constant habit to furnish the Craftsmen every morning with a copy of the plans which he had, on the previous afternoon, designed for their labor in the course of the ensuing day. As new designs were thus furnished by him from day to day, any neglect to provide the workmen with them on each successive morning would necessarily have stopped the labors of the whole body of the workmen for that day; a circumstance that in so large a number must have produced the greatest disorder and confusion. Hence the practise of punctuality was in him a duty of the highest obligation, and one which could never for a moment have been neglected without leading to immediate observation. Such is the character of this distinguished personage, whether mythical or not, that has been transmitted by the uninterrupted stream of Masonic tradition.
The Trestle-board used by him in drawing his designs is said to have been made, as the ancient tablets were, of wood, and covered with a coating of wax. On this coating he inscribed his plans with a pen or stylus of steel, which an old tradition, preserved by Brother Oliver, says was found upon him when he was raised, and ordered by King Solomon to be deposited in the center of his monument. The same tradition informs us that the first time he used this stylus for any of the purposes of the Temple was on the morning that the foundation-stone of the building was laid, when he drew the celebrated diagram known as the forty-seventh problem of Euclid, and which gained a prize that Solomon had offered on that occasion. But this is so evidently a mere myth, invented by some myth-maker of the last century, without even the excuse of a symbolic meaning, that it has been rejected or, at least, forgotten by the Craft.
Another and more interesting legend has been preserved by Brother Oliver, which may be received as a mythical symbol of the faithful performance of duty. It runs thus: It was the duty of Hiram Abif to superintend the workmen, and the reports of his officers were always examined with the most scrupulous exactness. At the opening of the day, when the sun was rising in the east, it was his constant custom before the commencement of labor to go into the Temple, and offer up his prayers to Jehovah for a blessing on the work and in like manner when the sun was setting in the west. And after the labors of the day were closed. and the workmen had left the Temple, he returned his thanks to the Creat Architect of the Universe for the harmonious protection of the day. Not content with this devout expression of his feelings, he always went into the Temple at the hour of high twelve, when the men were caned off from labor to refreshment, to inspect the work, to draw fresb designs upon the trestlebourd. if such were necessary and to perform other scientific labors, never forgetting to consecrate the duties by solemn prayer.
These religious customs were faithfully performed for the first six years in the secret recesses of his Lodge, and for the last year in the precincts of the Most Holy Place. While assiduously engaged in the discharge of these arduous duties, seven years passed rapidly away, and the magnificent Temple at Jerusalem was nearly completed. The Fraternity were about to celebrate the capstone with the greatest demonstrations of joy; but, in the language of the venerable Spook of Constitutions, "their joy was soon interrupted by the sudden death of their dear and worthy Master, Hiram Abif." On the very day appointed for celebrating the capstone of the building, says one tradition, he repaired to his usual place of retirement at the meridian hour, and did not return alive. On this subject we can say no more. This is neither the time nor the place to detail the particulars of his death. It is enough to say that the circumstance filled the Craft with the most profound grief, which was deeply shared by his friend and patron, King Solomon, who, according to the Book of Constitutions, "after some time allowed to the Craft to vent their sorrow, ordered his obsequies to be performed with great solemnity and decency, and buried him in the Lodge near the Ternple according to the ancient usages among Masons and long mourned his loss."
Thus far Brother Macey to whose observations a few suggestions from more recent writers may be added. Brother John Yarker had in the American Freemason (June, 1910, page 344), some comments upon Hiram Abif. He alludes to the belief of some students that there were two Hirams, father and son, employed in the building of King Solomon's Temple. The latter Craftsman on the death of the elder one was, according to this belief, brought from Tyre to finish the father's work. This understanding of the situation can, it is claimed, be proved in the testimony of the Bible itself.
Brother Joel Nash in 1836 printed at Colchester three lectures entitled Light from the Lebanon Lodge. In the second lecture of this series Brother Nash presents the proofs of his claim that there were two Hirams employed at the building of the Temple. Briefly his arguments are as follows: Hiram the King writes as follows in Second Chronicles (ii, 13-14), "Now I have sent you a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father's, the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre." This Abif, or father, was an all round man, a designer, skilful to work in all arts and sciences. Nash argues that something happened to him, for as related in First Kings (vii, 13), "And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was the son of a widow woman of the Tribe of Naphtali." Brother Yarker points out, following Brother Nash, that the work done by this man was that of a brass-smith, and that he could not be born both of a woman of Dan and of Naphtali. Moreover, this Last was the son of a widow, not the former.
A little further on in his lecture Brother Nash says that Succoth means booths or lodges, and that Zaradatha is the place of sorrow or trouble, but we may here venture to suggest that the reader does not too hastily assume too much upon the usual meaning applied to the word lodges. So far as Succoth goes this means any easily put together shelter, and those who give the word a more extended Masonic significanee than this are really l)laeine a greater burden upon the word than it is intended to carry.
H. W. Brewer, a writer on architecture, agrees with Brother Nash, uses the same arguments, and is of the opinion that much of our confusion has arisen over the introduction of the word was in the expression from Second Chronicles (ii, 14), "His father was a man of Tyre. " A commentary by Rabbi Melbim, taking the same view was printed in a German Masonic magazine Die Bauhutte (volume xxii, numbers 3940), and there is a pamphlet entitled Masonic Lectures by Brother Morris Rosenbaum, published at London, 1904, in which the whole subject is carefully examined at length. He points out that the worker in brass of the Book of Kings is termed Ch-i-ram, but in the original Hebrew of Chronicles Ch-u-ram made the pots, etc., but Chi-ram finished the work. Also in Second Chronicles (iv, 16) we read: "The pots also, and the shovels, and the flesh-hooks, and all their instruments did Huram his father make to King Solomon for the house of the Lord."
To those who accept the Masonic tradition, and the verbal accuracy of the Bible, it is impossible to refute this criticism. On the other hand much might be said against it by the skeptic. The two Kings and Huram the Father, Abif, must have been Freemasons of the Cabiric cult; and Ezra, the Jews say, re-edited the Bible on his return from Babylon. Now the King of Tyre was a builder seven years before Solomon. He erected the temple of Melkarth, with the two great pillars which Herodotus saw, and he walled Tyre around with wrought stone. His chief man, according to Josephus, who quotes Dius and Menander, was the father of Abdemon, who was an intimate of Solomon. The inference that the two Abdemons, father and son, for there appears to have been two, were the Tyrian names of these Jewish Hirams, and that the Bible simply refers, in mysterious tones, to the traditions prevalent in Babylon. The echo of the name, or names, Abdemon, may perhaps be found in the Amon, Adon, Anon, ete., of the Charges of 1535- 60.
Brother J. S. M. Ward in his book Who was Hiram Abif, 1926 (page 5), holds that Hiram represented a popular Syrian god against whom the champions of Jehovah strove ceaselessly. He also quotes appreciatively from Brother Sidney Smith, "The Relation of Marduk, Ashur and Osiris," Journal of Egyptian Archeology (volume nii, April, 19░░), substantially as follows:
Certain texts from Nineveh and Ashur describe cult ceremonies performed at the New Year Festival. The part of Marduk was played by the King, that of Nabu was enacted by the High Priest, and the rest of the worshippers also took part in a dramatic ritual of death and resurrection. The ceremonies covered twelve days just as did those connected with the Lord of Misrule at Yule-tide in England, and the number no doubt refers to the Signs of the Zodiac and the months of the year.
The opening days were taken up by a drama of the Creation, and then the god Zu stole from Marduk "the Table of Destiny" whose possession was essential to the god who would rule the universe. It was a kind of Palladium, the image of Pallas at Troy on which the safety of the city was supposed to depend, and its form suggests a "Word of Power," and its loss, the "Lost Word." This loss led to the downfall of Marduk, who was buried in the "mountain," which represents the " Underworld": A message was sent out, asking for someone to bring Marduk out. Nabu came from Borsippa to save his father.
A goddess (almost certainly Beltis, the spouse of Marduk) appealed to Sin and Shamash to bring Bel to life; then went to the gate of the grave seeking him, where he was guarded by two watchmen in a prison, without sun or light: the goddess descended into the grave to save him. While Marduk was thus imprisoned, apparently with the actual evil doer, confusion fell upon Babylon. Further details of the ritual are not easy to work into a story, but it is clear that Nabu and Beltis were both active in their endeavours to aid Marduk. Finally, Anshar sent Enurta out to capture Zu and he captured him, and then the gods bored through the door of the prison and brought Marduk out. It should be noted that the Colophon of the tablet shows that it avas intended only for the eyes of those initiated into these religious mysteries.
Brother Ward notes on page 28 that Nabu is the Freemason god and had as his emblem the square, which he further explains on page 231 consisted of a right-angled triangle with the proportions 3, 4 and 5. this account brings up some curious comparisons of the Syrian legends with those of the Egyptian Osiris. Brother Ward gives high praise to Sir J. G. Frazer whose studies, as in Adonis, Altis, and Osiris merit careful examination, and sums up his researches with the claim that the Hiramic Legend is based on a tragedy involving a willing sacrifice, the pre-arranged consecration of a Temple by voluntary loss of life. Of ancient comparisons with certain ceremonies there are not a few, striking and suggestive (see Brother Ernest E. Thiemeyer's Article, "Hiramic Legend and the Medieval Stage," Builder, volume xii).
The reader may glance to advantage at the third book of Vergil's Aeneid. He can also look over the four Gospels, the trial and death, the burial, the search for the body of the Savior and its raising for more fitting interment. If he reflects that in the early days of the Christian Church such instructions were often conveyed by dramatic means, he will be brought nearer to an understanding of the fundamental considerations and he may go further as his opportunities shall permit into these alluring avenues leading to the relative estimate of Jewish, Grecian, Roman Mexican, and other legendary lore of the ancients discussed so interestingly by Brother Ward.
HIRAM INTERNATIONAL CLUBS.
At a convention of Brethren at Phoenix, Arizona, in August, 1923, the name Hiram was chosen to applv to a civie organization exclusively of Freemasons aiming to follow the example of one who was a master builder and a creator of the beautiful. Branches developed from the parent Body, No. 1, at Phoenix and the principles of the members of the organization are: "As a Hiram, I know it to be my duty to live a clean, moral life; cultivate my neighbor and cherish my fellow Hirams, socially and fraternally; be tolerant of the opinions of others and charitable in my views toward those who disagree with me; uphold in all its a sacred purity, the religion of the one, true Jehovah, and attend at some church regularly; conduct all my business dealings on the basis of the Square Deal; give expression only to clean, wholesome thoughts, and encourage others so to do; strengthen the hands of the officers of my Lodge, and attend as regularly as I can; patriotically and vigorously uphold and Support the laws of my country; actively support and maintain the free public school; help the underprivileged child to a better opportunity; fight unceasingly against the narcotic evil until it shall be utterly suppressed; ever serve as a true apostle of progress in the upbuilding of my community; and strive to leave a life record of usefulness and real achievements Practise in my everyday life the principles and tenets of Freemasonry."
In the Degree of Patriarch Noachites, the legend is, that the Freemasons of that Degree are descended from Noah through Peleg. Distinguishing themselves, therefore, as Noachites, they call the Freemasons of the other Degrees Hiramites, as being descended from Hiram Abif. The word is not elsewhere used.
HIRAM, KING OF TYRE.
He was the son of Abibal, and the contemporary of both David and Solomon. In the beginning of the former's reign, he sent messengers to him, and Hiram supplied the Israelitish king with "cedar-trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David a house" (see Second Samuel v, 11). Nearly forty years afterward when Solomon ascended the throne and began to prepare for building the Temple, he sent to the old friend of his father for the same kind of assistance. 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 out his great design. Historians celebrate the friendly intercourse of these monarchs, and Josephus says that the correspondence between them in respect to the building of the Temple was, in his days, preserved in the archives of the kingdom of Tyre.
The answer of Hiram to the application of Solomon is given in the First Book of Kings (v, 8, 9), in the following language: "I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar and concerning timber of fir. My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea; and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them; and thou shalt accomplish my desire in giving food for my household." In return for this kindness, Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 measures, or corim, of wheat and the same quantity of oil, which was nearly 200,000 bushels of one and 1,500,000 gallons of the other; an almost 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 Hiram viewed these places, he was so dissatisfied with their appearance that he called them the Land of Cabul which signifies barren, desolate saying reproachfully to Solomon, "Are these, my brother, the towns which you have given me?" On this incident the Scottish Rite Freemasons have founded their Sixth Degree, or Intimate Secretary.
Hiram appears, like Solomon, to have been disposed to mysticism, for Dius and Menander, two Greek historians, tell us that the two kings proposed enigmas to each other for solution. Dius says that Solomon first sent some to Hiram; and that the latter king, being unable to solve them, paid a large sum of money as a forfeit, but that afterward he explained them with the assistance of one Abdemon; and that he in turn proposed some to Solomon, who, not being able to solve them, paid a much greater sum to Hiram than he had himself received on the like occasion.
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. Anderson says in the Constitutiorls of 1738 (page 15), "The tradition is that King Hiram had been Grand Master of all Freemasons; but when the Temple was finished, Hiram came to survey it before its consecration, and to commune with Solomon about wisdom and art; and finding that the Great Architect of the Universe had inspired Solomon above all mortal men, Hiram very readily yielded the pre-eminence to Solomon Jedediah, the beloved of God." He is called in the Masonic instructions one of our Ancient Grand Masters, and when the mythical Master's Lodge was held in the Temple is supposed to have acted as the Senior Warden. It is said, too, that in the symbolic supports of Freemasonry he represented the pillar of strength, because "by his power and wealth he assisted the great undertaking" of constructing the Temple. He is reported, also, to have visited Jerusalem several times (a fact on which profane history is silent), for the purpose of consultation with Solomon and his great architect on the symbolism of the Word, and to have been present at the time of the death of the latter. Many other legends are related of him in connection with the Master's Degree and those connected with it, but he is lost sight of after the completion of the first Temple, and is seldom heard of in the high Degrees.
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 to enrich their people and beautify the temple of their king. Tradition says that Hiram gave his daughter in marriage to King Solomon`
Near Tyre there is a tomb which, to this day, has been pointed out as that of Hiram, King of Tyre, as in the illustration.
HIRAM, SON OF.
See Son of Niram.
HIRAM THE BUILDER.
See Hiram Abif.
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