Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!
The twentieth letter of the English alphabet, and the twenty second and last of the Hebrew. As a symbol, it is conspicuous in Freemasonry. Its numerical value as Teth, is 9, but as Thau, it is 400 (see Tau).
The brief article entitled GOD on page 409 (see also page 1035), and vehich states that belief in God is a Landmark of the Order, is one with which critics can find no fault—unless it be that it is better to employ the Masonie name for the Deity, vvhich is The Sovereign Grand Arehiteet of the Universe. The distinction made bar that name is not altogether an idle one, as a subsequent paragraph will show.
In neither this nor in any other encyclopedia or book about Freemasonry (and for Freemasons) would it be suitable for a writer to undertake to expound a doctrine of God; the Fraternity itself has never (lone so, nor has any Grand Lodge, nor does the Ritual, beceause Freemasonrv is clearly conscious of the fact that it is not a church or a handmaid of one, has no theology of its own, and espouses no set of religious doctrines—not because it is indifferent to religion, but because its work lies in another field.
If this be true (and Freemasons over the world unanimously agree that it is) how explain the fact that belief in God is a Landmark, that a Volume of the Sacred Law lies open on the Altar, that Chaplains lead the Craft in prayer, and that those who go in Search Thor That Which Was Lost know that immortality is one of the secrets in that for which they are Searching? Is it not a self-contradiction to proclaim as ith one breath that Freemasonry has no theology of its own, and then to proclaim with the next that each and every Mason believes in T. .S. .G. .A. .O. .T. .U. .? The solution of that apparent contradiction is found in a number of facts Which are implicit in the Craft, md which must therefore be searched out, and assembled, and interpreted:
1. Freemasonry does not believe. and for centuries has not believed, that religion is or ever can be a private property owned by any one religion or church or theology or creed. It belongs to men without qualification or exeeption solely in their capacity as men. and it is there for each man to use without asking another man s consent. It is religion which brings churches into existence; it is not churches which create religion. If Freemasonry has the right to use religion although it is not a church it is beceause it is composed of men and men anywhere have the right to use religion.
2. In the Middle Ages it was universally believed that work was a disgrace. The Church taught and acted on the dogma that it was a curse pronounced on men as a pumshment for the sin committed by Adam and Eve- the aristocratic classes did not believe that men belonged to a smgle humanity but that God had created it in species, so that men in one species (or " class ") were " made of a different stuff " from men in another, and that this is true forever Servile and mental laborers belonged to the bottom-most class, and were bought and sold as serfs or slaves; intelligent, skilled workingmen, among whom Masons were numbered. belonged to a class slightly above them; and this caste system was carried out in customs, social life, marriage, money, laws, etc.
God Himself was the chieftain of the highest class (French poets addressed Him as Beau sire Dieu) and any thought that He would work, or put forth effort was held to be blasphemous; He ruled by fiat.
Freemasons denied this whole Medieval dogma about work and the working man, in practice as well as in thought, and among themselves, and in their Lodges, taught that work is the highest estate of man, that to be a working man is to stand above drones and parasites. that the tools and clothing of their work were more honorable distinctions than badges and titles; they even taught— and it was for this reason that priests and monks were opposed to them—that work is one of the Divine attributes; that God himself is a worker. This is the significance of their name for Him, The Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe.
3. An Apprentice was a youth, and in some ninety per cent of instances came from what were called " the lower classes, " nevertheless he was led to the center of the Lodge Room and there was told to stand Upright before the Altar, and was taught that he meant to God what any priest, or king, or noble. or any other man meant, he " needeth not to be ashamed " of being a workman because in God's eyes it was impossible to be in a more honorable station. Thus there was rooted in Freemasonry a genuine, a universal. an absolute democracy of men, a democracy grounded in the nature of God, and when Masons sale that belief in God is the first Landmark, and "the fundamental doctrine of the Craft" this is what is meant, and that doctrine. again, is enshrined in the title of The Sovereign Grand Architect of the Universe. The democracy of the world is not one of privilege but of nature, men are in a universal brotherhood because " of the way they are made " and the fact has nothing to do with sentiments and ideals." We are members of the same body, brothers in blood and bone, whether we like it or not, and can be nothing else.
TABAOR, TOFFET, EDOM.
Three obsolete names which are sometimes given to the three Elect in the Eleventh Degree in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.
TABERNACLE, CHIEF OF THE.
TABERNACLE, HOLY KNIGHT OF THE.
TABERNACLE, PRINCE OF THE.
Many Masonic students have greatly erred in the way in which they have referred to the Sinaitic Tabernacle, as if it were represented by the Tabernacle said in the legends to have been erected by Zerubbabel at Jerusalem at the time of the building of the second Teneple. The belief that the Tabernacle of Zerubbabel was an exact representation of that erected by Moses, arose from the numerous allusions to it in the writings of Doctor Oliver, but in this country principally from the teachings of Thomas Smith Webb and Jeremy L. Cross. It is, however, true, that although the symbols of the Ark, the Golden Candlestick, the Altar of Incense, and some others were taken, not from the Tabernacle, but from the Temple, the symbolism of the veils was derived from the latter, but in a form by no means similar to the original disposition. It is therefore necessary that some notice should be taken of the real Tabernacle, that we may be enabled to know how far the Masonie is connected with the Sinaitic edifice..
The word tabernacle means a tent. It is the diminutive of the Latin word taberna, and was used by the Romans to denote a soldier's tent. It was constructed of planks and covered with skins, and its outward appearance presented the precise form of the Jewish Tabernacle.
The Jews called it sometimes mishcan, which, like the Latin taberna, meant a dwelling-place, but more commonly ohel, which meant, like tabernaculum, a tent. In shape it resembled a tent, and is supposed to have derived its form from the tents used by the Patriarchs during their nomadic life.
There are three Tabernacles mentioned in Scripture history—the Ante Sinaitic, the Sinaitic, and the Davidic
1. The Ante-Sinaitic Tabernacle was the tent used, perhaps from the beginning of the Exodus, for the transaction of business, and was situated at some distance from the camp. It was used only provisionally and was superseded by the Tabernacle proper.
2. The Sinaitic Tabernacle. This was constructed by Aholiab and Bezaleel under the immediate direction of Moses. The costliness and splendor of this edifice exceeded, says Kitto, in proportion to the means of the people who constructed it, the magnificence of any Cathedral of the present day. It was situated in the very center of the camp, with its door or entrance facing the East, and was placed toward the western part of an enclosure or outward court, which was one hundred and fifty feet long and fifty feet wide, and surrounded by canvas screens seven and a half feet high, so as to prevent any one on the outside from overlooking the Court.
The Tabernacle itself was, according to Josephus, forty-five feet long by fifteen wide; its greater length being from East to West. The sides were fifteen feet high, and there was a sloping roof. There was no aperture or place of entrance except at the eastern end, which was covered by curtains. Internally, the Tabernacle was divided into two apartments by a richly decorated curtain. The one at the western end was fifteen feet long, making, therefore, a perfect cube. This was the Holy of Holies, into which no one entered, not even the High Priest, except on extraordinary occasions. In it was placed the Ark of the Covenant, against the western wall. The Holy of Holies was separated from the Sanctuary by a curtain embroidered with figures of Cherubim, and supported by four golden pillars. The Sanctuary, or eastern apartment, was in the form of a double cube, being fifteen feet high, fifteen feet wide, and thirty feet long. In it were placed the Table of Shewbread on the northern side, the Golden Candlestick on the southern, and the Altar of Incense between them. The Tabernacle thus constructed was decorated with rich curtains. These were of four colors—white or finetwined linen, blue, purple, and red. They were so suspended as to cover the sides and top of the tabernacle, not being distributed as veils separating it into apartments, as in the Masonic Tabernacle. Josephus, in describing the symbolic significationl of the Tabernaele, says that it was an imitation of the system of the world; the Holy of Holies, into which not even the Priests were admitted, was axis it were a heaven peculiar to God; but the Sanctuary, where the people were allowed to assemble for worship, represented the sea and land on which men live. But the symbolism of the Tabernacle was far more complex than anything that Josephus has said upon the Subject would lead us to suppose.
Its connection would, however, lead us to an inquiry into the religious life of the ancient Hebrews, and into an investigation of the question how much Moses was, in the appointment of ceremonies, influenced by his previous Egyptian life; topics whose consideration would throw no light on the Masonic symbolism of the Tabernacle.
3. The Davidic Tabernacle in time took the place of that which had been constructed by Moses. The old or Sinaitic Tabernacle accompanied the Israelites in all their wanderings, and was their old Temple until David obtained possession of Jerusalem. From that time it remained at Gibeon, and we have no account of its removal thence. But when David removed the Ark to Jerusalem, he erected a Tabernacle for its reception Here the Priests performed their daily service, until Solomon erected the Temple, when the ark was deposited in the Holy of Holies, and the Davidie Tabernaele put away as a relic. At the subsequent destruction of the Temple it was most probably burned. From the time of Solomon we altogether lose sight of the Sinaitic Tabernacle, which perhaps became a victim to carelessness and the corroding influence of time.
The three Tabernacles just described are the only ones mentioned in Scripture or in Josephus. Masonic tradition, however, enumerates a fourth—the Tabernacle erected by Zerubbabel on his arrival at Jerusalem with his countrymen, who had been restored from captivity by Cyrus for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple. Ezra tells us that on their arrival they built the Altar of Burnt-Offerings and offered sacrifice. This would not, however, necessitate the building of a house, because the Altar of Sacrifices had always been erected in the open court, both of the old Tabernacle and Temple. Yet as the Priests and Levites were there, and it is said that the religious ordinances of Moses were observed, it is not unlikely that some sort of temporary shelter was erected for the performance of divine worship. But of the form and character of such a building we have no account.
Nevertheless, a Masonic legend has, for symbolical purposes, supplied that deficiency. This legend is, hoxvever, peculiar to the American modification of the Royal Areh Degree. In the English system a Royal Arch Chapter represents the "ancient Sanhedrim," where Zerubbabel, Haggai, and Joshua administer the law. In the American system a Chapter is said to represent "the Tabernacle erected by our ancient Brethren near the ruins of King Solomon's Temple."
Of the erection of this tabernacle, we have said that there is no historical evidence. It is simply a myth, but a myth constructed, of course, for a symbolical purpose. In its legendary description, it bears no resemblance whatsoever, except in the colors of its curtains or veils, to the Sinaitic Tabernaele.
In the latter the Holy of Holies was in the western extremity, in the former it was in the eastern; in that was eontained the Ark of the Covenant with the overshadowing Cherubim and the Shekinah; in this there are no such articles; in that the most holy was inaccessible to all purposes, even to the priests; in this it is the seat of the three presiding officers, and is readily accessible by proper means. In that the curtains were attached to the sides of the tent; in this they are suspended across, dividing it into four apartments.
The Masonic Tabernacle used in the American Royal Arch Degree is not, therefore, a representation of the ancient Tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness, but must be supposed to be simply a temporary construction for purposes of shelter, of consultation, and of worship. It was, in the strictest sense of the word, a Tabernacle, a tent. As a myth, with no historical foundation, it would be valueless, were it not that it is used, and was undoubtedly fabricated, for the purpose of developing a symbolism.
And this symbolism is found in its veils. There is no harm in calling it a Tabernacle any more than there is in calling it a Sanhedrim, provided we do not fall into the error of supposing that either was actually its character. As a myth, and only as a myth, must it be viewed, and there its symbolic meaning presents, as in all other Masonic myths, a fund of useful instruction (for an interpretation of that symbolism, see Veils, Symbolism of the).
In some Chapters a part of the furniture is called the Tahernacle; in other words, a piece of frame work is erected inside of the room, and is called the Tabernacle. This is incorrect. According to the ritual the whole Chapter room represents the Tabernacle, and the veils should be suspended from wall to wall. Indeed, we have reasons for believing that this interior Tabernacle is an innovation of little more than comparatively a few years standing. The oldest Chapter rooms that Doctor Mackey had seen were constructed on the correct principle.
No one who studies the construction of the Tabernacle as described in the Bible but will be somewhat perplexed by the several difficulties pertaining to the structure as well as its equipment.
There will be suggested the unexpected wealth of material and the artistic skill necessary for its construction and A. R. S. Kennedy in writing upon this subject for Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible says (page 888), "Modern students of the Pentateuch find the picture of the desert Sanctuary and its worship irreconcilable with the historical development of religion and the cultus in Israel. In Exodus 25 and following chapters we are dealing not with historical fact, but with the product of religious idealism; and surely these devout idealists of the Exile should command our admiration as they deserve our gratitude. If the Tabernacle is an ideal, it is truly an ideal worthy of Him for whose worship it seeks to provide. Nor must it be forgotten, that in reproducing in portable form, as they unquestionably do, the several parts and appointments of the Temple of Solomon, including even its brazen altar, the author or authors of the Tabernacle believed, in all good faith, that they were reproducing the essential features of the Mosaic sanctuary, of which the Temple was supposed to be the replica and the legitimate successor. "
TABERNACLE, CHIEF OF THE.
See Chief of the Tabernacle
TABERNACLE, HOLY KNIGHT OF THE.
Called Aaronic Priest, a grade said to have come into England (York) from Ireland about 1780.
TABERNACLE, PRINCE OF THE.
See Prince of the Tabernacle.
French Masonic name for roster of members and also applied to the trestle-board or tracing-board .
After the labors of the Lodge have been completed, Freemasons frequently meet at tables to enjoy a repast in common. In England and America, this repast is generally called a banquet, and the Lodge is said to be, during its continuance, at refreshrnent.
The Master, of course, presides, assisted by the Wardens, and it is considered most proper that no profanes should be present. But with these exceptions, there are no rules specially laid down for the government of Masonic banquets. It will be seen, by an inspection of the article Refreshment in this work, that during a the eighteenth century, and even at the commencement of the nineteenth, refreshments in a English Lodges were taken during the sessions of the Lodge and in the Lodge room, and then, of course, a rigid rules were in existence for the government of the Fraternity, and for the regulation of the forms in which the refreshments should be partaken. But this system has long grown obsolete, and the Masonic banquets of the present day differ very little from those of other societies, except, perhaps, in a more Strict observance of the rules of order, and in the exclusion of all non-Masonic visitors.
But French Freemasons have prescribed a very formal system of rules for what they call a Loge de Table, or Table Lodge. The room in which the banquet takes place is as much protected by its isolation from observation as the Lodge-room itself. Table Lodges are always held in the Apprentiee's Degree, and none but Freemasons are permitted to be present. Even the attendants are taken from the class known as Serving Brethren, that is to say, waiters who have received the First Degree for the special purpose of entitling them to be present on such occasions.
The table is in the form of a horseshoe or elongated semicirele. The Master sits at the head, the Senior Warden at the northwest extremity, and the Junior Warden at the southwest The Deacons or equivalent officers sit between the two Wardens. The Brethren are placed around the exterior margin of the table, facing each other; and the void spaee between the sides is occupied by the serving Brethren or attendants. It is probable that the form of the table was really adopted at first from motives of eonvenienee. But M. Hermitte (Bulletin, Grand Orient, 1869, page 83) assigns for it a symbolism. He says that as the entire circle represents the vear, or the complete revolution of the earth around the sun, the semicircle represents the half of that revolution, or a period of six months, and therefore refers to each the two solstitial points of summer and winter, or the two great festivals of the Order in June and December, when the most important Table Lodges are held.
The Table Lodge is formally opened with an invocation to the Grand Architect. During the banquet seven toasts are given. These are called Santes d'Obligation, or obligatory toasts. They are drunk with certain ceremonies which are prescribed by the ritual, and from which no departure is permitted. These toasts are:
1. The health of the Sovereign or Chief Magistrate of the State.
2. Grand Master and the Supreme power of the Order, that is, the Grand Orient or the Grand Lodge.
3. Master of the Lodge; this is offered by the Senior Warden.
4. The two Wardens.
5. Visiting Brethren.
6. The other officers of the Lodge, and the new initiates or affiliates if there be any.
7. All Freemasons wheresoever spread over the face of the globe (see Toasts).
Ragon (Tuileur Général, page 17) refers these seven toasts of obligation to the seven libations made by the ancients in their banquets in honor of the seven planets, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn, and the seven days of the week which are named after them; and he assigns some striking reasons for the reference. But this symbolism, although very beautiful, is evidently very modern.
The Table Lodge is then closed with the fraternal kiss, which is passed from the Master around the table, and with the usual forms.
One of the most curious things about these Table Lodges is the vocabulary used. The instant that the Lodge is opened, a change takes place in the names of things, and no person is permitted to call a plate a plate, or a knife a knife, or anything else by the appellation by which it is known in ordinary conversation. Such a custom formerly prevailed in England, if we may judge from a passage in Doctor Oliver's Revelations of a Square (page 215), where an instance is given of its use in 1780, when the French vocabulary was employed. It would seem, from the same authority, that the custom was introduced into England from Franee by Captain George Smith, the author of the Use and Abuse of Freemasonry, who was initiated in a Continental Lodge.
The vocabulary of the Table Lodge as used at French Masonie banquets is as follows, the various references being followed in each ease by the Masonic names applied to them by the Brethren:
A designation fretuently used in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the book of minutes or record; as in the Rose Croix Chapter is used the term engraved columns.
TABLETS OF HIRAM ABIFF.
Among the traditions of the Order there is a legend referring to the tablets used by Hiram Abiff as a Trestle-Board on which to lay down his designs. This legend, of course, can lay no claim to authenticity, but is intended simply as a symbol inculcating the duty of every man to work in the daily labor of life after a design that will construct in his body a spiritual temple (see Hiram Abiff).
French for Apron.
In the earliest catechisms of the eighteenth century it is said that "the three particular points that pertain to a Mason are Fraternity, Fidelity, and Taciturnity," and that they "represent Love, Relief, and Truth among all Right Masons." The symbol became obsolete.
The importance that has for many years been given to the military element in the Order of Masonic Knights Templar in America has made it necessary that special manuals should be prepared for the instruction of Knights in the elementary principles of military movements. Popular works of this kind have been:
1. Knights Templar Tactics and Drill for the use of Commanderies, and the Burial Service of the Orders of Masonic Knighthood, prepared by Sir Orrin Welsh, Past Grand Commander, State of New York.
2. Knights Templar, Tactics and Drill, with the Working, Tezt, and Burial Service of the Orders of Knighthood, as adopted by the Grand Commandery of the State of Michigan by Ellery Irving Garfield, E. G. C. G. Grand Commandery of Michigan.
3. Tactics for Knights Templar, and AppendantOrders, prepared by E. Sir Knight George Wingate Chase, of Massachusetts.
4. Knights Templar tactics, by Henry B. Grant, Grand Secretary, Kentucky. These works contain the necessary instructions in the School of the Knight, or the proper method of marching, halting, saluting, handling the sword, etc., and the School of the Commandery, or directions for properly performing the evolutions on a public parade. Books of this kind have now become as necessary and as common to the Knights Templar as Monitors are to the Master Mason.
From the Hebrew tselem and the Chaldaie tsalma, meaning an image or idol. A talisman signifies an implement or instrument, either of wood, or metal, or some precious stone, or even parchment, of various forms, such as a triangle, a cross, a circle, and sometimes a human head or human figure, generally inscribed with characters and constructed with mystical rites and ceremonies. The talisman thus constructed was supposed by the ancients, and even in the Middle Ages, to be invested with supernatural powers and a capacity for protecting its wearer or possessor from evil influences, and for securing to him good fortune and success in his undertakings.
The word amulet, from the Latin amuletum, which comes from the Arabic hamalet, anything worn, though sometimes confounded with the talisman, has a less general signification. For while the talisman served both to procure good and to avert evil, the powers of the amulet were entirely of a protective nature. Frequently, however, the two words are indifferently used.
The use of talismans was introduced in the Middle Ages from the Gnostics. Of the Gnostie talismans none were more frequent than those which were inscribed with divine names. Of these the most common were Iao and Sabao, although we find also the Tetragrammaton, and Elohim, Elohi, Adonai, and other Hebrew appellations of the Deity. Sometimes the talisman contained, not one of the names of God, but that of some mystical person, or the expression of some mystical idea. Thus, on some of the Gnostic talismanic gems, we find the names of the three mythical kings of Cologne, or the saered Abrazas.
The orthodox Christians of the early days of the church were necessarily influenced, by the popular belief in talismans, to adopt many of them; although,of course, they sought to divest them of their magical signification, and to use them simply as symbols. Hence we find among these Christians the Constantinian monogram, composed of the letters X and P. or the Vesica Piscis, as a symbol of Christ, and the image of a little fish as a token of Christian recognition, and the anchor as a mark of Christian hope.
Many of the symbols and symbolic expressions which were in use by the alchemists, the astrologers, and by the Rosicrucians, are to be traced to the Gnostic talismans. The talisman was, it is true, converted from an instrument of incantation into a symbol; lout the symbol was accompanied with a mystical signification which gave it a sacred character.
It has been said that in the Gnostie talislnans the most important element was some one or more of the sacred names of God, derived either from the Hebrews, the Arabians, or from their own abstruse philosophy; sometimes even in the same talisman from all these sources combined Thus there is a Gnostic talisman, said` by G. W. King to be still current in Germany as an amulet against plague.
It consists of a silver plate, on which are inscribed various names of God surroundillg a magic square, whose figures computed every way make the number thirty-four. In this Gnostic talisman, we will observe the presence not only of sacred names, but also of mystical. And it is to the intluence of these talismanic forms, developed in the symbols of the Secret societies of the Middle Ages, and even in the architectural decorations of the builders of the same period, such as the Triangle, the Pentalpha, the Double Triangle, ete., that we are to attribute the prevalence of sacred names and sacred numbers in the symbolic system of Freemasonry.
We do not need a better instance of this trans mutation of Gnostie talismans into Masonic symbols, by a gradual transmission through alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and Medieval architectures than a plate to be found in the Azoth Philosophorum of Basil Valentine, the Hermetic philosopher, who flourished in the seventeenth century.
This plate, which is Hermetic in its design, but is full of Masonic symbolism, represents a winged globe inscribed with a triangle within a square, and on it reposes a dragon. On the latter stands a human figure with two hands and two heads, surrounded by the sun, the moon, and five stars representing the seven planets. One of the heads is that of a male, the other of a female. That hand attached to the male part of the figure holds the Compasses, that to the female, a Square. The Square and Compasses thus distributed seem to indicate that originally a phallic meaning was attached to these symbols as there was to the Point within the Circle, which in this plate also appears in the center of the globe. The Compasses held by the male figure would represent the male generative principle, and the Square held by the female, the female productive principle. The subsequent interpretation given to the combined Square and Compasses was the transmutation from the Hermetic talisman to the Masonic symbol.
An oblong shawl worn over the head or shoulders and is made of wool or eamel's hair, among the Orthodox Jews; more commonly of silk, among the more modern. Four threads, one of which must be blue, are passed through eyelet holes made in the four corners. The threads being double make eight. Seven are of equal length; the eighth must twist five times round the rest and be tied into five knots, and yet remain equal in length to the other seven. The five knots and eight threads make thirteen, which, with the value 600 of the Hebrew word tsitsith (or fringes, upon w hich the holiness of the talith depends) aggregates 613, the number of precepts of the moral law, and which is the number of the letters in Hebrew composing the Deealogue. 613 represents 248 positive precepts, or members of the human body, and 365 negative precepts, or number of human veins. Jesus of Nazareth wore the tsitsith: "And behold a woman . . . came behind him and touched the hem of his garment" (Matthew IN, 20); and he rebuked the Pharisces for their ostentation in enlarging the borders, the Greek fringes of their garments (Matthew XXIII, 5). The Arba Canphoth (see illustration) is worn under the upper garments during the whole day.
Rendered in Hebrew thus mnw meaning Angel of Water, and found in the Twentyninth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite ritual.
The Hebrew word signifying doctrine. The Jews say that Moses received on Mount Sinai not only the written law which is contained in the Pentateuch but an oral law, which was first communicated by him to Aaron, then by them to the seventy elders, and finally by these to the people, and thus transmitted by memory, from generation to generation This oral law was never committed to writing until about the beginning of the third century, when Rabbi Jehuda the Holy, finding that there was a possibility of its being lost, from the decrease of students of the law, colleeted all the traditionary laws into one book, which is called the Mishap, a word signifying repetition, because it is, as it were, a repetition of the written law. The Mishna was at once received with great veneration and many wise men among the Jews devoted themselves to its study.
Toward the end of the fourth century, these opinions were collected into a book of commentaries, called the Gernara, by the school at Tiberias. This work has been falsely attributed to Rabbi Jochanan; but he died in 279, a hundred years before its composition. The Mishna and its Commentarv, the Gemara, are, in their collected form, called the Talmlud. The Jews in Chaldea, not being satisfied with the interpretations in this work composed others, which were collected together by Rabbi Ashe into another Gemara. The former work has since been known as the Jerusalem Talmud, and that of Rabbi Ashe as the Babylonian Talmud, from the places in which they were respectively compiled. In both works the Mishna or law is the same; it is only the Gemara or Commentary that is different.
The Jewish scholars place so high a value on the Talmud as to compare the Bible to water, the Mishna to wine, and the Gemara to spiced wine; or the first to salt, the second to pepper, and the third to spices. For a long time after its composition it seemed to absorb all the powers of the Jewish intellect, and the labors of Hebrew writers were confined to treatises and speculations on Talmudical opinions.
The Mishna is divided into six divisions called Sederim, whose subjects are:
1. The productions of the earth;
3. The rights and duties of women;
4. Damages and injuries;
Each of these Sederim is again divided into Massicoth, or treatises, of which there are altogether sixty-three.
The Gemara, which differs in the Jerusalem and Babylonian redactions, consists of commentaries on these Massicoth, or treatises.
Of the Talmud, Lightfoot has said that the matters it contains "do everywhere abound with trifles in that manner, as though they had no mind to be read; with obscurities and difficulties, as though they had no mind to be understood; so that the reader has need of patience all along to enable him to bear both trifling in sense and roughness in expression." Stehelin concurs in a similar opinion; but Steinschneider, as learned a Hebraist as either, has expressed a more favorable judgment.
Although the Talmud does indeed contain many passages whose peculiarities found little favor with Doctor Mackey, he deemed it, nevertheless, extremely serviceable as an elaborate compendium of Jewish customs, and it has therefore been much used in the e ritieism of the Old and New Testaments. It furnishes also many curious illustrations of the Masonie system; and several of the traditions and legends, especially of the higher Degrees, are either found in or corroborated by the Talmud. The treatise entitled Middoth, for instance, gives us the best description extant of the Temple of Solomon.
[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership
Development] [Education] [Masonic
This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United
States or elsewhere.
Last modified: March 22, 2014