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The Legend of Hiram Abiff

"All antiquity believed a Mediator or Redeemer, by means of whom the Evil Principle was to be overcome and the Supreme Deity reconciled to His creatures. The belief was general that he was to be born of a virgin and suffer a painful death. The Hindus called him Krishna; the Chinese, Kioun-tse; the Persians, Sosiosch; the Scandinavians, Balder; the Christians, Jesus; the Masons, Hiram"

Pirtle, The [Masonic] Kentucky Monitor 14,15

The Blue Lodge (degrees 1 - 3)  is centred upon the legend of Hiram Abiff. This legend loosely has its historical basis in 1st Kings 7 and 2nd Chronicles 2.  King Hiram of Tyre sent a skilled man, also called Hiram, to Israel to help King Solomon build the Temple of the Lord.

The legend goes as follows..

Hiram Abiff, "a widow's son" from Tyre, skilful in the working of all kinds of metals, was employed to help build King Solomon's Temple.

The legend tells us that one day, whilst worshipping the Grand Architect of the Universe (GAOTU) within the Holy of Holies, Hiram was attacked by three ruffians, (called 'Jubela', 'Jubelo' & 'Jubelum' and known collectively as 'The Juwes') who demanded the "Master's word", that is, the secret name of God.

The first ruffian, named Jubela, struck Hiram across the throat with a 24 inch gauge. The second ruffian, named Jubelo, struck Hiram's breast, over the heart, with a square.   The third ruffian, named Jubelum, struck Hiram upon the forehead with a gavel, whereupon Hiram fell dead. His blood, therefore, was shed within the temple.

Hiram, having been killed, was carried out the East gate of the Temple and buried outside Jerusalem on Mount Moriah.

Early the following morning, King Solomon visited the temple and found the workmen in confusion because no plans had been made for the day's work. Fearing evil had befallen Hiram, King Solomon sent out twelve Fellowcraft Masons to look for Hiram. King Solomon himself accompanied the three who journeyed towards the East.

Having finally located the grave of Hiram, Solomon and his fellow Masons exhumed the body. A search was made for the Master's word (the Name of God), but all that was found was the letter "G".  Finding the word lost, a lament went up: "O Lord, my God, is there no help for the widow's son?".

They first took hold of Hiram's body with the "Boaz" grip of the first degree. This failed to achieve its purpose.

They then re-positioned their hold upon Hiram's body using the "Jachin" grip of the second degree. This also failed to accomplish its purpose.

Solomon finally raised Hiram from the dead by using the third degree grip of the Master Mason, the five points of fellowship (explained shortly), and by uttering in Hiram's ear the phrase "Ma-Ha-Bone".

These first three degrees are based upon the legend. The Scottish and York Rites base themselves largely upon the Hiramic legend that follows after Hiram Abiff's 'resurrection'.

Hiram Abiff has been raised from the dead.  However, he soon leaves the legend, for he has been ushered into a more glorious existence.

Solomon is left to continue building the Temple. Many decisions have to be made. Solomon first selects seven expert masons to guard the Temple, before holding a requiem for the departed Hiram Abiff. Solomon then appoints seven judges to hand out justice to the workmen building the Temple.

Five superintendents are installed to oversee the continuing building of the Temple. Solomon then focuses upon apprehending the assassins of Hiram Abiff. He appoints nine Masters, who begin the search for the assassins. The first assassin is discovered asleep. He is stabbed in the heart and head, then decapitated.

Solomon hears a report that the other two assassins have fled to Gath, the birthplace of Goliath. Solomon selects fifteen Masters, including the original nine, who apprehend them. They are placed in prison, and then executed. Solomon rewards twelve of the Masters by making them Governors over the twelve tribes of Israel.

Solomon finally appoints a builder by the name of Adoniram as the sole successor to Hiram Abiff. Adoniram becomes chief architect of the Temple, which is finally completed.

The legend doesn't stop here. Solomon begins to build a Temple of Justice upon the site of a Temple build by Enoch, (remember, this is Masonic legend, not Biblical truth!), who placed within the Temple a stone bearing the Name of God.

Adoniram, the chief architect, and two other workmen begin building the Temple of Justice only to discover Enoch's stone. Solomon and Hiram of Tyre, the Grand Masters of Freemasonry, have litle choice but to initiate the three workmen into the secrets of the Craft. All three are taught the correct pronunciation of the Name of God.

The Temple of Solomon was destroyed around 586 B.C.. The Name of God was once again lost. Jerusalem was taken captive, and the Babylonian captivity began.

The captives lived in Babylon for seventy years until King Cyrus of Persia, who was a Master of Freemasonry, had a dream. He dreamt that a lion appeared to him, saying "liberty to the captives". Under the lion's direction, Cyrus proclaimed the release of the Jews. He ordered them to construct a second Temple under his guidance.

Many of the Jews, especially Nehemiah and Ezra, were initiates of the Masonic mysteries. They directed all the Masons within the midst of the Jews to make the journey from babylon to Jerusalem with their swords by their sides and trowels in their hands.

Despite great sorrow and travail, the Temple was completed in the reign of Darius, successor to Cyrus.

Darius chose Zerubbabel as Grand Master in charge of the construction of the second Temple. Having passed difficult rites of initiation, Zerubbabel was given the title of Sovereign Prince of Jerusalem, and was entrusted with the sacred vessels Nebuchadnezzer had taken from Solomon's Temple.

Zerubbabel, together with King Darius, then founded a new order of Temple builders known as Knights of the East. These Knights were among the Masonic workmen who took part in the construction of the Second Temple. This new order of knights became a warrior fraternity.

Degrees 30 -33 (Scottish Rite) complete the outworking of the legend..

The Hiram legend ends with the house of Kadosh.

Upon entering the thirtieth degree, the Freemason enters the holy house of the Great Architect of the Universe, and rests from his labor. He can sing with truth the song:

There's no occasion for level or plumb line,

For trowel or gavel, for compass or square,

Our works are completed, the Ark safely seated,

And we shall be greeted as workmen most rare.

The gates of the New Jerusalem have opened to him, for he is now said to be perfect! 

He has become an eternal Temple in which the 'Great Architect of the Universe' abides.


  Taken from 'Freemasonry - Death in the family' - Yvonne Kitchen - Fruitful Vine Publication

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