THE ORIGIN OF MASONRY
the Source http://www.kena.org/hirams/
By E. Cromwell Mensch
THE NEW AGE - JULY 1948
The most prolific source of Masonic literature is that
dealing with the origin of the Craft. It is a theme which has filled many volumes, and one which invariably follows the same pattern
to the point of monotony. Practically all research along these lines starts
with the stone masons of Europe, and ends up with the guilds, or associations,
However, Masonry was founded long before the
are supposedly the Lord's, uttered through the medium of Nathan, the prophet. However, they were prompted by David, for Nathan was a member of David's court.
What David really sought was a vehicle which would perpetuate the divine power of the Tabernacle. That this structure was possessed of such power is quite evident from the fact that, within its confines, Moses established the word of God among men. The Word has come down to us practically intact in the form of the Pentateuch, or first five books of the Bible; and the House still stands today! Its original form is essentially unchanged, although some of its parts have been destroyed by the violence of fire and the quantity of water, which have been visited upon it from time to time. This House and this Book were founded at one and the same time, and both are an integral part of Masonry.
This particular phase of the inquiry into the origin of Masonry deals with the shift from operative to speculative, for our ritual tells us that we no longer work in operative, but speculative Masonry only. An entirely new approach to this subject is to be had through the medium which has never changed since our Order was founded. That medium is the Holy Bible, which is placed in the same setting as Moses placed it in the beginning. Save for the legendary part of our ritual, it contains all the factual details of our Craft. When these factual details are worked out to their ultimate conclusion, it will be found that the legendary part of our ritual comprises but a very small percentage of the whole. That the operative phase of our Order was in effect during the time of Moses is stated in Exodus 1:11, "And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pitham and Raamses." It was from the builders of these two cities that Moses recruited the founders of our Order. They were the enslaved workers of Ramses II.
Ramses II reigned over
The Tabernacle was really the first
Ramses II died in 1225 B.C., and was succeeded by Merneptah. From all the evidence available, it is quite
plain the Exodus must have taken place fairly close to this change in the
administration of the affairs of
The transition to the speculative phase is definitely stated in the words of Exodus 36:8, "And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen." This is the first of a long list of specifications, wherein Moses describes the manner in which the Tabernacle was built. It is placed first because these ten curtains of fine twined linen symbolized a pair of hands raised in supplication. Symbolically, they were so placed that Moses might tell us that no man should ever enter upon any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing of God.
As a protege of the royal household, Moses was raised in the pagan worship of Osiris, a deified king. The domain of Osiris was centred in an underground heaven, sealed with the doom of perpetual darkness. This great king of the spiritual world was flanked with a myriad of lesser deities, to whom tribute had to be paid before the novitiate could hope to enter. Associated with this monopoly of the Egyptian hierarchy was the tyranny and oppression of its rulers.
As Moses grew to manhood he saw that the beneficence of God came from above, and that it was the Light from the celestial sphere which caused all nature to blossom forth and prosper. His problem was to present this new doctrine to a people whose ancestors had been steeped in paganism for centuries. To this end he endowed his House with the attributes of the heavens by making every part thereof symbolic of some feature of the celestial sphere. This master plan, of course, called for the utmost secrecy, and was tied in with a key. The plan itself he concealed by scattering it throughout all five of the books of the Pentateuch, but the key was left for future ages to discover. Since every one of the 7,625 parts of the Tabernacle played a part in its symbolic meaning, the building of this House coincided with the commencement of the speculative phase of Masonry.
THE ORIGIN OF MASONRY
II. The House Erected to God
by E. Cromwell Mensch 32 degree
THE NEW AGE - AUGUST 1948
The House, which it was decreed in the wisdom and
counsels of Deity aforetime should be built, was the Tabernacle of Moses, and
There are two sets of specifications covering the building of the Tabernacle in the Book of Exodus. Those in Chapter 26 represent the command of God that the House should be built. Those set forth in Chapter 36 are the specifications for the actual building of the House. Exodus 36:8 is the starting point, and states that every wise hearted man that wrought the work of the Tabernacle made ten curtains of Fine Twined Linen. These curtains were 4 cubits wide and 28 cubits long. Five of them were coupled together, and the other 5 were coupled together. The result was a pair of curtains, each half of which contained 5 strips. The total width of each set of 5 strips was 20 cubits, for the individual strips were 4 cubits wide. This 20 cubits coincided with the width of the House. When assembled, they were raised over the House to form a gable roof. As there were 10 strips in all, they represented the digits of a pair of hands raised in supplication.
From this symbolic meaning it will be seen why Moses placed these curtains as the first item in his list of specifications. It was his admonition to us that no man should ever enter upon any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing of God. There were several thousand people engaged in the building of the House, and, obviously, only a small percentage were actually engaged in the fabrication of these curtains. And yet the language is clear, for it says "every wise hearted man that wrought
the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains." Those who chose to engage in the work were first prepared in their hearts, or became "wise hearted." They all "made" ten curtains, for this was the sign of a pair of hands raised in supplication.
The second item in the specifications was the curtains of Goats' Hair. They were superimposed above those of Fine Twined Linen, and were 4 cubits wide by 30 cubits long. There were 11 of these curtains, and this fact has stumped the experts for centuries. Ten of them may be arranged to match the 10 curtains of Fine Twined Linen. Being above the first set of curtains, those of Goats' Hair represented a pair of hands stretched forth in benediction. That this is so is gleaned from the fact that this is the only specification in Chapter 36 that needs to be filled in from the supplemental information contained in Chapter 26 of Exodus. This Chapter 26 contains the command of God, and this second pair of curtains symbolized His hands stretched forth in benediction.
Exodus 26:9 and 26:12 dispose of the 11th curtain of Goats' Hair by stating that it shall be doubled over in the forefront of the Tabernacle, and the remnant that remaineth, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the Tabernacle. In other words, the 11th curtain of Goats' Hair was cut into 4 strips, each 1 cubit wide, to form the drip for the gable part of the roof. Exodus 26:13 explains how the eaves were formed on the ends, for it states that the length of these curtains shall hang over a cubit on the one side and a cubit on the other side.
The length of these Goats' Hair curtains was 30 cubits, which was symbolic of the 30 days of the solar month. The length of the curtains of Fine Twined Linen, which were protected from the sun by the upper curtains, was 28 cubits. They were symbolic of the 28 days of the lunar month.
The gable roof arrangement of the curtains of Goats' Hair
formed an isosceles triangle, each leg of which was 30 cubits long. The length
of its base is obtained from Exodus 26:13, which states that the curtains shall
hang over a cubit on the one side and a cubit on the other side. This called
for a base of 52 cubits, for the Court which encompassed the Tabernacle was
exactly 50 cubits wide. The actual length of the Tabernacle was 48 cubits,
which left a space of 1 cubit between each of its ends and the adjacent wall of
the court. This space was approximately 24 inches wide and, no doubt, sheltered
the original eavesdroppers. No such arrangement was possible in the
These triangular spaces formed in the east and west walls of the Tabernacle were called pediments. They were covered with the Rams' Skins dyed red specified in Exodus 36:19. Like the roof curtains, they also were 4 cubits in width, and 12 of them exactly fitted into the 48 cubits width of the base of the pediments. There were 12 of these curtains in the east pediment, and 12 in the west pediment - together they symbolized the 24 hours of the day.
This Rams' Skins dyed red was a translucent material, and
as the sun rose in the east the interior was filled with a soft, red glow. The
sun at meridian height came down through an aperture in the roof, but only on
occasion. As the sun was in the west at the close of the day, the soft tones
which filtered through the Rams' Skins dyed red again permeated the interior.
Above them were placed the Badgers' Skins, which were opaque, and were
manipulated like window shades to control the lighting effects. There was no
such arrangement in the
The lower part of the Tabernacle was sheathed with
boards, 20 of them being specified for the south wall, and a like number for
the north wall. According to Exodus 36:21, these particular boards were each 10
cubits long and 1 1/2 cubits wide. Two of them, placed end to end, matched the
20 cubits width of the House, which makes it obvious that the 20 boards in both
north and south walls were arranged in two stacks of 10 boards each. This
height of 10 boards in each panel was symbolic of the "Ten Commandments.
Exodus 36:27 specifies 6 boards for the west wall of the Tabernacle. These 6
boards were laid out end to end, and formed the bottom course for the 6 panels
into which the west wall was divided. Each board was 8 cubits long, and the
total length of the wall was 48 cubits. Each panel was 10 boards high, or 15
cubits, for each board was 1 1/2 cubits wide. Actually, the 6 panels of the
west wall were laid out by means of a mathematical formula, which Moses
designated as Jacob's ladder. This fact was unknown to the builders of the
The height of the Tabernacle at the apex of its roof was
30 cubits; its depth, or width, was 20 cubits; and its length, which was across
the breadth of the Court, was 48 cubits. The first two dimensions were
faithfully copied into the design of the
THE ORIGIN OF MASONRY
III The Symbolism of the Father's House
by E. Cromwell Mensch 32 degree
THE NEW AGE - SEPTEMBER 1948
Speculative Masonry was instituted by Moses for the
purpose of bringing the true "word" of God to his followers. These
were the people of the Exodus, most of whom had been
engaged in building the treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses, in
This symbolism is concealed in the cabalism of the writings of Moses, and the key to that cabmlism lies in the pattern of our planetary system. For example, the superstructure of the" House was made up of 7 bents, or frames, for they were symbolic of the 7 days of the week. This may be picked up from Exodus 36:27, wherein the e boards of the sides westw@rd are specified. These 6 boards were strung out, end to end, across the 5 vertical bars, also spe@ified for this west wall in Exodus 36 : 32. Obviously, the terminal ends of boards No. 1 mnd No. 6 also were attached to vertical bars, for they were the corner bars in the north and south walls, rp,spectively. Added to the 5 sper,ified for the sides westward, these two corner bars brought the number up to 7. Each of these 7 bars was paired off with a corresponding bar in the east
wall, and, with the other members of the framing, formed the 7 bents.
The symbolism of these 7 bents is to be found in the
Second Degree, wherein it is stated that in 6 days God created the heaven and
the earth, and rested on the 7th day. The total number of structural numbers
with which the Tabernacle was framed is also given in the Second Degree.
However, this symbolism was lost in the
to form the eaves of the Tabernacle, and was supported on 5 struts. In all, there were 14 members in each of these end wall bents, and there were 12 members in each of the 5 intermediate bents. The bents themselves were held together at the top with a series of 60 rafters, and were also held together at the ceiling level with a series of 26 horizontal ties. In all there were 178 structural members in the Tabernacle proper.
There were also 67 structural members in the Court of the Congregation, which surrounded the Tabernacle. In the specifications, 20 pillars each were assigned to the north and south sides of the Court, and 10 to the west side. The specifications for the east side are quite complicated, and, when Properly analyzed, only yield 9 pillars for this side of the Court. To these 59 pillars must be added the 8 corner boards used as diagonal bracing at the corners of the Court, which makes the total 67.
The lower part of the Tabernacle was sheathed with
boards, which were 120 in number. The 178 structural members of the Tabernacle,
plus the 67 members of the Court and the 120 boards, bring the grand total up
to 365. These 365 members were symbolic of the days of the year, and correspond
to the phenomenon arising from the annual revolution of the earth around the
sun, and its diurnal rotation on its own axis, as set forth in the monitorial
work of the Second Degree. There was no such symbolism incorporated into the
stone walls of the
The specifications for the east wall of the Tabernacle
are rather brief. They simply call for a Door, and the 5 pillars of it (Exodus
36:38). Between the 5 pillars were the 4 archways, which formed the Door. In
addition, there was a panel flanking the Door on either side, making a total of
6 panels in all. These, of course, matched the panels formed by the
"six" boards in the west wall. These flanking panels in the east wall
contained the corner boards, which served as diagonal wind bracing to impart
stability to the structure. They ran from the tops of the corner posts down to
the adjacent end pillars of the Door. Since these diagonal braces blanked off
the use of these two end panels in the east wall, it is obvious they must have
been sheathed with boards. This brings the total number of panels up to 12, for
there were 6 in the west wall, 2 each in the north and south walls, and these 2
in the east wall. This also accounts for the 120 boards, for each panel was 10 boards high. These 12 panels represented the 12
This arrangement of the panels is confirmed in Genesis
48:13, wherein it is stated that "Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his
right hand, toward
The parts so far enumermted are all authentic, for they have been worked out according to the bill of materials Moses left to posterity. Among other items, this bill lists the fastenings which held the Tabernacle together. As it was a portable structure, these fastenings were so designed that the House could be dismantled and reassembled at will. The structural members were held together by means of rings, but the specification covering them is very brief, and is only given in connection with the corner boards (Exodus 36:29): "And they were coupled beneath, and coupled together at the head thereof, to one ring." The ring in this case was cast with two lugs, and the corner boards had sockets in their ends, which fitted over the lugs of the ring. To make the joint secure after assembling, pins were inserted through both lug and corner boards. This same type of fastening was used wherever two or more structural members intersected each other. Where more than two structural members were brought to a common focal point, rings were supplied with additional lugs. Rings with as high as 4 lugs were used in some of the complicated portions of the bents.
The boards which formed the sheathing of the Tabernacle were also held to the framing by means of rings. These rings encircled the vertical bars and had lugs projecting outward from them in a horizontal plane. The boards themselves were joined together by means of dowel pins, in the same manner that extra leaves are joined together in a dining-room table, except that they were in a vertical plane. The lugs of the rings fitted in between the edges of two boards, and the dowel pins in the boards also passed through holes in the lugs. This type of joint is covered by the specification for the sockets and tenons of the boards in Exodus 36:24
From the use of these rings and pins it truly may be said
of the Tabernacle that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron
heard in the House, while it was in building. These lines are to be found in I Kings 6:7, and are applied to the stone work of Solomon's
THE ORIGIN OF MASONRY
by E. Cromwell Mensch 32 degree
THE NEW AGE - OCTOBER 1948
The fame of King Solomon's
Their first objective was to locate the "spot"
on which to erect the Tabernacle, which was believed to be at Luz. Moses died
just prior to the invasion, but he had left certain instructions, which were to
be followed out after they reached the promised land.
Among other things, they were instructed to put the blessing upon
The Israelites found Luz ill-favoured
as a location for the Tabernacle, even though it had been specified by Moses as
none other but the house of God and the gate of heaven in Genesis 28:17. They
then moved on to Samara and set up their Tabernacle and their altar between the
two peaks in that country, which are still called
About 200 years later, or in 1005 B.C.David
succeeded in wresting
time David established himself
In the meantime the original Tabernacle had vanished and
the Ark of the Covenant had been placed in storage. The lustre
It was called the
It was after David had pitched this new Tabernacle that
he made known his intention of replacing it with a more permanent structure.
With this structure he undertook to create a vehicle, which, in the words of II
Samuel 7:13, he hoped would establish the throne of his kingdom forever. This
hope lay in the belief that he could endow his contemplated
However, the basic, design of the
The essence of the ladder of Jacob was the cubical Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle. It was projected into a column of 7 cubes on the Trestle Board, with horizontal coordinates extending out over the centre of the drawing from the upper levels of the 2nd, 4th, and 6th cubes. Below these horizontals, and on the base line, another cube was drawn to represent the Holy of Holies itself. From the centre of this Holy of Holies a series of ascending "angles" were projected upward to intercept the horizontals. At the points of intersection, vertical ordinates were dropped to the base line, and they exactly prescribed the 48 cubits length of the Tabernacle. A 7th ordinate was projected upwards into infinity, from the centre of the base line, and represented the joining of the celestial with the terrestrial sphere. This 7th ordinate was the top of the ladder, which reached to heaven. The cubes were 7 in number because they represented the 7 bodies of our planetary system which are visible to the naked eye. Each of the ascending angles were 23 1/2 degrees", because that is the celestial angle at which the earth is inclined away from the plane of its orbit.
The unit of measurement was obtained by dividing one edge of the cubical Holy of Holies into 10 equal parts. The Apex of the curtains of Goats' Hair was equal to the height of 3 cubes, or 30 cubits. Half this height, or 15 cubits, was equivalent to the combined widths of the 10 boards of the sheathing, and the upper half prescribed the height of the pediments. The descending "angles" of Genesis 28:12 exactly subtended the 1 1/2, cubits cross section of the Ark of the Covenant below the centre of the Holy of Holies". The descending ordinates exactly laid out the 7 bents, or vertical bars across which the "six" boards of Exodus 36:27 were spaced out. This is indeed none other but the House of God, and the House we proclaim was erected to God and dedicated to His Holy name.
The 7th ordinate came direct from the celestial, and was
symbolic of the path down which Moses had brought the word of God, for it
intersected the mercy seat of the
Outside the House, and far off about the Tabernacle, the 12 tribes were encamped. As each tribe was encamped under the ensign of his Father's house, the encampment itself was symbolic of the 12 constellations of the Zodiac. Hence, the complete layout of Tabernacle and encampment was copied from the design of the Father's house in the celestial.
Had the builders of the
THE ORIGIN OF MASONRY
V. The Holy of Holies and the Resurrection
by Cromwell Mensch 32 degree
THE NEW AGE - NOVEMBER 1948
The Holy of Holies of King Solomon's
The Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle was a perfect cube,
formed of the veil, and the 4 pillars which supported it. This cube was the
central theme of its design, and the unit of measurement by which all parts of
the Tabernacle were apportioned. For practical purposes, one edge of this cube
was divided into 10 equal parts, and each of these parts was called a cubit. In
other words, the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle was 10 cubits long in each of
its three dimensions. The Oracle of the
Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies was placed in the middle
of the structure, and the celestial angle of 23 1/2 degrees was brought down to
the center of the cubical room. This descending angle was the essential
ingredient of Jacob's ladder, and below the center of the cubical it exactly
subtended the 1 1/2 cubits of the Ark of the Covenant in section. It also did
the same for the
The resurrection, or raising of the body from the dead, was exemplified as a ritual long before Moses came onto the, scene. The very temples where he was initiated into the mysteries contain graphic illustrations of this ceremony. The central figure is Osiris, who was raised from his bier at the command of Horus. The departed soul of Osiris is shown as a graven image in the form of a bird, perched in the Erica tree at the head of the bier. Moses transposed this into a nobler
conception , by coupling the
rebirth of nature with the phenomenon of the spring equinox in the celestial.
This position he gave to Reuben the first born, as the beginning of
It was this paganism of the bull in Taurus that caused
Moses to shift the leadership to the tribe of
The rendition of the so-called Hiramic
legend has a great deal more fact in it than fiction. All that is needed is to
It is a common error to confuse that which was lost with the so-called "lost" word. This word is one of the most peculiar words in the dictionary, which gives it a prominence no lost word could ever assume. That which was really lost are the secrets of the Tabernacle's design, although, in a broader sense, they were merely concealed in
the cabalism of the writings of
Moses. As a matter of fact, the layout of the modern lodge room more closely
follows the design of the Tabernacle than it does that of the