Friday, October 28, 2005

AUTHORS OF HIRAM KEY ROCONSIDER STAND ON HIRAM ABIF

Remember the article “In Search of the Grand Master Hiram Abif?” where the lion rebutted the claim of Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, authors of Hiram Key, that Grand Master Hiram Abif did not exist? Well, here’s an interesting update un the issue.

In their recent book titled “The Book of Hiram” that was first published in the United Kingdom in 2003, it said in page 17.:

“When we first heard this assumption (about Hiram Abif- GVG) we found it strange, and in the Hiram Key we said that the character of Hiram Abif does not seem to exist outside the rituals of Freemasonry. This observation caused a number of people to write us to tell us that we were mistaken, so let us here look more closely at what evidence there is in the Old Testament about the architect of Solomon’s Temple. First we are told that the Phoenician king of Tyre named Hiram supplied the design, workers and many materials for Solomon’s building works. This king’s name is variously spelled as Hiram, Hirom and Huram, and was probably ‘Abi-ram’. Josephus says that letters between Solomon and this king were preserved in the Tyrian archives. He also quotes the historians Dius abd Menander of Ephesus, who says that Hiram was the son of King Abi-baal.

There was also another Hiram involved in the creation of the Temple. This Hiram was a worker in metals who set up a foundry in the Jordan valley between Succoth and Zeredatha, where he cast the two great pillars of Boaz and Jachim as well as other great ornaments of the Temple, including the huge vessel known as the ‘molten sea’. This character is referred to in 2Chr.2:11-14, where Hiram, King of Tyre, writes to Solomon to tell him that this Hiram is a son of the daughters of the tribe of Dan, but in 1Kgs7:14 we are told that he was a widow’s son of a different tribe, that of Napthali.

Could this artisan in metals be considered the architect of the Temple? An architect is the designer of the overall building, not the manufactrer of an ornamentation, but in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible this builder is referred to as Huram-abi, which is indeed close to the name Hiram Abif.”

And followed their explanation on page 18 with the following:

“On the balance of probabilities we now accept that the character referred to in Masonic ritual as Hiram Abif could be the worker in metals supplied to work in King Solomon’s Temple by Hiram King of Tyre. However, this potential identification does nothing to explain his relationship with King Solomon or to illuminate why this legend is so important to Freemasonic lore.

THE LION’S COMMENTS

The admission, however lame, may be considered good enough. But the issue can still be expounded as follows:

1. The names of the architects in ancient times were hardly mentioned as the name of the edifice is generally reserved for the ruler or king who is responsible for its construction. Thus the name Solomon was appended to the Temple because it was by his wisdom that the mighty edifice was erected. So were the magnificent pyramids of Egypt that were named after the kings who ordered their creation.

2. It is a wonder why despite the authors’ apparent extensive research, they failed to mention the exhaustive work of Albert Pike who wrote and compiled “Morals and Dogma”. Had they done so, then the two authors may have learned that the name “Hiram” was a mis-rendering of the Hebrew word “Khairum” or Khairom.” Was it because Albert Pike is an American and Britons generally don’t have much respect for American authors.

Well, as they all say, “all is well that ends well”. Hiram Abif did exist after all,.

And “The Book of Hiram?”. Well, as readable as “The Hiram Key”, but one still has to segregate the gold from the dross. Remember Albert Pike? Read, digest, discriminate, of you indeed want to learn Masonic lore.

And by the way, here’s the lion’s heartfelt thanks to his good friend Tante Pacis for gifting him with four wonderful Masonic books that are now prized additions to his mini-library.

And the lion roars!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

DAGOHOY LODGE NO. 84 REBUILDS ITS LODGE ON TWO FRONTS

Here is a bit of interesting news; the lodge that presently shelters the now-aging lion in this scenic island of Bohol is getting a distinct facelift on two distinctive fronts. Consider these.

Through the very bold initiative of WM Eugene “Jack” Galbreath, incumbent master of the lodge, it decided to sell the lot where the old temple that was built in 1928 using the proceeds on the sale and the hard lumber that were retrieved from the demolished building. The hard lumber were recovered came from the timbers that were felled from the forests of Anda and Sierra Bullones some eighty years ago; and as the town of Anda is situated about a hundred kilometers away from Tagbilaran City and is at the opposite end of the island, one can well guess that these may have been towed via the open sea and should easily remind the reading brethren how the timbers were felled in Lebanon and brought on floats to Mount Moriah in Jerusalem where King Solomon’s Temple was erected. This new lodge was erected adjacent to the Masonic cemetery that was located about half a kilometer away from the original site. As a side comment, the acquisition of the cemetery is also considered epic because in 1931 the Roman Catholic Church refused the burial of Bro. Arnold Bartlett who died, although a Roman Catholic, because of his Masonic affiliation. This prompted the brethren to establish their own Masonic cemetery and is thus credited as one of the very few lodges in the entire country that has a cemetery of its own.

The administrative and technical expertise for building the two-story lodge was never found wanting. Administrative acumen is ably provided by the organizational skills of the Worshipful Master who during his heyday was a battle-scarred American soldier who honed his military and administrative skills in Vietnam, while the technical skills were made available by the other brethren like Bros. Francisco Pamaran, Jr., Ulysses Tirol, Mark Noel Mende and Moises Millanar- able professional engineers and architects of the lodge. Why, even Bro. Jerry Servas pinches in as night watchman to protect the materials lying around the site while the building is undergoing construction.

While the funding of the main building structure is expected to be fully covered by the proceeds of the sale, the supplemental needs are reasonably expected and will therefore require additional funding; like replacing the old wooden chairs, the podium and many other ornaments and amenities that must complement the needs of the lodge to keep it fully operational. As supplemental support in the construction of the building, WB Ulysses Tirol encouraged the brethren to share in the construction of the lodge in whatever way they can. In addition to professional service, he pledged several hundreds of hollow blocks as construction materials while WB Moises Millanar has promised P5,000 as financial aid. The aging lion , restricted by his meager pension that is already sorely drained by the lion tamer’s existing charity projects, can only appeal to one of the lodges in Quezon City where he sports honorary membership. Will the members be generous enough to contribute the sets of gavels, columns and the working tools that is displayed at the foot of the Worshipful Master’s station so that these symbolic adornments may also bring additional prestige to the lodge?! He also cannot help but wonder, would other generous brother out there be kind enough to send in a few dollars to help us build our cherished Masonic lodge down here after reading this narration?!


The Worshipful Master projects the building will be completed before the year ends in time for the “changing of the guards” that will be held the next year. Whether this will materialize, only time will tell, but the entire brethren of the lodge are keeping their fingers crossed eagerly awaiting the said historic event.

On another front, the lodge, now as defined as “a certain number of brethren with a Holy Bible, square and compasses” is also being rebuilt. Long without additional members, it added in its roster four able-blooded young recruits last year and with the aging lion affiliating now have five new members in its list. A new candidate is also scheduled to be passed as this article is being written and as another petitioner is subject to be balloted later the brethren foresees more robust membership . And pretty soon, the rituals, which for quite a time have been relegated to the sidelines will receive the attention that is required of the members, thus restoring the lost glory that once was the pride of the lodge’ elder brethren.

To all of you out there, especially the brethren who once have graced our old lodge, we trust you will join us that our noble aspirations are achieved for the greater glory of the Supreme Architect of our Universe!

VOLUME OF THE SACRED LAW

(Lecture delivered at the Dagohoy Lodge No. 84 brethren during the October 8, 2005 stated meeting.)

$: Worshipful Master and brethren.

All of us are familiar with the name of the book that is atop our sacred altar. It is called the King James Version of the Holy Bible. Masonically, it is also called the Volume of the Sacred Law and so the question therefore is why it is identified by that peculiar phrase.

Let me now tell you this short story.

Bro. Milind G. Dravid, a fraternal brother from the Lodge of Golden Orange No. 304 at Nagpur in India and to whom this writer regularly corresponds with Masonically via e-mail, told this writer that out there in their lodge, five (repeat five) different books of the Holy Writings are laid upon their altar and explained why this is so.

According to Bro. Milind, his mother lodge is one of the oldest lodges in India and was founded by a select group of British brethren who were members of the British Expeditionary forces, and some employees of the East India Company when England occupied India sometime in the middle of the 18th century. As recorded history would tell him, it was normal for the military at that time to have field lodges in their regiments and thus whenever these forces settle in any part of the globe, it would not be unusual that the craving for establishing a Masonic lodge would ensue. It was in this concept that the Golden Lodge of Orange No. 304 was established under the Constitution of the United Grand Lodge of England at that time. At its founding, the King James Version of the Holy Bible naturally was the

Holy Book that adorned its altar.

He said that the additions to its membership during the initial years were modest, the new members of which came mostly from the British that periodically were added to both the military roster and the support staff of East India Company. In fine, however, several Indian nationals, especially those who managed to interact with the lodge members because they were able to join the civilian administration and those who got their education from England, became interested in the affairs of the Craft and ultimately joined its roster. Unsurprisingly, these new recruits were obligated to the book of their respective faiths and thus, after the lapse of more than two centuries of lodge existence, other Holy Books were enshrined at the sacred altar. In addition therefore to the Holy Bible that the founders first placed at that hallowed top, the following Books of Nature and Revelation were also added:

1. The BHAGVAD GITA for the Hindu, Jains and Buddhist Brethren,

2. the ZEND AVESTA for the Parsi brothers,

3. the GURU GRANTH SAHIB for the Sikh brethren, and

4. the QURAN SHARIF for the Muslim initiates.

Bro. Dravid wrote that at the time of his initiation, he could not help but feel awed to note how members of this select organization of diverging religious faiths could sit together in harmony inside a lodge, a situation that he expects could never happen outside its confines in the entire world.

Let this lecturer now tackle the issue of the King James Version of the Holy Bible that is atop our sacred altar by explaining how it got its name

The King James Version of the Holy Bible came into existence when James VI was acclaimed King of Scotland in 1567 at age one when his mother abdicated the throne. Additionally, he was also crowned James I of England in 1603 thus unifying the two kingdoms. A year later, he commissioned the learned clerics of his time to translate the Old and New Testaments that were originally written in the Hebrew and Greek languages for use by the subjects of his realms. Previous to this time, the existing versions that were used by the Catholic hierarchy that was based in Rome were in Latin (otherwise called Vulgate) and while there already exist other English translations like the Douay and the Catholic Bibles, these contained leading explanatory comments and footnotes that showed bias in the interpretation of the sacred writings, thus serving their own selfish religious motives. To confound matters these versions were generally not made available to the public for their use. It was therefore made imperative that the King who was made a Freemason in 1601 at the Lodge of Scoon and Perth in Scotland, he goaded the religious intellectuals to cause the translation of the Holy Bible into the English language during his time and thus immortalized his name for everyone to behold.

The translated version was finally completed in 1611 and since that time and up the nineteenth century, it weathered almost a thousand revisions.. Until finally in 1948, the New Testament underwent a substantial modification and was followed by a similar revision of the Old Testament in 1952..But the changes that were made were only to conform to the standard English Usage thus attuning the translation to the language of prevailing times. A special section called “Concordance” which defined the words that may have changed because of the possible deviation of meanings was also appended so that the reader may be able to get back, as close as possible, to the original scriptures.

It is claimed that this revised version sold more than twelve million copies within ten years from the date of its printing in the middle of the 20th century.

And why is the King James Version especially important to Freemasons? Can’t the Catholic Edition or the other English versions like the Jerusalem Bible be substituted as the book of the Holy Writing at the Masonic altar?

Well, it can be! The only difficulty that may be encountered is the possibility of getting a different meaning from what was originally perceived especially because our rituals require memorization of the applicable quotations. Take the case of the parambulation of the second degree, for example, and compare the words with the translation in the Catholic Edition, that says:

King James Version

“Though I speak the tongue of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal”.

The New American Bible (Catholic Edition) 1969, on the other hand, says:

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”

As the reader can well observe, the King James used the word “charity” while the Catholic Edition translated it as “love”. While the two words may be considered synonyms, the meanings are not exactly the same and that is where arguments and irreconcilable differences will begin.

Thank you for your attention.