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knights of the red cross
the masonic manual
The Orders of Knighthood are conferred under the sanction of, or in connection with, Masonic assemblies. This degree is intimately associated with the Royal Arch, and cannot be conferred upon any brother who has not been exalted to that sublime degree. *
*) Knights of the East and West, or Knights of the Sword, is a more correct title for this grade. - ED.
It is founded upon incidents which occurred during the reign of DARIUS, king of Persia, and illustrates the difficulties and interruptions encountered by the Jews in rebuilding the house of the Lord at Jerusalem.
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PRAYER AT OPENING.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in heaven so also upon the earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Sovereign Master, upon a throne, in the East; Chancellor, on the right of the S. M.: Master of the Palace, on the left of the S. M.; Prelate, or the right of the C.; Master of Cavalry, on the right of the first division, when separately formed, and on the right of the hole, when formed in line; Master of Infantry, on the right of the second division, when separately formed, and on the left of the whole, when formed in line; Master of Finances, on the right, in front of the C.; Master of Despatches on the left, in front of the M. of P.; Standard Bearer, in the West Sword Bearer, on the right of the St. B.; Warder, on the left of the St. B.; Guards, at the Passes; Sentinel, at the Door, outseide. The knigts are arranged, in equal numbers, on the right and left of the throne.
The assembly is denominated a Council. The drapery of the throne is green, a green banner is suspended above the throne; on it a triple triangle, with a red cross in the centre of each; underneath are arranged the emblems of the Order. The presiding officer wears a green coilar, trimmed with red, to which is suspended a triple triangle. The knights wear a green collar, trimmed with red, and a sword and trowel, crosswise
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The following passages of Scripture are appropriate to this order, and are rehearsed by the Prelate:
"Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of GOD at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. Then stood Jeshua, with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together to set forward the workmen in the house of God; the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course, in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD: because he is good;. for his mercy endureth forever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid"
Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD GOD of Israel, then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you; for we seek your GOD as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him, since the days of Esar-Haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. But Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our GOD; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD GOD of Israel, as king Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us. Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building; and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus, king of Persia even until the reign of Darius, king of Persia.
And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning
of his reign, wrote they unto him an accusation against the inhabitants of
Judah and Jerusalem. And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel,
and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the
writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreting
in the Syrian tongue. Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, wrote
a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king, in this sort: this is
the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, even unto Artaxerxes the
king: Thy servants, the men on this side the river, and at such a time. Be
it known unto the king, that the Jews, which came up from thee to us, are
come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have
set up the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now unto
the king, that if this city be builded, and the walls set up again, then
will they not pay toll, tribute and custom, and so thou shalt endamage the
revenue of the kings. Now because we have maintenance from the king's
palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king's dishonor; therefore
have we sent and certified the king: that search may be made in the book
of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the
record, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful unto
kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of
old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. We certify the king,
that if this city be builded again, and the walls thereof set up, by this
means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.
Darius the king, having ascended the throne of Persia, the children of the captivity were inspired with new hopes of protection and support in completing their noble and glorious undertaking, which had been so often and so long impeded by their adversaries on the other side of the river.
Josephus informs us that Darius, whilst he was yet a private man, made a vow to GOD, that if he ever came to the throne he would restore all the holy vessels that were at Babylon, and send them back again to Jerusalem.
Zerubbabel, one of the most excellent and faithful rulers of the Jews, having been formerly distinguished by the favorable notice and friendship of the king, whilst in private life, offered himself to encounter the hazardous enterprise of traversing the Persian dominions, and seeking admission to the royal presence, in order that he might seize the first favorable moment to remind the king of the vow which he had made, and to impress upon his mind the almighty force and importance of TRUTH. From the known piety of the king no doubt was entertained of obtaining his consent, that their enemies might be removed far from thence, and that they might be no longer impeded in the glorious undertaking in which they were engaged. The council of rulers accepted, with great joy, this noble sacrifice on the part of Zerubbabel, and invested him with the necessary passports and commendations to enable him to pass through their own dominions in safety. Having passed the barriers, and entered the Persian dominions, he was taken captive, clothed in the habiliments of a slave, and put in chains; but not discouraged by this misfortune, he declared himself a prince of the power of Judah, and demanded an audience of the sovereign. He was told that he could only appear in the presence of the sovereign as a captive and slave: to which he consented, being impressed with a belief, that if by any means he could gain access to the king, he should succeed in the object of his journey.
Zerubbabel, having thus gained admission to the royal presence, was recognized by the king at the friend and companion of his youth, and was interrogated as to his motives in attempting to pass the barriers of his dominions; to which Zerubbabel replied, that he was induced to seek the face of the king by the tears and complaints of his brethren and companions in Jerusalem, who were impeded, by their adversaries on the other side of the river, in the noble and glorious undertaking of rebuilding the house of the LORD, in which they had been permitted to engage by their late sovereign master, Cyrus, the king; that this great work having been made to cease by force and power, he had come to implore the sovereign that he might be restored to his confidence, and admitted amongst the servants of his household.
The king answered, that he had often reflected, with peculiar pleasure, upon their former intimacy; that he had heard, with great satisfaction, of his fame as a wise and accomplished ruler among the architects of his country; that having a profound veneration for an institution which was reputed to practise mysteries which were calculated to promote the glory of the nation, and the happiness of the people, he would instantly restore him to favor, upon condition that he would reveal those mysteries which so eminently distinguished the architects of the Jews from those of all other nations.
Zerubbabel replied, that their institution inculcated the doctrine that TRUTH is a divine attribute, and the foundation of every virtue; that to be good men and true was the first lesson they were taught that his engagements were inviolable; that if he could obtain the royal favor only by the sacrifice of his integrity, he should humbly beg leave to renounce the protection of the sovereign, and cheerfully submit to an honorable exile, or a glorious death.
The king, struck with admiration at the firmness and discretion of Zerubbabel, declared that his virtue and integrity were truly commendable; that his fidelity to his engagements were worthy of imitation, and from that moment he was restored to his confidence.
Darius, in the first year of his reign, gave a splendid and magnificent entertainment to the princes and nobility; and after they had retired, finding himself unable to sleep, he fell into discourse with his three favorite officers, to whom he proposed certain questions, telling them, at the same time, that he who should give him the most reasonable and satisfactory answer, should be clothed in purple, drink in a golden cup, wear a sillken tiara, and a golden chain about his neck. He then proposed this question: which is greatest, the strength of WINE, of the KING, or of WOMEN? To this the first answered, wine is the strongest; the second, that the king was strongest; and the third, (who was Zerubbabel) that women were stronger, but above all things, TRUTH beareth the victory.
The king, being forcibly struck with the addition Zerubbabel had made to his question, ordered than the princes and nobles should assemble on the following day, to hear the subject discussed.
* * * * * * * *
On the following day the king assembled together the princes and nobility, to hear the question debated. The first began as follows, upon
THE STRENGTH OF WINE.
"O ye princes and rulers, how exceeding strong is wine! it causeth all men to err that drink it; it maketh the mind of the king and the beggar to be all one; of the bondman and the freeman; of the poor man and of the rich; it turneth also every thought into jollity and mirth, so that a man remembereth neither sorrow nor debt; it changeth and elevateth the spirits, and enliveneth the heavy hearts of the miserable. It maketh a man forget his brethren, and draw his sword against his best friends. O ye princes and rulers, is not wine the strongest, that forceth us to do these things?"
Then began the second, and spoke as follows, upon
THE POWER OF THE KING.
"It is beyond dispute, O princes and rulers, that GOD has made man master of all things under the sun; to command them, to make use of them, and apply them to his service as he pleases: but whereas men have only dominion over other sublunary creatures, kings have an authority even over men themselves, and a right of ruling them by will and pleasure. Now, he that is master of those who are masters of all things else, hath no earthly thing bove him."
Then began Zerubbabel, upon
THE POWER OF WOMEN AND OF TRUTH.
"O princes and rulers, the force of wine is not to be denied; neither is that of kings, that unites so many men in one common bond of allegiance; but the supereminency of woman is yet above all this; for kings are but the gifts of women, and they are also the mothers of those that cultivate our vineyards. Women have the power to make us abandon our very country and relations, and many times to forget the best friends we have in the world, and, forsaking all other comforts, to live and die with them. But when all is said, neither they, nor wine, nor kings, are comparable to the almighty force of TRUTH. As for all other things, they are mortal and transient, but truth alone is unchangeable and everlasting; the benefits we receive from it are subject to no variations or vicissitudes of time and fortune. In her judgment is no unrighteousness, and she is the strength, wisdom, power and majesty of all ages. Blessed be the GOD of Truth."
When Zerubbabel had finished speaking, the princes and rulers cried
Then said the king to Zerubbabel, "Ask what thou wilt, and I will give it thee, because thou art found wisest among thy companions."
Then said he to Darius, "O king, remember thy vow, which thou hast vowed, to build Jerusalem in the day when thou shouldest come to thy kingdom, and to restore the holy vessels which were taken away out of Jerusalem. Thou hast also vowed to build up the temple, which was burned when Judah was made desolate by the Chaldees. And now, O king, this is that I desire of thee, that thou make good the vow, the performance whereof, with thine own mouth, thou hast vowed to the king of heaven."
Then Darius the king stood up and embraced him, and gave him passports and letters to his governors and officers, that they should safely convey both him, and those that should go with him, to Jerusalem; and that they should not be delayed or hindered from building the city and the temple until they should be finished. He also restored all the holy vessels remaining in his possession, that had been taken from Jerusalem, when the children of Israel were carried away captive to Babylon, and reserved by Cyrus.
* * * * * *
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and hat the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, and conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless, we made our prayer unto our GOD, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish, so that we are not able to build the wall. And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews, which dwelt by them, came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us, they will be upon you. And it came to pass, when our enemies heard it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to naught, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work. And it came to pass, from that time forth, that the half of my servants wrought in the work, and the other half of them held both the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the habergeons; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded; and he that sounded the trumpet was by me. And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another: In what place, therefore, ye hear the sound of the trumpet, resort ye thither unto us; our GOD shall fight, for us." - NEHMIAH iv. 7-20.
Then Darius the king made decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes a roll, and therein was a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king, the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place, where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber; and let the expenses be given out of the king's house. And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of GOD, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God. Now, therefore, Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shethar-boznai, and your companions, the Apharsachites, which are beyond the river, be ye far from thence: let the work of his house of GOD alone; let the governor of the Jews, and the elders of the Jews, build this house of GOD in his place. Moreover, I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of GOD; that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for burnt-offerings of the GOD of heaven; wheat, salt, wine and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail; that they may offer sacrifices of sweet savors unto the GOD of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. Also, I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And the GOD that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of GOD which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed. Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river Shethar-boznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah, the son of Iddo; and they builded and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia. - EZRA vi. * * * * *
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Last modified: March 22, 2014