The Masonic Trowel

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Masonic Musings

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood. We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done.� President and Brother Theodore Roosevelt: 1858-1919, Twenty- sixth President of the U.S.A.  

Make it a life-rule to give your best to whatever passes through your hands. Stamp it with your manhood. Let superiority be your trademark...� Orison Swett Marden  

�There is something greater than wealth, grander even than fame -- manhood, character, stand for success... nothing else really does.� Orison Swett Marden  

Masonic Musings

In the 2 the fellow Craft is told by the Senior Warden that at the buildings of King Solomon�s Temple there were 80,000 hewers in the mountains and in the quarries. This isn�t part of the esoteric or secret work of the degree because it is a restatement of what can be found in the Great Light of Masonry: 1Kings 5:15 tells us; �[15] Now Solomon had 70,000 transporters, and 80,000 hewers {of stone} in the mountains, [16] besides Solomon�s 3,300 chief deputies who [were] over the project [and] who ruled over the people who were doing the work. [17] Then the king commanded, and they quarried great stones, costly stones, to lay the foundation of the house with cut stones. [18] So Solomon's builders and Hiram's builders and the Gebalites cut them, and prepared the timbers and the stones to build the house.�[i]  

Why the mountains, and not mines, as is sometimes heard in ritual, because, it is in the mountains where the Cedars of Lebanon were harvested and shipped from for use in the construction of King Solomon�s Temple. I mention the Cedars because of the symbolism: There is symbolism attached to almost everything in our ritual, and it pays for the Masonic Student to learn about it; the Cedar is a symbol of eternity because its substance never decays or rots. You might like to know that the Ark of the Covenant was made of Cedar.[ii]  

Smith�s Bible Dictionary reminds us that Cedar, (the Cedars of Lebanon); �is of a reddish color, of bitter taste and aromatic odor, offensive to insects, and very durable.� It further tells us; �The grove is at the very upper part of the valley, about 15 miles from the sea, 6500 feet above sea level, and its position is moreover above that of all other arborous vegetation. ("Of the celebrated cedars on Mount Lebanon, eleven groves still remain.�  

�Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of a man you are. It shows me what your ideal of manhood is, and what kind of a man you long to be.� Thomas Carlyle  

Sometimes Masons will wonder about the colors used in Masonic aprons; i.e. Blue, Red, and Purple. Blue is worn on aprons for Ancient Craft Masonry, Red in the York Rite, (Royal Arch,) and also in some Scottish Rite Aprons, and, of course, Purple for Grand Lodge officers. Just as there is symbolism of just about everything in Ancient Craft Masonry, there is also a very good reason why some things are the way they are. The Color choices can be traced to a scripture in the Great Light of Masonry. The colors offered to God were Blue, Purple and Scarlet; the scripture to refer to is Exodus 25:4 & 35:6, and if we were to read the verse just before each of these 25:3 & 35:5 we will see that the metals offered to God were Gold, Silver, and Bronze.  

Because of this we can get a clue as to why Gold is reserved for the Collars and jewels of Grand Lodge officers: Brother C.C. Hunt[iii] tells us that the terms used in the Bible to describe the various characteristics and attributes of Gold; they testify to the high position of esteem which it occupied. This, very likely, is the reason that Gold and Silver have been chosen for Freemasonry as Gold, for Grand Lodge collars and jewels, and Silver for Blue Lodge collars and jewels.  

�No man has ever risen to the real stature of spiritual manhood until he has found that it is finer to serve somebody else than it is to serve himself.�  

President Woodrow T. Wilson: 1856-1924, Twenty-eighth President of the USA  

Many reasons have been offered as to why the color for ancient Craft Masonry is �Blue,� as in the term �Blue Lodge.� Brother Mackey reports to us that there is early evidence of �blue� being used for Ancient Craft Masonry; On December 6, 1731 there was notice posted in Dublin telling about a Masonic function (fete), which was held there: �The ladies all wore Yellow and Blue Ribbons on the breasts, being the proper colors of that Ancient and Right Worshipful Society.� Yellow referred to the brass of the compass, Masonic blue, however, refers to the blue metal point of the compass, and the blue that is closely associated with King Solomon�s Temple, as well as its predecessor, the Tabernacle in the wilderness.[iv]  

�Personally, I hold that a man, who deliberately and intelligently takes a pledge and then breaks it, forfeits his manhood.� Mahatma Gandhi  

This is the time of the year when Lodges will be holding elections for the officers for the ensuing year and as a result a Brother who has served as a Warden by be elected to the �Oriental Chair.� I mention the chair the Master sits in because for many of us we have heard it called the Oriental Chair, but aren�t aware of why it is called that. When we call it the Oriental Chair it is an abbreviation of the full name of the chair for the Master of a Lodge and the Grand Master of a jurisdiction. The full name is the �Oriental Chair of King Solomon.�  

From volumes of Sacred Law:  

�Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.� Ecclesiastes 11:9 Tanakh  

�And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind.� Ephesians 4:11-14 New Testament  

�This is of the tidings of things hidden. We reveal it unto thee(Muhammad).  

Thou wast not present with them when they threw their pens (to know) which of them should be the guardian of Mary, nor wast thou present with them when they quarrelled (thereupon). (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous. She said: My Lord!  

How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me? He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is. And He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel, And will make him a messenger unto the Children of Israel, (saying): Lo! I come unto you with a sign from your Lord. Lo! I fashion for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, and I breathe into it and it is a bird, by Allah's leave. I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I raise the dead, by Allah's leave. And I announce unto you what ye eat and what ye store up in your houses. Lo! herein verily is a portent for you, if ye are to be believers.� Qur�an - Surah 003: 044- 049 - Al-Imran: The Family Of Imran  



[ii] Masonic Concordance of the Holy Bible

[iii] ibid

[iv] ibid

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