|'... Beside the pillar... as the manner was'. (2 Kings 11,14)|
By Bro. Walter Sharman
name of the left hand pillar of King Solomon’s Temple and its import;
in the second degree with that of the right hand pillar. More detailed information about these pillars is given in the Second Degree Tracing Board, their construction, dimensions, their purpose as memorials and
also details of their architect. All this is communicated on just a few
leaves of paper, whereas the total ritual comprises some 160 pages.
It is the purpose of this paper to explore more fully the significance
and background of King Solomon’s Pillars and if possible to extend
our knowledge of them.
pillars called antediluvian because they were built by Noah before
the flood. After the death of Abel, slain by his brother Cain, another
son was born to Adam and Eve called Seth. In contrast to the evil inclinations of Cain, Seth and his descendants, who included Enoch
and Lamech, Ied virtuous lives. Amongst other things they are said
to have developed the science of astronomy, the division of time into weeks, months, solar and lunar years, and to have evolved Hebrew characters.
two pillars, one of brick and one of stone, hoping that at least one
would survive the catastrophe. (Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of
the Jews, Vol. 1, pp. 121/2 also Vol. 5, pp. 149/50).
has been ascribed to Jabal, eldest son of Lamech, descendent
of Cain. Jabal was credited with the development of geometry and masonry; his brother Jubal created music and song, and their half
brother Tubal Cain became the first artificer in metals; their sister
Na'amah was said to have been the first person to have undertaken weaving. (See W.J. Williams in AQC 5 1, pp. 100, 'The Antedilu-
vian Pillars in Prose and Verse'.)
'Pillars and Globes; Columns and Candlesticks', (AQC 75, pp.
204-211) pointing out that one of the pillars made of marble
would not burn, while the other made of 'lacerus' would
\not sink. They were a means of preserving scientific knowledge.
This idea of preserving knowledge, at least in archive form, was
later grafted on to the legend of the Solomonic pillars, alleging
them to have been hollow. It should be noted that not all scholars
accept this theory. (see, e.g., Alex Horne, King Solomons Temple
in the Masonic Tradition, p. 219)
diluvian Pillars. The text of this manuscript is printed in AQC,
Vol II, Ed. by G.W Speth, 1890, and in D. Knoop, G.P. Jones
& D. Hamer, The Two Earliest Masonic Mss., Manchester, 1938.
The original manuscript is in the British Library. The legend of
the pillars in the manuscript is also based on the Jabal version.
after the flood one of these pillars was found by the Greek mathe-
matician Pythagoras and the other by the philosopher Hermes.
red in the craft at Tyre. The temple site had possessed cultic signi-
ficance during Jebusite times — the threshing floor of Arauna, on
which King David built an altar. There is also the tradition that this
height, Mount Moriah, was the location of the Binding of Isaac. The Temple site was situated partly within the territory of the tribe of Ben-
jamin, King Saul’s tribe, and partly within that of Judah, the Royal
tribe of King David.
to that of the somewhat smaller, ninth century Tel Tainat Temple (in Northern Syria), and also those of Megiddo and Bet She'an (in Israel).
than a walled courtyard. It was the 'public' part of the house where
guests were welcomed. Inside, the front room, separated from the
front porch by a door or screen, was a combination of living room
and bedroom for the children. The backroom would be separated by
a door or screen and was the bedroom of the owner and his wife,
or wives, and no guests were ever allowed into it. The Temple,
being the House of God, had a similar, anthropomorphic, ground plan.
We have here a parallel with the Porch (Ulam), main room for di-
vine services (Hechal) and the Holy of the Holies (Devir). King
Solomon’s Temple faced West, thus preventing sun worship. In a foot-
Horne (op. cit., on p. 204, citing The Jewish Encyclopaedia) draws the reader’s attention to Ezekiel 8: 16, which relates a case of such a heinous sin of sun worship, facing East, committed in the Temple.
Carol Myers, in her paper 'Jachin and Boaz in Religious and Political Perspective', (in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 1963, p. 169) argues that earlier scholars, during the thirties and forties, did not recognise the significance of free standing pillars which were known from archaeo-
logical research to have flanked a number of temples of the ancient
world. Such free-standing pillars also appear on first century coins
from Cyprus and Sidon, on which they can be seen, standing clear of temple structures.
meant to be highly visible, thus providing a contrast to the invisibility
of the Temple’s interior, in particular the Devir, the Holy of the Holies, which was in fact 'off limits', unseen not only by the general populace
but even by the general clergy. 'Thus the twin pillars loomed large at the entrance to the Temple, providing a visual link to the unseen grandeur within' (Myers, p. 173) They formed indeed a memorial for the children
of Israel 'when going to and returning from Divine Worship.
one pillar guarding the Israelites, appearing as fire during the night and as a dark cloud during the day. The most important Jewish Bible commentator Rashi (1040-1105) has this to say:
so that the light given by the pillar of fire in front of the Israelites should
not reach the Egyptians since it could not penetrate the pillar of cloud
that separated the two camps! (Silberman Pentateuch p. 240). 'The same idea is expressed in the Soncino Pentateuch, quoting Sforno (14751550).
the royal dynasty, it must follow that after the end of the Judean monar-
chy and the destruction of the Solomonic Temple in the year 586 BCE there would no longer be a need for such pillars in the rebuilt Temple. Indeed this was erected without such additions, and neither Mishna nor Gemara have much to say about the pillars. It is sad to read in the earlier book of Jeremiah (52:17) of the fate of the two pillars. They were bro-
ken up by the Babylonians to facilitate transport home and very likely the metal was used for pagan worship. The dust of centuries covers Babylon but we can reflect with Rabbi Dr. S.R. Hirsch that the truths which the pillars should teach us — truths as valid to-day as when they were first erected — are the need to stand on a firm foundation like Jachin and through the strength of Boaz to emerge victoriously from all the stru-
ggles of life.
Montreal, 1939, "The Pillars of jachin and Boaz', p. 145) points out
that, in contrast to some sixteen excavations of other such pillars,
which he enumerates, those of King Solomon’s Temple bore signi-
ficant names which seem to have reinforced their message of spiri-
tual and cultic meaning. In his view no ’satisfactory explanation
had been forthcoming' for the 'curious' names of Jachin and Boaz.
He quotes a number of Jewish, Phoenician, or Babylonian possibi-
lities but finds none really convincing. He goes on to suggest that
the names of the two pillars mentioned in the Bible were the first
words of inscriptions engraved on the columns. 'May the Lord
establish (Jakhin) the Throne of David and his Kingdom for ever',
and perhaps 'In the Strength (Be'oz) of the Lord shall the King re-
joice'. (Psalm 21,2). Scott’s explanation has subsequently been gi-
ven in the Encyclopaedia Judaica under the comprehensive heading Temple).
ter in 2 Chronicles 3: 17, simply quote the names as if they had
been personal names. The popular Soncino translation includes a commentary by Rev. Dr. I. W. Slotki:
|Jakhin:||Hebrew for He (God) will establish|
|Boaz:||composed of two words 'bo' (in him), 'az' (strength).|
The pillars thus bore testimony to the might of God.
hand side of the porch entrance of King Solomon’s Temple and
the 'J' pillar on the opposite or right hand side. However, the
ritual does not say whether their positions are seen looking out
of the Temple eastwards or towards the Temple westwards.
We can accept that the Temple was built with the entrance at
the East and the Holy of the Holies at the opposite or Western
end. (Mishna, Seder Kedoshim — Midot). In an indirect way
2 Chronicles 4: 10 provides an answer. Referring to the 'Mol-
ten Sea' (A huge water basin), one of the Temple implements
produced simultaneously with the pillars, this verse states speci-
towards the South'.
refore this must also have been the position of the 'J' pillar which
would place the 'B' pillar in the North-East or left hand corner;
both from a position within the Temple looking outwards or east-
wards. This, therefore, must be the correct explanation in line with
our ritual. Any illustration, such as Tracing boards, showing an ap-
proach towards the Temple would naturally show an opposite posi-
with this view. It must be stated though that there are a few dissen-
ting views. In favour are the following:
kins; Rabbi S.R. Hirsch; Alex Horne; J.W. Horsley (AQC 21); B.E.
Jones; Josephus; A.G. Mackey; Dr. Carol L. Myers; N. Rogers
(AQC 68); Prof. R.B.Y. Scott; and Dr. M. Spangenthal.
of a possible main entrance on the west side of the Temple (but see
other considerations arise. The boundaries of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin ran right across the Temple site. The South-East and, there-
fore, the position of Jachin, belonged to the leading tribe of Judah
which had provided the royal, Davidic dynasty, whereas the North-
East part with its Boaz pillar belonged to the territory of Benjamin,
the smallest tribe, the kinsfolk of King Saul, Israel’s first King. The
reader will recall that Benjamin was the only one of Jacob’s twelve
sons who was actually born in the land of Israel.
ting Joseph Young as follows: '... in ancient times the Hebrews refer-
red to the four cardinal points of the compass from the position of a
man looking towards the rising sun, i.e. the Right hand and the South
were synonymous'. This view is also expressed in the Encyclopaedia Biblica and appears in favour of the majority opinion of the location
of the pillars.
king Joash was hidden for almost seven years from Athaliah’s attem-
pts to murder him as she had murdered other members of the royal household. At an opportune moment he was presented to the people
to be crowned and Athaliah herself was slain. What is significant for
us is the fact that the coronation took place 'beside the Pillar ... as the manner was.' There is also a charming legend that 'the royal crown
of the House of David possessed the peculiarity of fitting none but the rightful successors to King David'. (Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews,
Vol. 4, pp. 258/9).
king must write for himself (or cause to have it written for him) a co-
py of the Torah, i.e. the Pentateuch. This was to be with him all the
days of his life. It is also part of the Coronation Ceremony of the
British Monarchs that a copy of the Bible is to be presented to him
or her as '... the most precious thing in the world'.
king-making act: it was the renewal of the dynasty, in this case the
Davidic one which had been interrupted by the unlawful reign of
Athaliah. This view is confirmed by a number of masonic and other
writers, (e.g. I.W. Horsley, AQC 21; H. Carr, AQC 97; as well as
Professor R.B.Y. Scott and Dr. Carol L. Myers), but it is remarkable
how comparatively few commentators mention the role the Pillars
played in the coronation of the Davidic kings.
23,3 '... to walk after the Lord and to keep His commandments ...
and all the people stood to the covenant.'
suresp. 104, are also worthy of note:
|Question:||What is the meaning of Jakhin?|
|Answer:||It is the name of one of the two brass pillars which stood|
at the Porch of the Temple of Solomon where the Appren-
tices assembled to receive their wages.
tered Apprentices receive their wages prior to the erection of the side chambers of the Temple especially the Middle Chamber? The above quotation appears to be at least the beginning of an answer.
evidently that they preserved accumulated scientific knowledge.
While there does not seem to be any scriptural or other support for
the theory that the Solomonic Pillars served as archives, of the
Biblical books dealing with the pillars, Jeremiah 52:21 indicates
that the pillars were cast hollow, their walls having been four fin-
gers width in thickness. It must have been tempting, especially in
view of the legends of the earlier pillars, to embellish masonic lore
by adding the story of archival deposits.
lars primarily served to impart Divine legitimisation to the ruling dy-
nasty — in this case the Davidic one — it follows that after the reign
of the twenty kings of Judah there was no longer a reason for similar freestanding pillars when the Second Temple was built. This was in-
deed the situation and apparently the reason why little is mentioned of Jachin and Boaz in later Jewish source books.
the pillars, very likely also to legitimise and to elevate the initiation
to the highest possible level. There is evidence to show that both
pillars were used for the first degree ceremony and it was only at a
later stage that the ritual was split into the first and second degree so
far as the two pillars are concerned. Harry Carr, Bernard E. Jones and others confirm this point.
are placed near them, forming a kind of portal through which
the initiate passes on his admission. (H, Carr, AQC, 75, p. 206)
The French exposure Trahi also shows an Apprentice Plan with
both 'J' and 'B' pillars.
tive years of the Craft, possibly submerged by the volume of new developments, and it is a stimulating challenge to assist in laying
these bare once again.
Reprinted with permission of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, the
Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, UGLE
vol cvi (1993). [pp. 236-40.]