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StarRed Special Project 2008 - PS Review of Freemasonry meets the Scottish Rite Research Society.

Ten selected papers first published on Heredom,
The Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society

PS Review of Freemasonry
Human progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission,
and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal. - The Scottish Rite Creed

by William D. Parker, 33° &
S. Brent Morris, 33°, G.C., Fellow & Mackey Scholar
Published in Vol.11, Year 2003

© No part of this paper may be reproduced without written permission from the Scottish Rite Research Society.
HTML code property of PS Review of Freemasonry - All rights reserved ©


Les Plus Secrets Mystères des Hauts Grades de la Maçonnerie Dévoilés (The Most Secret Mysteries of the High Degrees of Masonry Unveiled), edited by M. de Bérage, was an exposé published in 1766 and was the first printed book to give the rituals of the hauts grades or “high degrees” of Masonry.[i] It may be one of the most important books for understanding the origins of the degrees of the Scottish Rite from the many rival hauts grades in France in the eighteenth century. Bérage’s degrees were not necessarily the most popular or the most important of those being worked, but they were the first to be published.


We present here, with little comment, the “Sixth Degree of Masonry,” Knight of the Sword and of Rose-Croix. The translation of the “First Degree of Masonry,” Perfect Elect Mason was published in volume 1 of Heredom, the “Second Degree,” Elect of Pérignan, in volume 2, the “Third Degree,” Elect of the Fifteen, in volume 3, the “Fourth Degree,” Junior Architect (Petit Architecte) in volume 4, and the “Fifth Degree,” Senior Architect, in volume 5. Note that the Knight of the Sword is somewhat less primitive that the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Degrees, but not as sophisticated as the Perfect Elect Mason. The Knight of the Sword has elaborate scenery but misses the opportunity for ritual drama, for example, at the passage over the bridge. There is no lecture, only a catechism. However, the theme of the degree, Zerubbabel returning from captivity to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, is found in nearly all rites. An analysis of these degrees is helpful in appreciating the origins of themes, characters, and words that ultimately found their way into the Scottish Rite degrees we know today.


It should be emphasized that these ceremonies are not those of the present day Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. They are the alleged practices of some hauts grades Masons in France in 1766. We have taken no account of the enormous changes, both organizational and ceremonial, that occurred as the hauts grades eventually coalesced into their modern form in 1801 in Charleston, S.C.


Les Plus Secrets Mystères has the rituals for seven very early Masonic degrees which match very roughly with more developed ceremonies in the Scottish Rite: Perfect Elect Mason, Elect of Pérignan, and Elect of the Fifteen, corresponding to the 9°, 10°, and 11°; Junior Architect and Senior Architect, corresponding to the 12°; Knight of the Sword and of the Rose-Croix, corresponding to the 15°and 16°; and Noachite or Prussian Knight corresponding to the 21°.


There is indeed little honor among thieves (or exposers or anti-Masons), as Bérage’s text has been plagiarized in many different rituals and exposés. Two examples demonstrate its pervasiveness. In 1781 Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor published Recueil Précieux de la Maçonnerie Adonhiramite (Precious Compendium of Adonhiramite Masonry), which was a copy of Les Plus Secrets Mystères with just a few additions.[ii] Light on Masonry was an exposé published by David Bernard in New York in 1829 following the Morgan Affair. In addition to the degrees of the York and Scottish Rites, Bernard included seven “French Degrees” which he explained “are conferred in France and in this country as honorary degrees.”[iii] Bernard’s degree of Knight of the East is very close to that of Bérage.


Our translation of Les Plus Secrets Mystères is based on the 1981 reprint of the 1778 edition by Gutenberg Reprints of Paris and is not verbatim, as the original French is convoluted and often difficult to understand. Our goal has been readability while being faithful, but not slavish, to the original. The clauses in some sentences have been rearranged, lengthy sentences have been split into two or more shorter ones, and long paragraphs have been broken up, especially when speakers change. We have tried to note those places where the original text is unclear or ambiguous to us.



The Scottish Rite Journal is published bimonthly by the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdiction, United States of America, Washington, DC.





This degree is called Knight of the Sword, sometimes Knight of the East or Knight Mason of Rose-Croix since the reception is a fully military one. It is founded on sacred history in that once the Jews were led to Babylon in captivity and the temple destroyed, their prince Zerubbabel[iv] later obtained permission from Cyrus to rebuild it ; but since they were surrounded by enemies while they worked on rebuilding the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, they held a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other;[v] which is the reason why this degree was named Knight of the Sword or Knight Free Mason[vi] applied to the people chosen to protect the subordinate workers but who were as well attending the works made in common in order to maintain equality with their brethren.


It is also called Knight of the East, for its creation happened in that part of the world. They are called free masons, 1° because those upon which the degree is conferred are bare-faced : 2° because among the captives there was a class of masons descended from the race of king Hiram, from Moabon,[vii] and from the senior architects that Solomon had rendered free from all taxes, and who were chosen first by Zerubbabel.


It is called Zerubbabel because they represent the prince who receives Cyrus’ orders to rebuild the temple.


The lodge must have two apartments, with a painting and a decoration in each.





It represents the room where Cyrus, king of the Assyrians, ruler of Babylon, holds court. It is draped in green and lit by 70 lights to indicate the 70 years of captivity. There is a throne in the east for the Master, seats for the brethren in the south and another[viii] in the west for the Warden. The square in the center of the lodge[ix] must be enclosed by a small cardboard or wooden wall one-and-one-half feet high and painted in white, green, and red squares to indicate the walls of Babylon. Brethren must be standing when inside the wall and sitting when outside. This wall will have seven towers, three in the south, three in the north, and one in the west. Six towers will be one-and-one-half feet above the walls, but the middle one, in the west, must be seven feet in height with a circumference sufficient to contain a man. It must have two doors, one inside the square and one outside, and be lightproof. The drapes in the west must exactly fit the exterior [of the tower] so that one can enter or exit without observing anything. This door will be guarded by two brethren with swords at their sides and lances in their hands. The room is adorned with a throne along the east wall thus inside the square.[x] behind the throne is a transparency representing Cyrus’ dream; namely an angry, roaring lion ready to pounce on him; above, the glory of the grand architect on a shining cloud. Underneath will be Nebuchadnezzar and Balthazar, the predecessors of Cyrus, burdened with chains. In the center of the glory is an eagle holding these words in his beak: “Let the captives be free.” Behind the west tower there must be some water which when stirred, will represent the Starburzanaï[xi] River. On the river is a sturdy wooden bridge that leads to the second apartment.





It represents the premises or the piece of ground where the second temple was built. The temple must appear again in all its splendor, and the drapes will be red. The decoration will be like that of the Senior Architect.


Title[s] of the first apartment. The Master represents Cyrus and is called Sovereign Master. The Senior Warden represents Nabuzaradan,[xii] his senior general; the Junior Warden, General Mithredath;[xiii] the Secretary, the chancellor; the Master of Ceremonies, the grand-master; the brethren, the Knight Masons.

Title[s] of the Second Apartment. The Master is called Most Excellent Master or Excellent of the Order; the Wardens, most potent; the brethren, most worshipful; and the candidate, Zerubbabel.





The Master and officers wear around their necks a large green moiré collar, without a jewel, coming to a point at the stomach. The Master has a scepter and the brethren have swords in their hands. The Wardens and members wear a large green moiré ribbon without a jewel, slung over the shoulder from left to right; besides, an apron lined in green taffeta and a small strip of the same color bordering the apron, with no other sign and  the flap lowered; apron and ribbon will be worn only while performing the duties within the first apartment since they are profane marks that Cyrus wished to give to the members of Solomon, thinking it sufficient to make them masons. They are worn however to remind us that the prince and his court accorded Zerubbabel permission to rebuild the temple.


In passing to the second apartment, the brethren take off the green and put on the red, which is the true Scottish color. The degrees can be distinguished one from the other, however, by the rosettes at the bottom of the ribbon worn one above another : a blue one for an Architect, a red one for a Senior Architect, a green one for a Knight of the East, and a black one for a Knight of the Eagle. The brethren wear a silk sash, the color of water with a gold fringe, strewed with skulls, crossbones, golden triangular chains and a band of gold running in the middle representing a bridge on which are the three letters L.D.P. This sash is worn around the body like a belt in such a manner that the ends, fringed with gold, hang upon the tails of the coat. The sash can be worn everywhere except in the first apartment of this lodge.


The Master and the officers wear their jewels around their necks, and brethren officers at the bottom of their collars as a sash. The Master has three triangles, one inside the other; the Senior Warden wears a square and both levels; all the officers wear their usual jewels but enclosed in  a triple triangle. The form of the jewel is like that of the Architects, but upon the jewel[xiv] must be two swords in saltire, their handles on the level. Everything must be in gold or decorated with gold.





The candidate[xv] must be clothed in red with a large [senior architect] ribbon, Scottish apron[xvi], his hands bound with triangular chains. This chain must be long enough so that his hands are free. He is told he will be called Zerubbabel, that he must have a sad, plaintive countenance, and must consider himself a captive. He may have no weapon, ornament or jewel. His hands are placed on his face until he reaches the tower door where the guards search him just prior to being presented.





Sovereign: My Brethren, help me to open the lodge of knight of the sword.


The generals repeat his words. The sovereign raps seven times, with a pause between five and six, and the generals do likewise.


Sovereign General:[xvii] What is the first care of a Mason?

Sr. General: Sovereign master, to see the lodge duly tiled!


He then performs that duty. After having checked both outside and inside, and having checked the brethren, the Jr. General says:


Jr. General: Sovereign Master, the lodge is duly tiled and all brethren present are knights of the sword.

Sovereign Sr. General What times are we in ?

Sr. General: The day [when] the seventy years of captivity are finished.

Sovereign: Generals, princes, knights, a long time ago I resolved to set free the captive Jews. I am tired to see them moan in chains ; but I cannot release them without consulting you about a dream I had last night and which requires an explanation.

I thought I saw a roaring lion ready to pounce and devour me. His aspect frightened me and caused me to flee and seek safety from his anger; but at that instant, in a dazzling light bursting from the opened heavens, I saw my predecessors represented as the last step of the altar to the glory that Masons designate under the name of grand architect of the universe. Two words were heard ; they came out from the center of the shining star: I understood they meant to set the captives free unless my crown would pass into foreign hands; I remained dumbfounded and confused; the dream disappeared.

Since that moment, my tranquility is gone. It is your task, princes, to deliberate and give me your opinion on what I must do.


During that speech, all the brethren have lowered their heads but finally they look at the senior general, doing as he does.


The senior general places his right hand on his sword, draws it, and holds the point high, his arm held in front of him,  then he points the sword downward to signify agreement with the king’s will, then points the sword upward again to signify freedom, and remains in this position.


Sovereign: Let the captivity be ended: generals, princes, knights, the lodge of knights of the sword is open.


The generals repeat the phrase, each on his own side. The Sovereign and all the brethren make the usual acclamations, but without applauding.





When the candidate has been properly prepared, the Master of Ceremonies leads him to the door of the tower, near the guards, as noted above. The guards question the candidate, who repeats what the Master of Ceremonies tells him.


            Q.           Guard: What are you asking for  ?

            A.           I ask whether it is possible to speak with your Sovereign.

            Q.           Guard: Who are you ?

            A.           The first among my equals, a mason by rank, a captive by disgrace.

            Q.           What is your name?

            A.           Zerubbabel.

            Q.           What is your age?

            A.           70.

            Q.           What brings you here?

            A.           The tears and misery of my brethren.


Guard: Wait. We shall try to bring your complaints to the sovereign.


One of the guards raps seven times at the tower door as a knight of the sword. The junior general raps seven times on the mallet of the senior, then the sovereign.


Jr. General: A guard knocks at the tower door as a knight of the sword.

Sr. General: Sovereign Master, a guard knocks at the tower door as a Knight of the Sword.

Sovereign General: Senior Warden, let him be introduced. Protect me with extraordinary precautions in the trouble I find myself; minor details should not be neglected.


The Junior Warden goes to the tower door, knocks, opens it, brings back the guard to the west, who discards his lance, crosses his arms, bows, and says, “The first among equals of the masons, 70 years of age, asks to appear before you.”


Sovereign: Bring him into the palace tower, and we shall question him.


The guard bows again, withdraws, brings the candidate into the tower, and closes him in. The Sovereign then questions the candidate through the closed door.


Q:       What brings you here?

A:       I come to ask justice and kindness of the sovereign.

Q:       About what?

A:       To ask pardon for my brethren who have been in captivity for 70 years.

Q:       What is your name?

A:       Zerubbabel, the first among my equals, a mason by rank, and a captive by disgrace.

Q:       What favor will you ask  from me?

A:       That by the grace of the Grand Architect of the Universe, the king’s justice grants us freedom, and that we be permitted to rebuild the temple of our God.


Sovereign: Since such just motives bring him here, he is permitted to appear before us barefaced.


The guards open the tower door at once, lead him to the west, and make him  bow very low.


Sovereign: Zerubbabel, I felt the weight of your captivity as much as you did. I am ready to release you and set you free this instant if you  agree to impart the secrets of Masonry to me, for which I always had the utmost veneration.

  A. Sovereign master, when Solomon acquainted us with its first principles, he taught us that equality must be the first motive. It  does not reign here. Your rank, your titles, your superiority and your court are not compatible with the place where one is instructed in the secrets of our order. Besides, our ostensible tokens are unknown to you. My obligations are inviolable, and I cannot reveal our secrets to you. Should this be the price of my freedom, then I prefer captivity.


Sovereign: I admire the discretion and virtue of Zerubbabel. He deserves freedom for his firmness in his convictions.


All the brethren show agreement by lowering and then raising the points of their swords.


Sovereign: General Junior Warden, let Zerubbabel undergo the 70 tests, which I reduce to three; that is, the test of the body, of the spirit, and of the soul, which are the pectoral, the memory, and the iron, in order that he may thus merit the favor he asks, and which his discretion induces me to grant him.


The Junior Warden leads him three times around the lodge. On the first time around, a shot is fired. On the second he is asked if he persists in asking for freedom. On the third, his hands are placed on his forehead. On returning the Junior Warden raps seven times and the senior [warden] tells him:


Sr. Warden: What do you want?

Jr. Warden: The candidate has undergone the tests with resolve and constancy.

Sovereign: Zerubbabel, I grant you the favor you have asked of me. I consent that you be set free.


The Sovereign raps seven times, signaling the generals to free Zerubbabel from his chains, which they do immediately.


Sovereign: Go to your country. I permit you to rebuild the temple destroyed by my ancestors. Your treasures shall be restored before sunset. Be acknowledged as chief above your equals. I shall order that you be obeyed everywhere you go, that you be given aid and assistance as if it were me. I merely request from you a tribute of three lambs, five sheep, and seven rams, which I shall let be received under the porch of the new temple. I ask this, rather in remembrance of the friendship I promise you than out of gratitude. Approach, my friend.


The generals lead him to the foot of the throne.


Sovereign: I give you this sword as a mark of distinction above your equals. I am convinced you shall use it only in their defense. Therefore, I invest you a Knight of the Sword.


In saying these words, he raps with his sword on Zerubbabel’s shoulders and embraces him; he then gives him the  apron and the green ribbon worn from left to right and says:


Sovereign: As a token of my esteem, I present you with an apron and ribbon, adopted in imitation of the workers of your temple. Although these marks are not accompanied by any secrets, I bestow them only on princes of my court as an honor; henceforth, you shall enjoy the same honors as they do. I now place you in the hands of Nabazardan, who will appoint guides to lead you safely to your brethren, to the place where you shall rebuild the new temple; I do so order.


The Senior Warden takes hold of the candidate, let him enter the tower, and leaves him there while the brethren pass silently into the second apartment. As soon as they are all in place, a servant indicates to the Master of Ceremonies that  everything is ready. He leads the candidate behind the drapes, to the place where the bridge leads to the second apartment at the entrance of which he finds guards who stop him, take off his apron and green ribbon and attempt to stop his way; but he breaks through, chases them off, and arrives at the door of the second apartment.

The Master of Ceremonies knocks seven times as a knight of the sword. The brethren, now in the second apartment, no longer represent Cyrus’ court; and when they hear the knocks each take from their apron belts the trowel that should hang there, holding the sword in their right hand and the trowel in their left.

The tracing board[xviii] of the lodge is covered by a red drape; the Junior Warden knocks seven times first, then the Senior Warden.


Jr. Warden: I heard someone knock at the door as a Knight of the Sword.

Sr. Warden: Most Excellent Master, someone knocks at the door of the lodge as a Knight of the Sword.

Master: Most-powerful brother Junior Warden, see who knocks.


The jr. Warden goes to the door, knocks, opens it and asks what is wanted.


A.  I ask to see my brethren again in order to give them the news of my deliverance from Babylon and of the other unfortunates of the fraternity who escaped captivity.


The Jr. Warden gives his report to the Sr. Warden, who then reports to the Master.


Master: The news that this captive brings may be well-founded. 70 years have passed, the day of the temple’s rebuilding has come. Ask for his name, his age and which country he comes from, to preclude any surprise.


The Junior Warden knocks, his knock is answered, he opens the door and says,


Q:        What is your name?”

A:         Zerubbabel

Q:        Where is your country?

A:        This side of the Starburzanaï river, west of Assyria.

Q:        What is your age?

A:        70 years old.


The Junior Warden closes the door, knocks and repeats the exchange to the Senior Warden. The Senior Warden then repeats it to the Master.


Master: Zerubbabel by name, from a country this side of the Starburzanaï River, and 70 years old : yes, my brethren, captivity is over and our dormancy comes to an end. This captive is truly the prince of the sovereign tribe that  will  rebuild our temple; let him enter among us and be recognized to guide and support our work.


The Junior Warden knocks, opens the door, receives the captive, and leads him to the West.


Sr. Warden: Most Excellent Master, here is Zerubbabel, who desires to be admitted into the bosom of our fraternity.

Master: Zerubbabel, give us an exact account of your deliverance.

Zerubbabel:[xix] Cyrus permitted me to appear at the foot of his throne and was moved by the miseries of the fraternity. He armed me with this sword for the defense and aid of my brethren and honored me with the title of brother of his company. He then freed me, placed me in the hands of zealous subjects who led me and helped me triumph over our enemies during the crossing of the Starburzanaï River, where, in spite of our victory, we lost the distinctive marks that had been given to us by the king, our liberator.


Q:        My brethren, the loss that you experienced tells us that the justice of our own fraternity will not allow the triumph of pomp and grandeur. When Cyrus gave you these honors, he was not guided by the spirit of equality that invariably accompanies us. You see by this loss that it was only the marks of the prince which disappeared, and you kept those of true Masonry. But, before I impart you the secrets kept since our captivity in the remnants of our fraternity, we must demand your assurances that the length of your disgrace has not weakened in you the sentiments and the perfect understanding of the mysteries of Masonry.


A:        Question me; I am ready to answer.

Q:        What degree do you have in Masonry?

A:        That of Senior Architect.

Q:        Give me the signs.

A:        He gives them.

Q:        Give me the grip.

A:        He gives it.


Master: My brother knights, I believe that Zerubbabel is worthy to enter into our new mysteries.


The brethren agree by raising and lifting up the points of their swords.[xx]


Master: Most powerful Senior Warden, have the candidate advance by three steps of a Master Mason,[xxi] so that the last puts him at the foot of the tribunal of the Grand and Sovereign Architect and that he may contract the obligation we request. He is postured in the same manner as when he takes  the other obligations.





Yes, I promise, under the same obligations I contracted in the various degrees of Masonry, to never reveal the secret of the Knights of the Sword or free masons[xxii] to any member of an inferior degree or to a profane, under the penalty of remaining in such harsh captivity that my chains never break, that my body be exposed to the mercy of ferocious beasts, that my senses be deprived of smell and hearing, that thunderbolt reduce me to powder to serve as an example to all indiscreet ones. So be it.


The Master rises, he and all brethren replace their swords in their sheaths, and says:


Master: My brother, the destruction of the temple subjected Masons to such harsh disgraces that we feared their captivity or dispersion may have helped corrupt their fidelity to their obligations. That constrained us, while awaiting the rebuilding, to stay away in a secret and private place where we faithfully preserved some remnants of the ancient building and where we only introduce those we know to be true and legitimate Masons, not only by signs, words, and tokens, but also by their actions and behavior. We then communicate to them our new secrets with pleasure, but we insist they bring with them as a pledge some relic of the old temple. Those that Cyrus gave you are sufficient for us.”


During these last words,  the tracing-board is uncovered.


Master: Very Powerful Brother Senior Warden,  let the candidate take three master steps backward, to teach him that we hold for certain that perfect resignation is the virtue of masons.


The candidate remains in the West.


Master: My brethren, the aim of our work is the rebuilding of the temple of the grand architect of the universe. This sublime task was reserved for Zerubbabel. The obligations that you took with us, under that title,[xxiii] resulted in its execution. The brilliance and grandeur in which it appears before our eyes, proves to you that it is in no way diminished, and that it only remains for us to preserve it with the sword that Cyrus gave us for its defense. Henceforth you will contribute to it protection.[xxiv] Come participate in our secrets.

The sign of a Knight of the Sword, my brother, is to place the right hand on the left shoulder and to bring it down diagonally to the right side as if cutting the body in half.

The sign of response is to place the right hand on the left hip while going across the body to the right hip.

The grip is to place the right hand on the sword as if to draw it for a fight, then move by drawing your body back on the right foot and raising the left hand as if pushing an enemy away. In this position, the left hands of both brothers meet and interlace, and they embrace each other.

The words are Judas and Benjamin. The password is libertas from which is derived the name free mason. Go and give the signs, grips, and words to the brethren of the lodge. Afterwards, you will give them back to me.


He does this in the North, returns by the South.


Master: My brother, after this deliverance, king Cyrus created you a Knight Mason, as for me, I give you this trowel which will serve as a perpetual symbol of your new dignity; that is to say, henceforth if ever the temple were to be destroyed, you will work only with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other; for that is thus that we have established this one.





Master: This sash must be worn in all lodges, and will be for you a mark of true knighthood that you acquired at the River Starburzanaï by the victory over those who opposed your passage.





Master: While we do not permit in our ceremonies any of the insignia Cyrus decorated you with, we want however to preserve the memory of some by a rosette of the color he chose, which we set under the rosette of the other degrees at the bottom of the Scottish ribbon to which the jewel is attached.





Master: This jewel,[xxv] with the addition of swords crosswise, indicates the symbol of our Masonry. You must never use your sword except for it, that is to say, equity.





Master: We shall proceed to our proclamation. My brother Knight Masons, do you consent that Zerubbabel shall henceforth rule over the works of Masonry?”


They all show agreement by lowering and raising the points of their swords.[xxvi]

The candidate is then placed in the chair designated for him.


Master: Pass, my brother, to the tribunal of the sovereigns of our lodges. You will serve as the triangular stone of the edifice.[xxvii] You will rule over the workers as Solomon, Hiram, and Moabon ruled by commanding them.


As soon as he is seated, the brethren sheath their swords, clap their hands three times, and shout three times “Zerubbabel.” The Catechism then begins.





Q.        Brother senior warden, how did you attain the eminent degree of knight of the sword?

A.        I achieved it with humility, patience, and frequent solicitations.

Q.        To whom did you speak?

A.        To the great king.

Q.        What is your name?

A.        Zerubbabel.

Q.        Your country?

A.        Judea. I was born of noble parents of the tribe of Judah.

Q.        Which art do you practise ?

A.        Masonry.

Q.        Which edifice do you build?

A.        Temples and tabernacles.

Q.        Where do you construct them?

A.        For lack of land, we build them in our hearts.

Q.        What is the name of a knight mason?

A.        That of a most free mason.

Q.        Why most free?

A.        Because the masons chosen by Solomon to work at the temple were declared free and exempt from all taxes, both they and their descendants. They were also entitled to bear arms. During the temple’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, they were placed in captivity with the Jewish people. But the goodness of Cyrus gave them permission to rebuild a second temple under Zerubbabel, and they were set free. It is since that time that we are called free masons.

Q.        Was the old temple beautiful?

A.        It was the first wonder of the world in riches and grandeur, for its forecourt[xxviii] could hold two hundred thousand people.

Q.        Who was the principal architect who constructed this grand edifice?

A.        God was the first, Solomon the second and Hiram the third.

Q.        Who laid the first stone?

A.        Solomon.

Q.        At what time was it laid?

A.        Before sunrise.

Q.        Why?

A.        To make known the vigilance we must have in serving the architect of the universe.

Q.        What cement was used?

A.        A mystical cement, composed of flour, milk, oil, and wine.[xxix]

Q.        Explain to me the mystical sense.

A.        To make the first man, the Supreme Being used sweetness, wisdom, strength, and kindness.

Q.        Where was the first stone laid?

A.        In the middle of the room destined to be the sanctuary.

Q.        How many  parts did the old temple have?

A.        Three, one in the west, one in the south and one in the north.

Q.        How long did the temple stand?

A.        470 years, 6 months, 10 days.

Q.        Under which King of Israel was it destroyed?

A.        During the reign of Zedekiah, last of the race of David.

Q.        What mean the broken column Boaz and the missing candlestick with seven branches?

A.        The confusion and evil committed when someone who is not worthy is received, this removes a member of the order.

Q.        Why is the number 81 so venerated among masons?

A.        Because this number explains the triple essence of divinity represented by the triple triangle, the square of nine, and the number three.

Q.        Why are the captives’ chains triangular?

A.        Having learned that the triangle represented the Name of the Eternal among the Jews, the Assyrians made the chains in that manner to inflict more pain on the captives.

Q.        Why were masons forbidden to work on profane buildings?

A.        To teach us not to attend irregular lodges.

Q.        What was the plan that Cyrus gave for the new temple?

A.        120 cubits in depth, 60 in height, and the same in width.

Q.        Why did Cyrus order trees cut from the forests of Lebanon and stones drawn from the quarries of Tyre for the construction of the new temple?

A.        Because it was necessary that the second temple should in all points resemble the first.

Q.        Give me the name of the principal architect who directed the construction of the second temple.

A.        His name is Bibot.

Q.        Why do the workers carry a sword while working?

A.        As they were subject to incursions by their enemies, while working with one hand to carry materials and to rebuild the temple, they held their swords ready to defend their work and their brethren.

Q.        Why the 70 lights in the lodge?

A.        In memory of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity.

Q.        Are you a knight of the sword?

A.        Look at me! (He takes his sword in his hand.)

Q.        Give me the sign.

A.        He makes it.

Q.        Give me the word and the password.

A.        Judas, Benjamin, Libertas.

Q.        Give the grip to the  brother senior warden.

A.        He gives it to him.

Q.        Where did you work?

A.        At the rebuilding of the second temple.

Q.        What is the time?

A.        The instant of rebuilding.


Master: “My brethren, since we are happy enough to have rebuilt the temple of the Lord in its splendor, let us preserve its memory and marks by our silence. It is time to rest. Brothers Senior and Junior Wardens, announce to the South as well to the North that I shall close the lodge of the Knights of the Sword.”


The two Wardens announce, each to his own side, that the Master will close the lodge, then the Most Excellent knocks seven times, the two Wardens likewise. Then the Master says: “The lodge is closed, each is permitted to leave.” The Wardens say likewise. The brethren then make the usual claps and acclamations.


End of the Sixth Degree


[i] A. C. F. Jackson, Rose Croix, rev. ed. (London: A. Lewis, 1987), p. 20.

[ii] Jackson, pp. 20-21. Compare the "Knight of the Sword" with "Knight of the Sword also called Knight of the East or of the Eagle," John Black Vrooman, trans., "An Exact Ritual of Adonhiramite Masonry," Collectanea, vol. 2, part 4 (1940), pp. 178-94. The latter degrees are "Dedicated to all instructed masons by a Knight of all Masonic orders. (signed) F. Louis Guillemain, … 1787." which leds us to conclude they are from Receuil Précieux de la Maçonnerie Adonhiramite. Allowing for natural differences between any two translations, the texts are almost identical, which confirms that Guillemain plagiarized Bérage.

[iii] David Bernard, Light on Masonry, 3rd ed. (Utica, N.Y.: William Williams, 1829), p. 302. "The Degree of Knight of the East or 'Chevalier de l'Orient' " is found on pp. 320-30.

[iv]  Les Plus Secrets Mystères uses Jérobabel, which is equivalent to Zerubbabel (or Zorobabel) which we use in our translation."Jérobabel. For Zorobabel, cf. this name. This form was rather common in the 18th century." (Daniel Ligou, Dictionnaire de la Franc-Maçonnerie [Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1987], s.v. Jérobabel). "Zerubavel (lbBvrz) Foreign to, or scion of, Babylon; seed of confusion. One of he twelve leaders of the people upon he return from Babylon (538 bce); he has supervised the building of the second Temple (520 to 515 bce)." (Sam Eched, Authentic or distorted Hebraism in the A?A?S?R? and the R::, M::M:: & R::A::M:: [Belgium: The Author, 1994], p. 88)

[v] This seems to be based on a passage from Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, book 11. "He [Nehimiah] therefore ordered that for the future the builders should be equipped with arms when they worked, and so the masons had swords, as also those that carried the materials; and he ordered shields to be placed very near them, and stationed trumpeters at intervals of five hundred feet with the command to give the signal to the people if the enemy appeared, in order that they might be armed when they fought and not let the enemy fall on them unprepared." Josephus, Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 9 vols., ed and trans. Ralph Marcus et al. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1998), xi.177.

[vi] chevalier maçon libre, the more common French term is franc maçon.

[vii] "Moabon (or Mohabon, sometimes Mohaben, Mahabin). From Gen. 19:36-37, the name of the son and grandson of Lot, born from his incest with his eldest daughter and ancestor of the Moabites, Mohabon means 'Root of Moab.' This biblical name is found in several degrees of perfection, notably in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite.… Among extinct degrees, Mohabon was the 'sacred word' of the degree of Elect of Pérignan, the name of the candidate and the 'sacred word' of the degree of Senior Architect." (Daniel Ligou, Dictionnaire de la Franc-Maçonnerie [Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1987], s.v. Moabon). "Mohabon: a diminutive of Moab. Mohabon was the son born of the incest of the eldest daughter of Lot with her father (Gen. 19:36). In its use as a sacred word, maybe, but it is more probably a distortion of Ma-Haboneh, the word given by the Tuiller au Convent de Laussaune. A widespread interpretation (but unrelated to its real meaning) is the flesh slips from the bone. In the tradition of certain degrees, it is the name of the most zealous of the Masters of his time, a friend of Hiram Abiff." (Saint-Gall, Dictionnaire du Rite Écossais Ancien et Accepté [Paris: Éditions Téletès, 1991], p. 82).

[viii] Unclear whether another refers to a throne or a seat for the Warden.

[ix] Le carré de la loge, literally the square of the lodge, referring to the central checkered floor found in most lodges.

[x]  … afin qu'ainsi l'on soit dan l'intériur du carré. The description of the lodge room and its furnishings is unclear.

[xi] Starburzanaï (Starbuzzannai, Stabuzanay, Stharbuzanaï, Harbasanay, etc.): "A composite word from Shtar (rtw), authenticated deed, conract, promise of payment, and from Biza/Bizanaî (yanzB/hzB), spoils of war, pillage, rapine, contempt, a man living from them." (Eched., p. 76)

"STARBUNZZAI, in fact Shetharboznai. River that had to be crossed by the Israelites to go from Jerusalem to Babylon (15th Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and different degrees of Knight of the East). In fact, there was no river between the two cities, and Shetharboznai is the name of an officer of the king of Persia." (Ligou, s.v. Starbunazai).

"At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall?" Ezra 5:3.

[xii]  "In the Bible there is a person with this name, but he is mentioned as a general of Nebuchadnezzar at the time of the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans." (Ligou, s.v. Nabuzardin)

"And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the Lord, and the king's house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man's house burnt he with fire." (II Kings 25:8, 9)

[xiii] Mithredath. "Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah." (Ezra 1:8)

[xiv] trophée, literally trophy

[xv] The French term is récipiendaire or recipient, wich has the esoteric connotation of receiving knowledge.

[xvi] It is unclear what distinguishes a Tablier Ecossois from any other apron.

[xvii] The officers' titles are inconsistent here. The Master is referred to as souverain général and souverain maître; the Senior Warden as premier surveillant and premier général. The titles Premier Général and Second Général are translated as Senior General and Junior General.

[xviii] tracé

[xix] Presumably the Master of Ceremonies speaks for Zerubbabel.

[xx] en levant & haussant la point de leurs épées. This may be an error, as a little later, when giving the gloves, the brethren show their agreement by raising and lowering the points of their swords, en baissant & relevant la pointe de leurs épées.

[xxi] trois pas de maître

[xxii] maçons libres

[xxiii] sous ce titre, that is, as Zerubbabel

[xxiv] vous y conriburez dorénavant

[xxv] This seems to refer to that jewel of a preceding degree, but the earlier jewels don't seem elaborate enough to fit the description here. "The jewel [of a Senior Architect] is that of a Junior Architect, except that the circle must be golden, and over the star which serves as the head of the compasses will be a golden sun whose lower rays will be on the head of the level." "There is no elaborate jewel in the fourth degree; members wear a simple triangle. 'The jewel [of a Junior Architect] is a triangle, and the officers will have he emblem of thei office enclosed within." (S. Brent Morris and Eric Serejski, "The Degree of Senior Architect," Heredom, vol. 5 (1996), pp. 172, 183 n9.)

[xxvi] en baissant & relevant la pointe de leurs épées.Just before the obligation the brothers showed agreement by raising and lifting up their swords, en levant & haussant la point de leurs épées.

[xxvii] Vous servirez de pierre triangulaaire à l'édifice.… It is not clear what it means to "serve as the triangular stone in the edifice"

[xxviii] parvis

[xxix] This "mystical cement" was used in Les Plus Secret Mystères' Degree of Junior Architect as "the symbolic offering of the heart of this respectable master [Hiram Abif] which we have preserved in the form of a mystic substance ever since the assassination." The candidate is asked, "Do you have the strength to swallow the morsel of his heart which will be presented to you, which all faithful masons have received, but which cannot remain in the body of liars?" After the candidate takes the obligation, "The Puissant Master takes the trowel in the urn, covers I with mystical paste, and presents it to the mouth of the candidate to swallow. He says to him, 'This mystical portion which we share with you, forever forms an indissoluble bond, that nothing will be able to break.'" (S. Brent Morris and Eric Serejski, "The Degree of Junior Architect," Heredom, vol. 4 (1995), pp. 110, 111.)

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