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Gary Kerkin
"...without neglecting the ordinary duties of your station endeavour to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge."


VW. Bro. Gary Kerkin is PM Lodge Piako No 160
PM Waikato Lodge of Research No 445
Past Grand Lecturer, Grand Lodge of New Zealand
Grand Lecturer (2009), Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of New Zealand, Northern Division.


How did the Tracing Boards displayed in our Lodges originate?

Laurence Gardner describes a “Portable Lodge” in Chapter 11 of his book “The Shadow of Solomon”[ii] indicating that the Masonic tradition of the Sinclairs of Rosslyn embraces the connected cultures of both stonemasonry and Freemasonry. He writes:

“The structural workmanship of Rosslyn Chapel, is the epitome of the former, while its decorative feature are wholly emblematic of the latter. The 15th-century Chapel abounds with carved images of so many tools and symbols that became icons of the Masonic lodge tradition, and these are now artistically depicted on Tracing Boards to aid the instructional process of the Craft.”

It is often thought that the precursors of Tracing Boards were cloths that were unrolled on the floor of a lodge. Gardner writes that it is not strictly true to say that boards took the place of Floor Cloths since boards were also laid on the floor and each may be used for different ritual purposes. Gardner suggests the history of the Cloths and Boards are parallel and evolutionary.

Masonic meetings are often held in rooms that were not specifically designed for the purpose – this being particularly true for the early speculative Lodges of the 17th and 18th centuries. Indeed, taverns were often the preferred places for meetings and the four Lodges which got together on 24 June 1717 to found the Grand Lodge of England met in The Goose and Gridiron, St Paul’s Churchyard, The Crown, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, The Rummer and Grapes, Channel Row, and The Apple Tree, Covent Garden. Any room chosen for a meeting had to be prepared and fitted with the appropriate trappings and furniture, and it had to be restored to normality after the meeting. [You might like to note that we still use the words “prepare” and “restore” when we have to change our Lodges around during degree ceremonies.] Everything related to creating the proper environment for a Lodge had to be portable.

One of the Tyler’s functions was to mark out the form of a lodge on the floor, using chalk or what other removable markers were available. The shape was called an “oblong square” – which is somewhat ambiguous. Curiously we also use the term parallelepipedon a word which means a prism whose bases are parallelograms and which W.Bro Jim Anderson refers to as “pompous”[iii]. To the basic shape may be added various Masonic symbols. As the practice became better organised instead of having to mark out and later clean up the markings and symbols, the information was marked out on a cloth which could be simply unrolled before the meeting and rolled up at its conclusion. Gardner writes:

“As the concept became more popular, Masonic symbols were added to the designs, followed by individual cloths that were attributed to the different degrees of working. …. Artists became more ambitious and, instead of bearing mere basic outlines, they transformed the cloths into artworks in their own right. This led to a situation where some Floor Cloths were so heavily worked and expensive that no one wanted to walk on them. Instead, they were hung on display like conventional paintings, which gave rise to a practical dilemma. Where was the lodge? It was on the wall!”

The problem of damaging the lodge by walking on the markings or the Floor Cloths is discussed by Harry Carr in “The Freemason at Work”[iv] in which he says it gave rise to the practice of “squaring the Lodge”. He points out that it was not of the ‘heel-clicking’ type of precise squaring but simply a natural caution to avoid disturbing or spoiling the design. We need to remember that we are not a military order or organisation and Carr comments “The practice of squaring is wholly admirable, because it adds much to the dignity of the ceremonies, so long as it is not carried to extremes.”

It became the practice to deem a lodge operatively formed so long as its cloth was displayed but since different cloths related to different degrees they could not be hung permanently. But the matter of portability was still of concern, despite, according to Gardner, many lodges acquiring their own meeting halls. Above all there was the question of size. Floor Cloths were necessarily large! Gardner writes:

“The most common practice, therefore, was to get them off the floor, but not hang them. Instead, they were draped over planks that were raised on trestles, giving rise to the term Trestle Board.”

The size was still inconvenient in the smaller lodges, and caused problems with transportation. These were solved by creating smaller panels which were easier to handle than the cloth drapes and were often supported on easels – leading to the form of support for Tracing Boards common today.

Gardner says that set rules were never established for the design of Floor Cloths or Tracing Boards. They merely had to fulfil their respective functions as required for the degrees. Many and various designs have been developed. Sometimes they are complete as they stand while in other instances they allow for lines and additions to be drawn during lectures. This is, of course, a throw-back to the waxed or sand panels used by operative master masons to mark out the days plans for their workman.


Second Degree Tracing board

Where the First Degree Tracing Board is a collection of symbols, the Second Degree Tracing Board is recognisable as a place.  Two large pillars in the design tell us where it is – the porch or entrance to King Solomon’s Temple. The Tracing Board is presented to a Candidate in a lecture which contains a “Traditional History” which explains how the Temple was built from a Masonic interpretation. Robert Cooper writes in “Cracking the Freemason’s Code”[v]:

“Each degree and branch of Freemasonry has its own special history, which is designed to impart its particular moral lessons. The first three degrees are centred on King Solomon’s Temple, how it was built, by whom and for what purpose. … the temple has always had a special resonance for stonemasons and … it takes pride of place in the Masonic ‘system’, having been included in the first and, for a considerable time, the only Masonic ceremonies in existence … in them the Lodge is equated with the temple (specifically with the entrance to it, although many forget this). The Traditional History is … allegorical, designed to convey particular messages, moral lessons and Masonic lore.”

The lecture explains some aspects of the management of the work and workers for the Temple project: who was paid what; where they received their wages; how the various levels were protected. Those not entitled to the wages of the higher degree could not receive something to which they were not entitled. Cooper writes “The lesson here is ‘do not try to be something that you are not’ or, at a simpler level, don’t be dishonest.”          

The lecture also explains some of the symbolism and the numbers that have hidden meanings.


Lecture of the Second Degree Tracing Board

The first part of the lecture or explanation deals with the organisation of the workforce, where they worked, and to a lesser extent, how they worked. Stone was prepared in the quarries and timber was prepared in the forests of Lebanon. Both were conveyed by either sea and/or land to Jerusalem and put together with wooden mauls and other specially designed implements.

It is interesting to speculate on why the maul would be wooden, the implication being that no metal was used in its construction. 1 Kings {6:7} And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe [nor] any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.

Some historians think that any tool made of iron was not allowed to be used in the erection of the Temple because of its association with weapons so that the use of iron would be inappropriate in the erection of a Holy building. However, given the high standard of workmanship apparently demanded of the FC using an implement made of wood only lessened the risk of damaging the completed stones when they were set in place.

The “forests of Lebanon” refers to the forest on Mount Lebanon and although the country from is now called Lebanon then it was known as Phoenicia. Hiram, King of Tyre was the styled king of a very small town on an island off the coast of Phoenicia. The lecture also tells us that the trees which were turned into timber were conveyed by sea and land to Jerusalem. The method was to haul them down to the Phoenician coast, tie them together into rafts, and float them down the coast to a place near Joppa in Israel, then haul them out of the sea, and drag them overland to the Temple. Joppa is now known as Jaffa.

The lecture tells us that Fellow Crafts exercised “patient care and marvellous skill” and were assisted by the Entered Apprentices thus giving us our first lesson in the structure of the work force. It mentions large numbers but does not say how many and tells us that they were artificers (COED: a person skilled in making or contriving things) of several classes. The several grades were paid in “accordance with their respective skill and ability.” It is not certain whether there was a common labourer in this workforce or whether it was the Entered Apprentices that carried out those tasks. The lecture also says that the EA received their wages in corn, wine and oil, and it is this that provides us with a clue. From 1 Kings Chapter 5:

{5:7} And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed [be] the LORD this day, which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people.

{5:8} And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the things which thou sentest to me for: [and] I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir.

{5:9} My servants shall bring [them] down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive [them:] and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household.

{5:10} So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees [according to] all his desire.

{5:11} And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat [for] food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year.

{5:13} And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy  as thirty thousand men.

{5:14} And he sent them to Lebanon ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, [and] two months at home: and Adoniram [was] over the levy.

{5:15} And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains;

{5:16} Beside the chief of Solomon’s officers which [were] over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work.

{5:17} And the king commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, [and] hewed stones, to lay the foundation of the house.

{5:18} And Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders did hew [them,] and the stonesquarers: so they prepared timber and stones to build the house.

And from 1 Chronicles Chapter 2

{2:10} And, behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber, twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil.

These were the payments to Hiram King of Tyre for the contribution of his work force and it may suggest that the basic labour force was composed of the EA.

The FC however, received their wages in specie. The lecture uses the word “money” but the use of “coins” as we understand today is probably dubious. Certainly Carr and others use the word “specie” – probably meaning gold or silver bullion, or possibly copper.

We have already heard (1 Kings 5:16) that supervisors of some sort of were appointed and the lecture gives us some idea of the hierarchy. We are told that the FC received their wages in the middle chamber of the Temple and that they were interrogated by the Antient Junior Warden and the Senior Warden. Therefore there were at least two levels above the FC – the Wardens and, presumably, the Masters. In other degrees, such as that of the Mark Master Mason other names or titles are mentioned such as supervisors or Overseers. It is of interest to note that there is no mention here of Master Mason – the Third Degree. At the time much of our ritual was formulated the Third Degree had not yet been formally introduced into Freemasonry, although precursors to it were certainly around. Anderson in his Constitutions (1723) wrote (of Masters and Wardens Fellows and Apprentices): 

“All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only; that so the lords may be well served, the brethren not put to shame, nor the loyal Craft despised; therefore no Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but for his merit. It is impossible to describe these things in writing, and therefore every brother must attend in his place, and learn them in a way peculiar to his fraternity. Candidates may, nevertheless, know that no master should take an apprentice unless he has sufficient employment for him; and unless he be a perfect youth, having no maim or defect in his body that may render him incapable of learning the art, of serving his master's lord, and of being made a Brother, and then a fellowcraft in due time, after he has served such a term of years as the custom of the country directs; that so, when otherwise qualified, he may arrive to the honour of being Warden, and then the Master of the Lodge, the Grand Warden, and at length the Grand Master of all the Lodges, according to his merit. No Brother can be a Warden until he has passed the part of a fellowcraft, nor a Master until he has acted as a Warden, nor Grand Warden until he has been Master of a Lodge nor Grand Master until he has been a fellowcraft before his election …” 

If the language sounds modern – as compared to what you may have seen in other writings it is because this particular quotation is from the preamble to the Book of Constitution of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. It adds this little addendum:

“N.B. In antient times no Brother, however skilled in the craft, was called a Master Mason until he had been elected into the chair of a Lodge.” 

The FC received their wages in the middle chamber. 1 Kings:

{6:5} And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, [against] the walls of the house round about, [both] of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:

{6:8} The door for the middle chamber [was] in the right side of the house: and they went up with winding stairs into the middle [chamber,] and out of the middle into the third.

Harry Carr writes[vi]:

“The description of the Middle Chamber in 1 Kings 6:8 is not at all clear and, wherever F.C.s were paid when that room was built, they were paid elsewhere before that time, but the Old Testament affords no information on this point.

“There are, however, several other interesting problems that arise out of the Lecture on the Second T.B. We all accept that Solomon built the Temple and … the Biblical accounts in Kings and Chronicles are so complicated that they furnish endless difficulties in themselves. To make matters worse, the compilers of the ritual overlaid and embroidered the original story with masses of invented detail. No doubt they meant well; they were simply trying to arrange various items of ritual and procedure against a Biblical background, creating a kind of Masonic allegory: but allegory, in this case, is a polite euphemism.”

Carr suggests that in order to understand how much embroidery was added we have to compare the relevant details in the lecture with the story in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. He says that in fairness to later “expounders and embellishers” who were responsible for subsequent “improvements” the prime culprit was Samuel Prichard who published an exposure Masonry Dissected in 1730. Prichard presents the F.C. ceremony as 33 questions and answers (a significant number?). Carr presents a brief synopsis which he says is the direct source of much of the Middle Chamber material in use today:

“In the course of his answers the Candidate (in 1730) said that he was made F.C. ‘for the sake of the Letter G’ which means ‘Geometry, or the fifth Science’. He travelled ‘East and West’ and worked ‘in the Building of the Temple’. There, ‘he received his Wages…’ in the middle Chamber. He came there ‘by a winding Pair of Stairs, Seven or more’. When he ‘came to the Door of the middle Chamber … he saw a Warden’ who demanded ‘Three Things’ … i.e., ‘Sign, Token and a Word’. [Described in detail.] When he ‘came in to the middle’ [of the middle Chamber?] he saw the resemblance of the Letter G’ which denotes ‘The Grand Architect and Contriver of the Universe, or He that was taken up to the top of the Pinnacle of the Holy Temple’ [i.e., Jesus Christ!]”

You might like to note that there are two completely different meanings given for the Letter G. But, Carr writes:

“We cannot but wonder at the mentality of the ritual compiler who believed that the Middle Chamber in Solomon’s Temple could have contained a symbolic reference to Christ, several hundred years B.C. Unfortunately there are no means of ascertaining where Prichard obtained his material, or whether he wrote some of it himself.”

There are some other conundrums, possibly caused by Carr’s “embellishers”. For example, the lecture refers to a winding staircase. The “proper steps” of the Second Degree (“as though ascending a winding staircase”) take the Candidate through a quarter turn in an anticlockwise direction. But various illustrations of the T.B. of the Second Degree show both clockwise and anticlockwise forms. Which is correct?

Carr[vii] in response to a question that most movements in Freemasonry are clockwise (‘with the sun’ as it were) comments:

“The clockwise procedure is custom, not law, even in those Lodges where clockwise movements have become a fetish.

“In English Lodges, the Altar is in the East, forming a pedestal in front of the W.M. When the Candidate in the Second Degree is led up to it to take his Obligation, he is supposedly copying our ancient Brethren who went into the Temple by an entrance on the south side and made their way, by a Winding Stair, to the ‘middle chamber’, whose precise location is not specified. But the majority of English workings relating to those steps start the Candidate at the N.E. and lead him to the Altar in the East. In plain fact, we are not even trying to copy the supposed ancient practice, and the two procedures cannot be reconciled.

“I have never seen an interpretation of the ‘Winding Stairs’ in K.S.T. which proves that they rose clockwise or anti-clockwise, …”

Carr says that the vast majority of illustrations in Dring’s famous paper on Tracing Boards (AQC 29) show the Winding Stairs spring from left to right i.e. anti-clockwise.

In relation to this and other apparent anomalies in the Second Degree ritual, and the Tracing Board, he comments[viii]:

“The designers of the Tracing Boards were not at all concerned with the veracity of our legend about the place in which the craftsmen received their wages … The compilers of the T.B. Lecture were trying to construct a clear simple story.”

There are, according to Cooper[ix] considerable use of numbers that possess hidden meanings – in much the same way, he writes, that symbols are used. The most obvious of these is the division of the staircase. The lecture states “This winding staircase consisted of fifteen steps. Our traditions divide them into three flights consisting severally of three, five and seven steps; thus symbolising the three who rule a Lodge, the five who hold a Lodge and the seven who make it perfect.”

The implication we might normally take from this is the description given in the opening of the Lodge in the First Degree – the Principal Officers, the Other Officers, and the usual implication that a Lodge cannot be opened if less than 7 Masons are present. Cooper, however, explains this in another way:

“Three ‘rule’ a Lodge because three ruled over the building K.S.T. (Hiram King of Tyre, Hiram Abif and, of course, King Solomon himself). Five ‘hold’ a Lodge, which is an allusion to the five orders of architecture (Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite), as well as the five senses [touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste]. Seven or more make a perfect Lodge, referring to the seven and more years it took to build the temple. Seven also refers to the seven liberal arts and sciences [grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy] that the Second degree encourages the new Mason to study in order to improve his mind for the betterment of all mankind. The references to the numbers needed to rule, hold and perfect a Lodge may have derived from the earliest known rituals.”

Cooper[x] analyses some of the questions and answers in the Edinburgh Registry MS as:

“Q6 Does no less make a true and perfect lodge, An: yes five masons and three entered apprentices &c.

“This question asks what happens if the numbers to form a ‘true and perfect Lodge’ are unavailable. The answer is, rather, reluctantly, that a Lodge meeting can be held if there are five master masons (fellows of the craft) and three entered apprentices present.

“Q7 Does no less, An: The more the merrier the fewer the better cheer

“This question asks what happens if even five masters and three entered apprentices cannot be found for a meeting. The answer is that no meeting can be held but instead some socialising is OK!”

It is worth commenting on possible allegorical implications of the winding stairs. The Winding Stairs and the Middle Chamber are most important parts of the Tracing Board. The Winding Stair can be considered symbolic of human progress. On the lowest step the highest step is out of sight. At the beginning of life its end is beyond vision. The ascent represents the toil and labour of existence which study and acquisition of Knowledge entails. The outcomes of our lives are hidden from view until we are worthy of them. The Winding Staircase can be considered an allegory of the ascent of the mind from ignorance to knowledge through the toils of study.

The Middle Chamber symbolises the goal in life. As we ascend the staircase, the goal is out of sight, but as we reach the top of the staircase and enter the Middle Chamber, so shall we be judged by what we have done during that ascent which in turn determines our “wages”.

The FC is obliged to give the PW and PG to the JW at the foot of the staircase. It is worth elaborating a little on the PW, shibboleth.

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary[xi] gives the meaning as “a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people.” And the origin as:

ORIGIN originally in the sense a word or sound which a foreigner is unable to pronounce: from Hebrew, ‘ear of corn’ (according to the Book of Judges, chapter 12, the word was used as a test of nationality because of its difficult pronunciation).

The American Heritage Dictionary differs from this:

1. A word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another. 2a. A word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword. b. A commonplace saying or idea. 3. A custom or practice that betrays one as an outsider.

It gives the origin as coming ultimately from Hebrew meaning a torrent of water, from the use of this word to distinguish one tribe from another that pronounced it differently (Judges 12:4-6)

{12:1} And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.

{12:2} And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.

{12:3} And when I saw that ye delivered [me] not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

{12:4} Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites [are] fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, [and] among the Manassites.

{12:5} And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was [so,] that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, [Art] thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

{12:6} Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce [it] right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

The word dates its origin from the time that an army of Ephraimites crossed the river Jordan in a hostile manner against Jephtha, the Gileadite general. The reason given for this unfriendly visit was to participate in the honours of the Ammonitish war, but their true objective was the rich spoils. The Ephraimites, who were considered a clamorous and turbulent people, threatened to destroy Jephtha and his house with fire. Jephtha tried to appease them but eventually had to fight them. He sent detachments of his army to secure the river Jordan, which they had to cross to get home, telling his guards to test those trying to cross with a Word.  A defect in aspiration peculiar to their dialect prevented them from pronouncing it correctly and by this test 42,000 Ephraimites were executed.

A paper, “Passages of Jordan”, which appeared in the SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.XII December. 1934 No.12, by an unknown author[xii], indicates

R.W. Charles C. Hunt, Librarian and Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Iowa, Masonic student and authority, went to the Hebrew Bible for the use of the word, with the following interesting result:

“It appears in Zecharias 4:12, translated “Branch.”

Isaiah 27:12, translated “Channel.”

Genesis 41:5-6-7-22-23-24-26-27;

Ruth 2:2; Job 24:24, translated “Corn” or “Ears of Corn.”

Psalms 69:15, translated “Water Flood.”

The Judges (12) reference was not translated because to do so would alter the sense of the story.

It went on to say:

 “‘Corn’ does not denote the familiar source of corn meal, familiar and dear to the American palate. Our corn is a cultivated descendant of ‘Indian Corn’ or Maize, so called to distinguish it from European corn, which, prior to the discovery of America, was the term for wheat, barley and other grains. ‘Corn’ is so used in the Old Testament, the principal grains of which are wheat and barley.

“There is no unanimity of opinion as to what kind of a stream should be an emblem of plenty. For years a minor controversy has raged, as interesting as (apparently) it is unsettleable. Should the sheaf of wheat be suspended near a ‘waterfall’ or a ‘waterford?’”

When the FC reached the top of the winding stairs he was confronted by the SW who demanded the grip and word of the Degree from him. There is a difference here between the description in the lecture and the process the Candidate has just undergone whereby he has to prove to the satisfaction of the SW that he possesses both PG and PW and G and W. This is because the latter situation has been a learning one – he has just received the secrets and is developing his facility with them. The former description relates the operative situation at the building of the Temple.

The remainder of the lecture is devoted mainly to a description of some aspects of the Temple, particularly the two pillars with a curious diversion which refers to Moses and Egypt. Gardner points out[xiii] that the first mention of the Temple pillars Jachin and Boaz appeared in 1762. That is to say that at the time of the foundation of the Grand Lodge of England the names had not been brought into the rituals. Certainly, there is no mention of them in Anderson’s Constitutions.

Two things in particular probably require elaboration. Those are the positions of the pillars and the names of them.

Of the position of the pillars we hear varying opinions as to which is left and right. Some say they should be viewed as looking out, and some as looking in. Carr writes[xiv]:

“… numerous quotations from the Old Testament which, taken together, indicate that the ‘left-hand’ and ‘right-hand’ pillars are to be understood as though they are being described by someone standing inside the Temple, looking out towards the entrance in the East. Perhaps the simplest explanation is Whiston’s note, in his edition of Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII, Chap. iii, Section 4. I quote the first passage from Josephus, followed by Whiston’s note:

the one of these pillars he set at the entrance of the porch on the right hand, and called it Jachin, and the other at the left hand, and called it Booz[sic]

“Whiston’s footnote:

Here Josephus gives us a key to his own language, of right and left hand in the tabernacle and temple, that by the right hand he means what is against our left, when we suppose ourselves going up from the east gates of the courts towards the … temple, and so vice versa; whence it follows that the pillar Jachin, on the right hand of the temple was on the south against our left hand, and Booz on the north against our right hand.”

If this sounds confusing – that is because it is. Our Lodges are normally oriented such that the entrances are at the West and the pillars we display are situated to the West of the Pavement. Standing in the East looking West, then, Jachin is on our right hand and Boaz is on our left hand.

There remains the matter of the names. In Ruth we read:

{4:13} So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.

{4:14} And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed [be] the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.

{4:15} And he shall be unto thee a restorer of [thy] life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

{4:16} And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.

{4:17} And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he [is] the father of Jesse, the father of David

So, very definitely, Boaz was indeed the great grandfather of David. However we must be careful of noting where the comma falls. It is David who was the Prince and Ruler in Israel – not his great grandfather.

What about Jachin?

The name crops up in several books of the Old Testament and is mentioned in 1 Chronicles and Nehemiah as referring to a priest. However the context in which we reveal the name of the pillar seems wrong. Carr writes[xv] in reply to the question as to why the High Priest entrusted the dedication of the Temple to his assistant:

“There is dreadful confusion in the question, largely caused by some of the compilers of our ritual who were never content to leave well alone. Determined to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, whenever they came to a problem they could not solve they invented – with disastrous results.

“First, let it be clear that, according to the Bible, neither the High Priest nor ‘his Assistant, played any part in the dedication of the Temple and, indeed, they are not mentioned at all in that context. Solomon presided alone; he spoke and he prayed. (1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 6 and 7).”

Carr says that the pillar was named, according to custom in Bible lands, with an allusive or commemorative name, which means “He [God] will establish.” Neither the pillar nor its name had anything to do with Jachin “the wrongly styled ‘Assistant High Priest’”.

In a similar way the allusion of the name Boaz is probably “in him is strength”.

The diversion into Moses and the escape of the Israelites from Egypt is curious. The Lecture states that the two great pillars were symbols of the Pillar of Cloud and the Pillar of Fire which preceded the Israelites through the Red Sea and then followed them to give them light but create clouds of darkness to impede the Egyptians, and that were placed at the entrance to remind the children of Israel of the power and mercy of the Almighty as they passed through them. The Research Lodge of Ruapehu thinks otherwise[xvi]:

“The Temple which Solomon caused to be built, was not intended for, nor was it used by, “the children of Israel.” In fact the general population was not allowed anywhere near the Temple. The sole reason for constructing it, was for the use of God, firstly by providing an area for God’s exclusive use and for the storage of the tablets on which were written the ten commandments given by God to Moses. This area could only be entered by one person, the High Priest, on the Day of Atonement, once a year, and then only for what was called “purification.” The front part of the Temple could be entered by the priests, but only in the cause of their priestly duties. Some distance from the Temple was built a wall which enclosed a courtyard, and beyond this wall the Hebrews were forbidden to enter.”

The second to last paragraph refers to Moses being learned in the wisdom of the Egyptians – which was probably true since he was raised in the royal household. It is quite possible that Knight and Lomas in “The Hiram Key”[xvii] initially established their view that the secrets of Freemasonry arose in ancient Egypt from this passage. The Research Lodge of Ruapehu suggests “It is possible that the authors of our ritual may have borrowed incidents of Egyptian culture to include in their writings, but to say Freemasonry derived its origin from that source, appears to be drawing the long bow.”


[i] All references to ritual in this lecture are to those of the Grand Lodge of New Zealand

[ii] Laurence Gardner “The Shadow of Solomon” Harper Element 2005 ISBN 13 978 0 00 720761 9, ISBN 10 0 00 720761 1, p 193.

[iii]  “The Tracing Boards of Freemasonry”, W.Bro. J.D. Anderson, 12th Verrall Lecture, Waikato Lodge of Research No 445, 16 November 1999, Transactions Volume 9 No 6 p64, March 2000.

[iv] Harry Carr, “The Freemason at Work”, Lewis Masonic, 6th edition, 1981, p35

[v] Robert LD Cooper, “Cracking the Freemason’s Code”, Random House, 2006, ISBN 10 1 8460 4049 3,  ISBN 13 978 1 8460 4049 8, p93

[vi]Carr, ibid: p 103

[vii]Carr, ibid: p 36

[viii] Carr, ibid: p 262

[ix] Cooper, ibid: p 93

[x] Cooper, ibid: p60



[xiii] Gardner, ibid: p 90

[xiv] Carr, ibid: p 138

[xv] Carr, ibid: p275

[xvi] The Research Lodge of Ruapehu No 444, “A Daily Advancement in Masonic Knowledge No 42”, December 1996.

[xvii] Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas “The Hiram Key”, Arrow Books, 1997, ISBN 0 09 917562 2.

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