Who is Hiram Abiff?
If the song leaders across the country were to
stand on the platforms on Sunday morning and ask the members of the church,
"Who was killed, buried and raised from the grave?", the majority
of members would immediately respond with the name Jesus. A few might also
remember the name Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. Yet, they would
remember that Lazarus simply died; he was not killed. In a significant
number of churches, the name Hiram Abiff, the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, would come into the consciousness of some of the male members. In
some churches, the question would cause even the pastor to think of Hiram.
Although these men know that the name Hiram Abiff would be considered a
valid answer to the question by other men with whom they privately associate
in Masonic Lodges, they would be reluctant to mention the name of Hiram in
church. Certainly, they would not explain the Masonic teaching they have
embraced concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Hiram. That would
cause others to doubt their Christianity.
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5
The Scriptures reveal that Jesus died a brutal death as the result of being crucified at a place called Golgotha:
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Before Jesus was killed, he was struck multiple times. Mark clearly states that fact:
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Hiram Abiff and the Scriptures
The name Hiram Abiff is not found in Scripture. Yet, the
Masonic account of Hiram is often said to be based upon the Holy Bible. In
the Master Mason degree, in that portion of the ritual known as the Legend
of the Third Degree, there are three central characters. The story line is
set around the building of Solomonís temple. The characters, King Solomon,
Hiram - the King of Tyre and Hiram Abiff are all taken from the Scriptural
account of the temple building. King Solomon and Hiram King of Tyre are
mentioned many times in the Scriptures, such as in 1 Kings 5. About the
closest the Scriptures come to Hiram Abiff is Huram-Abi which is found in 2
Chronicles 2:13 in the NAS and NIV translations. Huram is a variant of
Hiram. In the KJV translation of the verse, the name Hiram is found. The KJV
uses both Huram (2 Chron 2:3) and Hiram (1 Kings 5) to identify Hiram the
King of Tyre. The KJV translation of 2 Chron 2:13 does not contain -abi, but
rather "Huram my fatherís." The Hebrew word from which the KJV
"fatherís" was translated is "Ďab," according to the
Hebrew Dictionary found in Strongís Concordance. Strongís entry for the
word Ďab (H1) indicates that it can also mean father-less, as the son of a
widow would be. The entry for H1 also mentions "Abi-." Studying
the various translations along with a Hebrew dictionary allows us to see how
Freemasonry may have settled on the name Hiram Abi-ff, also sometimes
King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was a man of Tyre and a craftsman in bronze. Huram was highly skilled and experienced in all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.
1 Kings 7:13-14
Although the most important element of Masonic symbolism deals with the death, burial and resurrection of Hiram Abiff, there is nothing in Scripture to support it. Masonic Grand Lodges have stated that the account is not based upon fact, but rather is an allegory, used to teach.
Hiram Abiff in Masonic Ritual
During the Legend of the Third Degree, the candidate
portrays Hiram Abiff in the ritual. He is blindfolded and led through the
ritual by a conductor. In Masonic ritual, Hiram Abiff is not a worker of
brass as in Scripture, but rather the Grand Master at the building of
Solomonís temple. Each day, he lays out the work for the workmen to
complete. There are Fellowcrafts who work on the temple who are to be given
the secrets of a Master Mason as compensation - when the temple is
completed. Once they have the secrets of a Master Mason they will earn the
wages of a Master. A group of fifteen Fellowcrafts decide that they do not
want to wait until the work is completed. They form a plot which only three
of them carry through. The three "ruffians" sequentially accost
Hiram at the East gate, the South gate and the West gate. A similar dialog
occurs at each temple entrance. The ruffian demands the secrets of a Master
Mason. Hiram explains that this is neither the time, nor the place; the
secrets can only be revealed in the presence of three, King Solomon, Hiram
the King of Tyre and myself. The ruffian demands, "Your life, or the
secrets." Hiram responds, "My life you can have, my integrity -
never." When they fail to get what they want, they strike Hiram with
one of the working tools and he staggers to the next gate and the next
encounter. The third ruffian is also unable to extract the secrets from
Hiram Abiff. He strikes Hiram on the head with a setting maul and kills him.
Hiram willingly laid down his life rather than betray his trust.
When this conclusion to the ritual is reread carefully, breaking it down
phrase by phrase, it is easy to see that what it actually says is that,
"Masonic brethren should imitate Hiram Abif to get into heaven."
Notice that Freemasonry does not urge Freemasons to have faith in Hiram
Abiff. When the words from the ritual are analyzed carefully, it is clear
that Freemasonry is substituting imitation for faith and Hiram for Jesus -
as the means to gaining entry into heaven, following death.
Ahiman Rezon or Book of Constitutions, pp. 141-2, 1965 ed.
These words are found in the monitors of many states including Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, and the District of Columbia, to name a few. All other Grand Lodge monitors which do not contain this text contain enough other material to prove that they too teach salvation without Jesus. Additionally, in virtually all monitors we have examined, they actually have a prayer which asks for salvation. Clearly the words of those Masons who deny that Freemasonry has a plan of salvation do not agree with the interpretation of the teachings of ritual offered by Grand Lodges. Since the Grand Lodges are the acknowledged authorities of Freemasonry, those individual Masons who claim that Freemasonry has no plan of salvation are making claims which many of them know are untrue.
Was Hiram resurrected, or reburied?
In Masonic ritual, Hiram Abiff is raised from a "dead level" to a "living perpendicular." Quite a number of Masons have claimed that Hiram Abiff was not resurrected from the grave near Mt. Moriah, but rather his body was exhumed and reburied in the temple. Why would they make that claim? There are several reasons. First, the ritual actually does state that Hiram was to be reburied within the temple. However, it does not happen in ritual. Hiram was first buried in temple rubble. Then, his body was moved and he was reburied on a hill west of Mt. Moriah. He was raised to "a living perpendicular," or resurrected, from that second grave. Hiram was physically reburied in ritual, but the reburial preceded resurrection.
The portion of the ritual lecture which deals with reburial in many states contains built-in conflicts which make physical reburial within the temple an impossible interpretation. The purpose of these built-in conflicts is to indicate that there is another, deeper, meaning within ritual - yet to be discovered. If a man carefully considers what is actually taught, he will know that physical reburial is not a valid interpretation. Some Grand Lodges have placed explanations in their monitors to allow the thinking Mason to know that physical reburial is impossible, for one reason, or another. Still, other Grand Lodges have placed explanatory text in their monitors which directly states that resurrection is the actual teaching contained in the ritual. Examples of each will be provided.
In the Nevada Master Mason ritual (may be downloaded from our website) we find the following:
Some time back, I worked with a Past Master who firmly denied the resurrection of Hiram. This glaring inconsistency - reburial and then cremation - in the ritual was brought to his attention. He remembered the words, having heard them many times, but he had not thought about what was actually said. When he read and analyzed the ritual, he was forced to admit that physical reburial did not make sense. They would not have buried Hiram in the temple, only to dig him back up and then cremate the body. Later, he found documents from his Lodge which clearly taught resurrection. He turned out to be an honest man in whom the Holy Spirit was working. He is no longer a Mason.
The cremation - reburial conflict is apparent in several monitors. There is a widely used drawing of a weeping virgin leaning over a broken column. Father Time is standing behind her holding a scythe. She is holding a small urn in her hand. The text describing it states the following:
Text found in Ahiman Rezon, or Book of Constitutions provided by the Grand Lodge of South Carolina explains that reburial within the temple could not have occurred, based upon Jewish law:
Parallels between Hiram Abiff and Jesus Christ are well developed in the monitor published by the Grand Lodge of Nebraska. They want to make certain that the Master Mason will realize that both Jesus Christ and Hiram Abiff were killed, buried and resurrected. They call attention to the "peculiar symbolism" and what it must suggest.
Yet another Grand Lodge explains that the temple is not physical in nature in the symbolic teaching of the Master Mason Degree. That being the case, physical reburial of his body within that spiritual temple would be impossible. They allude to a deeper meaning within the allegory.
Is it possible that the rituals of some Grand Lodges teach resurrection, while others actually do teach physical reburial? A number of Grand Lodges have gone out of their way to state that there are no significant differences in the ritual portrayal of the Legend of the Third Degree in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world. Reburial, rather than resurrection, would change the meaning of ritual drastically. Consider the words found in the monitor for Texas as one example:
There is another, more significant reason why many Masons deny that the resurrection of Hiram is the only valid interpretation of Masonic ritual. For those Masons who want to believe that they are Christians, the difficulty is obvious. If they admit that they have been meeting in secret to reenact the death, burial and resurrection of Hiram Abiff, it will be unlikely that other Christians will accept them as a brother in Christ. If they themselves understand the Gospel, the obvious mockery of it would be a source of conflict in the minds of any of them who are even nominal Christians. Barring repentance, denial is a necessity for these men. To acknowledge resurrection as the teaching of ritual and then remain involved in Freemasonry would mean admitting, at least to themselves, that they are not genuine Christians. Does being in denial make them Christians in Godís sight? Consider Matthew 7:21-23 and Matthew 28:18-20.
Hiram Abiff - the Masonic Savior?
The Grand Lodge of Kentucky provides unmistakable evidence that Freemasonry teaches, not only that there are many different saviors for various peoples, but that Hiram Abif is considered a savior for Freemasons. The context is a discussion of various world religions.
Masonry teaches that Jesus is not unique. Notice the parallel sentence structure: Hindus - Krishna, . . Christians - Jesus, Masons - Hiram. They clearly are teaching that Krishna is a savior for Hindus, Jesus is a savior for Christians and Hiram Abiff is a savior for Masons. The teaching that Hiram is the Masonic savior is found in more than a few books distributed throughout the Masonic system. Consider the words of Masonic author, Lynn Perkins:
How will Masons get into heaven?
A number of Masonic Grand Lodges have distributed educational material to new members which explains how they will gain entry into heaven. The name Jesus Christ is never mentioned. Consider these words found in the monitors of Kansas, Wisconsin and the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma:
Let all the energies of our minds and the affections of our souls be employed in the attainment of our Supreme Grand Masterís approbation, that when the hour of our dissolution draws nigh and the cold winds of death come sighing around us, and his chill dew glistens on our foreheads, may we with joy obey the summons of the Grand Warden of Heaven and go from our labors here on earth to everlasting refreshment in the Paradise of God, where, by the benefit of a pass, a pure life, and a firm reliance on Divine Providence, we shall gain a ready admission into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides, where seated at the right hand of our Supreme Grand master, he will be pleased to pronounce us just and upright Masons.
Murrow Masonic Monitor and Ceremonies (Oklahoma), 1997, p.90
Other Grand Lodge monitors contain similar text which contains a phrase which may have caused some Masons to mistakenly believe that Freemasonry lifts up Jesus Christ as the way to salvation. Notice the phrase - Lion of the tribe of Judah - and how it is used.
The Official Monitor is distributed by the Grand Lodge of Illinois to Masons who are Jews, Moslems, Hindus, men who have no faith other than in a Supreme Being, as well as men who claim to be Christians. How would each of these groups of men interpret this text? Notice that it clearly states that they will gain entry into heaven. This teaching is applied to all Masons, not just those who claim to be Christians. Therefore, Jesus Christ cannot be the common denominator. Notice that they speak of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but they do not define the term in the monitor. One who attempts to interpret the text from a Christian paradigm would likely equate the Lion of the tribe of Judah to Jesus Christ. He would be misled by attempting to interpret Freemasonry using a non-Masonic paradigm. As will become clear, Freemasonry embraces a different meaning of the phrase. Consider the words found in a Grand Lodge training manual produced to guide those who would nurture new Master Masons in the ways of Masonic "light." The explanation includes statements that there are other mediators between God and man.
The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is currently circulating a book by Oliver Day Street titled, Symbolism of the Three Degrees. The stated purpose for circulating the book is for education and enlightenment. Circulation of their copies are limited to Pennsylvania Masons only. Quite a number of other Grand Lodges, including some Canadian Grand Lodges, also recommend the book to their members. We have copies of the book which were reprinted specifically for the Grand Lodges of other states. Those special reprints, in three separate volumes, are used to educate new Masons as they progress through the Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason degrees of the Blue Lodge. A passage in the book closely parallels the words found in the Florida Mentorís Manual. Several statements are made concerning the existence of multiple mediators between God and man, as well as other redeemers:
The lion from most ancient times has been a symbol of might or royalty. It was blazoned upon the standard of the tribe of Judah, because it was the royal tribe. The kings of Judah were, therefore, each called Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and such was one of the titles of Solomon. Remembrance of this fact gives appropriateness to an expression employed at one point in our ceremonies which is otherwise obscure, not to say absurd. Such is the literal meaning of this phrase, but it also has a symbolical one. The Jewish idea of a Messiah was of a mighty temporal king. He was also designated as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; in fact this title was regarded as peculiarly belonging to him. This expression does not, as many Masons suppose, necessarily have a reference to Jesus of Nazareth. The Christian Mason is privileged so to interpret it, if he likes, but the Jew has equal right to understand it as meaning his Messiah. Indeed, every great religion of the world has contained the conception in some form of a Mediator between God and man, a Redeemer who would raise mankind from the death of this life and the grave to an everlasting existence with God hereafter. The Mason who is a devotee of one of these religions, say, Buddhism, Brahmanism or Mohammedanism, is likewise entitled to construe this expression as referring to his own Mediator.
Symbolism of the Three Degrees, pp. 154-155
Other books currently being circulated by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and recommended by other Grand Lodges contain the teaching that there are various world saviors. Masonic author George Steinmetz explains exactly what the word "savior" means within the Masonic paradigm. The text is contained in a chapter titled, The Messiah Concept:
There have been numerous prototypes of the perfect man, forerunners of the perfected race which is to come. In some way, for some unexplainable reason, these prototypes came to be looked upon as "Saviors" rather than EXAMPLES."
The Lost Word Its Hidden Meaning, p. 124
It is of course true they are "saviors" in the sense that they exemplify what man CAN BE and what he is to BECOME, but they do not so much "save men" as to point the way to "salvation."
The Lost Word Its Hidden Meaning, p. 124-5
We may discover why brief but glorious glimpses of what MAN MAY BE have been vouchsafed by such saviors as Osiris, Krishna, Jesus and Hiram.
The Lost Word Its Hidden Meaning, p. 158
The reason that Freemasonry admonishes its new members to imitate Hiram to get into heaven is that it considers Hiram to be an example showing the way to salvation. Freemasonry teaches that each man is his own savior; it does not embrace the Christian teaching of substitutionary atonement. Freemasonry teaches that Hiram and other saviors save only themselves. By imitating Hiram, following his example, Freemasonry teaches that Masons may save themselves.
The resurrection of Hiram is also taught by The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania through the use of The Lost Word Its Hidden Meaning and other Masonic books they circulate which contain similar teachings. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania uses the book to draw a parallel between Hiram and Jesus, just as some other Grand Lodges do in their monitors.
The Masonic view of Jesus Christ
We could infer the position which Freemasonry takes with regard to Jesus Christ, but the Grand Lodges use Masonic literature to make that unnecessary. So that Masons will not misunderstand, the Masonic position on the Son of God has been explained in no uncertain terms:
Obviously, the heretical teaching that Jesus Christ is NOT the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), that he is NOT the only redeemer and savior (John 14:6), and that the name of Jesus is NOT the only name whereby men may be saved (Acts 4:12) is current Masonic teaching. This heresy is not limited to an outdated edition of the Kentucky Monitor, as some "Christian" Masons have tried to claim. It is widespread, mainstream, Masonic teaching. All a Mason has to do to uncover it is dig around in the lodge library.
If you are a Mason who claims to be a Christian, you have a simple choice to make:
Your choice will determine where you spend eternity.
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