Q. Of what was King Solomon's temple emblematic?
A. That temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Q. Has the word "temple" any meaning significant of this?
A. All ancient temples were originally dedicated to the worship of the sun and the summer celestial orbs, whose circuit in the heavens each year was emblematic represented in the details of their construction and ornaments. The word "temple" is from tempus, time; templum comes from tempus, and the word "temple" is therefore synonymous with tempus, time, or the year.
Q. By whom is time—i.e., the temple—each year beautified and adorned?
A. By the sun, who, from March to October, is continually engaged in beautifying the heavens and the earth.
Q. When the building of the temple commenced?
A. On the 2nd day of Zif, or about the 21st of April.
Q. When was the temple finished?
A. On the 4th day of Bul, or about the 21st of October.
Q. Have those dates any astronomical significance?
A. They have. On the 21st of April the sun enters Taurus, and the plowing and planting begin. On the 21st of October the sun enters Scorpio; "the summer is over and the harvest is finished." It was, therefore, that the sun, in his passage through the seven signs (typical of years), from Aries to Scorpio, was said, emblematically, to raise the Royal Arch, beautify and adorn the heavens, and bring forth the bountiful fruits of the earth.
Q. Is it, therefore, to be understood that the whole account of the building of King Solomon's temple, as given in the masonic tradition, is an astronomical myth?
A. By no means, for there is no fact more certain than the building of King Solomon's temple, as both sacred and profane history testify. It is nevertheless true that the masonic tradition respecting it is one of mystical import. It contains within itself not only the history in part of the building of an actual earthly and material temple, but also an emblematic description of the heavens and the earth, as well as of the particulars of the annual passage of the sun among the twelve signs of the zodiac. There is also good reason for believing the temple itself was expressly built, so as to be in its various parts emblematic of the whole order of nature.
Josephus (most learned of Jews) directly informs us that the tabernacle, which was a prototype of the temple, was thus emblematic in its construction. He says, speaking of the tabernacle and vestments of the high-priest, that, if anyone, without prejudice and with judgment, look upon these things, he will find they were every one made in way of imitation and representation of the universe. When Moses distinguished the tabernacle into three parts, and allowed two of them to the priests, as a place accessible and common, he denoted the land and the sea, these being of general access to all; but he set apart the third division for God, because heaven is inaccessible to men. And when he ordered twelve loaves to be set upon the table, he denoted the year as distinguished into so many months. By branching out the candlestick into seventy parts, he secretly intimated the Decani, or seventy divisions of the planets; and as to the seven lamps upon the candlesticks, they referred to the course of the planets, of which that is the number. The veils, too, which were composed of four things, they declare the four elements; for the fine linen was proper to signify the earth, because the flax grows out of the earth. The purple signifies the sea, because that color is dyed by the blood of a sea shellfish; the blue is fit to signify the air, and the scarlet will naturally be an indication of fire. Now, the vestment of the high priest, being made of linen, signified the earth; the blue denotes the sky, being like lightening in its pomegranates, and in the noise of the bells resembling thunder. And for the ephod, it showed that God had made the universe of four (elements); and as for the gold interwoven, I suppose it related to the splendor, by which all things are enlightened. He also appointed the breastplate to be placed in the middle of the ephod to resemble the earth, for that was the very middle place of the world. And the girdle which encompassed the high priest round signified the ocean, for that goes round about, and includes the universe. Each of the sard-onyxes declares to us the sun and moon—those, I mean, which were in the nature of buttons on the high priest's shoulders. And as for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or whether we understand the like number of the signs of that circle which the Greeks call the zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning. As for the mitre, which was of blue color, it seems to me it means heaven, for how otherwise could the name of God be inscribed upon it? That it was also illustrated with a crown, and that of gold also, is because of that splendor with which God is pleased. Let this explanation suffice at present. ("Antiquities," Book III, Chapter VII, 7)
The concluding sentence of this quotation conveys a clear intimation that many other emblematic particulars in the construction of the tabernacle might be pointed out. Now, as the "holy place," and veils, candlesticks, lamps, vestments, and other particulars of the tabernacle were specifically reproduced in the temple, we may safely conclude that the temple itself was so built as to be also emblematic, in its several parts, of the universe. Nor when we reflect that the designs for the temple, as well as the tabernacle, are said to have been given by God himself, need we be surprised at this, for what more reasonable than to suppose that, when the great Creator of all things revealed the designs for a temple to be dedicated to himself, it should thus be made in all its parts emblematic of the sum of all his other works—the entire universe? The lodge, according to all masonic writers, is emblematic of King Solomon's temple; it is therefore easy to see why it is also emblematic of the heavens and the earth. It could not be the one without being also the other. It also naturally follows that the masonic tradition is thus possessed for a threefold character:
1. It is in part an actual history of the building of King Solomon's temple.
2. It is an emblematic description of the heavens and the earth.
3. By a system of allegorical and astronomical symbols it is the depository of a high code of morals.
In its triune aspect it is, therefore, HISTORICAL, SCIENTIFIC and MORAL. In it the two accounts of the building of the actual and the mystical temple, the earthly and the heavenly one, are curiously interwoven and permeate each other. Yet, the astronomical key being given, they may be separated, and each contemplated by itself.
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