The description of the pillars, as given in the Bible, also renders it probable that they had no globes upon the top of their capitals, as none are mentioned. This idea of surmounting the pillars with globes arose, no doubt, from a misconstruction of the word "pommels, "as used in 2 Chron. 4:12-13, or the word "bowls," in 1 Kings 7:41. That these pommels, or bowls, were not in any sense academic globes, such as adorn the masonic columns, is evident from the fact that they were covered with "network," containing four hundred pomegran ates in two "rows, or wreaths" (1 Kings 7:41-42; 2 Chron. 4:12-13). The chapters, of which these pommels or bowls formed a part, were also adorned with lily-work: These pommels must, therefore, have been something entirely different from our modern celestial and terrestrial globes. In place of bearing representations of the "various seas and countries of the earth," and "the face of the heavens," they were "covered" by wreaths of network, lilies, and pomegranates. They were not, in fact, globes of any kind, according to Dr. Smith, who says the word pommels "signifies convex projections belonging to the capitals of pillars."
The globes that surmount the masonic columns are, on the contrary, modern academic globes, for we find them thus described in the "Monitor":
The globes are two artificial spherical bodies, on the convex surface of which are represented the countries, seas, and various parts of the earth, the face of the heavens, the planetary revolutions, and other important particulars ("Monitor").
It is very evident that no such globes as these could have ever been placed on the top of the pillars of the porch of Solomon's temple even had the sacred text left any doubt upon the subject. Dr. Mackey very truly remarks, in speaking of the symbolical form of the lodge, that "at the Solomonic era, the era of the building of the temple at Jerusalem, the world was supposed to be of an oblong form." Such was the idea held by the most enlightened among the Jewish nation, even down to a very late date, comparatively. Thus, Isaiah (11:12) says, "The Lord shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth"; and we find in the Apocalypse (20:9) a prophetic vision of four angles standing on the four corners of the earth. Dr. Mackey, illustrating the ancient idea of the form of the earth (see "Symbolism," Chapter XIII), furnishes a drawing in this form | |, within which are marked the "various countries and seas of the earth."
There can be no sort of doubt that such was the prevailing idea of the form of the earth held at that era, not only by the Jews but by most of the other nations. If, therefore, the architect of that age had desired to surmount either of these pillars with a figure representing the earth, he would have placed there a body having the form of a double cube, with the "countries, seas, and various parts of the earth" depicted on its flat upper surface. The same remarks will apply to any representation then made of the "face of the heavens," which, according to the ideas of that age, "was coextensive with the earth taking the same form and inclosing a cubical space, of which the earth was the base, and the heavens, or sky, the upper surface." (Dudley, quoted by Dr. Mackey in note to page 104)
It is, therefore, beyond all question that the introduction of our modern academic celestial and terrestrial globes, as the principal feature and leading ornament of these columns, was not derived from the pillars at the porch of King Solomon's temple. The custom, however, of placing two lofty columns before the porch of temples dedicated to the worship of the heavenly bodies, was a very ancient and universal one. The Egyptian temples were always decorated by such pillars. They may have also ornamented, and probably did sometimes ornament, these pillars with spheres or globes placed on their tops, and intended to represent the one the orb of the sun, or Osiris, the other the full moon of the equinox, or Isis.
That the Phoenician artists who constructed the pillars at the porch of King Solomon's temple also imitated the architecture of the Egyptians in this, is possible, although no mention is made of the fact in either Kings or Chronicles. Such spheres, however, would be something very different from those upon the masonic columns. That the pillars of the porch may have been surmounted by figures globular in form, and intended to represent respectively the sun and moon, is rendered somewhat probable from the fact that the whole construction of the temple, as we have seen from what Josephus says, was emblematic of the entire universe. That these columns partook of this symbolism, and were emblematic in some way of the sun and moon, would seem to be indicated by their very names. One of them was called "Boaz." This word is derived from two roots, "bo," motion, haste; and "az," fire, i.e., the sun, the great moving fire. The other was called "Jachin," which clearly refers to the moon. Our word "month" is derived from the word "moon"—a month being one moon, or one revolution of the moon. The Hebrew months were also lunar, hence they called them Jachin, which comes from Jarac, which means the moon (Dr. Adam Clarke).
This connection of the globes on the columns, Jachin and Boaz, or the columns themselves, with the moon and the sun, seems to have been at one time fully acknowledged, if not understood, by the fraternity. This connection was no doubt accepted from ancient tradition, while the true cause and real meaning of it was probably lost. The following is a drawing of the two pillars of the porch, taken from a masonic medal struck in 1798, which is but a copy of the way these pillars are represented in the more ancient charts. It will be observed that above the pillar Jachin the figure of the moon is seen, while above that of Boaz the sun appears. (See "Macoy's Cyclopaedia," article "Medals.")
As to which pillar properly represents Jachin and which Boaz, it must be remembered that, when standing in front of them, they are reversed, Jachin then being on the left hand, and Boaz on the right. In this matter much confusion exists in the pictorial representations made in the Monitors. Kings and Chronicles say that the right pillar was Jachin, and the left Boaz, and the confusion arises as to whether you are supposed to be going into or coming out of the temple. Josephus, however, makes this plain, for, in locating "the table with loaves
PILLARS OF THE PORCH, FROM AN ANCIENT MEDAL
upon it," he gives the key to the whole matter, and renders it evident that the pillar Jachin was on the south side of the temple, and Boaz on the north. He also says the temple itself "fronted to the east." ("Antiquities," Book VIII, Chapter III, and note.) The true position of the pillars is therefore shown by the following diagram:
Was this article helpful?