By Benjamin H. Weston 32 degree

God alone knows precisely how old the art and practice of
Freemasonry are.  Certainly the individual Lodge is the prime unit
of Freemasonry.  We know today that in Florida no less than twelve
Master Masons can join together to form a Regular Lodge.  Whether
this has been true from the beginning of Freemasonry we cannot say,
but we do know that all the ancient and established usages and
customs of the Fraternity have been faithfully and carefully
preserved.  To fix this more firmly in our minds we have only to
converse with visiting brethren from around the world or read the
reports of our Sovereign Grand Commander as he tells of Freemasonry
in other countries.  The ceremonies of Freemasonry never change no
matter where you go.
Within the Fraternity there are the doubting Thomases, the probers,
and searchers who cannot believe until the naked proof is presented
to them.  Along with them are the lovers of the Craft who are
continually trying to enlighten their brethren concerning the
In connection with this study of the Craft, a wise Masonic
churchman said that it might be helpful to start as near the
beginning as possible.  Then the question arises, where is the
beginning? This is a logical question and deserves honest study.
As is generally known among Masons the ordinary calendar is not
generally used by Freemasons in dating their official documents.
They have one peculiar to themselves, differing among their various
rites.  Blue Lodge Masons date their documents by adding 4,000 ye
ars to the Christian era and calling it Anno Lucis or Year of
Light, using the abbreviation A.L. before the date recorded.  This
is known as Ussher's Chronology.  It came into being in Armagh,
Northern Ireland, about A.D. 1650 and was first used in Biblical
computation in 1701.  Hence, the Speculative Masons and not the
Operative Masons gave Masonry this chronology.
Certainly it would be neither wise nor fair to Masonry to use this
chronology, even though it is now in general use among Free and
Accepted Masons.  What then can be considered as a good starting
place? To go before recorded history leads only to fragmentary
evidence and gives rise to doubts and speculative questions.
It is known that outside the sphere of recorded events there grew
up in the ever-expanding and ever-apostatizing nations all kinds of
gross pantheistic, idolatrous, and absurd traditions.  This has
caused some of the great traditions of Freemasonry to be
questioned, among them the Hiramic Tradition.  Let us then use this
incident as a starting place for our research.
Upon being initiated, we are told that Lodges were anciently
dedicated to King Solomon, as he was our first Most Excellent Grand
Master, although in reality there is no record of the existence of
Masonic Grand Jurisdictions at or before the time of King Solomon.
Josephus is known for his reliability and the Masoretes are noted
for their careful preservation of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Examination of the Masorah text reveals that Hiram king of Tyre
sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and
masons: and they built David an house." The word used to describe
masons in this passage is the same word used to describe
Tubal-cain, that first well-known artificer in brass and other
metals. Hence, we know that operative masons were well -
established from t he time of Tubal-cain to the time of Hiram, king
of Tyre.  Josephus relates that Hirom, king of Tyre, was a great
builder and had close relations with King Solomon concerning
problems which were of mutual interest.  This tends to confirm the
belief that there was some close Masonic tie between them.
Further, a passage in the First Book of Kings reads as follows:
And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had
built the two houses, the house of the Lord, and the king's house,
(Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees
and fir frees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that
then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.
And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had
given him; and they pleased him not.  And he said, What cities are
these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the
land of Cabul unto this day.  And Hiram sent to the king sixscore
talents of gold.
Notice here the close relationship which Hiram had with Solomon -
"according to all his desire" plus the fact that even in his
displeasure about the cities he called Solomon "my brother." This
is no accident on the part of the writer, because there is another
Hebrew word used for "brother" which also means "friend." The
relationship was obviously upon more than a friendly basis and
could have been on a Masonic basis.
Further evidence of this possible Masonic relationship is given in
regard to the name of Hiram.  Some confusion exists as to the
actual form of the name.  Josephus calls it Hirom; in the Biblical
account it occurs as Hiram and Huram.  Philologists claim that the
name is undoubtedly Phoenician, and is equivalent to Ahiram which
means "brother of the exalted one" or "brother is exalted." Names
of this type are especially common in Phoenician, such as Abibaal
and Abiram.  Similar instances of the dropping of t he initial
letter Aleph occur in Hebrew and in Phoenician.  This gives added
reason to believe that there existed a strong Masonic relationship,
for Hiram was not a blood relative of Solomon, and also that the
tribe of Asher did not conquer the Phoenicians and bring them into
subjection when the Hebrews entered their land.
Examining the etymology of the name, one ends that it means
"free-born or noble." This gives added evidence of a Masonic
connection, for in those days only operative masons were free to
come and go and receive wages, the remainder of the workmen were
bondsmen or serfs who received no wages and were under a
taskmaster, an arrangement that continued on beyond Solomon's day.
However, Solomon and Hiram must have had a "brotherly covenant"
which was later forgotten by their progenitors.  Such evidence
seems over whelmingly to indicate a Masonic relationship.
With the addition of the artificer named Hiram Abif, we find a
three fold Masonic relationship.  The Hebrew writer describes all
the qualities of an operative mason in telling about Hiram Abif.
Hiram Abif was the son of a mason who had died and left a widow.
Solomon was particularly concerned in employing this Masonic
brother and gave to him the important task of making the two brazen
pillars called Jachin and Boaz.  Certainly no profane artisan would
understand the importance which King Solomon placed upon these two
Most Biblical writers have been confused concerning the name Hiram
Abi.  The early translators gave it a genitive meaning of "my
father" or "his father." The Revised Standard Version has rendered
his name as Huramabi, which is a transliteration of the Hebrew.
This helps to give meaning in English, but it still does not
explain the character of Hiram or that in Hebrew there are two
names, Huram and Abi, with Huram preceded by a Lamed.
For the profane translator this is confusing, but for one with a
Masonic background the confusion is easily resolved, Hiram is a man
of eminence and the principal architect sent  by King Hiram to King
Solomon.  He is called Huram in the Second Book of Chronicles,
where he also has the title "Ab" (master) given to him.  Thus there
was a Masonic triumvirate at the building of the Temple.
There is not much more said concerning Hiram Abif than that he
helped with the building of the Temple. However, there is good
reason to believe that King Solomon performed other work which
included Hiram Abif.  In the First Book of Kings we read as
follows: "And the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did,
and his wisdom, and they not written in the book of the acts of
Solomon?" It seems that there was a book called The Acts of Solomon
which has now vanished.  How long this book existed and what it
contained is unknown.  Certainly the tradition of Hiram Abif must
have been included because of the strong Masonic relationship which
existed between King Solomon, King Hiram of Tyre, and Hiram Abif of
Tyre.  More than this would be open to conjecture because of
insufficient facts.  It might well be, however, that the Hiramic
Tradition is genuine and was transmitted to us, the "speculatives,"
from the "operative" period.