Who Visited the Grand Arch and Discovered the Central Idea
Translated by Brother Emmanuel Y. Dumigron MPS
Long after the deaths of Hiram, Solomon and their peers, and long after the armies of Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the kingdom of Judah, flattened the city of Jerusalem, ran- sacked the temple, and taken the survivors into slavery, where the mountain of Zion was deserted and dry, where only a few starved goats were kept by a few scraggily plundered Bedouin farmers, three men arrived one morning at the slow pace of their camels.
These were the wise men, the initiates of Babylon, members of the universal priesthood, who came in pilgrimage to explore the ruins of the ancient sanctuary. After a frugal dinner, the pilgrims went searching through the ruins; they went along the destroyed walls, finding the bases of the columns to determine the layout of the temple. Next, they went to look for the capitals of the pillars of the temple, searching for inscriptions and symbols on those stones.
They discovered during the excavation a manmade opening in the ground under the side of a fallen wall in the midst of thorny bushes.
It was a well, situated at the southeast corner of the Temple. Having cleaned the opening, one of them, the eldest and the one who seemed to be the leader, laid down on his stomach at the edge of the hole and peered inside.
It was the middle of day. The sun shined at meridian and its rays plunged vertically into the well. A brilliantly shiny object captured the eyes of the leader. He called over his companions who laid down by his side and stared down the well. This was of course an object worthy of attention, without a doubt a sacred jewel. The three pilgrims resolved to get hold of it. They removed the cable tows from around their waists, tying each one to the other, and tossed one end into the well so that two of them became at once a bracket of support for the weight of the third who would descend. The leader, gripping the cord, disappeared into the opening and negotiated his descent.
Let us look now at the object that captured the attention of these pilgrims. For this, we must go back several centuries to the time of Hiram’s murder.
“When the Grand Master received the blow from the second ruffian at the west gate, he escaped towards the south gate. Fearing that he would be followed there and that he would meet a third ruffian, he removed from his neck a jewel attached to a collar made of seventy seven rings and threw it into the well of the temple that was located at the southeast corner.
The jewel was a Palm Leaf inside the ineffeble delta made of the purest metals on which Hiram, who was a perfect initiate, inscribed the unspoken word which he wore at all times. Confronted to himself, alone, exposed to onlookers, he showed only a face of resolve”
With the help of his hands and feet, the leader descended into the depth of the well. He noticed that the walls were divided into different layers. These layers of stones were made of different colors, each a cubit high. When he reached the bottom, he looked and counted the layers which were in the number of ten. He then turned his attention to the floor where he saw Hiram’s jewel. He picked it up, looked at it and noticed with emotion that the unspoken word was inscribed on it. He knew the word to be true as it was the same he had received when he became a perfect initiate.
Because his companions had not fully been initiated, they could not recognize the word. He quickly put the collar around his neck and laid the jewel under his clothing as the Grand Master had done before him.
He surveyed his surroundings and noticed an opening in the wall, large enough for a man to squeeze through. He advanced, feeling his way around in the dark. His hands made contact with what he guessed to be a bronze door. He retraced his steps back to the bottom of the well and let his companions know that he was coming back up so that they would steady themselves as he climbed back towards them.
Seeing the jewel resting upon the chest of their leader, the two pilgrims advanced towards him believing that he had received a sacred blessing. He described what he had found and mentioned the bronze door. They all thought that a mystery laid there and resolved to discover it together.
They tied one extremity of the rope made from the cable tows to a flat base made of stone next to the well where one could read the word “Jachin”. They then rolled part of a broken column onto it where one could read the word “Boaz”, reassuring themselves that the rope could hold the weight of a man.
Two of them proceeded to make a sacred flame. Placed in their palms, they rolled a stick of hard wood which was inserted into a hole in the middle of a soft piece of wood. When the soft wood ignited, they blew on it, creating thus a flame. The third priest searched the saddle bags on the camels and found three torches with resin tips which were used to protect them and their camp against wild animals at night. Each torch was ignited successively from the burning wood, becoming thus three sacred flames. Each Priest, holding his torch in one hand, proceeded to descend down the rope to the bottom of the well.
Once there, they followed the leader through the opening leading to the bronze door and the old priest examined the door with great care under the light of his torch. He noticed a raised engraving in the middle of the door in the shape of a royal crown around which was a circle composed of twenty-two points.
The priest entered deep meditation, uttered the word “Malkuth”, and the door opened suddenly.
The explorers found themselves in front of a staircase going down. They advanced, torches in hands, counting the steps as they moved downwards. They went down three steps and found a triangular shaped landing where a new set of stairs started on the left. They went down the next five steps and found another landing similar in shape and size to the one above. This time, seven steps continued on the right.
Having advanced to a third landing, they went down another nine steps to find themselves in front of a second door, which was also made of bronze.
The old priest examined this one as he had the previous, and noticed another raised engraving in the shape of a corner stone encircled also by twenty two points. He uttered the word “Lesod” and the door opened as before.
The priests entered a large circular vaulted hall. The walls were divided into nine decorated segments which started from the floor, coming together into a central point in the middle of the vaulted dome.
They examined the room under the light of their torches, looking for a passage beyond the one they had entered. They found none and thought of turning back, but the leader – going back over each segment and looking for an indication or a marker – counted the segments and suddenly called the two other priests over. He found a new bronze door in a dark corner. This one featured the symbol of the shining sun, also in a circle of twenty-two points. The leader of the priests pronounced the word “Netzah” and this one opened in turn. It lead into a second hall.
The explorers reached successively five other equally hidden doors advancing into further crypts.
On these doors were a beaming moon, the head of a lion, a soft curve, a ruler, a gavel, an eye, and finally a royal crown.
The words pronounced in order were Hod, Tiphereth, Chesed, Geburah, Chokmah, Binah and Kether.
When they entered through the ninth arch, they stopped, surprised, taken aback and somewhat cautious. This hall was not draped in darkness but, to the contrary, it was brightly lit. In the center of the room were three candelabras, eleven cubits high, with three stems each. These lamps still burned after all these centuries, through the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, after the city of
Jerusalem had been flattened and the crumbled ruins of the temple had tumbled down. Nobody could extinguish them. Brilliant and shining, the lights illuminated all the corners brightly and softly as well as all the details of the magnificent architecture of this room, one without parallel, carved into solid stone.
Having no further need for them, the pilgrims put down their torches near the entrance of the gate. They removed their shoes and hats as one would in a sacred place. They advanced and bowed nine times towards the giant candelabras.
These were placed at each corner of a triangle in the center of which was an altar made of marble, two cubits high. Placed on the altar, made of gold, were the instruments of masonry: the ruler, the compass, the square, the plumb, the level, the trowel and the mallet. On the left side of the altar were geometric carvings: the triangle, the square, the five-pointed star, and
the cube. On the right side of the altar, one could read the numbers 27, 125, 343, 729, and 1331. Finally, on the rear of the altar was the symbolic sprig of acacia. Placed on the altar was a three-sided agate stone with the word “Adonai” written in gold letters on its surface.
The two priests, as disciples, bent forward and worshiped the name of God. The leader, lifting his head, said on to them: “It is time for you to receive your last teaching, thus becoming perfect initiates. The name Adonai is only symbolic in nature and does not teach the true idea of the Supreme Conception.”
He then took the stone of agate in both hands, approached his disciples and said “Look, the Supreme Conception is here and you are the central idea.”
The disciples spoke the words Lod, He, Vau, He and began to say the word when the Master cried out: “Silence! This is the ineffable word that should never part from one’s lips.”
He then returned the stone of agate to the altar, pulled out the jewel of Grand Master Hiram from around his neck and showed them that all the same signs were engraved onto it.
“Learn this now, that this Grand Hall was not made under Solomon, nor were the eight others, nor did he hide the stone of agate. This stone was placed here by Enoch, the first of all initiates. The first initiate who did not die but who lives in all his spiritual sons. Enoch lived a long time before Solomon, even before the great flood. No one knows when the previous eight rooms where made.”
Meanwhile the newly made Masters turned their attention from the stone of agate and the altar to the ceiling, looking into the heavens where their voices echoed through time and space. They arrived at a hid- den secret door upon which was the symbol of a broken vase. They called for their Master and said “Open this door, there is one more mystery.” – “No. This door must not be opened”, he replied. “Therein lies a mystery, it is a terrible mystery, the mystery of death.” – “You are hiding something to keep for yourself.” they said. “We want to know everything
They started to utter every word their master had previously said. As these had no effect, they started to utter all the words they could think of. They were about to give up when one of them said: “We cannot continue until the end of time.” The door opened violently on this last word, pushing the two down unto the floor. A terrible wind blew through the vault extinguishing the sacred flames out of their torches.
The leader hurried to the door and called for his disciples’ help. Guided by his voice, they all strained their bodies to finally push the door closed.
But the Sacred Flames of their torches were out, leaving them in the deepest of darkness. They gathered around the voice of the master. “It was to be expected,” he explained, “for it was written that this would happen and that you would be dis- obedient. Here we are in great danger, to be forgotten in these underground crypts unknown to man. We must try to escape. Let us retrace our steps through the eight previous arches and find the bottom of the well from which we descended. We must hold hands and search in the darkness for the gate from which we came. We will continue thusly in each of the eight rooms till we reach the twenty-four steps. Let us hope we can make it.”
Hour after agonizing hour passed. The priests advanced without desperation until they arrived at the base of the stairs with twenty-four steps. They went upwards counting 9, 7, 5, 3 and reached the bottom of the well. It was midnight, the stars shined in the twilight, and the rope still hung from above.
Before letting his companions start their climb, the Master pointed out to the sky in the circle made by the opening of the well and said: “The ten circles we have found in our descent represent also the arches or gates of the stairs. The last o e corresponds to the eleventh gat – the one where the disastrous wind blew – from an infinite sky with light beyond our mortal reach.”
The three priests arrived at the point of entrance in the ruins of the temple and rolled aside the base of the column. Without noticing the name of “Boaz”, they untied their cable tows, got dressed and saddled up their mounts. Without a word and in deep contemplation, they left towards Babylon in the dead of night under the starlit sky at the slow pace of their camels.
Translated by Brother Emmanuel Y. Dumigron MPS, KT, KM, MMRS
Edited by Mr. Julian Vorus, WB Francis Dumaurier
Reviewed by The Counsel of the Master Mason Research Society
Dedicated to the memory of my father Louis A. Fonlupt
Author of original text Unknown. Translated from the back pages of “La
Symbolique Maconnique by Jules Boucher” published by Dervey in Paris, France in the year 1948