Legends of Freemasonry

King Solomon
Solomon, the King of Israel, the son of David and Bathsheba, ascended the throne of his kingdom 2989 years after the creation of the world, and 1015 years before the Christian era. He was they only twenty years of age, but the youthful monarch is said to have commenced his reign with the decision of a legal question of some difficulty, in which he exhibited the first promise of that wise judgement for which he was ever afterward distinguished.
The most important accomplishment of Solomon's reign was the erection of a Temple to honor the Lord God Jehovah. Prior to his death, King David had numbered the workmen whom he found in his kingdom, had appointed the overseers of the work, the hewers of stones, and the bearers of burdens; had prepared a great quantity of brass, iron, and cedar; and had amassed an immense treasure with which to support the enterprise. But on consulting with the prophet Nathan, David learned from the holy man, that although his pious intent was pleasing to God, David would not be permitted to build the Temple as he had "shed blood abundantly." The task was reserved for the more peaceful Solomon, his son and successor.
Hence, when David was about to die, he charged Solomon to build the Temple of God as soon as he should have received the kingdom. He also gave him directions in relation to the construction of the edifice, and put into his possession the money, amounting to ten thousand talents of gold and ten times that amount of silver, which he had collected and laid aside for defraying the expense. In today's currency, it was approximately 2 billion pounds.
Solomon had scarcely ascended the throne of Israel, when he prepared to carry into execution the pious designs of King David. For this purpose, however, he found it necessary to seek the assistance of Hiram, King of Tyre, the ancient friend and ally of his father. The Tyrians and Sidonians, the subjects of Hiram, had long been distinguished for their great architectural skill; and, in fact, many of them, as members of a mystic operative society, the fraternity of Dionysian artificers, had long monopolized the profession of building in Asia Minor. The Jews, on the other hand, were rather more eminent for their military valor than for their knowledge of the arts of peace, and hence King Solomon at once realized the necessity of invoking the aid of these foreign architects if he expected to complete the edifice he was about to erect, either in a reasonable time or with the splendor and magnificence appropriate to the sacred object for which it was intended. He, therefore, contacted Hiram, King of Tyre, to implore his aid and assistance.
King Hiram, mindful of the former amity and alliance that had existed between himself and David, was disposed to extend the friendship he had felt for the father to the son, and provided the workmen, guidance, and assistance requested by Solomon.
King Hiram lost no time in fulfilling the promise of assistance which he had thus given. Accordingly, we are informed that Solomon received 33,600 workmen from Tyre, besides a sufficient quantity of timber and stone to construct his Temple. Hiram also sent him a far more important gift than either men or materials in the person of an able architect, "a curious and cunning workman," whose skill and experience were to be exercised in superintending the labours of the craft, and in adorning and beautifying the Temple. His name was Hiram Abif.
King Solomon commenced the erection of the Temple on Monday, the second day of the Hebrew month Zif, which is the 22nd of April on our calendar, and 1012 years before the Christian era. King Solomon, King Hiram and Hiram Abif constitued the three Grand Masters of the Craft.
To Hiram Abif was entrusted the general superintendence of the building, while subordinate stations were assigned to other eminent artists, whose names and offices have been handed down in the traditions of the Order.
The Temple was at length finished in the month of Bul, our November, in the year of the world 3,000, being seven and one-half years from its commencement.
As soon as the magnificent edifice was completed, and fit for the sacred purposes for which it was intended, King Solomon directed that the Ark of the Covenant be brought up out of Zion where it had been depositied by King David. It would be placed in the special part of the Temple prepared just for that purpose.
Here the immediate and personal connection of King Solomon to the Craft begins to draw to a conclusion. That King Solomon was the wisest monarch that ruled Israel is the unanimous opinion of posterity.
After a reign of forty years, he died, and with him expired forever the glory and the power of the Hebrew empire.

King Hiram of Tyre

Hiram, King of Tyre, was the son of Abibal, and the contemporary of both David and Solomon. In the beginning of the former's reign, he sent messengers to him, and King Hiram provided the Hebrew king with "cedars, carpenters, and masons; and they built David a house." Nearly forty years afterward, when Solomon ascended the throne, and began to prepare for the building of the Temple, he sent to the old friend of his father for the same kind of assistance. 
The King of Tyre gave a favourable response, and sent workmen and materials to Jerusalem, by the aid of which Solomon was enabled to carry our his great design. Historians have documented the friendly discourse between these monarchs, and state that the correspondence between them in respect to the building of the Temple was reserved in the Archives of the kingdom of Tyre.
In return for this kindness, Solomon gave King Hiram 200,000 bushels of wheat and 1,500,000 gallons of oil -- an incredible amount, but not disproportioned to the magnificent expenditure of the Temple in other respects. After Solomon had finished his work, he presented the King of Tyre with twenty towns in Galilee. But when King Hiram viewed these places, he was so displeased with their appearance that he called them "the land of Cabul" -- which signifies barren or desolate.
The connection of the King of Tyre with King Solomon in the construction of the Temple has given him a great importance in the legendary history of Freemasonry. The tradition is that King Hiram had been Grand Master of all Masons, but when the Temple was finished, King Hiram came to survey it before its consecration, and to commune with Solomon about wisdom and art. On finding that the Great Architect Of The Universe had inspired Solomon above all mortal men, King Hiram very readily yielded the pre-eminence to Solomon Jedediah, the "beloved of God."
King Hiram reigned over the Tyrians for thirty-four years. He permitted Solomon's ships to participate in the profitable trade of the Mediterranean, and Jewish sailors, under the instructions of Tyrian mariners, were taught how to bring from India the gold necessary to enrich their people and to beautify the Temple of their king. Tradition says that King Hiram gave his daughter in marriage to King Solomon.

Hiram Abif
The outstanding figure in modern Freemasonry is undoubtedly the widow's son who is known to members of the Fraternity under the name of Hiram Abiff. Hiram was the principal architect at the building of King Solomon's Temple.
Hiram was of mixed race, the son of a brassworker, and a man so high in his profession as to have secured the patronage of his King, and to have been deemed worthy to uphold the reputation of his country.Although there is no mention of this character until the third degree, the significance and manner of his death bears a great significance in the annuls of freemasonry. Because of Hiram Abiff's death, a keyword, called the "Master's word" was lost; Master Masons receive a substitute word in its place. The lost word is restored during the Royal Arch degree, which reenacts events said to have occurred during the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple following the Babylonian captivity.

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