Officers of the Royal Arch – Principals

Who are the Principals ? – Spirituality


Continuing on from the Officers of the Lodge 6 part series, we progress on to the Royal Arch.

This is the last article in the tutorial series on the Royal Arch Officers.

Each part published monthly in The Square.

Royal Arch Officers:  Janitor, Sojourners, Scribe Nehemiah, Scribe Ezra, Principals.

The Principals – Zerubbabel, Haggai and Joshua

In 539 BC, Cyrus King of Persia conquered Babylon and gave permission to the captive Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

The returning Jews were led by the governor Zerubbabel and the High Priest Joshua. (Ezra 2: 1-2)

Soon after the exiles arrived in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel and Joshua set up an altar (Ezra 3:1-2) and the following year laid the foundation of the temple (Ezra 3:8-11).

However, they met with some opposition from neighbouring tribes which discouraged the builders and the work stopped (Ezra 4:1-5).

Some sixteen years later the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, upon seeing the lethargy of the people, inspired Zerubbabel, Joshua and the people to continue with the work on the temple (Ezra 4:24; Ezra 5:1-2; Haggai 1:1-11).

As the work continued, Haggai and Zechariah brought further messages of inspiration to the people through Zerubbabel and Joshua (Haggai 1:12-15; Haggai 2:1-9).

The reason for the rebuilding of the temple was in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. In anticipation, the Jews conducted a coronation ceremony, the person they should have crowned was Zerubbabel, for he was not only governor but also a prince in the line of David. (Matthew 1:6; Matthew 1:12; Matthew 1:16).

However, they crowned the priest Joshua instead, to negate any thoughts the Persians may have held that their action might be treasonous. The coronation emphasized the joint rule of Joshua and Zerubbabel, the priest and the prince (Zechariah 6:9- 14).

Sadly, the people’s renewed devotion was short-lived. Joshua’s sons did not truly follow God and, like many of their countrymen, married unbelieving non-Jewish women.

When rebuked by Ezra, they put away their foreign wives and offered sacrifices for their wrongdoing (Ezra 10:18-19).

– [Source: Bridgeway Bible Dictionary]


Let us follow the writings of W. L. Wilmshurst in his book The Meaning of Masonry.

Wilmshurst puts forward the idea that the Principals relate to your spirituality.

How so? Well, Jerusalem represents your faith and the temple represents the centre of that faith. That point within a circle from which a Mason cannot deviate.

The priest and the prince inspired their workforce to build the temple but it needed the prophet Haggai to encourage them when they met opposition and became disenchanted.

And so with your spirituality. You have found your faith after a long journey of discovery with like minded Companions.

Having found the centre of your faith that bright light, that meaning which brings with it joy and happiness, you look towards a bright future.

But should you flounder, as we all do from time to time, you are reminded of Haggai, who encouraged and inspired Zerubbabel, Joshua and their people when their faith met opposition.


Your spirituality is the deepest held of your values and the meanings by which you live.  It is that inner path that discovers the very essence of your being.

It is “Royal” as it the highest held of your beliefs. It is “Visionary” as those beliefs are your future, and it is “Holy” as you dedicate yourself to the teachings of your God.


Enjoy every moment of every day knowing that those “Three Great Lights” will give you strength to endure, wisdom to comprehend and beauty to see.


The Meaning of Masonry. W. L. Wilmshurst, 1920


‘Faith’. John Bishop, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy March 2016 –

The Bible


Cambridge Dictionary –


Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


Holy Royal Arch Ritual Book


Article by: Stephen J. Goulding

Stephen was initiated into Freemasonry in 1978 in Tylney Lodge No. 5856 (UGLE). He was Master in 1989 & 2004.

He was Master of the Lodge of Union 38 (UGLE) in 2018. He is also a PZ in the Holy Royal Arch and PM in the Mark Degree.

Stephen served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service (London, England) before going into education in 2000, where he became a college lecturer and a mentor for both the college and the University of Greenwich (London, England). Now retired, he teaches Tai Chi and Qigong in the community.

Facebook: Steve Goulding-Tai Chi West Sussex–Chi at Chi


The Meaning of Masonry


Although the Freemasons number over six million members worldwide, they are a very secretive organization. the general public today thinks of them as a social fraternity like the Rotary Club, but that is hardly the whole truth.

By mysterious coincidence, it seems, many Masons have been major figures in modern history. many of the Founding Fathers of the United States—including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere—were Freemasons.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian freedom fighter, was also one, as were the composers Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and writers François Marie Arouet de Voltaire and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The Meaning of Masonry explores the beliefs behind the order, its cryptic rites and symbols, and uncovers its ultimate purpose.


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