The Pillars

The two pillars, erected by Solomon at the porch of the Temple, hold a significant place in biblical and Masonic history.

These pillars, made of hollow brass, were not simply ornamental additions to the Temple, but rather carried deep symbolism and meaning.

In order to comprehend the true essence of these pillars, one must delve into the historical accounts and explore their construction, dimensions, and their symbolic significance in both biblical and Masonic contexts.

According to the biblical accounts in the First Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, the pillars were constructed by Hiram, a skilled craftsman from Tyre.

Hiram created two hollow pillars, each with a thickness of four fingers, or three inches. The height of each pillar was recorded differently in the two books, with First Kings noting the height as eighteen cubits and Chronicles declaring it as thirty-five cubits.

However, this discrepancy can be reconciled by considering that in Chronicles, the total height of the pillars is calculated, including the chapiters that sit on top.

In reality, the height of each pillar was approximately twenty-seven feet, with the chapiters adding an additional seven and a half feet. The total height, including the pillars and the chapiters, stood at about thirty-three feet and nine inches.

The position of these pillars is described in the book of Ezekiel, which places them at the entrance of the porch on either side of the gate. Their location would allow visitors to see them immediately upon entering the porch.

The purpose of these pillars was not merely decorative, but rather they had a profound symbolic significance for those entering the Temple.

The names given to these pillars, J****n and B**z, carry deep meaning and were purposefully chosen to inspire and remind those who passed through the porch. J****n, derived from the phrase “Jah” meaning Jehovah, and “achin” meaning to establish, signified that God will establish His house of Israel.

On the other hand, B**z, with the combination of “B” meaning in and “oaz” meaning strength, symbolized that the house would be established in strength. The use of these names conveyed a message of God’s promises and His support of His chosen people.

The construction and design of the pillars have been subjects of debate and interpretation. From the available accounts, it becomes clear that the pillars were not simply obelisks for ornamentation, but rather served a functional purpose in supporting the roof of the porch.

Ferguson, in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, states that these pillars were necessary to support the high roof of the Temple and were connected to it by an entablature. The pillars themselves were made of brass, as well as the chapiters that crowned them.

The chapiters deserve special attention as they played a crucial role both structurally and symbolically. Each chapiter sat on top of the pillar, covering the top with a depth of nine inches.

The shape and construction of the chapiters have been the subject of much discussion and interpretation. Various interpretations suggest that they were either globes, crowns, or had a lily-like appearance.

The most likely interpretation, however, is that the chapiters were in the shape of a large oval, with lotus petals springing out from the pillar at the junction of the chapiter, resembling the Acanthus leaves on the capital of a Corinthian column.

The chapiters were also adorned with intricate decorations. The biblical accounts mention “nets of checker-work” and “wreaths of chain-work” on the chapiters.

The precise interpretation of these descriptions varies, with Lightfoot suggesting that the chapiters were curiously wrought with branch-work, while others interpret these decorations as lattice-work and fringes.

Additionally, pomegranates were mentioned as part of the ornamentation, with two rows of two hundred pomegranates hanging from the chapiters. The meticulous workmanship and intricate design of the chapiters made them visually striking and added to the symbolic representation of the pillars.

The symbolism of these pillars in both biblical and Masonic contexts is significant. In the biblical sense, the pillars embody the strength and stability of the institution.

They are a reminder of God’s promises and His support for His chosen people.

The names J****n and B**z, conveying ideas of establishment and strength, reinforce the notion that God’s house will be established and supported with unwavering strength.

In the Masonic tradition, the symbolism of the pillars has been further expanded upon. Freemasonry draws heavily from the biblical accounts of the Temple of Solomon, and thus the pillars embody the foundational principles of the fraternity.

J****n and B**z represent not only the strength and stability of the Masonic institution itself but also serve as a reminder to individual Freemasons of their own duty to establish themselves in strength and to work towards the betterment of society.

The pillars also serve as symbols of the dependence on the guidance and protection of the Great Architect of the Universe.

They are reminiscent of the ancient pillars of fire and cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness, representing the divine presence and supervision.

In Freemasonry, the pillars encourage Masons to rely on the divine guidance in their actions and to seek strength and stability through a connection with the Supreme Being.

The use of pillars as symbols has a long-standing tradition in many ancient cultures. The presence of similar pillars in other Phenician and Near Eastern Temples suggests a cultural influence on the construction of the pillars in Solomon’s Temple.

It is likely that Hiram, the Tyrian craftsman, drew upon this cultural tradition to incorporate the pillars into the design of the Temple.

In conclusion, the two pillars, erected by Solomon at the porch of the Temple, have deep symbolic significance in both biblical and Masonic contexts. Their construction, dimensions, and ornamentation have inspired much debate and interpretation.

The pillars symbolize the strength and stability of the institution, reminding individuals of their duty to establish themselves in strength and to rely on the guidance and protection of the Great Architect of the Universe.

The symbolism of the pillars serves as a constant reminder of God’s promises and the importance of faith and dedication to the principles of Freemasonry.

Article by: Albert G. Mackey

Albert Gallatin Mackey (1807 – 1881) was an American medical doctor and author.

He is best known for his books and articles about freemasonry, particularly the Masonic Landmarks.

In 1849 he established The Southern and Western Masonic Miscellany, a weekly masonic magazine.

He served as Grand Lecturer and Grand Secretary of The Grand Lodge of South Carolina, as well as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States

Recent Articles: symbolism

Colour Blue Masonic Symbol

Unveil the mystique of the colour blue in Masonic symbolism. A hue evoking universal friendship and benevolence, its roots span ancient cultures, infusing Freemasonry's core values. This article explores blue's profound significance, guiding Freemasons towards wisdom and spiritual enlightenment. Discover the fascinating journey of this universal symbol.
 

The Plumb: Masonic Symbolism

Discover the intriguing world of the plumb in Masonic symbolism with our in-depth analysis. Uncover its rich history, moral teachings, and significance in Freemasonry, guiding members on their path to truth, integrity, and justice. Immerse yourself in the captivating power of this symbol that shapes lives within the brotherhood.
 

The Key: Masonic Symbol

Unlock the mysteries of Freemasonry with 'The Key,' a profound Masonic symbol. This seemingly simple instrument holds a deeper meaning, teaching virtues of silence and integrity. Explore its ancient roots, from Sophocles to the mysteries of Isis, and discover how it symbolizes the opening of the heart for judgment.
 

The Blazing Star

Unlock the secrets of the Freemasonry with The Blazing Star - a symbol that holds immense significance in their rituals and practices. Delve into its history, meaning and role in the different degrees of Freemasonry with expert insights from the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey. Discover the mystique of The Blazing Star today!
 

The Triangle

There is no symbol more significant in its meaning, more versatile in its application, or more pervasive throughout the entire Freemasonry system than the triangle. Therefore, an examination of it cannot fail to be interesting to a Masonic student. Extract from Encyclopedia of Freemasonry by Albert Mackey
 

The Hiramic Legend and the Myth of Osiris

Hiram Abiff, the chief architect of Solomon’s Temple, is a figure of great importance to Craft Freemasonry, as its legend serves as the foundation of the Third Degree or that of a Master Mason. He is the central figure of an allegory that has the role of teaching the Initiate valuable alchemical lessons. Although his legend is anchored in biblical times, it may have much older roots.
 

The Rite of Investiture

This rite of investiture, or the placing upon the aspirant some garment, as an indication of his appropriate preparation for the ceremonies in which he was about to engage, prevailed in all the ancient initiations. Extract from The Symbolism of Freemasonry by Albert G. Mackey
 

All Seeing Eye

The All-Seeing Eye of God, also known as the Eye of Providence, is a representation of the divine providence in which the eye of God watches over humanity. It frequently portrays an eye that is enclosed in a triangle and surrounded by rays of light or splendour.
 

What's in a Word, Sign or Token?

Why do Freemasons use passwords, signs, and tokens? As Freemasons we know and understand the passwords, signs and tokens (including grips), which are all used a mode of recognition between members of the fraternity.
 

A Temple of Living Stones: Examining the Concept of a Chain of Union

What are the origins of the Chain of Union? And how did they come about ? The answers may surprise some members as W Brother Andrew Hammer investigates, author of Observing the Craft: The Pursuit of Excellence in Masonic Labour and Observance.
 

A Christmas Carol

One of the best loved stories for the festive season is ‘A Christmas Carol’. A traditional ghost story for retelling around the fire on a cold Christmas Eve, it is a timeless classic beloved by those from all walks of life. Philippa explores the masonic allegory connections…
 

The Trowel - Working Tool of the Master Mason

The Trowel is the symbol of that which has power to bind men together – the cement is brotherhood and fellowship.
 

Two Perpendicular Parallel Lines

The point within a circle embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, with the Holy Bible resting on the circle, is one of the most recognizable symbols in Freemasonry. It is also one which always raises a question. How can two lines be both perpendicular and parallel?
 

Mackey's 25 Masonic Landmarks

"The first great duty, not only of every lodge, but of every Mason, is to see that the landmarks of the Order shall never be impaired." — Albert Mackey (1856)
 

Salt, Wine, and Oil

It is common knowledge that the ancient wages of a Fellowcraft Mason consisted of corn, wine, and oil.
Many however, object to this assertion. How can corn be associated with these ancient wages when—clearly—corn was first discovered in the New World? Discover how 'corn' may in fact be 'salt'!
 

How Holy is Holy Ground?

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5
 

The Secret Language of the Stone Masons

We know of Masons' Marks but lesser known are the 'argots' used by the artisans - in part 2 of a series on the social history of the Operative Masons we learn how the use of secret languages added to the mystery of the Guilds.
 

So mote it be

The phrase appears in the Regius Poem. It is customary in contemporary English to end prayers with a hearty “Amen,” a word meaning “So be it.” It is a Latin word derived from the Hebrew word - Short Talk Bulletin - Vol. V June, 1927, No.6
 

Egypt's 'Place of Truth' - The First Operative Stone Masons' Guild?

Was ancient Egypt's 'village of the artisans' the first operative stone masons' guild? And was their use of 'identity marks' a forerunner of the Mason's Marks of the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages? Read on for some possible answers…
 

The Pieces of Architecture and the Origin of Masonic Study

Discover the journey of the Apprentice – from Operative to Speculative. This journey has been carried out since the times of operative Freemasonry but today the initiate works in the construction of his inner temple.
 

The Builders' Rites - laying the foundations operatively and speculatively

The cornerstone (also ‘foundation’ or ‘setting’ stone) is the first stone to be set in the construction of the foundations of a building; every other stone is set in reference to this.
 

If Found on the Level

Applying the working tools to achieve our peculiar system of morality.
 

Euclid's 47th Proposition

We take an in-depth look at the 47th Proposition of the 1st Book of Euclid as part of the jewel of the Past Master.
 

The Cable Tow Unbound

The Cable Tow: Its Origins, Symbolism, & Significance for Freemasons - Unbinding the significance of the cable tow.
 

The Great Journey

We examine at one of the most impressive moments of the initiatory ceremony, a certain rite known as Circumambulation, and ask what is its meaning and purpose ?
 

On the Level

So, what is the Level? And why do we use it in Freemasonry?
 

The Pigpen Cipher

What is the mysterious pigpen or Masonic cipher that has been used for centuries to hide secrets and rituals?
 

The Story of the Royal Arch - The Mark Degree

Extracted from William Harvey's 'The Story of the Royal Arch' - Part 1 describes the Mark Degree, including the Working Tools.
 

Ashlars - Rough, Smooth - Story of a Stone

How we can apply the rough and smooth Ashlars with-in a masonic context
 

The Chamber of Reflection

A detailed look at the Chamber of Reflection: A Revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice.
 

Faith, Hope & Charity

Exploring the origin and symbolism of Faith, Hope and Charity
 

The Noachite Legend and the Craft

What is it to be a true Noachidae, and what is the Noachite Legend and the Craft ?
 

Jacob’s ladder

In Masonic rituals, Jacob’s ladder is understood as a stairway, a passage from this world to the Heavens.
 

Meaning of the Acacia

What is the meaning of the Acacia and where did it originate ?
 

The Feasts of St John

What is the connection with the Feasts of St John and Freemasonry
 

Forget Me Not

The Forget-Me-Not and the Poppy - two symbols to remind us to 'never forget' those who died during the two World Wars.
 

The Two Pillars

Biblical history surrounding the two pillars that stood at the entrance to King Solomon's Temple
 

Judaism and Freemasonry

Is there a direct link between Judaism and Freemasonry?
 

The Beehive

The symbolism of the beehive in Masonry and its association with omphalos stones and the sacred feminine.
 

Corn Wine Oil

The Wages of an Entered Apprentice
 

The North East Corner

An explanation of the North East corner charge which explores beyond one meaning Charity -
Extracted from William Harvey – the Complete Works
 

The Two Headed Eagle

A brief look at the origins of the two headed eagle, probably the most ornamental and most ostentatious feature of the Supreme Council 33rd Degree Ancient and Accepted (Scottish ) Rite
 

A Masonic Interpretation

A Muslim is reminded of his universal duties just as a Freemason. A Masonic Interpretation of the Quran's First Two Chapters
 

Audi Vide Tace

The three Latin words -{Listen, Observe, Be Silent}. A good moto for the wise freemason
 

masonic knowledge

to be a better citizen of the world

share the square with two brothers

click image to open email app on mobile device

Share this article ....

Contents