Complete Harashim Sept 2023 article




A chapter from Christopher Earnshaw's latest tome: 'Freemasonry: Thirty-three Lectures: From Temples to Lodges: Tracing the Origins and Esoteric Wisdom of Freemasonry'


ISBN 9798398263992


available through Amazon.



King Solomon's Temple was the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and it is believed to have been built on the spot where God tested Abraham, demanding of him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as given in Genesis Ch. 22. The Temple is very important to Freemasons for two reasons, first it represents a metaphor of our Craft and secondly, it represents our aspirations as Freemasons.


First, a bit of history concerning Freemasonry and this important temple. King Solomon's Temple was built twice. The first temple is believed to have been built in the tenth century BC. It was an important centre of religious ritual for Jews. After the Babylonians destroyed it in 586BC, the Jews were then exiled. They were later released by the Persian king Cyrus in 539BC. The Jews started to build a second temple around 349 BC, which took one hundred years to complete. During the period of Roman rule in Israel, according to Flavius Josephus, Herod the Great undertook funding the restoration of the temple, so the second Temple was renamed after him.


The Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD, decisively ending the Great Jewish Revolt that had begun four years earlier. The lower levels of the Western Wall form part of the few surviving parts of Herod's complex. One of the largest stones ever hewn by man, known as a megalith, is in this wall. The stone has a length of 13.6 meters and estimates place the weight at 570 tons, so moving it into the foundations was a mammoth undertaking considering the technology of the day. This part of the remains of King Solomon's Temple, known as The Wailing Wall, is now held sacred to Jews. The name is a translation of an Arabic word for the area where the wall is.

However, not everybody agrees with this rendition of events, and Muslims maintain that the builders of King Solomon's Temple were not Jews but Sufi mystics who incorporated the power of God into the Temple measurements using sacred geometry.
What has this all to do with Freemasonry? The number three is very important to Masons, representing among other things the Holy Trinity, the three degrees of our fraternity and also the three stages of the life of man. As King Solomon's Temple was destroyed twice, the "third temple" is for us to build.But this is not a physical place but rather a spiritual one, a place in our hearts where we will meet God, as explained in the Bible1
Now for the bit of Masonic history that many of the Brethren are not aware of. In the 1600s in England there was a period of turmoil, first the Civil War 1642- 1651, then The Great Plague (1625-66) which was the last major epidemic of bubonic plague in Europe, and to cap it all London caught fire in 1666. In the Great Fire most of what was the mediaeval City of London was destroyed. In 1681, to commemorate the Great Fire, a tall column was set up near the baker's shop in Pudding Lane where the fire had started and, for one hundred years until 1831, an inscription on this column wrongly blamed the Catholics for the fire. The column, known as the Monument, (on the right side of the cover of this book) still stands there, but without the plaque. The fire is said to have ended at Pye Corner, in Smithfield, where there is a small golden statue to commemorate the event.




1Acts 17:24-25, Matthew 6:5-6, Revelation 3:20 and 1 Corinthian 3:16-17.


King Charles II saw the Great Fire as an opportunity to rebuild London to match the splendour of Paris, with wide boulevards like the Champs d'Elysees. London had grown over many centuries, starting as a Roman town in 5O AD, and it had expanded organically without town planning, and as a result the streets were narrow and thought unfit to be the capital city of England.
Charles envisioned London as not only being the governmental centre but also a spiritual centre of England, starting the renovation to establish the ideal Christian City, the "New Jerusalem" with the centre of this spiritual city being St Paul's Cathedral, with the sole purpose of preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ. The King wanted London to be redesigned not only on spiritual but also cosmic principles.
St Paul's Cathedral had been in a state of decay, reconstruction had started with King James I, who had appointed the architect Inigo Jones in 1621 to rebuild it, but before the work had been completed, the Great Fire damaged the building and the spire collapsed.
Three people petitioned the King with designs for a New London in 1666, Captain Valentine Knight, John Evelyn and Christopher Wren. Knight's proposal included rental buildings and a toll road, to raise money for the King, because after the Civil War the Treasury was depleted. Unfortunately, this idea was greeted with acrimony, with a newspaper writing indignantly, "His Majesty would draw benefit to himself from so public a calamity of his people." The unfortunate Captain was gaoled for his troubles. Instead, the Rebuilding Act of 1667 announced that the old street plan would remain, but new regulations were introduced concerning the width of the streets, the size of the buildings and the materials that were to be used.
Both Evelyn and Wren proposed designs that redrew the map of London with new avenues and squares to rival those of Paris. For example, Evelyn's plan was based on the design of the Tree of Life, symbolic of the New Jerusalem, with twelve inter-connecting squares and piazzas as the central design of the New London. Evelyn's layout was never adopted as it would have been far too time-consuming and expensive to build. Presumably these plans were scrapped due to the King's shortage of money, and only designs for St. Paul's, the new symbol of the city, were accepted.

Here another interesting story emerges. A Sephardic rabbi from Portugal, aptly named Leon Templo, had caused a sensation in Europe with the publication of a book promoting the rebuilding of King Solomon's Temple, which included floor plans. The book was published in 1643 in French, twenty years before the Great Fire of London, and was only published in English in 1778. Soon after the Great Fire, Templo went to visit Christopher Wren with his plans.
The Stuart monarchy had identified itself with King Solomon as, like Solomon, he was both head of Church and State. King Charles's palace was at Whitehall, which is now used as the seat of the British government, but it was used as a palace until 1698. Whitehall was the Stuart Monarchy's "Solomon's Palace," and St. Paul's Cathedral was to be their "Solomon's Temple." Inigo Jones had tried to model his designs for the Cathedral based on the details given in the First Book of Kings in the Bible.


Leon Templo presented the King with a complete design at exactly the right moment. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, this plan was rejected. The reader might ask why the English who were Christians, and who had only 100 years earlier separated from the Church of Rome to establish the Anglican Church, would be interested in what amounts to Jewish mythology. From the 1400s, there had been a movement in Europe, with leading lights such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494 ), to fuse the symbolism of Christianity with that of Hebraic mysticism, forming a "Christian Cabala." This is written with a capital 'C' to distinguish it from Jewish Kabbalah and Hermetic Qabalah. The Kabbalah, which had been the exclusive property of Jewish mystics, was now studied throughout Europe, and scholars such as Newton and Bacon studied Hebrew just to read these texts in the original language.


Wren's second design for St. Paul's based on a Greek orthodox cross was also rejected, but the third design with a floorplan based on the Christian Cross, was accepted and after several modifications, work started in 1674. While excavating the foundations Wren found remains of Roman London. St. Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, was completed in 1710 and after Wren's death in 1723 he was buried in the crypt.
Even though Wren designed many important buildings in and around London, including fifty-two other churches in London, for which he was never paid, rebuilding St Paul's would become Wren's lasting legacy. King Charles himself wrote a sermon that said that St Paul's Cathedral was to be the centre of a royalist New Jerusalem, or Heaven on Earth, echoing the Hermetic teaching "As above, so below."
Christopher Wren was the son of the Dean of Windsor and the nephew of a prominent Bishop and in 1669 he was appointed as the King's Surveyor of Works to oversee the rebuilding of London, he was also a Professor of Astronomy and a founding member of the Royal Society. This made him uniquely qualified to contribute to meeting the physical and spiritual challenges of rebuilding St. Paul's. It has been claimed that Wren was a member of the Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, one of the four founding lodges of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, but the supporting documentary evidence is spotty. The Lodge was also erased from the list of lodges in later years.
Another illustrious member of the newly formed Royal Society was Isaac Newton who studied and wrote extensively upon the Temple of Solomon, dedicating an entire chapter of The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms to his observations regarding the temple, published in 1728.
The father figure of the Royal Society is said to be Sir Francis Bacon, diplomat, author and Rosicrucian. He had advocated an understanding of the natural world based on close observation, disciplined methodology and careful documentation. In order to support this cause, he called for the establishment of an "Invisible College" with its organization to be based largely on Rosicrucian symbolism. The Royal Society is thought to be based on his vision. Bacon's book New Atlantis describes an ideal society based around Solomon's House, a centre of learning where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit" are the common traits. He espoused a plan for his ideal college as the forerunner of the modern research university.
Even now, one of the most important pieces of religious music to the English is the anthem Jerusalem, written by William Blake in 1808, who lived 1757-1827 during the monarchy of the House of Hanover. This hymn was played at Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. The last four line are:


"I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem,

In England's green and pleasant land."


So, it can be seen that the idea of making London a spiritual centre was still alive 15O years after the Great Fire of London.


This is not the end of the story; it was reported in the Illustrated London News in 1909, that a group of Masons based in Boston were drawing up plans to rebuild King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem and called upon all Masons around the world to help by contributing money. The estimated cost at that time was $53.Sm, estimated to be $5.6bn in today's money, so the plan never came to fruition. However, in 1992, the de Rothschild family partially fulfilled that dream by paying for the construction of Israel's Supreme Court. The agreement was that the Rothschilds would choose the land, but the architect and the cost was to be kept secret. Many people say that the court resembles a Masonic building because it has a blue pyramid on top, resulting in many conspiracists saying that Freemasons had a hand in the construction too.


I like to think of myself as a practical Mason, who is able to convert the theory of Masonry into a practical lesson. I said at the beginning that King Solomon's Temple represents our aspirations as Freemasons. At the back of the eye, is an area called "The Blind Spot" where the optic nerve enters the eye. The brain makes up for this deficiency by adding surrounding detail and information from the other eye, so the blind spot is not normally perceived. This also applies to our lives. We do not see that God is missing from our lives because we compensate for it with other things. We need to build a place to meet God in our hearts, our own King Solomon's Temple, and Freemasonry shows us how.