A chapter from Christopher Earnshaw's latest tome: 'Freemasonry: Thirty-three Lectures: From Temples to Lodges: Tracing the Origins and Esoteric Wisdom of Freemasonry'
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.
1Acts 17:24-25, Matthew 6:5-6, Revelation 3:20 and 1 Corinthian 3:16-17.
"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.