Masonic history is notoriously difficult to trace, its origins are shrouded in mystery and lost in the fog of time. The Masonic legend of Hiram Abif is no different with various opinions and theory’s surrounding the man at the forefront of masonic allegory.
Meet Hiram Abif, a shadowy figure who features prominently in the craft degrees of Freemasonry. Hiram Abif was the chief architect of King Solomon’s Temple, situated on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, constructed around the 10th century BC. Hiram Abif was the master builder, who held the secret word & knowledge of a Master Mason. A description of King Solomon’s Temple is given in the early bible, and now many other famous structures copy that original design. Due to huge religious tension surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, excavations looking for King Solomons Temple have not been possible in modern times. King Solomon’s Temple, built and designed by Hiram Abif, remains like many freemasonic tales, an unproven legend.
The story of Hiram Abif, as told in America, sees the chief architect being the only master mason on the production of the temple. In European masonic ritual Hiram is joined by a larger group of master masons, but the story of his death and symbolic metaphors remain the same.
Freemasonry uses Hiram Abif and the building of the Temple to describe an allegorical tale, a lesson in keeping your promise and your word. Hiram Abif understood the advanced techniques needed to build and design a magnificent temple. These advanced techniques although relatively primitive in the modern day, were reserved only for master stonemasons. Not divulging these secret techniques and secret word of a Master Mason eventually led to Hiram’s demise, and he took his secrets to the grave. The full story is explained in the craft Masonic degrees, as each initiate is given this secret knowledge under the same strict caution and ruling.
There are many theories surrounding the life and actions of Hiram Abif, but nothing is solid fact. Many scholars agree that Hiram Abif is one of the original “Hiram” characters to appear in the bible. It has long been stated amongst masons that Hiram Abif was the widows son, as mentioned in bible verses. The bible however is clear that the chief architect of the Temple of Solomon was God, who passed the plans down to David, who in turn gave them to King Solomon.
One Interesting theory, put forward by Masonic researchers “Lomas & Knight”, is that Hiram was an Egyptian king whose death triggered the new kingdom in Egypt. The links between ancient Egypt and masonry have long been talked about, and King Seqenenre Tao certainty ticks most of the boxes in our search for Hiram Abif. Seqenenre Taos mummified body was discovered in 1881, the method of death is identical to that found in the story of Hiram Abif in the masonic 3rd degree. Another theory is that Hiram was Mansur Al-Hallaj, a Persian mystic teacher of Sufism and the inner mystical dimension of Islam. Believers in this theory point to Mansur Al-Hallaj being part of the Al-Banna, a religious sect of builders who also built on the Temple Mount.
Whether or not Hiram Abif existed as a real person, the beauty of the story lives on through Masonic ritual passed from generation to generation. Keeping a promise is something important, and is often a clear measurement of an individual’s moral compass. Hiram was willing to take his secret knowledge to the grave, and with this act proved himself a very worthy brother.
Written By: 5 of Clubs / Joker