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Hiram Abiff

In the Scriptural account of the temple building, King Solomon and Hiram King of Tyre are mentioned many times, one such in 1 Kings 5. Hiram Abiff is accounted for in Scripture as Huram-Abi which is found in 2 Chronicles 2:13.   Huram is a variant of Hiram.   In the King James Version translation of the verse, the name Hiram is found. The King James Version uses both Huram (2 Chron 2:3) and Hiram (1 Kings 5) to identify Hiram the King of Tyre.   The King James Version translation of 2 Chron 2:13 does not contain -abi, but rather "Huram my fatherís." The Hebrew word from which the King James Version "fatherís" was translated is "Ďab," according to the Hebrew Dictionary found in Strongís Concordance.   Strongís entry for the word Ďab (H1) indicates that it can also mean father-less, as the son of a widow would be.   The entry for H1 also mentions "Abi-." Studying the various translations along with a Hebrew dictionary allows us to see how Freemasonry may have settled on the name Hiram Abi-ff, also sometimes spelled Abif.

Hiram King of Tyre wrote a letter to King Solomon, advising him that he was sending Huram-Abi to work on the temple.   That letter is documented in 2 Chron 2:11-14.   The fact that Hiram-Abi was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali is confirmed in Scripture 1 Kings 7:13-14:

King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was a man of Tyre and a craftsman in bronze.   Huram was highly skilled and experienced in all kinds of bronze work.   He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.

The lion from most ancient times has been a symbol of might or royalty. It was blazoned upon the standard of the tribe of Judah, because it was the royal tribe.   The kings of Judah were, therefore, each called Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and such was one of the titles of Solomon.   Remembrance of this fact gives appropriateness to an expression employed at one point in our ceremonies which is otherwise obscure.   Such is the literal meaning of this phrase, but it also has a symbolical one.   The Jewish idea of a Messiah was of a mighty temporal king.   He was also designated as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah; in fact this title was regarded as belonging to him.   This expression does not, as many Masons suppose, necessarily have a reference to Jesus of Nazareth.   The Christian Mason is privileged so to interpret it, if he likes, but the Jew has equal right to understand it as meaning his Messiah.   Indeed, every great religion of the world has contained the conception in some form of a Mediator between God and man, a Redeemer who would raise mankind from the death of this life and the grave to an everlasting existence with God hereafter.   The Mason who is a devotee of one of these religions, say, Buddhism, Brahmanism or Mohammedanism, is likewise entitled to construe this expression as referring to his own Mediator.

Freedom of choice as to the application of these symbols is one of the reasons for the growth of Freemasonry over the centuries.

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