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There has been much debate over the origin and meaning of this word. There is no consensus even among Masonic researchers as to its meaning or legitimacy: one Masonic scholar alleges that the word first appeared in an early 18th-century Royal Arch ritual as the name of an allegorical explorer searching for the ruins of King Solomon's Temple. Another Masonic scholar believes it is a descriptive name for God in Hebrew; The most common masonic explanation is that it is a word derived from combining parts of the name of God in different historic languages.
Non-Masonic authors have alleged that it is a Masonic name for God, and even the name of a unique "Masonic God", despite repeated statements by Freemasonry's officials that "There is no separate Masonic God", nor a separate proper name for a deity in any branch of Freemasonry. It is this interpretation of a "Masonic God" that has led to debates about and condemnation of Freemasonry by several religious groups. In England, no ritual containing the name has been in official Masonic use since February 1989.
According to Masonic historian Arturo de Hoyos, the word Jahbulon was first used in the 18th century in early French versions of the Royal Arch degree. It relates a Masonic allegory in which Jabulon was the name of an explorer living during the time of Solomon who discovered the ruins of an ancient temple. Within the ruins he found a gold plate upon which the name of God (YHWH) was engraved.
In Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor, published in the mid-19th century, Malcolm Duncan uses the word as a recognition password in his rendition of the Royal Arch degree,[note 1] and in a footnote states that the word is a combination of sacred names.[note 2] However, there has been controversy regarding Duncan's ritual. According to Turnbull, Everett and Denslow, Duncan has the candidate swear: "I furthermore promise and swear, that I will support the Constitution of the General Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the United States of America..." whereas the General Grand Chapter at the time styled itself: "General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the United States, a subtle but significant difference. Some Masonic authors state that even if Duncan's ritual is authentic, it is either an outdated exposure or that it had been superseded by another explanation.
Ordo Templi Orientis
According to Francis X. King in The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O., the word is used in two rituals of the Ordo Templi Orientis: the Lodge of Perfection, in which the candidate receives the Fourth Degree (which is called Perfect Magician and Companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch); and the Perfect Initiate (or Prince of Jerusalem) degree, which falls between the fourth and fifth degrees. King prints in his book the lyrics of a song that mentions the word "Jahbulon."
It has been suggested that the Rastafari word for God, Jah, comes from the term Jahbulon, although the name JAH (a transliteration of YAH, shortened from Yahweh) appears in the King James Version of the Bible, in Psalm 68:4. The term "Jah" also appears throughout the Psalms in other Bible translations, for instance the Darby translation or Young's Literal translation. William David Spencer, in his 1999 Dread Jesus, proposes that Archibald Dunkley and Joseph Nathaniel Hibbert were among the preachers that inspired the Rastafari movement, and that both were members of the "Ancient Mystic Order of Ethiopia", a fraternal order derived from Prince Hall Freemasonry. Spencer believes that several features of the Rastafari movement derive from this lodge, including the name "Jah", from the word Jah-Bul-On.
Examples of interpretations of the word based on its syllables
According to The Rev. Canon Richard Tydeman, in an address to the Supreme Grand Chapter of England on 13 November 1985, the word is a compound of three Hebrew terms:
- יהּ (Yah, I AM, which indicates eternal existence),
- בּעל (b'el, owner, husband, lord ) and
- און (on, strength); pronouncing three aspects or qualities of Deity, namely Eternal Existence, Ownership, and Omnipotence and equating to "The Eternal God - Master - Almighty".
- Jah (= Yahweh)
- On, a name in Genesis in the Bible (in "Potiphar priest of On"), thought in older times to be a name of Osiris (but now known by Egyptologists to be the Hebrew form of the Ancient Egyptian name of the city of Heliopolis).
Criticisms of the word and its uses
Much of the available material that discusses the word Jahbulon does not address the administrative and jurisdictional distinctions amongst the appendant bodies of Freemasonry. Royal Arch Masonry is an appendant body to Freemasonry. In some areas it forms part of the York Rite, and in others it is an independent body. To be eligible to join one must first be a Master Mason. The administration of the Royal Arch is entirely separate from the administration of Craft Freemasonry. Every Masonic organization is sovereign only in its own jurisdiction, and has no authority in any other jurisdiction. This means that there is no standardization whatsoever with regards to words, signs, grips, or any other Masonic "secrets".
- Walton Hannah stated in his book Darkness Visible that the interpretation that Jabulon was a name for God reportedly disturbed Albert Pike, the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, who, when he first heard the name, called it a "mongrel word" partly composed of an "appellation of the Devil".
- A Church of England report into compatibility of Freemasonry and the Church reached conclusions of objection based on six points. One of these points was Knight's interpretation of Jahbulon; "JAHBULON, the name of description of God which appears in all the rituals is blasphemous because it is an amalgam of pagan deities. In effect, use of the term is taking God's name in vain." The interpretation of the word as discussed by Knight led certain churches to include it in their justification for objections to Freemasonry. These churches state that, conjoined with a number of other aspects of Freemasonry, it demonstrates that Freemasonry is incompatible with their religious philosophies.
- It has been claimed that the "Masonic God" allegations "proves" that the Royal Arch Degree - and by extension all of Freemasonry - is incompatible with Christianity. The Southern Baptist convention has mentioned this as an offensive concept that is incompatible with Christianity.
- Certain Christian ministries take the position that Jahbulon is the name of a Masonic Pagan god, and therefore violates the Biblical commandment "You shall have no other gods before me".
- The interpretation by Knight also contributes to an assertion, which emerged in 1987, that there is a link between Freemasonry and the Dajjal, a Muslim equivalent of the Antichrist. A reference by David Misa Pidcock, a British convert, has been widely propagated on the Internet following the September 11 attacks in 2001. The Muslim group, Mission Islam, states on their website that based on Knight's interpretation, "Freemasons secretly worship a Devil-God, known as JAHBULON." 
- "They then balance three times three, bringing the right hand with some violence down upon the left. The right hands are then raised above their heads, and the words, Jah-buh-lun, Jehovah, G-o-d, are given at low breath, each companion pronouncing the syllables or letters alternately" Royal Arch, Or Seventh Degree Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor, by Malcolm C. Duncan, 1866
- "JEHOVAH. Of the varieties of this sacred name in use among the different nations of the earth, three particularly merit the attention of Royal Arch Masons:
1. JAH. This name of God is found in the 68th Psalm, v. 4.
2. BAAL OR BEL. This word signifies a lord, master, or possessor, and hence it was applied by many of the nations of the East to denote the Lord of all things, and the Master of the world.
3. ON. This was the name by which JEHOVAH was worshipped among the Egyptians.
I have made these remarks on the three names of God in Chaldaic, Syriac and Egyptian, Baal, Jah, and On, in the expectation that my Royal Arch Companions will readily recognize them in a corrupted form.--Lexicon. From footnote 226:1 in Royal Arch, Or Seventh Degree Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor, by Malcolm C. Duncan, 1866
- Each syllable of the 'ineffable name' represents one person of this trinity:
- "Is Freemasonry a religion?". United Grand Lodge of England. 2002. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
- Smart, Earnest (April 2005). "Faith and Freemasonry". Masonic Quarterly Magazine (13). Retrieved 2007-05-07.
- Medway, Gareth J. Lure of the Sinister: The Unnatural History of Satanism, New York University Press, 2001. p. 259. ISBN 0-8147-5645-X
- Phoenix Masonry Chapter Three: John Ankerberg and John Weldon, authors of The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, From Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? The Methods of Anti-Masons by Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris
- Turnbull, Everett R. & Denslow, Ray V., A History of Royal Arch Masonry, Volume I, p. 413, 1956.
- An example of this pre-1871 misunderstanding is seen in Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor (an outdated exposure cited by Rev. Ankerberg and Dr. Weldon some 30 times) which declared the tri-lingual word to be the Grand Omnific Royal Arch Word. Chapter Three: John Ankerberg and John Weldon Archived 2002-04-25 at the Wayback Machine., Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? The Methods of Anti-Masons, by Art deHoyos
- With Jah and On, [Bel] has been introduced into the Royal Arch system as a representative of the Tetragrammaton, which it and the accompanying words have sometimes ignorantly been made to displace. At the session of the General Grand Chapter of the United States, in 1871, this error was corrected; and while the Tetragrammaton was declared to be the true omnific word, the other three were permitted to be retained as merely explanatory. Entry for Bel, Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences, by Albert C. Mackey M. D.
- The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O. Francis King (ed.) (1ST ed.). Samuel Weiser. 1973. ISBN 0877281440.
- "Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him." Various (1611). "Psalms 68:4". The Holy Bible. Archived from the original on 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
- Spencer, William D. Dread Jesus. London: SPCK, 1999 ISBN 0-281-05101-1,
- "Strong's Hebrew Lexicon". Strong's Hebrew Lexicon.
- An Historical Address to Grand Chapter [of England], The Rev’d Canon Richard Tydeman, Grand Chapter Proceedings, 13 November 1985.
- Hannah Darkness Visible, pp. 34-5, (1952) reprint 1998, ISBN 1-901157-70-9
- Freemasons for Dummies, Christopher Hodapp, ISBN 0-7645-9796-5, Hungry Minds Inc, U.S., 2005.
- Hannah, Walton, Darkness Visible, p. 35 - quoting from Pike, The Holy Triad, 1873.
- "Freemasonry and Christianity - Are They Compatible?", 1987, Hewitt et al.
-  Healing House Ministries Prayer for the release of masons and their descendants (Google link to html version of a .doc file)
- "A useful allegation to bias the Christian reader against Freemasonry is to claim that the fraternity is anti-Christian, or even more boldly, to claim that it is an anti-Christian religion. In fact, no Grand Lodge, no Supreme Council, and no subordinate body claims to be, or functions as, a religion. It is significant that Rev. Ankerberg and Dr. Weldon cannot produce any official documents to the contrary. Undeterred, they are content to ignore the facts and resort to innuendo and subterfuge. What better way could there be to 'prove' that Masonry is a religion than to reveal that Freemasons have secret modes of worship, mysterious names for God, or even their own secret god? This is just what some anti-Masons, including Rev. Ankerberg and Dr. Weldon, claim to do. The name of this "god", they say, is Jabulon, which allegedly means "Jehovah-Baal-Osiris". Sensational as it sounds, this claim is not original. Rev. Ankerberg and Dr. Weldon base their charge on Stephen Knight's anti-Masonic book "The Brotherhood". Chapter Three: John Ankerberg and John Weldon, authors of The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge Archived 2002-04-25 at the Wayback Machine. From "Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? The Methods of Anti-Masons" Archived 2006-08-15 at the Wayback Machine. by Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris, hosted by The Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Scottish Rite
- Ankerberg, John and John Weldon (1990). The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge, pp. 120-124. Moody Publishers. ISBN 0-8024-7695-3
- First Incompatibility: The prevalent use of offensive concepts, titles, and terms such as "Worshipful Master" for the leader of a lodge; references to their buildings as "mosques", "shrines", or "temples"; and the use of words such as "Abaddon" and "Jah-Bul-On", the so-called secret name of God. To many, these terms are not only offensive but sacrilegious. Freemasonry, by NAMB Staff
- Saints Alive Ministry Archived 2007-01-07 at the Wayback Machine. January–February 2003 newsletter
- "True Light Educational Ministry". Archived from the original on 2006-07-16. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
- Kings Ministries Archived 2006-08-19 at the Wayback Machine. Freemasonry and secret societies
- Prescott, Andrew. "The Study of Freemasonry as a New Academic Discipline[permanent dead link]" in Collected Studies in the History of Freemasonry, 2000-2003[permanent dead link]. University of Sheffield.
- "The DAJJAL-system is of course as we know is FREEMASONRY Every single position in the United Nations, The EEC and every position in the British Parliament is held by people who are Freemasons. Freemasonry has something in the region of 700,000 members in England and Wales, yet the British public hardly know anything about them. Freemasons secretly worship a Devil-God, known as JAHBULON, If you do not believe me (see pages 230-240 of the International best selling book on Freemasonry “The Brotherhood”, by Stephen Knight & “Satanic Voices”, by David M Pidcock)" -- unattributed web author as referenced by Prof Prescott Mission Islam --Free Mason Invasion