Talk:Hiram Abiff

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Heckthorn's verson[edit]

The version of the Hiram story that Heckthorn includes in Secret Societies of all ages is worth including... but the second paragraph on it was confusing... so I have moved it here for more discussion:

  • The author himself clearly states that the entire story is unsupported by any historical evidence and that there is no reason to believe it is not a total fabrication. However, it is not entirely clear that the story as related above necessarily existed whole from the beginning, or may have itself been developed subsequently, or that any later additions are themselves the work of Freemasons. His version of the story does not match any of the authorized published versions of Masonic ritual. It does match a description that Max Heindel shares in his Freemasonry and Catholicism.<ref>Heindel, Max. ''Freemasonry and Catholicism'' The Rosicrucian Fellowship. <></ref> (italics mine)

The two lines I have italicized seem to indicate that there could be some connection between Heckthorn's version and the Masonic one... if so, what is it? Is Heckthorn saying the Masonic story is based on this one (or vise versa)? Does Heckthorn's version pre-date or post date the Masonic one? Blueboar (talk) 12:43, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

"password of Master Mason"[edit]

That phrasing is just incredibly awkward. I think it should be either "password of a Master Mason", as found in Duncan (Duncan says "pass", but we should use the whole word here), or "Master Masons' secret password". Thoughts?--SarekOfVulcan (talk) 15:46, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm ... this may be a jurisdictional thing... the NY ritual talks about "the secret Word of Master Mason" with no "a" (I agree that we should use "password" here, for the benefit of those who are not familiar with Masonic terminology and jargon... when NY Masons talk about a "Word", they mean a password). We also talk about... the "degree of Master Mason", the "sign of Master Mason", and being "clothed as Master Mason", and present the candidate with "the working tools of Master Mason"... none of them with an "a". However, I would not be surprised at all to find that other jurisdictions do use an "a". And to those that do, I can understand it sounding odd to omit it. So, to some extent, this issue may be simply an argument over the language and phrasing we are familiar with... and in that case, one is as good as another.
To put familiarity asside, I would argue that "a" Master Mason is an individual, while "Master Mason" is a rank or level (in the context of the story, a rank in the opperative stonemason's guild). In the Hyram story, the ruffians are not trying to obtain the password of any old Master Mason... they are attempting to obtain the specific password that goes with the rank of Master Mason (so that they can earn the wages of that rank).
That said, I do like your suggestion of "the 'Master Masons' secret password'"... as it avoids any differences in ritual between jurisdictions completely, but gets the concept across. Blueboar (talk) 16:37, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Ok. It's interesting seeing jurisdictional differences that come from oral tradition... For example, when I visited a lodge in RI, I was asked a question to which I knew the answer, but I didn't know I knew it, because the question came from a part of the ritual that was not used in ME.</digression> So, in any case, anybody else want to chime in, or should we just go with MMSP?--SarekOfVulcan (talk) 16:48, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Yup... I know what you mean. That's why we have dues cards and Masonic passports to verify membership. A Mason might know the ritual backwards and forwards in his home jusrisdiction, and yet can be completely at sea in another.
I have gone ahead and changed the phrasing. Blueboar (talk) 18:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Here in NY we only use the word "pass" in exchanges like: Had he the pass? He had not, I had and gave it for him.Saxophobia (talk) 20:13, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

As usual, a poorly researched article, listing all the WRONG ideas, and no hint of what is correct. None of those Hirams fit the bill, for obvious historical reasons. The 'name is not a name, but a description in a language - Egyptian of course. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:53, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

The Masonic Hiram is described in the Masonic lectures as being the son of an Ishmaelitish woman (or alternatively a woman of the tribe of Naphtali) and a Tyrian citizen. Why would he have a name (or a description) in Egyptian? We would need a very good source to say this... say a linguist who specializes in ancient Egyptian. Blueboar (talk) 18:35, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Hirams in the Bible[edit]

Huram Abif appears in 2 Chronicles 2.13 in Luther's 1545 translation of the OT into German [1], and it's such a unique reading of aleph-beth-yod that there is a high likelihood that this is where the Masonic usage comes from. I think this would have formed the basis for the renderings in Henry's Great Bible, and the Matthew bible. but I am at present unable to check. Does anybody have access? Fiddlersmouth (talk) 13:14, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

You may be correct... however, in order to for this article to say all that, we would need a source that unequivocally states that there is connection between Luthor's reading, Henry's Great Bible, the Matthew bible, Masonic usage, etc.. Without a source that makes the connections, our saying so is what Wikipedia calls Original research (which is not allowed).
To put this another way... we are not supposed to look at the primary sources (various versions of the bible) and draw connections between them (and between them and Masonic usage)... instead we need to find a secondary source that draws the connections for us. Blueboar (talk) 15:53, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
This source [2] quotes Mackeys masonic dictionary claiming that the triliteral would commonly be rendered abif/abiff/abiv by European scholars, implying that this extended to the time of Anderson. I think this goes too far, and I certainly don't intend to blame Luther for the third degree.
However, The name "Hiram Abiff" does not appear as such in the Bible is just plain wrong, it is merely a question of how many Bibles it appears in. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 22:42, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
I had a look - could not find the reference here
This source says Martin Luther introduced the character of Hiram Abif to the popular imagination when he translated the Bible into German. Luther translitered three Hebrew letters in 2 Chronicles 2:13 to form the name, Abif, rather than translating them as in the Latin Vulgate, "misi ergo tibi virum prudentem et scientissimum Hiram patrem meum". From
Here was have sende ich nun einen weisen Mann, der Verstand hat, Huram-Abif, from
I am fairly sure we would find secondary sources discussing these....
Melbournemason (talk) 02:19, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
One thing to keep in mind... Even if Luthor mentioned a person named "Hiram Abif", there are significant differences between that biblical Hiram and the one that is a character in the Masonic legend. In this context, I think it is still accurate to say that "the character of Hiram Abif does not appear as such in the Bible". Blueboar (talk) 12:46, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
The character of Hiram Abi/Abif, in Chronicles is a master craftsman, with a strong implication that he is being sent as master of works. All that is left out is the "murder victim". Anderson's constitutions are also guilty of this unfortunate oversight, while masonically expanding on his role in the construction of the Temple. His footnotes make it clear that he regards the name as the most likely reading of 2 Chronicles 2.13 [3] (Franklin's reprint), clearing up what he saw as a problematic text. Whether or not he was agreeing with Luther is POV, but the fact that Luther agrees with his version is significant.
There are three options:- Abi can be read as the old Hebrew genitive "of my father, Hiram", some variant of which is found in the Septuagint, the Geneva bible, the Bishop's and the King James. The idea that the King of Tyre was sending Solomon his own father is in the Vulgate, Douay-Rheims, and Wycliffe. Lastly abi/abif can be taken as part of a proper name, which we find in Luther and Coverdale. As Matthew and the Great Bible are based on Coverdale, they are probably similar, but deserve checking. These, alongside of the original Hebrew, were the available sources in 1723. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 15:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)


New change is now The name "Hiram Abiff" derives from a particular translation of two segments of the Second book of Chronicles. Got a reliable source for that statement ? My thinking is just because it is in the bible does not mean our HA is from it. Further, I liked the original - more fact and less speculation. How can anyone "prove" that The name "Hiram Abiff" derives from a particular translation ? Melbournemason (talk) 01:14, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

The source is Anderson. The first mention of Hiram Abif I can find in Masonic literature is Anderson's 1723 constitutions, where his footnotes clearly trace the name to his reading of 2 Chronicles 2.13 and 2 Chronicles 4.16. This is expanded (and referenced) in the third bullet point. It could stand further expansion with regard to 2 Chr 4.16, as I think this is actually the source of Abif (Heb. here 'abiv), but I need to do a little more reading to nail this down. Would "seems to derive" suit better?

A separate but related point:- the article could probably use a section covering the third degree and Hiram's murder, which appears in Anderson's second constitutions (1738) but not the first. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 09:08, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Fiddler... I find the idea that that Anderson mentioned Hiram Abif in his 1723 constitutions surprising, given that most Masonic historians agree that the 3rd degree (with the Hiramic legend) did not enter standard Masonic practice until a decade later. Not saying you are wrong... just that I am surprised... Can you provide a quote or a link so we can see what Anderson said in context? Blueboar (talk) 12:04, 4 May 2012 (UTC) This is ref 14, a pdf of Franklin's reprint(1734) of the 1723 original. The relevant text starts on p.10 of the pdf, p. 14 of the text. The main text glorifies Hiram the mason, while the immense footnote discusses the Hebrew in surprising depth. There is no suggestion that the third degree was involved at this stage. However, you will note on p 16 "But leaving what must not, and indeed cannot be communicated by Writing", leaving a huge question mark as to how much Anderson was leaving out. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 18:06, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Interesting. thanks.
OK... what we need here is a secondary source that notes all the connections. Anderson is a Primary source, and as such we can not base our own analysis or conclusionary statements upon it (that would be Original Research). Until we can point to a secondary source, I don't think we should state definitively that the name "derives from 2 Chronicles". Stating that Anderson discusses the translation in his Constitutions is fine... but we need a secondary source before we can go to the next step and draw conclusions from it. I know this has been discussed by many Masonic scholars... it should not be too difficult to find secondary sources. Blueboar (talk) 12:05, 5 May 2012 (UTC) Purports to be Chapter 43 of Mackey's History of Freemasonry, and claims Hiram Abif is first mentioned by Anderson, derives from Chronicles etc, all conveniently together in the third paragraph. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 19:30, 5 May 2012 (UTC)
It's a start... Mackey is somewhat outdated, so if we could find something more modern we should use that instead. Blueboar (talk) 19:42, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

"Chair of Hiram Abiff"[edit]

Not disputing the accuracy of this... but it is really worth mentioning? It strikes me as a bit of Masonic Trivia that readers would not need to know. Blueboar (talk) 01:53, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

Missing modern scholarship on the Masonic legend[edit]

This article is missing the modern interpretation of the Masonic legend.

"From reading rituals [...] Hiram Abiff turns out to be the Great Architect of the Universe. [This] however, is not obvious at all, at least for most modern Masons. [...] Hiram Abiff is explicitly referred to as the architect of the temple of king Solomon; and the Bible is explicit about who designed that temple, viz. God.[1 Chronicles 28:11-13][28:19] Therefore it should not surprise us to find that Hiram Abiff, the architect of the temple, turns out to be God."[1]:151


  1. ^ Snoek, Jan (1998). "On the creation of Masonic degrees: a method and its fruits". In Faivre, Antoine; Hanegraaff, Wouter J. (eds.). Western esotericism and the science of religion. 17th Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions, Mexico City, August 5 to 12, 1995. Gnostica. 2. Leuven: Peeters. pp. 145–190. ISBN 9789042906303.

BoBoMisiu (talk) 20:55, 11 September 2016 (UTC)

That's a new one... I would dismiss it as an extremely fringe opinion. Blueboar (talk) 21:25, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
No, scholarly and not fringe.
This Snoek interpretation is cited in Eddy, Glenys (2004). "The ritual dimension of Western esotericism: the rebirth motif and the transformation of human consciousness". In Crangle, Edward F. (ed.). Esotericism and the control of knowledge. Sydney Studies in Religion. 5. Sydney: University of Sydney. pp. 228 229. ISBN 9781864876420 – via Sydney eScholarship Journals online. open accessBoBoMisiu (talk) 22:13, 11 September 2016 (UTC); modified 22:25, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
"Scholarly" and "fringe" are not mutually exclusive. Fringe simply means "beyond the mainstream". And whether we are talking about the biblical Hiram or the Masonic version, the idea that Hiram = God is... Definitely out there, way beyond the mainstream. Blueboar (talk) 22:30, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
It looks like an obvious mapping of simple facts with almost no interpretation. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 22:54, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
Oh dear. Snoek bases his conclusions on Vibert's theory that Freemasonry started with only one degree. This dates from the 1920s, and is hopelessly outdated and wrong. Eddy is better, but what can we add? There is a tenuous link between the third degree of Freemasonry and Renaissance Neoplatonism? This is much better explored in Stevenson (Eddy's source), and has more to do with the attraction of Freemasonry in the early modern period than anything specifically to do with Hiram Abif. Enjoyed the read, but wrong article. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 00:08, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
@Fiddlersmouth: can you cite an academic source that rebuts Snoek on the subject of who is Hiram Abiff? –BoBoMisiu (talk) 00:33, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
No need - it's his opinion (see Blueboar above). Does it have sufficient weight to be added to "other theories"? I note that Eddy does NOT quote Snoek as stating that Hiram Abif is God. However, as Snoek is a respected scholar, and in spite of his basing his findings on Vibert and Pritchard (the Modern's rite), I think his opinion should be added, not least so we can all have a good laugh. Fiddlersmouth (talk) 01:01, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
@Fiddlersmouth: you can laugh at the man who has a page on an academic portal for masonic research and has published many works about masonry. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 01:32, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

I can laugh at a man who uses terrible sources to arrive at a very silly conclusion, yes. I just said it needs included. What the hell else do you want? Fiddlersmouth (talk) 01:41, 12 September 2016 (UTC)

I still disagree on adding it. The guy may be a scholar, but this particular idea of his is too far out in left field to mention. WP:Undue. Blueboar (talk) 02:11, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
@Fiddlersmouth: I added the "you can laugh at the man..." comment so other editors who read this discussion can arrive at their own conclusion about whether to laugh at Snoek once they read his credentials. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 02:11, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
As an aside: you quote Snoek as saying "From reading rituals...", which begs the question: which rituals did he read? I can't speak to every ritual ever written, but I can speak to the ritual used in New York... where it is clear that Hiram is NOT God. 1) It is stated that on the day of his death, "he repaired to the unfinished Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple, to offer up his devotions to God." He was not praying to himself. Furthermore, 2) He is described as being "the son of an Ishmaelitish widow of a Tyrian citizen"... ie he is presented as being a mortal man, with mortal parents. Blueboar (talk) 11:58, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
@Blueboar: the work is linked for editors to read. From what I saw in Google Scholar search, he is a mason and has written comparisons of English and French masonic catechisms in masonic journals like Heredom (for his discussion about variations of rituals, see: Snoek, Joannes A. M. (2003). "The evolution of the Hiramic Legend in England and France" (PDF). Heredom. Washington, DC: Scottish Rite Research Society. 11: 11–53. OCLC 63212085.). I think he is describing floating signifiers, but I am not a mason. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 16:54, 12 September 2016 (UTC); modified 19:01, 12 September 2016 (UTC)
@BoBoMisiu:Seriously, thanks. Snoek's Evolution is a very useful document. I could quibble on the over-use (again) of Pritchard. Pritchard's little book was a catechism, not a full ritual, and he was a disillusioned ex-mason who probably wasn't a member for very long. He's important because he is the earliest indicator of the third degree ritual, but must be regarded as unreliable. The French sources, to which we must add the cipher "Vrai Catechisme" ca 1744 are the most useful. The Marquis de Gage is the earliest full ritual I have found, and should be better studied by English speaking researchers. So, what do we do with this stuff? Fiddlersmouth (talk) 00:11, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
@Fiddlersmouth: I don't know, I was looking for content for the other article and just pointed out what read. Abiff is only incidental to my current interest. –BoBoMisiu (talk) 01:03, 13 September 2016 (UTC)