Man And His Demons: The Legend Of Hiram Abiff– Henry Dennis Bassey

By Ikenga Chronicles October 2, 2016

Man And His Demons: The Legend Of Hiram Abiff– Henry Dennis Bassey

Haram Abiff was the chief architect in the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem during Solomon’s reign as king of Israel. This character is mentioned twice in the Bible in connection with the construction of this famous temple. According to the author of first book of Kings (Ch. 7V13-14) and second book of Chronicles (Ch. 2V11-14), he is described as a widow’s son from Tyre (in modern Lebanon), whose mother was of the tribe of Naphtali. The clear points that emerge from these two books are that Hiram was of mixed race, the son of a brass worker, and a man so skilled in his profession as to have secured the patronage of his king, and to have been found worthy to uphold the reputation of his country. And there our exact knowledge of Hiram ends. History knows nothing of him, except in the rituals of freemasonry.

The legend of Hiram Abiff is so prominent in freemasonry that the ceremony for initiation into the sublime or third degree is centered on him. In freemasonry, Hiram Abiff is the chief architect at the construction of the Temple and he is associated with the King of Tyre, and Solomon, King of Israel, on a footing of masonic equality. It suggests that these three were the most exalted personages in the Masonic world and that the secrets of a Master Mason had either descended to them, or been invented by them, and could not be communicated to anyone else without the consent of all three. There were other Masons in abundance at the Temple, but apparently none of them had been admitted to the knowledge of the secrets and mysteries of the High and Sublime Degree. Consequently, when certain curious fellow-crafts masons sought to obtain the hidden knowledge they were compelled to approach one or another of the three grandmasters. They selected Hiram and when he refused their request they murdered him in the manner described in masonic ritual.

Having conspired among themselves, three fellow-craft mason positioned at the East, South and North entrance of the temple and attacked Hiram Abiff, and forcefully extracted from him the secrets and knowledge that were exclusively reserved for a master mason, at the twelfth hour when Hiram was having his routine devotion at the temple. Having finished his devotions, Hiram attempted to leave by the South entrance, where he was opposed by the first of the fellow-craft mason, who, for want of other weapon, had armed himself with a heavy Plumb Rule, and in a threatening manner demanded the secrets of a Master Mason, warning him that death would be the consequence of a refusal. Hiram, true to his obligation, answered that those secrets were known to but three in the world and that without the consent and cooperation of the other two he neither could nor would divulge them, but intimated that he had no doubt patience and industry would, in due time, entitle the worthy mason to a participation of them, but that, for his own part, he would rather suffer death than betray the sacred trust reposed in him. This answer not proving satisfactory, the fellow-craft mason aimed a violent blow at his head; but being startled at the firmness of his demeanor, it missed his forehead and only glanced on his right temple but with such force as to cause him to reel and sink on his left knee.
Recovering from the shock he made for the North entrance where he was accosted by the second of the fellow-craft mason, to whom he gave a similar answer with undiminished firmness. The fellow-craft mason, who was armed with a Level struck him a violent blow on the left temple which brought him to the ground on his right knee. Finding his retreat cut off at both those points, Hiram staggered to the East entrance where the third fellow craft mason was posted, who received a similar answer to his insolent demand, for even at this trying moment Hiram remained firm and unshaken. Then the third fellow-craft mason, who was armed with a heavy Maul, struck him a violent blow on the forehead which laid him lifeless on the floor.
These fellow-craft masons, having not achieved their goal and having a body to dispose of decided to bury Hiram’s  body in the temple with the aim of returning at midnight to give the body a more decent burial.

At midnight, they returned and carried the body to a hill west of Mt. Moriah, where Hiram Abiff was reburied. The next day, Hiram was nowhere to be found. A search was conducted. Days later, other fellow-craft masons who did not go through with the conspiracy confessed of the plot. A grave was found; the body of Hiram in it. But by this time, Hiram Abiff had been in the grave for 15 days. King Solomon gave the order for the body to be raised using the grips of the Entered Apprentice and then the Fellow craft. Those efforts were unsuccessful. King Solomon then expressed his fear that with the death of Hiram Abiff the word of a Master Mason had been lost. Therefore, the first word spoken after Hiram is raised from the grave will be the substitute until the lost word can be recovered. At that point, King Solomon raised Hiram Abiff from “a dead level to a living perpendicular” using the real grip of a Master Mason. He embraces Hiram on the five points of fellowship, standing foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back and mouth to ear.

There are those that believe that the Hiramic Legend is derived from an interpretation of the Egyptian legend of Isis and Osiris, and that it somehow found its way into masonic rituals. The masonic drama of Hiram Abiff is ritualistic; it is a mistake to accept it as history. A ritualistic drama does not pay heed to historical individuals, times or places. It moves wholly in the realm of the spirit. The clash of forces, the crises and fates of the human spirit alone enter into it, and they hold true of all men everywhere, regardless of who they are or when or where.

After a careful study, I have come to a personal realization that Hiram Abiff is actually a symbol of the human soul, yours, mine, any man’s. The work he was engaged to supervise is the symbol of the work you and I have in supervising, organizing and directing of our lives from birth to death. The enemies he met are none other than the symbols of those lusts and passions, which are in our own selves, or in others, and make war on our character and our life. His fate is the same fate that befalls every man who becomes a victim to those enemies: to be interrupted in one’s work, to be made outcast from the mastership over one’s own self and, at the end, to become buried under all manner of rubbish — which means defeat, disgrace, misery and scorn. The manner in which he was raised from that dead level to that living perpendicular again is the same manner by which any man, if it happens to all, rises from self-defeat to self-mastery. And the Sovereign Great Architect, by the power of whose word Hiram Abiff was raised, is that same God in whose arms we ourselves forever lie, and whose mighty help we also need to raise us out of the graves of defeat, or evil, and death itself.


  • Mr. Bassey is on Twitter as @henrydennis25 and writes on religion every Sunday, on Ikenga Chronicles