The institutions, rites, and principles of a secret society devoted to the promotion of fraternal feeling and morality among the members of the order. In its modern form it appears to have arisen in London in 1717, and thence spread through the British Isles to the Continent, reaching North America about 1729. In the preliminary stages which led up to freemasonry, there are traces of the influence of Judah Templo, the constructor of a model of Solomon's Temple, who visited England in the reign of Charles II. A coat of arms said to have been used or painted by him resembles greatly that adopted later by the freemasons of England ("Transactions Jew. Hist. Soc. Eng," ii.). The society claims affiliation with the ancient craft of working masonry, and by this means traces back much of its symbolism and ritual to the building of the First Temple by Solomon. So far does this tendency go that G. Oliver, in his "Antiquities of Freemasonry" (London, 1823), attempts to show that Moses was a grand master. One of the higher grades of the order is connected with the legend of the death of Hiram "Abif" (a misunderstanding of II Chron. ii. 13). According to Masonic legend, he was killed by three workmen just at the completion of the Temple; and there is a mystery about his death as represented in the Masonic rites. This may possibly trace back to the rabbinic legend that while all the workmen were killed so that they should not build another temple devoted to idolatry, Hiram himself was raised to heaven like Enoch (Pesiḳ. R. vi. 25a, ed. Friedmann). In the early stages of freemasonry, however, nothing was said of Solomon (Fort, "Early History and Antiquities of Freemasonry," p. 181, Philadelphia, 1875), and nothing is said of the Hiram legend in the earliest printed constitution of 1723 (R. F. Gould, "History of Freemasonry," iv. 365).

Edict of Frederick the Great with Regard to the Conversion of Jews.

The technical language, symbolism, and rites of freemasonry are full of Jewish ideas and of terms like "Urim and Thummim," "Acharon Schilton," "Rehum," "Sephirot," "Jachin," "Ish Chotzeb" (comp. I Kings v. 18, list of terms on following page), but these may have been derived, withoutany Jewish intermediation, from commentaries on the Old Testament. Many of these terms are derived from the Biblical account of the building of Solomon's Temple (I Kings v. et seq.), and the two pillars Jachin and Boaz take a predominant position in Masonic symbolism. In the Scottish Rite the dates of all official documents are given according to the Hebrew months and Jewish era, and use is made of the older form (Samaritan or Phenician) of the Hebrew alphabet. The impostor Cagliostro appears to have introduced some of the terms of the Cabala into his "rite of Misraim," but this again might have been derived from the Christian Cabala.

Modern anti-Semites, especially among the Roman Catholics, attempt to identify freemasonry with Jewish propagandism, going so far as to state that the whole movement is ruled by five or six Jews acting secretly as its head. But the only specific instance of Jewish influence mentioned by them is the introduction of the degree of "kohen" by one Martinez Paschalis. There is, however, no evidence that he was a Jew. Mackey ("Encyclopedia of Freemasonry") states that he was a German who made himself acquainted with the Jewish Cabala during his travels in the East. It is also claimed that Stephen Morin, founder of the Scottish Rite in America, was a Jew. There is no evidence of this, but it is probable that M. M. Hays and Isaac da Costa who derived the degrees from Morin, and introduced them into South Carolina about 1801, were Jews; yet so far the only evidence of specifically Jewish influence consists in the fact that this particular branch of a certain section of freemasonry appears to have been introduced into South Carolina by Jews.

There is even some doubt about this affiliation. Freemasonry itself was introduced into South Carolina as early as 1736 (De Saussure, "History of Freemasonry in South Carolina," p. 5, Charleston, 1878). The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, with its additional thirty-third degree, appears to have been instituted in 1786 at Charleston, though the actual organization of the higher council was not effected till 1801. But the Jews who received their degrees directly or indirectly from Morin never appear to have reached any higher degree than the twenty-fifth, of the Rite of Perfection, as can be seen from the following genealogy derived from Steven's "Cyclopedia of Fraternities" (p. 50, New York, 1899):

All the later stages had gone out of Jewish hands before 1801. It is also claimed that the Jews introduced freemasonry into Rhode Island.

Jews have been most conspicuous in their connection with freemasonry in France since the Revolution. One of the branches of the craft, the Supreme Council of the Orient, had Adolphe Crémieux as its S.G.C. (Sovereign Grand Councilor) from 1868 to 1880. He introduced the practise of having the S.G.C. confirmed by the lodges instead of being arbitrarily selected by his predecessor. In Germany for a long time Jews were not permitted entrance into the lodges. In 1836 the Amsterdam Grand Lodge protested to the Grand Lodge of Germany against the refusal to admit some of its members because they were of the Jewish faith. From 1868 to 1876 the question of the affiliation of Jewish members was discussed with some heat. Although in the latter year the majority of the lodges favored the affiliation, the requisite two-thirds majority was not obtained (Gould, l.c. v. 248-250). In England a number of lodges exist formed exclusively of Jews, but as a rule the latter have joined the ordinary lodges, in which some of them have reached a very high rank.

The following list contains the chief technical terms of freemasonry which are connected with Jewish ideas and expressions:

  • Abaddon.
  • Abda (I Kings iv. 6).
  • Abif.
  • Adonal (see God, Names of).
  • Adin Hiram (see Adoniram).
  • Ahiab (I Kings iv. 3).
  • "Ahiman Rezon" (title given to the book of constitutions of the Grand Lodge of Ancient York, supposed to be Hebrew for "the Law of the Selected Brethren").
  • Aholiab.
  • Bagulkal (significant word in the higher degrees, supposed to be Hebrew).
  • Bel (used erroneously to represent the Tetragramination).
  • Bendekar (I Kings iv. 9).
  • Bereith.
  • Breastplate.
  • Cedars of Lebanon.
  • Cherublm.
  • Chesed.
  • Cohen.
  • Dedication of the Temple.
  • Emeth.
  • Enoch.
  • Ephod.
  • Ephraimites.
  • Ezel (I sam. xx. 19).
  • Gabaon (see Gibeon and Gibeonites).
  • Gedaliah.
  • Giblim (I Kings v. 18).
  • Haggai.
  • High Priest.
  • Hiram Abif (architect of Solomon's Temple).
  • Hiram, King of Tyre.
  • Holy of Holies.
  • Horns for the Altar.
  • I Am What I Am.
  • Immanuel.
  • Jachin.
  • Jacob's Ladder.
  • Jah.
  • Jehoshaphat (place where the lodge is built).
  • Jehovah.
  • Kabbala.
  • Kadosh.
  • Kamea ("amulet").
  • Lebanon.
  • Levites.
  • Maacha (I Kings ii. 39).
  • Manna, Pot of.
  • Melchizedek.
  • Melech.
  • Miter.
  • Mizraim, Rite of.
  • Naamah.
  • Peleg (supposed to be the architect of the Tower of Babel; twentleth degree of the Scottish Rite).
  • Pentalpha (see Solomon's Seal).
  • Rabbanaim.
  • Rabboni.
  • Sabbaoth.
  • Sanhedrin.
  • Seal of Solomon.
  • Sephiroth.
  • Shaddai.
  • Shamir.
  • Shekel.
  • Shekinah.
  • Shem Hamphoresch.
  • Shiboleth.
  • Shield of David.
  • Signet of Zerubbabel.
  • Tabernacle.
  • Temple.
  • Tetragrammaton.
  • Tomb of Adoniram.
  • Tubal Cain.
  • Twelve-Lettered Name.
  • Two-Lettered Name.
  • Zabud (I Kings iv. 5).
  • Zadok.
  • Zedekiah.
  • Zeredatha.
  • Zerubbabel.

The majority of the above names and terms, derived from Mackey's "Lexicon of Freemasonry," are mostly used in the higher degrees of the Scottish Rite, sometimes erroneously, as can be seen by referring to the separate items in this Encyclopedia.

  • A de la Rive, Le Juif dans La Franc-Maçonnerie, France, 1895;
  • A. Tilloy, Le Peril Judeo-Maçonique, Paris, 1897;
  • D. M. Hormalin, Ha-Yehudim weha-Bonim ha-Ḥofeshim, New York, 1894;
  • Addis and Arnold, Catholic Dictionary.
A. J.
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