Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry


Zabulon ⬩ Zerubbabel ⬩ Zion ⬩ Zohar


This is the Septuagint form of the Hebrew name Zebulun, being that of the patriarch Jacob’s tenth son. It means a dwelling or habitation, and it is said in the prophecy of Jacob, by reference to the tenth tribe—of which Zebulun was the founder and progenitor—that he “shall dwell at the haven of the sea.” The word occurs in certain High Grades but not in that of the Mark, as one has suggested.


The House of the High Grades is one of many manufactured traditions about each of the three Grand Masters who ruled the Sacred Lodge at the building of the First Temple. The King of Tyre, for example, is in frequent evidence throughout the scheme of Degrees embraced by the Rite of Perfection. But of those who presided at the erection of the Second House of God in Israel, only the Prince of the People is heard of a second time: it would seem as if the elaboration of the Royal Arch had exhausted all the issues. I do not propose to recite the story of Zerubbabel—otherwise Sheshbazzar, the Prince of Judah—as it is given in Holy Scripture, though this is done frequently enough in Masonic handbooks. I presume on the fact that a Bible is in most houses at this day of the world, not to speak of the bookstalls. Moreover, Josephus is not an inaccessible source of reference. The importance of the Second Temple in Masonry lies solely in the providential recovery of that which—according to the hypothesis—had been lost for centuries—namely, the root-matter and essence of the Secret Tradition, in other words, the title-deeds of the Royal Art which is Masonry. That is the pivot about which moves the whole ceremonial pageant of the Royal Arch. The three Grand Masters who are in evidence at the recovery are of no importance therein, nor is it possible after the event, and under its peculiar circumstances, that they should become the exclusive keepers of the Mystery. This is the prerogative no longer of any triad, but of that entire Holy Assembly which is called the Grand Sanhedrim. It is a figurative and pregnant indication that, in the final development of all providential destinies, the Secret Tradition—which is a living wisdom, vita et flatus ejus—is not only for all time as well as one age therein but for the world at large, as the world grows capable of election. After another manner of language, it is indicative of the mission of Masonry when Masonry has come into its own.


It is an old proverb of the Secret Tradition that Salem is peace and Salem is above Zion. Yet are these two one, because that which is above is in union with that which is below. The reason is this—that Mercy and Judgment Kiss, in which manner they are a place and house of peace. Zion is the beauty of the world below and Salem the beauty which is above; but this is because of the King Who reigns for ever—as it is written: the King in His beauty. Now, we know that Israel wept by the waters of Babylon, because they remembered Zion. In the Babylon of this world the soul also remembers; but this is the memory of Salem, the Jerusalem which is above. On such account we are told in the Secret Tradition that Jerusalem is rebuilt for ever in the heart. Assuredly those Sons of the Doctrine who put the Tradition on record were Emblematic Masons. But they were of that most highest Grade which is called ne plus ultra, for that which they built in their hearts, for want of other territory on earth, was the Blessed Salem, the City of Blessed Vision. We have a memorial of these “grand originals” still among us in Masonry: it is the Holy Order of Heredom of Kilwinning, the “labour and work” of which is to come (1) unto Mount Zion, (2) the City of the Living God, (3) the Heavenly Jerusalem, (4) the Church of the First-Born, (5) the Mediator of the New Covenant, (6) where “the Lord shall be our everlasting light” and (7) the days of quest shall end in the great attainment.


The Sepher Ha Zohar has been mentioned many times in these volumes as the storehouse in chief of the Secret Tradition in Israel. It is impossible to say when the content of this great book began to pass into writing. There are various independent texts embodied in the collection, which is a kind of haphazard commentary on the Pentateuch, though that which appertains to the last book which passes under this title in Scripture—namely, Deuteronomy—is extant only in fragments. The root-matter of the text is referred to Rabbi Simeon-ben-Jochai at the period of the fall of Jerusalem, in the year 70 of the Christian era. It is possible that the final redaction, being the work as we now have it, belongs to the last years of the thirteenth century; but the bulk of it is in all probability generations and centuries earlier. For a full account of the text I must refer readers to my Secret Doctrine in Israel, 1913, while a general synopsis of the tradition at large will be found in my Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah, 1902. Many Kabalistic treatises are exceedingly late, a few even belonging to the seventeenth century. These have been regarded erroneously as an integral part of the tradition by occult translators and writers like Wynn Westcott and Mathers. They are of no authority and—as Franck said long ago—are no better than rabbinical reveries. For the rest, students should beware of expecting to find the Secret Tradition methodised in a text like the Zohar: the fact and the knowledge thereof are presupposed throughout therein, so it emerges only at moments in a piecemeal way. The later Kabalists made it up in their own manner, providing the missing parts and producing monstrous systems: the authentic work is like the Milky Way—worlds of light in nebula.

The Temple in the Zohar.—After the fashion of many palaces and houses which are encountered in the vast text, the Temple of Solomon is spiritualised in the Zohar: it is like a House of Doctrine erected by the Regent Lord and Keeper of the Secret Tradition. It is said that the whole world was founded on the Secret Doctrine, that the Temple was the world’s centre, while its Inner Sanctuary was the heart of the world. It was a symbol of that “Supreme Mystery” about which all Zoharic theosophy appears to revolve. Under such aspect it was built for the union of God and His Holy Shekinah. But this was in the archetypal sense, the sense of the plans which God delivered to David; but these Divine Prototypes were not realised by the son of David: the Temple was not built according to the original plans. In another form of symbolism it did not shew forth the Supreme Mystery or manifest the Secret Doctrine. In a word, the Lord did not build the House, and they laboured in vain that built it. When Israel was taken away into the captivity of Babylon, the Tradition passed out of mind; when they returned into the Promised Land and raised—as it were—another Spiritual House, it was built only by men and had no ground of subsistence. There is a time, however, to come when the Holy One shall remember His people Israel and the Lord shall build the House. Such is the Zoharic testimony.

The Temple in Masonry.—The Masonic analogies of these theses are (1) that, according to the central Legend of the Craft, the Temple of Solomon was not completed in conformity with the original plans, which perished with the Master-Builder; (2) that the Royal Arch is concerned only with provisional work in respect of the Second Temple and has no concern in the structure; (3) that in several High Grades we hear of a secret intention to build yet another Temple at Jerusalem. In the Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, on the basis of these intimations, and of the Kabalism imbedded in Masonry, I have regarded the Hiramic Legend as dealing with a House of Doctrine (i, XV), otherwise with an intention to unfold the Secret Tradition (ii, 320) or to produce a memorial thereof (ii, 347) at a given symbolical time; but the intention was frustrated, and the doctrine remained with its keepers. The Royal Arch is an open witness to the fact that the Doctrine was lost during the exile in Babylon and was afterwards rediscovered (i, 199), as if by an examination of the grounds of Doctrine (i, 201); but it was found only in similitude, or apart from the life of the Doctrine, so that, as the Zohar says, the Second Temple was transitory like the first and built with hands rather than built by God. The Christian High Grades reflect very little from the Secret Tradition in Israel, except at second hand and far away; but the perpetuation of something hidden and vital from the far past is shewn in various allegorical histories, perhaps more especially in Baron Tschoudy’s Legend concerning the Knights of the Morning (i, 414), over and above which there is the secret undertaking to build a new Temple which is allocated to the Christian chivalries. The interpretation here barely outlined was given once and for all; I have not gone over the ground a second time in the present encyclopaedic work—I know that the Secret Tradition in Israel has its vital side, that it came into the hands of Christian scholars, who adapted it to their Christian purpose; and I believe that round about the year 1725 it was from the records of this scholarship that some one, other or several of Masonic literati drew material for Ritual developments. They may have been even in touch with one or two, who knew more than they on the traditional subject. The scholars whose memorials remain in Latin and the anonymous literati must be understood as referred to in my previous volumes when there are allusions to unknown initiates, veiled masters, some of whom realised the term of all research, while others may have known or not the corpus non scriptum of the Secret Doctrine. If ever we can take the Craft Legend behind the year 1717, it is my hope that we may reach a fuller light on Secret Doctrine in Masonry and its connection with that of Israel reviewed in the Light of Christ.