Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tubal Cain

Of Tubal Cain, the sacred writings, as well as the masonic legends, give us but scanty information. All that we of him in the book of Genesis is that he was the son of Lamech and Zillah, and was "an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron." The Hebrew original does not justify the common version, for lotesh, does not mean "an instructor," but "a sharpener," - one who whets or sharpens instruments. Hence Dr. Raphall translate the passage as one "who sharpened various tools in copper and iron." The authorized version has, however, almost indelibly impressed the character of Tubal Cain as the father of artificers; and it is in this sense that hh has been introduced from a very early period into the legendary history of Masonry.

The first Masonic reference to Tubal Cain is found in the "Legend of the Craft," where he is called "the founder of smithcraft." I cit this part of the lengend from the Dowland MS. simply because of its modern orthography; but the story is substantially the same in all the old manuscript Constitutions. In that Manuscript we find the following account of Tubal Cain:

"Before Noah's flood, there was a man called Lamech, as it is written in the Bible, in the fourth chapter of Genesis; and this Lamech had two wives, the one named Ada snd the other named Zilla; by his first wife, Ada, he got a son and a daughter. And these four children founded the beginning of all the sciences in the world. The elder son, Jabel, founded the science of geometry, and he carried flocks of sheep and lambs into the fields, and first built houses of stone and wood, as it is noted in the chapter above named. And his brother Jubal founded the science of music and songs of the tongue, the harp and organ. And the third brother, Tubal Cain, founded smith craft, of gold, silver, copper, iron, and steel, and the daughter founded the art of weaving. And these children knew well that God would take vengence for sin, either by fire or water, wherefore they wrote the sciences that they had found, on two pillars that they might be found after Noah's flood. The one pillar was marble, for that would not burn with fire; and the other was of brass, for that would not drown in water."

Similar to this is an old Rabbinical tradition, which asserts that Jubal, who was the inventor of writing as well of music, having heard Adam say that the universe would be twice destroyed, once by fire and once by water, inquired which catastrophe would first occur; but Adam refusing to inform him, he inscribed the system of music which he had invented upon two pillars of stone and brick. A more modern masonic tradition ascribes the construction of these pillars to Enoch.

To this acount of of Tubal Cain must be added the additional particulars, recorded by Josephus, that he exceeded all men in strength, and was renowned for his warlike acheivements.

The only other account of the protometallurgist that we meet with any ancient author is that which is contained in the celebrated fragment of Sanconiatho, who refers to him under the name of Chrysor, which is evidently, as Bochart affirms, a corruption of the Hebrew choresur, a worker in fire, that is, a smith. Sanconiatho, was a Phoenician author, who is supposed to have flourished before the Trojan war, probably, as Sir William Drummond suggests, about the time when Gideon was Judge of Israel, and who collected the different accounts and traditions of the origin of the world which were extant at the period in which he lived. A fragment only of this work is preserved, which, translated into Greek by Philo Byblius, was inserted by Eusebius in his Praeparatio Evangelica, and has thus been handed down to the present day. That portion of history by Sanconiatho, which refers to Tubal Cain, is contained in the following words:

"A long time after the generation of Hyposoaranios, the inventors of hunting and fishing, Agreas and Alieus, were born; after whom the people were called hunters and fishers, and from whom sprang two brothers, who discovered iron, and the manner of working it. One of these two, called Chrysor, was killed in eloquence, and composed verses and prophecies. He was the same with Hephaistos, and invented fishing hooks, bait for taking fish, cordage and rafts, and was the first of all mankind who navigated. He was therefore worshipped as a god after his death, and was called Diamichios. It is said that these brothers were the first who contrived partition walls of brick."

Hephaistos, it will be observed, is the Greek of the god who was called by the Romans Vulcan. Hence the remark of Sanconiatho, and the apparent similarity of names as well occupations, have led some writers of the last, and even of the present, century to derive Vulcan from Tubal Cain by a process not very devious, and therefore familiar to etymologists. By the omission in Tubal Cain of the initial T, which is the Phoenician article, and its valueless vowel, we get Balcan, which, by the interchangable nature of B and V, is easily transformed to Vulcan.

"The Tubal Cain," says Bishop Stilling fleet, (Orig. Sac., p. 292,) gave first occasion to the name and worship of Vulcan, hath been very probably concieved, both from the very great affinity of the names, and that Tubal Cain is expressly mentioned to be an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, and as near relation as Apollo had to Vulcan, Jubal had to Tubal Cain, who was the inventor of music, or the father of all such as handle the harp and organ, which the Greeks attribute to Apollo."

Vossius, in his treatise De Idolatria, (lib.i.,cap.36,) makes this derivation of Vulcan from Tubal Cain. But Bryant, in his Analysis of Ancient Mythology, (vol. i., p. 139,) denies the etymology, and says that among the Egyptians and Babylonians, Vulcan was equivalent to Osirius, symbols of the sun. He traces the name to the words Baal Cahen, Holy Bel, or sacred Lord. Bryant's etymology may be adopted, however, without any interference with the identity of Vulcan and Tubal Cain. He who discovered the uses of fire, may well, in the corruptions of idolatry, have typified the solar orb, the source of all heat. It might seem that Tubal is an attribute compounded of the definite particle T and the word Baal, signifying Lord. Tubal Cain would then signify "the Lord Cain." Again, dhu or du, in Arabic signifies Lord; and we trace the same signifcation of this affix, in its various interchangable forms of Du, Tu and Di, in many Semetic words. But the question the identical origin of Tubal Cain and Vulcan has at length been settled by the researches of comparative philologists. Tubal Cain is Semetic on origin, and Vulcan is Aryan. The latter may be traced to the Sanscrit, ulka, a firebrand, from which we get also the Latin fulgur and fulmen, names of lightning.

From the mention made of Tubal Cain in the "Legend of the Craft," the word was long ago adopted as significant inthe primary degrees, and various attempt have been made to give it an interpretation.

Hutchinson, in an article in his Spirit of Masonry devoted to the consideration of the third degree has the following reference to the word:

"The Mason advancing to this state of Masonry, pronouces his own sentence, as confessional of the imperfection of the second stage of his profession, and as probationary of exalted degree to which he aspires, in the Greek distich, Struo tumulum: 'I prepare my sepulchre; I make my grave in the pollutions of the earth; I am under the shadow of death.' This distich has been vulgarly corrupted among us, and an expression takes place scarcely similar in sound, and entirely inconsistent with Masonry, and unmeaning in itself."

But however ingenious this interpretation of Hutchinson may be, it is generally admitted that it is incorrect.

The modern English masons, and through them the French, have derived Tubal Cain from the Hebrew tebel, earth, and kanah, to acquire possession, and, with little respect from the grammatical rules of the Hebrew language, interpret it as meaning worldly possessions.

In the Hemming lectures, now the authorized English system, we find the answer to the question, "What does Tubal Cain denote?" is "Worldly possessions." And Delaunay, in his Thuiller, (p.17,) denies the reference to the proto-smith, and says: "If reflect on the meaning of the two Hebrew words, we will easily recognize in their connection the secret wish of the hierophant, of the Templar, of the Freemason, and of every mystical sect, to govern the world in accordance with its own laws." It is fortunate, I think, that the true meaning of the words will authorize no such interpretation. The fact is, that even if Tubal Cain were derived from tebel and kanah, the precise rules of Hebrew construction would forbid affixing to their union any such meaning as "worldly possession." Such an interpretation of it in the French and English systems is, therefore, a very forced and inacurrate one.

The use of the Tubal Cain as a sigificant word in the Masonic ritual is derived from the "Legend of the Craft," by which the name was made familiar to the Operative and then to the Speculative Masons; and it refers not symbolically, but historically to his scriptural and traditionally reputation as an artificer. If he symbolized anything, it would be labor; and a Mason's labor is to acquire truth, and not worldy possessions. The English and French interpretation has fortunately never been introduced into this country.

An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: By Albert Mackey, M.D. 1894 (pg. 835-837)