Saturday, May 2, 2009


Through the Scripture furnish but a meager account of Enoch, the traditions of Freemasonry closely connect him, by numerous circumstances, with the early history of the Institution. All, indeed, thst we learn from the Book of Genesis on the subject of his life is, that he was the seventh of the patriarchs; the son of Jared, and the great-grandfather of Noah; that he was born in the year of the world 622; that his life was the eminent virtue, so much so, that he is described as "walking with God;" and that in the year 987 his earthly pilgrimage was terminated, (as the commentators generally suppose,) not by death, but by bodily translation to heaven.

In the very commencement of our inquiries, we shall find circumstances in the life of this great patriarch that shadow forth, as it were, something of that mysticism with which the traditions of Masonry have connected him. His name in the Hebrew language Henoch, signifies to initiate and to instruct, and seems intended to express the fact that was, as Oliver remarks, the first to give a decisive character to the rite of initiation, and to add to the practice of divine worship the study and application of human science. In confirmation of this view, a writer in the Freemason's Quarterly Review says, on this subject, that "it seems probable that Enoch introduced the speculative principles into the Masonic creed, and that he originated its exclusive character," which theory must be taken, if it is accepted at all, with very considerable modifications.

The years of his life may also be supposed to contain a mystic meaning, for they amounted to to three hundred and sixty five, being exactly equal to a solar revolution. In all the ancient rites this number has occupied a prominent place, because it was the representation of the annual course of the luminary which, as the great fructifier of the earth, was the peculiar object of divine worship.

Of the early history of Enoch, we know nothing. It is, however, probable that, like the other descendants of the pious Seth, he passed his pastoral life in the neighborhood of Mount Moriah. From the other patriarchs he differed only in this, that enlightened by the divine knowledge which had been imparted to him, he instructed his contemporaries in the practice of those rites, and in the study of those sciences, with which he had himself become acquainted.

The Oriental writers abound in traditionary evidence of the learning of the venerable patriarch. One tradition states that he recieved from God the gift of wisdom and knowledge, and that God sent him thirty volumes from heaven, filled with all the secrets of the most mysterious sciences. The Babylonians supposed him to have been intimately acquainted with the nature of the stars; and they attribute to him the invention of astrology. The Rabbins maintain that he taught by God and Adam how to sacrifice, and how to worship the Deity aright. The kabbalistic book of Raziel says that he recieved the divine mysteries from Adam, through the direct line of the preceding patriarchs.

The Greek Christians supposed him to have been identical with the first Egyptian Hermes, who dwelt at Sais. They say he was the first to give instruction on the celestial bodies; that he foretold the deluge that was to overwhelm his descendants; and that he built the Pyramids, engraving thereon figures of artificial instruments and elements of the sciences, fearing lest the memory of man should perish in that general destruction. Eupolemus, a Grecian writer, makes him the same as Atlas, and attributes to him, as the Pagans did to that deity, the invention of astronomy.

Mr. Wait, in his Oriental Antiquities, quotes a passage from Bar Hebraeus, a Jewish writer, which asserts that Enoch was the first who invented books and writing; that he taught men the art of building cities; that he discovered the knowledge of the Zodiac and the course of the planets; and that he inculcated the worship of God by fasting, prayer, alms, votive offerings, and tithes. Bar Hebraeus adds, that he also appointed festivals for sacrifices to the sun at thhe periods when that luminary entered each of the zodiacal signs; but this statement, which would make him the author of idolatry, is entirely inconsistent with all that we know of his character, from which both history and tradition, and arose, as Oliver supposes, most probably from a blending of the characters of Enos and Enoch.

In the study of the sciences, in teaching them to his children and his contemporaries, and in instituting the rites of initiation, Enoch is supposed to have passed the years of his peaceful, his pious, and his useful life, until the crime on mankind had increased to sucha height that, in the expressive words of Holy Writ, "every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was evil continually." It was then, according to a masonic tradition, that Enoch disgusted with the wickedness that surrounded him, appalled at the thought of its inevitable consequences, fled to the secrecy of Mount Moriah, and devoted himself to prayer and pious contemplation. It was on this spot - then first consecrated by this patriarchal hermitage, and afterwards to be made still more holy by the sacrifices of Abraham, of David, and of Solomon - that we are informed that the Shekinah or sacred presence appeared to him, and gave him those instructions which were to preserve the wisdom of the antediluvians to their posterity when the world, with the exception of but one family, should have been destroyed by the forthcoming flood. The circumstances which occured at that time were recorded in a tradition which forms what has been called the great Masonic "Legend of Enoch," and which runs tho this effect:

Enoch, being inspired by the Most High, and in commemoration of a wonderful vision, built a temple underground, and dedicated it to God. His son Methuselah(Me the Sue,) constructed the building; although he was not acquainted with his father's motives for the erection.. This temple consisted of nine brick vaults, situated perpendicularly beneath each other, and communicating by apertures left in the arch of each vault.

Enoch then caused a triangular plate of gold to be made, each side of which was a cubit long; he enriched with the most precious stones and encrusted the plated upon a stone of agate of the same form. On the plate he engraved, in ineffable characters the true name of Diety, and placing it on a cubical pedestal on white marble, he deposited the whole within the deepest arch.

When this subterranean building was completed, he made a door of stone, and attaching it to a ring of iron, by which it might be occasionally raised, he placed over the opening of the uppermost arch, and so covered it over that aperture could not be discovered. Enoch himself was not permitted to enter it but once a year; and on the death of Enoch, Methuslah, and Lamech,(male is the mission) and the destruction of the world by the deluge, all knowledge of this temple, and of the sacred treasure which it contained, was lost until, in after times, it was accidently discovered by another worthy of Freemasonry, who, like Enoch, was engaged in the erection of a temple on the same spot.

The legend goes on to inform us that after Enoch had completed the subterranean temple, fearing the principles of those arts and sciences which he had cultivated with so much assiduity would be lost in the general destruction of which he had recieved a prophetic vision, he erected the two pillars, - the one of marble to withstand the influence of fire, and the other of brass, to resist the action of water. On the pillar of brass he engraved the history of creation, the principles of the arts and sciences, and the doctrines of Speculative Freemasonryas they were practiced in his time; and on one of the marble he inscribed characters in hieroglyphics, importing that near the spot where they stood a precious treasure was deposited in a subterranean vault.

Josephus gives an account of these pillars in his first book of Antiquities. He ascribes them to the choldren of Seth, which is by no means a contradiction of the Masonic tradition, since Enoch was one of these children. "That their inventions," says the historian, "might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam's prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire and at another time by the violence and quantity of water, they made two pillars - the one of brick the other stone; they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain an exhibit these dicoveries to mankind, and also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in the land of Siriad to this day."

Enoch having completed these labors, called his descendants around him on Mount Moriah, and having warned themin the most solemn manner of the consequences of their wickedness, exhorted them to forsake their idolatries and return once more to the worship of the true God. Masonic tradition informs us that he then delivered up the government of the Craft to his grandson, Lamech, and disappeared from earth.

An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: By Albert Mackey, M.D. 1894 (pg. 254-256)