The first three degrees of Craft Masonry are built around the construction of King Solomon’s temple. In the third degree we learn of the death of our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, who died to protect the Master’s word. What word could be so important that a man would choose death rather than reveal it? Why would a word be so important that three men would choose to become murderers in a vain attempt to obtain it?
In the Royal Arch Degree this word is discovered by the Sojourners. This word is considered to be so powerful that the Sojourners refuse to pronounce it. To this day this word is reverently displayed on a pedestal in Royal Arch Chapters. According to ‘Royal Arch Terms Explained “ by Roy A. Wells, this word J E H 0 V A H is a manufactured word which stands for the intention of the following Hebrew Characters – Ha Vav He Hod. These characters translate int the English letters Y H W H. This is the personal name of the Most High and is referred to as “the ineffable name’ and is also known as the TETRAGRAMMATON. TETRAGRAMMATON is a Greek word meaning four letters. Because these Hebrew characters had no vowels between them the original pronunciation of the word has been lost. The Hebrews substituted the word Adonai whenever the name appeared in the original writings. Jehovah is a combination of the TETRAGRAMMATON together with those vowels from Adonai.
The Ancient people used a name as much more than as an identifier as we tend to use it in our culture. Personal names were formed from words that had their own meaning, thus a name represented the nature of the person.
We can remember from our Biblical studies and our Royal Arch ritual that when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He told Moses to tell the Israelite people that his name ,was “I Am Who I Am, which conveyed a message about his character as the Eternal Being.
The Jewish people of Solomon’s time considered God’s personal name to be so sacred that it was pronounced only once per year by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies in the temple, and only after he had undergone a ceremonial cleansing ritual.
A superstition, widespread among primitive people throughout the world held that if a person knew your name he could acquire power over you and bring harm to you. These people were, reluctant to divulge their name and were often known only by their nicknames.
No doubt the master builder Hiram Abiff was aware that a knowledge of God’s personal name conferred power upon him, A power that he could not share with an untrained craftsman.
R. Ex. Comp. Eric Weigelt 26 May 00