The Biblical Meaning of Freemason Degrees
Some verses of the Bible are used during degree work, and these verses need to be memorized and understood for better and active participation during degree work. When you read these verses and take your time to understand them, you will find a deeper meaning to them, and you will have a greater understanding of your membership of the Freemason Brotherhood. It’s better that you understand them rather than memorizing them.
It’s also easier to remember the verses when you understand them, and they won’t remain much of a mystery to you when you do understand them. Understanding the Masonic degree verses puts them in their actual context.
These degree verses can even be acted out with the right gestures to make the experience better and make your Brothers understand the verses better.
Here are the Masonic verses for the 3 Degrees. These verses are opened in the Bible when performing each degree. Their meanings are also explained.
Entered Apprentice Degree Verse (First Degree Verse)
The image representing the Entered Apprentice Degree shows the square lying on top of the compass. This is a stark difference from the Master Mason Degree image which has the compass lying on top of the square. The same image can be seen on Entered Apprentice rings and apparel.
Here are verses from Psalm 133
Psalm 133: 1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
Psalm 133: 2
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments
As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
In Psalm 133:2, Aaron was mentioned. Aaron is Moses brother. Aaron was also the first High Priest in the Bible under the first covenant.
In Psalm 133:3, Hermon is mentioned. Hermon is a range of mountains in Israel. The peaks of these mountains were capped in snow, and they were a source of ice. During the Six-Day War, Israel regained control of Jerusalem and the area surrounding Mount Hermon.
These Degree Verses represents the Youth, when one is strong. Those that walk in the ways of the Lord in their youth and thereafter shall be rewarded with everlasting life.
Fellow Craft Degree Verse (Second Degree Verse)
The image representing the Fellow Craft degree shows the left leg of the compass on top of the square while the right leg of the compass is under the square.
Here are verses from Amos 7
Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:
You can see that plumbline was repeatedly mentioned here. This is the Lord’s plumbline that stands for upright conduct all through a man’s life. The Fellow Craft degree represents middle age.
Master Mason Degree Verse (Third Degree Verse)
The symbol for the Master Mason degree has the compasses lying on top of the square. This shows that the Master Mason has learned how to circumscribe his passions. The Master Mason symbol can be seen on the Master Mason rings and apparel.
Here are verses from Ecclesiastes 12
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them
While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain
In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened
And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low
Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets
Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern
Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it
In Ecclesiastes Chapter 12, the infirmities of age are described. The Bible is opened to Ecclesiastes 12 whenever the Master Mason degree is being worked. Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible written by King Solomon for reflection and contemplation.
Actual meaning of the lines of the Master Mason Degree Verse
Ecclesiastes 12:1 represents Youth or Entered Apprentice.
‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth’ – This advice is given to youths to remember their creator when they are young and gather their full harvest in their early years. They will get older and change, and they won’t be able to enjoy the things they enjoyed in the days of their youth. A lot of people get older, and they fondly remember the days of their youth when they could achieve almost anything.
Ecclesiastes 12:2 represents Manhood or Fellow Craft
‘While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened’- This reminds us that as we get older, our sight starts to fail. It tells us to look back to the time when life looked so promising and bright with a lot to look forward to and a lot to explore. This was before the twilight of our lives.
‘nor the clouds return after the rain’- As we get older, we spend more time resting and recuperating.
Ecclesiastes 12:3 represents Age or a Master Mason
‘In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble’- This refers to the days when a man is no longer able to take care of himself.
‘and the strong men shall bow themselves’- This refers to the inability of an old man to walk without bending.
‘and the grinders cease because they are few’- Here, the loss of teeth at old age is referred to.
‘and those that look out of the windows be darkened’- This refers to failing eyesight.
Ecclesiastes 12: 4
‘And the doors shall be shut in the streets’- A man shall no longer be able to hear the noise in the streets and the noise of life because of old age.
‘and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird’- Old people are unable to sleep and they wake up earlier than younger people.
‘and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low’- When one gets old, there are changes in his vocal cord, and his voice becomes coarser and less melodious.
Ecclesiastes 12: 5
‘Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way’- As one gets older, he becomes more cautious. Reflexes are reduced, and one is less likable to try reckless things. Old people are unaware of the speed at which the world changes.
‘and the almond tree shall flourish’- This means that our hair shall turn white. Almond trees have large, white blossoms.
‘and the grasshopper shall be a burden’- As a young farmer, when grasshoppers disturbed a field, the field can be easily replanted. The young man won’t worry much about the loss. But this will be a great loss for an elderly person and the grasshoppers become a burden. The elderly person won’t be able to replant his field again due to his reduced energy levels, and it won’t be a small or negligible issue as it was when he was young.
‘and desire shall fail’- Elderly people rarely have dreams like young ones because they know that they do not have the time or the energy to actualize these dreams. Also, their physical desire is also reduced.
‘Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken’- The silver cord represents the spinal cord and the way one bends in old age. The golden bowl refers to the brain and how one’s mental problems declines gradually.
‘or the pitcher be broken at the fountain’- One has the desire to urinate, but he is unable to do so.
‘or the wheel broken at the cistern’- The cistern is full which means that the body still contains all its blood, but the pumping of the heart reduces.
‘Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it’-
This verse refers to ‘ashes to ashes’ and ‘dust to dust’ which we say when the dead are interred. It refers to the deterioration of the entire body. It shows the passage of our body as we transit through life.
It is a call for us to reflect on our life choices. It tells us that our body is not ours forever and we will end up the same way we started.
God created us and gave us the commandments of life. We return to God when we die, and we should live a life accountable to him. Our return to God is our final triumph and a treasure that cannot be taken away.
For those that lived their life properly in service to God and their fellow man, old age is a time for reminiscing and love, the friendships and the good times that they shared. It is a time for celebration and won’t be referred to as ‘the evil days.’ Old age is truly a blessing for the good ones.