In the F.C. Degree. we hear of the two Great Pillars at the P. or E. of K.S.T. These are described in great detail in I Kings and II Chronicles. We don't know exactly when these pillars and K.S.T. assumed the importance in Masonry that they enjoy today, but it is comparatively recently--say within the last four or five hundred years. Before that, the Old Charges dealt with two pillars of a totally different nature, and there was probably a lengthy period when the two pairs of pillars existed side by side.
The fabulous history of the Old Charges, or "Gothic Constitutions" concerns itself with a man named Lamech and his two sons by one wife and a son and daughter by another. These children had discovered all the sciences of the world: Jabell discovered Geometry, Juball Music, Tubal Cain Metalcraft, and Naamah Weaving. Knowing that God would sooner or later punish sin either by fire or flood, they resolved to preserve this knowledge by inscribing it on two pillars, "the one of marble that will not perish by fire, and the other of lateras which will not drown in water". When this punishment took place it turned out to be Noah's flood, and the pillars were subsequently recovered, the one by Pythagoras and the other by Hermes.
This is our oldest legend. It is based on the "Polychronicon" of Higden, a monk of Chester, who died in 1364. Higden cribbed from Josephus (1st century A.D.), who had it from the Greek historian Berosus, of about the 3rd century B.C., who copied from a Sumerian account of about 1500 B.C. It will be remembered that the greatest flood of which we have archaeological knowledge occurred to the Sumerians, as revealed by Sir Leonard Woolley's excavations at Ur of the Chaldees, at the mouth of the Euphrates, so this legend of the Sumerians, which ended up in our Old Charges, was probably based upon personal knowledge. (Incidentally, Ur was said to have been the residence for a time of Abraham, and it may be significant that the Woolley expedition unearthed a golden ram with its horn caught in a thicket.)
The foregoing is of necessity very much condensed, and in any case the Old Charges themselves vary in detail, so this is not to be considered completely what you will discover in any one of them. However, it is accurate in fundamentals.
A. R. Eddie, Editor, the Bulletin.
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