Adoniram – High Lord

Adoniram was the Chief receiver of tribute under David and Solomon. He was appointed by Solomon to superintend the contribution towards building the temple, as well as the levy of 30,000 Israelites, to work by monthly courses in the forest of Lebanon. 1 Kings 4:6 - 1 Kings 5:13,14

A tradition preserved in the "Royal Masters Degree" designates him as the one person whom the three Grand Masters had intended first to receive the communication of certain secret knowledge reserved as a fitting reward to be bestowed upon meritorious craftsmen at the completion of the Temple. Thus he is referred to as "the first of the Fellow Crafts."

Biblical References

1 Kings 4:6

And Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute.

1 Kings 5:14

13 And king Solomon raised a levy out of all Israel; and the levy was thirty thousand men. 14 And he sent them to Lebanon, ten thousand a month by courses: a month they were in Lebanon, and two months at home: and Adoniram was over the levy.

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Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The first notice that we have of Adoniram in Scripture is in the Second Book of Samuel (20:24), where, in the abbreviated form of his name Adoram, he is said to have been over the tribute in the house of David, or, as Gesenius translates it, prefect over the tribute service, tribute master, that is to say, in modern phrase, he was the chief receiver of the taxes.

Clarke calls him Chancellor of the Exchequer. Seven years afterward we find him exercising the same office in the household of Solomon, for it is said, First Kings (4:6), that "Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute."

Lastly, we hear of him still occupying the same station in the household of King Rehoboam, the successor of Solomon. Forty-seven years after he is first mentioned in the Book of Samuel, he is stated under the name of Adoram, First Kings (12:18), or Hadoram, Second Chronicles (10:18), to have been stoned to death, while in the discharge of his duty, by the people, who were justly indignant at the oppressions of his master.

Although commentators have been at a loss to determine whether the tax-receiver under David, under Solomon, and under Rehoboam was the same person, there seems to be no reason to doubt it; for, as Kitto says, ''It appears very unlikely that even two persons of the same name should successively bear the same office, in an age when no example occurs of the father's name being given to his son. We find, a1so, that not more than forty-seven years elapse between the first and last mention of the Adoniram who was 'over the tribute and as this, although a long term of service, is not too long for one life and as the person who held the office in the beginning of Rehoboam's reign had served in it long enough to make himself odious to the people, it appears, on the whole, most probable that one and the same person is intended throughout."1

Adoniram plays an important part in the Masonic system, especially in advanced degrees, but the time of action in which he appears is confined to the period occupied in the construction of the Temple. The legends and traditions which connect him with that edifice derive their support from a single passage in the First Book of Kings (5:14),where it is said that Solomon made a levy of thirty thousand workmen from among the Israelites ; that he sent these in courses of ten thousand a month to labour on Mount Lebanon, and that he placed Adoniram over these as their superintendent. From this brief statement the Adonhiramite Freemasons have deduced the theory that Adoniram was the architect of the Temple; while the Hiramites, assigning this important office to Hiram Abif, still believe that Adoniram occupied an important part in the construction of that edifice. He has been called "the first of the Fellow Crafts'' is said in one tradition to have been the brother-in-law of Hiram Abif, the latter having demanded of Solomon the hand of Adoniram's sister in marriage; and that the nuptials were honoured by the kings of Israel and Tyre with a public celebration. Another tradition, preserved in the Royal Master's Degree of the Cryptic Rite, informs us that he was the one to whom the three Grand Masters had intended first to communicate that knowledge which they had reserved as a fitting reward to be bestowed upon all meritorious craftsmen at the completion of the Temple. It is scarcely necessary to say that these and many other Adoniramic legends, often fanciful, and without any historical authority, are but the outward clothing of abstruse symbols, some of which have been preserved, and others lost in the lapse of time and the ignorance and corruptions of sundry ritualists.

Adoniram, in Hebrew compounded of Adon, Lord, and Hiram, altitude, signifies the Lord of altitude. It is a word of great importance, and frequently used among the sacred words of the advanced degrees in all the Rites.
- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

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This page is adapted in part from the Glossary at Phoenixmasonry — Used with permission.

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