Hiram Abif

When King Solomon was about to build a temple to Jehovah, the difficulty of obtaining skillful workmen to superintend and to execute the architectural part of the undertaking was such, that he found it necessary to request of his friend and ally, Hiram, King of Tyre, the use of some of his most able builders; for the Tyrians and Sidonians were celebrated artists, and at that time were admitted to be the best mechanics in the world. Hiram willing complied with his request, and dispatched to his assistance an abundance of men and materials, to be employed in the construction of the Temple, and among the former, a distinguished artist, to whom was given the superintendence of all the workmen, both Jews and Tyrians, and who was in possession of all the skill and learning that were required to carry out, in the most efficient manner, all the plans and designs of the King of Israel. Of this artist, whom Freemasons recognize sometimes as Hiram the Builder, sometimes as the Widow's Son, but more commonly as Hiram Abif, the earliest account is found in the First Book of Kings, — ( 1 Kings 7:13-14 ) where the passage reads as follow: "And King Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre. He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass, and he was filled with wisdom and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to King Solomon and wrought all his work."
Also see
( 2 Chr. 2:13-14 - 2 Chr. 4:16 ) Most or all of the legend of Hiram Abif is made up. He is supposed to have died seven years after starting work on the Temple. The legend is one of the "secrets" of Freemasonry, which most Masons will do their best to avoid recounting. It is, however, well documented, as follows:

Every noon - High Twelve, in Masonic parlance - Hiram Abif went into the temple to pray. Three Fellow-Craftsmen, not yet Master Masons, determined to wait for him as he came out and to force him to give them the secret word of recognition of the Master Mason. Their names were Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. These are the Ruffians of Masonic tradition. Jubela was waiting at the south gate, where the Master went first. When Abif refused to divulge the word, Jubela struck him in the throat with a 24-inch rule. The Master hastened for the west gate, where Jubelo demanded the word; when it was refused, Abif was struck on the chest with Jubelo's square. Finally, at the east gate, a blow between the eyes from Jubelum's setting maul completed the job. Abif fell dead, still having refused to disclose the word - or, as Freemasons have it, the Word or the Word. The murderers buried their victim over the brow of Mount Moriah and placed a sprig of acacia on the grave. The murderers were rapidly discovered (before the body was found!) as they tried to escape to Ethiopia. A search party was sent out by no less a person than King Solomon, which soon found the grave, marked by the evergreen sprig. Then, after the Entered Apprentices and the Fellow-Craftsmen had failed to resurrect their Master, he was raised by the Master Mason with the "strong grip of a lion's paw."

Biblical References

1 Kings 7:13-14

13 And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.14 He was a widow's son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work.

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2 Chronicles 2:13-14

13 And now I have sent a cunning man, endued with understanding, of Huram my father's, 14 The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre, skillful to work in gold, and in silver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with thy cunning men, and with the cunning men of my lord David thy father.

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2 Chronicles 4:16

The pots also, and the shovels, and the fleshhooks, and all their instruments, did Huram his father make to king Solomon for the house of the LORD of bright brass.

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

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