Stone of Foundation

The Stone of Foundation constitutes one of the most important and abstruse of all the symbols of Freemasonry. It is referred to in numerous legends and traditions of Freemasonry; also it holds an important place in Jewish Talmudic writings.

In Masonry it is a symbol of the higher degrees, making its first appearance in Royal Arch Masonry. It is, however, intimately connected with the construction of the Solomonic Temple, in its legendry history, and hence of importance in the first three Degrees. Care must be taken to distinguish the Stone of Foundation from other stones which play important parts in the Masonic Ritual, such as the Corner-stone, the keystone, and the cape-stone. These are treated under their proper headings. It must be kept in mind also that this Stone of Foundation in Masonry is to be taken strictly in a mythical and allegorical sense, and not as historical record. According to Masonic legend, the Stone of Foundation was placed at one time within the foundation of the Temple of Solomon, and afterward, during the building of the Second Temple, transported to the Holy of Holies. It was in form a perfect cube, and had inscribed upon its upper face, within a triangle, the Ineffable Name of God. Masonic tradition further has it that this "Stone of Foundation," on which the sacred name was mystically engraved, was placed by Solomon, with solemn rites, in the sacred depository of Dan and Asher on Mt. Moriah, at the center of the Most Holy Place, where the Ark was overshadowed by the shekinah of God.

Talmudic writers say that this stone was called the Stone of Foundation because it had been laid by Jehovah as the foundation of the world. It is upon the allegorical sentiments and symbolic meanings of these legends that Masonry uses the Stone of Foundation. There are various legends as to the origin of the Stone of Foundation, one claiming that it was possessed by Adam, handed down to Seth, and on through the Sethite line to Noah, and that Noah left it on Mt. Ararat where it was later discovered by Abraham. After Abraham, it was in possession of Jacob and with a break, it is next in the hands of Moses when he led Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, and ultimately in the possession of Solomon. It was used by Adam as an altar; formed a pillar upon which Jacob rested at Bethel; and held sacred by all others through whose hands it passed.

The legend which claims that Enoch made a triangular plate of gold, triangular in form and with the Ineffable Name engraved, which was placed upon a stone in cubic form and placed in an underground temple on Mt. Moriah is popular. According to this legend, this Stone of Foundation was discovered by Solomon in the excavations on Mt. Moriah for the building of the Temple. This Stone of Foundation, after having been placed in the Temple, as already explained, was later removed by Solomon and placed in a secret and safer place, from which it was recovered and placed in the Second Temple. For the Mason who has advanced through the Royal Arch Degree, and on into higher degrees, these legends and the symbolic deductions are of great moment. The Foundation Stone of the earth, called "corner-stone," laid by God… — ( Job 38:4-7 )

Biblical Reference

Job 38:4-7

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

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