By Boris Gulko
May 11, 2021 Anno Domini
Translated from the Russian
Surveying the history of Western civilization, it is easy to find that all of its ideologies are built around one. Obviously around the religion of the Jews.
The first opponents of Judaism and the worldview based on it were the Greeks, and then their civilizational successors, the Romans. Both those and others have achieved tremendous success in science, philosophy, state building, art. The leaders of both nations – Alexander the Great, Pompey, Titus – easily overpowered the Jewish armies. But at the beginning of our era, both peoples adopted a version of the Jewish religion based on the TANAKH. The Jewish God destroyed many of the ancient gods and the colorful beliefs associated with them.
Yet the surrender of those gods was not unconditional. Under the influence of the dualism of the Greek Gnostics, the monotheism of the Jewish sect of Christians, adopted by the Greco-Roman world, was shaken. Decisive for the fate of the new faith was the First Council of Nicaea (325), which established the principle of trinity, decisively separating Christianity from its mother religion.
Twelve centuries later, the dissatisfaction of some peoples with Western Christianity was expressed in the birth of Protestantism, which in ideas, service and rituals approached its source – Judaism. Deism, an offshoot of Protestantism, came especially close to the Jewish understanding of God. But this one was available only to intellectuals, such as the scientist and theologian Isaac Newton or one of the founders of the concept of Americanism, which until now has been the basis of US ideology, Thomas Jefferson. Trinity College at Cambridge University was able to enroll professors who did not recognize Newton’s Trinity doctrine until after the King’s permission.
More widespread than deism, there was another reaction to dissatisfaction with Christianity—Freemasonry. It possessed powerful tools of influence on the adepts: ritual, symbols and mystery. Freemasonry added elements of theater and play to the religious component. The chapters of “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, episodes of Andrzej Wajda’s film “Ashes”, recently very popular, in my opinion, silly book and film “The Da Vinci Code” are about this.
Freemasonry gained influence in England in the years after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which established Protestantism in the country. In 1717, four London Masonic Lodges founded the Grand Lodge of England. In September 1721, this lodge commissioned James Anderson to write the history of Freemasonry. Anderson’s work, published in 1723 under the title “Constitution of Freemasons”, and its revised version, published in 1738, served as an impetus for the development of the world movement of Freemasons. The history of Anderson’s Freemasonry, included in the Constitution of 1738, became not only official, but also canonical in the movement. In 1734, the young Benjamin Franklin published in Philadelphia an edited version of Anderson’s Constitution (of course, the first), thus giving rise to the spread of Freemasonry in America.
The history of the emergence of Freemasonry as a spiritual movement is vague. Organizationally, it became a superstructure to the already existing guild of real masons – masons. After the appearance of the lodges, a division arose: “working freemasons” and “non-working”. The first were called “comrades” or “brothers”. In an intricate way, the first of these nicknames turned out to be in demand by the creators of the USSR.
Russian-English philosopher and researcher of the phenomenon of Freemasonry, Alexander Pyatigorsky, caustically noted that “Freemasonry, almost from the very beginning of its existence, needed to construct its own past.” However, Anderson in his Constitution referred to some old constitutions that are not known to us.
Anderson’s version of the emergence of Freemasonry repeats the Tanachic history of the Jews with an emphasis on construction as the central part of the course of civilization. The main science required for construction is geometry. Therefore, the symbols of Freemasonry are the square and the compass.
Freemasons are monotheists. They call the Almighty, emphasizing the primacy of construction over everything else, the Great Architect of the Universe. Adam, created in the image of God, was endowed by Him with the mastery of sciences, among others – geometry. The knowledge of geometry was passed on by Adam to the first Freemason, Cain, about whom the Torah says: “And he built the city” (Bereishit 4:17). From Cain, the tradition of Freemasonry passed to the youngest son of Adam Sheth, who erected with his disciples two columns – marble and brick, which kept the knowledge accumulated by the builders.
Anderson’s constitution ranked among the Masons and other characters of the antediluvian world who created something worthwhile. Noah and his three sons, who built the ark, are designated by the Masons. “They say that the name Noahida was used by the ancient Jews in relation to representatives of other peoples who practiced the great principles of religion and morality, without accepting Jewish teaching and ceremony,” Anderson reported. “The Three Great Points of Noach – abstinence from blood, the prohibition of murder and the recognition of civil authority” he called the basis of the beliefs of the Freemasons.
Strictly speaking, Noah left to the descendants not 3 commandments, but 7. But it’s not bad either. We will return to the key concept of “Noahida” assigned to the Freemasons by Anderson.
After the flood, the Freemasons, under the leadership of the first earthly king and the Freemason Nimrod, took up the construction of the Tower of Babel. As a result of the mixing of languages that occurred, an esoteric language arose, an important part of the Masonic secret. Anderson said: “… the ability and universal practice of Freemasons to communicate without words and to recognize each other with the help of Signs and Symbols … became necessary due to the confusion of dialects … Without this, the continued existence of Freemasonry would have been impossible.”
Further, the history of the Jews, masonized in the Constitution, looks like this: Abraham, who was fleeing in Egypt from drought and hunger (Bereishit 12:10), taught geometry there “to one native scientist named Euclid, who perfectly learned (it) from him (i.e. from Abraham) “. Information about Euclid is scant, he really lived in Egypt – in Alexandria. True, according to historians, one and a half millennia later than Abraham’s excursion to Egypt. But the Masons needed a bridge from the Jews who knew the secret to the creators of the Greeks.
Then the Constitution records all Jews as Masons: “The Israelites, leaving Egypt, were a whole Masonic Kingdom, receiving good instruction under the guidance of their Great Master Moses.”
The central part of the legend of the Masons: their participation in the highest achievement of architecture and construction, inspired from Above – the creation of the Solomon Temple in Jerusalem. “None of the peoples, not all of them, taken together, can compete with the Israelis … and their Temple has always remained a model,” the Constitution decides. TANAKH tells about the active participation in this construction of the Phoenician king Hiram, who sent his most skillful master, also Hiram, to the construction of the Temple. In another place of TANAKH, the builder of the Temple is mentioned, who already possessed art in other crafts, and also Hiram. One of these two (or one in two persons) became the prototype of the Mason: not a Jew, but one who was involved in the Jewish service to the Most High. During the initiation ritual into Freemasonry, the initiate says: “I am Master Hiram.” At the same time, as Pyatigorsky explains, “establishes a connection with Hiram, the central figure of the Masonic legend, as with a creature of a different kind, which he himself will become as a result of the ritual carried out at that moment.”
At the same time, Masons, unlike Christians, do not claim to replace Jews. At meetings of the Grand Lodge of England, the “chair of Hiram” was assigned only to the second in the hierarchy. The head of the lodge had the “Chair of Solomon”, “the prince of Peace and Architecture under Divine Guidance.”
According to Anderson’s Constitution, “the Mason is obliged, by virtue of his position, to obey the Moral Law; and if he truly understands Art, he will never become a stupid ATHEIST or an irreligious Freethinker.” The theology of Freemasonry as a whole does not differ much from the Jewish one. Here and there extracts from Hebrew texts appear in it. For example, in the story of King Herod, cursed by Christians and without piety, remembered by Jews, the names of two great Jewish teachers of the law suddenly appear. In the Constitution, Herod, “however great his mistakes were, became the greatest builder of his time, Patron or Great Master of many Lodges … with his two Overseers, Hillel and Shamai, learned rabbis …”
The introduction to Freemasonry was attractive, because it introduced into the circle of the elite. Masons were considered a mythological elite, and all special people were considered Masons. This was aided by the mystery surrounding the movement. The Monk Ebenezer Erskine at the Perth Synod of 1732 broadcast: “Freemasons recognize each other, they have certain signs by which they can distinguish a person of the same craft and occupation from others; so skillful builders of the House of God are able to spiritually distinguish those who are suitable for being recruited at the Temple. ” “The internal moral standards of the lodge neutralize (if not even outweigh) the laws of the state and the accepted norms of social behavior,” says Pyatigorsky.
Freemasonry spread from England to France, from France to Russia.
The history of France was not particularly influenced by the Freemasons. The poet Vladislav Khodasevich ironically assessed the merits of the Masonic meetings of the pre-war period of the twentieth century: “The opportunity to spend two evenings outside the house.” Not so in Russia. The mystery is conducive to conspiracies. One of them was the uprising of the Decembrists of 1825, or rather a farce called the uprising. Five leaders were hanged, the rest were sent to Siberia. Others – when the Freemasons acquired power in the Kerensky government after the abdication of Nicholas II in February 1917. Bound by the Masonic word given to the French ambassador Palaeologus, the interim leaders of Russia did not leave the war, even when trouble was already on the threshold and threatened to destroy the country.
Not so in America. The plan of the American Revolution and the further organization of the country, developed by the founding fathers, was also a Masonic conspiracy, but successful. “I am convinced that the correct application of the principles on which the Masonic brotherhood is based should contribute to personal virtue and social prosperity,” George Washington wrote in his message to members of the Newport Lodge. Perhaps that is why he recruited exclusively Freemasons into his administration.
Freemasonry gradually lost both secrecy and influence in the United States. Now, among the country’s leading politicians, only the head of the Senate, the insignificant Chuck Schumer, is known as a Freemason, who serves as an example to the fact that Jewry does not ideologically contradict Freemasonry. Back in London in the 18th century, when there were many Jews among the Freemasons and there was talk of including Kabbalah in the esotericism of Freemasonry, the term “Zhidomason” arose.
But there was never any talk of a merger of Freemasons with Jews. Masons were quite satisfied, as I mentioned at the beginning, with the status of Noahides, followers of Noah. The Anderson Constitution says:
“The Mason is obliged by his position to observe the Moral Law, as a true Noahide.”
Freemasonry is losing its influence in the world today. The website of their worldwide organization estimates the number of its adherents at 6 million, but Wikipedia—only 4 million. It seems that the ritual side of Freemasonry was demolished. But not the moral message of the Noahides.
In recent decades, as Israel has become a significant actor in Western civilization, which has recently adopted the name of Judeo-Christian, the rabbis have a problem: what spiritual path to recommend to non-Jews seeking their guidance. Jews do not engage in proselytism, and the rabbis strongly discourage a non-Jew who wants to convert to Judaism from this step, warning about the difficulties of the Jewish path and the persecutions that accompany us throughout our history. But the question remains: what to recommend instead?
In one of the quiet streets of the center of Jerusalem, there is the “Noahid World Center” headed by the famous modern rabbi Uri Sherki. Pinchas Polonsky, a prominent figure in the revival of post-Soviet Jews, also works there. The center develops recommendations for Noahids. He compiled a prayer book for them after the Jewish model, but without prayers especially for Jews. He publishes and organizes lectures on Jewish topics suitable for non-Jews. Communities of Noahids appeared on different continents.
Will this movement be able to seize the appeal of Noahid ideology without the bait of its predecessors: rituals, symbols and secrets, without the theatricality of Freemasonry? It depends to a large extent on which spiritual path the world will follow.