It is interesting that Adoniram is such an important figure in the higher degrees, yet is never mentioned in the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, or Master Mason rituals.
In the Bible he is named as the overseer of the levy in the forests of Lebanon:
He sent them to Lebanon in shifts of 10,000 men per month. They worked in Lebanon for one month, and then spent two months at home. Adoniram was supervisor of the work crews.
– I Kings 5:14
In the York Rite’s Royal Master degree, he has a conversation with his companion and mentor, Hiram Abiff, in which he is informed that in the event of Hiram’s death, the secret word can be found in the temple’s vault:
Adoniram then said, “Suppose one of you three, even you yourself should be removed by death prior to that event, how then shall I receive it?” After commenting on the subject of death, Hiram Abiff with a significant gesture replied, “If I die, it will be buried there.”
Hiram Abiff informs Adoniram that his search is not yet complete, instructs him that in due time he will receive his reward, and returns him to the clay grounds to continue his labors. Not long after, Hiram Abiff is murdered.
In the Scottish Rite’s 5th degree, Perfect Master, Adoniram conducts Hiram Abiff’s funeral ceremony and recites some commemorative poetry:
Our ancient Brethren whelm’d in grief,
Lamented their departed chief!
Let us, his pupils long revere
A name to memory so dear – as Hiram Abif.
In mystic rites our Lodge displays
its sorrows and its fadeless praise:
Long may the sweet acacia bloom,
And garlands fresh adorn the tomb – of Hiram Abif.
In the 8th degree, Intendant of the Building, he is appointed Superintendent of the Work, to help carry out the completion of the temple along with four other young and eager Intendants of the Building, to whom Hiram Abiff communicated the arts and sciences that he learned in Egypt and the East.
Adoniram is then made chief architect and successor to Hiram Abiff in the 12th degree, Master Architect, owing to his having gained superior knowledge and skill:
Also to assure uniformity in the work and to reward the superior skill of Adoniram, the son of Abada, Solomon appointed him to be Chief Architect of the Temple, with the title of Master Architect. Adoniram was invested with that office as sole successor and representative of the deceased Master Hiram. This, of course, created him a Grand Master, the equal, as such, of Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre.
It should be noted, however, that even though Adoniram was now on equal ground with King Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre, he did not yet receive the Master’s Word for it was agreed upon between them and Hiram Abiff that the word would never be given unless the three of them were present and the temple was completed.
In the 13th degree, Royal Arch of Solomon, Adoniram along with two Intendants of the Building not only discover Enoch’s crypt, but also the treasure he had left there:
Adoniram then descended. and passing through three more openings, reached the ninth apartment. As he reached it, his companions dislodged some rubbish above, which, falling upon him, bruised him and extinguished his torch; and he then discovered, in the center of the apartment, a luminous triangular pedestal of white alabaster, hollow, and lighted by an undying fire within;
and upon which sat a cube of agate, into one face of which was sunk a plate of gold, thickly encrusted with precious gems that glittered in the light; and enameled on the plate the Ineffable Name of Deity; as the same had been placed there by Enoch, the patriarch.
Adoniram is taught the meaning and pronunciation of the Ineffable Word and is made a “perfect mason”, a term which reappears in the installation ceremony of certain lodges, and refers to the time when he was presented by King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba:
Adoniram thereupon approached the illustrious monarch and his distinguished guest, and would have prostrated himself at his royal master’s feet, but King Solomon prevented him by taking hold of him, saying, “Rise, perfect mason.”
Thus, Adoniram teaches us to remain content and that in due time we shall receive our reward; to encourage the timid, to repress the forward, and to reward the worthy; that the ablest, wisest, and best of every nation should be its leaders; and that we should seek knowledge from pure motives with zeal and devotedness. He is, in essence, the pattern and exemplar of all Installed Masters.
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Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Iowa. (2001). Royal Master. Des Moines, IA.
Hutchens, Rex R. (1988). A Bridge to Light: A Study in Masonic Ritual & Philosophy. The Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction. Washington, D.C.
Johnston, E.R. (1930). Masonry Defined. National Masonic Press, Inc. Shreveport, LA.
Jones, Edgar. (1994). Adoniram: A Hypothesis. From “The Ars Quatuor Coronati Circle of Correspondence Works Vol. 107.” London, UK.
Mackey, Albert G. (1873). Adoniram. Excerpted from “Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Vol. I.” Philadelphia: Moss & Company.
McClenachan, Charles T. (1914). The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. New York: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co.
Newell, Barry. (2013). Adoniram. The Traveling Templar, Boise ID.
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