Dedication of the Temple

The following monitorial instructions on the dedication of the Temple appear on pp. 80-87 of “The Book of the Chapter” by Albert G. Mackey.

Bringing Forth the Ark of the Covenant with Shouting and Praise.

Previous to the building of the temple, David had brought the ark of the covenant from the house of Obed-edom to his palace on Mount Zion, where it remained until the temple was completed.

As soon as Solomon had finished his work, he assembled the people, with their rulers and elders, at Jerusalem, that they might dedicate it with appropriate ceremonies. The ark was then taken from the palace of David and removed to the temple. The king himself and all the people and Levites went before, rendering the ground moist, says Josephus, with sacrifices and drink offerings, and the blood of a great number of oblations, and burning an immense quantity of incense, and thus with singing and dancing was it carried into the temple. But when it was to be transferred to the holy of holies, the rest of the multitude departed, and only those priests who bore it by its staves entered within the sacred place, and set it between the two cherubim, which, embracing it between their wings, covered it as with a dome.

It is this bringing of the ark into the temple with shouting and praise, and depositing it in the holy spot where it was thenceforth to remain, that is commemorated by a portion of the ceremonies of the Most Excellent Master’s degree.

Prayer of Solomon.

The following, which is a portion of the prayer of King Solomon at the dedication of the temple, may be used during this part of the ceremony:

And now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David, my father. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have built. Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee to-day: that thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people, Israel, when they shall pray toward this place; and hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling-place; and when thou hearest, forgive. So mote it be. Amen.

The following is read with solemn ceremonies:

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priest could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.

“And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshiped, and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.” — 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.

The Fire from Heaven.

The following passages from Bro. Scott’s “Analogy,” may be advantageously read by the masonic student in reference to this period of the ceremonies:

“It was when Solomon had made an end of praying, that the fire came down from heaven; but it was before the fire came down that the cloud of God’s glory descended, and that the Almighty was made manifest in the sanctum sanctorum. It was on the day of dedication, and the year of dedication was a jubilee. The silver trumpets had ushered it in amidst the rejoicing of all the people. The elders of Israel had been assembled in the devoted city of Jerusalem. Solomon had summoned them to meet together for a holy purpose. The stately temple was completed. It towered in all its grandeur. It was the wonder and admiration of the world. The craftsmen were all present at the dedication.

They had no more occasion for level or plumb-line,
For trowel or gavel, for compass or square.

“Their work was all finished, and the ark of the covenant was about to be brought up ‘out of the city of David, which is Zion.’ How sublime and surpassingly grand were the ceremonies of dedication. ‘And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.’ And the tabernacle was carried up also, and all the holy vessels that were in it. Then the sacrifices commenced. All the congregation of Israel took part in the ceremonies. The sheep and the oxen to be sacrificed were numberless. When the ark was borne into ‘the oracle of the house, to the most holy place,’ the cherubim spread forth their wings over the place and covered the ark and the staves thereof. And when it was safely seated, Almighty Jehovah descended and filled the house with his glory. Yes, the Lord was visible there; and well might the wisest of men, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, pour out a fervent and most eloquent prayer to Him for his multiplied blessings. What a mighty assembly had gathered together! The Lord of heaven and earth was there. And never before had such eloquence fallen from the lips of Solomon. His prayer is a specimen of true devotion, and of what a wise man can do and say, ‘when out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’

“That ever memorable occasion is celebrated in our lodges. It is the ground-work of one of its most beautiful degrees. It has been celebrated for thousands of generations, and is hallowed in the memory of the craft. And may we not, with propriety, say that the splendid and eloquent prayer of our Grand Master, although it is not expressly incorporated into the regular body of masonry, constitutes, by implication, a portion of our institution? If we are correct in the opinion that our order was perfected at the completion of the temple, or even established after that period, but associated with the progress of that building and dedication, then we may very reasonably contend that every rite or event connected with it affords a subject for masonic study and investigation.” [Scott, Charles. Analogy of Ancient Craft Masonry to Natural and Revealed Religion. pp. 217-220.]

There is also an eloquent description of the scene commemorated in this degree in Dr. Jarvis’s Church of the Redeemed, vol. I, pp. 166-168, which the masonic student may read with advantage and pleasure.

The full text of Mackey’s monitorial instructions on the Most Excellent Master degree may be found at:

Most Excellent Master from Mackey’s “The Book of the Chapter”