The following monitorial instructions on the Journey from Babylon to Jerusalem appear on pp. 117-121 of “The Book of the Chapter” by Albert G. Mackey.
The Proclamation of Cyrus.
The ceremonies begin by a recital of the following passages of Scripture:
“Now in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying: Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, which is in Jerusalem.” — Ezra 1:1-3.
“And Moses said unto God, Behold! when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your fathers hath sent me unto you, and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say to them?” — Exodus 3:13.
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: And thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” — Exodus 3:14.
The Egyptians worshipped the Sun as their chief deity, under the appellation of ON, and it was to distinguish himself as the true and only God that Jehovah in the passage just recited instructed Moses to inform the Israelites that he came to them by the authority of him who was I AM THAT I AM, which term signifies the Self Existent Being. This method of denoting the Supreme Deity was adopted by the Jews under the teachings of Moses, and distinguished them from all heathen nations of the world. It became, therefore, the shibboleth, as it were, of their religion, and was appropriately selected as a token by which the captives might on their arrival at Jerusalem, prove themselves to be the true children of the covenant and worthy to be employed in the task of rebuilding the house of the Lord.
The Return of the Jews from the Captivity.
The return of the captives from Babylon to Jerusalem through a barren wilderness beset by hostile tribes and over a dry desert unsupplied with water to quench their thirst, or any means of subsistence, must have proved to these weary and footsore pilgrims a rough and rugged road. The passages of Scripture selected as a memorial of the tribulations of that journey are appropriately taken from those Psalms which are supposed to have been written by David when in cirumstances of great distress—the first when he was flying from the anger of Saul; the second when concealed in the cave of En-gedi from the persecutions of his enemies; and the last, when in great sorrow on account of the rebellion of his son Absalom. They are here, however, referred, as they have been by some commentators, to the condition of the exiles at Babylon.
“Lord, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice. Let my prayer be set forth before thee, as incense: and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity. Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil. Mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord; in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. Keep me from the snare which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.” — Psalms 141:1-10.
“I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I showed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked, have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me; refuge failed me: no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Lord; I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name.” — Psalms 142:1-7.
“Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.
“For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath made me to dwell in darkness. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul unto thee. Bring my soul out of trouble, and of thy mercy cut off mine enemies: for I am thy servant.” — Psalms 143:1-12.
But rough and rugged as was the road, and long and toilsome as was the march, it at last came to an end, and the weary sojourners were blessed with a sight of the ruined walls of Jerusalem and the glistening tents of their brethren. Here they turned aside to rest; and here too we may pause in our review of the ritual, to investigate the nature of the temporary tabernacle which is said to have been erected by the Jewish leaders near the ruins of the temple.
The full text of Mackey’s monitorial instructions on the Royal Arch Mason degree may be found at: