Albert G. Mackey on The Legend of Enoch
Provided by the Oklahoma Chapter and Council Education E-Newsletter (https://okyorkrite.com/)
Extracted from the According to Mackey Column in the March 2021 Issue
The following entry appears on p. 245 of the 1912 edition of “An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences” by Albert G. Mackey.
In the study of the sciences, in teaching them to his children and his contemporaries, and in instituting the rites of initiation, Enoch is supposed to have passed the years of his peaceful, his pious, and his useful life, until the crimes of mankind had increased to such a height that, in the expressive words of holy Writ, “every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually.” It was then, according to a Masonic tradition, that Enoch, disgusted with the wickedness that surrounded him, and appalled at the thought of its inevitable consequences, fled to the solitude and secrecy of Mount Moriah, and devoted himself to prayer and pious contemplation. It was on that spot then first consecrated by this patriarchal hermitage, and afterward to be made still more holy by the sacrifices of Abraham, of David, and of Solomon—that we are informed that the Shekinah, or sacred presence, appeared to him, and gave him those instructions which were to preserve the wisdom of the antediluvians to their posterity when the world, with the exception of but one family, should have been destroyed by the forthcoming flood. The circumstances which occurred at that time are recorded in a tradition which forms what has been called the great Masonic “Legend of Enoch,” and which runs to this effect:
Enoch, being inspired by the Most High, and in commemoration of a wonderful vision, built a temple underground, and dedicated it to God. His son, Methuselah, constructed the building; although he was not acquainted with his father’s motives for the erection. This temple consisted of nine brick vaults, situated perpendicularly beneath each other and communicating by apertures left in the arch of each vault.
Enoch then caused a triangular plate of gold to be made, each side of which was a cubit long; he enriched it with the most precious stones, and encrusted the plate upon a stone of agate of the same form. On the grave he engraved, in ineffable characters, the true name of Deity, and, placing it on a cubical pedestal of white marble, he deposited the whole within the deepest arch.
When this subterranean building was completed, he made a door of stone, and attaching to it a ring of iron, by which it might be occasionally raised, he placed it over the opening of the uppermost arch, and so covered it over that the aperture could not be discovered. Enoch himself was permitted to enter it but once a year; and on the death of Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech, and the destruction of the world by the deluge, all knowledge of this temple, and of the sacred treasure which it contained, was lost until, in after times, it was accidentally discovered by another worthy of Freemasonry, who, like Enoch, leas engaged in the erection of a temple on the same spot.
The legend goes on to inform us that after Enoch had completed the subterranean temple, fearing that the principles of those arts and sciences which he had cultivated with so much assiduity would be lost in that general destruction of which he had received a prophetic vision, he erected two pillars—the one of marble, to withstand the influence of fire, and the other of brass, to resist the action of water. On the pillar of brass he engraved the history of creation, the principles of the arts and sciences, and the doctrines of Speculative Freemasonry as they were practiced in his times; and on the one of marble he inscribed characters in hieroglyphics, importing that near the spot where they stood a precious treasure was deposited in a subterranean vault.
Josephus gives an account of these pillars in the first book of his Antiquities. He ascribes them to the children of Seth, which is by no means a contradiction of the Masonic tradition, since Enoch was one of these children. “That their inventions,” says the historian, “might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire and at another time by the violence and quantity of water, they made two pillars—the one of brick, the other of stone; they inscribed their discoveries on them both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain and exhibit those discoveries to mankind, and also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in the land of Siriad to this day.”
Enoch, having completed these labors, called his descendants around him on Mount Moriah, and having warned them in the most solemn manner of the consequences of their wickedness, exhorted them to forsake their idolatries and return once more to the worship of the true God. Masonic tradition informs us that he then delivered up the government of the Craft to his grandson, Lamech, and disappeared from earth.
The full text of the 1912 edition of Mackey’s “An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences” may be found at: