Answer To Puzzler #3 and the Presentation of Puzzler #4

1 Kings 6:7 –  In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

Some metallic substance is demanded after we were taught to wear our clothes, but we had not…(I won’t go into further detail, so as to stay true to our obligation-besides if you don’t know this basic stuff from the ritual, then we’ve got big problems). No doubt, most of you have gotten the above reference as the answer to this week’s puzzler about the building of King Solomon’s Temple. As Masons, we study both the Old (Torah Law) and New Testaments. God commanded that an altar, erected to God, be completely natural and not made from stones cut by metal tools. No altar stone(s) could be hewn or shaped with metal instruments. Stones subject to such treatment were disqualified for Temple usage.  They became profane in God’s eyes. Period. The basic logic underlying this is that metal tools are usually used for war, whereas the altar is the tool for peace. Thus the tool for peace should NEVER be hewn with the tools of war. This reason alone should suffice us, yet, as with all things in Torah, there is much more than meets the eye ( I will leave it up to you to study more and discuss how the SHAMIR comes into play here…way too deep a discussion for this email, but enlightening though).

When Solomon’s Temple was built the Biblical record records that there was no sound of stones being chiseled into shape, that’s from a reference found in the book of I Kings 6:7. But what most Masons don’t know is that King Solomon, as God’s choice to lead the chosen people, was compelled to comply with Jewish laws and customs the preceded him by millennia. So, he was given orders that it be so. Specifically, God gave instructions on how to construct altars that would be consecrated for offerings. Check out these biblical references.

Deuteronomy 27:5-6 – “Moreover, you shall build there an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not wield an iron tool on them.  “You shall build the altar of the LORD your God of uncut stones, and you shall offer on it burnt offerings to the LORD your God;

Exodus 20:25 – And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Joshua 8:31 –  Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

You see brothers, as soon as they were come into Canaan, the Israelites had to set up a monument, on which they must write the words of Moses’ Law. They were also instructed to set up an altar, because the word and prayer must go together. And they were required to do this without delay, and without caring for the unsettled state of Israel, or their enemies. By doing this, they confirmed the covenant of the Lord with his people, as appointed. This altar must be made of unhewn stones, such as they found upon the field. This should sound familiar to some of you Red house brothers, with a twist…Christ, our Altar, is a stone cut out of the mountain without human hands, refused by the builders, as having no form or comeliness, but accepted of God the Father, and made the Head of the corner (corner stone). In the Old Testament the words of the law are written, along with the curse for violations of the law. These together would easily overcome us with horror, if we had not received, in the New Testament, an altar erected close by, which gives consolation. God in his infinite patience and wisdom has left the printed copies of the Scriptures among us, to do away the necessity of such methods as were presented to Israel. The end of the gospel is to make the word of God as plain as possible. (obviously, our Muslim brethren would actually have Mohammed as their cornerstone and their rule and guide is the Qur’an)

Like the Israelites, we must not think to defer covenanting with God till we are settled in the world; nor must any business put us from minding and pursuing the one truly needful thing in our lives (remember our 24 inch gauge brethren). They built an altar, and offered sacrifice to God, in token of their dedicating themselves to God, as peaceful, living sacrifices to his honor, in and by a Mediator.Following Christ’s life is how we are to becme that “perfected ashlar” untouched by the “metal” of the world. Masonically understanding this ultimate sacrifice, allows us to conceptualize a way to begin to prepare ourselves to fit as living stones, for that spiritual building, without being profaned in any way, fully acceptable to and pleasing in th eyes of, God.

Puzzle 4

We have all seen this/ read this or took part in the following at some point (we should see this every time we meet);

WM: Brother JD what is the first great care of Masons when convened?

JD: To see that we are duly tyled.

WM: You will attend to that part of your duty, and inform the Tyler that we are about to open a Lodge on the ……and direct him to act accordingly.

The JD opens the door, and relays the orders from the WM…….

JD: WM, the Lodge is tyled.

WM: How tyled?

JD: By a brother of this degree, without the inner door, invested with the proper implement of his office.

WM: His duty there?

JD: To ward off the approach of all cowans and eavesdroppers; suffer none to pass or repass, except such as are duly qualified, and have the Worshipful Master’s permission.

How many times have we as Masons, parroted this exchange and never took the time to consider what the words “cowans” and “eavesdroppers” mean? So today’s puzzler will require that we look a little deeper. Here are the questions for today:

  1. Why use both of these words together and at that particular time in the ritual?
  2. What exactly are the meaning of the words cowans and eavesdroppers?
  3. What is the origin of these words in this particular usage?
  4. Are there relevant Biblical/Qur’anic passage(s) that relate to the word cowan particularly?
  5. What does the word cowan have to do with Jephthah and the Ephraimites?

KEY WORD: Cowans and Eavesdroppers.

Answer to Puzzle 4

Posted in The Bee Hive.

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.


  1. So fearfull was the craft that cowans (originally is one who builds dry stone walls )and evedroppers the persons who went at a gathering to get knowledge about masonary.This tells us that the highly trained and experienced Mason had no place for the cowans and intruders.

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