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Albert G. Mackey on Adoniram

Albert G. Mackey on Adoniram
Provided by the Oklahoma Chapter and Council Education E-Newsletter (
Extracted from the It\’s Monitorial Column in the May 2021 Issue

Albert Mackey
(Public Domain)

The following monitorial instructions on Adoniram appear on pp. 25-28 of “Cryptic Masonry: A Manual of the Council” by Albert G. Mackey.

The first notice that we have in Scripture of Adoniram is in the Second Book of Samuel (20:24), where he is referred to by the abbreviated form Adoram, as having been “over the tribute” in the house of David, or, as Gesenius translates it, “prefect over the tribute service, or tribute master,” that is to say, in modern phrase, he was the chief receiver of the taxes. Clarke accordingly calls him, “Chancellor of the Exchequer.” Seven years afterward we find him exercising the duties of the same office in the household of King Solomon, for it is said (1 Kings 4:6), that “Adoniram, the son of Abda, was over the tribute.” And lastly, we hear of him as still occupying the same station in the household of King Rehoboam, the successor of Solomon. Forty-seven years after his first mention in the Book of Samuel, he is stated (1 Kings 12:18) to have been stoned to death while in the discharge of his duty, by the people, who were justly indignant at the oppressions of his master. Although commentators have been at a loss to determine whether the tax-receiver under David, under Solomon, and under Rehoboam, was the same person, there seems to be no reason to doubt it, for, as Kitto says, “it appears very unlikely that even two persons of the same name should successively bear the same office, in an age when no example occurs of the father’s name being given to his son. We find also that not more than forty-seven years elapsed between the first and last mention of the Adoniram who was ‘over the tribute,’ and as this, although a long term of service, is not too long for one life, and as the person who held the office at the beginning of Rehoboam’s reign, had served in it long enough to make himself odious to the people, it appears, on the whole, most probable, that one and the same person is intended throughout.” [Kitto, John., ed. Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, vol. I. p. 72, see Adoniram.] All of this however is merely conjectural. Even if the tax-receiver of Solomon was the man who held the same office under Rehoboam, we still have no means of knowing whether the odium he incurred was to be attributed to the unpopularity of the office or the oppressive conduct of the officer. From a Masonic point of view, we can only consider Adoniram as the incorruptible laborer in the temple and the diligent searcher after truth. He is, to the Mason, simply a symbol.

Adoniram occupies an important position in the Masonic system, but the time of action in which he appears is confined to the period occupied in the construction of the temple. The legends and traditions which connect him with that edifice derive their support from a single passage in the First Book of Kings (5:13-14), where it is said that Solomon made a levy of thirty thousand workmen from among the Israelites; that he sent these in courses of ten thousand a month to labor on Mount Lebanon, and that he placed Adoniram over these as their superintendent. From this brief statement, the Adoniramite Masons have deduced the theory that Adoniram was the architect of the temple, while the Hiramites, assigning this office to Hiram Ahif, still believe that Adoniram occupied an important post in the construction of that edifice. He has been called “the first of the Fellow-Crafts;” is said, in one tradition, to have been the brother-in-law of Hiram Abif, the latter having demanded of King Solomon the hand of Adoniram’s sister in marriage, and that the nuptials were honored by the kings of Israel and Tyre with a public celebration; while another tradition, preserved in the Royal Master’s degree, informs us that he was the one to whom the three Grand Masters had intended first to communicate that knowledge which they had reserved as a fitting reward to be bestowed upon all meritorious craftsmen at the completion of the temple.

Adoniram is the Masonic symbol of the seeker after truth.

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

Royal Master from Mackey’s “Cryptic Masonry: A Manual of the Council”

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