vendredi 26 décembre 2008

Were King Solomon’s Pillars Hexagonal?

written by Alan Bergin

imageBrethren, we are all aware of the two great pillars at the entrance or porch to King Solomon’s Temple. We have to use our imagination as to what they looked like, because no photographs or pictures exist. Their dimensions are found in the Bible in 1 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 3. There are discrepancies from these sources as to the pillars’ height dimensions, either 18 or 35 cubits, but 1 Kings 15 does tell us, “a line of twelve cubits did compass either of them about.” However, the third section of the Second Degree Lecture as demonstrated in the Emulation Lodge of Improvement explains their circumference is twelve and their diameter four.

“How is this possible?” the question must be asked. Anyone who has studied some form of mathematics realize that these dimensions are impossible. The Greek letter pi (π = 3.142 approximately) is used to denote the ratio between diameters and circumferences. So how can we find a solution to this problem?

We have this anomaly, possibly because we all assume that the pillars were circular. We perambulate round the lodge, but we square it! If we say we are “walking round to the shop,” or “going round the house” are we going in a circle? No, we are merely describing a path that starts and ends at the same point. So what if the two pillars were not circular? Now that makes you think!

So what shape could they be? You can’t have a square, as a diameter of 4 would produce a circumference of 16, nor does a triangle compute. What other information can we use to help us solve this problem? The chapiters on the pillars were adorned with pomegranates and lilies. What significance does this have to the pillar’s dimensions you may ask? All lilies have six petals, that is, six sides. What shape do we know that has six sides? The answer is a hexagon.

imageA hexagon fits all of the above criteria. It can have a diameter of 4 with a circumference of 12. If each face or side of the hexagon has a length of 2, this gives a circumference of 12. Also mathematics proves that this diameter is 4 from point to point. A hexagon also starts and ends in the same point and hence is “circular.”

We must remember that these pillars were made. It would certainly have been a lot easier to manufacture a hexagonal mould and to make a casting of molten brass thereof, than to have made a circular one. This is by no means a way of saying that the pillars were hexagonal, but it is certainly a possibility.

Never forget that the pillars are symbols, and a sign of brotherly love—whatever shape they may have been.

The Scottish Rite Journal (ISSN 1076-8572)

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