copied from the original website


Description: Description: Description:

The Noachite Legend
The Original 3rd Degree???


The Graham Manuscript was discovered in 1936 and has been reliably dated as originating circa 1726.
It comprises two small pieces of parchment in very poor condition and is believed to be a very early form
of Masonic ritual from that period. The poor condition may be attributed to the likelihood that the
original single document was transferred from Lodge to Lodge over a long period of time. The original
text is (of cOurse) in very old style English and is somewhat difficult for the modern reader to decipher.
Below is a copy of a modern translation of the text -

"We have it by tradition, and still some reference to scripture for it caused Shem, Ham and
Japheth to go to their father Noah's grave for to see if they could find anything about him to
lead them to the valuable secret which this famous preacher had...
For I hope all will allow that all things needful for the new world was in the Ark with Noah.

Now these 3 men had already agreed that if they did not find the very thing itself,
that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret...
They not doubting, but did most firmly believe that God was able and would also
prove willing, through their faith, prayer and obedience, to cause what they did find to prove
as valuable to them as if they had received the secret at first from God Himself at its headspring.

So [they] came to the grave, finding nothing save the dead body almost consumed away.
Taking a grip at a finger, it came away... so from joint to joint... so to the wrist...
so to the elbow... so they reared up the dead body... and supported it...
setting foot to foot... knee to knee... breast to breast... cheek to cheek... and hand to back...
and cried out 'Help, Oh Father'...
As if they had said 'Oh Father of Heaven, help us now, for Our earthly father cannot'...
so laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do...
so one said: 'Here is yet marrow in this bone' and
the second said: 'But a dry bone' and
the third said: 'It stinketh'.
So they agreed to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day...
so went to their undertakings, and afterwards works stood."

Members of the Royal Ark Mariner degree will be acutely aware of the significance of
the patriarch Noah, his three sons (Japheth, Shem & Ham) and
the Great Flood in the ritual of that degree.
However, it appears quite likely that when the early speculative Masons were formulating
the original versions of the ritual (of which the 3rd Degree was a later addition)
they chose the early Jewish legends concerning the story of Noah as a foundation.
These Hebrew legends are not part of the standard VSL and told how Noah, when made aware
of the impending destruction of the earth's surface made two tablets that contained all the
knowledge that the survivors of mankind would need to survive in the post-destruction world.
Not knowing the exact method of destruction that was coming,
he made one of material to withstand water and the other to resist fire.

The similarities between the version in the Graham Manuscript and
the later Hiramic Legend are very strong.
The raising from the grave, the five points of fellowship and the pact to record whatever
was observed during the actions in at attempt to recover lost knowledge.
It is very likely therefore that Noah was the Masonic figure raised in some early versions
of the 3rd degree and not Hiram Abif.

Having said that, some early Masonic scholars were somewhat fanciful in their interpretation
of such legends and the conclusions they drew must be seriously questioned.
The transfer of the English words "Marrow in the Bone" to an ancient Yiddish pronunciation
of the MM substituted words is difficult to justify logically.
Dialect scholars have been unable to come up with any similar known Yiddish or Hebrew terms
of the period that would support this notion, and the likelihood that the FC's who witnessed
the raising of Hiram Abif made their exclamations in English is fairly remote. 

My thanks to VWBro John Travers (Mark Grand Lecturer) for providing the basis for this article.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says this about the Noahide laws:

.  "Noahide Laws, also called NOACHIAN LAWS, a Jewish Talmudic designation for seven biblical laws given to Adam and to Noah before the revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai and consequently binding on all mankind.

In Matrix III, Val Valerian says:

" . . . the Noahide Laws apply only to non-Jews living under Jewish jurisdiction. Interestingly, Webster's Dictionary, New International Edition 2nd Ed 1950, states that a Noachite is 'one who has taken the 21st degree of the Scottish Rite (Freemasonry).'"

The entry NoachidĘ, found in the ENCYCLOPDIA OF FREEMASONRY1 states the following:

"The descendants of Noah.  A term applied to Freemasons on the theory, derived from the 'legend of the craft,' that Noah was the father and founder of the Masonic system of theology.  And hence the Freemasons claim to be his descendants, because in times past they preserved the pure principles of his religion amid the corruptions of surrounding faiths. Dr. Anderson first used the word in this sense in the second edition of the Book of Constitutions: 'A Mason is obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachida.' But he was not the inventor of the term, for it occurs in a letter sent by the Grand Lodge of Calcutta in 1735, which letter is preserved among the Rawlinson MSS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. (See Ars Quartuor Coronatorumxi., 35.)



TR Welling