Freemasonry in the Holy Land, or, Handmarks of Hiram’s Builders

by Robert Morris, LLD.

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In 1868, Robert Morris (1818-1888), a sometime grand master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky and founder of the Order of the Eastern Star, gathered a group of Masons for Secret Monitor ceremonies in a cave in King Solomon’s Quarries in Jerusalem. Building on that, Morris obtained a charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario for a blue lodge to be known as Royal Solomon Mother Lodge No. 293. This apparently was the first regular lodge in what is now Israel. It did not prosper and went dark in 1907. But in the meantime, a group of Masons in Jaffa had obtained a charter from the Misraim Rite and founded a lodge known as The Port of King Solomon’s Temple, working in French. Some of the members and friends of Royal Solomon joined and the lodge still exists, a founding member of the Grand Lodge of Israel, and now known as Barkai Lodge, working in Hebrew and meeting in Tel Aviv. This volume then has considerable importance as a record of Freemasonry in the Middle East and of the role played by Morris in establishing the Craft in a region where so many of its rituals are set. It also adds a dimension to the biography of Morris, who was a prodigious writer of Masonic odes and a early proponent of women’s fraternalism.