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Jeshua, Zerubbabel and Haggai
“JESHUA, Zerubbabel and Haggai, these three ancient worthies formed the
First Grand Council and held their meetings in Jerusalem”. Were you the
least bit curious about the origin of these characters, their names and their
contribution to our craft? Let us study the three names individually.
JESHUA This name has been used throughout the Bible as the name of
important places and people. It is a basic name in Hebrew history and appears
with many different spellings. Some of which are Oshea, Joshua, JESHUA, and
Jesus. The name indicates DELIVERER or SAVIOR and is used in connection
with persons who eventually had a part in the deliverance and salvation of the
people. We will limit our comments to three particular individuals who have
had a particular influence on York Rite Masonry. Moses was led to appoint
Joshua, the son of Nun, as his successor during the final wanderings in the
wilderness, and it was this Joshua who delivered the children of Israel into the
Promised Land. His leadership role was military, political and spiritual.
JESHUA, the son of Jozaddek the High Priest, was the spiritual leader in the
rebuilding of the temple, when the children of Israel were delivered from the
Babylonish captivity. He shared the political leadership with Zerubbabel. He
was probably born in Babylon during the Exile. He, being the logical successor
in the Priestly line, was, we must assume, educated for the priestly task even
in exile. As the spiritual leader, the Jewish people in captivity surely knew and
trusted him. Since there was no government in exile, it is logical to believe that
JESHUA had a great deal of influence in promoting the leadership of
Zerubbabel during this return. To give us some idea of the number of people
who were involved in this return, the house of JESHUA alone numbered nine
hundred and seventy-three a small house of only one priest.
ZERUBBABEL, “Son (male heir) of Shealtiel, Governor of Judah.” Actually he
was the grandson of Jeconiah, a great grandson of Hezekiah, King of Judah.
He was indeed a part of the Davidic line and as we see in the New Testament
a part of the messianic line. Jeconiah had several sons; Shealtiel, Malchiram,
Pedaiah, Shenazar, Jekomiah, Hoshama, Nedabiah. Pedaiah’s sons were
Zerubbabel and Shimei. Zerubbabel was the father of Meshullam, Hananiah
and Shelomith their sister. In Matthew we read that Zerubbabel begot Abiud.
Thus we see that Zerubbabel was the nephew of Shealtiel, and that in the Old
Testament, the male heir is always referred to as the son of his predecessor.
The genealogy of Zerubbabel was through Abraham, David and after him we
can trace to the birth of Christ. We cannot stress too greatly the importance of
the messianic line of decent. Zerubbabel was born in captivity, and being a
Prince of the House of Judah, he was very probably afforded chances that
other young captives would not have been offered. He was possibly a part of
the Kings Body Guard. Let us remember how important royal blood lines were.
In those days royal captives were considered royalty. As we well know, he
was appointed first by Cyrus as the “Governor” of Judah and later by Darius.
By this choice of a Prince of the house of Judah and working with JESHUA the
High Priest, the people were eager to follow these men in returning to
Jerusalem to rebuild the City and Temple. Zerubbabel was able to accomplish
much in restoring the city and completing and dedicating the new temple.
HAGGAI was the first prophet of the restoration. His name means festal or
feast. He was contemporary with Zachariah he was probably present at the
destruction of the first Temple. He was a Levite, and as such was given
special treatment during the captivity. He was an old man when he came back
to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple.
Not much is known about him, except that which may be elicited from his
writings. From the time and event descriptions, the book of Haggai is one of
the most precisely dated books in the entire Bible. At one period there was a
fifteen year lapse in the Work on the New Temple. During this period, the
people had spent their time building homes, fanning and doing many other
things, almost anything but doing God’s Business. They began to suffer crop
failures, personal problems, bickering and fighting among themselves to a
greater extent than usual. The Old Prophet encouraged them to repent and
come back to God. Just twenty-four days after this encouragement, work was
resumed on the Temple. Immediately their other problems were solved, and
their needs were abundantly met. As we studied the book of Haggai, he
referred to the “desire of all nations”, we still have this desire for the “peace
that passeth all understanding.” As we have looked at these three characters,
we have found that they lived in the sixth century before Christ. They were a
part of the Jewish nation in captivity. It was during this era Synagogue
Worship began. This worship outside the Temple in Jerusalem was a new
experience for the Jewish people. The governments had been overthrown,
many of the political leaders had turned away from the worship of God, many
of the people had been in captivity, the Temple had been destroyed, and
confusion must have been the order of the day. Yet, many of the people did
repent and return to the worship of God. As we continue our search for light
and truth in York Rite Masonry, we see the importance of JESHUA,
Zerubbabel and Haggai to our noble craft. Our Blue Lodges thread the
Masonic allegory around the building of the Temple of King Solomon to, of
course, represent the Temple of our present life. In Royal Arch Masonry, the
allegory completes the erection of that temple, witnesses its destruction, and
follows through to the building of a second temple, representing, as it does,
the temple of our spiritual life. This leads to the contemplation of our
relationship to the creator. As Solomon and the two Hiram’s labored to build
the first temple, so we labor to build our present life. As JESHUA, Zerubbabel
and Haggai labored at the second temple, so we should build the foundation
of our spiritual life.