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Wages of the Workmen At the Temple

Neither the Seriptures, nor Josephus, give us any definite statement of the amount of wages paid, nor the manner in which they were paid, to the workmen who were engaged in the erection of King Solomon's Temple. The cost of its construction, however, must have been immense, since it has been estimated that the edifice alone consumed more gold and silver than at present exists upon the whole earth; so that Josephus very justly says that "Solomon made all these things for the honor of God, with great variety and magnificence, sparing no cost, but using all possible liberality in adorning the Temple."

We learn, as one instance of this liberality, from the Second Book of Chronicles, that Solomon paid annually to the Tyrian Freemasons, the servants of Hiram, "twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil." The bath was a measure equal to seven and a half gallons wine measure; and the cor or chomer, which we translate by the indefinite word measures contained ten baths; so that the corn, wine, and oil furnished by King Solomon, as wages to the servants of Hiram of Tyre, amounted to one hundred and ninety thousand bushels of the first and one hundred and fifty thousand gallons each of the second and third. The sacred records do not inform us what further wages they received, but we elsewhere learn that King Solomon gave them as a free gift a sum equal to more than thirty-two millions of dollars. The whole amount of wages paid to the Craft is stated to have been about six hundred and seventy-two millions of dollars; but we have no means of knowing how that amount was distributed; though it is natural to suppose that those of the most skill and experience received the highest wages.

The Harodim, or chiefs of the workmen, must have been better paid than the Ish Cabal, or mere laborers. The legend-makers of Freemasonry have not been idle in their invention of facts and circumstances in relation to this Subject, the whole of which have little more for a foundation than the imaginations of the inventors. They form, however, a part of the legendary history of Freemasonry, and are interesting for their ingenuity, and sometimes even for their absurdity (see Penny).

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