East of Jerusalem, between Mount Zion and the Mount of Olives, lies the Valley of Jehoshaphat. In the most recent instructions this word has lost its significance. but in the older ones it played an important part. There was in reality no such valley in ancient Judea, nor is there any mention of it in Scripture, except once by the Prophet Joel. The name is altogether modern. But, as the Hebrew means the judgment of God! and as the prophecy of Joel declared that God would there judge the heathen for their deeds against the Israelites, it came at last to be believed by the Jews, which belief is shared by the Mohammedans, that the Valley of Jehoshaphat is to be the place of the last judgment. Hence it was invested with a peculiar degree of sanctity as a holy place. The idea was borrowed by the Freemasons of the eighteenth century, who considered it as the symbol of holy ground. Thus, in the earliest instructions we find this language: Where does the Lodge stand? Upon holy ground, or the highest hill or lowest vale, or in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or any other secret place. This reference to the Valley of Jehoshaphat as the symbol of the Ground Floor of the Lodge was in the United States retained until a very recent period; and the expression alluding to it in the instructions of the Second Degree has only within a comparatively few years past been abandoned. Hutchinson referred to this symbolism, when he said that the Spiritual Lodge was placed in the Valley of Jehoshaphat to imply that the principles of Freemasonry are derived from the knowledge of God, and are established in the judgments of the Lord.
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