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Gabaon

A significant word in the advanced Degrees. Oliver says (Landmarks i, 335), "in philosophical Masonry, heaven, or, more correctly speaking, the third heaven, is denominated Mount Gabaon, which is feigned to be accessible only by the seven degrees that compose the winding staircase. These are the degrees terminating in the Royal Arch." Gabaon is defined to signify a high place. It is the Septuagint and Vulgate form of lip::, Gibeon, which was the city in which the tabernacle was stationed during the reigns of David and Solomon. The word means a city built on a hill, and is referred to in Second Chronicles (i, 3). "So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God." In a ritual, middle of the eighteenth century, it is said that Gabanon is the name of a Master Mason. This word is a striking evidence of the changes which Hebrew words have undergone in their transmission to Masonic ceremonies, and of the almost impossibility of tracing them to their proper root. It would seem difficult to find a connection between Gabanon and any known Hebrew word. But if we refer to Guillemain's Ritual of Adonhiramite Masonry (page 95) we will find the following passage:

How is a Master called?

Gabaon, which is the name of the place where the Israelites deposited the ark in the time of trouble. What does this signify?

That the heart of a Mason ought to be pure enough to be a temple suitable for God.

There is abundant internal evidence that these two rituals came from a common source, and that Gabaon is a French distortion, as Gabanon is an English one, of some unknown word connected, however, with the Ark of the Covenant as the place where that article was deposited. Now, we learn from the Jewish records that the Philistines, who had captured the ark, deposited it "in the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah;" and that David, subsequently recapturing it, carried it to Jerusalem, but left the tabernacle at Gibeon. The ritualist did not remember that the tabernacle at Gibeon was without the ark, but supposed that it was still in that sacred shrine. Hence Gabaon or Gabanon must have been corrupted from either Gibeah or Gibeon, because the ark was considered to be at some time in both places. But Gibeon had already been corrupted by the Septuagint and the Vulgate versions into Gabaon; and this undoubtedly is the word from which Gabanon is derived, through either the Septuagint or the Vulgate, or perhaps from Josephus, who calls it Gabao.

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