The golden candlestick of seven branches, which is a part of the furniture of a Royal Arch Chapter, is derived from the holy candlestick which Moses was instructed to construct of beaten gold for the use of the tabernacle.
Smith (Dictionary of the Bible) thus abbreviates Lightfoot's explanation of the description given in Exodus:
"The foot of it was gold, from which went up a shaft straight, which was the middle light. Near the foot was a golden dish wrought almondwise; and a little above that a golden knop, and above that a golden flower. Then two branches one on each side bowed,- and coming up as high as the middle shaft. On each of them were three golden cups placed almondwise, in sharp, scallop-shell fashion; above which was a golden knop, a golden flower, and the socket. Above the branches on the middle shaft was a golden boss, above which rose two shafts more, above the coming out of these was another boss and two more shafts, and then on the shaft upwards were three golden scallop-cups, a knop, and a flower, so that the heads of the branches stood an equal height." In the tabernacle, the candlestick was placed opposite the table of shewbread, which it was intended to illumine, in an oblique position, so that the lamps looked to the east and south. What became of the candlestick between the time of Moses and that of Solomon is unknown. The first Temple was lighted by ten golden candlesticks similarly embossed, which were connected by golden chains and formed a sort of railing before the veil.
These ten candlesticks became the spoil of the Chaldean conqueror at the time of the destruction of the Temple, and could not have been among the articles afterward restored by Cyrus; for in the second Temple, built by Zerubbabel, we find only a single candlestick of seven branches, like that of the tabernacle. Its form has been perpetuated on the Arch of Titus, on which it was sculptured with other articles taken by that monarch, and carried to Rome as special plunder, spolia opima, after he had destroyed the Herodian Temple. This is the candlestick which is represented as a decoration in a Royal Arch Chapter.
In Jewish symbolism, the seven branches were supposed by some to refer to the seven planets, and by others to the seventh day or Sabbath. The primitive Christians made it allusive to Christ as the Light of the World, and in this sense it is a favorite symbol in early Christian art.
Brother C. C. Hunt, Grand Secretary of Iowa, instructively discussed this subject in the Quarterly Bulletin, January, 1924, and says, in part: "The use of the seven-branched candlestick in the Most Excellent Degree is correct according to the General Grand Chapter ritual, and has, I believe, an important symbolical reference in the work of that degree.
There is no reason why the seven-branched candlestick should not be used in the Most Excellent Degree as well as in the Royal Arch. It is not necessary to duplicate the elaborate furniture of the Temple in our Most Excellent Degree. The single table and candlestick of the Tabernacle and the second Temple has the same symbolism as the ten of the first Temple. It is true that no symbolic meaning is attached to the candlestick in the ritual, but the very fact that it is used as part of the furniture of the degree indicates that it has the same symbolism there that it had in its place in the Temple, which is, that the seven lights represent the seven planets, which, regarded as the eyes of God, behold everything.
The light in the center signifies the sun, the chief of the planets. The other six planets represented by the three lamps on each side of the central light are Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus was first recognized as a planet by Sir William Herschel in 1781 A.D. and the earth was looked upon as receiving light from the planets instead of being considered a planet itself. The seven-branched candlestick was especially holy, and it was forbidden to make copies of it for general purposes.
The fourth chapter of Zechariah gives a symbolical meaning to the seven branched candlestick which is very appropriate to our Chapter work. In fact, part of this very Chapter is quoted in the work of the Degrees. How fitting it is that this candlestick, the symbol of the spirit of the Lord and the light of his countenance shining upon us through his eyes beholding and encouraging us in the noble and glorious work of fitting ourselves as living stones for the spiritual building which is to be our eternal dwelling place, should have a place in the ceremonies of the Most Excellent Master's Degree, the degree which symbolizes the completion of that work and the dedication of the Temple to the service of the only true and living God."
English statesman and orator, born April 4, 1770; died August 8, 1827; member of Parliament, 1793 ; Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1807; Prime Minister of England, 1827. Brother Canning was made a Freemason in Prince of Wales Lodge, London, in 1810 (see New Age, August, 1924).
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