Among the Hebrews, columns, or pillars, were used metaphorically to signify princes or nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state. Thus (in Psalm xi, 3), the passage, reading in our translation, "If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?" is, in the original, "when the columns are overthrown," that is, when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished. So the passage in Isaiah (xix, 10), should read: "her (Egypt's) columns are broken down," that is, the nobles of her state.
In Freemasonry, the broken column is, as Master Freemasons well know, the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillars as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred. It is accredited to Jeremy L. Cross that he first introduced the Broken Column into the ceremonies, but this may not be true (see Monument).
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