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Book of the Law

The Holy Bible, which is always open in a Lodge as a symbol that its fight should be discussed among the Brethren. The passages at which it is opened differ in the various Degrees (see Scriptures, Reading of the).

Masonically, the Book of the Law is that sacred book which is believed by the Freemason of any particular religion to contain the revealed will of God; although, technically, among the Jews, the Torah, or Book of the Law, means only the Pentateuch or five books of Moses. Thus, to the Christian Freemason the Book of the Law is the Old and New Testaments; to the Jew, the Old Testament; to the Mussulman, the Koran ; to the Brahman, the Vedas ; and to the Parsee, the Zendavesta.

The Book of the Law is an important symbol in the Royal Arch Degree, concerning which there was a tradition among the Jews that the Book of the Law was lost during the captivity, and that it was among the treasures discovered during the building of the second Temple. The same opinion was entertained by the early Christian fathers, such, for instance, as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clemens Alexandrinus; "for," says Prideaux, "they (the Christian fathers) hold that all the Scriptures were lost and destroyed in the Babylonish captivity, and that Ezra restored them all again by Divine revelation." The truth of the tradition is very generally denied by Biblical scholars, who attribute its origin to the fact that Ezra collected together the copies of the law, expurgated them of the errors which had crept into them during the captivity, and arranged a new and correct edition. But the truth or falsity of the legend does not affect the Masonic symbolism. The Book of the Law is the will of God, which, lost to us in our darkness, must be recovered as precedent to our learning what is Truth. As captives to error, truth is lost to us ; when freedom is restored, the first reward will be its discovery.

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