Spoken of in the American legend of the Royal Arch as three of the captives who had been restored to liberty by Cyrus, and, after sojourning or remaining longer in Babylon than the main body of their Brethren, had at length repaired to Jerusalem to assist in rebuilding the Temple.
While the workmen were engaged in making the necessary excavations for laying the foundation, and while numbers continued to arrive at Jerusalem from Babylon, these three worn and weary sojourners, after plodding on foot over the rough and devious roads between the two cities, offered themselves to the Grand Council as willing participants in the labor of erection. Who these sojourners were, we have no historical means of discovering; but there is a Masonic tradition, entitled, perhaps, to but little weight, that they were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, three holy men, who are better known to general readers by their Chaldaic names of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, as having been miraculously preserved from the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. Their services were accepted, and from their diligent labors resulted that important discovery, the perpetuation and preservation of which constitutes the great end and design of the Royal Arch Degree. Such is the legend of the American Royal Arch. It has no known foundation in history, and is therefore altogether mythical. But it presents, as a myth the symbolic idea of arduous and unfaltering search after truth, and the final reward that such devotion receives.
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