The word tow signifies, properly, a line wherewith to draw. Richardson (Dictionary) defines it as " The word is purely Masonic, and in some writings of the early part of the eighteenth century we find the expression cable rope. Prichard so uses it in 1730. The German word for a cable or rope is kabeltauw, and thence our cable tow is probably derived.
In its first inception, the cable tow seems to have been used only as a physical means of controlling the canidate, and such an interpretation is still given in the Entered Apprentice's Degree. But in the Second and Third Degrees a more modern symbolism has been introduced, and the cable tow is in these grades supposed to symbolize the covenant by which all Freemasons are tied, thus reminding us of the passage in Hosea (xi, 4), "1 drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love."
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