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C.2.5 The Legend of Lamech’s Sons and the Pillars

Romanticized engraving of Josephus appearing in William Whiston's translation of his works

The discovery of all sciences is attributed by Freemasonry to the three sons of Lamech. They are also linked to the erection of two pillars, one in brick, the other in stone, on which they described their discoveries before the world was destroyed. This is the base of the Masonic legend of the two pillars. The Jewish historian Josephus first mentioned the story, but according to him, the construction was attributed to the children of Seth. The Cooke M.S. of 1490 gives us some explanation in relation to the origin of the legend.

According to this Old Constitution, the Masonic legend is based on the Universal history, Polychronicon, written in Latin by Ranulph Higden, a Benedictine monk, in the last half of the fourteenth century, about ten years before the Cooke M.S. The translator made a mistake and attributed the construction of the two pillars to Lamech’s sons instead of Seth’s sons, and the Masonic legend was based on the translation and not on the original work. In this form it became part of the Masonic legend. However this story of the two pillars has had no influence on the modern ritual of Freemasonry and is never mentioned in any of the ceremonies of Ancient Craft Masonry.