In learning about the birth of the “High Degrees” I found it very interesting that the first mention of a raising actually wasn’t the Hiramic legend that most masons are familiar with.
In fact, in an old masonic manuscript dated back to 1726, commonly referred to as the Graham manuscript, it is the body of Noah that is raised by his three sons, who were in search of a valuable secret:
We have it by tradition, and still some reference to scripture for it caused Shem, Ham and Japheth to go to their father Noah’s grave for to see if they could find anything about him to lead them to the valuable secret which this famous preacher had… For I hope all will allow that all things needful for the new world was in the Ark with Noah.
Now these 3 men had already agreed that if they did not find the very thing itself, that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret… They not doubting, but did most firmly believe that God was able and would also prove willing, through their faith, prayer and obedience, to cause what they did find to prove as valuable to them as if they had received the secret at first from God Himself at its headspring.
So [they] came to the grave, finding nothing save the dead body almost consumed away. Taking a grip at a finger, it came away…so from joint to joint…so to the wrist…so to the elbow…so they reared up the dead body…and supported it…setting foot to foot…knee to knee…breast to breast…cheek to cheek…and hand to back…and cried out ‘Help, Oh Father’… As if they had said ‘Oh Father of Heaven, help us now, for our earthly father cannot’… so laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do… so one said: ‘Here is yet marrow in this bone’ and the second said: ‘But a dry bone’ and the third said: ‘It stinketh’. So they agreed to give it a name as is known to free masonry to this day…so went to their undertakings, and afterwards works stood. Yet it is believed that the virtue did not proceed from what they found, but from faith and prayer.
– Graham Manuscript, 1726
After further study, I discovered that the early masons even considered Noah as a masonic patriarch of sorts. He is mentioned in passing in the Regius manuscript of 1425-50, and again in the Cooke manuscript of 1450 which makes reference to the “Sons of Noah” discovering two pillars after the flood, on which were inscribed the arts and sciences:
Kindly knowing of that vengeance, that God would send, whether it should be by fire, or by water, the brethren had it not by a manner of a prophecy, they wist that God would send one thereof, and therefore they wrote their sciences in the 2 pillars of stone, and some men say that they wrote in the stones all the 7 sciences, but as they had in their minds that a vengeance should come. And so it was that God sent vengeance so that there came such a flood that all the world was drowned, and all men were dead therein, save 8 persons,
And that was Noah, and his wife, and his three sons, and their wives, of which 3 sons all the world came of, and their names were named in this manner, Shem, Ham, and Japhet. And this flood was called Noah’s flood, for he, and his children, were saved therein. And after this flood many years, as the chronicle telleth, these 2 pillars were found, and as the Pilicronicon saith, that a great clerk that was called Pythagoras found that one, and Hermes, the philosopher, found that other, and they taught forth the sciences that they found therein written.
– Cooke Manuscript, 1450
Probably the most prominent reference to Noah would be in the Constitutions of 1738, which refers to all masons as “Noahchida”, the ark as a masonic building, and Noah and his three sons as grand officers:
A Mason Is obliged by his tenure to observe the moral law as a true Noachida..
..NOAH, the ninth from Seth, was commanded and directed of God to build the great Ark, which, tho’ of Wood, was certainly fabricated by Geometry, and according to the Rules of Masonry. NOAH, and his three Sons, JAPHET, SHEM, and HAM, all Masons true, brought with them over the Flood the Traditions and Arts of the Ante-deluvians, and amply communicated them to their growing Offspring.
– Anderson’s Constitutions, 1738
The old constitutions even mention the seven Noahide laws, but actually there is no connection between Noahides and Noahchida. One is a Jewish philosophy and the other is a poetical reference to Freemasonry. Of course, the Noahchite legend eventually succumbed to the Hiramic one, but I found it interesting that the earlier masons used Noah as an attempt to create an older lineage.
Colavito, Jason (2015). Tubal Cain and the Musical Pillars of Wisdom. Albany, New York.
De Hoyos, Arturo (2007). The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide. The Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction. Washington, D.C.
Eddie, A.R. (2014). Two Pillars. The Masonic Trowel.
Jeffery, R (1990). Noah and Freemasonry. Booval, Queensland.
Mackey, Albert G. (1878). Encyclopedia of Freemasonry Vol. II. Philadelphia: Moss & Company.
Madhavan, Chakravarthy Sampath (2012). The Hiramic Legend: Whence & Wherefore. Grand Lodge of India.