Biblical Characters in Masonry: Aholiab
Graig Huber

And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; and to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.

Exodus Chapter 35 30:35

The following is an excerpt from “Biblical Characters in Masonry” by John H. Van Gordon. Aholiab is a name we, as Royal Arch Masons, hear at each stated Chapter meeting but who was this man. Mr. Van Gordon has the following thoughts on Aholiab:

“Fine workmanship arouses admiration and may even stir deep emotion, both in the observer and the craftsman. The preceptive and informed viewer admires fine craftsmanship, but the workman who produces it experiences something more profound. Fine craftsmen feel a pride in their work that may approach obsession, a pride that comes their most precious possession…

Aholiab exemplified the qualities of a fine craftsman, who, in addition to being a skilled artisan, also had the ability to teach others his skills and to supervise others in their application. Aholiab, whose name means “father’s tent”, was the son of Ahisamach of the Tribe of Dan. His name appears in various forms in the Bible, -- Aholah, Aholibah, Aholbanah and Oholiab, -- but all mean the same thing and refer to the same person. Aholiab was a worker in cloth of various grades and colors, including fine linen, as well as an engraver and an artisan in wood. He may have begun as a tentmaker, an essential trade in his time. He probably learned his skills from the Egyptians, as a slave before the Exodus.

God chose Aholiab to assist Bezaleel in the design and construction of the Tabernacle. This job enabled Aholiab to use all of his abilities, because all furniture, fixtures and accessories were made on the job. Both Aholiab and Bezaleel were particularly skilled in working with wood from the Shittas or acacia tree, which grew abundantly in Sinai, where the Tabernacle was built. This wood, commonly known as shittem wood, was light in weight, but durable, particularly suited to the needs of a movable structure such as the Tabernacle, which had to accompany the Israelites in their wanderings. The nature of the task required the highest order of craftsmanship. The Tabernacle was to be a place of worship, containing the Ark of the Covenant, the place where Gold would dwell with His people. God commanded its construction and decreed its design, specifications and materials. It would become the center of religious life and nationality for the Israelites, their most important and revered object. It also became a center of national endeavor, as all men with adequate skill were expected to contribute to its creation under the supervision of Bezaleel and Aholiab. Only the finest in craftsmanship would fulfill the requirements of such a high purpose. God endowed Bezaleel and Aholiab with superior skill and wisdom for the fulfillment of their task. They did their job well.

In the dramas of the Masonic degrees, Aholiab’s role, and that of Bezaleel, exemplifies the truth that the greatest reward of the craftsman is the approval of his own conscience, and that labor, dignified and enhanced by light and love, is true worship of God. The union of labor, light and love reveals the essence of Freemasonry.”

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