Who was Zabud?
Zabud is a central figure in the Select Master Degree in Cryptic Masonry. Who was he and what was his relationship with King Solomon? Zabud - sometimes referred to as Zabad or Izabud* - is only mentioned once in the Bible: “And Zabud, the son of Nathan, as principal officers, and the King’s friend” 1 Kings: 4
In Eastern cultures, the “friend of the King” was a great honor to have bestowed on oneself. Albert G. Mackey, in An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, states: “It implies the possession of the utmost confidence of, and familiar intercourse with, the monarch, to who person ‘the friend’ at all times has access, and whose influence is therefore far greater, even in the matters of state, than that of the recognized ministers of government.” Based on this, we can see why King Solomon was so distressed when Zabud appeared before him in the circumstances depicted in the Select Master Degree. Zabud’s trust and friendship were not above the laws of the land, but King Solomon maintained his advisor due to Ahishar’s dereliction of duty.
The personal and advisory relationships between King Solomon and Zabud are lost to history. No written account exists of the advice Zabud offered or actions King Solomon took based on this advice. Some might consider this fact as an argument that Zabud’s influence was minimal. I would argue the opposite. A true friend understands the importance of discretion and confidentiality of friendship and the lack of historical documentation only strengthens Zabud as a confidential trusted advisor to a leader who exercised great power. What better source on friendship than our Ancient Grand Master. King Solomon, in Proverbs, refers to friendship as follows:
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly”
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kiss of an enemy are deceitful”
From the Monitor for Cryptic Masons by The Indiana Grand Council
Masonry is full of allegory and references to the past to bring forward into the present. During these times, maybe we all can look to Zabud as an example of true friendship.
*As is usually the case in reviewing information for these articles I alway find a “sidebar” of extreme interest. In my research, I found several references to the American Rite “corrupting the name of Zabud to Izabud”. In Masonic reference books published around 1900 this corruption is mentioned and discussed as if a change needed to be made to ritual - in a Masonic reference book I reviewed published in 1950 it has no reference to Izabud and the corruption. So one can infer that sometime between the turn of century and 1950 that Izabud was correctly changed to Zabud in the ritual throughout most Councils in the United States. And who says no changes occur in Masonry… it just takes a half century or so.
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