York Rite Education - Biblical Characters in Masonry: Bezaleel

Biblical Characters in Masonry: Bezaleel

Graig Huber

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; the tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, and the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, and the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, and the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do.

Exodus Chapter 31 1:11

The following is an excerpt from “Biblical Characters in Masonry” by John H. Van Gordon. Bezaleel 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 Bezaleel:

“Teaching is one of the most important and rewarding professions. It greatly multiplies the abilities and the accomplishments of the qualified person. It enables such a person to spread his or her knowledge and skills many times over. Accomplished teachers make their influence felt, although their names may be forgotten, for generations after their deaths. It is also a demanding profession. The ability to teach, and to teach inspiringly, requires thorough knowledge of the subject being taught, skill in communicating that knowledge and a high degree of critical observation in determining and analyzing the result. These abilities require both an inherent talent and great effort to develop that talent. Truly inspiring teachers are persons to be greatly respected and honored.

In the Bible, Bezaleel appears to have been an exceptionally capable instructor, as well as a highly skilled artisan. His abilities in these areas matched those of his colleague Aholiab. Bezaleel, whose name means “in the shadow of God,” was the son of Uri and the grandson of Hezron from the Tribe of Judah. When God instructed Moses regarding construction of the Tabernacle, He selected Bezaleel and Aholiab to design it and to supervise the work. Exodus 31 and 35 state that the Spirit of God filled Bezaleel with wisdom, knowledge, understanding and all manner of workmanship. He was skilled in working with silver, brass, wood, stone and cloth, all materials used in the building and furnishing of the Tabernacle. This task enabled and required Bezaleel and Aholiab to use all of their abilities as craftsmen, designers, supervisors and instructors.

Of these abilities, the talent for instructing and teaching may have been the most important. Construction of the Tabernacle could not have been carried out by two men alone, -- even two as skilled and capable as Aholiab and Bezaleel. It became the object of a great national endeavor, with all men of sufficient skill contributing to its accomplishment. But the task required the ultimate in skill and craftsmanship, because the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant within would be the dwelling place with His people of God. The Lord had decreed the construction and specified the details of its design, building and furnishing. Only the finest in craftsmanship would suffice for this awesome and sacred work. Bezaleel and Aholiab could do their job well only by expanding the effects of their skill and ability through training others to meet their standards. They did their work well. The Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle that contained it were the most revered and prized symbols of Israelite nationhood and that nation’s devotion to God. The Ark and Tabernacle survived generations of wandering turmoil, war, capture and repatriation. Its revered position in Israelite life and its ability to survive provide strong evidence of the quality of the workmanship of Bezaleel, Aholiab and those whom they trained.

In the Masonic dramas, Bezaleel, as well as Aholiab, plays a role that illustrates that the craftsman’s best reward is the approval of his own conscience, and that labor, light and love combine to form the true worship of God. This fusion of labor, light and love constitutes the essence of Freemasonry.”


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