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Tubal Cain

Of Tubal Cain, the sacred writings, as well as the Masonic legends, give us but scanty information. All that we hear of him in the Book of Genesis is that he was the son of Lamech and Zillah, and was "an instructor of every artifices in brass and iron." The Hebrew original does not justify the common version, for lotesh, does not mean "an instructor," but "a sharpener "--one who whets or sharpens instruments. Hence Doctor Raphall translates the passage as one "who sharpened various tools in copper and iron." The authorized version has, however, almost indelibly impressed the character of Tubal Cain as the Father of Artificers; and it is in this sense that he has been introduced from a very early period into the legendary history of Freemasonry.

The first Masonic reference to Tubal Cain is found in the Legend of the Craft, where he is called the Founder of Smith-Craft, an explanation agreeing closely with modern biblical scholarship which designates him as the "Founder of the Gild of Smiths or Metal Workers." We cite this part of the legend from the Dowland Manuscript simply because of its more modern orthography; but the story is substantially the same in all the old manuscript Constitutions. In that manuscript we five find the following account of Tubal Cain:

Before Noah's flood there was a man called Lamedh, as it is written in the Bible, in the fourth Chapter of Genesis; and this Lamedh had two wives, the one named Ada and the other named Zilla by his first wife Ada, he got two sons, the one Jubal, and the other Jabal: and by the other wife he got a son and a daughter. And these four children founded the beginning of all the sciences in the world. The elder son Jabal, founded the science geometry, and he carried flocks of sheep and lambs into the fields, and first built houses of stone and wood, as it is noted in the chapter above named. And his brother Jubal founded the science of music and songs of the tongue, the harp and organ. And the third brothers Tubal Cain, founded smith-craft , of gold, silver, copper, iron, and steel, and the daughter founded the art of weaving. And these children knew well that God would take vengeance for sin, either by fire or water, wherefore they wrote the sciences that they lead found, on two pillars that they might be found after Noah's flood. The one pillar was marble, for that would not burn with fire, and the other was clepped laterns and would not drown in no water.

Similar to this an old Rabbillical tradition, which asserts that Jubal, who was the inventor of writing as well as of music, having heard Adam say that the universe would be twice destroyed, once by fire and once by water, inquired Which catastrophe would first occur; but Adam refusing to inform him he inscribed the system of music Which he had invented upon two pillars of stone and briefs A more modern Masonic tradition ascribes the construction of these pillars to Enoch. To this amount of Tubal Cain must he added the additional particulars, recorded by Josephus, that he exceeded all men in strength, and was renowned for his warlike achievements.

The only other account of the proto-metallurgist that we meet with in any ancient author is that which is contained in the celebrated fragment of Sanconiatho, who refers to him under the name of Chrysor, which is evidently, as Bochart affirms, a corruption of the Hebrew chores ur, a worker in fire, that is, a smith. Sanconiatho was a Phenician author, who is supposed to have flourished before the Trojan war, probably, as Sir William Drummond suggests, about the time when Gideon was Judge of Israel, and who collected the different accounts and traditions of the origin of the world which were extant at the period in which he lived. A fragment only of this cork has been preserved, which, translated into Greek by Philo Byblius, was inserted by Eusebitls in his Praepario Evangelica, and has thus been handed down to the present day. That portion of the history by Sanconiatho, which refers to Tubal Cain, is contained in the following words:

A long time after the generation of Hypsoaranios. the inventors of hunting and fishing, Agreas and Alieas, were born: after whom the people were called hunters and fishers, and from whom sprang two brothers, when discovered iron, and the manner of working it. one of these two, called Chrysor, was skilled in eloquence, and composed verses and prophecies. He was the .same with Hephaistos, and invented fishing-hooks, bait for taking fishes cordage and rafts, and was the first of all mankind who had navigated. He was therefore worshiped as a god after his death, and was called Diamichios.

It is said that these brothers were the first who contrived partition walls of brick.

Hephaistos, it will be observed, is the Greek of the god who was called by the Romans Vulcan. Hence the remark of Sanconiatho, and the apparent similarity of names as well as occupations, have led some writers of the last, and even of the present, century to derive Vulcan from Tubal Cain by a process not very devious and therefore familiar to etymologists. By the omission in Tubal Cain of the initial T. which is the Phenician article, and its valueless vowel, we get Balcan, which, by the interchangeable nature of B and V, is easily transformed to Vulcan.

"That Tubal Cain," says Bishop Edw. Stillingfleet (Origines Sacrae, or a Rational Account of the Christian faith as to the Truth and Divine Authority of the Scriptures and the Matters therein contained, 1662, page 292), "gave first occasion to the name and worship of Vulcan, hath been very probably conceived, both from the very great affinity of the names, and that Tubal Cain is expressly mentioned to be an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, and as near relation as Apollo had to Vulcan, tubal had to Tubal Cain, who was the inventor of music, or the father of all such as handle the harp and organ, which the Greeks attribute to Apollo."

Vossius, in his treatise De Idolatria (book i, chapter 36), makes this derivation of Vulcan from Tubal Cain. But Bryant, in his Analysis of Ancient Mythology (volume i, page 139), denies the etymology and says that among the Egyptians and Babylonians, Vulcan was equivalent to Horus or Osiris, symbols of the sun. He traces the name to the words Baal Cahen, Holy Bel, or Sacred Lord. Bryant's etymology may be adopted, however, without any interference with the identity of Vulcan and Tubal Cain. He who discovered the uses of fire, may well, in the corruptions of idolatry, have typified the solar orb, the source of all heat.

It might seem that Tubal is an attribute compounded of the definite particle T and the word Baal, signifying Lord. Tubal Cain would then signify the Lord Cain. Again, dhu or du, in Arabic, signifies Lord, and we trace the same signification of this affix in its various interchangeable forms of Du, Tu, and Di, in many Semitic words. But the question of the identical origin of Tubal Cain and Vulcan has at length been settled by the researches of comparative philologists. Tubal Cain is Semitic in origin, and Vulcan is Aryan. The latter may be traced to the Sanskrit ulka, meaning a firebrand, from which we get also the Latin fulgur and fulmen, names of the lightning.

From the mention made of Tubal Cain in the Legend of the Craft, the word was long ago adopted as significant in the primary Degrees, and various attempts have been made to give it an interpretation. Hutchinson, in an article in his Spirit of Masonry, devoted to the consideration of the Third Degree, has the following reference (page 162) to the word: The Mason advancing to this state of Masonry, pronounces his own sentence as confessional of the imperfection of the second stage of his profession, and as probationary of the exalted Degree to which he aspires, in this Greek distich, T, Struo tumulum. I prepare mar sepulchre. I make my grave in the pollutions of the earth. I am under the shadow of death. This distich has been vulgarly corrupted among us. and an expression takes place scarcely similar in sound, and entirely inconsistent with Masonry, and unmeaning in itself .

But however ingenious this interpretation of our Brother Hutchinson may be, it is generally admitted to be incorrect.

The modern English Freemasons, and through them the French, have derived Tubal Cain from the Hebrew tebel, meaning earth and kanah to acquire possession, and, with little respect for the grammatical rules of the Hebrew language, interpret it as meaning worldly possessions. In the Hemming lectures, now the authorized English system, we find that the answer to the question, "What does Tubal Cain denote?" is "Worldly possessions." And Delaunay, in his Thuilleur (page 17), denies the reference to the proto-smith, and says: "If we reflect on the meaning of the two Hebrew words, we will easily recognize in their connection the secret wish of the hierophant, of the Templar, of the Freemason, and of every mystical sect, to govern the world in accordance with its own principles and its own laws." It is fortunate, we think, that the true meaning of the words will authorize no such interpretation. The fact is, that even if Tubal Cain were derived from tebel and kanah, the precise rules of Hebrew construction would forbid affixing to their union any such meaning as "worldly possessions." Such an interpretation of it in the French and English systems was, therefore, in Doctor Mackey's opinion, a very forced and inaccurate one.

The use of Tubal Cain as a significant word in the Masonic instructions is derived from the Legend of the Craft, by which the name was made familiar to the Operative and then to the Speculative Freemasons; and it refers not symbolically, but historically to his Scriptural and traditional reputation as an artificer. If he symbolized anything, it would be labor; and a Freemason's labor is to acquire truth, and not worldly possessions. The English and French interpretation has never been introduced into the United States.

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