The method by which Moses caused a miraculous judgment as to which tribe should be invested with the priesthood, is detailed in the Book of Numbers (chapter xvii). He directed that twelve rods should be laid up in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle, one for each tribe; that of Aaron, of course, represented the tribe of Levi. On the next day these rods were brought out and exhibited to the people, and while all the rest remained dry and withered, that of Aaron alone budded and blossomed and yielded fruit. There is no mention in the Pentateuch of this rod having been placed in the ark, but only that it was put before it. But as Saint Paul, or the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews ix, 4), asserts that the rod and the pot of manna were both within the ark, Royal Arch Masons have followed this later authority. Hence the rod of Aaron is found in the ark; but its import is only historical, as if to identify the substitute ark as a true copy of the original, which had been lost. No symbolical instruction accompanies its discovery.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
- BROTHER ISAAC NEWTON
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