Commonly held old legend says that Ancient Craft Masonry originated at the building of Solomon's Temple. Common scholarly opinion today refutes that, and suggests a much more recent origin for the Craft. I would like to put in my plug for the former opinion, to a degree. When was there ever a tradition, that was not taken from what went before it? Either directly, indirectly, or as a mirror image 'rebellion'. Truly, it seems, there is nothing new under the sun. I believe Masonry did come from Solomon's Temple, although it wasn't a direct Group => Group => Group lineage. I believe it was the merging of several traditions over a long period of time, where like-minded people banded together, and their traditions combined into something beautiful. I think there is good evidence to suggest that Freemasonry does have some origins, even in the mysteries of its secret work, clearly from the Temple of Solomon (or the Tabernacle of Moses) if someone opens their eyes enough to behold them. I do not believe it was the Stone Masons who formed the craft, however, but the Levites who worked in the Temple, or their direct observors, and their ideological descendents, coupled of course with the many other threads that pour into the river of Masonry by the time it hit England in the 1700's.
There are certain parts of Masonry that are pretty well determined to be modern additions. Modern in this sense, meaning anything around A.D. 1700 or later. The entire Legend of Hiram Abiff seems to be one of these things. However, I would like to suggest that because Masonry -- being the Handmaiden of religion - and a very religious group (although not a religion, note the disctinction) -- because Masonry has held true to these old customs and faithfully preserved things of God, they may have been blessed with further inspiration from Above. Either individually, or collectively, I believe Masonry's history has been divinely inspired and divinely approved. In many Jurisdictions, the Lodge is opened with a prayer containing something like this request:
"Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passion within us, so harmonize and enrich our hearts with Thine own love and goodness, that the Lodge, at this time, may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before Thy throne."
Could it be, that so many brethren, praying so unceasingly for their Lodge to reflect the GAOTU's own order and beauty, might actually be answered?
I say it might, and probably has, and probably will continue to be answered, if our prayers are sincere.
Steps to the Endowment.
10 months ago