In all the annals and archives of Freemasonry, with regard to the history of women in the Masonic system, the Heroine of Jericho is, perhaps, the most beautiful, the most sublime, and the most inspiring of all. It is an androgynous degree that is saturated with the most passion, pity, and piety.
It is an ancient degree that goes far back in time — from the Middle Ages and, perhaps, even farther back. It is still quite debatable ( By Jurisdiction ) if it should be considered a side honorary degree of the Ancient Holy Royal Arch Masonry. One thing we all agree is that the men endowed with the secrets and benefits of this degree were called Master Masons; their wives, mothers, widows, sisters, and daughters who received the degree were called Heroines
The Degrees of the Heroines are the oldest, most venerable, and most perfect of all the female Degrees. From a time of unknown date to about A.D. 1220, the degree had lain in definite obscurity, nevertheless thriving in societies where its high and noble principles held at bay the reprobate behaviors of almost uncivilized men. It was most useful from the days of its infancy when the raw nature of ruthless men dominated society and unscrupulous tyrants shackled the liberties of the common people.
The Heroines of Jericho — as it was known even then, provided a haven of common consolation and respite, particularly for those women whose husbands, fathers, and brothers were part of the Operative Masonic Guilds and who had by this time become FreeMasons. These Masons were now so-called “freemasons” because they were no longer bound to the land and property owners as they had been during the Feudal system of Europe. They were now “free” to travel, work and receive Master’s Wages, and be in a better position to support themselves, their families, the widows and orphans.
The women, of course, still living amidst the harshness and prejudices of a truly chauvinistic society, found it necessary at times to apply for the claims of protection, security, and subsistence. Such claims were attended to by other Masons and Companions; but first, the wives, mothers, widows, or sisters had to demonstrate a “secret” proficiency and evidence that their claims were pure. And the secrets of the Heroine’s Degree, properly executed, was sufficient to honor their claims.
Beyond the year of A.D.1220 in France, the now ritualized formalities of the degree rapidly passed on to England, Germany, Scotland, and in many other established governments, until it made its way to America with the introduction of Freemasonry in the West.
Notice that as the dynamics of the Heroines of Jericho spread throughout Europe, it was closely linked to the governments and was practiced, for the most part, as a high privilege of the Nobility. Between the years A.D. 1500 and 1790 in France, there were, however, no established Courts organized such as we know them today. The Society of Heroines was plainly a Society of Nobility and practiced as a common matter of the elite in Europe. It continued to flourish well into the years of the Renaissance and beyond.
Apparently, there was a period in France — for nearly 300 years– when the Heroines experienced a slight decline in activity and eminence. But about the year A.D.1790, the Society of Heroines was revived, and it was about this time in France that Courts, as we known them today, were established and organized. The pageantry, the colorful array of its regalia and costumery, and even the verbiage of the Degree are direct reflections of the times of high nobility, honor, and civic prestige that characterized the Noble Society throughout the years past. As Freemasonry changed with the times from Operative systems to Speculative systems of Freemasonry, the Heroines thus modified its own internal structures to likewise reflect the Speculative nature of its Masonic association.
The Speculative objective of the Heroines of Jericho is, today, consistent with the overall Masonic aims of Freemasonry, and in particular, those of the Holy Royal Arch Masonry. It is undisputed that the Degree of the Heroine is, indeed, the heritage and property of the Master Masons, and its teachings are of a moral, philosophic, and philanthropic nature. A court of The Heroines of Jericho is established to extend the principles of the Masonic Order– teaching its lessons of morality, loyalty, and friendship; also, to encourage and incite the interest of females towards the purposes of the Masonic Order. It is organized for the further purpose of ameliorating the conditions of the destitute widow and the helpless orphan, and to relieve, as far as possible, the worthy, distressed female traveler.
In the global evolutionary process of the Society and the Degree, the most astute reader and investigator senses the broader picture and the higher Calling of the Society. One can clearly see the precise and Divine Hand of Providence — the fingers of God — systematically bringing the Rite, first, as a political ordeal, then through the Biblical and thus Spiritual process, and then revealed and etched into Historical Reality. The common conclusion is that the Society of the Heroine of Jericho, which did not begin in Europe, but rather in a little Middle Eastern, insignificant hub called Haran. And God, throughout the ages, has employed the dynamics of Politics, Bibliology, and History to now reveal His once-hidden or covered plans for the Redemption of Mankind through the Divine Rite called Salvation.
Understand that Salvation is but the Divine Initiation of Man into the Rites of Eternal Life. The Cross and Calvary and The Crimson Cord are but symbolic Testimonies of the Greater Truth and the universal significance of the Heroine of Jericho. And as Time unfolds the Cord of Divine Destiny that hangs from the lattice of Sacred Geneology, it mysteriously begins with Abraham, and it blessedly ends with Jesus.
The Heroines of Jericho is named in celebration of a woman in the Bible called Rahab. How unfortunate it is that in the moral frailty of our human intellect, modern readership has cast upon this great woman the most ignoble attribution — that of a prostitute, or a whore, or, a woman of ill-repute. That is not what the Bible calls her. The Bible simply introduces her as a “harlot” — an Inn Keeper — of that day and time. Her place was significant in that day and time because of its strategic location — upon the wall — and she was well-known, not for prostitution, but for her wealthy position in the flax and clothing industry of that region.
There is not even one — even slight– hint in all the Biblical records, that she engaged in any of the type of lifestyle that qualifies her to be nominated in such an uncomplimentary manner. It is lamentable and tragic to her regular reputation that modern readers define her life and significance in terms of their own skewed intellect and linguistic insufficiency.
We will grant, however, that it might have very well been fact that Rahab owned one of those brothels along the way where folks would drop in for casual carousing, imbibing, and sexual stuff. But the Bible does not say that she was a “prostitute.” Modern etymologists said that. The Bible says she was a “harlot,” defined most effectively in the context of its most pragmatic usage in that culture, at that time and place in history. And even if she were, indeed, a whore, it didn’t matter much with God of Mercy.. He simply looked beyond her faults and saw her needs.
How remarkable it is that in considering Rahab, we generally fail to focus on the word, “heroine,” in deference to the word, “prostitute”! While, Biblically, we are given more academic cause to see her as one of the heroes of The Great Jericho Event, the probability and weight of her role as a prostitute is virtually nil, trite, and insignificant. And besides that, her classification as a woman of ill repute was tremendously diminished by her God-given classification as a “woman of faith.” And further, it might have been that she had (at one time or another) in her life lived contrary to the moral will of God. It might have been a lifestyle that she had long acquitted, but the people would not forget. But who knows? It might well have been her song that, “I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see.”
When we read the story in the Second Chapter of Joshua, we cannot but sense the intensity of her faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was such faith, even as she boldly testified, that overshadowed her fear of impending doom. And notice, too, how her plea was so virtually unselfish; it was, basically, for her mother and father, sisters and brothers. It was for the salvation of others that she made a deal with God! Her actions granted it; but her faith sealed it!
It is understandable in the economy of today’s morality and values, that men are often slow to decipher the ubiquitous nature of the Grace of God. Prostitute or not, God gave Rahab Grace. The same Grace He gave to you and me. It was a fair exchange: Her Faith for God’s Grace; God’s Grace for her Faith. And it was through her faith that the Divine Geneological Cord that would bring Jesus — the Savior — into the world was not broken. Because of her faith, that Cord of Divine Destiny was held intact for 42 generations. According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 1, Verse 17, we find that “…All the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto (Jesus) Christ are fourteen generations.” Three Times Fourteen Equals Forty-Two.
The story goes that Rahab — whose name meant “broad,” and which was loosely associated with the word, “prostitute,” lived on the wall that enclosed the City of Jericho. She is remembered in history for the act of hiding two Hebrew spies from Israel whom Joshua had sent to determine the strength of the City. When Joshua sent those two spies over to spy out Caanan, they were directed to Rahab’s house (Joshua 2:1) by the divine will of God, who already had touched the heart of Rahab and showed her the victory of the Israelites.
When the King of Jericho, in hot pursuit of the Israelite surveyors, had learned of the spies’ presence, he dispatched soldiers to Rahab’s house to arrest the so-called spies. Rahab outsmarted the king’s men and had hid the Israelites underneath the flax on the roof of her house, sending the soldiers on a false chase towards the Jordan River.
Then she let the men down safely on the other side, into Jericho, by a red cord hanging through the lattice, over the wall. In return for her help, Joshua spared her and her family when the Hebrews destroyed Jericho. Salvation came to the house where the Red Cord was left hanging from the lattice, over the wall. And when the City was being ravaged and wasted, God spared the house where the Red Cord was hanging over the wall.
Matthew named Rahab as Boaz’s mother in his geneology of Jesus Christ, making her one of Jesus’s ancestors. In Hebrews 11:31, Rahab is listed in the venerable Roll Call of the Faithful — right alongside the likes of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. We do not know exactly when Rahab became a follower of Jehovah, but it is clear that she did. She had abandoned the false religion of Canaan to become a Jewish proselyte. Her faith received a rigorous test when the Israelites showed up at her home on the wall.
The question was: Would she be loyal to her country and her fellow countrymen, or would she be true to the Lord God Jehovah? She decided to stand on the Lord’s side, even if it meant betraying her country. And God rewarded her Faith with prosperity and life. And it is through her faith that the Crimson Stream still hangs and flows from the side of Calvary, bring life and hope to all those who believe.
It is with Rahab that we cross the threshold of Divine Access, having demolished the limiting elements of Moral Darkness and Spiritual Depravity.
When we think about the heroes of that great event of Jericho, people usually award the hero status to the Surveying Israelites and Joshua. But the Heroines of Jericho advances the notion that our Sister Rahab, that strong, industrious woman of African descent through the Line of Ham, the son of Noah; Rahab –the Great Woman of Faith — the faith that transcends walls — is rightly named among those fellows as a veritable heroine of Jericho. For, in the midst of destruction and ruin, she held out the Cord of Hope, Safety, and Deliverance.
As the spies were taking their leave from Rahab’s house, she exacted a promise from them (Joshua 2:13) and received an answer that stands out in the Court of Heroines of Jericho, even today (Joshua 2:14). She was saved, along with her family, and all other inhabitants were destroyed (Joshua 6:17). After the fall of Jericho, the Bible tells us in Matthew 1:5 that Rahab married Salmon and had a son by name of Boaz, who begat Obed of Ruth, a True Kinsman. Ruth was a decendant of Lot, who had a son by an incestous relationship with his oldest daughter, and called his name Moab, thereby making Ruth a Moabitess (Genesis 19:30-37). Because of their idolarty, the Moabites became an abomination unto God, and stayed that way until Ruth met Boaz on the threshing floor in Behlehem.
The story of Ruth is found in the Book of Ruth, and is one of the greatest stories that depict love for her mother-in-law, Naomi. Therefore, Bethlehem, capital of Judea, called the “City of David.” It was here that Boaz begat Obed of Ruth, and Obed begat Jesse, Jesse begat David, who begat Solomon of Bathsheba (Matthew 1:5-6). Bathsheba was a Hittite and they were children of Heth (Genesis 10:15), who was a son of Caanan, a son of Ham, a son of Noah. Ruth, a descendant of incest, married Boaz, a son of a prostitute.. This a strange combination but, God’s way is not our way, especially since we look on the outside rather than the inside like He does.
Jesus is the Word come to life, manifested in human form, appearing as any other Israelite, except, his history was a little disturbing. Despite that, however, we look for the greater meanings behind the incidents.
When we peruse the geneology from the Judean perspective or vantate, we must look at Judah, from whose earthly loins Jesus sprang, as in Genesis 49:10. Judah begat Pharez of Tamar (Incest); Pharez begat Hezron; Hezron begat Ram (Ram in the bush); Ram begat Amminadab, who begat Nashon; Nashon begat Salmon (Fish); Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab (Heroine of Jericho); Boaz begat Obed of Ruth (of incest); Obed begat Jesse; Jesse begat David; David begat Solomon of Bathsheba (adultery); Mary begat Jesus of the Holy Ghost (accused of adultery). With a genealogy like that, it’s no wonder that Jesus had such an affinity with “outcasts.”
In the Court, men (Heroes or Knights depending on Jurisdictions) and women( Heroines) meet to learn about this man called the Christ, this man called Jesus (God is salvation), whose name is the same as Jesse, as Joshua, as Jeshua, as the Annointed one, as the Everlasting Father, and Almighty God, a Prince of Peace. He has been called a Comforter; a Lily of the Valley; a Bright and Morning Star; many names have been attributed to him, many titles, but they all add up to one: The Son Of God!
In the three degrees of the Heroines: The Heroine of Jericho the True Kinsman’s Degree; the Master Mason’s Daughter, we also trace what is called the Scarlet Line, a color of Divine Grace. We follow it from the twins of Judah (Genesis 38), down to Jericho, meeting Rahab; we see it in Bethlehem with Ruth and Boaz; we see it in David and Bathsheba and we see it in Joseph and Mary. It is given to Jesus in the form of a robe, which soldiers later cast lots for, but we see it all come together as an emblem of Salvation. It is a color of rejuvenation for the new Christian; a color of zeal for the Heroines and Hero, a color of salvation for all.
Josh1 Joshua 2:1-24
1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. 3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. 4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; 9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: 13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death. 14 And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. 16And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. 19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear. 21 And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.
22 And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not. 23 So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befell them: 24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us.
22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her. 23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel. 24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. 25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
The Emblems of the Order
The Scarlet Chord: An emblem of safety, of recognition. (Joshua 2:18)
The Sheaf of Wheat (Barley): Represents bread, or life-giving food. Bethlehem was called the “Place (or House) of Bread.”
The three-tiered Ark: Symbol of safety as found in Noah’s Ark. It saved Noah and his family.
Red: Represents the color of prostitution, now Salvation. Also represents Zeal.
White: Represents Innocence and Purity.
Blue: The truest color, representing Friendship, the highest form of love on earth among human beings.
Ark Bearers: Four elements (Earth, Wind, Fire and Water). Also the four squares of the cross.
And yes, the Scarlet Cord still hangs and flows over the Balcony of Time, still red with the zeal of ever-present Salvation. And when the world around you seems to be crumbling in unresolved waste and unmitigated devastation, do not despair, just lift your eyes until the Hill — of Calvary……….