|Location:||Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate.|
|Fee:||Adults NIS 10. |
|Classification:||Limestone Quarries and Mine|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|13-MAY-1868||first recorded Masonic ceremony in Israel held in the Cave of Zedekiah.|
Beneath the north wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, close to the Shaar Shchem (Damascus Gate), lies a cave opening leading to huge subterranean limestone quarries. This is the place were the rocks for King Solomon's Temple, the First Temple built more than 2,500 years ago by King Solomon, originated from. At least that is what some scholars claim, and why it is generally called King Solomon's Quarries.
Another name is Cave of Zedekiah, Jeremiah's Grotto, or Tzidkiyahu Cave. Zedekiah was the the last king of Judah. At this time the kingdom was tributary to Babylon, but he allied with Pharaoh Hophra and revolted against them. The siege of Jerusalem began in January of 589 BC and lasted about thirty months. As the Babylonian armies under Nebuchadnezzar II. took the city of Jerusalem and began with the destruction of Jerusalem, he fled from his palace through this secret underground structure. But he was captured on the plains of Jericho and taken to Riblah. His sons were killed, he was blinded and imprisoned in Babylon where he finally died.
The quarries extend north from the Temple area to the hill on which Jesus Christ was crucified and from the Damascus Gate to the Via Dolorosa. The huge 9,000m² structure is the largest man-made cave in Israel.
From the entrance, the main path leads south for nearly 225m untill it reaches the main chamber called The Freemasons Hall. From this hall a tunnel leads east to the dripping spring and the lowest place of the cave. The underground quarry explains what is written in the Bible: no sound of metallic tools was heard at the building site of the Temple. If the stones were dressed underground, no noise would have reached the Temple site.
Obviously this site has close connections to masonry, as it produced the stones of one of the most important buildings of mankind. This might have been a reason for Dr. Robert Morris, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, to direct a Secret Monitor Ceremony in the Cave of Zedekiah. He was a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts. This is the simple reason why the main chamber is called The Freemasons Hall.