The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.

Monday, March 2, 2009

An explanation of the title of this blog

This blog is entitled "Corn, Wine and Oil." The Sh'ma prayer, which religious Jews recite twice daily, includes the following line from Deuteronomy 11:14:

וְנָתַתִּי מְטַר־אַרְצְכֶם בְּעִתּוֹ יוֹרֶה וּמַלְקוֹשׁ וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ וְתִירֹשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ׃

Which the King James Bible translates as: "that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil."

The Sh'ma prayer is the cornerstone of the Jewish religion. The initial line, Deuteronomy 6:4, is the fundamental testament of faith. The King James Bible translates it as "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:". Traditionally, it is supposed to be the last sentence a Jew utters before he dies. Rabbi Akiva was tortured to death by the Romans, and uttered the line just before he expired. It's not unusual for religious Jews in immediate mortal peril to recite the line.

In operative masonry, the wages of a mason were, in antiquity, given in corn (actually grain), wine and oil. When Freemasonry came into being, and masonry went from being operative to speculative, corn, wine and oil became symbolic wages.
Albert Mackey, 33°, in his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, suggests that corn represents the Staff of Life: " In processions, the corn alone is carried in a golden pitcher, the wine and oil are placed in silver vessels, and this is to remind us that the first, as a necessity and the "staff of life" is of more importance and more worthy of honor than the others, which are but comforts.", the grain flour that becomes our daily bread.
Wine is "a symbol of the inward refreshment of a good conscience is intended, under the name of the Wine of Refreshment, to remind us of the eternal refreshments which the good are to receive in the future life for the faithful performance of duty in the present."
Oil is the Oil of Anointment. "The Hebrews anointed their Kings, Prophets and High Priests with oil mingled with the richest spices. They also anointed themselves with oil on all festive occasions, whence the expression in Psalm xlv, 7: 'God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness.'".

Also, because both Jews and Freemasons appeal to God to provide them with corn, wine and oil, as their wages, it seems especially appropriate to invoke them when job-hunting. I am currently seeking a new source for my corn, wine and oil, and hence this blog to journal my efforts in that regard.

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