A Strange Case of Etymology

A Strange Case of Etymology

A strange case of etymology: were the Freemasons behind the Jack the Ripper killings?

By M Hickes

Much blame has often been laid at the foot of Freemasonry and the so-called ‘society with secrets’ over the centuries.

Many have tried to crack the supposed secret veil of the society for years without success.

While others have speculated the members of the order have seemingly infiltrated the echelons of our society for years, operating clandestinely behind the scenes, others, perhaps to their dismay, have found that the society is simply an entirely benevolent one with a strong fraternal core, which happens to have a set of arcane rules and beliefs.

The latter may simply be the mundane truth.

That there are Freemasons within the higher echelons of society is not in doubt; what is also less documented is the considerable amount of charitable work they undertake and have done for years.

This article is not one of those which aims to root out nor incriminate Freemasonry in any way; there have been thousands of such in the past.

But in one particular case celebre, might the fraternity have operated in the past during the crime of the 19th century, with a key clue lying in a strange case of etymology?

Freemasonry is known for its closely guarded rituals and rites, some of which have parallels with stories from the Old Testament, itself rich in arcane lore.

Many of the Old Testament stories revolve around the rituals associated with the Temple of Solomon – of which there is reputed to have been more than one.

The temple reportedly had, among other design features, a central shrine called the Holy of Holies in which was supposed to be guarded the Ark of the Covenant.

Other descriptions talk of architects crafting a sea of bronze, and even twin columns to the entrance to the Temple, called Boaz and Jachim.

At least one temple was constructed – later expanded by Herod – and stood atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Temple Mount over time has been the site of both Muslim and Christian places of worship.

It is also closely linked with the legend of the Knights Templar, who occupied a corner of Temple Mount, and whose proper title was the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.

Unsurprisingly the temple, constructed by skilled masons, has close links in legend to Freemasonry.

Freemasonry itself reportedly has signs based upon a legend which derives from a story of a master architect, called Hiram or Hiram Abiff, who was one of the original architects of one of the ancient temples.

Numerous authors have reported how inductees to the brotherhood are ritually passed through three main degrees – and then in some ‘rites’, depending on geographical location, allowed to pass through higher degrees depending on how successfully they achieve knowledge of certain rituals and masonic practices.

One key story as part of such tells how Hiram was killed by three ruffians who threatened to reveal the true secret of the Freemasons; when he refused to do so, like any good Freemason, he was murdered and his body hidden beneath a pile of rubble marked by an acacia sprig.

Solomon, the story goes, dispatched 15 masons to track down the killers.

In legend, the assassins are given the names of Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum.

The Hiram legend accounts how when tracked down and confronted, the ruffians said:

Jubela: "O that my throat had been cut across, my tongue torn out, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea, at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, ere I had been accessory to the death of so good a man as our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff!"

Jubelo: "O that my left breast had been torn open and my heart and vitals taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder, carried into the valley of Jehosaphat, and there to become a prey to the wild beasts of the field and vultures of the air, ere I had conspired the death of so good a man as our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff!"

Jubelum: "O that my body had been severed in two in the midst, and divided to the north and south, my bowels burnt to ashes in the centre, and the ashes scattered by the four winds of heaven, that there might not the least track or remembrance remain among men, or Masons, of so vile and perjured a wretch as I am; ah, Jubela and Jubelo, it was I that struck him harder than you both. It was I that gave him the fatal blow; it was I that killed him outright;"

Writers have speculated that the legend, reportedly integral to the passing of the three foundation or ‘craft’ degrees in Freemasony, may shed light on a clue in the infamous Ripper murders in 1888.

Jubela, Jubello and Jubellum were known collectively as Juwes in certain reports.

And Juwes was a key word used in a chalk inscription scrawled in an alleyway close by the scene of one of the grisly Jack the Ripper murders.

After the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes in the early morning hours of 30 September 1888, police searched the area near the crime scenes in an effort to locate a suspect, witnesses or evidence.

At about 3:00 a.m., Constable Alfred Long of the Metropolitan Police Force discovered a dirty, bloodstained piece of an apron in the stairwell of a tenement, 108 to 119 Model dwellings, Goulston Street, Whitechapel.

The cloth was later confirmed as being a part of the apron worn by Catherine Eddowes. Above it, there was writing in white chalk on either the wall or the black brick jamb of the entranceway

The message was quickly expunged by the police; the reason journalists since have espoused has been that the police chiefs at the time feared the message might point the finger at Jews in the East End, as being the murderous culprit, potentially igniting a powder keg.

The line of graffiti (graffito) in the Goulston Street alley read:

“The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing".

It was unusual in that it contained a quasi-double negative.

Whatever its meaning, writers have since speculated the actual reason the police were quick to recognise the significance of the message was that it was loaded with Masonic significance; and that it might indicate that the killer was a Freemason – and perhaps one giving a message to Freemasons in the hierarchy of the police force of the time, of which there were numerous.

The late Stephen Knight, in his book The Brotherhood, speculates that in another work Jack The Ripper: The Final Solution, how the message would have been abundantly clear to Sir Charles Warren, himself a Freemason and Past Grand Sojourner of the Supreme Grand Chapter.

Knight suggests that to Warren, himself a Freemason who most likely would have known the Juwes reference and the Hiram legend, that the writing on the wall would literally have suggested: ‘The Freemasons are the men who will not be blamed for nothing.’

Knight goes on to suggest that Ripper may in fact have been three men, all Masons, who were acting on the discreet instructions from higher echelons with instructions to murder the women, who – it is suggested – knew a dark royal secret.

The author suggests that there are some Masonic ritualistic style hallmarks to the way the women were murdered, especially in the case of poor Mary Kelly who was viscerally dismembered with entrails thrown about her body.

Of course, the above can only be speculation, and some say there is no connection between the Juwes word and the legend of the three ruffians. In the cold light of day, the chalk writing may have been there for some time and have had nothing to do with the Ripper murder close by.

And yet, can there be significant linkages?

Much like the Kennedy assassination, the truth may never be known, providing fodder for conspiracy theorists for years to come.

  • Freemasons revere a Grand Architect of the universe and the letter G often appears in their imagery. Some writers have speculated this to mean God; others say it is more likely to represent ‘Geometry’, an understandable focus for Freemasons perhaps.
  • The ‘true’ name of God was supposed to the located in the heart of the Temple of Solomon and known as the ‘ineffable’ name – one that either could not or would not be pronounced. Writers in the past have speculated this true name might have been one of the secrets of the Freemasons; only those who knew such might have gained higher status in their circles  - and perhaps a higher wage inevitably.
  • Moses encounters the spirit of God in the Bible who reveals ‘Himself’ to have a personal name. In Exodus 3:13-14 God pronounces it to be YHVH , or in Hebrew the four consonants Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.
  • In another part of Exodus in certain Bibles God says to Moses: ‘Ehyer-Asher-Ehyer’ which etymologists say stands for ‘to be/will be’. The King James Version has God speak his true name as  ‘I AM’ or  I AM THAT I AM.  Modern versions of Exodus 3: 14 still denote the latter phrase.
  • Over the years, scribes have taken the vowels from the word for ‘My lord’, (Adonai), and ‘slotted’ them into the four consonants to derive YaHoVaH or YAHWEH. But many religious enthusiasts say this itself is only an approximation of the true name which remains a mystery.
  • The phrase YAHOVAH or Jehovah is not used in many Bibles, replaced by the word LORD instead. Some Jehovahs and other religious adherents have argued this has been a deliberate act of religious etymological vandalism over the years.
  • Some suggest that the ‘ineffable’ name was the secret guarded at the centre of the Holy of Holies in the temple of Jerusalem, which, in turn, being constructed by the Freemasons, might have significance to the brotherhood over years.