שמיר - Schamir - shamira, and the building of king Solomon's temple
Folklore, Mythology and Cryptozoology is the study of metaphysical, religious and cultural legends, that are so foreign to our experience and perceptions, that we cannot believe them to be true..."The collective unconscious appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious." ~ Carl Gustav Jung 1875-1961.
An ancient Midrashim and Talmudic legend of the construction of wise king Solomon's temple, describes how the temple was built to promote Peace in the world. As it was originally constructed to be the permanent dwelling place of G'd upon the earth. Therefore because of the immensity of this building, it couldn't be built in times of confusion and war, as it had to be built in a time of peace. Furthermore, because of it being constructed to promote peace in the world, it had to built without the use of iron tools, or any iron apparatus that could be used as an instrument of war or cause bloodshed.
"And when you make for Me an altar of stones, you shall not build them of hewn stones, lest you wield your sword upon it and desecrate it." ~ Shemot - Exodus 20:22.
The question is then, how did King Solomon and his Master builders construct the temple without defiling the building through the use of iron tools to cut the stone???. On that point, it's important to note there has been numerous stories and legends written over the years on how the Wise King accomplished this Task. The one we will focus on in this article is the mysterious Shamir - שמיר - Schamir - shamira.
As one of the prominent elements said to have been used in the cutting of the Stones for Solomon's Temple, is reputed to have been that of the supernatural Shamir Stonecutter. Rumoured to have the ability to cut, carve and pierce the hardest surfaces with just a glance of its eyes. In many of the legends regarding the shamir, it was said that King Solomon was aware of the existence of this mysterious creature, but to its whereabouts and location he was unaware. Therefore he set about trying to find and locate this mystical little creature by seeking counsel far and wide, and with many of the greatest minds of the day. For a lot of the auld Solomonic tales emphasise that Solomon consulted with the most knowledgeable and astute minds in the world on how he could accomplish this task of constructing the temple, and finding this mysterious creature like worm. Intriguingly, some of them also illustrate how the wise king even consulted with Demons to help him in locating this creature, and even to help in the constructing of the Holy Temple. In time the Wise King eventually learnt of the location of this incredible Stone-eating creature or substance. As many of the legends state that Solomon did eventually aquire some kind of special tool, which helped them in cutting the stones they needed for building the Temple. Curiously, it was said that no sound came from the construction site or quarry, and that No iron tool could be heard at the Temple?.
Intriguingly if you look throughout the world today, you'll find their are many strange cut hewed stones and monoliths, and prehistoric megalithic structures that still puzzle modern engineers, architects, and scientists in how they were constructed. Especially when it comes too how they cut and hewed such great stones, and made them fit with such precision. Never mind how they erected them. Interestingly these stones are referred to by Stone Masons as 'Ashlar' stones. Which involves cutting blocks of stone so that they fit together tightly without the need of mortar.
A great example of this is found in the stone megaliths of Baalbek, in Lebanon. located east of the Litani River in Lebanons Beqaa valley. Intriguingly, the temple complex in Islamic mythology was said to have been a Palace that King Solomon frequented. On that point, baalbek shows signs of habitation for over 9000 years. As this site is still one of the most mysterious of the ancient structures of the world. Said to be a temple to Jupiter, also it was the religious site dedicated to the Phoenician G'd Baal - Ba-al. As the local temples were largely devoted to the Helipolitan Triad of G'ds. Known as Ba-al, and his companion Ashtar, and their Son, Adon. This is why Baalbek was called Heliopolis by the Greeks and Romans. Today its still a colossal structure that fascinates many, as its one of the finest examples of ancient architecture in the world. But it also has the largest megalithic stones in the world, which are seen in three thousand-ton stone blocks that the temple sits upon. Intriguingly, it's only recently that archaeologists discovered the limestone quarry these Giant blocks originated from. Which a team from the German Archaeological Institute, in partnership with Jeanine Abdul Massih, of Lebanese University are calling the largest stone block from antiquity. Weighing a massive one thousand six hundred and fifty tons. As these stones also match those that support the great temple at Baalbek.
Which raises many questions, especially to how they raised and moved these giant stones from the quarry to the temple site without breaking them. Intriguingly, there are also many strange stories in Lebanon on the construction of the Temple of Baalbek. For there are many local legends about the mysteries of this site, especially when it comes to How, and Who built this magnificent Structure. As it's been rumoured to have been constructed from the likes of Nimrod, to ancient Aliens, Djinn, and infernal Demons. One tale says it was built by the king Demon Asmodeus - Ashmedai, on the bidding of King Solomon. As it's been reputed to have been built as a Palace for the Queen of Sheba, while others say it was built for the king's favourite concubine, the daughter of Pharaoh???.
Intriguingly, these similar massive cut stones are also found elsewhere around the world. With the exact same similarities to the stones in Baalbek in the size and cutting. As the same "ashlar" style in which the stones are cut to fit together tightly without mortar, are compellingly found elsewhere in the world. As this form of stone masonry is also seen in other megalithic structures. Such as the stones in the valley temple Giza, which are similar to Baalbek in the size of its megaliths. Additionally, the valley temple was traditionally attributed to the Pharaoh Khafre - Khefren of the forth Dynasty, and is still a great wonder of engineering. Interestingly this temple is still in excellent state of preservation, having been buried by desert sand until the 19th century. The temple itself is roughly square, measuring 147 feet on each side, and it is built into the slope of the plateau, with the height of its exterior walls rising over 20 feet on the west side, to over 40 feet on the east side. Its core structure is built entirely of huge limestone blocks, infact there is hundreds of them, regularly exceeding 200 tons each in weight. Which even today would be an engineering and logistics nightmare to move and build. As precision cutting of these stones and the lifting and laying of them, is still an incredible achievement by today's standards.
Rather￼ fascinating, this Ashlar style of cutting stones to fit tightly with no mortar is also found in Sacsayhuamán in South America. A citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, in Peru. Which is the historic capital of the Inca Empire, built in the 1100s on the land which they had occupied since 900ad. Its been said that this complex was expanded and added to by the Inca, way into the 13th century. Its located on the outskirts of the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco, resting on an artificially levelled mountaintop. It's largest stones Measure over 125 tons, which Consist of three outer lines of gargantuan walls roughly 1,500 ft long and 54 ft wide. As these walls surround a paved area which contains a circular stone structure, that's believed to be a solar calendar. For many of the early chroniclers stated that it had a reputation as a Royal House of the Sun.
Also in South America are the Strange cut stone Buildings of Machu Picchu. For it also displays the ashlar style laying of megalithic stones. Now the history of this place and who built it and why it was built, is still really unkown. Its believed that it was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti in 1438–1472. The complex itself consists of palaces and plazas, temples and homes, its also been reputed to have been built as a ceremonial site, while others say it was a military stronghold and even a retreat for ruling elites of the time. Its largest stones measure around 20 to 50 tons of extreamly heavy granite stone. Even by todays standards, the primary material used in this construction are extremely difficult to move and cut, even with today's technology. Intriguingly, some of the great stone steps of Machu Picchu are often completely carved out of a single piece of granite.
Subsequently then, how did these ancient stone masons and builders Cut these stones Megaliths and Move and make them fit in place with such Precision. Did they have the secret knowledge of wise king Solomon ??? Or did they have some other highly advanced technique and knowledge to help them construct such magnificent structures?. On that point, how did King Solomon really cut these stones for the Temple? Did he really use the mystical Shamir stonecutter worm? and what actually was this creature or substance ? was it a Mineral, Plant, Insect or Animal?. Intriguingly the famous philosopher Maimonides, considered the shamir to be a living animal or worm of some sort, said to be as small as a barleycorn in its appearance. In the Abyssinian legends, it has been alleged that the shamir was some kind of herb or wood. While in other legends it's been reputed to be have been a liquid of some sort, that when put on stone would make it disintegrate or melt so that it could be easily carved and brushed away.
On that point, rather a lot of early Rabbinical scholars have described the Shamir to be almost like a living being. As i said earlier, the Shamir is referenced alot throughout the Talmud and the haggadah, Midrashim. Interestingly, it states in a few of these texts that supernatural essence of the shamir came from it being created at the twilight of the first Sabbath Eve during the Six Days of Creation. As it's claimed to be the seventh of the ten marvels that where created in the evening twilight of the first friday before the Sabbath. Intriguingly, Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, also known as the Maharal, elaborates on the significance of this point: "The entire physical world created during the Six Days is governed by the laws of nature. Not having been created exactly within this time frame, the shamir is therefore otherworldly and supernatural." Which sounds to me to be an allegory for something else, or something other???. As there has been a lot speculation to what this creature or substance actually, factually was, and even if it existed at all.
As cryptozoology and the study and investigation of biblical and mythologyical Creatures, can been seen to be pointless, even ludicrous persuit, as it can be an extreamly controversial and polirising subject. Subsequently, if we consider the meaning of the word "shamir" and its use in biblical Hebrew, we see its used in two verses in the tanakh: 1st - in Jeremiah 17:1 its referenced as "a penpoint made out of a hard substance." 2nd - in Isaiah 5:6 its referred to as "sharp thorns." Which both denote that the shamir is a sharp and hard substance or creature, that has the ability to pierce hard surfaces. As I said earlier, this supernatural creature is reputed to be able to carve great stones just by a 'glance'. Curiously, solomon's artisans used the Shamir for the cutting of stone and other material that they needed to be worked by just showning the Shamir what they needed cut?. Furthermore, it's also described in the Talmud how the passage of the shamir along the surface of a stone would cause it to split perfectly into two pieces. Intriguingly, Rabbi Bachiya states; "The shamir was first used at the time of the construction of the Tabernacle." As its believed that the original use of this creature or substance, was to engrave the names of the 12 tribes on the precious stones of the Urim and Tummim on the High Priest's breastplate.
On that point, its also been stated that Moses used the 'Shamir' to engrave the Priestly breastplate and the stones that were inserted into the ẖošen. This is why Solomon knew of the Shamir's existence. Another source that mentions the mysterious shamir is found in the 'Testament of Solomon'. In this story, it refers to the wise king commanding a demon named "Rabdos" to lead his men into the mountainous regions and show them where they could find this substance. Interestingly, in this legend it's referred to as a small green stone. As another theory is that the shamir is not a living creature at all, but is rather a mineral of some sort. Thought to be an exceptionally hard green stone mineral that could cut stone and diamond. Intriguingly, this small green stone is said to look similar to that of the Pit'dah, which represents the hebrew tribe of Shimon and is set in the High Priest's breastplate.
According to another legend, its said that a hoopoe bird brought the shamir from paradise to Solomon at the command of the king. As the story goes, that King Solomon sent his chief man Benaiah ben Jehoiadah to capture the demon Ashmedai. For the purpose in relation to Shamir and the building of the Temple. As it's states in the haggadah that king Solomon eventually obtained this information through the summoning of Asmodeus, the king of the demons. Who was also thought to have been created at the same time as the shamir, on the twilight of the Sabbath Eve of the Six Day of Creation. For it's believed that Solomon considered these beings to have some relationship and Correspondence with each other, as they where both created at this exceptional time after the six days of creation. Accordingly then, Solomon summoned Asmodeus the king of the demons, who told him that the shamir had been placed in the custody of the Prince of the Sea. Who had further entrusted the shamir to the hoopoe bird, who used the shamir to survive and cleave rocks so that it might plant seeds of trees, causing new vegetation to spring forth.
Eventually the shamir was found by solomon's men and brought to the king so that he could commence with the construction of the Temple. Furthermore, many legends say that after Solomon commissioned his search, he only managed to find a single "grain of Shamir" the size of a barleycorn. Which is rather small indeed. Consoqently because of its small size and extreame powers, for safekeeping the shamir had to be kept wrapped in balls of wool and stored in a container made of Lead and filled with barley bran. For it was believed that the Shamir had no limitations whatsoever as it could effortlessly penetrant the hardest materials. Which is rather reveling, as Lead is a soft metal and it was thought that any other vessel other than lead would have just broke or disintegrate under the Shamir's gaze and power. Subsequently then, it's rather intersting with the choice of material that they used and how they used it, for it does seem to have a magical side and element to it. Especially "the leaden box" as it suggests to us a place of containment and concealment, as seen with certain aspects of Magick. Intriguingly, many of the Solomonic texts and tales, also explain how king Solomon used a brass container to imprison and capture demons and spirits. Which kind of attests to us the shamir's other worldly origin and ability. But it also suggests to us that the shamir could have been something altogether different than what we believe.
As a few modern scholars who have studied the mysteries of King Solomon's temple and the shamir, now surmise that this mysterious and miraculous 'creature', could have been some kind of radioactive laser beam or Radionuclide of some sort. "'Radionuclide or radioactive nuclide, is a radioisotope or radioactive isotope, which is an atom that has excess energy. This excess energy can be used in one of three ways: emitted from the nucleus as gamma radiation; transferred to one of its electrons to release it as a conversion electron; or used to create and emit a new particle (alpha particle or beta particle) from the nucleus. During those processes, the radionuclide is said to undergo radioactive decay.'" Thus the 'glance' of the shamir could be explained by the production of high or low frequency waves that could resonate the molecular structure of materials and disrupt them. Also the eyes suggests to us the production of confluent light rays which could act like some sort of "laser beam." Or it could be some form of radioactive substance.
As Paul Goldstein, Frederic Jueneman and Immanuel Velikovsky have all suggested that the shamir was some kind of radioactive substance. Which explains to us the reason that they needed a lead box to contain it. For this would be the logical means to safely contain such a highly radioactive substance. It also could explain the term "the glance of the shamir" as its been suggested that this might be a reference to "alpha radiation." Which is a high energy particle that may be used in the decomposition of certain elements by the ionising of alpha radiation, which could destroy or discolour whatever its exposed too. Intriguingly, this would explain the reported weakening of the shamirs powers over time, and also suggests to us radioactive decay. For it was said that the Shamir eventually lost its potency and power. Which does make it sound like a radioactive substance of some sorts, like Uranium and radium?. Interestingly the end result of the decay of radium is an isotope of lead, but this lead differs from regular lead. Furthermore lead is also the substance that protects best against the damaging effect of radium. Furthermore, radioactive elements have a limited life-time because of disintegration through radioactivity, which would also explain the shamirs limited life span. As Radium-226 isotope has a half-life of about 1650 years, this means that it loses one-half of its radioactivity in that period of time, or approximately one percent every 25 - 30 years. Therefore if the shamir was some kind of radioactive laser beam, there would be some remanence of radioactivity left still in the stone. For it would have only decreased about 20% over the centuries.
To summerise, we still don't know what this mystical creature was or what made it so effective. Whether it was worm, or a radioactive tool, or something other, we will never truly know, unless we re-discovered it. Intriguingly researchers have recently discovered a new type of rock eating shipworm in the Philippines. Which a few have compared to that of the mystical Shamir, even though its much larger than the description given in the Talmud. It still is an amazing discovery, and it also answers a few puzzling questions regarding Rock Munching Worms and the Mysterious Shamir.
By - Paul Francis Young.