Twice in 24 Hours: The Lodge Education Series

by Midnight Freemason Emeritus Contributor
R.H. Johnson

Prepared for Waukegan Masonic Lodge No. 78 May 15th, 2023

*Note* – This education piece is a little different, as it’s edited to be fit for the profane. The topic is related to the penalties of breaking a Masonic obligation. Within the Jurisdiction of Illinois, there are secrets and the penalties of your obligation are considered to be among them. To this end, the article is slightly altered as to avoid any…imperial entanglements. 


The Masonic penalties within Freemasonry are largely considered to be of a secret nature—not to be discussed outside the walls of our fraternity. What I would like to mention, however, is an element of one of those penalties in a way that is acceptable. 


Within the Entered Apprentice degree, as in all degrees in Freemasonry, we take an obligation and make certain promises. There is, of course, a penalty for breaking this promise. In the first degree, there is an allusion to a place where the tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours. This is an ancient ritual that dates back to "time immemorial." This ritual is used to symbolize the consequences of breaking one of the most sacred of Masonic oaths—the vow of secrecy. 


In this penalty, an item is buried in a spot that is affected by the ebb and flow of the tide. This spot must be one where the tide ebbs and flows twice within a 24-hour period. 


Curiously this happens nowhere on Earth but in one place. 


This ritual is meant to serve as a reminder to all Masons of the importance of keeping their oaths and of the consequences of breaking them. 


The symbolism of this ritual is quite powerful and meaningful. The ebb and flow of the tide is a metaphor for the passage of time and the effects of breaking the oath. As the tide ebbs and flows, the sand gradually covers and uncovers, symbolizing the gradual fading of the vow of secrecy. The fact that the tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours serves as a reminder that the consequences of breaking the oath will remain forever, even if the person is no longer a Mason. 


It could even be considered a ceremonious repeated washing as a sign of mistrust. 


It is a tangible reminder of the commitment that is made to uphold the ideals of the fraternity and to protect the secrets of the Masonic order.


So where does this ebb and flow happen twice in 24 hours?


The Dead Sea is a unique location on Earth, as it is the only place in the world where the tide ebbs and flows twice in 24 hours. Located between Jordan and the West Bank of Israel, the Dead Sea is an inland saltwater lake that is renowned for its high salinity and its healing properties. Its unique characteristics make it a popular destination for tourists and travelers from all over the world. 


The Dead Sea has an impressive depth of over 1,200 feet, and its shore is the lowest point on the Earth's surface. Its unique combination of high salinity and minerals, as well as its location in the protective basin of the Jordan Valley, make it one of the most saline bodies of water on the planet. 


This high salinity contributes to the phenomenon of the twice-daily tidal flux. The twice-daily tidal flux is caused by the gravitational pull of the sun and moon and the effect of the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea causes a powerful current to flow from the south to the north, which creates a swell that causes the tide to rise and fall twice in 24 hours. This phenomenon is unique to the Dead Sea, as all other bodies of water experience only one high and low tide in a day.


RWB Johnson is an Emeritus Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the 2nd N.E. District of Illinois. He currently serves as the Secretary of Spes Novum Lodge No. 1183. He is a Past Master of Waukegan Lodge 78 and a Past District Deputy Grand Master for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois. He is the current V:. Sovereign Grand Inspector for AMD in IL. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focuses on topics relating to Freemasonry. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of four and works full-time in the executive medical industry. He is the co-author of "It's Business Time - Adapting a Corporate Path for Freemasonry", “The Master’s Word: A Short Treatise on the Word, the Light, and the Self – Annotated Edition” and author of "How to Charter a Lodge: A No-Nonsense, Unsanctioned Guide. More books are on the way.


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