The Historical Degrees ( 15° – 16° )
The two historical degrees conferred in a Council Princes of Jerusalem cover the period from 538 to B.C. 516 they deal persons and events connected with the end the Babylonian Captivity of Israel, the return of some of the captives of Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the temple.
The 15th degree, Knight of the East and the 16th degree, Prince of Jerusalem are often referred to as historical degrees in Scottish Rite Freemasonry and constitute an allegorical narrative presenting the story of a captive people who “wept beside the rivers of Babylon” when liberated they were consecrated to the task of building the second Temple or rather rebuilding the Temple of Solomon. The entire pageantry and symbolism of Freemasonry revolves around the construction of the four Temples of Yahweh, by a brotherhood dedicated to the erection of a perfect edifice at Jerusalem and later building a Temple in the hearts of men. Contrasted the hauteur of imperious monarchs, is the humility of the little group of those born to bondage pleading for the redress of an ancient wrong. The lessons in the 15th and 16th degrees are from these elements of the historical drama which transpired during the reigns of the Great Kings, Cyrus and Darius