Grand Mystic Order, The
DESCRIPTION: The singer dreams of his initiation into the Orange Institution. He must answer that Joshua took the Israelites unto the Promised Land. His conductor knocks in code on a door. The path through the door is dangerous and he passes other tests.
EARLIEST DATE: mid-19C (Zimmermann)
KEYWORDS: dream ritual religious
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Zimmermann 97, "The Grand Mystic Order" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "The Brilliant Light" (subject and some phrases)
cf. "The Knight Templar's Dream" (subject)
cf. "The Grand Templar's Song" (subject and some phrases)
cf. "The Blackman's Dream" (subject)
NOTES: "The Loyal Orange Institution was founded after the Battle of the Diamond [at Diamond Crossroads] on September 21, 1795. The 'skirmish' was between the Roman Catholic Defenders and the Protestants of the area.... At the beginning the membership was of the labouring and artisan classes.... In the Rebellion of 1798, the Orangemen were on the side of the Crown and had much to do with the defeat of the United Irishmen.... With the rebellion at an end the lodges were to be less fighting societies, and more political and fraternal clubs.... From 1815, the Institution had been seriously affected, by internal disputes. Many of them were about lodge ritual and the attempts to form higher orders." (source: The Orange Institution - The Early Years at Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland site.)
Zimmermann p. 302: The initiation songs "evoke Moses' rod, the crossing of the Red Sea or the Jordan, and strange wanderings in darkness, barefooted, among terrifying noises, to final illumination." - BS
For the Battle of the Diamond, see the notes to "The Battle of the Diamond," "Bold McDermott Roe," and "The Boys of Wexford." Songs about the Orange Order are too numerous to list.
The statement that the Orangemen were on the side of the British in 1798 is far too simplistic; most of the rebel leadership in 1798 was Protestant -- including Henry Munro (for whom see "General Monroe") and the Presbyterian Henry Joy McCracken (for whom see "Henry Joy McCracken (I)"), who ended up in command of the Ulster rising.
What is true is that the Protestants in Ulster generally did not rise in 1798. Kee, pp. 130-131, discusses at length the reasons for this. Probably most important was the fact that they had largely been disarmed in 1797, and they didn't have any remaining organization. And they had been led to expect French intervention, and had so far been disappointed.
Plus they had reason to fear their Catholic colleagues. The United Irishmen, with their Protestant leaders, had tried to "paper over" the split, but the Wexford rebellion, which was more spontaneous, had shown extremely sharp sectarian divisions (note especially the much-discussed atrocity at Scullabogue, for which see e.g. "Kelly, the Boy from Killane"). Had the Ulster Protestants still had a military organization, they might have joined the Catholics -- but they couldn't really take part as individual rebels. So they fell back on particularism and groups like the Orange Order.
Hence this song. Joshua was, of course, the leader of the Israelites after the death of Moses, who was responsible for the conquest of Palestine. Joshua also brought a new religion. He is an obvious symbol for any religious minority with militant intentions.
It's not really an accurate picture, we should point out. The Bible seems to portray Joshua as leading a small army to defeat much larger local forces (note, e.g., the reports of the spies of the great population of Palestine in Numbers 13:28-29, and the claim in Deuteronomy 7:1 that the nations of Canaan are "mightier and more numerous" than the Israelites)-- but if the census figures in Numbers are correct, the Israelites probably outnumbered the whole population of Palestine at the time. Numbers 26:51 says that the population of fighting men shortly prior to the entry into Canaan was 601,730 (implying that there were two million or more Israelites counting women and children). Such an army could defeat any local city-state foolish enough to send out a force to fight it.
At least three explanations for this discrepancy have been offered. One is that the Hebrew word for "thousand" is in fact used with a different meaning here -- that it should mean something like "squad," of perhaps a dozen men. So, e.g. the figure in Numbers 26, instead of being read 601,730, should be something like "six hundred (or perhaps "sixty") squads, one thousand seven hundred thirty men." This explains everything, but there is no evidence for it.
Another possibility is that the Exodus was not a single event: That either there were multiple invasions of Palestine, each by a smaller group, or that there was only one, but that several local tribes eventually came to be adopted as "Jewish." The simplest form of this hypothesis is that Joshua -- who was an Ephraemite -- led the "Joseph Tribes" of Ephraem and Mannasseh into central Palestine and gradually influenced the tribes around it (Cornfeld, pp. 73-74; Wright, pp. 77-78).
A more nuanced version is that Canaan was captured in small bits and pieces over many years, with relatively small armies involved in each conquest but a roll of all those who participated over the centuries giving rise to a very high total. This fits the archaeological record: Ai was destroyed around 2400, long before the Israelites came on the scene, and never reoccupied (Wright, p. 80), Jericho around 1400 and perhaps not reoccupied until much later (Kenyon, p. 189), other cities destroyed in the period up to 1200. Joshua could hardly have lived through this entire period, but wherever and whenever he was active, he may indeed have fought against the odds. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
- Cornfeld: Gaalyah Cornfeld, Archaeology of the Bible: Book by Book, Harper & Row, 1976
- Kee: Robert Kee, The Most Distressful Country, being volume I of The Green Flag (covering the period prior to 1848), Penguin, 1972
- Kenyon: Sir Frederic Kenyon, The Bible and Archaeology, Harper & Brothers, no date but after November 1940
- Wright: G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archaeology, Westminster Press, 1957
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