THE MYSTERY OF THE GRAIL: WHOM HAS IT SERVED?
The greatest of all mysteries, some have called it. The
origin, nature, and history of the Cup Of Destiny.
Is it a Cup at all?
It represents the blood of Jesus, and may have held it.
Could it be the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene,
as many claim? [For more on this theory, click here.]
Perhaps, but suppose, for a moment, that the Grail truly
is a Cup...
A SACRED CUP. A HOLY CUP. MOST PRECIOUS OF ARTIFACTS...
Could Jesus have simply grabbed any old cup that might
have been handy to use at the Last Supper? Would this long-
foreseen and most holy ritual have been enshrined in a cup
of trivial origin?
Or might this particular Cup have had a long, cherished
heritage prior to its coming to rest on the table of Jesus?
THE ORIGIN OF A RELIC
Cups are not born "sacred" or "holy" in themselves. They
become sacred because of their special history. That means
they become sacred when used by a unique or holy person or
because a unique event occurs in contact with them.
The Holy Grail would seem to qualify on all counts: It is
drunk from by Jesus and the Apostles. It is the ritual Cup
of the First Eucharistic Blood. It may even have caught a
measure of the Holy Blood as Christ was pierced...
But again, why did Jesus choose THIS Cup? Did it have a
prior history that compelled that it be used? What sort of
history could cause this Cup to be so appropriate for Jesus
to use that it might even be unthinkable for Him to have
chosen any other?
There were already mentions of a sacred Cup or cups in
the long history of God's people:
Melchizadek had offered wine to Abraham, as "Priest of
the Most High God" in some sort of special Cup.
When the Tabernacle was set up in the Wilderness, near
or even at Petra ("Selah"), there was no Cup made to hold
the frankincense. Apparently, the Israelites already had
some sort of special Cup.
When the Magi bring frankincense to Jesus, they bring
it in some sort of special Cup...
Could it be that all these ancient cups are one sacred
Cup that had been handed down for generations?
If this Cup had been used on the Incense Altar in the
Holy Place of the Temple, it would have most likely been
required to have been made of hand-beaten gold, for that
was the way the Holy Place was decorated. It could have
had a wooden core, but it most likely was gold outside.
It is even possible that a gold-plated wooden Cup may
have provided the "model" for the Holy Place, for all the
furnishings were of beaten gold or of wood covered with
beaten gold. If the Cup already existed before the Holy
Place was conceived, then it appears possible its design
may have had something to do with the design of the Holy
Place which came after it.
If the Cup had belonged to Israel in Egypt, then this
relic was already centuries old before Moses led Israel
out into the desert and set up the Tabernacle.
It is unlikely a common Egyptian cup was adopted by
the Israelites during their captivity and somehow came
to be regarded as sacred. The Cup must have been sacred
to Israel before coming into Egypt. It would already
have been sacred in the days of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob.
And indeed, as we have noted, Melchizadek had offered
wine to Abraham in what must have been a sacred Cup, for
it says of him that Melchizadek was "Priest of the Most
High God." He blessed Abraham. Did he give him the Cup?
The name "Melchizadek" means "King of Righteousness,"
we are told. But it could also mean "Genuine or Rightful
King" as opposed to some Pretender who might have claimed
to be the king. There had just been a war in which five
armies had contended for dominion, but Abraham had gone
out and defeated them all. Abraham comes to Melchizadek,
the Rightful King, and pays him homage. One cannot avoid
the implication that some sort of Royal Contest has been
completed in which Abraham has emerged miraculously as
the victor. Abraham then goes to the True King and gets
his reward, which includes a Cup of wine.
There is an old tradition of toasting with wine at the
accession of a new king: "The (old) king is dead; long
live the (new) king!" The new king is blessed, having
been already chosen as heir by the preceding king. The
royal line continues unbroken.
We are told that the royal line goes through Abraham
to Isaac, to Jacob, to Judah, and eventually to David and
Jesus. But if Melchizadek had been the True King, as his
name signifies, then the royal line must have been passed
from Melchizadek to Abraham. The formal kingly blessing
of Abraham by Melchizadek appears to be the moment when
the old king Melchizadek officially designated Abraham's
line as the rightful one to inherit not only his throne,
but his priestly functions as well, for we see a priestly
line also descending through Abraham to Jacob to Levi.
It is unthinkable that the sacred Cup of Melchizadek
would be buried with him, for it is this very Cup that is
cited by the book of Hebrews as the orignal ritual type
of the Eucharist offered at the Last Supper. We are told
to view the Cup of Melchizadek as the original Eucharist
Cup, that is, as the model, if not the very Cup itself,
that would become known as the Holy Grail.
Yet why is Melchizadek's Cup sacred to him? From what
ancient source could his Cup have come? And just who is
Melchizadek, this man first called Priest and King?
THE WORLD THAT PERISHED
As we read Genesis, there is a curious chronological
problem presented. At the time Melchizadek is called the
True King, and Abraham is blessed by him, the text leads
us to believe that man who holds dominion over this land
is Noah's heir, Shem. He is still living, and presumably
Could Shem be Melchizadek? It is obvious Melchizadek
is a title, not a name. We are not told his real name.
But we do know who is the real king at this time, and it
should be Shem. In fact, a great many Bible scholars who
have studied this question have concluded that the author
of Genesis intended us to understand Shem is Melchizadek.
The question remains open, of course, but if Shem is the
one who gives the Cup to Abraham, from where might Shem
himself have received it?
We are told that Noah had gotten drunk and Ham's son
saw him naked in his tent. Noah then blessed Shem for
covering him up. No doubt Noah's Cup was involved, not
only in his drinking wine, but perhaps in his blessing
of Shem. This may even have been the origin of a ritual
in which a Cup of wine or toast is offered the new king.
Now we ask where Noah got his Cup: Was it a sacred Cup
from before the Deluge? What Cup had Noah used when he
decided to celebrate his new vineyard? Would he not have
chosen a special Cup? One that was old and honored? One
he had taken on board the Ark? A Cup from the world that
had perished? Was it a Cup from Adam's world?
We are told that Adam had been placed in a Garden of
fruit trees with a spring of water at its summit. What
Adam might have done to make fruit juice first required
he make a Cup to hold it. He had wood, of course, but
the book of Genesis goes out of its way to tell us that
there was gold in Eden also. Why does it mention gold as
having been there unless Adam and Eve had carried out of
the Garden a memory of having seen gold there?
Gold is easily pounded and formed to make a waterproof
and fruit-juice acid-proof container, or at least a good
coating for a wooden Cup. Perhaps a crack in the Cup had
caused Adam to look for something waterproof to patch it.
The result could have been a gold-covered wooden Cup.
But all this is speculation, of course. That is, it
would be speculation except for the indisputable fact of
there being no instructions in the Torah to make a Cup to
hold the frankincense on the Incense Altar, that wooden
stand covered with hand-beaten gold in the Tabernacle.
The Israelites already had a Cup--very likely a wooden
Cup covered with hand-beaten gold--which had been sacred
from the time of Abraham, if not earlier. And Hebrews
directly connects the Cup of Abraham and Melchizadek with
the Cup of Christ, that is, the Holy Grail. To get a Cup
from Melchizadek to Christ, we must fill it in between
with frankincense and place it on the Incense Altar until
the time of Jeremiah, who is instructed by God to take it
and pass it around for everyone to drink from, ultimatley
coming to the King of Babylon.
No sooner does he drink from it than an invisible hand
begins to write on the wall and Daniel is summoned. When
Daniel comes, the kingdom is handed over to the Persians,
who put Babylon in Daniel's care. Daniel now has control
over all the Temple artifacts that had been looted by the
Babylonians. They are seemingly all returned, but there
is clearly something missing: The anointing Box.
This Box was the companion piece with the Cup upon the
Incense Altar. It was even more sacred. Yet there is no
question in Jewish tradition that no one was ever again
anointed by it after Jeremiah's day. Not a king or high
priest from that day forward was ever anointed by the Box
that Babylonians had taken from the Temple. Daniel had it,
but he did not send it back to Jerusalem. Why not?
The Angel Gabriel, we are told, arrived at this very
moment, just as Daniel gained control over the Temple's
sacred artifacts. Gabriel tells Daniel that "Seventy
weeks of years" (as it is usually interpreted) had next
to pass before "the anointing of the Most Holy." Daniel
had to delay the return of the Box of myrrh to Jerusalem
for 490 years. And the ritual Cup of frankincense that
accompanied it was now defiled by gentiles. It was not
clean. Of course, seven days could cleanse a man in the
Torah; so seven times seventy years could also cleanse
a ritual Cup.
There was yet one more ritual item Daniel may have
had in his possession: The Rod of Aaron from the Ark of
the Covenant. Jeremiah had disposed of the Ark, but in
Ezekiel, God speaks about replanting the most precious
twig of the Temple--and Aaron's Rod certainly qualified.
The place is not named, but it is on the highest summit,
and in Jerusalem, that was the top of Mount Olivet, the
very site we have identified as the place where Jesus
was crucified and where the Tree of Knowldege grew.
So Daniel could have had not one, but three ritual
objects to safeguard for 490 years until the coming of
the Messiah: The Cup of frankincense, the Box of myrrh
and other anointing oils, and the Rod of Aaron, which
was also known as "The GOLDEN Bough": Hence, the Gold,
the Frankincense and the Myrrh.
Daniel was in charge of the Magi when the Persians
placed him over Babylon. And these very same Magi, or
their descendents, owed their lives to Daniel, we are
told. Clearly, it was not too much for Daniel to ask
them to protect the three relics for 490 years, until
Messiah should come.
So we can connect the Cup of Melchizadek's priestly
ritual with the Cup upon the Incense Altar and finally
with Jesus Himself.
It is therefore not surprising at all that the Jews
and early Christians wrote up legends about Adam and
Eve that had them offering up frankincense and myrrh
on an altar at the east gate of the Garden of Eden on
the day they left. Granules of frankincense would be
held and burned in a metal Cup of some sort, such a
legend implied, and the myrrh would have caked up if
it had not been kept sealed in a Box. The image they
had was of Adam and Eve carrying a Cup of frankincense
and an albaster (soft white stone) Box of myrrh out of
the Garden of Eden.
Later, the Tabernacle would symbolically contain a
model of this scene: The Holy of Holies would be the
Garden of Eden. At the east side would be the curtain
and just outside that "gate" the Incense Altar, on top
of which were the Golden Cup of frankincense and the
albaster Box of myrrh and other anointing oils (which
Box is missing from the detailed list of items needed
to be made in the wilderness for the Tabernacle, for
it too already existed and had been sacred for ages).
The design of the Temple itself, then, is evidence
that this "legend" about Adam and Eve's last act upon
leaving the Garden was at least as ancient as Moses'
time, if not that of Abraham and Melchizadek.
Indeed, as late as 540 AD, Christians still held a
firm belief in the legend that traced the Holy Grail
from the time of Adam down to the Last Supper. This
belief even identified who then possessed the Grail
and to whom it was being formally transferred.
We can locate the Grail from Abraham's time down
to the Crusades, where its tale becomes entangled in
the history of the Shroud of Turin...
But all that is another story and remains for one
of the upcoming volumes in our book series.
For further discussion of the Grail Hallows, see
our page on The Spear of Destiny.