We owe the Masonic use of this word to Anderson, who first employed it in the Book of Constitutions, where he tells us that “there were employed about the Temple no less than three thousand and six hundred Princes or Master Masons to conduct the work,” and in a note he says that “in First Kings (v, 16) they are called Harodim, Rulers or Provosts” (see Constitutions, 1723, page 10). The passage here alluded to may be translated somewhat more literally than in the authorized version, thus: “Besides from the chiefs or princes appointed by Solomon who were over the work, there were three thousand and three hundred harodim over the people who labored at the work.”
Harodim, in Hebrew os , is a grammatically compounded word of the plural form, and is composed of the definite article if, HAR the or those, and a participle of the verb rho, radah, to rule over, and means therefore, those who rule over, or overseers. In the parallel passage of Second Chronicles (ii, 18), the word used is Menatzchim, which has a similar meaning. But from the use of this word Harodim in First Kings, and the commentary on it by Anderson, it has come to pass that Harodim is now technically used to signify Princes in Masonry. They were really overseers of the work, and hence the Masonic use of the term is not altogether inappropriate. Whoever inspects the two parallel passages in First Kings (v, 16) and Second Chronicles (ii, 18), will notice an apparent discrepancy. In the former it is said that there were three thousand and three hundred of these overseers, and in the latter the number is increased to three thousand and six hundred. The commentators have noted but not explained the incongruity. Lee, in his Temple of Solomon, attempts to solve it by supposing that “possibly three hundred at a second review might be added to the number of officers for the greater care of the business.” This is not satisfactory; not more so is the explanation offered by myself, continues Brother Mackey, many years ago, in the Lexicon of Freemasonry. It is much more reasonable to suspect a clerical error of some old copyist which has been perpetuated. There is room for such an inadvertence, for there is no very great difference between wIw, the Hebrew for three, and wwt, which is six. The omission of the central letter would create the mistake. Masonic writers have adhered to the three thousand and six hundred, which is the enumeration in Chronicles.
Brother E. L. Hawkins tells us that a Degree bearing this name was commonly conferred by the Lodges in the County of Durham, England, during the latter half of the eighteenth century, but what its exact nature was has now been forgotten.