In The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas describe their experience of the third degree.
Refusing to divulge the secrets of master mason, Hiram Abif receives a violent blow on his forehead which drops him to his left knee.
At that point in the story, the candidate receives a light blow to his temples and is pressed to the ground by two deacons to his left knee.
Hiram seeks to escape by the west gate and is struck with another blow.
The candidate goes down on his right knee.
At the east gate, the third ruffian struck him a violent blow full in the center of the forehead with a heavy stone maul, which laid him lifeless at his feet. Such was he manner of his death.
In the light of the candle I saw the Worshipful Master reach forward with an instrument which touched my forehead and I felt many hands pulling me backwards to the floor. I was held straight and my feet were kept in place, so that I hinged backwards as I swung into the darkness. As I touched he ground a funeral shroud was immediately draped around me, so only my upper face was uncovered.
The Junior Warden attempts to raise the candidate from his "grave" using the grip of an Entered Apprentice, but fails.
The Senior Warden then is told to try using the Fellowcraft grip which is equally ineffectual.
Finally, the Worshipful Master himself grips the candidate tightly using the Master Mason grip and pulls the candidate immediately to his feet.
As I reached the vertical position the Worshipful Master whispered two peculiar words in my ear.
These words are pure Egyptian meaning:
Knight and Lomas advance the theory that Hiram Abif was Sequenere Tao II, the true Egyptian king who lived at Thebes. Apophis, who ruled Egypt from the Hyksos capital at Avaris, wanted to know the secret rites of Horus, which allowed the pharaohs in death to become Osiris and live eternally as a star. Joseph sent his brothers, Simeon and Levi to extract the information from Sequenere, but he died from violent blows on the head rather than divulge anything. The identification of Hiram Abif as Sequenere is based on the skull of the mummy, which appears to have been smashed by three sharp blows, similar to those dealt Hiram Abif.
Hiram Abif is referred to as the Son of the Widow. In Egyptian legend the first Horus was uniquely conceived after his father's death and therefore his mother was a widow even before his conception. It seemed logical therefore that the Kings of Egypt who became Horus would also describe themselves as Son of the Widow