Mysteries of Genesis, by Charles Fillmore, , at sacred-texts.com
IT IS SELF-EVIDENT that both the physical and metaphysical sides of life are capable of manifold expression. Some metaphysicians contend that all is mind and matter is the negative of mind or nothingness. However, contemplation of the tremendous possibilities infolded in the earth makes us pause when we hear that assertion. Here beneath our feet is a crust of substance upon whose pages like a mighty book is written a record of the earth's evolution during the aeons and ages through which it has passed from mist to matter. In it the geologist finds the fossils that tell him of its physical history, and the trained psychic can hold in his hand a piece of inanimate rock and it will tell him its evolution from ether to matter. The souls of all forms from mollusk up to man have left a certain memory essence upon the substance they handled, and that essence is preserved ready to be redeemed and raised to higher levels by the minds that gave it form. Although the body of
its soul essence endures and will in the final judgment, or justification, of man's work be merged into the perfect body. Daniel pointed to this when he wrote, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake."
The purchase by Abraham of the cave of Machpelah as a grave for Sarah involves this mystical soul essence. Machpelah means infolded, winding, spiral, symbolizing a condition in which great possibilities of expression are involved. Not only Sarah but Abraham himself, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob were buried there. All these were spiritually quickened and therefore impressed their soul qualities upon matter more definitely than the children of Heth; but all are to undergo judgment, through numerous incarnations, at the end of the ages, "some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." "And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
The name Kiriath-arba means "city of Arba," "city foursquare." Symbolically Kiriath-arba denotes the state of consciousness that attributes to material reason the perfection belonging to and coming from spiritual understanding only; that attributes strength, power, knowledge, and greatness to the outer formed world instead of knowing that all power and reality exists in Spirit, in the unformed ideas of the one Mind.
Sarah (symbolizing the spiritual soul in a certain degree of unfoldment) died in Kiriath-arba. In truth however the higher activities of the soul cannot die. It may seemingly become entangled in thoughts on
the natural plane and disappear for a season from the conscious mind. However it is enjoying a period of rest in preparation for a new and higher expression.
Abraham requested the children of Heth to "entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar" that he might give him the cave of Machpelah for a burying place for Sarah.
The name Zohar means "whiteness," "brightness," "nobility." Zohar represents thoughts of a pure, clear, lofty, discriminating character.
The name Ephron means "gazellelike," "quick," "volatile." Ephron represents a type of thought that is very impulsive, light, airy, and quick to change.
The name Machpelah means "equally divided," "twofold," "spiral form." Machpelah represents subconscious body substance (a field in which there was a cave). Sarah and the others buried in this cave symbolize the submergence of spiritual ideals in us. When these ideals have done their work in the conscious realm of our mind, for the time being they give
way to other activities of the mind, while they sink back into the subconsciousness (cave). There they take deep root in substance and continue their work, which is not apparent to the outer, conscious, thinking part of the mind. They work out into the body consciousness in another incarnation, thus aiding in raising the whole organism to a higher plane of expression.
When going through the inner experience of releasing from consciousness some much-cherished soul quality or thought activity that has become useless for the time being, one may have a tendency to grieve and to hold to the good that seems to be becoming inactive in one's life. Then the thought activity represented by Ephron comes to one's rescue to aid one in making the necessary change and in letting go of the old. Sarah died in Hebron, and it was in Hebron that Abraham bargained with Ephron for the cave of Machpelah in which to bury Sarah. Hebron refers to the conscious mind; also to a certain "association" of thoughts. Faith (Abraham) suggests the awakening of man's mind to higher ideals, and hills denote their manifestation.
The word Mamre means "firmness," "vigor," "strength." The oak trees (which surrounded Mamre) in themselves denote strength and protection; but the Hebrew name for oak trees has a deeper significance than this; it comes from a root similar to the one from which is derived the word Elohim. Thus we are reminded of the truth that those who trust in God as their defense, their refuge, and their fortress, and who dwell in the secret place of the Most High, abide under the shadow of the Almighty, and not only are kept from all evil and its results but also continue
to grow and unfold in understanding, in spirituality, in every good. The Hebrew words ayil, elon, and allah all refer to the oak or terebinth, and express the ideas of power, elevation, and expansion. The prefix al or el that begins the name Elohim, or better AElohim, comes from the same root, which refers to the power of expansive movement, the power of extension, and is also the personal pronoun el, which stands for the strong one or the absolute.
Abraham's insistence on paying Ephron for the ground where Sarah was to be buried emphasizes the sufficiency of Spirit and the opulence of those who live under its law. Abraham was the possessor of an all-producing faith, and he was expected to use it on all occasions to supply his every need. Those who have a living faith in God's all-sufficiency do not beg or accept things without recompense but give value received for everything.
The progenitor of the house of Abraham (primitive faith) is Spirit. Abraham desired to perpetuate the spiritual trend of consciousness. The "servant, the elder of his house, that ruled over all that he had" (representing the personal ego that rules over the body or "house" consciousness), obeyed every injunction of his. Abraham (the progressive mind) desires Isaac (his happy, joyous thoughts) to unite in marriage with one of his kindred (Rebekah: high ideals) in the land of Haran (exalted state of mind). Abraham (progressive faith) then requires his obedient servant (the personal ego ruling over the body consciousness) to take an oath or affirm, with his hand (power) on Abraham's thigh, that this shall be accomplished.
Yarek, the Hebrew word translated "thigh," comes from a little used root and is sometimes used euphemistically to designate the genitals. This oath was not taken on the thigh but on the genital organs, a practice not peculiar to the Hebrews but known to many other primitive people. Such a custom hints at phallicism or the worship of the physical source of life. As our courts impress on the witness the sacredness of his oath by having him place his hand on the Bible while making it, so these people used the source of physical life to enforce the sanctity of an oath.
Spiritual light comes through the activity of pioneering faith. Abraham realized that through his struggles for a higher state of consciousness (Haran) his soul had become rooted and grounded in the fundamental principles of Truth. Therefore he desired his happy, joyous thoughts (Isaac) to unite with a feminine soul force that had sprung from the original root of Spirit (his own kindred).
A declaration of Truth is always demonstrated in mind and body. Paul says the man is not without the woman in the Lord. In the above Scripture the law is in process of being fulfilled (the oath or affirmation made by Abraham's servant is here being demonstrated.
Abraham's servant journeyed into the land of Mesopotamia in search of a wife for Abraham's son Isaac and was led by Jehovah to the city of Nahor, where he found Rebekah.
The state of consciousness represented by Mesopotamia lies close to the spiritual, at least close enough to be open to the divine urge for light and higher attainment ("country between," "middle region," "middle land"). Otherwise it could not have been the home of Rebekah and her brother Laban, nor of Abraham at the time when he received from God the revelation directing him to come out from his people into another country (to enter into a higher and more spiritual state of mind) that he might possess his divine inheritance.
Nahor denotes the arousing of a more lofty desire in man through the activity of faith (Abraham). These greater aspirations pierce the darkness of materiality and aid in bringing about a new trend of thought ("eager," "piercing," "slaying").
Bethuel, father of Rebekah, represents conscious unity with Spirit. Milcah, mother of Rebekah, represents wisdom and good judgment through the intuitional or feminine nature.
The name Rebekah means "tying firmly," "noosed cord," "beauty that ensnares." Rebekah represents the soul's natural delight in beauty. This essence of the soul is continually going forth and making contact with the harmonious and the beautiful.
Abraham's servant adorned Rebekah with rings and bracelets of gold, which appealed to her love of the beautiful. This no doubt influenced her in her decision to make the journey to the house of Abraham. Metaphysically Rebekah's taking this step represents an esthetic feminine force within the soul penetrating down into the subconscious and there making union with life and substance. The servant (personal ego) guided Rebekah into Beer-lahai-roi, in the "land of the South" (the subconscious), where Isaac dwelt.
(For further interpretation of Beer-lahai-roi see comments on Gen. 16:1-15.)
Through the inherent love of the harmonious thousands are blessed and many hearts of "hate" are directed into other channels of expression ("let thy seed possess the gate of those that hate them").
The happy Isaac consciousness claimed its counterpart in Rebekah. Faith and obedience (Abraham) bring forth joy, and joy (Isaac) is linked with the beauty of nature without. The devout, joyous soul readily makes union with the natural, harmonious expression of Spirit, and in the joy of spiritual realization the thoughts are lifted up in exaltation and praise. "And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw . . . And Rebekah lifted up her eyes . . . and he loved her." Thus is portrayed the union of the devout, joyous nature with the soul of love.
The joyous soul, when established in spiritual faith and poise, is screened from contact with inharmonies: "and she took her veil, and covered herself."
Isaac led Rebekah into his mother Sarah's tent. This signifies that the soul powers symbolized by Isaac and Rebekah are ever penetrating into the physical, here represented by the tent.
The name of Abraham's second wife, Keturah, means "incense," "perfume," "aloeswood." Keturah represents a soul consciousness that aspires to higher things even though still in sense.
To Abraham Keturah bare six sons. Zimran represents a positive expression of joy, harmony, and
grace, the first conscious result of a union in the individual of awakening faith (Abraham) with the aspiration of the soul for higher bodily attainment (Keturah). Jokshan represents a sly, treacherous, deceitful tendency that often exists in the sense mind of man and that places the individual who gives way to it in difficult situations. Medan and Midian represent the sense of dominion that to a degree is founded on discrimination and understanding but that is still full of contention and strife. Ishbak typifies the transitoriness of human ambition and its results. Shuah denotes an exceedingly depressed, downcast state of thought.
The meaning of the names of the six sons of Abraham and Keturah point to divided thought; the thoughts are partly good thoughts and partly limited thoughts, thoughts of the sense mind. The descendants of these sons became enemies of the Israelites. While the trend of thought represented by them may to a certain extent be helpful to the natural man at a certain stage of his unfoldment, the time comes when they must be released from the mind so that the real, true thoughts and activities (Israelites) may have full sway in the consciousness.
Jokshan begat Sheba, who represents wholeness or fullness on various planes of existence ("return to an original state," "repose," "equilibrium"), and Dedan ("mutual attraction," "physical love," "low"), who represents a phase of physical or animal attraction and affection. This must give way to true love, which is spiritual in its character and is unselfish and pure.
Dedan had three sons. Asshurim represents the reasoning power of faith operating in sense consciousness. The reasoning of the intellect, guided by the
senses, may seem almost invincible at times, but it does not endure. Only spiritual ideas and their manifestation are truly strong, powerful, and abiding. The second son of Dedan was Letushim, who represents the sense of being oppressed and hard driven that all persons in the lower, earthly consciousness experience much of the time. In the Letushim consciousness advancement is slow and is gained by means of hard experiences. The third son of Dedan was Leummim, who symbolizes great increase and multiplication of thoughts in consciousness but without real spiritual quickening.
Midian had five sons. Ephah represents darkened and obscured phases of thought and soul in which the Spirit of God is working--over which Spirit is brooding--that Truth may blossom forth and come to fruition in due time. Midian's second son was Epher, who represents thoughts on the animal plane of consciousness in man that are active but young and inexperienced. His third son was Hanoch, who represents entrance into a higher consciousness than has been known and experienced before. The fourth son, Abida, represents the belief that knowledge comes through the senses. The judgment of the senses, based on outer appearances, produces discordant thoughts, jealousies, and the like. Midian's fifth son Eldaah ("whom God has called"), represents a central thought that responds in a measure to the quickening presence of Spirit although it belongs to the sense phase of man consciousness. It perceives that God is the source of understanding, yet it does not bring forth definite fruit in consciousness.
Isaac was the product of Abraham's spiritual consciousness, while the sons of the concubines were the product of his personal consciousness. Hence Isaac (meaning divine sonship) was the rightful heir to all that Abraham had.
Machpelah was a field "before Mamre" that Abraham bought from Ephron, of the children of Heth. Machpelah represents the subconscious body substance. As in the case of Sarah, when the aggregation of thoughts symbolized by Abraham has done its perfect work in the conscious realm of mind, it gives way for the time being to other activities of the mind and sinks back into the subconsciousness. (See comments on Gen. 23:3-20.)
The name Mamre means "firmness," "vigor," "strength." The lesson here is that faith in God (suggested by Abraham) brings about the right relation among all the faculties, establishing firmness, vigor, and strength.
After Abraham's passing God blessed Isaac, and he dwelt in Beer-lahai-roi by the well of the same name. The name Beer-lahai-roi means "the well of the living one." Isaac symbolizes divine sonship. When the individual realizes that life is omnipresent and eternal and that Spirit is its source he has laid the foundation for its manifestation throughout his whole being.
The first-born of Ishmael was Nebaioth. Nebaioth represents the outer, sensate, or material consciousness, reflecting the light of the inner, true ideas that are born of Spirit ("heights"), and realizing the possibility of bringing forth abundant good ("cultivation of the soil," "fruitfulness," "germinations") through the power of the word of understanding ("prophetic utterances," "inspired words").
The second son of Ishmael was Kedar. Kedar represents a confused, unsettled, disturbed, obscure thought
yet one with a degree of power that belongs to the outer or sense side of consciousness.
The third son of Ishmael was Adbeel. Adbeel represents a yearning of the soul for something higher and better. This yearning will bring forth fruit in time, when it has been subjected to the necessary education and training. Though not always recognized as coming from God, this discipline is brought about by the working of the divine law.
The fourth son, Mibsam, represents a perception or sensing, to a degree, of the joys and beauties of Spirit: the power to perceive, discriminate, detect, estimate.
The fifth son, Mishma, represents a receptive, attentive, obedient attitude in the outer or sense consciousness.
The sixth son, Dumah, represents the condition that man calls death; also the state of man wherein he is dead through his trespasses and sins.
The seventh son, Massa, represents the ushering in of a new thought regarding that in man which has hitherto been deemed by him to be wholly material and so doomed to death and dissolution. This new thought is a prophecy that the seemingly physical body will ultimately be lifted up and saved alive. Massa represents a type of thought that lays hold of, retains, and transports this truth ("divine declaration," "a lifting up,") into the outer organism, the seemingly mortal part of the individual.
Ishmael's eighth son was Hadad. Hadad symbolizes the setting up as all-powerful of the intellect in its spiritually unawakened state. Back of the intellect however, back of every expression of intelligence or understanding,
there exists the hidden principle of all light, all wisdom, all knowledge: God, Spirit.
The ninth son, Tema, represents abundant substance and life, firmness, faithfulness, and Truth stored in the subconsciousness.
The tenth son, Jetur, represents an idea of order, solidity, strength, that which keeps within bounds; the idea or belief that the individual can be kept in orderly existence only when limited to certain lines of thought and action, only when his thoughts, beliefs, and acts are fenced in. The sense man's way of making the individual better is always to limit him by means of outer rules and regulations; it knows nothing of true spiritual freedom and guidance, which alone can bring about real strength, unity, and adjustment in consciousness.
The eleventh son, Naphish, symbolizes the activity of the very breath of life by which every living creature is animated and inspired, consciously or unconsciously.
The twelfth son, Kedemah, represents the inner or true being of man, divine principle; that which exists from everlasting to everlasting, man's true spiritual or Christ self.
Ishmael represents the thoughts that are the fruit of the personal or carnal in man. Kedemah, the youngest of his twelve sons, symbolizes the individual's turning within to his inner or true being, which is spiritual, eternal. This makes us think of Paul's words in I Corinthians 15:46, 47: "Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven." God, Spirit, and
the Christ, who is man's true inner self, are first; otherwise the outer man could not be. In outer expression and manifestation however the physical man appears to come first, and he seems to run the full gamut of experience in the outer consciousness before he finally turns about and begins to seek within his own inner being to find God, Spirit, his true source and sustenance.
When Isaac (representing serenity, peace, joy) was forty years old he took Rebekah to be his wife. Rebekah symbolizes the soul's natural delight in beauty. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who symbolizes unity with God, a conscious abiding in Him, and the sister of Laban, who symbolizes an exalted state of mind.
The inner joyous life current (Isaac) gradually builds up a physical body of great vitality and at the same time develops an active mentality. These two phases of life, the mental and the physical, are represented by Isaac's twin sons Jacob and Esau. They were twins, but Esau was slightly the older, which fact under the Hebrew law gave him the rights of the eldest son and made him Isaac's heir. Metaphysically this denotes the physical vigor comes first at this stage of development but that the mind accompanies it as a close second. Jacob had hold of Esau's heel when they were born, showing that the mental is directly connected with the physical and holds it in check at all times, even from the beginning.
Isaac loved Esau better than he loved Jacob. When we remember that Isaac represents joy in the individual consciousness we can understand why the physical man seems to supply the needs of joy better than does the mental. Esau continually brought venison (substance to nourish the animal appetite) to please his father.
Rebekah loved Jacob better than she loved Esau. The exalted mother principle (Rebekah) loves its expression (Jacob) better than the physical expression (Esau) and seeks the blessing of the father principle (Isaac) upon it.
Esau's birthright is the body and the all-round
development to which it is entitled. It is an inheritance of potential mental powers, which rightly used will lift the physical man out of the fleshly consciousness to the higher consciousness of the allness of Divine Mind. Under the natural law of evolution the physical man (Esau) is brought forth first and has precedence over the intellectual man (Jacob). However in this allegory the physical man is overwhelmed by his desire for creature comforts ("pottage") and does not sufficiently value the mind power that has been given to man. The mental man, being on a higher plane, naturally draws to himself the finer forces of being. In consequence Jacob (the intellect) acquires precedence over Esau (the body consciousness).
The ambitious ideas of the intellect forge far ahead of the growth of the body. Instead of supplying the body with its natural substance, which is spiritual, it gives the body consciousness intellectual ideas (boiled pottage). (Esau was named Edom, "red," because he sold his birthright for the red pottage. Edom pertains to the outer man, the physical phase of man's consciousness and organism.) This results in a temporary separation in consciousness between the mind and the body. Esau went his way, and Jacob became a man rich
in the world's goods. Under divine law, however, they were twins and the separation was only apparent. They were to become united again and share all the blessings that Jacob (intellect) had gained.
We must remember that the "birthright" that Esau so willingly bartered away for a mess of pottage meant not only a right to the material goods of his father Isaac but to the spiritual blessings of the covenant of Abraham, which descending on him, should through him bless the world. Instead of "Abraham, Isaac, and Esau" the immortal words would be "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." To a "profane person" (Heb. 12:16) this would have no meaning, for spiritual blessings are visionary and unreal to him.
The name Jacob means "supplanter." In the development of the spiritual consciousness the supplanting quality finds its true office in replacing selfishness with unselfishness. We who seek to bring the ideal into active expression in our life know that to do this we must put into the place occupied by willful self-seeking an unwavering faith in the unseen God. The sensual must be supplanted by the spiritual, the apparent by the ideal. The fact that Jesus approvingly cited the Jewish tradition in His words "Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" proves the value of this supplanting power or power that man has to change his mind and so remake his consciousness and his life.
Jacob, representing a limited concept of the I AM, is ambitious to receive original inspiration and is unwilling to let appetite and passion rule. Therefore as the whole scheme of development is from lower to
higher, Jacob (intellect) must supplant Esau (the immature consciousness of the natural man that is moved by desire).
It is by the work of conscious re-creation of his life after the pattern of the divine ideal that man gains self-dominion and becomes a citizen of the kingdom of the heavens, the inner kingdom of peace and power.
The soul established in a consciousness of serenity, peace, laughter, joy (Isaac), accepts spiritual things as real. God's promise is: "I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and I will give unto thy seed all these lands; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." When there is a need of substance the serene, joyous side of the soul through mind activity penetrates into the subconsciousness (Gerar), where there is an abundance of all things. But here the personal will (Abimelech) rules. When a mind is not strong enough to work from principle or has not faith enough to trust God, it exposes the beautiful and gracious side of its nature (Rebekah) to the undisciplined sense consciousness, the law is broken, and plagues result. In this case however personal will has received enough light to preceive the truth and the threatened harm is averted.
Isaac was working according to law, and he was prospering. The Isaac faculty in man has a double mission. Isaac was the connecting link between Abraham and Israel; that is, between faith in God and rulership or manifestation of God. His activity in "unstopping" the wells dug by Abraham allegorizes the reopening of the hidden springs of life and the keeping of the soul consciously connected with its inner source. Isaac was not a well digger so much as a well "reopener." Abraham had dug the wells. Faith delves into the deep things of Spirit and unearths the pure life essence. In the beginning of spiritual unfoldment however the outer senses (Philistines) suppress or crowd out this fine substance and life of Spirit. The Philistines represent evil material thoughts that "fill with earth" the channels of spiritual expression.
Isaac's first well was named Esek, a name signifying "violence" or "contention." A warring takes place in the valley (the subconsciousness) between the Philistine herdsmen (the animal desires) and Isaac's servants (the awakening spiritual thoughts). The new energy and vigor of life that man gains by his conscious contact with Spirit is sought by the sense desires to be used at once for their gratification and pleasure. They would take this fine essence and energy to build up sense rather than to build up the spiritual nature. Thus contention and strife arise.
The second well was called Sitnah, a name that also signifies "strife" and "hatred." The material sense thoughts (Philistines) do not give up easily but follow the individual a long way on his path to development of a spiritual consciousness. However we read that Isaac's third well, called Rehoboth (a name signifying "broad places" or "enlargements"), was not taken by the Philistine. Material thoughts cannot continue to follow and annoy the man who is persistent in his determination to find the "water of life."
This Scripture interprets itself very definitely within the soul of man. Isaac (spiritual peace, joy) under the guidance of Jehovah is conscious of the I AM pioneering faith (symbolized by Abraham). In this "place" in mind a new order is established, which denotes the willingness to give up the lower for the higher, the personal for the impersonal, the animal for the divine.
At this stage of the allegory appears Abimelech, King of the Philistines (representing metaphysically the unregenerate will of the sense man). With him he brings Ahuzzath (selfishness) and Phicol ("speech") and tries to make an agreement with Isaac. The will (Abimelech) believes that it is the rightful ruler of man and that all the rich substance that comes to man from Spirit is for the gratification of sense desires. Having witnessed the ever-increasing power and possessions of Isaac, who represents divine sonship, Abimelech (the will) fears the loss of his own rule and possessions.
The divine Son, the Christ, does not destroy but fulfills and saves. Error eventually brings on its own destruction, but the error seems to flourish along with the good during a certain period of development; the wheat and tares are allowed to grow together until the harvest. The harvesttime came when the Israelites under Joshua took possession of the Promised Land. Even then the Philistines made several successful comebacks and had to be defeated again and again.
There were seven wells altogether, culminating in the one named Beer-sheba, "well of the oath" or "seventh well." The opening up of these seven wells symbolizes the establishment of a right relation in consciousness between the seven creative centers in natural man and the spiritual powers of the Christ man. The whole allegory illustrates the struggle going on within man for the possession of the life generated in his body. This struggle takes place between the higher and the lower nature of the individual--the spirtual soul and the animal soul--at a certain stage of his development. Beer-sheba is the place where the altar of victory is set up and God is given the thanks.
When Esau (the body consciousness) reaches the age of forty years (the number forty denoting a certain degree of completeness) he takes two wives (makes union with two forces), Judith and Basemath. Judith (the feminine consciousness of prayer and praise) is the daughter of Beeri (limitation). Basemath (the
ability to receive intuitively spiritual understanding and guidance) is the daughter of Elon (materiality and transitoriness). Because of the limiting, unenduring, material character of these forces, this union for a season is bound to bring trial and grief to the higher spiritual forces (Isaac and Rebekah) finding expression through the body consciousness (Esau).
The Bible narrative about Jacob and Esau has always been read historically, and theologians have had trouble trying to excuse Jacob and Rebekah for their apparent duplicity in their dealings with Isaac and Esau. When read in the light of spiritual understanding or considered as part of the history of the unfoldment of the individual soul, the incidents lose their aspect of duplicity and we find that they are a description of the subtle working of the soul in spiritual evolution under the guidance of Divine Mind. The soul is progressive. It must go forward. The soul must meet and overcome its limitations.
Jacob was very dear to the heart of his mother. Rebekah symbolizes the beautiful and esthetic side of man's nature, the divine-natural. In keeping with the mother principle, in which these twin states of mind gestated and grew, she desires that the mental take precedence over the animal. The seeming trickery on the part of Rebekah and Jacob is an illustration of how we are moved by emotional states of consciousness and how, in our half-blind understanding, we accept their suggestions. The fact is that the soul (woman, Rebekah) is constantly making suggestions to us in dreams, visions, and intuitive flashes. These suggestions may sometimes be for our highest good and sometimes
they may not be. Spiritual understanding must determine this point and decide whether we should follow them or not. Rebekah represents the love of the ideal, and it is only through Jacob, the mental, that the ideal can be realized.
The mind feels that its claim to the control of life should come before the claims of physical sense. By its superior quickness, aided by the soul's (Rebekah's) love of mental acumen, the mental tricks the physical and secures the blessing of substance and the acknowledged authority in the organism. Then the head rules the heart in us until the touch of Spirit (Jacob's wrestling with the angel) arouses the soul to action and there is another supplanting, this time of the intellect's sterile claims, which are taken over by the soul. In reality the physical body has an equal right with the intellect to the uplifting and refining influence of Spirit. Being twins, they should be treated as equals, the law of the first-born should not be allowed to operate, but should be blessed and established in the substance of all good things.
The difference between Esau and Jacob is given to us in Jacob's own words: "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man." The Semitic word for "hairy," translators tell us, has a connotation of intemperance or licentiousness. In the Epistle to the Hebrews Paul calls Esau a "fornicator, or profane person." This may be taken in a literal sense or in the sense of one who commits spiritual adultery; that is, who is unfaithful to God, divine love. The name Esau also signifies "one swept away" or "one who rushes forward wildly and impulsively." He is the very antipode of Jacob, "the smooth," clean, reliable man. The
word smooth is used in the story of David's victory over Goliath: David took "five smooth stones out of the brook."
Esau is unfortunately no uncommon type. As for "smooth" men, very few are smooth to start with. It is the constant rubbing, cutting, and reshaping that makes them at last "the polished corners of the temple," good and beautiful after the pattern of heaven.
The denunciations of Esau by the prophets Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Malachi were not directed against a man of that name but against the course of conduct exemplified by him. Therefore it might well appear to Malachi, interpreting the name metaphorically, that God loved Jacob and hated Esau because Jacob symbolized the mental man and Esau the physical or animal man.
Jacob represents the man of spiritual insight: he is not exactly spiritual but is beginning to see the possibilities of mind and is going forward. In Truth Jacob represents the illumined intellect. Isaac was not a spiritual man, but he represents one of the stages in the evolution of spiritual man. When this evolution comes into manifestation and pours out its essence upon the natural man (Esau), the spiritual quality in the natural man is stimulated. It moves forward and outdistances the physical, but the physical is not destroyed.
Isaac placed his blessing on Jacob. The real point is that the blessing imparts an inward impetus or an inspiration to the real, spiritual man. It stimulates the intellect (Jacob) first, which then supplants or takes precedence over the physical. This is the reason why intellectual people apparently get ahead; but "the last shall be first, and the first shall be last."
The body is entitled to an equal blessing, as given by Isaac to Esau.
"And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt break loose,
That thou shalt shake his yoke from off thy neck." In other words, when the body begins to realize its innate capacity the yoke of the mind is broken. This phase of man's evolution may be said to be in evidence in the struggle between capital and labor, or mind and body. Also there is a recognition by the scientific world of a principle in the body that directs it in the matter of food, healing, and in a general instinctive knowing of all matters pertaining to its welfare.
When cheated of its due the body rebels, as Esau
did, and the outraged cells react in a disorderly way on the mind. Insane asylums bear witness to the fact that a neglected body will destroy the channels through which the mind is meant to function perfectly in man. The threat of Esau against the life of Jacob represents the inward rebellion that we feel when we change our modes of thought. The physical cannot be ignored. It must have its place in the all-round, fully developed man. This truth is illustrated by Esau. He became rich. He had many possessions, and he was the head of a race.
To avoid an open conflict Rebekah (the soul) ordered Jacob to flee to her brother Laban at Haran. The name Laban means "white," "shining," and the name Haran "exalted," "mountaineer." This clearly indicates that the attention must be centered on exalted states of mind and united with spiritual wisdom and understanding.
A man's marrying a wife symbolizes the union of the ego with certain ideals. If these ideals are spiritual, then spiritual character is developed with all its qualities. If the union is with inferior ideals, like that of Esau, the fruit may be large in quantity, but it will be of inferior quality. Jacob was admonished to go to Paddan-Aram ("tableland"), to the house of Bethuel ("dweller in God"), and to take a wife from among the daughters of Laban ("shining," "pure"). Paddan-aram represents levelheadedness, poise in Spirit; and Laban, with whom Jacob (the unfolding ego) seeks association, represents a clear state of mind in which higher understanding is dominant. Thus the way is pointed to a unification with the love principle in its higher aspects. Jacob had exalted ideals, divine aspirations, and now it was necessary that love should become one of his attributes. High ideals, spiritual aspirations, and pure motives are necessary to the union that the I AM makes with the soul.
Esau took Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. The Ishmaelites represent the offspring of the natural, unillumined races (states of mind). Nebaioth denotes the outer, sensate, or material consciousness. Mahalath symbolizes a peaceful,
harmonious, tuneful attitude of the soul, found in expression on the carnal and also on a higher plane.
On his journey to Haran--which had a double purpose: to escape the wrath of the disappointed Esau, and "to take him a wife"--Jacob came to a certain place where he tarried all night, "because the sun was set." He took one of the stones that abounded in the place for use as a pillow and lay down to sleep. This incident illustrates the fact that when we are going through an emotional experience that is leading us upward to a
higher spiritual consciousness we may not understand what is happening, may have no light on it ("the sun was set"), but if like Jacob we tarry there in the darkness in meditation, the messengers of God--ideas of Truth--will come to us in the subconsciousness (dreams).
Jacob's act of placing a stone under his head symbolizes the effort of the understanding to put itself in a position to unravel the meaning of matter and material conditions. In the very midst of seeming materiality and darkened understanding the visions of the night reveal the ladder reaching from earth to heaven and the angels of God (spiritual thoughts) ascending it and descending it. The ladder represents the step-by-step realization by means of which man assimilates the divine ideas of Truth that come to him from Jehovah. Jehovah promised the land to Jacob and his seed and assured Jacob of His continued presence and power: "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee . . . And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely Jehovah is in this place; and I knew it not."
God is right here in our midst. Understanding, when turned toward the omnipresent light of Spirit, opens its eyes to the astonishing fact that the seemingly material bodies and temporal surroundings conceal the immanent God. Jacob said, "How dreadful is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." When divine wisdom reveals to us that our seemingly physical body is "none other than the house of God," we are at first afraid. It seems "dreadful" that we have made the Father's
house a "den of robbers."
In the morning of this new understanding even the temporal surroundings become holy in our sight. Like Jacob we set up the common things, the stones upon which we slept in ignorance, and pour the oil of joy and gladness upon them. Then we name the place (our body temple and its affairs) Bethel, the "house of God." Jacob took the stone that he had used for a pillow and made a pillar of it. Instead of whining over the hardness of his experience he blessed it and made it a sustaining point in his mind.
Jacob was awestruck by the tremendous thought of omnipresence: what seems so commonplace may be the very house of God, and thinking some true thought or doing some loving act may be the gate of heaven. Jacob's vow to be more faithful to God and to give Him one tenth of all he received is a recognition of God as the source of all that man requires and also of the need of a constant reminder of this fact; hence the agreement to give back the tithe. Those who practice tithing testify that it leads them into an understanding
of the relation of God to material affairs that they can get in no other way. When a person feels that he has God for a partner in all his financial affairs, he is never afraid of failure or lack.
In his inner consciousness man can make an agreement of this kind with the Mind of Spirit and can keep it in his everyday affairs. Many metaphysicians write out such contracts and put them away in the full assurance that the terms will be carried out by both contracting parties, God and man. It is found by nearly everyone who tries this plan that the agreement is fulfilled. If you would have your material affairs prosper, agree with Jehovah to give one tenth of your income to some work dedicated to God. If you keep your part of the agreement, you may rest assured that the Lord will keep His and abundantly prosper you, that your financial affairs will be taken care of without worry or strain on your part, and that you will come into a land where peace and plenty go hand in hand.
When there is recognition in fact by the mental (Jacob) of the true nature of the body's essence and of the spiritual nature of all life, then we begin the ascent from self to selflessness. We are then willing to give of our thought substance to God, and the house of God (the body) bears witness to the sincerity of our vow.
The natural seeks to hold onto all that it can gain by fair or unfair means, but the heart self, as soon as it has had a vision of the infinite, seeks in its turn to give. In this dream Jacob heard the voice of God saying, "To thee will I give . . ." When he awoke and came to himself, his quickened heart echoed in thankful responsiveness, "I will surely give . . . unto thee."