Mysteries of Genesis, by Charles Fillmore, , at sacred-texts.com
JOSEPH IS A SUBLIME IDEA of Truth that goes down into the darkened sense consciousness, and under the law finally raises it up and out of sense and into Spirit. He was seemingly forced there by his brothers, yet he was sent by the Lord to prepare for the maintenance of Jacob's family through the period of dearth that later came to Canaan. The Truth he represents, when taken down into the sense consciousness, establishes there a new realization of life that will result in the regeneration of the entire man. We must often go consciously into every part of our body and build it up in Truth with new ideas of life and substance.
Joseph's brothers had been shepherds in Canaan. It is the business of our mind faculties (Jacob's sons) to tend those thought aggregations (flocks, herds) that pertain to our vitality. There were no sheep in Egypt, but Pharaoh made them "rulers" over his cattle. Cattle represent physical strength, which like all the powers of man on the natural plane, must be spiritualized. The faculties, having come down into a more material state of consciousness (Egypt), take dominion over and lift up the animal thoughts and tendencies in the body and unify them with Spirit. This is done by a transmutation of quality and is attained by right thinking, by putting the "cattle" under the control of the thoughts of reality or Spirit, represented by the Israelites.
Joseph brought his father to the ruler, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. This shows that the power that rules the body, under the material regime, rules in obscurity or is without spiritual understanding. When imagination (Joseph) brings the higher understanding (Jacob) to the body consciousness (Pharaoh), the higher blesses the lower.
Thus, the father and the brothers of Joseph took up their abode in the land of Egypt, and Joseph nourished them there. The imagination, which is our faculty of increase, when established in Truth, prepares the way for us. It inspires, encourages, and sustains the other faculties in us when they fall into a seemingly material phase of being, and ultimately brings about the spiritualization of the whole organism, mind, soul, and body.
It is thought that Rameses is the same name as Raamses, which means "son of Ra," "son of the sun," "sun's emanation." Rameses represents a consciousness of substance in the domain of the physical ego (Pharaoh). This "sun" or "light" consciousness, which in Pharaoh and Egypt is obscured or veiled by the life on the lower sense plane, works in conjunction with the higher religious thoughts (Hebrews) that are in servitude to the darkened sense consciousness symbolized by Egypt, and so this reserve substance (Rameses) is built up in Egypt.
In the early stages of regeneration there are times when the developing soul has exhausted its resources and the outer world no longer satisfies. When it reaches this point man has to turn within and appropriate from the higher principles that which they have to give. The center of the great solar plexus (Pharaoh) is also the conservator of substance and life in the organism. When man is spiritually famished and feels the lack he is eager regardless of cost to go to the inner reservoirs of stored-up substance for sustenance. First he gives up to the higher principles the power and strength of the natural man (symbolized by money and cattle), then he draws on the fixed forces, the land (representing the body), until it is finally realized that the higher principles really are in authority. In the last analysis the "sun" (solar plexus) consciousness is actually the great distributor. The men (thought forces) were given seed to sow the land, and Pharaoh (the great distributing ego) permitted them to have four fifths of the harvest for sustenance, while retaining one fifth (in the subconscious) to meet any usual demands. The man now becomes aware of the presence of this subconscious ego that, when spiritually instructed by the imagination (Joseph), will handle all the processes of rebuilding the body. Finally this becomes an established law. The priests, representing the higher spiritual life, are not subject to this law.
The central thought in this Scripture is that Jacob is giving up old ideas and taking on new. The life of Jacob in a certain unfoldment was drawing to a close, and his desire was that his body be buried with his fathers in the cave of Machpelah. This indicates that a certain phase of the illumined intellect is sinking back into the subconsciousness (Macpelah). All experiences in life that have spiritual qualities and all realities gained in the land of unity (Goshen) are preserved in the subconsciousness. Joseph's placing his hand under the thigh of Jacob symbolizes the truth that the illumined intellect needs the encouragement and support and power of the imagination in order to effect spiritually the change that is about to take place. When this is granted, Jacob bows down in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Holy One and rests in the realization that all is well. "And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head."
Jacob's age is significant. The number seven symbolizes
fullness in the world of phenomena. It is so universally used as a mystical number that its basis must be in some fundamental arrangement of the natural world.
(For significance of the oath see interpretation of Gen. 24:9.)
In this Scripture the I AM functioning in the illumined intellect (Jacob) is taking cognizance of its abilities and possessions before it sinks back into the subconsciousness for a season of rest. The I AM faculty of imagination (Joseph) is quick to discern what is taking place and brings the will and the understanding, the yes and the no of the mind (Ephraim and Manasseh), to the I AM for a final blessing. (The will and the understanding are the powers that say yes and no to your thoughts.)
The Lord had blessed Jacob (the I AM) at Luz. One interpretation of Luz is "separation," but under the light of Spirit we find that that which we conceive to be apart from God (Luz) is in truth His abode (Bethel, house of God). Therefore this Luz state of consciousness belongs eternally to the I AM and its
faculties will (Ephraim) and understanding (Manasseh), which faculties are to multiply and bring forth fruit exceedingly.
The I AM (Jacob) here claims Joseph's two sons Ephraim and Manasseh (fruit of the imagination) as his own. The primal faculties of will (Ephraim) and understanding (Manasseh) or of affirmation and denial now come under the dominion of the I AM, symbolized by Jacob. The secondary issues come under the imagination (Joseph).
When an important ego is about to change its plane of expression, a memory of past experiences, especially of those which are dear to the heart, flashes into the mind. Spiritually that which is good in the experiences is retained and that which is not good is cast aside. In soul consciousness the soul intuitively rejects the error and claims the good. It is an occasion where denial and affirmation play an important part.
Jacob had been on his way from Paddan (a place of substance in the consciousness and body organism of the individual) and was yet some distance from Ephrath
(realization of abundance); that is, the illumined I AM (Jacob) had been passing from a lower plane of substance to a higher plane. During this period of transition the consciousness of love for material substance (Rachel) died, or sank back into the subconscious, there to become the foundation of a more spiritual love. Now through introspection Jacob was eliminating the error and affirming the good.
When Joseph came to visit his father in the land of Goshen, he brought his two sons with him. Hearing that they were coming, "Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed." Thus understanding (Manasseh) and will (Ephraim) bring strength when weakness appears. Job says, "When they cast thee down, thou shalt say, There is lifting up."
Jacob blessed his grandsons, and his blessing is significant. Manasseh, being the first-born (under divine law understanding precedes will), would be entitled to the chief blessing, but Jacob laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh instead of the reverse, which was the customary way of blessing. Joseph, thinking his aged father's dim eyesight responsible for this seeming error, called his attention to it. Jacob replied that he knew what he was doing and that although the older son was to become great and important, Ephraim (will) would take precedence under the natural law to which
they were both to be subjected.
That certain laws in race evolution are involved in the blessing by Jacob of Joseph's two sons, also that a special spiritual dispensation to the Hebrews, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, was instituted must be admitted by those who believe that this Scripture is inspired. But this dependence on the Lord for guidance could not go on forever; the highest test of character is the self-made man. Man must develop from within, and the time comes to every soul when it must glow with its own inner light, regardless of the mistakes it may make.
Jacob saw that the time had come for Ephraim and Manasseh to act on their own initiative, and he knew what he was doing when he gave Ephraim (the will) first place. In the free, full development of man the will and ambition to achieve leap ahead of the understanding. This has been and still is the experience of the human race, and it will continue to be until man in his freedom willingly accepts divine guidance. Then Manasseh (the understanding) will come into his own and assume first place in consciousness. The blunders of man will then be corrected and a mutual understanding be restored to the whole world.
Up to this time the faculties symbolized by Ephraim and Manasseh had been under the inspiration of the imagination (Joseph). Joseph's taking his sons from between his knees and handing them over to Jacob for the final blessing symbolizes the restoration of the faculties to their natural estate. The dying of Jacob represents the withdrawal of the activity of this special spiritual inspiration imparted through the I AM.
The final blessing of the I AM on the imagination
(Joseph) promised that it would be taken back or "reincarnated" in the land of the fathers. The one extra portion that Jacob gave to Joseph, which he "took out of the hand of the Amorite" (a race inheritance) with his sword (power of the word) and bow (directive power), is an amorous force that finds expression on the generative plane but which eventually must be elevated to spiritual consciousness. The exercise of any faculty to the best of one's ability is appreciated by the Lord (law), and we get an extra portion, a "free gift of God." We receive a certain return for our mental effort although we may not always directly recognize God as the source.
A blessing signifies the imparting of spiritual good, which the recipient may receive or reject according to his mental attitude. The blessing by Jacob of his twelve sons symbolizes the sowing of seed in consciousness for a future harvest. Through the power of his word Jacob was raising the consciousness of his primal ideas. In effect he was proclaiming: "You represent the A B C of man's life, and I am revealing to you in symbols the foundation you have laid, what you will have to contend with in the future, and what you can attain. You stand for the foundation faculties that constitute the coming ideal man. The true seed idea of this ideal man is implanted within each of you and will eventually become manifest. This process of manifestation covers your history up to the time of the appearance of the
man that God imaged in the beginning, even Jesus Christ."
Reuben, the first-born, symbolizes the faith of man in his ability as expressed through his animal nature. Here we see the vigor and vitality of the functioning of man's elemental life, which boils over "as water," loses command. Reuben is represented as the natural man giving way to his passions and appetites before he has developed spiritual mastery.
Simeon represents receptivity (feeling) and Levi love (sensation). The faculties of feeling and sensation in human consciousness have been debased on the mortal plane. Simeon, the obedient one, one who is easily influenced, falls under the sway of physical sensation.
In Simeon and Levi we also have an exhibition of animal love and of its vengefulness as exemplified in their treacherous attempt to right the wrong committed against their sister Dinah.
Jacob's blessing on Judah was the most significant. Judah was to conquer all his enemies:
Shiloh signifies peace of mind, wholeness, completion or fullness, and represents the Prince of Peace, the Messiah or Savior. Jesus was a direct descendant of Judah, as is shown in the 1st chapter of Matthew. The name Judah applies to only one of the twelve tribes, but is often used to designate the Jewish nation as a whole. This would indicate that praise is
such an active principle in spiritual thought that it is deserving of first place. The power of the word of praise shall be felt until the coming of the Prince of Peace.
Zebulun represents the law that relates man to the universal cosmos. He dwells under the law of protection and safety (refuge), yet has a realization of the universal Mind (sea). Zebulun is that in us which is concerned with the maintenance of our individual importance regardless of the immensity of the universal. Those who are in personality will find refuge in this state of consciousness. We lose consciousness of our spiritual importance by looking out into the universe but can retain our identity as children of God through realizing that Spirit is individualized in us.
Issachar symbolizes the inner latent powers in man. He represents that side of the natural man which accepts conditions as they appear to be and bears the burdens of life without question, as exemplified by the patient ass.
Dan represents discrimination or judgment, a choosing between good and evil. The serpent is used as a symbol of subtlety. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field." Jesus advised His followers to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Sensation rushes through the organism like a race horse, but judgment "bites at the heels" to restrain the headlong flight.
Gad represents latent spiritual power, which like an army is always ready to do a mighty work. Science tells of an omnipresent ether that presses upon us in the invisible from every direction. One scientist says that the atomic energy in a pea would propel a large seagoing vessel from America to England and return. This ether has its analogy in Spirit, which continually inspires us when we give it our attention. Our mind is in direct contact with this spiritual power, and our word puts it into action.
The Hebrew meaning of the name Naphtali is "my wrestling," "wrestling of Jehovah." Naphtali represents the activity of strength in man's consciousness. Jacob's blessing on Naphtali was that he might have the strength and speed of the deer and the power of the word to increase strength.
Joseph, representing the imagination, is at all times very close to divine inspiration. If man would curb his will and keep it in abeyance he would not "imagine vain things." Notwithstanding the destructive power of the personal will ("archers") with which he is associated his directive power is victorious. Joseph's persecution and sale into Egypt by his willful brothers and his demonstration of superiority to his fate illustrate the victory of an inspired imagination. The whole story of Joseph is an example of the successful functioning of man's imaging faculty when he keeps contact with Jehovah.
Benjamin (faith) in his hunger after righteousness is compared to a famished wolf. In the morning or beginning he appropriates understanding to the full, which he divides or imparts freely at the evening or end of the period.
In the Scripture allegories the various individuals represent the different phases of character through which one man passes in his spiritual unfoldment. As these follow in a series, gradually reaching greater heights, the old phases of character are left behind to be replaced by new ones. Thus the Biblical characters are said to "die" and to be "gathered unto their fathers." Tennyson was inspired to express a great truth, as poets often are, when he wrote,
So each of the great Bible personalities is gradually replaced in the mind of him who is in the narrow way. When a great change takes place, some old phase of consciousness has lost its hold, and we read that Jacob or Joseph or another character "dies." This does not mean that there has been any loss or that anything has "gone away" but that certain states of mind have fulfilled their regenerative work and have been succeeded by others.
(For Ephron, Machpelah, and Mamre see interpretation of Gen. 23:3-20.)
Whenever the I AM withdraws, no matter in what state of consciousness it has been functioning, there is a
great shock to the soul, and all the forces of the natural man are filled with grief and consternation. "And he made a mourning for his father seven days." The imagination (Joseph), favorite faculty (son) of the illumined intellect (Jacob), mourned greatly, not fully understanding that the withdrawal of the I AM eventually would culminate in good.
The name Atad means "bramble," "thornbush," "a thorn." It was on the threshing floor of Atad that Joseph and his brethren mourned seven days for their father Jacob. A threshing floor may be thought of as a place of judgment or separation, of letting go of that which is no longer needful to be expressed in consciousness. Atad represents the belief that vexations, trials, and sorrows are real. It is this unredeemed thought or belief in man that causes him to experience deep grief and tribulation at giving up his personal hold on old ideas and objects which are due to be released from his mind and affairs. This unredeemed belief is concerned with and dwells on the trial side of the process rather than on the blessing side of it.
The Canaanites symbolize the semispiritual in man. They changed the name (or character) of Atad. "And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim." The Egyptians symbolize materiality.
Abel-mizraim ("mourning of Egypt or Egyptians," "mourning or meadow of distress") represents the feeling of sorrow and loss in the sense man that often accompanies the letting go of some good idea in consciousness after it has finished its work. Man's tendency
is to cling to the old ideas that have been helpful to him. But when their work is done in the individual for the time being, these old ideas, no matter how well they have served, must be released from consciousness so that other and higher ideas may take their place. This is a process of judgment, a sifting of ideas and thoughts, a letting go of the chaff and a laying hold of the wheat (on the threshing floor).
The Jordan represents a stream of thought, good, bad, and indifferent, flowing through the subconscious.
Machpelah refers to the subconscious body substance.
Ephron the Hittite symbolizes a phase of thought that is quick to change its thinking base. The word Hittite denotes thoughts belonging to the carnal consciousness of man.
Mamre suggests strength, vigor; it also represents the seat of the conscious mind.
(For further discussion of these names see interpretation of Gen. 23:3-20.)
This closing chapter of Genesis is an allegorical account of the end of the work of Jacob and his family in Egypt. The descent of Joseph (the illumined imagination) into Egypt paved the way for Jacob (the spiritually illumined ego) and his kin to make contact with subconscious substance. These pioneers of Jehovah accomplished their work, and their leader Jacob "died" or withdrew from consciousness. That the whole man, including the physical, was helped by Jacob is evidenced by the interest the Egyptians took in the funeral of Jacob and the great company that went up to Canaan with the Children of Israel.
The imagination returning to the body consciousness (Egypt) again takes up the work of redeeming it.
The confession of the brothers of Joseph to their crime against him and his loving forgiveness both point to the spiritual uplift that has taken place in soul evolution.
"Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones" signifies that the imagination in its divine purity and holiness is one of the sources of good to the whole man. What you mold in your mind under the spiritual law is formed in your affairs and thus is the source of prosperity.
Joseph also died in Egypt but not until he had lived among the children of Ephraim unto "the third generation." This means that the Joseph qualities of mind are developing a deeper understanding of spiritual things. Machir, the name of a son of Manasseh (understanding), means "acquired," "purchased." The children of Machir that were "born upon Joseph's knees" represent the balance and poise that must actively exist in us if we are abidingly to possess true understanding. The Joseph characteristics gradually become a part of the whole body consciousness.
The insistence by all these patriarchs that their bones be taken to Canaan for burial is emblematic of the truth that the substance of them and what they represent is to be restored to its source, Spirit. Although Joseph died and was embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt, his bones were finally brought to Canaan, as stated in the last chapter of the Book of Joshua.