METAPHYSICAL BIBLE INTERPRETATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Fall semester 1975 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Part of a lecture given on September 12, 1975
Gen. 3:1-15, pp.32-39 of transcript.
Adam, Eve and the Serpent
Then we come to Chapter 3, and I’m going to read the first six verses:
“Now the serpent (that’s the first mention made of him) was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made (see how we’re using the term Lord God instead of God. And if we were in the Hebrew, we’d be using the term Jehovah instead of Elohim.) “And He said unto the woman ‘Yea, hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.’ And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ‘Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it lest ye die.’”
Lest ye die. Now I will Ed Rabelize that. If Lamsa can do it, I can do it. I translate that as, “You shall not eat of it, neither touch it unless you are willing to die. Not, I’m going to kill you if you do it, but unless you’re willing to die, don’t eat of that. Follow me? You see, I’ve altered the connotation of that statement slightly. The meaning remains the same. But I want to get away from that thing that Adam and Eve think: God’s going to kill them if they do, because if they really thought that, they wouldn’t have touched it. But the meaning is, if you do not want to die to this current state, this current realm, in which you are existing, then don’t eat that. But if you’re going to eat that, then you’ve got to take the consequences, which will be death to this type of existence.
The serpent said unto the woman, “Ye shall not surely die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be open, and ye shall be as gods (again gods, plural), knowing good and evil. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired, to make one wise (sounds like pretty good reasons to me) she took of the fruit thereof the tree and did eat and gave also to her husband with her and he did eat.
And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.” Well, then there is the encounter between Adam and the Lord God, and God knows all about it, and the Lord God then said unto the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field.” Now here’s another incongruency coming up. The Lord God, Jehovah, was talking to a snake. Now he must have had something to do with that snake’s being, existing; and listen to these very incongruous words that the writer has Jehovah say, “Upon thy belly shalt thou go,”—well, how have snakes ever traveled, from up on the tips of their tails? “and the dust thou shalt eat all the days of your life, and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel.” And then Adam and Eve are both told that because of the choice they have made, they are going to get what they want, but it’s going to be a tough row to hoe. And it is, of course.
Now, who is Eve? And why is she presented in Genesis as the first female character? Please remember, folks, Eve is only the first female character presented in the book of Genesis. She is not presented as the first woman in all the world. The only woman in all the world could not have been presented as that, because in a couple of chapters, we’re going to find one of her sons going womewhere else and picking out a wife. The writer of Genesis doesn’t mean these are the only two people in all the world; he simply means these are the first two people we’re talking about, we’re dealing with, you see. There’s no justification for believing these were the only two people, or that the writer of Genesis means that these are the only two people in the world. They are only the two people that the book talks about first, just like the creation, we talked about, doesn’t mean the original, initial nothingness becoming somethingness. Creation had been going on when the writer tuned into it and begins his creation allegory only with that aspect of creation which led to us. Not being, total being, but us, creativity in this branch of beings, which we call the human family, and this planetary system, which is the solar system.
So we look up the word Eve in the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary, and we find that one of its meanings is “elementary life.” So then the character Eve represents elementary female qualities in the life of each individual. Get away from thinking of her as a woman; she is fe-male, she is femininity, in the generic sense. She is all of the female components of our life, basically, which can be summed up as our ability to feel. Please remember that in this part of Genesis, Adam And Eve do not represent thinking and feeling; They Represent The Ability To Think, The Ability To Feel. It’s all potential, because we’re still in Eden. That is completely interior, completely, totally interiorized, pure potential, pure innocence, pure ignorance; because they have not tasted any knowledge; they have no knowledge of good or evil, so if they’re both totally lacking in knowledge of good and evil, how can they even know that disobedience is wrong? They have no knowledge of good or evil, so how can they know that disobedience is evil? Well, how can they? They can’t.
So all this blaming of the fall of man on the part of orthodox churches is—if Adam and Eve disobeyed God prior to having tasted any knowledge of good and evil, they could have no knowledge of wrong doing. Then how could disobedience be wrong, since they knew nothing of wrong? Are you with me? Then how can Orthodox churches maintain this guilt, this blaming of the original disobedience when it was innocent?
So, the doctrine of the fall of man in the sense of guilt or blame is wrong. And thank God for these pioneers of New Thought who realized this, who were courageous enough to come and expose this dogma as being fallacious, as being against Principle, against Spirit, and we are the heirs of their courage and their pioneering insights. So, in modern metaphysics Eve Will Stand For Our Basic Elementary Feeling Nature. While she is in Eden she’s just the symbol of the ability to feel. When she’s Out Of Eden, Then She Becomes The Symbol Of Feeling, The Feeling Nature. Same with Adam. In Eden, he’s just a divine idea in the mind of God, a potential, the forthcoming ability to think, but no thinking yet. Once he emerges from Eden, he is “the symbol of our thinking, not just the ability to but the actual performance of, but we’re still in Eden now.
Without Adam and Eve, you and I could not exist as human beings, because they symbolize the balance of male and female characteristics of our human self—Adam, Basic Thinking Ability, And Eve, Basic Feeling Nature. At the very basis of each person’s thinking and feeling, there is a pre-starting level, just as there is pre-school classes now. There is also this same thing in evolution in consciousness. You and I each have a pre-starting level when it comes to self-conscious existence and evolution. This pre-starting level is named in Genesis as Eve; you see, things don’t really get started for Adam and Eve nor for the Bible characters as a cast of characters until Eden is left behind.
This pre-starting point, from which all our future thoughts and feelings will proceed, is a level from which all our thoughts and feelings are still in the form of simple potential energy. Everything is there, but it’s all in The Realm Of “Will Be,” Not Yet Existing, Not Yet Expressing; it’s all potential. It’s all there, but it’s all in potential. On this Eden level in us, mental energy has not yet taken any specific form. It is still simple energy or innocence. The same is true of our emotions; they are still just simple energy without specific form; they are innocent. In Eden, or on the Edenic level of us, nothing progressive happens; all is potential; all is innocence. Now we’re not talking, folks, about a time in calendar measurement in which we existed in that state historically. We’re analyzing depths within depths of each person’s being. Remember that I told you that the whole Old Testament is a backward look, a backward look into how we got to be what we are and how things became as they are. It is done through metaphysical symbolism, through very deep intuitive philosophizing, analogies,etc.
This is not like scientific history—in 1282 the Gauls stormed the walls of the city and catapulted fiery balls of burning pitch into the city—you know, that type of descriptive history. You can’t do this when you are delving into the history of consciousness and the evolvement of man as a thinking and feeling being. You have to go into symbols, you have to use metaphysical analysis; you have to be very flexible in your handling of the material. Otherwise, you’ll get your intellect trying to do the job of straightening out facts; and you’ll get exactly nowhere.
Q. Is here a difference between innocence and ignorance?
A. Not in the sense that we’re using here. We don’t mean ignorance in the negative sense. We mean pure ignorance equated with innocence, ignorance in the sense of not acquiring knowledge. This is prior to self-consciousness. This is all the workings of levels of us much lower than conscious awareness. Much of it is speculation; we’re following the writer of Genesis’ symbol. We can’t prove it; we can only interpret it, while the proof of it, I think, is in the pudding. In the fact that here we are, and this is analyzing some of the factors which make us what we are.
Now, in the Edenic level of us, your thoughts and your feelings, which are merely the ability to think and the ability to feel, have nothing to do with good or evil on that level, right or wrong, positive or negative, because energy has not yet been polarized. It’s pure, simple and total oneness, unity. Here, all is just potential in passing; this is the symbolism of Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden without having tasted of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but an individual cannot permanently exist in this state and live. We must move on because something has happened which caused us to want to. We are told in our Bible that the serpent entices Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and why she should, and she does; and she gets Adam to eat of it. And the result is their eyes being opened, their awareness of having knowledge and then their expulsion from Eden and their going out to what is simply the world, or existence. Instead of just in a static state of pure passive potential being, there is now an existing consciousness; and that’s us. Now, what does all this mean in us? Who is the serpent, and why should this cause a person to emerge from the Edenic level and enter into the world called experience? Is it a bad thing or a good thing? Now we have to decide by examining the symbolism.
In the MBD, the serpent symbolizes sense consciousness, or the desire to experience sense sensations. Remember that the word sensation as it is used here is the original meaning of the word, not what has happened to the word, but the original meaning. Nowadays the word sensation too often or very often is used to designate something spectacular, something super-impressive, or very drastic; we say sensational means to cause a furor, to excite, to make a terrific impression; but this is not the original meaning especially as it’s used in the Bible. The meaning of the word Sensation in its original meaning simply means To Experience Life With The Senses. This is the original meaning of the word sensation, or sensational. It just means the experiencing of life by means of the senses.
To see, to hear, to taste, to smell, and to touch—this is the basic meaning of sense consciousness, or sensation, the desire to involve our senses in life is symbolized in the Bible as serpent, but please remember this, folks, the five senses, life everything else about man is, in its essence and its origin, of God, spiritual. Your five senses although we usually equate them with the material and sensual level of existence primarily and Originally And In Essence, Your Five Senses Are Spiritual. Their origin is spiritual, their content is spirit in reality, and their purpose is spiritual And we divert them from their true purpose, or we forget their true origin, then we fall into a negative state of consciousness called sense consciousness, which is a terribly dangerous state to live in, terribly dangerous, because it’s based on error; and then it functions erroneously.
But, if we remember that even the senses are basically spiritual, and the purpose for the senses really is spiritual, to serve the spirit, to serve Christ; then we utilize the five senses, but we don’t fall into sense consciousness. We remain the master and the senses are our obedient servant, but when we fall into sense consciousness, who’s master and who’s servant then? Senses become masters, and we, the ego, become servant, and that’s a terrible state to be in, as most of you know, who’ve worked around hospitals and done a lot of counseling. You know what that can lead to, but it can always be corrected.
The serpent’s enticement of Eve represents that point in us where our feeling nature and our intuition recognize the stirring of a desire in us to make sense contact with the events of life. In other words, it is a feeling, a desire to have life experiences, not just be alive. This chair is just alive as I am, when it comes to pure, primal life; but this chair can’t have life experiences because it does not have a sense nature; it does not have the serpent, and it has not evolved to a level where self-consciousness is possible, so that which goes to make up the chair is alive. Every atom is alive, but man wants more than to just be alive, to exist. He wants to live, that is to have experiences, to have involvement through his consciousness and through his senses; and man always gets everything he really wants.
We had a student here a few years ago, John Morrow, maybe some of you know him. He’s now our minister in California somewhere, but one of his favorite statements was that Everything Comes By Consent. Man Always Gets What He Really And Truly Wants And Consents To. John really believed this, and it’s true, that this is always something that the feeling nature and intuition wanted this step of evolution to occur and it did. The feeling nature, then, begins to acquire knowledge of good and evil. Now, please remember, folks, that in this part of Genesis, the word evil is not used in the sense it will be used later, when it is connected with human behaviorism. Now, it is a generic word, and it simply means the counterpart of good, both of which are used as symbols of polarity, the duality of natural energy. The writer chose to use good and evil; he could just as well have chosen to use two other words, which would have meant exactly the same thing. But because he used the word evil, because in Unity we’re scared of that word—we get all uptight about it. But he could just as well have said to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of when to say yes and when to say no. It would have been the same thing, or the tree of the knowledge of positive, negative; or the tree of the knowledge of interior-exterior. All that really matters is that this symbolism indicates what knowledge consists of, what worldly knowledge consists of. Worldly knowledge, regardless of what type of knowledge it is, can always be reduced back to it’s essential components; and basically, all worldly knowledge that you can think of is possible because polarity is a fact—yes and no, right, wrong, in, out, left, right, good, evil. Jesus said, “Let your speech essentially be yeah, yeah, nay, nay.” Again He’s referring to this polarity aspect of all human knowledge, all worldly knowledge.
A student once asked, and I wasn’t able to answer—I don’t know whether I’m still able to answer—“What kind of knowledge did we first get that constitutes this?” Where would you think? In any individual, going into his being, into the history of his being, not in time, but in being, in eternity, what do you think might possibly constitute the first taste of good and evil in a human soul? What might it be? The knowledge that I am me, and I like it, and I don’t like it. There’s knowledge that of two-fold character right there. I think every one of us went through this. At some stage of our being we realized, I’m me. Now, not in English, perhaps, in whatever language that level of us uses. But I’m me, and then we reacted to that in a two-fold way, we liked it and we didn’t like it. We didn’t know whether we liked it or not, to be me. Sometimes—I wonder if I’m going to sound crazy when I say this—I’ve had the experience of wishing I weren’t, of wishing I never had gotten started, that I would rather be nothing again. And yet, you snap out of that, of course, because we really all wanted to be, or we wouldn’t be; but this knowledge that I’m me, and I feel two ways about it—I think that could possibly be the first taste of that fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, positive and negative reaction.
Q. Don’t you think that we go through that every day?
A. Oh, yes. Absolutely. All these things that we’re talking about, even though we interpret them to make them sound like a one-time shot, all these are repeated over and over again on different levels of awareness; but we’re dealing with the archetype here. That first taste of knowledge, then, started the ball rolling, until the acquiring of knowledge became our business, then, it became our whole business.
If an individual had not taken this step, then he would lack all that goes to make up what we call having experiences or experiencing life. The lack of knowledge of good or evil will remove all necessity for you to make decisions; you would feel no need to learn anything; and there would be no incentive for you to make any changes. You would not have any problems, because you would have no way of knowing what problems are. You would not get sick, because you would in no way even be aware of a body. What it all boils down to would be, you wouldn’t want to resemble a vegetable, or a mineral. But the Eve factor of us has already caused it to not be this way. Our feeling nature has already responded to the initial desire to have us experience life and not to remain passively innocent toward it; and we have entered life, become involved with it, partaken of its adventures through the senses and so we have died to Eden, but not to life. I often think of a new-born baby. The baby really, in a sense, has died to the prenatal state of existence, which for that baby was Eden. The little baby had everything provided for her except knowledge, knowledge of her own existence. Her — how do I know it’s a her?
Everything mentioned that is of truth in the Bible, is true on corresponding levels. We even have it re-enacted in biology, the baby being born, dying to its prenatal state, and being born to life. Or Adam and Eve in us dying to that complete passive, ignorant, level of you, into a knowledge-acquiring and life-experiencing level of existence.
Transcribed by Bill Nelson on 01-12-2015