Skip to main content

Jacob's Twelve Sons: Our Twelve Powers (Rabel)

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. Lecture given on October 21, 1975

Topic: 45
Gen. 35:23-26, pp. 165-167 of transcript.

Jacob's Twelve Sons: Our Twelve Powers

I'm doing a lot of rereading of the classic Unity material. One of the glowing weaknesses of much of what we call our fundamental literature is the absence of understanding of the twelve powers. The writers of those days were not exposed to an indepth treatment of the twelve powers. Had that characteristic been added to the great quality of what had been done, we would have incomparable metaphysical fundamental material. As it is, it is still very good - excellent, but it would have been much more so had people of those days been more instructed and had a greater understanding of the spiritual character of the twelve powers.

Even Mr. Fillmore's writings do not contain that. Even in his own book called The Twelve Powers of Man it is a pioneer work. It is the breakthrough into that area of metaphysics and as such it is an invaluable piece of work but you cannot really gain an understanding of the spiritual character of the twelve powers just by reading Mr. Fillmore's book.

It's what you do after your reading. It's what you do with your thinking, meditating, and praying and in the use of your understanding gained from all the metaphysics that you know that you can develop what Mr. Fillmore teaches into a very wonderful area of Truth teaching, and this is happening more and more in our movement.

Now I see that a Unity teacher cannot be what I would call an excellent metaphysical interpreter if she or he is not well into the twelve powers, understanding what they are, especially their spiritual meaning. How they serve "the Christ" - not how they "grandize" self. This is the level it has been too often taught or "you can get what you want if you learn how to use the twelve powers. That's not it - but in what manner does this faculty enable me to further serve or express the true Christ spirit? and when that is your focus, when that is your main point in all of your lessons, then knowledge and realizing the import of the twelve powers adds a wonderful dimension to all of your Truth teaching and it fits into all areas, and especially Bible interpretation.

So now we have come to Gen. 35:23-26. Here we are given the names and female parentage of Jacobs twelve sons. This is the first mention in our Bible of a theme which will develop into the idea of the twelve powers. From now on, now that it has been introduced, this usage of the symbolism of the number 12 will take on an increasing importance. It will reoccur in the Old Testament and appear in more expanded form in the Gospels and then culminate as one of the main and climatic synbols of the entire Bible by being all that's talked about in the final two chapters of Revelation.

In the present form that we have come to in Ch. 35, it's the 12 sons of Jacob. The idea is not yet clear, complete or correct. The symbolism used by the naming of the 12 sons is the big weakness here. There's where the inconsistencies are, but is a a beginning. It is a pioneer thing so to speak even though the symbol of 12 did exist in ancient religion. Yet for our culture we are first introduced to it in this crude and inaccurate Old Testament symbolism, but it imporves as it goes along.

Now we have the 12 names and their dictionary definitions, then their metaphysical dictionary selection as to their metaphysical meaning and this is not important. Just go over it quickly.

  1. Reuben - behold a vision of a son; meta. understanding through seeing.
  2. Simeon - harkening, obeying; meta. understanding through hearing.
  3. Levi - joining, clinging; meta. the love faculty in human consciousness.
  4. Judah - praise Jehovah; meta. prayer and praise faculty.
  5. Issachar - he will bring reward, he who brings recompense; meta. activated zeal.
  6. Zebulum - habitation, dwelling; meta. order faculty.
  7. Joseph - Jehovah shall bring increase; meta. imagination. Joseph is the only one of this list of 12 who starts out on the mountain. He is the only clear cut symbolism in this first presentation and naturally be becomes the main character of the story because he really does symbolize a formulated awareness of one of the twelve powers, the one that almost all human beings first have an awareness of.
  8. Benjamin - son of good fortune; meta. active accomplishing faith.
  9. Dan - a judge; meta. judgment.
  10. Naphtah - wrestling; meta. elimination or renunciation.
  11. Gad - pertaining to good fortune; meta. power on.the physical plane.
  12. Ashar - straight forward; faculty of understanding.

I don't know how they arrived at these. I just copied them out of the metaphysical dictionary, and present them as such. We can see by this listing that it is not a complete and accurate assembling of the twelve powers. Will, strength, life or generative life or life conservation are completely necessary while understanding is listed three different times and prayer and praise is listed as a faculty, Judah, but it is not included in generally accepted list of Twelve Powers, so we cannot really explain these descriptions, but I can only explain that while this is the first attempt in our Bible to bring forth the symbolism of Twelve Powers a certain degree of inaccuracy is quite understandable.

We're not even sure that the writer of Genesis had an inkling of the Twelve Powers. He may have really been talking about 12 young men and had no idea that they would become symbols of the 12 powers, but we don't know, but the evidence seems to be that he kind of knew, not totally, but that he was aware, otherwise certain things would not have been written in certain ways. There are too many coincidences if he was completely unaware.

Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 15, 2015.