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. Lecture given on October 27, 1975
Exod. 1, pp. 188-195 of transcript.
Moses in Egypt
There is a tendency to underestimate his true worth. I won't go so far as to say familiarity breeds contempt, but familiarity and easy accessibility can sort of blind us to certain great works of objects, and this is especially so, I think, in the case of this remarkable little book, Let There Be Light. Bless her heart, Mrs. Turner has made a tough job so easy for us that it's so easy to overlook her contribution in the sense that she has provided, which in my research and my experience, is the very best outline of the Old Testament in existence today. I look at people who have these huge volumes of commentary this and commentary that and interpretation this and that, and none of them are any better for the purpose that they were written than this and the purpose for which it was written.
Mrs. Turner has not over-reached herself. She had a purpose, and I think she fulfilled that purpose one hundred percent. Her purpose was to provide truth students with a metaphysically oriented outline of the Old Testament. I have had more fights with fellow faculty members who feel, "Oh, well, she's one of us, and anybody who's one of us couldn't possibly have produced anything really worthwhile. You've got to be dead first, or you've got to drop Unity and go into your own movement and start charging lots of money. Then you're worth listening to and appreciated. But while you're only selling for three dollars and half-price to Unity people, she could not possibly have produced a book of very much worth." Well, she has; and this book is worth more than all the courses that were written from other source material since it first appeared on the market.
It delivers the goods, and what's more can you ask of a book, and I don't know why I'm mad. A certain faculty member was making a big deal of "We ought to have a course, we ought to have a course. Somebody ought to write a course on basic OT", and I with my very well known finesse, said, "We already have the best course on basic OT that I've ever seen in my life." "Really, where?" "Mrs. Turner's book, Let There Be Light." "It ain't good enough was the immediate response." And I was so mad, I couldn't be coherent; if I knew then what I know now, I'd have said, "When's the last time you read it, and just what criteria are you using when you say it's not good enough? I hear you between the words, and what you're saying is it's not complicated enough. It doesn't make it tough enough for the students is what you really mean."
We have, here, a book written by a woman who knew truth and she knew her Bible history; and she distilled or combined this knowledge into not only a very readable book, a very accurate book, a very technically correct book in following the whole NT, chapter by chapter, not as thoroughly as is in Mysteries of Genesis, but anything I need to know in a literal, you understand, in a literal, basic, historical level about the OT, every time I look it up in here, guess what? There it is, I find it. What more could you ask? I think any one of you could have read this book, I mean really read it, and passed any legitimate quiz on basic OT. So, folks, know this book exists; keep it in your library. Don't get big, scholarly hangups about OT literalism or history; it's not that important. You've had your dose of that. Now relax, and know that this little book is your friend and your guide for any information of that sort that you might ever need in your Unity truth.
But, such is not the case with metaphysical interpretation. Mrs. Turner gives us marvelous leads and hints, but she doesn't work to develop any real metaphysical ideas; because that wasn't her job in that book, nor does she do it in Your Hope of Glory. She certainly doesn't do it in Be Thou Transformed; but what she does do is something that we need. It's a beautiful outline of the text.
Beginning with Exodus, the metaphysical symbolic quality of the OT begins to decline, but at the same time, greater historical and literary accuracy increases. This does not mean to say, folks, that there is not much of great worth in the metaphysical area in the remainder of the OT, and I am not saying that the historical aspect of it now becomes very accurate, very correct, it just becomes more correct than it has been in general; more history gets into the text from now on. More literariness gets into the text from now on, but there is less and less of the sustained, high level of metaphysical symbolism, as there is in Genesis. Genesis is a unique book, totally unique. The rest of the OT is more typical, and some of it is inconsistent, weak, obviously inaccurate. Then, suddenly it will rise up to the highest of metaphysical symbolism for awhile, and then it will drop again. You have this rather mad mixture of the good, bad, and the indifferent.
Also, something I've already mentioned occurs more and more from now on. When the main characters in the text do not remain stable as symbols for what they represent primarily, they drop out of character a lot. For instance, Moses, who stands for the evolutionary principle of the level of cause and effect. He often is not that in the way he is in the story, but he's a person, a person himself; then again he will be that symbol, that specific symbol again. The same goes for another of these characters, even though the MBD says so and so means this, and he stands for this, yet in the actual text, he will become more than that which he symbolizes and be used as an actual human being. We just can't let ourselves be irritated too much by this.
Now, in the story of Exodus, Moses is our main character. The Israelites and Egypt and Pharaoh are also very important symbols in this semi-historical, semi-metaphysical book. The word Moses itself means drawn out of water, drawing out and primarily represents the action of the evolutionary law within us during that time when we are busy learning and obeying the letter of truth teachings, the law, the Mosaic law. Even at that, mostly cause and effect per se, just cause and effect, knowing the difference between what is right and what is wrong for our level of evolution. The evolution illustrated by Moses is the initial process of what will become spiritual unfoldment. Usually this takes form, first, or rather this begins to happen first while we are in a very undesirable, unacceptable state of existence. This Egyptian bondage, which is what the text calls it, the Egyptian bondage state, is the state in which man, many persons- first steps toward spiritual evolution begin.
You talk to people about how they came into Unity, under what circumstances they came into Unity, and so often you will hear that they were in a condition, they were in a set of circumstances, they were in the midst of a problem or a challenge or an illness which they just decided they didn't want to continue to put up with. This was their Egyptian bondage, and so this made them willing, open and receptive, for something better than used to happen before all the time. Before, we used to always just let the law of cause and effect take its own course according to its own instinct, or rather our instinct, really. But we didn't really think that there was something I could do to change this merry-go-round of cause and effect, which has been the pattern of my life up until now. Something in us awakens and recognizes a sense of responsibility, and this was the beginning of that Moses characteristic in us.
We began to know that there must be laws governing the flow of life. There has to be, and if I can learn what these laws are, I might then learn to obey them and cooperate with them and change the future course of my existence. You see this sort of thing is not the same as "coming into truth", is it? It's just the beginning for that, the recognition of laws, which will determine the course of my evolution, rather than blind chance or heredity, which many people still believe in. This is the pre-Mosaic level of human evolution.
So, we let this evolutionary factor become active in our belief, in our acceptance, then little by little, we are led into more and more desirable states of existence, inwardly and outwardly, which is not the same as "get rid of all our problems". We simply come into more desirable states of existence. We are getting nearer and nearer to the promised land, and the promised land is not Christ consciousness, as I've heard many teachers say. Far from it. it's only the entry into the pathway leading to the Christ consciousness. The promised land really is simply the higher levels of spiritual awareness. That's what we're going to in this stage of our unfoldment.
So we can say, then, metaphysically, very broadly speaking, Moses stands for learning the letter of the law and making the effort to obey that law; and this initial step results in a drawing out or saving from water activity in our soul. That's what the word Moses means, drawn out of water, water saved, drawing out, the drawing out meaning of his name would refer to the process of a different kind of evolution from Involution. This time under some kind of conscious leadership, conscious control, rather than letting nature do it all, which is marvelous in the realm of human evolution. This drawing out that which has been implanted in us by our creator from the beginning.
Now, the Israelites and Jews and Hebrews metaphysically all mean the same thing. They stand for, the words in the Bible stand, for, not the people out there who are Jews stand for, but the words Jews, Israelites, Hebrews, as contained in the text of the Bible. Boy, I had a hassle about this one day in class. This person thought I meant Jewish people stand for this, and that doesn't make any sense. It's just the words, the symbols in the Bible, stand for all of the, now this is a quote from the MBD, "all the inner thoughts and feelings, which are undergoing spiritual discipline." But in my words, I say anything in our thinking or feeling nature, which is part of our willingness to become more spiritual, to become more illumined by the light of truth, all that within us which is willing to be turned towards Spirit and is capable of becoming spiritualized.
These are the Israelites of our inner being. Nowhere in the OT do Israelites or Jews stand for spiritual understanding, but they do stand for the thoughts and feelings in us, which are turned toward, through evolution, becoming spiritual thinking, spiritualized feeling. But they are not that; they are only symbols for eligibility for that, only the Jews were eligible for the promised land. Even Jesus later said "for salvation is of the Jews." Here again, people who take the Bible literally think he's saying salvation is from Jewish people. That isn't what he means. He means salvation is obtainable through all those thoughts and feelings which are turned toward the truth, turned toward Spirit.
Egypt again is that complex symbol with deeper implications of what Charles Fillmore refers to as "the very depths of the body consciousness." However, most generally Egypt is used in the Bible to symbolize the realm of materiality, sensuality, and areas of ignorance in human thinking. Now literally, the word Egypt, itself, means shut in, restraint, tribulation, distress. Imagine naming your country that, and the ruler of Egypt, of course, is Pharaoh. It stands for the self-centered ego, personal ego, which rules from the subconscious, and we know that most of our selfishness and egotism is not really deliberate and conscious, but rather is subconscious in origin. That is, when you're being selfish and when you're being egotistic, it is hardly ever because you consciously want to be; that, you're observing yourself being that way, and giving approval to it. That hardly ever happens. A selfish or an egotistic attitude or expression usually comes from the subconscious. It's sort of something we're not controlling and fully aware of. It's more of a reactionary thing, and this is typical of all things that emanate from subconscious. They are almost always reaction-things, rather than consciously chosen modes of expression or reaction. This subconsciousness, especially that which is ruled by the personal ego, is the Egypt-domain of Pharaoh. Not up until the incident of Moses' encounter with the voice of the Lord, in the burning bush, which is in Exodus 3:2, the narrative seems to concern itself mostly with details of Moses growing up in Egypt for his first forty years.
Now, remembering that Egypt symbolizes, among other things, the ordinary materialistic and sense-bound aspect of life, and the number forty stands for a sufficient amount of time, an unspecified and unlimited but sufficient amount of time, Moses' life, during this period then, growing up, reaching forty in would symbolize the fact that a person has to first accomplish certain things, has to grow up in certain ways in connection with ordinary, materialistic life before he is eligible for the higher and more intangible accomplishments leading to a more spiritual kind of life. In other words, you could say that before a person really can take on self-responsibility for his own evolution, he has to first grow up as a material and sensual human being. To enter into a pathway of spiritual endeavor while one is immature, really immature, has not grown up in Egypt yet, could lead to very dire consequences.. Moses is the symbol for an orderly unfoldment of the sequences. So he grows up first in Egypt, and I wish more people who came into Unity would grow up in Egypt first, learn how to handle their personal life, their sense, their appetites, and handling of material - grow up there first - that's what the admissions committee is all about. Yet, that does not mean not to be idealistic, not to be mystical in your approach. Egypt, makes demands on us, and we have to learn how to fulfill many of those demands, which is called responsibility.
Moses illustrates, first, the growing up in Egypt, the maturing of responsibilities on the material and sense aspect of life. Now this does not mean that we must become famous or do spectacular things in Egypt. Moses didn't do that; he just grew up, that's all. He didn't have to perform all the tricks and become famous, first; just grow up in Egypt, become famous in the promised land, but just grow up in Egypt, unless fame is thrust upon you in Egypt, which can happen. Connie Haines had fame thrust upon her in Egypt, in "show biz", so she came here with a handicap, in a sense, which she transformed into a great asset. Had she not transformed it, that fame gained in Egypt could have really been a thorn in her flesh, if she'd let it. I could be wrong here, but this is one reason why I think the Unity ministry does not appeal to people who have made it big in other fields, because that other field is usually Egypt. Making it big in other fields in Egypt does not necessarily mean growing up in Egypt. We get people attracted into the Unity ministry who grew up in Egypt. That is the case of Moses. A man growing up in Egypt does not mean, necessarily, that he became famous or did spectacular things, but only that he developed a certain maturity and dependability and some sense of usefulness. I would add to that he has some intuitive inkling of his spiritual purpose; he may not know what it is, but he has an inkling that there is such a thing. This all begins in the Egypt realm of life. If he is a useless, undependable, immature person to ordinary life, what are his prospects in the higher and more subtle demands, which will come in a life more spiritual? Jesus brings this up in his teachings quite clearly. "If ye are not faithful in the little things, who will entrust to you the riches of the kingdom? A man who is faithful in very little will also be faithful in much."
Moses had to grow up in Egypt before the Promised Land work was given to him, so it seems reasonable to accept the fact that we, too, grow up in our ordinary, realistic, and sense-bound activities in life before we can expect the golden opportunities to display our spiritual promise and authority.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 15, 2015.