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 28, 1975
Exod. 4:21, pp. 203-207 of transcript.
Moses Returns to Egypt
So Moses goes back into Egypt. In Chapter 4, verse 21, we read these very strange words,
"And the Lord said unto Moses, 'When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharoah, which I have put into thine hand. But I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.'"
And then again, later, we read, in Chapter 9,
"And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharoah and he hearkened not unto them as the Lord had spoken unto Moses."
We have here presented the very puzzling fact that the Lord intends to harden Pharoah's heart so that it is known in advance that he will not let the people go. The situation seems very unjust, as it would be if we were merely taking this literally. But, metaphysically, there is some logic in that.
Just as many, many books later in the Bible in the Book of Job, we have almost this same paradox. We're told that Jehovah gives permission to Satan to afflict Job with torment. Now, if you were taking all this literally, as thousands do, you have a picture of some great, powerful being named God, literally giving permission to a friend named the devil to cover somebody's body with boils, to kill his family and children, and all that, just to prove a point. Here you could think of that same Lord telling Moses to go and do all this and then in a perverted way of thinking say, "But I'm going to harden his heart and he's not going to let them go, and then I'm going to have to kill all the Egyptian babies. Boy, oh boy, oh boy." And that's the God that there are people all over this country believing in that God, that get down on their knees and say, "Oh, I'm worshipful. I'm spiritual. I'm religious. I'm nuts."
Now, remember that one of the meanings of the Lord stands for the law of your growth. The Lord means many things, according to what you're dealing with in that connection, out in this particular case, it has to stand for the law of your growth, the law governing the patterning or unfolding of your growth, while Pharaoh stands for your personal, your individual ego, on the personal plane, on the natural man plane. The Israelites stand for all your potentialities or development of spiritual power and understanding. All these characters in the Bible you remember, are symbols of components of our own individual being. The minute you start thinking of this as interplay among entities out here, you can't resolve this kind of a scripture. When you bring it all inside of one person, yourself and each person's self, then you can begin to see the metaphysical rightness of this symbology.
If the Lord would simply force us to develop spiritually, would it really be growth or development? Suppose there were this great power which says, "This has to happen to you next, you have got to think this way next, you have got to make this right choice, and little Mary Beth, just like a Barbie doll, does it. There's no growth, then she is reacting to something she has no control or no choice in the matter, there's no freedom there, so there's no growth and development.
We know that for this to really be growth and unfoldment, and to be able to have the desirable states to exist in while this growth is occurring, much depends upon our choice in all these matters, modes of thinking and acceptance, beliefs. Can man's spiritual unfoldment come by enforcement, or must man, himself, determine his own willingness? Therefore, the Lord of our highest good, gives our ego hardness of heart. Your and my egos, Pharaoh, all have been given hardness of heart, which means the ability to resist or even to refuse the next step in the process of spiritual learning and growing.
In other words, if your ego decides in the face of some spiritual guidance or instruction, "No, I won't have it, I won't believe it", there's nothing in the world that can force your ego, because it has the freedom to have hardness of heart if it chooses. It can say, "uh-uh, I don't believe in healing, and you can't force me to believe in healing." But we know that eventually, just because it s heard the word healing, it' s going to, because Pharaoh doesn't stay Pharaoh all the time, on this level of us. All of us, every level of us, is changing, developing. Pharaoh has this ability, this freedom, to have hardness of heart if he wants. He can also, if he wants, have tenderness of heart, but in order for our freedom to exist, there has to be even the freedom to be hard-hearted, or it's not freedom.
Let's say your ego did not have the freedom to be hard-hearted. Would it be free then? No. It has the freedom to be hard-hearted in the face of our highest good. So people hard-heartedly or hard-boiledly, is the word we would use today, refuse their own highest good for egotistic reasons, for Egyptian reasons. It doesn't ever say in the narrative that Pharaoh was a bad person, a wicked man; it only implies that Pharaoh had hardness of heart, as every ego does. But the only reason Pharaoh does the things he does, is in the interest of the kingdom of Egypt. This is what egotism is; egotism doesn't act and get hard-hearted, selfish and refuse spiritual growth, because it is bad or wicked. Egotism is interested in its kingdom, which is Egypt, materiality, sensuality, self-preservation; it is not wicked, but it is detrimental to spiritual unfoldment. The ego does have this freedom of choice in what it's going to allow or not allow to happen on that personal plane.
We often think that we have no choice, but we do. There is always some part of use which has a choice. For instance, if something happened to you quite suddenly which made you angry; if you're not really aware, you could say, "But I had no choice. I had to get upset or I had to cry. There was no choice." This is not true. There is always , if it's just the tiniest; infinitesimal speck of a moment when you could have chosen; it's almost inconceivable but it's there, there is a split second in eternity where I could have, although I didn't and usually don't, but there is always the possibility to choose otherwise. If a person becomes aware enough of what capabilities he has in him, he might even be able to catch that fleeting moment and say, "There's no law in heaven or earth that says you've got to get to get angry." We just sort of overlook that and react and get, but that hardness of heart. Let's get over this business of that was just a bit of unjust hanky-panky on the part of the Lord, because it wasn't. This is not judging people's conduct, but analyzing through sheer symbolism, a certain area of man's soul, at least as it once was, for most people.
Pharaoh, being what it is in us, must be given this hardness of heart in order for him to be Pharaoh. Without it, it is no longer Pharaoh you're talking about, but you're talking about another factor of yourself if you remove the hardness of heart, you're talking about something else in a person's soul. When you're talking about Pharaoh, then you must include this quality, it can be hard-hearted, and the selfish, personal ego can be this.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 10, 2015.