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
Pharaoh and Plagues
From Chapters 5 to 13, are described in great, profuse detail, the events beginning of Pharaoh's first refusal to let the people go. Pharaoh's constant, fluctuating, changes of mind plagues visited on Egypt because of all this, then Pharaoh's almost final commission to let the Israelites go because of the final plague, which was the death of the first born son of every Egyptian family. Pharaoh's reluctance, fluctuations about letting the people go illustrates the predicament, and I'd really like to have a very tolerant and lenient attitude towards Pharaoh in this situation, because we all get into it. You know we can sit in class and say, "Uh, how awful that Pharaoh is. He should have let the people go."
And yet in your own life, you find yourself over and over and over again in situations where Pharaoh has a tough row to hoe. We can be as self-righteous as we want to be in our current advantage of hindsight, of being followers of truth and all that, but nevertheless, Pharaoh has his job to do, and good old Satan has his job to do in the universal scheme of things. And it's no good for us to just squash everything that we think we've risen above, although we've risen above it, it's still there on some level of consciousness. So Pharaoh has this predicament as to what to do when spiritual or truth study and spiritual unfoldment seem to pose a threat to its kingdom in us.
Don't just judge Pharaoh; I mean even the Pharaoh in yourself and the things it has done or still does. Try to be fair to the whole of yourself. There is a kingdom of you called Egypt; that's the part of you which is thoroughly immersed in and responsible for the materialistic and sensual things of existence. Many times it seems to the ego that if I go forward or permit progress to occur, certain spiritual disciplines, certain spiritual knowledge, certain sacrifices, certain complete changes of character and lifestyle, then it can seem to be a threat to the existence, the prolongation of the Egyptian part of my life. If I become spiritual, do I have to give up sex? Thousands and thousands of people have gone through this dilemma in their personal ego. Do I have to quit eating meat to be a good truth student? This is a threat to my dietary habits. If I can't lose my temper anymore, my kids won't have any respect for me. All of this is a genuine dilemma that we have to go through. We have to go through this, because it becomes a part of our life education.
Until we really get a life education, folks, we aren't going to get a spiritual education. That will be delayed until we resolve some of the Egyptian dilemmas and complications. So let's be a little sympathetic towards Pharaoh. On the materialistic, sensual, self-interest, Pharaoh is not easily convinced to make way for generosity and spiritual idealism, even though such things would be good for the whole man. Those things would be good for the whole man, but as you've all learned, I hope, egotism is not interested in benefitting the whole man but is more interested in benefitting only the kingdom he rules in us, of which Egypt is the symbol of materialism and sensuality. The struggle between Moses and the will of Pharaoh simply illustrates an inner struggle which most intelligent people go through, especially those who are spiritually oriented. It is the all too familiar vacillation, which occurs between our desire to live the truth we are learning and the aim of the short-sighted personal ego.
Moses stands for the evolutionary impulse towards spiritual growth and unfoldment, mostly through the learning and practicing the law of cause and effect, but it is definitely heading more and more towards spiritual awareness, which is the promised land. Moses is not spiritual; he's more of a cause and effect impulse, obedience, and agency for it, but he's very important, a very important factor.
Now, the plagues of course, are quite easy to understand. They weren't easy to take, but they're easy to understand; they are broad and general references to negative manifestations of negative thinking and resisting spiritual guidance, the resisting of spiritual opportunities, Pharaoh's reigning on the promise to let the people go, bringing into one's experience unpleasant life events and experiences. It's one of the basic, basic, basic metaphysical teachings, thinking and resisting the spirit, resisting one's guidance, and being dishonest in one's dealings with one's own inner decisions results in very unpleasant and painful life circumstances and events.
The tenth plague, the death of the first-born son of each Egyptian family, that's a real hard thing to take on the historical, literal level. In my case, just impossible; I can't even deal with it on that level, because I get so mad at Jehovah that my mind just kind of goes blank. I have to go to the purely symbolic, metaphysical level of this. Knowing that Egyptians do not stand for Egyptian people - if you can get that across to a class, you've done them a great service - Egyptians does not mean Egyptian people. Egyptians stand for material and sense-bound consciousness. All of the thoughts and the feelings are the inhabitants that preserve that in us, the material and sense-bound consciousness. Now, the first-born of each family would stand for an important outcome or manifestation of these faculties, that is a sense-bound, materialistic thought and feeling get together and have an offspring, which is another sense-bound, materialistic thought or feeling, first-born of the Egyptian family. The first-born stands for important outcomes or manifestations of this particular nature. Now, the dead of the first-born Egyptian - remember, what I'm giving you is not the only interpretation, one that I'm offering. There could be others, and they could be even more thorough and- more correct - but as I see it, the dead of the first-born Egyptian refers to the fact that all strictly materialistic production of the mind and all of the purely sensual pleasures are short-lived. If you don't believe that, think it over. These first-born didn't live long; they were killed. They are the products of sensuality and materiality, materialistic thinking. They do produce, but they are, for the most part, short-lived. Now, it does not say that all the Egyptian children were killed, then, only the first born. All of the products of our sense and materialistic thinking are not killed, but in this case it says the first born was. The first born was the most important in the Egyptian family, the most significant; and that would have an implication there, too.
Some of your fondest hopes and dreams that are strictly of a materialistic or sensual nature would be the first born of that Egyptian, your honest hopes and expectations, and then you find it's very, very short-lived, very ephemeral. All materialistic and sense pleasures or things are temporary. We've got to reconcile ourselves to that. They come, they are born, and they go, they die, some quicker than others. It does not matter how precious or important they seem to us, first born child. When a person finally realizes this, that you cannot permanently hang on to sensual or materialistic products, from that level of consciousness, then the chances are even our own personal egotism is convinced, at last, that it is best in the long run that I permit this inner journey, this inner search for truth and things of the spirit to begin. And this happens in us when our own egotism finally allows us to take the plunge into taking religion and spiritual things very, very seriously. In other words, not going to church on Sunday because Momma says so or because it's a socially accepted thing in this community, but really decide to dedicate my existence to the furtherance of my spiritual understanding and power. That is when Pharaoh almost, finally, lets the people go.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on February 10, 2015.