Chapter VIII: The Mental Supplants the Physical
Genesis 25 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 25:1-4. And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
The name of Abraham's second wife, Keturah, means "incense," "perfume," "aloeswood." Keturah represents a soul consciousness that aspires to higher things even though still in sense.
To Abraham Keturah bare six sons. Zimran represents a positive expression of joy, harmony, and grace, the first conscious result of a union in the individual of awakening faith (Abraham) with the aspiration of the soul for higher bodily attainment (Keturah). Jokshan represents a sly, treacherous, deceitful tendency that often exists in the sense mind of man and that places the individual who gives way to it in difficult situations. Medan and Midian represent the sense of dominion that to a degree is founded on discrimination and understanding but that is still full of contention and strife. Ishbak typifies the transitoriness of human ambition and its results. Shuah denotes an exceedingly depressed, downcast state of thought.
The meaning of the names of the six sons of Abraham and Keturah point to divided thought; the thoughts are partly good thoughts and partly limited thoughts, thoughts of the sense mind. The descendants of these sons became enemies of the Israelites. While the trend of thought represented by them may to a certain extent be helpful to the natural man at a certain stage of his unfoldment, the time comes when they must be released from the mind so that the real, true thoughts and activities (Israelites) may have full sway in the consciousness.
Jokshan begat Sheba, who represents wholeness or fullness on various planes of existence ("return to an original state," "repose," "equilibrium"), and Dedan ("mutual attraction," "physical love," "low"), who represents a phase of physical or animal attraction and affection. This must give way to true love, which is spiritual in its character and is unselfish and pure.
Dedan had three sons. Asshurim represents the reasoning power of faith operating in sense consciousness. The reasoning of the intellect, guided by the
senses, may seem almost invincible at times, but it does not endure. Only spiritual ideas and their manifestation are truly strong, powerful, and abiding. The second son of Dedan was Letushim, who represents the sense of being oppressed and hard driven that all persons in the lower, earthly consciousness experience much of the time. In the Letushim consciousness advancement is slow and is gained by means of hard experiences. The third son of Dedan was Leummim, who symbolizes great increase and multiplication of thoughts in consciousness but without real spiritual quickening.
Midian had five sons. Ephah represents darkened and obscured phases of thought and soul in which the Spirit of God is working--over which Spirit is brooding--that Truth may blossom forth and come to fruition in due time. Midian's second son was Epher, who represents thoughts on the animal plane of consciousness in man that are active but young and inexperienced. His third son was Hanoch, who represents entrance into a higher consciousness than has been known and experienced before. The fourth son, Abida, represents the belief that knowledge comes through the senses. The judgment of the senses, based on outer appearances, produces discordant thoughts, jealousies, and the like. Midian's fifth son Eldaah ("whom God has called"), represents a central thought that responds in a measure to the quickening presence of Spirit although it belongs to the sense phase of man consciousness. It perceives that God is the source of understanding, yet it does not bring forth definite fruit in consciousness.
Gen. 25:5-6. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts; and he sent
them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.
Why did Isaac take precedence over the sons of Abraham's concubines?
Isaac was the product of Abraham's spiritual consciousness, while the sons of the concubines were the product of his personal consciousness. Hence Isaac (meaning divine sonship) was the rightful heir to all that Abraham had.
Gen. 25:7-11. And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, a hundred three-score and fifteen. And Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people. And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; the field which Abraham purchased of the children of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife. And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi.
Machpelah was a field "before Mamre" that Abraham bought from Ephron, of the children of Heth. Machpelah represents the subconscious body substance. As in the case of Sarah, when the aggregation of thoughts symbolized by Abraham has done its perfect work in the conscious realm of mind, it gives way for the time being to other activities of the mind and sinks back into the subconsciousness. (See comments on Gen. 23:3-20.)
The name Mamre means "firmness," "vigor," "strength." The lesson here is that faith in God (suggested by Abraham) brings about the right relation among all the faculties, establishing firmness, vigor, and strength.
How does the individual lay the foundation for the manifestation of life throughout mind, soul, and body?
After Abraham's passing God blessed Isaac, and he dwelt in Beer-lahai-roi by the well of the same name. The name Beer-lahai-roi means "the well of the living one." Isaac symbolizes divine sonship. When the individual realizes that life is omnipresent and eternal and that Spirit is its source he has laid the foundation for its manifestation throughout his whole being.
Gen. 25:12-18. Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the first-born of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their villages, and by their encampments; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael a hundred and thirty seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: he abode over against all his brethren.
The first-born of Ishmael was Nebaioth. Nebaioth represents the outer, sensate, or material consciousness, reflecting the light of the inner, true ideas that are born of Spirit ("heights"), and realizing the possibility of bringing forth abundant good ("cultivation of the soil," "fruitfulness," "germinations") through the power of the word of understanding ("prophetic utterances," "inspired words").
The second son of Ishmael was Kedar. Kedar represents a confused, unsettled, disturbed, obscure thought
yet one with a degree of power that belongs to the outer or sense side of consciousness.
The third son of Ishmael was Adbeel. Adbeel represents a yearning of the soul for something higher and better. This yearning will bring forth fruit in time, when it has been subjected to the necessary education and training. Though not always recognized as coming from God, this discipline is brought about by the working of the divine law.
The fourth son, Mibsam, represents a perception or sensing, to a degree, of the joys and beauties of Spirit: the power to perceive, discriminate, detect, estimate.
The fifth son, Mishma, represents a receptive, attentive, obedient attitude in the outer or sense consciousness.
The sixth son, Dumah, represents the condition that man calls death; also the state of man wherein he is dead through his trespasses and sins.
The seventh son, Massa, represents the ushering in of a new thought regarding that in man which has hitherto been deemed by him to be wholly material and so doomed to death and dissolution. This new thought is a prophecy that the seemingly physical body will ultimately be lifted up and saved alive. Massa represents a type of thought that lays hold of, retains, and transports this truth ("divine declaration," "a lifting up,") into the outer organism, the seemingly mortal part of the individual.
Ishmael's eighth son was Hadad. Hadad symbolizes the setting up as all-powerful of the intellect in its spiritually unawakened state. Back of the intellect however, back of every expression of intelligence or understanding,
there exists the hidden principle of all light, all wisdom, all knowledge: God, Spirit.
The ninth son, Tema, represents abundant substance and life, firmness, faithfulness, and Truth stored in the subconsciousness.
The tenth son, Jetur, represents an idea of order, solidity, strength, that which keeps within bounds; the idea or belief that the individual can be kept in orderly existence only when limited to certain lines of thought and action, only when his thoughts, beliefs, and acts are fenced in. The sense man's way of making the individual better is always to limit him by means of outer rules and regulations; it knows nothing of true spiritual freedom and guidance, which alone can bring about real strength, unity, and adjustment in consciousness.
The eleventh son, Naphish, symbolizes the activity of the very breath of life by which every living creature is animated and inspired, consciously or unconsciously.
The twelfth son, Kedemah, represents the inner or true being of man, divine principle; that which exists from everlasting to everlasting, man's true spiritual or Christ self.
Ishmael represents the thoughts that are the fruit of the personal or carnal in man. Kedemah, the youngest of his twelve sons, symbolizes the individual's turning within to his inner or true being, which is spiritual, eternal. This makes us think of Paul's words in I Cor. 15:46, 47: "Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven." God, Spirit, and
the Christ, who is man's true inner self, are first; otherwise the outer man could not be. In outer expression and manifestation however the physical man appears to come first, and he seems to run the full gamut of experience in the outer consciousness before he finally turns about and begins to seek within his own inner being to find God, Spirit, his true source and sustenance.
Gen. 25:19-22. And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac: and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Paddanaram, the sister of Laban the Syrian, to be his wife. And Isaac entreated Jehovah for his wife, because she was barren: and Jehovah was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, wherefore do I live? And she went to inquire of Jehovah.
When Isaac (representing serenity, peace, joy) was forty years old he took Rebekah to be his wife. Rebekah symbolizes the soul's natural delight in beauty. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who symbolizes unity with God, a conscious abiding in Him, and the sister of Laban, who symbolizes an exalted state of mind.
Gen. 25:23-28. And Jehovah said unto her,
Two nations are in thy womb,
And two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels:
And the one people shall be stronger than the other people;
And the elder shall serve the younger.
And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and she called his name Esau. And after that came forth
his brother, and his hand had hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was three-score years old when she bare them.
And the boys grew: and Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: and Rebekah loved Jacob.
What phases of life are symbolized by Jacob and Esau?
The inner joyous life current (Isaac) gradually builds up a physical body of great vitality and at the same time develops an active mentality. These two phases of life, the mental and the physical, are represented by Isaac's twin sons Jacob and Esau. They were twins, but Esau was slightly the older, which fact under the Hebrew law gave him the rights of the eldest son and made him Isaac's heir. Metaphysically this denotes the physical vigor comes first at this stage of development but that the mind accompanies it as a close second. Jacob had hold of Esau's heel when they were born, showing that the mental is directly connected with the physical and holds it in check at all times, even from the beginning.
Why did Isaac love Esau more than he loved Jacob?
Isaac loved Esau better than he loved Jacob. When we remember that Isaac represents joy in the individual consciousness we can understand why the physical man seems to supply the needs of joy better than does the mental. Esau continually brought venison (substance to nourish the animal appetite) to please his father.
Why did Rebekah love Jacob more than she loved Esau?
Rebekah loved Jacob better than she loved Esau. The exalted mother principle (Rebekah) loves its expression (Jacob) better than the physical expression (Esau) and seeks the blessing of the father principle (Isaac) upon it.
How does the intellect gain precedence over the body?
Esau's birthright is the body and the all-round
development to which it is entitled. It is an inheritance of potential mental powers, which rightly used will lift the physical man out of the fleshly consciousness to the higher consciousness of the allness of Divine Mind. Under the natural law of evolution the physical man (Esau) is brought forth first and has precedence over the intellectual man (Jacob). However in this allegory the physical man is overwhelmed by his desire for creature comforts ("pottage") and does not sufficiently value the mind power that has been given to man. The mental man, being on a higher plane, naturally draws to himself the finer forces of being. In consequence Jacob (the intellect) acquires precedence over Esau (the body consciousness).
Gen. 25:29-33. And Jacob boiled pottage: and Esau came in from the field, and he was faint: and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me first thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am about to die: and what profit shall the birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me first; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
What is represented by the mess of "pottage"? Was the union of mind and body perfectly expressed in Jacob and Esau?
The ambitious ideas of the intellect forge far ahead of the growth of the body. Instead of supplying the body with its natural substance, which is spiritual, it gives the body consciousness intellectual ideas (boiled pottage). (Esau was named Edom, "red," because he sold his birthright for the red pottage. Edom pertains to the outer man, the physical phase of man's consciousness and organism.) This results in a temporary separation in consciousness between the mind and the body. Esau went his way, and Jacob became a man rich
in the world's goods. Under divine law, however, they were twins and the separation was only apparent. They were to become united again and share all the blessings that Jacob (intellect) had gained.
What is meant by the birthright that Esau bartered away?
We must remember that the "birthright" that Esau so willingly bartered away for a mess of pottage meant not only a right to the material goods of his father Isaac but to the spiritual blessings of the covenant of Abraham, which descending on him, should through him bless the world. Instead of "Abraham, Isaac, and Esau" the immortal words would be "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." To a "profane person" (Heb. 12:16) this would have no meaning, for spiritual blessings are visionary and unreal to him.
Is age a just claim to superiority?
The name Jacob means "supplanter." In the development of the spiritual consciousness the supplanting quality finds its true office in replacing selfishness with unselfishness. We who seek to bring the ideal into active expression in our life know that to do this we must put into the place occupied by willful self-seeking an unwavering faith in the unseen God. The sensual must be supplanted by the spiritual, the apparent by the ideal. The fact that Jesus approvingly cited the Jewish tradition in His words "Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" proves the value of this supplanting power or power that man has to change his mind and so remake his consciousness and his life.
Why did Jacob take advantage of Esau? What is the order of development in the natural world?
Jacob, representing a limited concept of the I AM, is ambitious to receive original inspiration and is unwilling to let appetite and passion rule. Therefore as the whole scheme of development is from lower to
higher, Jacob (intellect) must supplant Esau (the immature consciousness of the natural man that is moved by desire).
How does man become a citizen of the inner kingdom?
It is by the work of conscious re-creation of his life after the pattern of the divine ideal that man gains self-dominion and becomes a citizen of the kingdom of the heavens, the inner kingdom of peace and power.
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 194-201: Genesis 24 Mysteries of Genesis
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 213-218: Genesis 26 Mysteries of Genesis