Chapter VIII: The Mental Supplants the Physical
Genesis 26 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 26:1-11. And there was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines, unto Gerar. And Jehovah appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these lands; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: and the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, My wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die because of her. And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might easily have lain with thy wife, and thou wouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. And Abimelech charged all the people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
What is the result when personal will rules? How is such a condition corrected?
The soul established in a consciousness of serenity, peace, laughter, joy (Isaac), accepts spiritual things as real. God's promise is: "I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and I will give unto thy seed all these lands; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." When there is a need of substance the serene, joyous side of the soul through mind activity penetrates into the subconsciousness (Gerar), where there is an abundance of all things. But here the personal will (Abimelech) rules. When a mind is not strong enough to work from principle or has not faith enough to trust God, it exposes the beautiful and gracious side of its nature (Rebekah) to the undisciplined sense consciousness, the law is broken, and plagues result. In this case however personal will has received enough light to preceive the truth and the threatened harm is averted.
Gen. 26:12-22. And Isaac sowed in that land, and found in the same year a hundredfold: and Jehovah blessed him. And the man waxed great, and grew more and more until he became very great: and he had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, and a great household: and the Philistines envied him. Now all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped, and filled with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac
departed thence, and encamped in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdsmen of Gerar strove with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. And they digged another well, and they strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now Jehovah hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
In what way do the "Philistines" of one's consciousness strive for Abraham's "wells"?
Isaac was working according to law, and he was prospering. The Isaac faculty in man has a double mission. Isaac was the connecting link between Abraham and Israel; that is, between faith in God and rulership or manifestation of God. His activity in "unstopping" the wells dug by Abraham allegorizes the reopening of the hidden springs of life and the keeping of the soul consciously connected with its inner source. Isaac was not a well digger so much as a well "reopener." Abraham had dug the wells. Faith delves into the deep things of Spirit and unearths the pure life essence. In the beginning of spiritual unfoldment however the outer senses (Philistines) suppress or crowd out this fine substance and life of Spirit. The Philistines represent evil material thoughts that "fill with earth" the channels of spiritual expression.
Isaac's first well was named Esek, a name signifying "violence" or "contention." A warring takes place in the valley (the subconsciousness) between the Philistine herdsmen (the animal desires) and Isaac's servants (the awakening spiritual thoughts). The new energy and vigor of life that man gains by his conscious contact with Spirit is sought by the sense desires to be used at once for their gratification and pleasure. They would take this fine essence and energy to build up sense rather than to build up the spiritual nature. Thus contention and strife arise.
The second well was called Sitnah, a name that also signifies "strife" and "hatred." The material sense thoughts (Philistines) do not give up easily but follow the individual a long way on his path to development of a spiritual consciousness. However we read that Isaac's third well, called Rehoboth (a name signifying "broad places" or "enlargements"), was not taken by the Philistine. Material thoughts cannot continue to follow and annoy the man who is persistent in his determination to find the "water of life."
Gen. 26:23-33. And he went up from thence to Beer-sheba. And Jehovah appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of Jehovah, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.
Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phicol the captain of his host. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore are ye come unto me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? And they said, We saw plainly
that Jehovah was with thee: and we said, Let there now be an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee, that thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of Jehovah. And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.
Must one be willing to give up the lower for the higher? Explain.
This Scripture interprets itself very definitely within the soul of man. Isaac (spiritual peace, joy) under the guidance of Jehovah is conscious of the I AM pioneering faith (symbolized by Abraham). In this "place" in mind a new order is established, which denotes the willingness to give up the lower for the higher, the personal for the impersonal, the animal for the divine.
What is the predominant impulse of the will as represented by Abimelech?
At this stage of the allegory appears Abimelech, King of the Philistines (representing metaphysically the unregenerate will of the sense man). With him he brings Ahuzzath (selfishness) and Phicol ("speech") and tries to make an agreement with Isaac. The will (Abimelech) believes that it is the rightful ruler of man and that all the rich substance that comes to man from Spirit is for the gratification of sense desires. Having witnessed the ever-increasing power and possessions of Isaac, who represents divine sonship, Abimelech (the will) fears the loss of his own rule and possessions.
The divine Son, the Christ, does not destroy but fulfills and saves. Error eventually brings on its own destruction, but the error seems to flourish along with the good during a certain period of development; the wheat and tares are allowed to grow together until the harvest. The harvesttime came when the Israelites under Joshua took possession of the Promised Land. Even then the Philistines made several successful comebacks and had to be defeated again and again.
What does the opening up of the seven wells symbolize?
There were seven wells altogether, culminating in the one named Beer-sheba, "well of the oath" or "seventh well." The opening up of these seven wells symbolizes the establishment of a right relation in consciousness between the seven creative centers in natural man and the spiritual powers of the Christ man. The whole allegory illustrates the struggle going on within man for the possession of the life generated in his body. This struggle takes place between the higher and the lower nature of the individual--the spirtual soul and the animal soul--at a certain stage of his development. Beer-sheba is the place where the altar of victory is set up and God is given the thanks.
Gen. 26:34-35. And when Esau was forty years old he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: and they were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.
When Esau (the body consciousness) reaches the age of forty years (the number forty denoting a certain degree of completeness) he takes two wives (makes union with two forces), Judith and Basemath. Judith (the feminine consciousness of prayer and praise) is the daughter of Beeri (limitation). Basemath (the
ability to receive intuitively spiritual understanding and guidance) is the daughter of Elon (materiality and transitoriness). Because of the limiting, unenduring, material character of these forces, this union for a season is bound to bring trial and grief to the higher spiritual forces (Isaac and Rebekah) finding expression through the body consciousness (Esau).
Why is it necessary to regard Scripture as the history of soul unfoldment?
The Bible narrative about Jacob and Esau has always been read historically, and theologians have had trouble trying to excuse Jacob and Rebekah for their apparent duplicity in their dealings with Isaac and Esau. When read in the light of spiritual understanding or considered as part of the history of the unfoldment of the individual soul, the incidents lose their aspect of duplicity and we find that they are a description of the subtle working of the soul in spiritual evolution under the guidance of Divine Mind. The soul is progressive. It must go forward. The soul must meet and overcome its limitations.
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 202-212: Genesis 25 Mysteries of Genesis
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 219-225: Genesis 27 Mysteries of Genesis