Chapter VIII: The Mental Supplants the Physical
Genesis 28 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 28:1-9. And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a company of peoples; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojournings, which God gave unto Abraham. And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Paddam-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.
Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; and that Jacob obey his father and his mother, and was gone to Paddan-aram: and Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father, and Esau went unto Ishmael, and took, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife.
Compare the results of Jacob's marriage to Rebekah and of Esau's union with the daughter of Ishmael.
A man's marrying a wife symbolizes the union of the ego with certain ideals. If these ideals are spiritual, then spiritual character is developed with all its qualities. If the union is with inferior ideals, like that of Esau, the fruit may be large in quantity, but it will be of inferior quality. Jacob was admonished to go to Paddan-Aram ("tableland"), to the house of Bethuel ("dweller in God"), and to take a wife from among the daughters of Laban ("shining," "pure"). Paddan-aram represents levelheadedness, poise in Spirit; and Laban, with whom Jacob (the unfolding ego) seeks association, represents a clear state of mind in which higher understanding is dominant. Thus the way is pointed to a unification with the love principle in its higher aspects. Jacob had exalted ideals, divine aspirations, and now it was necessary that love should become one of his attributes. High ideals, spiritual aspirations, and pure motives are necessary to the union that the I AM makes with the soul.
Esau took Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. The Ishmaelites represent the offspring of the natural, unillumined races (states of mind). Nebaioth denotes the outer, sensate, or material consciousness. Mahalath symbolizes a peaceful,
harmonious, tuneful attitude of the soul, found in expression on the carnal and also on a higher plane.
Gen. 28:10-17. And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed; and, behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and, behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, Jehovah stood above it, and said, I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely Jehovah is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
What does Jacob's experience at Beth-el denote?
On his journey to Haran--which had a double purpose: to escape the wrath of the disappointed Esau, and "to take him a wife"--Jacob came to a certain place where he tarried all night, "because the sun was set." He took one of the stones that abounded in the place for use as a pillow and lay down to sleep. This incident illustrates the fact that when we are going through an emotional experience that is leading us upward to a
higher spiritual consciousness we may not understand what is happening, may have no light on it ("the sun was set"), but if like Jacob we tarry there in the darkness in meditation, the messengers of God--ideas of Truth--will come to us in the subconsciousness (dreams).
Jacob's act of placing a stone under his head symbolizes the effort of the understanding to put itself in a position to unravel the meaning of matter and material conditions. In the very midst of seeming materiality and darkened understanding the visions of the night reveal the ladder reaching from earth to heaven and the angels of God (spiritual thoughts) ascending it and descending it. The ladder represents the step-by-step realization by means of which man assimilates the divine ideas of Truth that come to him from Jehovah. Jehovah promised the land to Jacob and his seed and assured Jacob of His continued presence and power: "Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee . . . And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely Jehovah is in this place; and I knew it not."
Explain God as omnipresence.
God is right here in our midst. Understanding, when turned toward the omnipresent light of Spirit, opens its eyes to the astonishing fact that the seemingly material bodies and temporal surroundings conceal the immanent God. Jacob said, "How dreadful is this place! this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." When divine wisdom reveals to us that our seemingly physical body is "none other than the house of God," we are at first afraid. It seems "dreadful" that we have made the Father's
house a "den of robbers."
Gen. 28:18-22. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethe-el: but the name of the city was Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, and Jehovah will be my God, then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
How can common things and the hardness of one's experience be made to bless?
In the morning of this new understanding even the temporal surroundings become holy in our sight. Like Jacob we set up the common things, the stones upon which we slept in ignorance, and pour the oil of joy and gladness upon them. Then we name the place (our body temple and its affairs) Bethel, the "house of God." Jacob took the stone that he had used for a pillow and made a pillar of it. Instead of whining over the hardness of his experience he blessed it and made it a sustaining point in his mind.
Explain God as the all-providing One.
Jacob was awestruck by the tremendous thought of omnipresence: what seems so commonplace may be the very house of God, and thinking some true thought or doing some loving act may be the gate of heaven. Jacob's vow to be more faithful to God and to give Him one tenth of all he received is a recognition of God as the source of all that man requires and also of the need of a constant reminder of this fact; hence the agreement to give back the tithe. Those who practice tithing testify that it leads them into an understanding
of the relation of God to material affairs that they can get in no other way. When a person feels that he has God for a partner in all his financial affairs, he is never afraid of failure or lack.
In his inner consciousness man can make an agreement of this kind with the Mind of Spirit and can keep it in his everyday affairs. Many metaphysicians write out such contracts and put them away in the full assurance that the terms will be carried out by both contracting parties, God and man. It is found by nearly everyone who tries this plan that the agreement is fulfilled. If you would have your material affairs prosper, agree with Jehovah to give one tenth of your income to some work dedicated to God. If you keep your part of the agreement, you may rest assured that the Lord will keep His and abundantly prosper you, that your financial affairs will be taken care of without worry or strain on your part, and that you will come into a land where peace and plenty go hand in hand.
How does one begin the ascent from self to selflessness?
When there is recognition in fact by the mental (Jacob) of the true nature of the body's essence and of the spiritual nature of all life, then we begin the ascent from self to selflessness. We are then willing to give of our thought substance to God, and the house of God (the body) bears witness to the sincerity of our vow.
The natural seeks to hold onto all that it can gain by fair or unfair means, but the heart self, as soon as it has had a vision of the infinite, seeks in its turn to give. In this dream Jacob heard the voice of God saying, "To thee will I give . . ." When he awoke and came to himself, his quickened heart echoed in thankful responsiveness, "I will surely give . . . unto thee."
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 219-225: Genesis 27 Mysteries of Genesis
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 231-232: Chapter IX: Man Develops Spiritual Faculties