Chapter X: The Spiritual Gains Precedence of the Mental
Genesis 32 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 32:1, 2. And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And Jacob said when he saw them, This is God's host: and he called the name of the place Mahanaim.
What was the "host" after which Jacob named the place called Mahanaim?
The name Mahanaim means "two camps," "two hosts," "companies." In the individual consciousness Mahanaim represents spiritual ideas and the physical realm ("two hosts"). This idea is brought out very clearly in the naming of the place by Jacob. The "two hosts" are the angels of God (messengers of God: spiritual ideas) on the one hand, and Jacob and his company, his wives, children, and possessions (manifestations of ideas) on the other.
Gen. 32:3-28. And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the field of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, Thus shall ye say unto my lord Esau: Thus saith thy servant Jacob, I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed until now: and I have oxen, and asses, and flocks, and men-servants, and maid-servants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in thy sight. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and moreover he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. Then Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed: and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks, and the herds, and the camels, into two companies; and he said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the company which is left shall escape. And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, O Jehovah, who saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will do thee good: I am not worthy of the least of all the lovingkindnesses, and of all the truth, which thou hast shown unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two companies.
Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he come and smite me, the mother with the children. And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.
And he lodged there that night, and took of that which he had with him a present for Esau his brother: two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten foals. And he delivered them into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said unto his servants, Pass over before me, and put a space betwixt drove and drove. And he commanded the foremost, saying, When Esau my brother meeteth thee, and asketh thee, saying, Whose art thou? and whither goeth thou? and whose are these before thee? then thou shalt say, They are thy servant Jacob's; it is a present sent unto my lord Esau: and, behold, he also is behind us. And he commanded also the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when ye find him; and ye shall say, Moreover, behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept me. So the present passed over before him: and he himself lodged that night in the company.
And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two hand-maids, and his eleven children, and passed over the ford of the Jabbok. And he took them, and sent them over the stream, and sent over that which he had. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was
strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
Edom was the name of the country where Esau's descendants lived. It represents the outer man, the body, or the carnal, physical phase of man's consciousness and organism. The significance of Seir is virtually the same as that of Edom. Seir apparently designates especially the emotional and stormy yet deep-seated carnal tendencies in the physical.
Does the river Jordan perform an important work in consciousness?
The Jordan ("flowing of judgment") may be said to represent that place in consciousness where we are willing to meet the results of our thoughts face to face and understandingly and courageously to pass judgment on all thoughts.
Explain something of the equalizing process that takes place between soul and body. Why is such a process necessary?
In the soul's unfoldment the higher faculties forge ahead, establish states of consciousness, and gather possessions of substance that must afterward be distributed to the lower faculties. Jacob represents the soul that has become rich in ideas. A time comes when an equalizing process begins and the body (Esau) must be given some of the riches of the soul.
What is symbolized by Jacob's fear of meeting Esau?
Until love has done its perfect work man is fearful. Jacob feared to meet Esau. We find it hard to face the full claims of the body (Esau) after we have cheated it of its birthright, unity of soul and body in spiritual thought. Divine courage must supplant this fear before we are equal to facing the consequences of our self-centered thoughts and to taking up the task of harmonizing
all our forces. But the vital power of Spirit animates the body, and it responds readily to our true thought when we give it of our substance.
What is the "strong man" with which the intellect must struggle for control of the body?
The soul does not like to enter into struggles to overcome material habits, but it is necessary that it do so. The name of the ford where Jacob wrestled with the angel means "wrestling," and the inference is that it was hard for Jacob to put aside the things that he loved and to enter alone into the invisible to wrestle with the forces of the subconsciousness or sense consciousness in darkness. This struggle with the physical is illustrated in the overcoming by Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. The error is "pressed out" and the rich oil of reality saved.
The life in the subconsciousness has several planes of action. In the deep recesses of the nerves it sends its energy to and fro, coming to the surface here and there in flesh-and-blood sensation. There is a strong man down there about whom the average person knows little. He lives so far below the plane of common consciousness that the great majority of men go through their whole life without making his acquaintance. This man is pure nature, the foundation of the body. Without him man could not take form, and it is his tenacity that keeps our organism intact. He belongs to nature and is universal; hence when the individual attempts to control him and to lift him up, there is resistance, and a severe struggle with him is inevitable. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh."
Through what physical avenue does the mind control the body? Explain the reaction that is indicated by Jacob's thigh being out of joint. Why was Jacob's name changed to Israel?
The mind controls the body through the thoughts acting on the nerves. The sciatic nerve runs down the leg through the hollow of the thigh, and the will
acts directly through this nerve. When the intellect (Jacob) exercises its power in the effort to control the natural man within, there follows a letting go of human will--Jacob's thigh is out of joint. A great light of understanding breaks in on the struggling soul, of which the intellect is a part, when it discovers that there is a divine-natural body, and it clings to that inner life and strength until it brings to the surface the blessing of perpetual physical vigor. Jacob (intellect) said, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." The blessing carried with it a new name, Israel; one who has striven with God and with men and has prevailed. "Israel" is one who is a prince and has power as regards both God and man, the spiritual and the material.
Under what circumstances is the intellect willing to make amends to the body?
We can appreciate why Jacob (the intellect) after this experience was willing to make amends to Esau (the body), whom he had cheated and neglected all these years. When the intellect or conscious mind realizes and exercises its superior ability there is an intuitive feeling of injustice and a fear of the results. An awareness of having disregarded divine law coupled with inability to recall the cause of this fear results in much mental concern. Persons who let the ambitious intellect override the demands and rights of the body (Esau) eventually find themselves afraid and anxious to make restitution to the body.
Gen. 32:29-32. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, said he, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And the sun rose
upon him as he passed over Penuel, and he limped upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not the sinew of the hip which is upon the hallow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
How can one change the body? Explain.
Instead of Jacob being weaker, as his limp would indicate, he was stronger, because he had made a spiritual adjustment between the higher and the lower in his body consciousness. One can change one's attitude toward the body and thus change the body itself by following the advise of Paul: "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Do not judge by the appearance, do not call your body temple evil or corruptible flesh; do not fall into the error of mortal mind. See in the body what Jacob saw, the face of God; for it is ever the temple of the living God.
Explain the statement "I have seen God face to face."
The name Peniel means "turned toward God," "face of God," "within the presence of God." Peniel symbolizes the inner realization of the divine presence, the realization of having met God face to face and of having succeeded through prayer in attaining the divine favor and blessing that have been sought.
(Penuel is the same name as Peniel and carries the same meaning and symbology.)
The "children of Israel eat not the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day," as a reminder of a spiritual truth that they may not understand now but will eventually.
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 254: Chapter X: The Spiritual Gains Precedence of the Mental
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 261-266: Genesis 33 Mysteries of Genesis