Chapter XI: Joseph a Type of the Christ
Genesis 37 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 37:1-8. And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and he was a lad with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought the evil report of them unto his father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren; and they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves came round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
Explain the part imagination plays in manifestation.
Joseph represents the faculty of imagination. This faculty produces the pictures or images that make visible every idea that the mind can conceive and reveals to the illumined intellect (Jacob) the activities of the other faculties (Joseph's brothers; in this case the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah).
Compare Joseph's coat with the seamless garment of Jesus.
Joseph was the proud owner of a coat of many colors, a gift from his father. The coat is the symbol
of the Truth given to us by the Father. Truth in its entirety is symbolized by the seamless garment that Jesus wore, for it cannot be separated into divisions or parts. All truth is one Truth. Joseph's coat being of many colors indicates that when we open up this new realm of consciousness and begin to use the imagination, our conception of Truth is colored by the many previous mental states that have so long herded our flocks of thoughts. At this stage we have not yet come into the understanding, into the pure white light of unqualified Truth, that is symbolized by the seamless robe of unity.
Where is the home of the imagination?
The home of the imagination is in the realm of ideas, where another dimension of mind is opened to it, even the kingdom of the heavens. The imaging faculty gives man the ability to project himself through time and space and thus rise above these limitations as well as all other limitations. Even when the conscious mind is asleep the imagination continues its activity and we have dreams.
Should one take one's dreams literally? Explain.
As we have learned, we cannot take our dreams literally but must interpret them by means of the symbols given us. For instance, Joseph's dream about the sheaves was a dream about substance and a prophecy of his attainment of a superior consciousness of universal substance. That consciousness of substance afterward brought forth fruit when he supervised the storage of grain in Egypt, and this grain furnished needed supply to his father and brothers and brought them to him. Imagination uses ideas to increase its store of universal substance and clothes ideas in form; for it is both a formative and an increasing faculty.
What may result from uncontrolled activity of the imagination? How is control obtained?
An uncontrolled imagination will often exaggerate
and increase one's consciousness of trivial or even unreal things until both mind and body are affected. (Joseph carried tales about his brothers to his father.) The imagination is a very powerful faculty, and we must learn to discipline it if we would make it practical in serving our highest good. By following the inspiration of the supermind or Jehovah consciousness we can control the imagination and direct its work to practical ends.
Gen. 37:9-22. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed yet a dream; and, behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren; and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father kept the saying in mind.
And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. And Israel said unto Joseph, Are not thy brethren feeding the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. And he said to him, Go now, see whether it is well with thy brethren, and well with the flock; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. And a certain man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? And he said, I am seeking my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they are feeding the flock. And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan.
And they saw him afar off, and before he came
near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits, and we will say, An evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. And Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand, and said, Let us not take his life. And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood; cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but lay no hand upon him: that he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father.
In the foregoing Scripture Joseph's dream is very significant. Jacob's words "Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?" are self-explanatory.
Why did Jacob send Joseph down into Shechem?
Shechem denotes a thought of burdens, which reveals that the brothers took to heart Joseph's superior attitude. Joseph's talebearing propensity and the fact that their father loved Joseph better than he did his brothers served to stir up the antagonism of the other sons toward Joseph. Jacob (the I AM) (functioning in Hebron, which means "united," "bound by a common bond") sent Joseph (the imagination) down into Shechem ("bending down," "a burden") to see how his brothers (the other faculties) fared. Jacob (the I AM) operating in the consciousness of friendship and unity did not take seriously the contention that Joseph (the boasting imagination) had brought about.
The name Dothan means "two wells," "edicts," "customs." Dothan symbolizes the double standard of thought that man holds regarding his life and substance, the law of Being on the one hand, custom on the other. His customary beliefs lead to limited, warped
experiences, while an understanding of the true law of Being increases the activity of the power of God in his life and also makes him conscious of that activity. (Dothan is the place where Joseph found his brethren.)
Reuben, symbolizing the faculty of discernment in the outer, suggested the pit (which represents a pitfall or trap), intending later to deliver Joseph and thus restore him to the arms of his father.
Gen. 37:23-28. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother, our flesh. And his brethren hearkened unto him. And there passed by Midianites, merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they brought Joseph into Egypt.
What is represented by Gilead? By the Ishmaelites? By the Midianites?
Gilead represents the high place in consciousness where Spirit discerns and witnesses to what is true and to all man's thoughts and acts so that an adjustment may be made throughout mind and body. The Ishmaelites represent the fruit of the thought of the natural man at work in the flesh; also the consciousness that recognizes God but that, because of the seeming opposition of the outer world, does not find expression
according to the highest standard.
The Midianites were enemies of the Israelites. The Midianites represent discrimination or judgment employed according to human standards. Judging according to outer appearances produces discordant thoughts and jealousies and their kin.
What is symbolized by Joseph's being sold as a slave down in Egypt by his brothers? How can such a situation be made to bless one? What is the secret of Joseph's success even in slavery?
The fact that Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt by his brothers signifies that at a certain stage of his unfoldment man will barter away his high ideals of Truth in order to go on living in sense consciousness. He will even debase his imagination (Joseph) and send it down into his body consciousness to stir up his emotions and get the thrill of sensation. However the faculty of imagination, if it has been trained and disciplined, will work for the good of man even in the darkened realm of sense (Egypt). Though the purpose in selling Joseph into Egypt was error, the result proved to be good. This shows the outworking of the law stated in Rom. 8:28: "To them that love God all things work together for good." Even when error seems to be in the ascendancy there is that in us which remains true to God and finally brings about our deliverance. "The wrath of man shall praise thee."
Can the imagination ever be wholly overcome by error if one is faithful to high ideals?
The great point in the story is that Joseph, even when overcome by error from without and sold into Egyptian slavery, still remained true to the divine ideas of his Father. In any department of life the imagination will work for the development and perfection of the individual or for the direct opposite of this, depending on how it has been trained. It is a powerful faculty, for it forms ideas in substance and brings desire into manifestation. If the desires are allowed to run riot on the sense plane, the imagination will proceed directly
to bring them into manifestation as inharmony or disease. On the other hand, when the imagination is kept busy with high ideas, ideas originally inspired in it by the I AM, it is the most effective of all the faculties for the work of spiritual development. Faithfulness to high ideas, when coupled with an unshaken confidence in the I AM, cannot be wholly overcome by error, nor can anyone who exercises these faculties be kept for long in the background.
Judah (representing prayer and praise), the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, suggested the idea of selling Joseph into Egypt rather than taking his life.
Gen. 37:29-36. And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go? And they took Joseph's coat, and killed a he-goat, and dipped the coat in the blood; and they sent the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father, and said, This have we found: know now whether it is thy son's coat or not. And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces. And Jacob rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down to Sheol to my son mourning. And his father wept for him. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard.
What is the status of the imagination on the intellectual plane?
Jacob represents intellectual illumination. However illumination on the intellectual plane often lacks discernment; it has not attained the power to express the sure, steady, revealing light of Spirit. Jacob was in the
dark as regards the fate of his son Joseph (symbolical of the imagination). Hence Jacob was deceived by blood on the coat and mourned with the crowd.
Has modern civilization profited by the imagination?
Among the twelve faculties the imagination is least understood in its evolution from sense to soul consciousness. To this day those who function in sense echo the brothers of Joseph in their slighting exclamation, "Here comes that dreamer." Yet in art, science, literature, religion, and even business the cry is "Give us men of imagination!" The fact is there is no progress of man or the race without expansion of the imagination. The history of Joseph, the attempts of those nearest and dearest to him to thwart the unfoldment of his innate ability, and his final victory in attaining the exalted office of prime minister of Egypt, shows us in symbols how the whole man will eventually be glorified in Spirit.
However in the early stages of the Joseph quickening all the other faculties combine to destroy it; they think it visionary and impractical.
What is the significance of the dipping of Joseph's coat in blood?
The blood-drenched coat represents the futile attempt of the outer realm of sense to kill out the inner Spirit life. Life marches on and the vision of the soul finds new expression in other states of consciousness.
Pharaoh represents the ego or will that rules the body under the natural law. Potiphar symbolizes the executive arm of the will.
Sheol is the abode of the dead conceived by the Hebrews as a subterranean region clothed in thick darkness. It represents the mental gloom into which the personal man is plunged when he gives himself over to thoughts of death and grief.
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