A Spiritual Interpretation of the Old Testament
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Metaphysical meaning of Moses.
- Metaphysical meaning of Israelites, Pharaoh, and Egyptian bondage.
- Symbolism of the burning bush.
- Significance of the name of Jehovah stated as I Am.
- Metaphysical meaning of the Egyptian plagues.
- Metaphysical meaning of the parting and closing of the Red Sea.
- Exodus, Chapters 1-14
- Let There Be Light Chapter V
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 460
- Why is Moses the most important character symbol in the old Testament, but not in the whole Bible?
- What is the metaphysical logic of the fact that Moses spends forty years "growing up" in Egypt before becoming a spiritual leader?
- Is I Am the name of God-Almighty? If not, what aspect of God is named as I Am?
- What is the metaphysical significance of the 10th plague?
- What is symbolized by the parting of the Red Sea? What is
- symbolized by the closing of the Red Sea?
If a teacher decides to go along with the usage of the words Pisces. Piscean Age, or Piscean level religious thinking (as used in this lesson material) it is important to make it clear to students that Unity does not ordinarily use Zodiac terms. It has nothing to do with horoscopes or popular astrology when we use the terms Piscean or Aquarian. We use those terms in this course only in their very broad application as pertaining to cycles of evolution in man's thinking.
Moses is generally considered to be the most important character in the Old Testament. In fact, the body of teachings found in the Old Testament are referred to as Mosaic Law. Metaphysically Moses represents the highest human concept of God on a certain evolutionary level of human consciousness. That level has been given a number of different names. The best known to us would be:
- Old Testament theology
- Jehovah worship
- Mosaic Law (rigid cause and effect, eye for an eye, crime and punishment)
- In Zodiac symbolism: Pisces, Piscean age
- "Born of water"
- "Baptized of water"
The name of Moses means "water-saved; drawn out of water." In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary (page 461): Moses symbolizes this progressive or drawing-out process, which works from within outward; as applied to the universe, the upward trend of all things--THE EVOLUTIONARY LAW.
This definition from the M.B.D. helps us to see the metaphysical meaning of Moses as an important factor in the evolution of man's consciousness. The Old Testament illustrates a whole system of religious thinking based upon the human concept of God as Jehovah. On this level, cause and effect is seen as the highest law for man, but it is limited to a very mechanical action. The difference between good and evil is the one and only purpose for religious teachings. Physical survival is seen as a reward for proper religious behavior. The image of God as Jehovah is very anthropomorphic.
This "Piscean age" religious thinking was a very necessary phase in the evolution of human consciousness. The vast majority of mankind is still on this level of religious thinking, including most of Christianity. Moses is the Old Testament character who symbolizes that which will lead one through this phase of growth. He represents the highest and truest concept of God and religion for those who are learning and growing through Old Testament, cause-and-effect, Piscean age, "born of water" level of human evolution.
NOTE: It is only by careful study of the Gospels and all of the words of Jesus Christ that this ssoect of the metapnysical meaning of Moses becomes more clear. If one limits Moses to just an important historical character, then the evolutionary meaning of his story in the Eible is not oerceived.
MOSES: "drawn out of water, water-saved" symbolizes the action of the law of evolution in us which teaches us the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and makes us become very much aware of the rigid aspect of cause and effect. Moses usually becomes the leading factor in our religious thinking when we find ourself in extremely undesirable states of existence (Egyptian bondage, material problems, physical suffering). The Moses factor begins to lead us into more desirable states of existence. Moses stands for that in us which learns the letter of religious teachings and makes the effort to obey those teachings. The "drawing-out" meaning of his name would refer to the process of evolution-from-involution, or "drawing-out" that which has been implanted in us. The "water-saved" meaning of his name would also refer to the idea that the Moses factor will safely lead us through the Piscean (water) levels of existence in our continued evolution.
ISRAELITES: "The illumined thoughts in consciousness which are undergoing spiritual discipline" (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 304) Israelites symbolize all that constitutes our willingness to become illumined by the light of spiritual Truth: all that is willing to be part of our progress into greater consciousness. This aspect of us is now in process of awakening to a higher dimension of reality (later, in the New Testament to be revealed by Jesus).
EGYPT: "shut in; restraint; misery; tribulation" (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 183) Egypt is a ^ery complex symbol, including what Charles Fillmore calls "the depths of the body consciousness." Most generally Egypt is used in the Bible to represent material ity, sensuality. It also stands for areas of ignorance in human thinking.
PHARAOH: "Pharaoh means 'the sun.'" Metaphysically: "He is the ruler of the solar plexus... in the subconscious mind. This is obscurity ... to the conscious mind." (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 519) Pharaoh stands for the self-centered ego which rules from the subconscious. Most of our selfishness and willfulness is not really conscious and deliberate, but is subconscious in origin (has been "programmed" into us in the past).
In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary we are told on page 520: "Moses and Pharaoh represent two forces at work in the (man's) consciousness ... Moses represents the EVOLUTIONARY force of new ideas that have grown in the subconscious mind, that are tugging at the old states of limitation and material ignorance and trying to rise into a higher life expression. Pharaoh represents the force that rules the body under the material (old) regime."
Up until the incident of Moses' encounter with Jehovah in the burning bush (Exod. 3:2) the narrative of Exodus concerns itself with details of Moses' growing up in Egypt for his first forty years. Egypt symbolizes (among other things) the ordinary, materialistic, and sense-bound level of life. The number forty is a biblical symbol of "a sufficient, but unspecified amount of time." Moses' life during this period represents the fact that a person has to first accomplish many things in connection with ordinary, materialistic life before higher accomplishments of a more spiritual character are open and made apparent to him. Each person must develop a certain maturity, dependability, and some sense of service and usefulness in the "EcyDt" level of life.
If any person is undependable and not useful to ordinary life, what are his prospects in the higher and more subtly demanding levels of a more spiritual kind of life? In the Bible narrative Moses had to "grow up" in Egypt before the "Promised Land" leadership assignment was given to him. It therefore is reasonable for us to accept the fact that we too have to "grow up" in our ordinary and materialistic sense-bound areas of life before we can be given opportunities to express our spiritual power and dominion. Likewise, Moses' second forty years were spent in the wilderness tending sheep (spiritual thoughts) and it is significant that his father-in-law was a priest (Exod. 2:15-3:1). One might then think of the first forty years as physical and intellectual preparation, the second forty years as spiritual preparation, and the third forty years (from the burning bush to Moses' death at 120 years on the edge of the Promised Land) as the fruits of the preparation. . . when the Israelites were led from bondage in Egypt to the very threshold of freedom. These three phases, intellectual and physical preparation, spiritual preparation, and the manifestation in activity, are significant steps in the process of growth in consciousness.
Chapter 3 of Exodus describes Moses' encounter with Jehovah as a voice issuing from a burning bush that is not consumed by the fire.
The bush is symbolic of man's entire nervous system, which includes his mental and emotional natures. This particular bush stands for the nervous system when Spirit is expressing through it and communicating with man's mind. The fire symbolizes mental and emotional energy. Ordinarily this fire "consumes;" that is, ordinary mental struggling and emotional outbursts use up and deplete energy--exhausting a person's mind. But this incident illustrates a different sort of mental process.. This incident symbolizes those times when Divine Mind is thinking through us, imparting its ideas to us. Our mind and nervous system are able to be relaxed and receptive. This often occurs for us during times of meditation and prayer. This kind of "holy communion" does not deplete or "consume" our mental and emotional energies. The "bush is not consumed."
Moses is instructed to assume leadership of the Israelites and take them out of Egypt into Canaan. When Moses protests and asks what he shall say when the Israelites ask for the name of his Divine Authority, Jehovah replies: "'I AM WHO I AM.'" (Or, "'I AM WHAT I AM,'" or, "'I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE'", in some Bible references.) "And he said, 'Say this to the people of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you...... (Exod. 3:14) Jehovah is the name of a HUMAN CONCEPT of God. And a realization within man of that particular concept is best expressed by the words I AM. In Bible language the name of anything contains some implication of the^meaning of that thing. I AM contains the meaning of a being conscious of BEING. I AM isn't a thing, an object, or a person. It is a state of awareness -- awareness of pure being. Awareness of pure being seems to arouse in a person a sense of the presence of God. Hence, the name I AM is used in Exodus to refer to the presence of Jehovah.
Man has freedom to do as he wills with his sense of I AM. Man can choose to connect his sense of I AM with almost anything. If he connects his sense of I AM to anything false or negative, he will experience that connection as part of his existence. But if he connects his sense of I AM with any Truth ideas, he will experience those divine ideas as blessings. In this part of Exodus, Moses' obedience to the voice of Jehovah symbolizes the connection of the sense of I AM to the idea of Divine Guidance.
"And the Lord (Jehovah) said to Moses, 'When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharoah all the miracles which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go."' (Exod. 4:21) "But the Lord (Jehovah) hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them; as the Lord (Jehovah) had spoken to Moses." (Exod. 9:12) We have here the puzzling fact that Jehovah intends to "harden" Pharaoh's heart, so that it is known in advance that he will not let the people go. This situation seems quite unjust, and would be if it was just literal history. But metaphysically it has a logical meaning:
- The law of Jehovah is the process of growth, evolution.
- Pharaoh stands for individual self-centered ego.
- Israelites stand for potentials for development of spiritual awareness.
If the law simply forces a person to do something, would it really be growth or development of consciousness? Can man's spiritual unfoldment come by enforcement? Or must man himself determine his own willingness? Therefore the law of Jehovah gives our own ego "hardness of heart," which means the ability to RESIST or REFUSE the process of spiritual unfoldment. Pharaoh being what it is, must be given the ability of "HARDNESS OF HEART" for without it, it is not Pharaoh, but something other than itself! Pharaoh's hardness of heart is a figure of speech--a symbolic way of referring to the ability of our personal ego to say no! Moses' refusal at first to obey his call can be understood in this same way.
Chapters 5-13 of Exodus describe in great detail the events beginning with Pharaoh's first refusal to let the Israelites go. Moses causes nine different forms of affliction to be inflicted on the Egyptians; each one causing Pharaoh to promise to let the people go, but then he changes his mind after each plague ceases. The 10th affliction takes the form of the slaying of the firstborn of each Egyptian family. The Israelites were to sprinkle the blood of a lamb on the doors of their houses. This would cause Jehovah to "pass-over" their homes and not slay their firstborn.
(1) Pharaoh's reluctance and fluctuations about letting the people go illustrate the position our personal ego takes when spiritual growth offers a threat to its domination in our lives. Materialistic and sensual self-interest (Pharaoh) is not easily convinced to make way for spiritual commitment.
(2) The struggle between Moses and the will of Pharaoh illustrates an nner struggle which most Truth students experience. It is the vacillating which occurs between our desire to progress and grow in Truth consciousness and the self-serving aims of our personal ego.
(3) The various plagues are broad, general references to painful manifestations caused by negative thinking and emotions. The plagues are symbolic of useless, unnecessary suffering caused by ignorance and selfishness.
(4) The 10th affliction is death for the firstborn of each Egyptian family. Egyptians stand for materialistic, sense-bound states of consciousness. The "firstborn" stand for the offspring or outer results of this type of consciousness. No manifestation of materialistic or sense consciousness can live long--all such products are short-lived in one way or another. All materialistic and sensual things come (are born) and then go (they die.) It does not matter how precious or important they are to us (the firstborn). When a person finally comes to realize this for himself, then even his own self-egotism (Pharaoh) is persuaded that it would be better to agree to allow the process of spiritual unfoldment go forward (let the people go).
In Exod. 12:31 we read that Pharaoh tells Moses to take the Israelites out of Egypt. But in chapter 14 Pharaoh changes his mind again and sends his army to recapture them. When the Israelites reach the Red Sea it appears as an impossible obstacle. "Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord (Jehovah) drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. ... The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea. ... So Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its wonted flow... The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not so much as one of them remained." (Exod. 14:21, 23, 27-28)
This episode symbolizes the fact that once a person is really on the path of willing commitment to Spirit, nothing can force that person to return to the old states of bondage to negativity. Even things in our experience which at first appear to be obstacles and setbacks will turn out to be factors for progress and greater opportunity. Take special note of Exod. 14:13-14 which illustrates the source of power and energy which causes and sutains growth. Also, "The Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again" illustrates clearly the permanence of accomplished growth... it need not be repeated.
The waters of the sea drown the pursuing Egyptians. This symbolizes the dissolving and cleansing power of true denial over negative states of consciousness. The pursuing Egyptians represent persistent negative habits. The waters that drown them represent the results of true denial and renunciation.
NOTE: Later, in the New Testament, this same metaphysical idea is presented in less violent symbolism--that of water baptism.
Preceding Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 5: Lesson 5 Joseph
Following Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 7: Lesson 7 Moses Part 2