A Spiritual Interpretation of the Old Testament
As taught by:
Unity School for Religious Studies
Unity Village, MO 64065
I. MAJOR POINTS
- Joshua as an evolutionary symbol.
- Spiritual law shows neither favoritism or antagonism.
- Symbolism of the walls of Jericho.
- Reason for the many violent symbols in the Old Testament.
- Repeat of the metaphysical significance of the death of the major Old Testament characters.
- Josh. 5-6, 10, 13-14, 24
- Let There Be Light Chapter VII
- Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 368
- What is the main difference in the metaphysical significance of Joshua and Jesus? How are they most alike?
- Does spiritual law work for certain persons and not for others? Explain.
- What is the metaphysical significance of the collapse of the walls of Jericho?
- What is the metaphysical reason for the tribe of Levi not being confined to a specific territory in the Promised Land?
In the section of this lesson dealing with the division of land, note that there are now thirteen tribes, twelve who receive their own territories, and the Levites who receive cities. The explanation for this lies in the tradition that there is no single tribe of Joseph. The tribe of Joseph split into two tribes, Ephraim and Mannaseh (his two sons, Gen. 48), which is the traditional explanation of how there are twelve tribal lands and one tribe with no land. The student should not be concerned over possible confusion in twelve power symbolism at this point. As previously noted in Lesson 5 on Joseph, the tribes of Israel are the first presentation of twelve power symbolism in. the Bible. In the Old Testament they are only partially represented and do not reach their final form until the discioles in the Mew Testament.
In Let There Be Light 82 we read: "The Book of Joshua is primarily a book of prophetic teaching. Its historical value is secondary. It presents a somewhat idealized account of the conquest of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, Moses' successor. ... The name Joshua means 'Jehovah is salvation' (Metaphysical Bible Dictionary 368) which is the same as Jesus, the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua. Joshua is often referred to as a type of Christ, though in Joshua we do not find the full spiritual realization typified by Jesus. There is in Joshua, however, a conscious realization of identity WITH JEHOVAH and the courage to act in accord with His will."
Metaphysically we cannot think of Joshua and Jesus in the same terms, even though their names have a similar root meaning. Joshua symbolizes a degree of spiritual awareness still on the level of Jehovah worship. He represents an evolutionary process in the soul just a step higher than that which Moses represents. Joshua, like Moses, symbolizes something good and necessary in man's evolution.
We should remember that Jehovah is the name of a human concept of God. Joshua represents a very active and very effective worship of Jehovah. Jesus, on the other hand, does not represent Jehovah worship. Jesus brought to the world a new understanding of God, much higher than the Jehovah concept. Jesus revealed God as Spirit, as absolute good, as Father within. However, Joshua does exhibit certain qualities which can be seen as "previews" of what will later be so wonderfully demonstrated by Jesus.
An event of metaphysical significance occurs in Josh. 5:13-15. "When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him, and said to him, 'Are you for us, or for our adversaries?' And he said, 'No; but as commander of the army of the Lord (Jehovah) I have now come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshipped, and said to him, 'What does my Lord bid his servant?' And the commander of the Lord's (Jehovah's) army said to Joshua, 'Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is noly.1 And Joshua did so."
Here we have a spiritual realization that is somewhat a repeat of Jacob and his dream of the ladder. The commander of the army (prince of the host, KJV) of Jehovah symbolizes a human concept of spiritual law. Joshua questions the prince as to whose side he is on in the current conflict. The prince replies that he is not on one side against the other, but is a representative of Jehovah.
This illustrates an important factor concerning the Absolute. It does not take sides, since it includes all sides. Omnipresence cannot be more in one place than in another. So it is with omniscience. It cannot see one point of view instead of another. It is all-knowing, therefore al1-understanding. The fact that Joshua makes peace with the revelation indicates that he stands for a very open and progressive factor in human consciousness; something very important for continued evolution.
Notice too the similarity, especially in the wording, to Moses' experience at the burning bush. "... put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground" (Exod. 3:5). From Jacob's realization of "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it" (Gen. 28:16), through Moses' experience with the burning bush, to Joshua's experience on the threshold of the Promised Land, we see a clear illustration of the growing awareness in human consciousness of the omnipresence of God.
"Joshua's first task was to overthrow the city of Jericho, as it was directly in the Hebrews' line of march. It was a walled city, and the Hebrews had no implements of war. Joshua resorted to ingenious means. Seven priests were instructed to walk before the Ark of the Covenant bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns, followed by the men of war. Once a day for six days the procession marched around the city. On the seventh day they marched seven times, and when the priests blew the trumpets, all the men of war shouted with a mighty shout. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down." (Let There Be Light 86)
Metaphysically Jericho represents the intellect that is resistant to spiritual unfoldment. The walls stand for fixed materialistic beliefs which impede progress into spiritual understanding. The priests stand for religious beliefs, and their marching represents the activity of religious thinking in the mind. The trumpets and the shouts on the seventh day symbolize the fulfilling of the Law of the Word. The Law of the Word is fulfilled by man through prayer, and there are three ways this can be done correctly: affirming, asking, or giving thanks in advance. When we are persistent in prayer, the blockages, resistances, and closed-doors (walls) of our intellect are dissolved (come tumbling down). Then our spiritual unfoldment can continue.
During a battle between the Israelites and an enemy tribe it appeared that the day would end before the Israelites would achieve their victory. "Then spoke Joshua... 'Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.' And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies... there has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord (Jehovah) hearkened to the voice of a man; for the Lord (Jehovah) fought for Israel." (Josh. 10:12-14)
This is yery typical symbolism of Old Testament metaphysics. When man is yery sincere and zealous in serving his spiritual commitment, even time and place seem to become subservient to the spiritual purpose. Although this idea is presented in imagery of war and killing, the meaning behind it is a valid one.
NOTE: For metaphysical students of today who are strongly committed to following the Truth as revealed by Jesus Christ, Old Testament symbolism can be yery puzzling and confusing. Old Testament religious thinking does not seem to concern itself with the danger of negativity in consciousness, but rather with wickedness and disobedience in outer ways. Hence, the Old Testament lessons do not hesitate to use imagery and symbols which we consider negative and repellent. Jehovah worship is simply on a different evolutionary level of mind. Worship of God as Spirit (via Jesus Christ) has an altogether different attitude about religion.
Chapters 13 and 14 of Joshua tell of the division of land among twelve of the tribes, with the tribe of Levi not being given a specific area, but each tribe giving certain portions to the Levites. The tribes stand for the developing awareness of our twelve spiritual faculties. The tribe of Levi stands for the faculty of love. Although we do designate the heart center of the body as the physical representation of the abode of love in us, the fact is that love should not be limited in any way. Love should permeate every area of us and work in conjunction with every other faculty. Love is a pervasive spiritual power which should intermingle freely with every expression coming from a human soul.
The closing of the book of Joshua comes with the death of Joshua. We have disclosed the significance of the deaths of the important characters already in the section of Genesis dealing with the death and burial of Sarah. But here Elizabeth Sand Turner gives further helpful insight on the meaning of Old Testament character deaths in her commentary on the death of Joshua.
"After these things Joshua. . . the servant of the Lord (Jehovah), died, being a hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in his own inheritance. . . which is in the hill-country of Ephraim. ..." (Josh. 24:29, 30)
Mrs. Turner tells us:
"As we develop spiritually each God-given quality unfolds, knows fullness, and then moves into the background of consciousness. (Death and burial of Bible character-symbol) This does not mean that the work of any quality is no longer needed, but merely that it is time to let another come forth. Joshua's mission was to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land. . . other characters, representing other qualities, had to assume control. This transition is represented in the Bible by the passing of one leader and the rise of another." (Let There Be Light 92)
Preceding Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 7: Lesson 7 Moses Part 2
Following Entry: Old Testament Metaphysics 9: Lesson 9 Judges