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Metaphysical Bible Dictionary


This Metaphysical Bible Dictionary is offered by the Unity School of Christianity to meet a very definite demand, on the part of Bible students and of metaphysicians generally, for a work setting forth in simple language the inner, esoteric meanings of Scriptural names.

Apart from its being a book of great historical and biographical interest, the Bible is, from Genesis to Revelation, in its inner or spiritual meaning, a record of the experiences and the development of the human soul and of the whole being of man; also it is a treatise on man's relation to God, the Creator and Father. Therefore we are confident that this dictionary will prove very beneficial to Bible students. By opening up new avenues of thought it will inspire a greater understanding and interest in studying the Scriptures, and will aid its readers much in solving life's problems.

The metaphysical interpretations given in this dictionary are based on the practical teachings of Jesus Christ, as understood and taught by the Unity School of Christianity under the direction of Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore, its founders. In this dictionary, Mr. Fillmore's interpretations, which have appeared in Unity magazine and in other Unity literature from time to time, have been used. The Bible names that had not appeared in the lessons published in Unity literature have been interpreted (with Mr. Fillmore's approval) by Theodosia DeWitt Schobert, who was formerly employed in the Unity Editorial Department and in the Society of Silent Unity.

The names with their pronunciations are taken from Nelson's American Standard Version of the Bible, teachers' edition. Wherever this version gives a spelling different from that set forth in the King James, or Authorized, Version, both are given. The American Standard Version spelling is shown first, and is followed by that of the Authorized Version in parentheses, thus: Zerubbabel (A. V., Zorobabel). Following these the name is syllabified and marked for pronunciation, thus: ze-rub'-ba-bel. The diacritical marks employed are those used in the American Standard Version. Following the pronunciation of each name, the tongue from which it originated is indicated: (Heb.) for Hebrew, (Aram.) for Aramaic, (Gk.) for Greek, and so on.

In forming the foundations for the metaphysical interpretations, great care has been exercised. Many authorities and lexicons have been consulted in the preparation of this part of the work. Wherever a divergence of opinion between authorities of equal weight was found, the most reasonable etymology was followed.

So far as possible, except where the etymology has become lost, the definitions have been traced back to their original root ideas. These simple ideas, out of which more or less complex expressions have often developed, have been given first; in each case definitions that have developed out of the root idea are given in sequence. This feature is an innovation, and should make for greater clarity in the deeper understanding of the Scriptures.

Many of the Hebrew words that form the basis of proper names derive from pure abstractions, and thus have acceptations that may be either good or bad. Take for instance the word Cain, which comes from the root idea of centralized power, accretion, or accumulation. On the one hand this name could be an expression for benign ruler ship, kingly qualities, lawful possession, and the like; on the other hand it could stand for despotism, usurpation, extreme selfishness. This peculiarity of the Hebrew tongue has been a source of confusion to many Bible students, and has not been explained in many Bible helps that have been published. This is also a reason for much apparent disparity among the authors of Bible helps wherein only a one-word definition is given: some have taken one acceptation while others have adopted another. In this dictionary the aim has been to clarify. The large number of definitions selected in giving the meaning of names will help the student to feel his way into many by-paths of metaphysical deduction.

One can also gather from the differences and similarities in name definitions something that we have found to be a fact in our experience in studying the Scriptures. This fact is that Scripture names cannot be limited to any one interpretation; no one can truthfully say that a certain text means such or such a thing and nothing else. A dozen persons may get inspiration in a dozen different ways from one Scripture text.

Following the definitions given for each name will be found a brief sketch of the individual, or place, with references telling where the name can be found in the Bible. Unless some particular incident warrants calling attention to it elsewhere, only one reference is given. This reference is either to the place where the name first appears, to that which explains most clearly the historical facts regarding the person or place for whom or which the name stands, or to the passage discussed in the metaphysical interpretation. Wherever the name of an individual is spelled differently in other texts, where another name is used, or where there are several persons bearing the same name, note is made of such fact. In a few cases we have found two names alike, apparently, but separated and having entirely different meanings. This is due to the spelling in translations, which cannot or does not convey the differences in the Hebrew spelling. An instance of this kind is found in Abel, second son of Adam, which should be spelled Hebel, and Abel, the name of several villages. In the Hebrew the two names are spelled with entirely different letters of the alphabet.

Following the biographical sketch of a name comes the metaphysical interpretation. This interpretation is headed Meta .. an abbreviation of "metaphysical." By "metaphysical" we refer to the inner or esoteric meaning of the name defined, as it applies to every unfolding individual and to his relation to God.

We have found in interpreting Bible names that there are varying phases or shades of meaning connected with some of them, beyond that conveyed in the strict definition of the name word. Who the individual was, who his father or mother was, what his occupation was, who his associates were--all these things are modifying factors that we must consider in working out the true character definitions and the metaphysical interpretations as they relate to man generally. Thus we may have two or more men with identical names, each of whom may relate to a different line of thought and develop very different characteristics. These character indexes, which we call names, might therefore be symbolic of divers phases of Truth or error, and different applications of it. For instance, suppose that we have an Israelite and a Gentile with the same name. These two men would symbolize different planes of consciousness in the individual. The Israelite would relate to the religious tendencies, either intellectual or spiritual; the Gentile would relate to some phase of the outer man--perhaps to the carnal, sensual, or purely material if he were an enemy of the Israelites.

Furthermore the social status of the individual whose name is being analyzed and interpreted has to be considered. Whether he was a king, a prince, a priest, a governor, a freeman, or a slave makes a difference in the importance or influence of the idea that he represents. His occupation is also taken into consideration. If he were a shepherd, the significance would differ from what it would be were he a warrior, a hunter, or a tiller of the soil.

The student will find the foregoing methods of analysis worked out in the metaphysical interpretations. We do not wish to convey the impression, however, that the reader will find herein presented the beginning and the end of all Bible symbology and of the phases of Truth that may be developed from it. The interpretations given are suggestions, by no means final. Each may be worked out more fully and comprehensively. An entire volume could easily be devoted to one name, in many cases. If the reader will trust to his own indwelling Spirit of truth for light, he will find in these suggestions a guide to endless inspiration in the understanding of Truth.

The Scriptures veil their metaphysical meaning under the names of towns, rivers, seas, and so forth, and the acts of men in connection therewith. The name of each person and of everything in the Scriptures has an inner meaning, a clew to which may be found in any teachers' Bible under such a head as "Names and Their Meanings." For instance, Bethlehem means "house of bread," and indicates the nerve center at the pit of the stomach, through which universal substance joins the refined or spiritualized chemical products of the body metabolism. Through this center are gradually generated the elements that go to make up the spiritualized body of the Christ man. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.

All is mind, and all material forms are pictures of ideas. By studying a picture we may get a concept of the idea that it represents. The Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York Harbor, showing the goddess as enlightening the world, is the picture of an idea that nearly everybody understands. It was made by a man as an embodiment of his idea of American freedom and its majesty. Divine Mind has ideas, and they become embodied through natural processes. The Hebrew Scriptures give a series of pictures representing those ideas.

The product of the first day's creation is recorded in Genesis as being "heaven," "earth," and "light." Heaven represents spiritual ideas. Earth represents material thoughts. Light represents understanding.

The firmament in the midst of the waters is an idea of confidence or faith in the invisible. Waters represent changing conditions, which are a necessary part of creation; but when faith establishes itself and separates what is above (spiritual) from what is below (material) the result is harmony or heaven.

The dry land is the thought form, or substance concept, in which the seed of propagation or increase is implanted.

The lights in the firmament, one to rule the day and the other to rule the night, are ideas of intelligent action (lights) in both the conscious and subconscious realms of mind.

The abundant bringing forth of the waters is the fecundity of the mind, which great fishes symbolize. In order to bring forth great results the mind must realize its innate thinking capacity to be great.

After the idea of unlimited capacity follows the image and likeness of God, the ideal or divine man. Then appears the man idea in its developing or evolution phase. As Adam and Eve, the man idea is the innocent child of nature, just entering experience. As Cain and Abel it is developing the idea of self-preservation from the standpoint of personality. Noah is the thought of obedience and of the safety that follows.

Abraham is a partially developed photograph of the faith idea, which is more fully brought out in Peter. Jacob is the accumulative idea in process of development under divine guidance.

The New Testament is a veiled textbook for the initiate who is seeking degrees in the inner life. It gives rules for working out every mental state that may be found in the mind. It is like a textbook on mathematics, a textbook in which are acted out by living figures all the rules for working every problem that may come up in human life.

The key to the mystical theme of the New Testament is found in the spiritual nature of its star character, Jesus Christ. Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew Messiah, and the Messiah is the anointed of God, or God identified as perfect man. This perfect man was the image and likeness of Elohim, described in the 1st chapter of Genesis. The perfect-man idea or I AM of Elohim appears in the 2d chapter of Genesis as Jehovah God, or I AM God. Throughout the Old Testament, up to the advent of Jesus Christ, Jehovah is concerned with the evolution of man. The Christ, or Jehovah, in Jesus affirmed its Mosaic antecedent in the statement, "Before Abraham was born, I am." The Christ claimed also that Moses wrote of Him, again identifying Jehovah and Christ. Jesus represented the external consciousness, or Adam, the man that the Christ or Jehovah formed (in the Edenic allegory) out of the dust of the ground, or elemental substance.

spiritual and mental formulas that we all can apply and thus be healed of our sins and ills of mind and body; by following Him as Guide, Teacher, and Helper we can finally attain the perfect expression of the divine-ideal man imaged by Elohim in the 1st chapter of Genesis. Interpreters of Jesus have given slight value to the part that the body plays in the redemption of man, but Jesus Christ plainly teaches that the whole man--spirit, soul, and body--must be redeemed from the effects of sin. He overcame death and saved His body from the grave. He promised that all those who followed Him in the regeneration would do likewise. Question arises as to how this doctrine was, and is, applied to the restoration of man's body. The various processes in raising the body to wholeness are symbolized in the many healings wrought by Jesus. Every so-called miracle of His points to the transformation of some function of the body consciousness. For example, consider His changing of water to wine at Cana of Galilee: Cana means "place of reeds" (the larynx); and Galilee means "rolling energy, rolling, turning," or, as we say in modern terms, "vibration." So we understand that the first miracle of Jesus (the I AM), the turning of water into wine in Cana of Galilee, represents the change that goes on in the waters of life, or the nerve fluids, as they are brought into vibration by a spiritually quickened man or woman. The waters of life are thus changed into wine, or are given elements of greater stimulating, life-giving power than they possessed before they passed through the vibration of the voice. The whole organism may be invigorated and stimulated through the vibratory thrill of the voice. In connection with this miracle there is a still more interior meaning. The six waterpots indicate that, when the six great nerve centers in the body are purified, "after the Jews' manner of purifying," the vibratory power of the voice will become so great that by the spoken word a vessel filled with water may be changed into wine. The means by which this purification can be accomplished and the power thus acquired are also explained in the symbolism of the Old Testament.

We could go on thus through all the Bible, but the foregoing is enough to show how we see in the Bible symbolical pictures showing the growth and unfoldment of the latent spiritual power in man up to the time when he comes into manifestation of the perfect "image" and "likeness" in which he was created.

In presenting these methods of interpretation we have endeavored to give with each one sufficient explanation to enable the student to get an idea as to how and why we arrive at given metaphysical conclusions. By reasoning along the same lines the student can develop the inner interpretation of the Scriptures for himself. Our real aim is to assist in leading the student into the inner or spiritual interpretation of the Bible, that he may apply it in the very best and most practical way in his own life. If he does not wish to accept our interpretations, but would rather do his own thinking, entirely apart from our suggestions, we fully recognize his right to do so. We are always pleased when any one learns to go within and get his inspiration direct from his own indwelling Lord or Spirit of truth. By doing this a person will come to appreciate, as he can in no other way, the patient, faithful effort that culminates in the production of such books as this one.

As stated before, this book is not final in the field that it covers; at best it is only a stepping-stone to the higher realm of spiritual consciousness, toward attainment of the mind "which was also in Christ Jesus."

To all mankind, and for the highest spiritual attainment and good of every individual, this volume is lovingly and prayerfully dedicated.

Unity Church of Christianity