Metaphysical Bible Interpretation of Nehemiah Chapter 8
Metaphysically Interpreting Nehemiah 8:1-12
8:1And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which Jehovah had commanded to Israel. 8:2And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 8:3And he read therein before the broad place that was before the water gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women, and of those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. 8:4And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Uriah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchijah, and Hashum, and Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.8:5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 8:6and Ezra blessed Jehovah, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with the lifting up of their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped Jehovah with their faces to the ground. 8:7Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.8:8And they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading.
8:9And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto Jehovah your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 8:10Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye grieved; for the joy of Jehovah is your strength. 8:11So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. 8:12And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
May 14, 1916: Nehemiah 8:1-12
“And all the people gathered themselves together as one man.” It is one man talking to his own thoughts or people. We speak of “educating the masses,” but forget that this education depends upon the efforts of each individual. Educators and reformers have a way of talking about “elevating the masses,” as if they could be legislated into a higher civilization. The fact is that all reform begins and ends with the individual. There is but one man. Paul discerned that there is but one man, the Universal Man, Christ, and that we are all members of his body. Each human type of that One Man is spiritually his exact image, his especially begotten son. You are that man. Begin your reform for the “masses” by merging yourself into your Christ-mind.
As there is a Divine Man so there is a Divine Law for the government of that Man in his manifestation. That law is the Scriptures universal in the heavens of man's being. The law of Moses is its statement as interpreted from the negative mind-view. But these interpretations are not the infallible word of God in their present form in the Bible. They are the word as perceived by the illumined minds of many men in various stages of unfoldment. That omnipresent word is the only infallible scripture of God. “It is nigh unto thee, even in thy mouth.” There is a faculty of the mind that receives and transcribes upon the tablets of memory every wave of mentality that touches the consciousness, whether from the Spirit or from the flesh. This faculty may be exalted to a point where it will receive impressions from the spiritual side only; then it reads out of the law and interprets the spiritual meaning for all people, or thoughts of the consciousness.
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people); and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.”
When we have read from the law from this inner plane and see how far short we have come in filling it, we are sorrowful. “All the people wept when they heard the words of the law.” But we are not to grieve over our shortcomings because grief is weakening. “This day (state of consciousness) is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
– UNITY magazine.
September 10, 1922: Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6
What is symbolized by the gathering together of all the people as one man? Here is symbolized the gathering together of the scattered thoughts of one man for the purpose of instructing them in the law.
What is represented by Ezra, the priest, who brought the law to the attention of the assembly? Ezra represents spiritual consciousness expressing the law of being in a way that all thoughts, “men and women,” may receive the law in understanding.
What is the “water gate” with the “broad place before”? The “water gate” is the open mind through which the word of life is expressed; the “broad place before” is the consciousness that life is unlimited, without beginning or end.
What is the significance of Ezra's blessing Jehovah and the people's answering “Amen, Amen,” with the lifting up of the hands and the bowing of the head, and with their faces to the ground? This is the formal expression and acknowledgment by the sense man of the words of Truth.
September 10, 1922: Nehemiah 8:8-12
What is the meaning of Nehemiah’s words: “This day is holy unto Jehovah your God;, mourn not, nor weep”? When we realize the wholeness of Divine Mind and that that wholeness is ours, we should not mourn, but, on the contrary, we should rejoice.
What is the meaning of: “Go your way, eat the fat and drink the sweet”? Eating represents appropriation of Truth by understanding, and drinking, appropriating the Truth by faith. Both of these attitudes of mind should be maintained in spiritual consciousness.
What is the final message to our scattered thoughts? “Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.”
June 22, 1924: Nehemiah 8:1-3
What is the theme of our lesson for today? The theme of our lesson for today is the gathering together of all the people to listen to the law and to the Lord, Jehovah.
Does the gathering together of the people mean the congregating of people as generally understood, or does it mean the getting together of the thoughts of the individuals? The lesson can be interpreted as referring either to the congregation of people or to the unification of the thoughts of all members of the congregation.
What kind of people have the greatest harmony in their assemblages? The people who have the greatest harmony in their assemblages are those who have in the silence developed the ability to gather together their thoughts and harmonize them in Spirit. In this way each individual finds that he harmonizes with all others who have developed like powers.
In verse 1 it is stated: “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the broad place that was before the water gate” Please explain. The “one man” referred to represents the Christ consciousness, in other words, all the thoughts were merged in the universal “broad place.” “Before the water gate” represents the recognition of the inner life flow.
Explain: “... and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which Jehovah had commanded to Israel.” “Ezra the scribe” could also be translated “Ezra the scholar.” The word Ezra means “help.” He represents the development of an intellectual understanding of the law of the Lord. “And Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, both men and women, and all that could hear with understanding.”
What is the meaning of the reading of the law: “before the water gate from early morning until midday,” and of the attention of all the people? Repetition is the mother of wisdom. Fundamental statements of Truth repeated over and over raised the thoughts (“men and women”) from the first dawn of spiritual understanding, until the full light is attained (“early morning until midday”). The words, “and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law,” represents concentration and receptivity of thoughts to the law of life.
June 22, 1924: Nehemiah 8:3-12
Why did the law, as it was given to Moses, need interpretation? The law as given to Moses was expressed in terms figurative and symbolical, and had to be interpreted by those who had spiritual insight. Jesus taught his disciples in figures of speech, which today we perceive referred to thoughts and words. He said: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” He explained this to mean the doctrines of the Pharisees.
Why did the people weep when they, heard the words of the law? When one begins to understand the height and the depth and the exactness of divine law, and at the same time sees how far he has fallen short in keeping the law, the tendency is toward discouragement and sadness.
What should be done when this consciousness of shortcoming in attaining the divine standard comes over one? “This day is holy unto Jehovah your God; mourn not, nor weep.” The “day” here referred to represents that state of consciousness which is “holy,” represents a state of mind in which one recognizes God. It is therefore a good mental condition; instead of being sad, we should rejoice and be glad. When we have received the understanding that there is an invisible, inexhaustible source of every good thing, we should begin to give good out: “send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared;” “freely ye received, freely give.”
September 15, 1929: Nehemiah 8:1-3
What is symbolized by the gathering together of all the people as one man? The gathering together of all the people as one man symbolizes the gathering together of one's scattered thoughts for the purpose of instructing them in the law of Being.
What is represented by Ezra, the priest, in bringing the law to the attention of the assembly? Ezra, the priest, represents spiritual consciousness expressing, the law of Being in such a way that all thoughts, directive and receptive, “the men and the women,” may receive the law of understanding.
What is meant by the words, “the broad place that was before the water gate”? The “water gate” is the open mind through which the word of life is expressed; the “broad place” is the consciousness that life is unlimited, without beginning or end.
September 15, 1929: Nehemiah 8:5-6
What is the significance of Ezra's blessing Jehovah and the people's answering, “Amen, Amen, with the lifting up of their hands” and the bowing of “their heads, with their faces to the ground”? The significance of this ceremony is the formal expression and acknowledgment by the sense man of the presence and power of Truth.
September 15, 1929: Nehemiah 8:8-12
What is the meaning of Nehemiah's words, “This day is holy unto Jehovah your God; mourn not, nor weep”? When man realizes the wholeness of Divine Mind and comes to know that that wholeness is his, he should not mourn, but, on the contrary, he should rejoice.
What is the meaning of the admonition, “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet”? Eating represents the appropriation of Truth through understanding, and drinking represents the appropriation of Truth through faith. Both these attitudes of mind should be maintained in spiritual consciousness.
What is the final message to man's scattered thoughts? The final message to man's thoughts is, “Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved.”
December 15, 1935: Nehemiah 8:1-3
How does man collect himself? By collecting his thoughts “as one man,” he collects himself or regains his poise and self-possession.
Does understanding result from other causes than sincerity and devotion to Truth? Understanding comes as the reward of attention, interest, and devotion combined, but interest and attention denote sincerity.
Name two of man's greatest blessings. Sight and hearing are two of the greatest. However, the quickened spiritual gifts of seeing with the mind and hearing with the heart are man's truest blessings.
December 15, 1935: Nehemiah 8:8-12
How does the interpretation of Truth benefit us? By enabling us to see and hear with the mind, interpretation clarifies the spiritual conceptions and is thus of great value to us.
Does true understanding bring joy or sorrow? The constructive faculty of joy springs from understanding. Sorrow is mental and emotional darkness.
Jesus Christ said, “He that eateth me, he also shall live because of me.” Interpret this statement. The “eating” referred to here is the appropriation of spiritual substance, by which act we renew ourselves in mind and body. Our hunger cannot be appeased with material food only. We need food for thought also.
How do we take a holiday from worldly contacts, and of what benefit is it to us? Physical solitude is one kind of holiday from worldly contacts, but the most complete change from this condition is found in silent meditation. This form of mental relaxation helps us to realize our oneness with God.
What arouses in man the deepest joy of which he is capable? Spiritual understanding is the source of man's deepest joy and satisfaction in life. “None of the things thou canst desire are to be compared unto her (wisdom).”
May 27, 1945: Nehemiah 3:1-8
What example is given us that interpretation of the Scriptures is considered necessary? Ezra and his attendants “read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading.”
May 27, 1945: Nehemiah 3:1-12
Lacking zeal and persuasive power, faith loses much of its effectiveness where its influence over others is concerned. Nehemiah's zeal lighted the torch of his faith, and these two faculties induced his fellow Israelites to join him in building up the wall. Most of those who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon did so on purpose to rebuild the city. Love of country joined with love of God as revealed in the Temple rites in Jerusalem formed a powerful incentive, so that none needed urging of bribing. “The people had a mind to work,” and the work went forward as it always does under such conditions. Only when the wall was finished did they stop to hear the “book of the law of Moses” read and interpreted to them. After a half day of being “attentive to the book of the law” they relaxed to feast for a season, to send “portions,” and “to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.
May 9, 1948: Nehemiah 8:1-8
What is a true interpretation of the law? One that is given in terms of life and experience so that each person can apply it to himself.
What is represented by “the broad place that was before the water gate”? The subconsciousness or universal race mind in which all men are one, although [not all] understand this truth.
How do we make our powers uniform? By collecting our thoughts, harmonizing them, and directing them toward one purpose, that of abiding by and fully observing the divine law.
What makes possible a full observance of the divine law? Singleness of purpose that induces our memory to record every spiritual impression that enters the mind. Ezra, the scribe, represents the faculty of recording each thought that enters the consciousness.
Who is able to “hear with understanding”? He whose inner ear is open and attentive to the true meaning of the law. Sooner or later those who are intent on learning and keeping the law find their spiritual perceptions quickened, so that Truth can be revealed to them.
Besides reverence what is necessary to our keeping of the law? Enthusiasm. We must be alive to the reality of spiritual things and eager to understand them.
August 13, 1950: Nehemiah 8:1-6
Is the reading of the Bible essential to an understanding of Truth? Not absolutely, but it is very inspiring and helpful, since the Bible is a record of the wisdom, inspiration, and discernment of Truth of all the writers who compiled it, according to the measure of each writer's grasp of Truth. The faith in God that it discloses and the lofty thoughts that it contains make it an almost indispensable part of the Truth student's working equipment. Not only should the Bible be read, but its profound teachings should be the subject of daily meditation.
Is the “book of the law” that Ezra read to the people the divine law? No. It is Moses' conception of the divine law as it applied to his people, the Children of Israel. The rules for moral conduct that Moses gave are still true and are the basis of our civil law as well as our moral law.
What attitude of mind insures us the greatest help from Bible reading? That of reverence, meditation, and prayer. This attitude opens the mind to an understanding of the inner meaning of what we read and enables us to apply its truth to our daily thinking and living.
In a metaphysical sense what is meant by the words “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man”? People represent thoughts, and in this verse the individual is represented as talking to his own thoughts that are seeking enlightenment. Before we can educate or enlighten others we must know that education depends upon the efforts of each individual. All reform begins with the individual and extends by degrees to everything within the radius of his influence.
Since God is one, is not man also one? Yes. There is but one Man, the Christ. We are all members of His body.
How should we begin to do our part in the reform of humanity and in the elevating of the standard of civilization? We should begin by merging our whole being with the Christ mind.
Are any especial helps recommended to quicken the merging process? The centering of all our thought on the Christ ideal quickens it. “The ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.” The more faithfully we give our attention to the divine law, the more surely we develop Christ consciousness.
Why is interpretation of the Scriptures recommended? Because it extracts from obsolete or archaic modes of thought the eternal truths that apply to life now equally with past ages and makes of the Scriptures an invaluable guide to us in our daily living. Many truths are hidden in symbol and allegory.
Metaphysically Interpreting Nehemiah 8:13-18
8:13And on the second day were gathered together the heads of fathers' houses of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to give attention to the words of the law. 8:14And they found written in the law, how that Jehovah had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month; 8:15and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 8:16So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the broad place of the water gate, and in the broad place of the gate of Ephraim. 8:17And all the assembly of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and dwelt in the booths; for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. 8:18Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly, according unto the ordinance.
December 11, 1932: Nehemiah 8:12-17
What is meant by the phrase, “for this day is holy unto our Lord”? The day of the Lord is a state of consciousness in which, one realizes that one is in the very presence of Spirit, and also in which there is freedom from the grievous conditions of mortal life.
How may we attain this consciousness? As suggested in the 11th verse, the Levites (spiritual thoughts) stilled the people (their thoughts) by saying words of peace and wholeness and by denying every thought of grief of whatever kind.
What follows when the mind is stilled and receptive to Truth? The thoughts are then centered in Spirit, and we are conscious of an inflow of substance which, should be followed by a corresponding outflow, accompanied by a thought of joy in giving. This is explained in the 12th verse.
What is meant by the comment that the children of Israel should dwell in booths upon the roofs of the houses and in the broad places? When man has the realization of inner spiritual life, he finds himself in that natural freedom of the little child in which he indulges the holiday spirit and lives again close to nature.
What state of consciousness follows when one thus relaxes and gives himself up to the inner natural life? When man lets go of the outer consciousness and in the silence communes with Spirit, he begins to function ideally, or to build booths “upon the roof of his house” (the crown of his head); in the “courts” (the brain centers throughout the body); “in the courts of the house of God” (the original emanating ideas); “in the broad place of the water gate” (the boundless subconscious mind), and “in the broad place of the gate of Ephraim” (the domain of the unfettered spiritual will).
When should man observe these periods of relaxation? One should relax as often as one becomes conscious of tension, either mental or physical.
What all-pervading state of mind should one seek in his relaxation? One should seek a joyous freedom, as brought out in this lesson; “for the joy of Jehovah, is your strength.”
August 13, 1950: Nehemiah 8:8,10,18
Is an understanding of Truth self-rewarding? Yes. The joy that we realize when we understand Truth is not easily expressed in words. It is expressed in the text chiefly in terms of the pleasures of sense, which it in nowise resembles: “Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto him for whom nothing is prepared ... neither be ye grieved; for the joy of Jehovah is your strength.” Spiritual joy imparts strength to mind, soul, and body; it is our most essential food.
Transcribed by Lloyd Kinder on 02-08-2014