Chapter IX: Man Develops Spiritual Faculties
Genesis 29 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 29:1-15. Then Jacob went on his journey; and came to the land of the children of the east. And he looked, and, behold, a well in the field, and, lo, three flocks of sheep lying there by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and the stone upon the well's mouth was great. And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in its place. And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence are ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. And he said unto them, Is it well with him? And they said, It is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep. And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep. While he was yet speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep; for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.
And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month. And Laban said unto Jacob, because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?
Metaphysically what does Jacob's journeying toward the east represent? How do we "put the stone again upon the well's mouth"?
Metaphysically interpreted, Jacob's journeying toward the east is a way of saying that the illumined intellect is penetrating deeper into the inner spiritual consciousness. The well of water symbolizes an innate spiritual life capacity in the body consciousness. The three flocks of sheep represent three states of physical existence, each on its own plane expressing the innocent, obedient activity of life. The people Jacob visits are living in Haran, the name of which means "strong," "exalted," "mountaineer"; the people being not necessarily spiritual but having high ideals. Their concepts are limited in expression ("they put the stone again upon the well's mouth in its place"). Laban represents the unsophisticated natural man whose pure high ideals are expressed by Rachel and Leah (they shepherd his sheep or thoughts). Jacob (related through his mother to this divine-natural plane of consciousness) now makes a closer contact that brings about prosperity for all concerned.
Gen. 29:16-30. And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. And Leah's eyes were tender; but Rachel was beautiful and well-favored. And Jacob loved Rachel; and he said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.
And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. And Laban gave Zilpah his handmaid unto his daughter Leah for a handmaid. And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then has thou beguiled me? And Laban said, It is not so done in our place, to give the younger before the first-born. Fulfil the week of this one, and we will give thee the other also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife. And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her handmaid. And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
What effect does unselfish love have on soul unfoldment? What relationship among certain phases of the soul is symbolized by Jacob's love for Rachel and Leah?
When unselfish love touches the heart, self drops out of the mind. Love in the heart lifts us out of the time limitations of sense consciousness into the joy of the eternal present. When we forget ourselves in the service of love, the selflessness of God takes possession
of our being. Yet the selfless man is ever the self-possessed man, such is the paradox of spiritual law. The higher self in man loves the pure natural soul (Rachel) and works joyously to possess it. The higher self also loves the human part of the soul (Leah) with an objective love and feeds it with the enduring substance of true thought. Jacob was true to Leah. We can sustain the whole consciousness in health and unfailing strength by recognizing it as the essence of invisible substance.
The love story of Jacob and Rachel is one of the most beautiful in all literature. Jacob served her father seven years for her hand and was then disappointed because he had to marry her elder sister Leah. He then served seven more years for Rachel, which because of his great love for her seemed but a few days.
The name Bilhah means "bashfulness," "timidity," "tenderness." Bilhah represents a tendency of the soul toward self-abasement.
The name Zilpah means "distilling," "leaking." Zilpah symbolizes the unfolding soul of man in which as yet too much of the human is in evidence.
Gen. 29:31-35. And Jehovah saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Because Jehovah hath looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me. And she conceived again, and bare a son: and said, Because Jehovah hath heard that I am hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. And he conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons: therefore was his name called
Levi. And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, This time will I praise Jehovah: therefore she called his name Judah; and she left off bearing.
The first child born to Leah was Reuben. At his birth she cried, "Jehovah hath looked upon my affliction." The emphasis is on the word looked, and we find that the name Reuben means "a son seen," "vision of the son." Thus the mother revealed the character of the faculty represented by the child, and this is likewise true in the case of each of the sons.
What is the first faculty brought forth in man's spiritual development?
The first faculty brought forth in man's spiritual development is vision, the ability to discern the reality of Spirit that lies back of every form or symbol in the material world. Like Jacob all Truth seekers are anxious to develop faith (Benjamin) to remove mountains and imagination (Joseph) to mold substance to their desires, but also like Jacob they must bring forth the faculties of seeing, hearing, feeling, praise, judgment, strength, power, understanding, zeal, and order on the spiritual plane.
What must be our attitude of mind before our good can come to us?
Simeon, the second son of Leah, represents hearing or, in a broader sense, receptivity. When man is receptive to the inflow of Spirit nothing can keep his good from him, and he is in a position to make rapid strides in his development.
What office does the love faculty perform?
When Levi, the third son, was born, Leah exclaimed, "Now this time will my husband be joined unto me." The emphasis is on the word joined. Levi means "uniting," which in the body is feeling, in the soul compassion, and in the spirit love. The faculty of love is the unifying principle in consciousness. It connects our forces with that on which we
center our attention. When our attention is focused on Spirit, these faculties become spiritualized. When we elevate love (Levi) to the plane of Spirit (John), it draws to us all that the soul requires. When it is kept on the lower plane as feeling or emotion it often leads to selfishness, to indulgence, even to violence.
Why do we regard praise as an "increasing" faculty?
The fourth son of Jacob and Leah was Judah. In the Hebrew this name means "praise Jehovah." In Spirit this is prayer and the faculty of accumulating spiritual substance. In sense consciousness this faculty becomes acquisitiveness, the desire to accumulate material things, and if the self is dominant the faculty "hath a devil" (Judas).
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