Chapter XIII: The Blessing of the Faculties
Genesis 49 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 49:1, 2. And Jacob called unto his sons, and said: Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the latter days.
Assemble yourselves, and hear, ye sons of Jacob;
And hearken unto Israel your father.
What does a blessing signify? Does the blessing by Jacob of his twelve sons have any significance for our own unfoldment?
A blessing signifies the imparting of spiritual good, which the recipient may receive or reject according to his mental attitude. The blessing by Jacob of his twelve sons symbolizes the sowing of seed in consciousness for a future harvest. Through the power of his word Jacob was raising the consciousness of his primal ideas. In effect he was proclaiming: "You represent the A B C of man's life, and I am revealing to you in symbols the foundation you have laid, what you will have to contend with in the future, and what you can attain. You stand for the foundation faculties that constitute the coming ideal man. The true seed idea of this ideal man is implanted within each of you and will eventually become manifest. This process of manifestation covers your history up to the time of the appearance of the man that God imaged in the beginning, even Jesus Christ."
Gen. 49:3, 4.
Reuben, thou art my first-born, my might, and the beginning of my strength;
The pre-eminence of dignity, and the pre-eminence of power.
Boiling over as water, thou shalt not have the pre-eminence;
Because thou wentest up to thy father's bed;
Then defilest thou it; he went up to my couch.
Reuben, the first-born, symbolizes the faith of man in his ability as expressed through his animal nature. Here we see the vigor and vitality of the functioning of man's elemental life, which boils over "as water," loses command. Reuben is represented as the natural man giving way to his passions and appetites before he has developed spiritual mastery.
Gen. 49:5, 7.
Simeon and Levi are brethren;
Weapons of violence are their swords.
O my soul, come not thou into their council;
Unto their assembly, my glory, be not thou united;
For in their anger they slew a man,
And in their self-will they hocked an ox.
Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce;
And their wrath, for it was cruel:
I will divide them in Jacob,
And scatter them in Israel.
Simeon represents receptivity (feeling) and Levi love (sensation). The faculties of feeling and sensation in human consciousness have been debased on the mortal plane. Simeon, the obedient one, one who is easily influenced, falls under the sway of physical sensation.
In Simeon and Levi we also have an exhibition of animal love and of its vengefulness as exemplified in their treacherous attempt to right the wrong committed against their sister Dinah.
Judah, thee shall thy brethren praise:
Thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies;
Thy father's sons shall bow down before thee.
Judah is a lion's whelp;
From the prey, my son, thou art gone up:
He stooped down, he couched as a lion,
And as a lioness; who shall rouse him up?
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Until Shiloh come;
And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.
Binding his foal unto the vine,
And his ass's colt unto the choice vine;
He hath washed his garments in wine,
And his vesture in the blood of the grapes:
His eyes shall be red with wine,
And his teeth white with milk.
Why did Jacob give his highest blessing to Judah?
Jacob's blessing on Judah was the most significant. Judah was to conquer all his enemies:
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh come;
And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be.
Shiloh signifies peace of mind, wholeness, completion or fullness, and represents the Prince of Peace, the Messiah or Savior. Jesus was a direct descendant of Judah, as is shown in the 1st chapter of Matthew. The name Judah applies to only one of the twelve tribes, but is often used to designate the Jewish nation as a whole. This would indicate that praise is
such an active principle in spiritual thought that it is deserving of first place. The power of the word of praise shall be felt until the coming of the Prince of Peace.
Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea;
And he shall be for a haven of ships;
And his border shall be upon Sidon.
How can we retain our identity as children of God?
Zebulun represents the law that relates man to the universal cosmos. He dwells under the law of protection and safety (refuge), yet has a realization of the universal Mind (sea). Zebulun is that in us which is concerned with the maintenance of our individual importance regardless of the immensity of the universal. Those who are in personality will find refuge in this state of consciousness. We lose consciousness of our spiritual importance by looking out into the universe but can retain our identity as children of God through realizing that Spirit is individualized in us.
Gen. 49:14, 15.
Issachar is a strong ass,
Couching down between the sheepfolds:
And he saw a resting-place that it was good,
And the land that it was pleasant;
And he bowed his shoulder to bear,
And became a servant under taskwork.
Issachar symbolizes the inner latent powers in man. He represents that side of the natural man which accepts conditions as they appear to be and bears the burdens of life without question, as exemplified by the patient ass.
Dan shall judge his people,
As one of the tribes of Israel.
Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
An adder in the path,
That biteth the horse's heels,
So that his rider falleth backward.
I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah.
Dan represents discrimination or judgment, a choosing between good and evil. The serpent is used as a symbol of subtlety. "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field." Jesus advised His followers to be "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Sensation rushes through the organism like a race horse, but judgment "bites at the heels" to restrain the headlong flight.
Gad, a troop shall press upon him;
But he shall press upon their heel.
Through what means does one put one's latent spiritual powers into action?
Gad represents latent spiritual power, which like an army is always ready to do a mighty work. Science tells of an omnipresent ether that presses upon us in the invisible from every direction. One scientist says that the atomic energy in a pea would propel a large seagoing vessel from America to England and return. This ether has its analogy in Spirit, which continually inspires us when we give it our attention. Our mind is in direct contact with this spiritual power, and our word puts it into action.
Out of Asher his bread shall be fat,
And he shall yield royal dainties.
Asher represents the understanding mind and its ability to manipulate universal substance (bread) and make it manifest richly. The bread or divine substance is susceptible of infinite adaptation. Those who think about it as limited in its expression manifest limited supply, while those who follow Jesus and realize the richness of this substance manifest it abundantly, being able even to transform it into loaves and fishes to feed the multitude.
Naphtali is a hind let loose:
He giveth goodly words.
The Hebrew meaning of the name Naphtali is "my wrestling," "wrestling of Jehovah." Naphtali represents the activity of strength in man's consciousness. Jacob's blessing on Naphtali was that he might have the strength and speed of the deer and the power of the word to increase strength.
Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a fountain;
His branches run over the wall.
The archers have sorely grieved him,
And shot at him, and persecuted him:
But his bow abode in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong,
By the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
(From thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel),
Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee,
And by the Almighty, who shall bless thee,
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that coucheth beneath,
Blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.
The blessings of thy father
Have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors
Unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills:
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him that was separated from
Joseph, representing the imagination, is at all times very close to divine inspiration. If man would curb his will and keep it in abeyance he would not "imagine vain things." Notwithstanding the destructive power of the personal will ("archers") with which he is associated his directive power is victorious. Joseph's persecution and sale into Egypt by his willful brothers and his demonstration of superiority to his fate illustrate the victory of an inspired imagination. The whole story of Joseph is an example of the successful functioning of man's imaging faculty when he keeps contact with Jehovah.
Gen. 49:27, 28.
Benjamin is a wolf that raveneth:
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at even he shall divide the spoil.
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel: and this is it that their father spake unto them and blessed them; every one according to his blessing he blessed them.
Benjamin (faith) in his hunger after righteousness is compared to a famished wolf. In the morning or beginning he appropriates understanding to the full, which he divides or imparts freely at the evening or end of the period.
Gen. 49:29-33. And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be gathered unto my people: bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the land of
Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying-place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah--the field and the cave that is therein, which was purchased from the children of Heth. And when Jacob made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
In the Scripture allegories the various individuals represent the different phases of character through which one man passes in his spiritual unfoldment. As these follow in a series, gradually reaching greater heights, the old phases of character are left behind to be replaced by new ones. Thus the Biblical characters are said to "die" and to be "gathered unto their fathers." Tennyson was inspired to express a great truth, as poets often are, when he wrote,
"Men may rise on steppingstones
Of their dead selves to higher things."
Does loss occur to the individual when his thought forces are said to "die"?
So each of the great Bible personalities is gradually replaced in the mind of him who is in the narrow way. When a great change takes place, some old phase of consciousness has lost its hold, and we read that Jacob or Joseph or another character "dies." This does not mean that there has been any loss or that anything has "gone away" but that certain states of mind have fulfilled their regenerative work and have been succeeded by others.
(For Ephron, Machpelah, and Mamre see interpretation of Gen. 23:3-20.)
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