THE BLESSING OF THE FACULTIES
GENESIS 47, 48, 49 and 50
Mysteries of Genesis
JOSEPH IS A SUBLIME IDEA of Truth that goes down into the darkened sense consciousness, and under the law finally raises it up and out of sense and into Spirit. He was seemingly forced there by his brothers, yet he was sent by the Lord to prepare for the maintenance of Jacob’s family through the period of dearth that later came to Canaan. The Truth he represents, when taken down into the sense consciousness, establishes there a new realization of life that will result in the regeneration of the entire man. We must often go consciously into every part of our body and build it up in Truth with new ideas of life and substance.
Gen. 47:1-12. Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. And from among his brethren he took five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers. And they said unto Pharaoh, To sojourn in the land are we come; for there is no pasture for thy servants’ flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee: the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How many are the days of the years of thy life? And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years: few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.
Joseph’s brothers had been shepherds in Canaan. It is the business of our mind faculties (Jacob’s sons) to tend those thought aggregations (flocks, herds) that pertain to our vitality. There were no sheep in Egypt, but Pharaoh made them “rulers” over his cattle. Cattle represent physical strength, which like all the powers of man on the natural plane, must be spiritualized. The faculties, having come down into a more material state of consciousness (Egypt), take dominion over and lift up the animal thoughts and tendencies in the body and unify them with Spirit. This is done by a transmutation of quality and is attained by right thinking, by putting the “cattle” under the control of the thoughts of reality or Spirit, represented by the Israelites.
Joseph brought his father to the ruler, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. This shows that the power that rules the body, under the material regime, rules in obscurity or is without spiritual understanding. When imagination (Joseph) brings the higher understanding (Jacob) to the body consciousness (Pharaoh), the higher blesses the lower.
Thus, the father and the brothers of Joseph took up their abode in the land of Egypt, and Joseph nourished them there. The imagination, which is our faculty of increase, when established in Truth, prepares the way for us. It inspires, encourages, and sustains the other faculties in us when they fall into a seemingly material phase of being, and ultimately brings about the spiritualization of the whole organism, mind, soul, and body.
It is thought that Rameses is the same name as Raamses, which means “son of Ra,” “son of the sun,” “sun’s emanation.” Rameses represents a consciousness of substance in the domain of the physical ego (Pharaoh). This “sun” or “light” consciousness, which in Pharaoh and Egypt is obscured or veiled by the life on the lower sense plane, works in conjunction with the higher religious thoughts (Hebrews) that are in servitude to the darkened sense consciousness symbolized by Egypt, and so this reserve substance (Rameses) is built up in Egypt.
Gen. 47:13-26. And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for our money faileth. And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph; and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, and for the flocks, and for the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread in exchange for all their cattle for that year. And when that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide from my lord, how that our money is all spent; and the herds of cattle are my lord’s; there is nought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: wherefore should we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land be not desolate.
So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine was sore upon them: and the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end thereof. Only the land of the priests bought he not: for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them; wherefore they sold not their land. Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass at the ingatherings, that ye shall give a fifth unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests alone became not Pharaoh’s.
In the early stages of regeneration there are times when the developing soul has exhausted its resources and the outer world no longer satisfies. When it reaches this point man has to turn within and appropriate from the higher principles that which they have to give. The center of the great solar plexus (Pharaoh) is also the conservator of substance and life in the organism. When man is spiritually famished and feels the lack he is eager regardless of cost to go to the inner reservoirs of stored-up substance for sustenance. First he gives up to the higher principles the power and strength of the natural man (symbolized by money and cattle), then he draws on the fixed forces, the land (representing the body), until it is finally realized that the higher principles really are in authority. In the last analysis the “sun” (solar plexus) consciousness is actually the great distributor. The men (thought forces) were given seed to sow the land, and Pharaoh (the great distributing ego) permitted them to have four fifths of the harvest for sustenance, while retaining one fifth (in the subconscious) to meet any usual demands. The man now becomes aware of the presence of this subconscious ego that, when spiritually instructed by the imagination (Joseph), will handle all the processes of rebuilding the body. Finally this becomes an established law. The priests, representing the higher spiritual life, are not subject to this law.
Gen. 47:27-31. And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they gat them possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years. And the time drew near that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found favor in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me: bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt; but when I sleep with my fathers, thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. And he said, Swear unto me: and he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.
The central thought in this Scripture is that Jacob is giving up old ideas and taking on new. The life of Jacob in a certain unfoldment was drawing to a close, and his desire was that his body be buried with his fathers in the cave of Machpelah. This indicates that a certain phase of the illumined intellect is sinking back into the subconsciousness (Macpelah). All experiences in life that have spiritual qualities and all realities gained in the land of unity (Goshen) are preserved in the subconsciousness. Joseph’s placing his hand under the thigh of Jacob symbolizes the truth that the illumined intellect needs the encouragement and support and power of the imagination in order to effect spiritually the change that is about to take place. When this is granted, Jacob bows down in gratitude and thanksgiving to the Holy One and rests in the realization that all is well. “And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.”
Jacob’s age is significant. The number seven symbolizes fullness in the world of phenomena. It is so universally used as a mystical number that its basis must be in some fundamental arrangement of the natural world.
(For significance of the oath see interpretation of Gen. 24:9.)
Gen. 48:1-4. And it came to pass after these things, that one said to Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed. And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a company of peoples, and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.
In this Scripture the I AM functioning in the illumined intellect (Jacob) is taking cognizance of its abilities and possessions before it sinks back into the subconsciousness for a season of rest. The I AM faculty of imagination (Joseph) is quick to discern what is taking place and brings the will and the understanding, the yes and the no of the mind (Ephraim and Manasseh), to the I AM for a final blessing. (The will and the understanding are the powers that say yes and no to your thoughts.)
The Lord had blessed Jacob (the I AM) at Luz. One interpretation of Luz is “separation,” but under the light of Spirit we find that that which we conceive to be apart from God (Luz) is in truth His abode (Bethel, house of God). Therefore this Luz state of consciousness belongs eternally to the I AM and its faculties will (Ephraim) and understanding (Manasseh), which faculties are to multiply and bring forth fruit exceedingly.
Gen. 48:5, 6. And now thy two sons, who were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon, shall be mine. And thy issue, that thou begettest after them, shall be thine; they shall be called after the name of their brethren in their inheritance.
The I AM (Jacob) here claims Joseph’s two sons Ephraim and Manasseh (fruit of the imagination) as his own. The primal faculties of will (Ephraim) and understanding (Manasseh) or of affirmation and denial now come under the dominion of the I AM, symbolized by Jacob. The secondary issues come under the imagination (Joseph).
Gen. 48:7. And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when there was still some distance to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the way to Ephrath (the same is Bethlehem).
When an important ego is about to change its plane of expression, a memory of past experiences, especially of those which are dear to the heart, flashes into the mind. Spiritually that which is good in the experiences is retained and that which is not good is cast aside. In soul consciousness the soul intuitively rejects the error and claims the good. It is an occasion where denial and affirmation play an important part.
Jacob had been on his way from Paddan (a place of substance in the consciousness and body organism of the individual) and was yet some distance from Ephrath (realization of abundance); that is, the illumined I AM (Jacob) had been passing from a lower plane of substance to a higher plane. During this period of transition the consciousness of love for material substance (Rachel) died, or sank back into the subconscious, there to become the foundation of a more spiritual love. Now through introspection Jacob was eliminating the error and affirming the good.
Gen. 48:8-22. And Israel beheld Joseph’s sons, and said, Who are these? And Joseph said unto his father, They are my sons, whom God hath given me here. And he said, Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them. Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. And Israel said unto Joseph, I had not thought to see thy face: and, lo, God hath let me see thy seed also. And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born. And he blessed Joseph, and said, The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who hath fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father; for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; howbeit his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee will Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God will be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers. Moreover I have given to thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.
When Joseph came to visit his father in the land of Goshen, he brought his two sons with him. Hearing that they were coming, “Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed.” Thus understanding (Manasseh) and will (Ephraim) bring strength when weakness appears. Job says, “When they cast thee down, thou shalt say, There is lifting up.”
Jacob blessed his grandsons, and his blessing is significant. Manasseh, being the first-born (under divine law understanding precedes will), would be entitled to the chief blessing, but Jacob laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh instead of the reverse, which was the customary way of blessing. Joseph, thinking his aged father’s dim eyesight responsible for this seeming error, called his attention to it. Jacob replied that he knew what he was doing and that although the older son was to become great and important, Ephraim (will) would take precedence under the natural law to which they were both to be subjected.
That certain laws in race evolution are involved in the blessing by Jacob of Joseph’s two sons, also that a special spiritual dispensation to the Hebrews, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, was instituted must be admitted by those who believe that this Scripture is inspired. But this dependence on the Lord for guidance could not go on forever; the highest test of character is the self-made man. Man must develop from within, and the time comes to every soul when it must glow with its own inner light, regardless of the mistakes it may make.
Jacob saw that the time had come for Ephraim and Manasseh to act on their own initiative, and he knew what he was doing when he gave Ephraim (the will) first place. In the free, full development of man the will and ambition to achieve leap ahead of the understanding. This has been and still is the experience of the human race, and it will continue to be until man in his freedom willingly accepts divine guidance. Then Manasseh (the understanding) will come into his own and assume first place in consciousness. The blunders of man will then be corrected and a mutual understanding be restored to the whole world.
Up to this time the faculties symbolized by Ephraim and Manasseh had been under the inspiration of the imagination (Joseph). Joseph’s taking his sons from between his knees and handing them over to Jacob for the final blessing symbolizes the restoration of the faculties to their natural estate. The dying of Jacob represents the withdrawal of the activity of this special spiritual inspiration imparted through the I AM.
The final blessing of the I AM on the imagination (Joseph) promised that it would be taken back or “reincarnated” in the land of the fathers. The one extra portion that Jacob gave to Joseph, which he “took out of the hand of the Amorite” (a race inheritance) with his sword (power of the word) and bow (directive power), is an amorous force that finds expression on the generative plane but which eventually must be elevated to spiritual consciousness. The exercise of any faculty to the best of one’s ability is appreciated by the Lord (law), and we get an extra portion, a “free gift of God.” We receive a certain return for our mental effort although we may not always directly recognize God as the source.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 his brethren.
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.”
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.)
Gen. 50:1-13. And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him, for so are fulfilled the days of embalming: and the Egyptians wept for him threescore and ten days.
And when the days of weeping for him were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found favor in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear. And Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. And they came to the threshing-floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, and there they lamented with a very great and sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days. And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan. And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: for his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field, for a possession of a burying place, of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.
Whenever the I AM withdraws, no matter in what state of consciousness it has been functioning, there is a great shock to the soul, and all the forces of the natural man are filled with grief and consternation. “And he made a mourning for his father seven days.” The imagination (Joseph), favorite faculty (son) of the illumined intellect (Jacob), mourned greatly, not fully understanding that the withdrawal of the I AM eventually would culminate in good.
The name Atad means “bramble,” “thornbush,” “a thorn.” It was on the threshing floor of Atad that Joseph and his brethren mourned seven days for their father Jacob. A threshing floor may be thought of as a place of judgment or separation, of letting go of that which is no longer needful to be expressed in consciousness. Atad represents the belief that vexations, trials, and sorrows are real. It is this unredeemed thought or belief in man that causes him to experience deep grief and tribulation at giving up his personal hold on old ideas and objects which are due to be released from his mind and affairs. This unredeemed belief is concerned with and dwells on the trial side of the process rather than on the blessing side of it.
The Canaanites symbolize the semispiritual in man. They changed the name (or character) of Atad. “And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning on the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim.” The Egyptians symbolize materiality.
Abel-mizraim (“mourning of Egypt or Egyptians,” “mourning or meadow of distress”) represents the feeling of sorrow and loss in the sense man that often accompanies the letting go of some good idea in consciousness after it has finished its work. Man’s tendency is to cling to the old ideas that have been helpful to him. But when their work is done in the individual for the time being, these old ideas, no matter how well they have served, must be released from consciousness so that other and higher ideas may take their place. This is a process of judgment, a sifting of ideas and thoughts, a letting go of the chaff and a laying hold of the wheat (on the threshing floor).
The Jordan represents a stream of thought, good, bad, and indifferent, flowing through the subconscious.
Machpelah refers to the subconscious body substance.
Ephron the Hittite symbolizes a phase of thought that is quick to change its thinking base. The word Hittite denotes thoughts belonging to the carnal consciousness of man.
Mamre suggests strength, vigor; it also represents the seat of the conscious mind.
(For further discussion of these names see interpretation of Gen. 23:3-20.)
This closing chapter of Genesis is an allegorical account of the end of the work of Jacob and his family in Egypt. The descent of Joseph (the illumined imagination) into Egypt paved the way for Jacob (the spiritually illumined ego) and his kin to make contact with subconscious substance. These pioneers of Jehovah accomplished their work, and their leader Jacob “died” or withdrew from consciousness. That the whole man, including the physical, was helped by Jacob is evidenced by the interest the Egyptians took in the funeral of Jacob and the great company that went up to Canaan with the Children of Israel.
Gen. 50:14-21. And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, It may be that Joseph will hate us, and will fully requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a message unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the transgression of thy brethren, and their sin, for that they did unto thee evil. And now, we pray thee, forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? And as for you, ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
The imagination returning to the body consciousness (Egypt) again takes up the work of redeeming it.
The confession of the brothers of Joseph to their crime against him and his loving forgiveness both point to the spiritual uplift that has taken place in soul evolution.
“Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones” signifies that the imagination in its divine purity and holiness is one of the sources of good to the whole man. What you mold in your mind under the spiritual law is formed in your affairs and thus is the source of prosperity.
Gen. 50:22-26. And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived a hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were born upon Joseph’s knees. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die; but God will surely visit you, and bring you up out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. And Joseph died, being a hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Joseph also died in Egypt but not until he had lived among the children of Ephraim unto “the third generation.” This means that the Joseph qualities of mind are developing a deeper understanding of spiritual things. Machir, the name of a son of Manasseh (understanding), means “acquired,” “purchased.” The children of Machir that were “born upon Joseph’s knees” represent the balance and poise that must actively exist in us if we are abidingly to possess true understanding. The Joseph characteristics gradually become a part of the whole body consciousness.
The insistence by all these patriarchs that their bones be taken to Canaan for burial is emblematic of the truth that the substance of them and what they represent is to be restored to its source, Spirit. Although Joseph died and was embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt, his bones were finally brought to Canaan, as stated in the last chapter of the Book of Joshua.
* * * * *
Mysteries of Genesis
Table of Contents