Jacob and Esau -- Spiritual and Profane Meanings
By Eleazar, 1999
When Jesus told the people that he would raise the destroyed temple in three days, few understood that he was speaking of the temple of his body. Man is prone to take the most obvious and literal meanings as his truth. Man's own mind and his carnal way of thinking is what usually lead him astray. Knowing this, man should be searching the deeper meanings of all things, but he rarely does.
The ninth chapter of Romans contains some interesting words about Jacob (Israel) and Esau. It is recorded that God hated Esau, but loved Jacob and that the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). Spiritual man begins to see that these passages of scripture cannot be taken at face value because it would mean that they contradict other scriptural passages. Do such passages speak of the same God and Father that is full of unconditional love? It certainly does not seem so. What about a Father/God who is not a respecter of persons? Jesus specifically spoke of the injustice of an earthly father who "… saith unto the one (son): Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there--and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just?" Inasmuch as Jesus also spoke of the servant being the greatest, perhaps it is Esau (the servant) who is greater than Jacob? Literal and profane understandings usually have one going in circles. Carnal man is often at war with himself because that is his very nature. He lives and dies within the tribal mind which is always in conflict.
Since the literal meaning of Jacob and Esau's relationship cannot be correct, then what is the passage in Romans intended to teach? To begin to understand, one needs just to dig deeper and see more clearly. However, one must learn to stop relying on the physical eyes to see, especially since spiritual things are not seen with carnal (physical) eyes. One eventually learns that this is the reality of obvious (seen) and hidden (unseen) understandings. Ironically, this is the very thing that the symbolic relationship of Jacob and Esau is meant to teach. One cannot understand that these passages are about spiritual understandings until one begins to understand spiritually.
In reality, the passages in Romans (and elsewhere) have little to do with Jacob and Esau per se. The real teachings lie deep below the surface. The passages have everything to do with a central allegory that is replayed throughout Christian scriptures as well as in many other religious writings. The deepest meanings frequently point inward, not outward.
Jacob and Esau are meant to represent the dual nature of fallen man and the true relationship between the physical and the spiritual that must occur before carnal man becomes holy (whole). In a sense, Esau represents the physical part of each of us, or rather that part of us who is a slave to the senses of the physical body. Esau is willing to sell his (spiritual) birthright when he is overcome by (physical) hunger. We do the same nearly every day. Jacob represents the spirit of man, which is meant to be the ruler of the body, but rarely is. Jacob is the part of man that is real (Israel) because, in reality, the physical is a reflection of the real (spiritual). Carnal man is ruled by his senses rather than the spirit and thus spends his life trying to find happiness in the gratification of the sense demands, but never finds it. Carnal man spends all of his time going places and acquiring the things of the world because he thinks that these will make him happy. Although he may seem happy for a period of time, his dissatisfaction always returns, usually prompting him to seek even more of the earthly treasures that failed to please him in the first place. No matter how often he eats, his hunger always returns to haunt him. This is the enmity (dissatisfaction) that was placed between Lucifer (the senses) and the seed of the woman (the Christ within us). If one was able to find lasting satisfaction in this physical world, then one would never find the Christ that is within. Ah yes, these things work together for the good of man, albeit carnal man thinks them to be a curse.
The same allegory is played out in the relationship between Isaac and Ishmael, man and woman, and many other places in the scriptures. In Eden, the woman is placed in subjugation to her husband, the true order. As in the allegory of Jacob and Esau, the creation story has little to do with men and woman and everything to do with each of us as holy temples of God. In reality, man and woman are equal in the sight of God, but man is often caught in his own web of carnality and usually proclaims his superiority over women. In the deeper (spiritual) allegory that is intended, Eve represents our body. Her children are the physical senses as well as the fruit(s) of "that tree". This parable is meant to teach us about ourselves… what we are doing and what we should be. Adam represents the spirit, the true and rightful ruler of the body. In reality, the body is made of dust and has no life without the spirit (the Holy Breath of God) which animates it. All things are created spiritually, then physically… or rather the physical comes about as a result of the spiritual being. There is nothing physical that is not spiritual first. Although man often claims himself to be a God in embryo, he is reminded by God that he is dust and will return to it. Thus, it is the carnal mind lives in the dust (physical) and will return there often. Once one casts off this erroneous way of thinking, then he becomes God(ly).
In the creation parable, Eve (the body and the physical senses) tempts Adam (the true self) with the enticements of the tree of knowledge (catering to the senses). She tells him that this fruit '… is delicious to the taste (sense pleasures) and very desirable". Eve steps out of her proper role and Adam follows into bondage. It is the wrong order which is of carnal man, who sees, thinks, and lives in the world of gratifying the physical senses. Thus, that which was supposed to be last (the senses), or rather in subjugation to the spirit, is now first and rules it. Man becomes whole (holy) when the relationship is reversed. The last will be first and the first will be last… or rather, things will be put in their proper order with the spirit ruling the flesh. Unfortunately, carnal man often loves the chains that bind him. He remains in subjugation to the senses because this fruit tastes so good! As the Buddhists teach, man's attachment to the sense pleasures and his aversion to non-pleasures is ultimately the cause of his suffering, because each are temporary. When man is presented with something unpleasurable, or deprived of something pleasurable, he finds himself in misery. To find lasting happiness, he must entirely change his way of thinking. He must put off the natural man (of the senses) and be born again as a new being.
Dear reader, are you beginning to see it? Are you beginning to look for the deeper meanings behind what appears to be in confusion? Are you now a changed being who looks for the allegorical teachings behind the literal? Do you realize that God is unconditional love and that Esau is cannot be hated by God, nor can any of our fellow beings? Do you realize that each of us is Adam (as well as Eve) and that each of us is acting in the creation parable every single day?
The one who looks only at the literal in all is like the farmer plowing his field when veins of gold lie in the rock deep beneath his field. He continues to make his living on the surface while there is great treasure to be found by digging deeper. Begin looking for the hidden meanings and the world about you will change. There will appear a new heaven and a new earth. And it will be you.