The master key to life — a universal guide to all that matters in making life more satisfying. On the surface, the Ten Commandments are a great guide by which to live ones life. Moses having been educated to the highest levels in Egypt had the knowledge, then after meeting the priest (and his 7 daughters) in the wilderness was trained more in the spirit. Both the knowledge and the spirit went into these writings so that the most simplest understanding of these were good, but also that those with great knowledge and spirit could ascertain the deeper meaning of the commandments. Emmet Fox brings out the deeper meanings in a scientific, but yet spiritual way that is truly a profound joy to read.
CHAPTER 1: WHAT MOSES MEANS TODAY
WE are considering one of the most important sections in the Bible, a section which is certainly not neglected, because the Ten Commandments are taught everywhere, in Sunday Schools and day schools, and often are written up on the walls of many churches. They are not neglected but they are woefully misunderstood. It is still true today that the people stand afar off from the thick darkness where God is, but I am glad to say that that darkness is rapidly passing away. All over the world, the main body of the people is getting the Truth about the Omnipresence and Availability of God. They do not call it that as a rule. However, they are learning and beginning to feel that God is something that we have with us every day, in the most prosaic and ordinary things. God is not just an abstract idea up in the sky, having no meaning in everyday life. That concept is going. All kinds of people, all over the world, are beginning to get the sense of God as a present, dynamic, real power for harmony, for healing, and for freedom. There is nothing in the world more thrilling than the Bible, particularly our Bible in English. There is no litera-ture in the world which comes within a thousand miles of it for literary power, for graphic presentation, for dramatic expression, for knowledge of human nature, and for human psychology, as it is the fashion at the moment, to call it. Yet, I wonder how many people have read these two chap-ters, let us say, within the past year. How many would be astonished at the tremendous drama and human psychology they would find there, if they would read them. Books and magazines and articles, alleged to be psychol-ogy, are pouring off the presses. The very word “psychol-ogy” would sell an old sin at the present time. Yet here at home on the shelf, in the Bible, is the most powerful, practical psychology ever written. The book of Exodus, part of Chapters 19 and 20, is not only one of the most important sections of the Bible, but also one of the most dramatic. I call it a section because it is part of two chapters which belong together. The chapter-ing in the Bible is not logical. The chapters, as we have them, were not made by the authors, but at a much later date—later than the Middle Ages. The authors knew nothing about our chapters. The works of these men were cut up for convenience in handling and reading, just as you might take a long ribbon and a pair of scissors and snip the ribbon off into separate yards. The verses also are quite modern. They were made somewhere about the beginning of the seventeenth century. And, of course, they are a very convenient device for reference. Now, this section deals with what we call the Ten Com-mandments, and is one of the key sections of the Bible. The Sermon on the Mount is another, and the first two or three chapters of Genesis are another. This section really sums up the whole Bible teaching. If we thoroughly understand it, then we have the gist of the whole Bible. We have the underlying principle that we can apply to understanding any part of the Bible, and that is the scientific way to approach the Bible. It is one of the most important sections for us because it teaches us the laws of life, and it is only when we under-stand the laws of life that we become masters—masters of our own conditions. Divine Providence means us to be masters of our conditions. It is sad to think how much good will and hard work have gone into Bible study in the past with so little result. I have known people who worked like Trojans on their Bible, not for a year, but for forty or fifty years, and at the end of that time, they did not have the slightest inkling of the real Bible message. They were nearly all rigid funda-mentalists. They missed the whole beauty of the Bible. They just took it literally, and were left at the end of their Bible study with what they had started with, and nothing more. They started with the belief in a rather terrible, very severe, limited God, Jehovah, who was going to save a few people and send the rest to eternal torment; and they finished up with that, after literally learning the Bible by heart. But in this section, we get the underlying principle for understanding the whole Bible. To begin with, notice which book it comes in. This extraordinary treatise on human nature and how it works, and how to find God, does not come in the book of Genesis or Numbers or Proverbs. It comes in Exodus. What does the word “Exodus” means? It means an exit, a going or a getting out—getting out of trouble. An exit is a way out, and with trouble, the idea is to get out quickly. The book of Exodus deals with the getting out of limitation, which means the getting out of evil, because all evil is limitation of one kind or another. It shows us how to get out of our own limitation—our weakness, and fearfulness, and stupidity, and sin, and sickness—and become the wonderful thing that God intended us to be. The Bible says that we have dominion over all things—and we have—but we can only have that dominion when we learn the laws of life and apply them. There is no dominion without it. For instance, we are, to a large extent, masters of elec-tricity today because in the past we studied the laws of electricity and applied them. Men like Edison, Marconi, Ampere, and Faraday did not sit down and hatch up some dream out of their own minds. No, Faraday, for example, got bits of wire and magnets, and twirled them about, and studied their action and learned the laws governing them. We have the automobile today because people like Boyle studied the action of gases, and what happened with com-pression and expansion. And this knowledge was applied by people like Benz and others. They studied the laws apper-taining to these conditions, and applied them. The result is that for a comparatively small sum today you can get a vehicle which Julius Caesar could not have got for the whole Roman Empire. So if we want health, if we want happiness, if we want true self-expression, if we want divine freedom, then we have to learn the laws of the human soul, and the laws of psychology and metaphysics. We have to learn them and apply them—simplicity itself. Not easy, but simple. These laws are explained in the Bible. The Bible was written by men who had extraordinary knowledge of these laws. They got it through inspiration—as we can when we know how. Moses in particular knew these laws extremely well. He was one of the greatest souls who have ever come upon the Earth planet. He was a man of extraordinary understanding and knowledge of God and of man. He was born with that potentiality, having earned it when he had been on earth before. Then, he was born again into the conditions which enabled him to use and develop those faculties. Just as a person today, who is doing his very best to gain a knowledge of God—not for any ulterior motive but for its own sake—a person who is trying to understand God, and life, and what he is here for, and trying to live as well as he can; the next time he comes here, he will be born into circumstances which will give him every opportunity of getting a much fuller and higher knowledge early in life. Moses had done that, and so he came into the world where he could best develop and do a useful work, where he could be useful to people—because we are not develop-ing unless we are useful. We do not get spiritual develop-ment by going off by ourselves and saying, “I will save my own soul, and the rest of the world can go hang.” That does not give any kind of spiritual development. It will merely make you unhappy and selfcentered. In order to develop spiritually you must be doing something useful for other people, something unselfish. In the old phrase, you must be doing your duty in the state of life in which you happen to be called. No spiritual development will ever come with neglect of duty. What we call our duty—and is our duty—is the opportunity to express the spiritual understanding we have, and thereby to get more. Moses, of course, is one of the great historical leaders of the human race. He is one of those people who have really made history, and the story of his birth is extremely im-portant and significant, spiritually as well as materially. You know the story. He was born in Egypt which was in those days the most highly civilized place in the world. But at the time, the authorities gave orders to kill the male chil-dren. Well, Moses was born and his mother tried to save his life by placing him in a little basket. Pharaoh’s daugh-ter—the king’s daughter— used to go down to the river bank to bathe everyday at a certain time. And they hid this little basket—they had made it and topped it with pitch—and they put it there where Pharaoh’s daughter could not help but see it. And the sister of Moses was told to hide in among the tall reeds there by the banks of the Nile, to see what would happen. Well, the king’s daughter went into the river, and she saw this little basket, and she opened it, and the child cried. Being human, her heart was touched. Who could resist the cry of a small child? She immediately looked around, and out came the sister; and you know the rest of the story, how the sister was sent to fetch a woman to take care of the child, and she brought Moses’ own mother. Now there is one remarkable text here. Pharaoh’s daugh-ter says to the woman: “Take this child, and nurse it, and I will give thee thy wages.” You are Pharaoh’s daughter, you know. You probably did not know it but you are. In the Bible sense, you are Pharaoh’s daughter as soon as you become interested in metaphysics, as soon as you reach out for the Christ truth. At that point you are Pharaoh’s daugh-ter. You are saving the infant Moses. The infant Moses here is that higher thing in you that draws you to this teaching, to this Truth. And so, you take the child and nurse it and bring it up. What leads you to do that? The power of God in you. We do not go to God. God brings us to Himself. “You would not have sought Me had you not already found Me.” “We love Him because He first loved us.” It is the power of God in you that is doing it. God gives you the spiritual idea and says to you, “Take this child.” It is a baby, you know. When we get the spiritual idea it is a baby. When it grows up with us, we will not be here any longer. We could not live on this plane. As soon as the spiritual idea grows up in us we will go and never come back—we have moved from the kindergarten up to high school. But it is a baby, like the Christ child born in the stable, another way of putting the story of the Wonder Child. So God gives us this child. It is feeble and it is crying, and He says to you and to me, “Take this child, and nurse it, and I will give thee thy wages.” We have to nurse the infant Moses. We have to nurse the Christ child. Now, how do we nurse a child? By giving it nourishment. And how do we nourish the infant Moses? By prayer and meditation. Otherwise, the child will starve, and our chance for spiritual development will be gone for a long time. It will come again, but not for a long time. The child will starve. However, if we take the child and nurse it, we shall get our wages, and our wages shall be freedom, peace of mind, harmony, true place, understanding, and the fellow-ship of God Himself. These are the wages of prayer. Of course, we know the wages of sin is death. And so the Bible says, “Take this child, and nurse it.” There is really nothing else we can do for a baby but nurse it. The cleverest doctor who ever lived could not turn a small baby into a grownup man in three months. All you can do is nurse it, and that is all you can do for the infant Moses. Nourish it. You nourish it with your daily prayer and meditation and by the right thought all day long, not fussily pouncing on every thought, but by knowing in a gen-eral way that the Presence of God is with you, and refusing to give power to error. Take this child and nurse it and God will give you your wages. The king’s daughter adopted this child, we are told in this version, and Moses grew up as the adopted son of the king’s daughter. That meant that he was one of the most important people in the kingdom. Now, of course, according to modern ideas, the fact that he was adopted did not make him of royal blood—but those are modern ideas. What one might call the pure studbook of royalty or aristocracy belongs to Europe of the Middle Ages and since. The people in the ancient world did not take that point of view. In the Roman Empire, for instance, a man who was adopted was considered to have the blood of those who adopted him. And so also in the East. In the Roman Empire, various distinctions of nationality did not mean anything. In modern Europe, since the Middle Ages, nationality has meant so much that it has finished up by practically destroying itself. We have quite a national feeling in America, but not in that narrow-spirited way they had in Europe. In every country up to the outbreak of the last war, you had to be-long to that nation or you were very much a foreigner—French in France, German in Germany, Italian in Italy, British in England. If not, well then you were a foreigner and while you might be perfectly all right and no doubt meant well, and so forth, there was a difference. We do not feel that way in America. In America, if a man is a good citizen, we do not ask whether he spells his name Charles, Carl, or Carlos, but in Europe they had a different idea. So Moses, having been adopted by the king’s daughter, had every possible privilege, as though he were the king’s actual grandson; and, as a matter of fact, many people have always thought that he was. Well, he was brought up and educated along Egyptian lines and he joined the priest-hood. In the ancient world, if you wanted to amount to anything you had to be either a soldier or an ecclesiastic. The ancient world did not very much respect anybody else. If you were a merchant or a businessman or a farmer or a mechanic, you were a useful person and all that sort of thing but you did not amount to anything. To command respect all over Asia and to some extent in Europe, you had to be a soldier, or a landowner who might become a soldier at any moment, or an ecclesiastic. Moses was a studious person with extraordinary spiritual leanings—that was what led him into that opportunity—and being the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he was trained for the priesthood and he worked himself up to the highest ranks. In the New Testament we are told that Moses was learned in all the learning of the Egyptians. In those days, learning was kept a profound secret for certain reasons, and as you worked up to the various ranks of the priesthood, you were told certain things. When you got halfway up, for example, you were taught geometry. Geometry was considered a valuable secret. It was used for mensuration and for putting up the pyramids and very many other things. But always remember that in the ancient world, the word “geometry” also meant what we call meta-physics. What we call metaphysics was taught the students of Plato, Socrates, and Pythagoras, and it was taught by all the ancient leaders. How much they could get over to their followers was another matter. However, they put up these barriers to learning for the general public. They thought it was necessary. But remember that the real barriers to spiritual under-standing are within ourselves. There is a limit to what anyone of us can learn—not a limit of time but a limit of our mentality. If we are not ready for a spiritual truth neither Moses nor Jesus Christ Himself could give it to us until we are ready for it. The object of our prayers and meditations is to make ourselves ready for more understanding; and when we are ready it must come. Always it is a question of degree. The knowledge always comes when the conscious-ness is ready. Now, why was Moses born in those particular circum-stances at that particular time? Because they correspond to his mentality. When Moses was born as that little baby, he had that mentality. He had, of course, lived before. He had studied these things, he had given his time to them, and, above all, he had tried to practice them. The only thing you have of spiritual knowledge is what you practice. What you read in books you do not have. What you speak to others about you do not have. It is what you practice that you incorporate in the subconscious, and it is with you for the rest of this life and for future lives too. You can only take with you what you incorporate in the subconscious mind. All the rest you have to leave be-hind—all the things on the bookshelves and all the things you may have studied. It is what you practice that stays with you. So Moses had practiced these things in previous lives and therefore had prepared himself for this extraordinary op-portunity. Being the person he was he was naturally drawn into the succession to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. He followed on from them. He was trained in Egypt and he worked in the temples as a student and as an Egyptian priest, and he got right up to the top ranks. There were thirty-three degrees in the Egyptian priesthood and in the last three degrees he was taught the omnipresence of God, but the Egyptian priest-hood did not teach the unreality of evil because they did not know it. It remained for Moses to get that for himself at firsthand. The Egyptian priesthood believed that with the power of good you could overcome evil, but they did believe that there was something to overcome. We believe that there is only a false belief to overcome, but they be-lieved in actual evil to overcome. When you study the Egyptian books you are struck by the number of different gods, and particularly the animal gods. You see gods with the head of a cat. The Egyptians were very fond of cats. I am rather fond of cats myself, but it is interesting, is it not, that the cat is the only domestic animal that does not appear in the Bible. You can go from Genesis to Revelation and you will find some surprising things, but never a cat. Well, I will leave that with you. They had gods with the head of a hawk, and gods with the heads of serpents. But the higher priesthood did not believe in those things. The upper ranks of the clergy did not think for a moment that a cat could be a god, or that a god would clothe himself in the body of a hawk or a serpent. They knew that those were symbols—the bull as the symbol for strength and power, the tiger and the lion as a symbol also for strength and power of another kind, the dove as a sym-bol for peace and diplomacy. They knew these things. It has been the custom all through the Christian era to blame the priests of Egypt and Syria for, as they said, de-ceiving the people. Why did they not go to the people and tell them the truth? I suppose for several reasons. For one, they did not want the people to know too much, but after all, that failure has not been peculiar to the Egyptian priest-hood. We often find people in high places today who say that it is not wise to let the people know too much, to give them too much power. But there is another side to it. Many people do not want the higher truth, even in this twentieth century of ours. A lot of people’s attitude is, “Let me alone. Leave me where I am. I am quite comfortable. Do not upset me. I don’t want to go higher.” The Egyptian people were exactly like us. We do not want the higher truth, any one of us, in many parts of our lives. We see the beauty of it, we love it, and we hunger for the protection which we think it has; but we keep our lives full of things with cats’ heads, snakes’ heads, and all kinds of things which we do not want to get rid of, rather than put the one God there instead. When you and I want to put the one God there then it will be high time to blame the Egyptians, and I think that when we reach that stage we will not want to blame them. At any rate, there they were, and Moses was trained in that teaching. And then you know what happened. He al-ways felt a kinship with his own people, and he went among them. One day he saw an Egyptian beating one of his people, and here is a wonderful sidelight on the character of Moses. He immediately set upon him and beat him up. Moses was by no means perfect. He had a terrible temper in the be-ginning. He set upon this Egyptian and he was so angry that he beat him until he killed him. That is quite a tem-per—for a person high up in the priesthood. Then he buried him in the sand. Next day, he was walking about again and he saw two of his own people quarreling. He stepped in. It was not his business a bit. So you see that he had something else to learn. Then one of the men said to him, “Oh, are you going to kill me as you killed that person yesterday and buried him over there?” So Moses knew that his deed was known and he cleared out of Egypt into the desert. When he was out there he came to a well. Wells are of tremendous importance in those lands where there is very little rain. The well means life itself. It is a gathering place, a gossiping place—very much as the corner grocery store was in the old days in America, in the small towns and vil-lages. Just where they go nowadays, I do not know—but of course now they have the party-line telephone! However, in the East, the well was the gathering place. Moses came along and he found some girls there. They were the seven daughters of a priest. Out among the Midianites we are told that the priests were mostly freelance, as we would say. They taught the people and probably did some healing, but they were not organized as in Egypt. At any rate, this particular priest had these seven daugh-ters who went to the well to get the water for the family for drinking purposes, and cooking and washing, and wa-tering their flock. Some shepherds came to drive them away to get ahead of them. But Moses again could not mind his own business. So he interfered, and he seemed to be a pretty husky person. He drove off the shepherds and he helped the seven girls to get the water. And their father sent for him, and before very long—almost before Moses could turn around—he had married him off to the eldest daughter. I want to show you that the Bible is full of real drama, real human happenings. Moses was not a statue by Michel-angelo. He was a real person like yourself, full of difficul-ties, searching out for God. This priest of Midian was not a statue. He was a living man with seven daughters. And as soon as a stranger came along, an eligible sort of person, a gentleman, a person of some importance— well, after all, a man with seven daughters— he married her off! All right. That is the story. They were real people, just as real as if they lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, or Brooklyn! And until we know that the people in the Bible are real people, we shall not understand the Bible and we shall not get the message. Now consider the spiritual part of this. Always in the Bible we must ask what the name means. The Bible names always have a meaning. Moses means “drawn out of the water,” and we know that “water” in the Bible stands for the human mind, the human personality, and especially the emotional nature. Of course, nine tenths of your per-sonality is your feelings, and one tenth your knowledge. That is water, and Moses has to be drawn out of the water. It is Moses who leads the children of Israel out of Egypt. Now we have come to an extremely important Bible sym-bol—Egypt. Egypt in the Bible means limitation, our belief in matter, time, space, our fear—all the things that clamp us down, the things that make us unhappy, and old, and bitter. That is Egypt. In the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew one of the things we are told about the Christ child is, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Egypt is always basically the same thing—a lack of faith in God. Whenever we are sick, or fearful, or depressed, what is it but a lack of faith in God? And then, we are apt to say, “If God will come down and fix it up for me, I will believe in Him.” What is that