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The Eighth Plague — The Plague of Locusts

   When this plague threatened, the servants (soul attributes) of Pharaoh had come to the realization that with Egypt (material interest) destroyed, it would perhaps be wiser to let Israel (spiritual interest) have its way. But the final release was not yet given although it was near.

   The locusts denuded Egypt. The last of the material personal concerns that stood in the way of the spiritual life were destroyed. it was a cleansing brought on by a wind from the east (direction of light). For a time the land was darkened, and that darkness thickened when Pharaoh still refused to give Israel its freedom. The locusts refer to a clinging, tenacious hold to material desires which causes the darkness to thicken—that is, the light of spirit becomes more deeply veiled by the shadows of unregenerated mind.

The Ninth Plague — The Plague of Darkness

   The air (mind) was filled with darkness, but "all the children of Israel had lights in their dwellings." It was because they were spiritually awakened that they sought to leave Egypt (materiality) and to become free from its limiting claims. Mortal mind is, as Paul speaks of it, a power of darkness until it is transformed and illumined by the spirit. The spiritualization of the mind is the beginning of a regenerated life.

   It unfolds the stages in the life of an aspirant as he emerges from the plague of human darkness and into a state of divine illumination through Initiation.

   After darkness fell upon the land, Pharaoh was again moved to negotiate with Moses for the release of his people. The first time he asked for terms was when the seventh plague threatened to strike him. There was at that time an attempt to compromise with the requirements of the spirit; he considered the terms exacted by Moses as too severe; they called for a greater sacrifice than he was ready to make.

   It was so again in this instance. He was willing to let Israel go but required that their flocks and herds stay. To this Moses replied: "Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind."

   Spirit demands the whole of man; it will tolerate no compromise. Man cannot serve two masters. The lower nature must be lifted up completely. "Not an hoof shall be left behind." With this ultimatum delivered, Moses was bidden to leave, never to appear again, "for ill that day thou seest my face," threatened Pharaoh, "thou shalt die."

   This is the last desperate stand of mortal mind against ascendancy of the spirit within. It struggles to retain supremacy; in vain does it endeavor to banish the higher self that is nearing a final victory. So obdurate was Pharaoh (mortal mind) that he set into operation yet more painful reactions. They were of his own making; the Law knows no favorites; to each according to his thinking and acting. So the plague that now overtook Egypt, the tenth and last, was the most severe.

The Tenth Plague — Death of the Firstborn

   From this plague, as from the previous three, no harm came to the Israelites. "Against any of the children of Israel," said the Lord (Law), "shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know that the Lord doth make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel."

   The firstborn was in a position of preference and power; to him belonged the inheritance. The slaying of Egypt's firstborn, therefore, symbolizes the destruction of the power that held Israel in bondage. It marked the conquest over the last enemy in mortal nature to resist the spirit in its struggle for freedom and progress. With this obstruction removed, the Israelites were ready for the next step forward, the step described in the mystic manual of Exodus as the Passover.

   The Israelites required gold and silver of the Egyptians, and this they received. When departing they took their taskmasters' precious jewels and most prized possessions.

   This incident teaches transmutation rather than destruction. Evils of the mind may properly be said to require destruction, but not the forces by which those evils are possible. Those forces are of a divine nature; they are essential to the spirit's progress. The best that the Egyptians (material civilization) under the rule of the concrete mind can bring forth is required by the Israelites as it progresses from darkness to light. It has been well said that the ornaments of the Egyptians became the necessities of the Israelites.

   The initial journey undertaken by the emancipated Israelites was in the direction of a new life. This is the symbolical significance of six. In this instance the departure from the old life was taken with such determination and purpose, long strengthened and clarified by the suffering they had undergone and the sacrifices they had made to secure it, that the normal power of six had been raised to the extra ordinary degree of 6-00-000.

   It was a "mixed multitude" that left; that is to say, they were not of equal attainment, nor were they a perfected people. They were simply on their way, traveling in the right direction. And the wandering through the wilderness is an extended account of the refining process, through trials and difficulties, which man undergoes while being prepared for entry into the Holy Land.

 — Corinne Heline


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