The Ten Commandments
The Master Key to Life
by Emmet Fox
Order in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $7.95 (+ printing charge)
or click here to order from Amazon.com for $13.99 (or less)
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 understading 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.
DR. Emmet Fox, the modern mystic, has the knack of taking profound spirit-ual truths and explaining them in a simple way so that all can understand and use them in their daily lives. Under his inspired handling, the Bible comes to life, and what was sometimes dull and uninteresting or obscure suddenly takes on new and vivid meaning. There have been many people whose lives have been filled with new beauty and interest and joy through his inspired words.
there has long been a demand for copies of his sermons and lectures by Bible
students and seekers of Truth who have received healing and help through them.
Indeed, in response to this insistent demand, Dr. Fox promised to put into book
form especially his interpretation of the Ten Commandments, and the present
volume fulfills that promise. It represents a series of sermons which were delivered to
many thousands of persons in the Manhattan Opera House,
The Ten Commandments, as Moses gave them, set the stage for the rest of the Bible, and when spiritually understood form a master key to the Bible and to life. There is no problem that cannot be solved, nor any aspiration that cannot be fulfilled when once the underlying meaning is absorbed and made a part of one's life.
God is always ready when we are, and in this book, Dr. Emmet Fox shows how to get that divine contact which will bring a freshness and newness to every department of your life.
WHAT MOSES MEANS TODAY
considering one of the most important sections in the Bible, a section which is
certainly not neglected, because the Ten Commandments are taught everywhere,
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 literature 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 chapters, 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 psychology, are pouring off the presses. The very word "psychology" 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 chaptering 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 Commandments, 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 understand the laws of life that we become masters—masters of our
own conditions. Divine
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 fundamentalists. 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 electricity 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.
the automobile today because people like Boyle studied the action of gases, and
what happened with compression and expansion. And this knowledge was applied
by people like Benz and others. They studied the laws appertaining 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
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 developing unless we are useful. We do not get spiritual development 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 self-centered. 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.
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 important and significant, spiritually as well as materially. You
know the story. He was born in
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 daughter says to the wo-man: "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 daughter. 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 fellowship 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 grown-up 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 general 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.
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
quite a national feeling in
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 priesthood. In the ancient world, if
you wanted to amount to anything you had to be either a soldier or an
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
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 metaphysics. 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 understanding 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 consciousness is ready.
Now, why was Moses born in those particular circumstances 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 behind—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 opportunity. Being the person he was he was naturally drawn into the succession to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. He followed on from them.
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 symbol for peace and diplomacy. They knew these things.
been the custom all through the Christian era to blame the priests of
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 always 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 beginning. He set upon
this Egyptian and he was so angry that he beat him until he killed him. That is
quite a temper—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
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
At any rate, this particular priest had these seven daughters who went to the
well to get the water for the family for drinking purposes, and cooking and washing, and watering 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 Michelangelo. He was a real person like yourself, full of difficulties,
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
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 personality 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
have come to an extremely important Bible symbol—
child grew up and he led the people out of
He knew that the outer thing is only a picture. The Egyptian priesthood said, "Yes, it is real, but we can manage it." They believed in what is called mind over matter. They were very much in the position of some psychologists today. They said, "Yes, the thing is there but we can manage it. Yes, that is a tubercular lung but we can heal it." Moses, however, knew that the outer thing is only a picture and that anything that seems to be evil, no matter what it is, is still but a false belief. He knew that life is consciousness, and only the very, very few, the very elect among the human race, have known that—until Jesus came and taught it to the people. Moses knew it. Abraham knew it. Gautama Buddha knew it. The very elect of the early Hindu teachers knew it, and although they did not keep it secret—they gave it to their students—their students could not understand it and therefore could not get it; just as Jesus tried to teach it to the Twelve Apostles and not one of them got it until after the Day of Pentecost. They had the words but not the understanding of the thing.
Then, before Moses starts his work he has to conquer himself. He has to realize that he is full of limitation. He sees himself killing someone. He sees himself interfering—a dramatization of his own faults. And so he goes into the wilderness to overcome that. The first step toward God is to realize our own unworthiness. As long as we are pleased with ourselves we cannot get to God. The most difficult barrier between men and God is self-righteous-ness, spiritual pride. So long as we think, "I am not such a bad person. I am pretty good. I am rather spiritual," we cannot get to God. It is not until we realize our complete unworthiness without God that we can become one with Him. Then we shall realize our worthiness but we shall know that it is within and not something separate.
had to go into the wilderness and realize his faults. That was the historical
Moses, but spiritually we have to see our own faults, to see ourselves murdering
Egyptians instead of realizing the Truth about them. All the time that we are
fighting our problems, are we not trying to murder Egyptians? We have to stop
that. And then we have to turn to God and to give some time to being with Him
alone. Everyone who has ever done anything spiritually has done that. When
Saul saw the light and became Paul, he went into
Always you will find that there has to be time alone with God. If you cannot stand that, well, you will have to wait for God until you can.
So Moses goes into the wilderness. We know historically that he did meet these seven daughters, and he married one of them. That is historical, but on the spiritual side, the priest stands for the approach to God.
Of course, the seven daughters are the Seven Main Aspects of God. There are seven avenues through which humanity can approach God in the present age. There are others, but they do not concern us because they do not belong to us in the present age. There are seven different aspects of God and we learn about God by realizing these aspects. They are Life, Truth, Love, Intelligence, Soul, Spirit, and Principle. Always for each of us there is one which is easier for us than the others. There is one which will be easier for us to realize and that is the one we should concentrate upon most.
Well, Moses marries one of these daughters. Always in the Bible and in Oriental literature, you will find that marriage is used as the symbol for the union of God and man. The Old Testament says, "Thy Maker is thy husband," and all through the Bible the soul is spoken of as the bride, and the Christ power as the bridegroom.
And now we
are told of the Israelites in
says, "God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant . . .
and took knowledge of it." You will remember that covenant in which, if we
fill our minds with good and expect only good, then only good will come to us.
And if we fill our minds with evil and expect evil, evil must come to us. In
proportion that evil is in our thoughts, so will trouble be in our lives. And
so it says that God remembered the covenant and took mind of the children of
Moses, as we have seen, was brought up in that. He learned all about these things, and he learned things that no college or textbook could teach—things that only God teaches direct. And of course, he also learned by experience. As a rule, the great drawback to academic people is that they know nothing about life. The trouble with our professors is that, like the Lady of Shalott, they turn their backs on the world and look into a mirror, the mirror being a book, and they see men not as they are, but as they are reflected in books and libraries.
instance, most people in
however, went among the general public, the common people, and learned to
understand them; consequently, he balanced his academic knowledge with a practical
knowledge of life. He knew people and he knew human nature. He loved mankind,
but as he looked around him he was saddened at the unnecessary suffering in the
world. He saw all kinds of men and women, from the king of
So he decided he would put his knowledge at their disposal. He knew the causes of their suffering and unhappiness. He knew why they were wasting their lives and not getting anywhere—because they spent their time struggling with the outer thing, and leaving their consciousness unchanged. He knew that as long as people did that, even if they did it for a million years, the world would still be full of strife, wars, labor troubles, booms followed by depressions, and so forth. So he set to work and drew up his teaching in a manner which he thought best calculated to help everybody.
First of all, he wanted to help the people who did not think—who accepted everything at its face value—but who needed some rough and ready rules to go by. So he put his rules in the form of Commandments in order that they would be understood by that kind of people.
But he knew that there is a stage beyond this and that when people reached that stage they needed something more.
Moses, who was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived, got his knowledge of the human heart. Then, when he had prayed and meditated, he received his inspiration direct from God—he got his illumination. He set down and described the human soul and the way it works. He described it in this writing which we break into ten clauses and call the Ten Commandments.
In the Bible they are very brief, very concise, whereas our modern psychology is extremely nebulous and windy and wordy. If you ever try to read Freud, you will see at once what I mean. You know how Freud takes ten pages to say what a newspaperman might say in five, what a good writer might say in three, and what Moses said in one. In that one page there is more about the working of the human mind than in all the writings of the modern psychologists, to say nothing of the ancient ones.
The Ten Commandments at their face value are true and valid, but that is only the beginning. If people are going to get anywhere, if they are going to escape from the continuous strife and struggle of life, they must have something more.
So within these Commandments, he concealed the laws of psychology for those who were ready for them. And within that again, he concealed the deepest and highest spiritual teaching for those who were ready for that.
In other words, Moses designed these laws of life so that the higher we go spiritually, or the deeper we go intellectually, the more we can get out of them.
Order complete book in Adobe PDF eBook or printed form for $7.95 (+ printing charge)
or click here to order from Amazon.com for $13.99 (or less)