The Old Testament

Alice A. Bailey on the Old Testament

Alice A. Bailey (AAB) in her Unfinished Autobiography wrote of the Old Testament that:

“I asked myself a few days ago what part of the Old Testament was worth preserving. Much of it is dreadful, cruel and only because the literature is found in the Bible does it pass the post-office regulations. I decided that the ten commandments must be preserved, one or two of the Bible stories such as the love of David and Jonathan, the 23rd Psalm and the 91st Psalm with a few others and about four chapters in the Book of Isaiah. All the rest was largely useless or undesirable, …”  -The Unfinished Autobiography , CHAPTER III – Part 1

Symbolically she says the Old Testament stands for the “lower man”:

“The Old Testament stands for the natural lower man, the virgin Mary aspect, carrying within itself the promise of the Messiah, of Him Who shall come. The New Testament stands for the spiritual man, for God made flesh, and for the birth of that which the material nature carried and veiled for so long.” -From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER THREE – The Second Initiation . . . The Baptism in Jordan – Part 1

Love of Jehovah is taught with threats and immortality is not emphasized, per Alice A. Bailey:

“The word ‘love’ as it concerns relation to other people is lacking in their [Jews] religious presentation, though love of Jehovah is taught with due threats; the concept of a future life, dependent upon conduct and behaviour to others and on right action in the world of men, is almost entirely lacking in The Old Testament and teaching on immortality is nowhere emphasized; salvation is apparently dependent upon the keeping of numerous physical laws and rules related to physical cleanliness; …” -Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

Personally I think she may be going a little overboard in these criticisms. In the days when the Jewish Tanakh (or written Torah) was coming into being just about all peoples were – by today’s standards – exceedingly cruel and materialistic. That people, at least in the civilized world, are much different in their views today is what we should properly call “evolution,” that is, spiritual evolution.

There are certainly enlightened passages in the Old Testament, for example

“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” -Leviticus 19:33-34

Are the Israelites depicted as cruel and violent in the Old Testament? Yes, of course, but that was the norm of the day and they were probably no crueler or more violent than the peoples around them, and in many way more advanced. They were trying to wean themselves off of idols, although that was a the time still very much a work in progress.

It might also be remembered that centuries after the Tanakh was closed (nothing new to be added) that the Romans were still forcing slaves to murder each other in gladiatorial games.

Continuing with AAB on the Old Testament she has some less than charitable things to say about the Jewish people:

“He [the Gentile] regards the Jew as a follower of an obsolete religion; he intensely dislikes the cruel and jealous Jehovah of the Jews and looks upon The Old Testament as the history of a cruel and aggressive people—apart from the Psalms of David, which all men love.” -Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

There is quite a bit more that she writes about the Jews (see in quotes to follow). I think she in some ways represents the views of many Christians of her time, although it can be argued that her views are more complex and charitable than they might superficially appear.

Finally she wrote, and I think very accurately, that “The more ancient the Scripture, the greater, necessarily, the distortion” (see quote below)

Below are the mostly abbreviated quotes on the Old Testament I found in the writings of AAB. In many cases to really get the context you will need to click on the link to the Lucis Trust site:


This is the Path referred to in The Old Testament as “the path of the just is as a shining light which shineth more and more until the day be with us.” Discipleship in the New Age, Vol. I , SECTION THREE – THE SIX STAGES OF DISCIPLESHIP – Part 2

It is interesting to note that the Old Testament refers to the etheric body (Ecc. 12:6-7) and its construction, and the New Testament deals with the building of the spiritual body. Education in the New Age , CHAPTER V – The Science of the Antahkarana

Their aggressive history as narrated in the Old Testament is on a par with present-day German accomplishment; yet Christ was a Jew and it was the Hebrew race which produced Him. Esoteric Healing , CHAPTER III – Our Karmic Liabilities – Part 1

…so the Old Testament is emphatically a secondary Scripture, and spiritually does not rank with the Bhagavad-Gita, the ancient Scriptures of the East and the New Testament. Its emphasis is material and its effect is to impress a purely materialistic Jehovah upon world consciousness. The general theme of the Old Testament is the recovery of the highest expression of the divine wisdom in the first solar system; that system embodied the creative work of the third aspect of divinity—that of active intelligence, expressing itself through matter. In this solar system, the created world is intended to be the expression of the second aspect, of the love of God. This the Jew has never grasped, for the love expressed in the Old Testament is the separative, possessive love of Jehovah for a distinct unit within the fourth or human kingdom.instead of separative unhappiness. Esoteric Healing , CHAPTER III – Our Karmic Liabilities – Part 1

This teaching anent hell is a remainder of the sadistic turn which was given to the thinking of the Christian Church in the Middle Ages and to the erroneous teaching to be found in the Old Testament anent Jehovah, the tribal God of the Jews. Jehovah is not God, the planetary Logos, the Eternal Heart of Love Whom Christ revealed. As tEsoteric Healing , Part Two – The Basic Requirements for Healing – Part 1

If you grasp this sequence of contact, you will understand more clearly the occult significance of the words in the Old Testament that “the blood is the life.” Esoteric Healing , CHAPTER I – The Psychological Causes of Disease – Part 4

There is, as we know, the ancient legend of the lost Pleiade, and there are many such stories. Again, in the council chamber of the Most High, there has not always been peace and understanding, but at times, war and disruption; this is made abundantly clear by several of the stories in the Old TestamentEsoteric Psychology – Volume I , 6. The Nations and the Rays

It is a far more ancient relation than that, and dates back into a period that antedates the history of the Jews as it is related for us in the Old TestamentEsoteric Psychology – Volume I , 6. The Nations and the Rays

The Jews are a group of people in whom the principle of separation is pronouncedly present. For ages they have, with determination and in obedience to the injunctions in the Old Testament, insisted on regarding themselves as a people set apart. Esoteric Psychology – Volume II , 4. Diseases and Problems of Disciples and Mystics – Part 3

In the period when the sun was in Aries, we find the frequent appearance of the ram or the scapegoat in the Old Testament teaching, and the keeping of the Passover feast.From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER ONE – Introductory Remarks on Initiation – Part 1

It is perhaps not an accident that already in the Old Testament the promise `Thine eyes shall hear a word behind thee, saying This is the way, walk ye in it,’ is preceded by the words `and though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction.'” From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER SIX – The Fifth Initiation . . . The Resurrection and Ascension – Part 1

The modern schools of thought speak of the ego, or the higher self, the real man, or the spiritual entity, whilst in the Old Testament reference is made to the “Angel of the Presence.” From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER TWO – The First Initiation . . . The Birth at Bethlehem – Part 1

Then, we are told, that mysterious Being, spoken of in the Old Testament as Melchizedek, and as the Ancient of Days, will play His part and initiate us into the still higher mysteries. From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER TWO – The First Initiation . . . The Birth at Bethlehem – Part 1

“This number (of the twelve disciples) is typified by many things in the Old Testament; by the 12 sons of Jacob, by the 12 princes of the Children of Israel; by the 12 running springs in Helim; by the 12 stones in Aaron’s breastplate; by the 12 loaves of the shew-bred; by the 12 spies sent by Moses; by the 12 stones [76] of which the altar was made; by the 12 stones taken out of Jordan; by the 12 oxen which bare the brazen sea. Also in the New Testament, by the 12 stars in the bride’s crown, by the 12 foundations of Jerusalem which John saw, and her 12 gates.” From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER TWO – The First Initiation . . . The Birth at Bethlehem – Part 2

The Old Testament stands for the natural lower man, the virgin Mary aspect, carrying within itself the promise of the Messiah, of Him Who shall come. The New Testament stands for the spiritual man, for God made flesh, and for the birth of that which the material nature carried and veiled for so long. The Old Testament opens with the appearance of the raven at the time of the founding of the ancient world, as we can begin to know it. From Bethlehem To Calvary , CHAPTER THREE – The Second Initiation . . . The Baptism in Jordan – Part 1

The word “love” as it concerns relation to other people is lacking in their religious presentation, though love of Jehovah is taught with due threats; the concept of a future life, dependent upon conduct and behaviour to others and on right action in the world of men, is almost entirely lacking in The Old Testament and teaching on immortality is nowhere emphasized; salvation is apparently dependent upon the keeping of numerous physical laws and rules related to physical cleanliness; they go so far as to establish retail shops where these rules are kept—in a modern world where scientific methods are applied to purity in food. Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

He regards the Jew as a follower of an obsolete religion; he intensely [101] dislikes the cruel and jealous Jehovah of the Jews and looks upon The Old Testament as the history of a cruel and aggressive people—apart from the Psalms of David, which all men love. Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

The responsibility of the non-Jews, in the light of humanitarian demand, is vital; the record of the persecution of the Jews is a grievous and ghastly story, only paralleled by the Jewish treatment of their enemies, as related in The Old Testament. The fate of the Jews in the world war is a terrible tale of cruelty, torture and wholesale murder and the treatment of the Jews down the ages is one of the blackest chapters in human history. Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER IV – THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES – Part 1

The more ancient the Scripture, the greater, necessarily, the distortion. The doctrine of a vengeful God, the doctrine of retribution in some mythical hell, the teaching that God only loves those who interpret Him in terms of some particular school of theological thought, the symbolism of the blood sacrifice, the appropriation of the Cross as a Christian symbol, the teaching about the Virgin Birth and the picture of an angry Deity only appeased by death are the unhappy results of man’s own thinking, of his own lower nature, of his sectarian isolationism (fostered by the Jewish Old Testament, but not generally found in the Oriental faiths) and of his sense of fear, inherited from the animal side of his nature—all these are fostered and inculcated by theology but not by Christ, or the Buddha or Shri Krishna. Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER V – THE PROBLEM OF THE CHURCHES – Part 1

Christianity has emphasized immortality but has made eternal happiness dependent upon the acceptance of a theological dogma: Be a true professing Christian and live eternally in a somewhat fatuous heaven or refuse to be an accepting Christian and go to an impossible hell—a hell growing out of the theology of The Old Testament and its presentation of a God full of hate and jealousy. Problems Of Humanity , CHAPTER V – THE PROBLEM OF THE CHURCHES – Part 1

The first major rent was made by the establishment of the Law of God, and this is portrayed for us symbolically in The Old Testament in the story of Moses. Rays and The Initiations , RULE TEN – Part 1

This is an Old Testament expression and is wholly inadequate, but I can find none other to substitute. Rays and The Initiations , INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

If the Zionist claims are to be considered (and they have been) they in their turn should realise that (if The Old Testament is to be believed) they originally took the land of Palestine away from its original owners nearly three thousand years ago, at the point of the sword and through an unprovoked aggression. Rays and The Initiations , SECTION TWO – THE ASPIRANT AND THE MAJOR INITIATIONS – Part 4

Symbolically, the Jews represent (from the point of view of the Hierarchy) that from which all Masters of the Wisdom and Lords of Compassion emerge: materialism, cruelty and a spiritual conservatism, so that today they live in Old Testament times and are under the domination of the separative, selfish, lower concrete mind. Rays and The Initiations , SECTION TWO – THE ASPIRANT AND THE MAJOR INITIATIONS – Part 7

In this statement I do not include The Old Testament except such passages as the Twenty-third Psalm and certain passages out of the Prophets, particularly the Prophet Isaiah. The World Scriptures were written for mystics, occupied with beauty, comfort, and encouragement, and were not written for occultists. I would call this to your attention. Telepathy And The Etheric Vehicle , SECTION ONE – TEACHING ON TELEPATHY – Part 3

This is brought out in an interesting manner in Proverbs viii. where Wisdom cries aloud (Wisdom in the Old Testament representing the Christ aspect), and after pointing out that He was with God before ever there was creation, goes on to say that when “He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him as the master worker or builder. The Consciousness of the Atom , LECTURE III

This is brought out in an interesting manner in Proverbs viii. where Wisdom cries aloud (Wisdom in the Old Testament representing the Christ aspect), and after pointing out that He was with God before ever there was creation, goes on to say that when “He appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by Him as the master worker or builder.” The Consciousness of the Atom , LECTURE IV

An instance of this can be noted in the history of the Jews as found in the Old TestamentThe Destiny of the Nations , The Influence of the Rays Today. – Part 1

I refer to the Ancient of Days (as He is called in the Old Testament), … The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy , SECTION THREE – FORCES BEHIND THE EVOLUTIONARY PROGRESS OF THE RACE – Part 8

Though They cannot absorb it or react to it or redevelop it again, it can cause Them the acutest discomfort and pain; that is the reason why the Son of God was called in The Old Testament a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy , SECTION FOUR – STAGES IN THE EXTERNALISATION OF THE HIERARCHY – Part 2

… the failure of Christianity can be traced to its Jewish background (emphasised by St. Paul), which made it full of propaganda instead of loving action, which taught the blood sacrifice instead of loving service, and which emphasised the existence of a wrathful God, needing to be placated by death, and which embodied the threats of the Old Testament Jehovah in the Christian teaching of hell fire. The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy , SECTION FOUR – STAGES IN THE EXTERNALISATION OF THE HIERARCHY – Part 2

He will do this latter with great facility, when he grasps, as a race, the significance and inevitability of the Law of Karma, and from a close study of the Old Testament and of the acts and deeds there claimed by him as his racial acts and deeds (conquest, terrorism and cruelty), realises that the law is working out and incidentally releasing him for a greater future. The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy , SECTION TWO – THE GENERAL WORLD PICTURE – Part 1

The whole theme of the Old Testament is built around the development and growth of this nucleus. The Externalisation Of The Hierarchy , SECTION TWO – THE GENERAL WORLD PICTURE – Part 3

The same thought is to be found in the Old Testament, in the case of Joshua before the walls of Jericho. The Light Of The Soul , BOOK I. – THE PROBLEM OF UNION – Part 3

…the Ancient of Days (as He is called in The Old Testament) … The Reappearance Of The Christ , CHAPTER ONE – THE DOCTRINE OF THE COMING ONE

This decision was necessarily made in consultation with the Lord of the World, the “Ancient of Days” of The Old Testament, … The Reappearance Of The Christ , CHAPTER FOUR – THE WORK OF THE CHRIST TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE – Part 1

It is found also in The Old TestamentThe Reappearance Of The Christ , CHAPTER FOUR – THE WORK OF THE CHRIST TODAY AND IN THE FUTURE – Part 1

… a hell growing out of the theology of The Old Testament and its presentation of a God, full of hate and jealousy. The Reappearance Of The Christ , CHAPTER SIX – THE NEW WORLD RELIGION

I had been brought up to believe in a God Transcendent, outside His created world, inscrutable, unpredictable, often cruel (to judge from what The Old Testamentreports), loving only those who recognised Him and accepted Him, and slaying His only Son so that people like me could be saved and not perish everlastingly. The Unfinished Autobiography , CHAPTER I – Part 2

As I have studied and thought and askedquestions, certain things have clarified in my mind and are—for me—part of the answer. The Jews hang on to a religion which is basically obsolete. I asked myself a few days ago what part of the Old Testament was worth preserving. The Unfinished Autobiography , CHAPTER III – Part 1

There were parts of the Old Testament that shocked me and parts that made me often wonder how they ever got through the mails. In an ordinary book they would have been regarded as obscene, but in the Bible they were all right. The Unfinished Autobiography , CHAPTER III – Part 1o


You are welcome to post your comments. 

Also see:

The Laws of Alice A. Bailey

Alice A. Bailey on Theosophy

Alice A. Bailey on Krishnamurti

Alice A. Bailey on Brotherhood

The Antichrist of Alice A. Bailey

Alice A. Bailey, The Mark of the Beast, And 666

Alice A. Bailey on Homosexuality

The Planet Vulcan In Astrology

The Black Lodge of Alice A. Bailey

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