Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 1:1-5
AC 6636. Verses 1-5. And these are the names of the sons of Israel that came into Egypt with Jacob; a man and his house they came. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin. Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. And all the souls that came out of the thigh of Jacob were seventy souls: and Joseph was in Egypt. "And these are the names of the sons of Israel," signifies the quality of the church; "that came into Egypt with Jacob," signifies after truths had been initiated into memory-knowledges; "a man and his house they came," signifies as to truth and as to good; "Reuben, Simeon; Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher," signify this process from beginning to end; "and all the soul that came out of the thigh of Jacob," signifies all things that were from general truth; "were seventy souls," signifies what is full; "and Joseph was in Egypt," signifies that the internal celestial was in the natural.
AC 6637. And these are the names of the sons of Israel. That this signifies the quality of the church, is evident from the signification of "name," as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2628, 2724, 3006, 3421); from the representation of the sons of Israel, as being spiritual truths (n. 5414, 5879, 5951); and from the representation of Israel, as being the good of truth, or spiritual good (n. 3654, 4598, 5803, 5806, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833). As Israel represents the good of truth, or spiritual good, and his sons spiritual truths in the natural, therefore the sons of Israel represent the church; for the church is the church from spiritual good and from the derivative truths. He who is not in spiritual good, that is, in the good of charity, and in spiritual truths, that is, in the truths of faith, is not of the church, in spite of his having been born within it. For the whole heavenly kingdom of the Lord is in the good of love and of faith; and unless the church is in the like, it cannot be the church, because it is not conjoined with heaven, for the church is the Lord’s kingdom on earth.
 Its being called the church is not from the fact that the Word is there, and that there are doctrinal things therefrom, nor from the fact that the Lord is known there, and that the sacraments are there; but it is the church from the fact that men live according to the Word, or according to doctrine from the Word, and so that the doctrine is the rule of life. They who are not of this character are not of the church, but are outside of it; and they who live in evil, thus they who live contrary to doctrine, are further outside the church than the Gentiles who know nothing whatever of the Word, of the Lord, and of the sacraments; for the former, because they know the goods and truths of the Church, extinguish the church in themselves, which the Gentiles cannot do, because they do not know them. Be it further known that everyone who lives in the good of charity and of faith is a church and kingdom of the Lord, and from this is called a temple, and also a house, of God. The church in general is constituted of those who are churches in particular, however far apart they may be. This then is the church which is meant here and in what follows by the "sons of Israel."
AC 6638. That came into Egypt with Jacob. That this signifies after truths had been initiated into memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "Egypt," as being memory-knowledges (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 4749, 4964, 4966, 5700, 5702, 6004, 6015, 6125); and from the representation of Jacob, as being truth, and also good, in the natural, or the natural as to truth and good (n. 3305, 3509, 3525, 3546, 3576, 3599, 3659, 3669, 3677, 3775, 3829, 4009, 4234, 4286, 4337, 4538, 5306, 5533, 5535, 6001, 6236). That to "come into Egypt" is to be initiated into memory-knowledges, can be seen from the explications of the things in those chapters which treat of the journeying of the sons of Jacob to Egypt to buy corn, and afterward of their coming thither with Jacob. How the case is with the initiation of the truths of the church into memory-knowledges, (n. 6004, 6023, 6052, 6071, 6077). From all this it is evident that by the sons of Israel coming into Egypt are signified truths initiated into memory-knowledges.
AC 6639. A man and his house they came. That this signifies as to truth and as to good, is evident from the signification of a" man (vir)," as being truth (n. 3134, 3459); and from the signification of a "house," as being good (n. 3720, 4982). As in those chapters in Genesis which treat of the coming of the sons of Jacob, and of Jacob himself, into Egypt to Joseph, the subject treated of in the internal sense was the initiation of the truths of the church into memory-knowledges, and as the church has not been set up anew until this initiation has taken place, here therefore, according to the series of things in the internal sense, the renewed church is treated of, and how it is continually infested by memory-knowledges and falsities. For however well truths have been initiated and the church set up with a man, still such knowledges and falsities are continually rising up and assaulting what is of the church in him. It is this which is represented by Pharaoh and the Egyptians afflicting the sons of Israel, and being desirous to kill their infant boys.
 He who does not know how the case is with the assailing of the truth of the church by such knowledges and falsities with those who are of the church in the other life, can in no wise believe that it is so. The man of the church who comes into the other life must be purified from such things as infest truths and goods; otherwise he cannot be uplifted into heaven, and be there in a society which has been purified from such things. If he were to be uplifted thither sooner, he would be like a dense earthly vapor in a serene aura, or like a black mass in a bright light. In order therefore that a man of the church who has recently come from the world may be purified, he is kept in a state to be assailed by memory-knowledges which disagree with truths, and also by falsities, and this until these knowledges become of no account, and are removed This seldom takes place with man during his life in the body, but in the other life it takes place with those who are to be uplifted into heaven, and this with much variety. From much experience, which would fill many pages if all were adduced, it has been given me to know that it is so.
 These are the things which in the internal sense are described by the sons of Israel being oppressed by the Egyptians, and being afterward delivered, and at last, after various states in the wilderness, being brought into the land of Canaan. That such is the case can in no wise be comprehended by those who believe that salvation is merely an introduction into heaven from mercy, that is granted to everyone who from apparent trust, which is called faith, has thought that because the Lord has suffered for him, he will be saved no matter how he has lived. For if salvation were merely an introduction into heaven from mercy, all in the whole world would be saved, because the Lord, who is mercy itself, wills the salvation of all, and the death or damnation of no one.
AC 6640. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. That these signify this process from beginning to end, namely, that of the setting up anew of the church, to be described in what follows, is evident from the signification of the sons of Jacob, and also of the tribes named from them, as being all things of good and of truth, that is, all things of love and of faith, in the complex (n. 3858, 3926, 3939, 4060, 6335); but with variety according to the order in which they are named (n. 3862, 3926, 3939, 4603); thus things innumerable, and all things of the Lord‘s church and kingdom both in general and in particular (n. 6337). But what they specifically signify when named in this or in another order, no one knows but the Lord alone, nor anyone in heaven but from the Lord, where the truths and goods which are signified are shown by means of lights to which is adjoined perception.
 As the twelve tribes represented the Lord’s kingdom and all things therein, therefore in order that these lights also might be represented, and thereby all the truths and goods of the church, twelve precious stones in their order were engraved and set in gold, one stone for each tribe, and this was called the "breastplate," and was placed on Aaron‘s ephod, and from this by varying flashes of light they received answers, to which was adjoined either a living voice, or an internal perception. Hence also it is evident that the twelve tribes of Israel signify all the truths and goods of the Lord’s kingdom and church in the complex, and this variously according to the order in which they are named. That they are here named in another order than that of birth, is plain from the fact that Issachar and Zebulun are named before Dan and Naphtali, though the latter were born before them; also Benjamin before Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher, when yet Benjamin was born last; also that Gad and Asher are named last of all. In like manner in other parts of the Word, where they are named in still different orders.
AC 6641. And all the soul that came out of the thigh of Jacob. That this signifies all things that were from general truth, is evident from the signification of soul," as being in the general sense man, here the man of the spiritual church, but in the internal sense "soul" denotes truth and good, because from this man is man, (n. 6605, 6626); from the signification of "thigh," as being conjugial love (n. 3021, 4277, 4280, 5050-5062); and as the "thigh" denotes conjugial love, it denotes all love both celestial and spiritual (n. 3021, 4277, 4280, 4575), hence to "come out of the thigh" signifies truth and good from the heavenly marriage, consequently the truth and good of the church, for these, when they are genuine, have been born of the heavenly marriage, which is that of good and truth; and from the representation of Jacob, as being truth and also good in the natural, but in general, because his "sons" are the distinct truths and goods in this general (n. 6637). That Jacob here represents truths in general, is because the spiritual church is treated of, for this church begins from truths in general, and by means of these is introduced to its good; for with the man of the spiritual church it is not known what spiritual good is, and so it is not acknowledged except through truth, because he has no perception of truth from good, as the man of the celestial church has.
AC 6642. Were seventy souls. That this signifies what is full, is evident from the signification of "seventy," as being what is full (n. 6508).
AC 6643. And Joseph was in Egypt. That this signifies that the internal celestial was in the natural, is evident from the representation of Joseph, as being the internal celestial (n. 5869, 5877, 6224); and from the signification of "Egypt," as being the natural (n. 6147, 6252). That the internal celestial was in the natural where memory-knowledges are, and there disposed all things, was represented by Joseph‘s being made ruler over all the land of Egypt, and by his being set over the house of Pharaoh. This was represented because the subject treated of in the internal sense is the setting up anew of a spiritual church; and because the natural could not be made a church unless the internal celestial were there, and did all things. But on this subject see (n. 6275, 6284, 6299, 6451, 6587). EXODUS 1:1-5 - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|