Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 1:8-14
AC 6650. Verses 8-14. And there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are many and numerous more than we. Come, let us use prudence with it; peradventure it will be multiplied, and it will be that wars will happen, and it will also join itself to our enemies, and fight against us, and go up out of the land. And they set over it princes of tributes, in order to afflict it with burdens. And it built cities of store-houses for Pharaoh, Pithom and Raamses. And as they afflicted it, so it was multiplied, and so it was increased. And they were moved with loathing because of the sons of Israel. And the Egyptians made the sons of Israel to serve with cruelty; and they rendered their life bitter with grievous service, in clay, and in bricks, and in all service in the field, with all their service wherein they made them serve with cruelty. "And there arose a new king over Egypt," signifies separated memory-knowledges which are opposed to the truths of the church; "who knew not Joseph," signifies which were completely alienated from the internal; "and he said unto his people," signifies subordinate memory-knowledges; "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are many and numerous more than we," signifies that the truths of the church prevail over alienated memory-knowledges; "come, let us use prudence with it," signifies cunning; "peradventure it will be multiplied, and it will be that wars will happen," signifies prevalence if it grows; "and it will also join itself to our enemies and fight against us," signifies that thus their companions who would occasion evil would be strengthened; "and go up out of the land," signifies that thus the church will be set up anew; "and they set over it princes of tributes, signifies falsities that would compel to serve; "to afflict it with burdens," signifies a growing worse through servitudes "and it built cities of store-houses for Pharaoh," signifies doctrines from falsified truths in the natural where alienated memory-knowledges are; "Pithom and Raamses," signifies their quality; "and as they afflicted it, so it was multiplied," signifies that truths grew according to the infestations; "and so it increased," signifies that they were strengthened; "and they were moved with loathing because of the sons of Israel," signifies greater aversion; "and the Egyptians made the sons of Israel to serve," signifies an intention to subjugate; "with cruelty," signifies unmercifulness; "and they rendered their life bitter with grievous service," signifies until the intention to subjugate became troublesome; "in clay, and in bricks," signifies by reason of the evils which they contrived, and the falsities which they devised; "and in all service in the field," signifies the intention to subjugate directed against the things of the church; "with all their service wherein they made them serve with cruelty," signifies the intention to subjugate in many ways by reason of unmercifulness.
AC 6651. And there arose a new king over Egypt. That this signifies separated memory-knowledges which are opposed to the truths of the church, is evident from the representation of Pharaoh, who is here the "king," as being memory-knowledge in general (n. 6015). He is called a "king," because a "king" in the genuine sense signifies truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3670, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148), and in the opposite sense falsity; and when by the "king" is meant Pharaoh, false memory-knowledge is signified, that is, memory-knowledge which is opposed to the truths of the church. From this also a "new king" is mentioned, for he who was king in Joseph’s time represented memory-knowledge that was in agreement with the truths of the church. "Egypt" denotes memory-knowledge, here in particular, (n. 6638).
AC 6652. Who knew not Joseph. That this signifies which were completely alienated from the internal, is evident from the signification of "not knowing," as being to be alienated; for he who does not know truth, and does not desire to know it, is alienated from the truth of the church; that alienation is here signified is plain from what follows, for he severely and cruelly afflicted the sons of Israel, by whom is represented the church, (n. 6637); and from the representation of Joseph, as being the internal (n. 6177, 6224). Memory-knowledges alienated from the internal are memory-knowledges opposed to the church; for the good and truth which make the church flow in through the internal; and if these are not received by the natural, the internal is closed, and so the man is alienated from good and truth, and then no other memory-knowledges which are in the natural are acknowledged as truths than those which are false. These are then multiplied, and the truths themselves are cast out of doors.
AC 6653. And he said unto his people. That this signifies subordinate memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "people," as being truths, and in the opposite sense falsities (n. 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581), here memory-knowledges separated from truth, because it is the people of Egypt. "Egypt" is memory-knowledge, (n. 6638). That they are subordinate memory-knowledges is because it is said that "the king said unto his people." That by"people" are signified truths, is because in the word those are called a "people" who are under a king, and by a "king" is signified truth (n. 6651). By a "people" are signified truths, but those are meant who are in truths. The reason why truths are spoken of abstractedly, is that spirits and angels so think and speak, for in this way they comprehend a subject in a universal manner, and at the same time singly the particulars belonging to it, without reflecting specifically on any people that is in truths, which reflection would withdraw the mind from a universal idea, thus from extension of view, consequently from wisdom. For determination of the thought to any specific people, as also to any person, limits and confines the ideas, and turns them from the perception of a subject as it is from one boundary to the other. As is the case with the idea of a "people," so is it with other denominations which in the internal sense signify things unbounded as with a "nation" as being good, with a "king" as being truth, with a "prince" as being primary truth, with a "priest" as being good, and with a "son," "daughter," "son-in-law," "daughter-in-law," "brother," "sister," "father," "mother," and many other denominations.
AC 6654. Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are many and numerous more than we. That this signifies that the truths of the church prevail over alienated memory-knowledges, is evident from the representation of the sons of Israel, as being the truths and goods of the church (n. 6647); from the signification of "many" and "numerous," as being to prevail. "To be multiplied," or "to become many and numerous," is said of truth, (n. 6648); and from the representation of the king of Egypt and his people, who are here meant by "more than we," as being alienated memory-knowledges (n. 6652). Hence it is plain that by "Behold the people of Israel are many and numerous more than we" is signified that truths prevail over alienated memory-knowledges.
AC 6655. Come, let us use prudence with it. That this signifies cunning, is evident from the signification of "prudence," when said of the evil, who have been alienated from truth and good, as being cunning; for that which the evil do from cunning, and also from deceit, they call prudence. Of the cunning which is signified by "prudence," something may here be related. All who are in evil call cunning "prudence," and make intelligence and wisdom to consist in nothing else. They who are of this character in the world become worse in the other life, and there act continually from cunning against things good and true; and those are recognized as intelligent and wise among them who seem to themselves able to invalidate and destroy truths by falsities, no matter by what art or wickedness. From this it can be seen what is the quality of men within the church when they make prudence to consist in cunning: that they have communication with the hells. Those who are true men of the church are so far removed from cunning that they absolutely abhor it; and those of them who are as the angels, desire that if it were possible their minds should be open, so that what they think may be manifest to everyone; for they intend nothing but good toward their neighbor, and if they see evil in anyone they excuse it. It is otherwise with those who are in evil; these are afraid lest anything which they think and will should show itself; for they intend nothing but evil to the neighbor; if good, it is for the sake of self; and if they do what is good, it is only in the outward form, that they may appear good for the sake of gain and honor; for they know that what is good and true, just and fair, and also what is honorable, have a strong hidden power of attracting minds, even of those who are evil.
AC 6656. Peradventure it will be multiplied, and it will be that wars will happen. That this signifies prevalence if it grows, is evident from the signification of "being multiplied," as being to grow as to truths (n. 43, 55, 913, 983, 2846, 2847); and from the signification of "wars," as being combats concerning truths and falsities, that is, spiritual combats (n. 1664, 2686); and because it follows that "it will also join itself to our enemies," their prevalence in these combats is signified.
AC 6657. And it will also join itself to our enemies, and fight against us. That this signifies that so their companions who would occasion evil would be strengthened, is evident from the signification of "joining themselves to," as being to be strengthened, for armies are strengthened when a multitude is joined to them; from the signification of "enemies," as being companions who fight along with them; and from the signification of "fighting against us," as being to occasion evil, for when anyone is fought against, evil is occasioned him in so far as it cannot be resisted. The case herein is this. There is around every man, and also around every good spirit, a general sphere of endeavors from hell, and a general sphere of endeavors from heaven. The sphere from hell is one of endeavors to do evil and to destroy; and the sphere from heaven is one of endeavors to do good and to save (n. 6477). These are general spheres: in like manner there are particular spheres around each man, for spirits from hell are with him, and also angels from heaven (n. 5846-5866, 5976-5993). From this a man is in equilibrium, and has freedom to think and will evil, and freedom to think and will good.
 When therefore the man of the church comes into temptation, which takes place when he is let into his evil, there is then a combat around him between the spirits from hell and the angels from heaven (n. 3927, 4249, 5036), which combat lasts so long as the man is kept in his evil. In this combat it sometimes appears to the spirits from hell that they will conquer, and then they rise up; sometimes that they will be conquered, and then they withdraw, because they then fear that more angels from heaven will join themselves against them, and so that they will be cast down into hell, from which they will no more come out, which also takes place when they have been conquered. This is what is meant by the prevalence if it grows, and that their companions who would occasion evil would be strengthened."
 When the spirits from hell fight against the angels, they are in the world of spirits, and are in freedom there (n. 5852). From all this it can now be seen what is meant in the internal sense by the sons of Israel being so infested and oppressed by the Egyptians, and by their being multiplied the more, the more they were infested; and by Jehovah, that is, the Lord, fighting for them, and restraining the Egyptians by plagues, and at last submerging them all in the sea Suph.
AC 6658. And go up out of the land. That this signifies that thus the church will be set up anew, is evident from the signification of "going up," as being to be elevated, namely, toward more interior things of the church (n. 3084, 4539, 4969, 5406, 5817, 6007), and from the signification of "land," here the land of Goshen, as being the church (n. 6649). To be elevated toward more interior things, which is signified by "going up out of the land and coming into the land of Canaan," denotes that the church will be set up anew. The church has indeed been set up anew with a man when he does what is good from affection; but still it has not been fully set up anew until he has fought against evils and falsities, thus until he has endured temptations; after this he becomes truly a church, and then is introduced into heaven, which is represented by the introduction of the sons of Israel into the land of Canaan.
AC 6659. And they set over it princes of tributes. That this signifies falsities that would compel to serve, is evident from the signification of "princes," as being primary truths (n. 1482, 2089, 5044); here in the opposite sense primary falsities and from the signification of "tributes," to which they were driven by the princes set over them, as being servitudes (n. 6394).
AC 6660. To afflict it with burdens. That this signifies a growing worse through servitudes, is evident from the signification of "afflicting," as being a growing worse; and from the signification of "burdens," which were tributes, as being servitudes.
AC 6661. And it built cities of store-houses for Pharaoh. That this signifies doctrines from falsified truths in the natural where alienated memory-knowledges are, is evident from the signification of "cities," as being doctrines in both senses (n. 402, 2449, 2943, 3216, 4492, 4493); from the signification of "store-houses," as being falsified truths, and from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the natural (n. 5160, 5799, 6015); that alienated memory-knowledges are there, may be seen above (n. 6651, 6652). That the cities of storehouses which the people of Israel built for Pharaoh denote doctrines from falsified truths, is because they who are in memory-knowledges alienated from truth, who are here signified by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, pervert and falsify all the truths of the church, and make for themselves doctrines from the truths so perverted and falsified.
 The word by which in the original tongue "store-houses" are expressed, signifies also "arsenals," and likewise "treasuries," which, in the internal sense, are of a nearly like signification. For storehouses are places where produce is collected, and by "produce" is signified truth (n. 5276, 5280, 5292, 5402), and, in the opposite sense, falsity; and arsenals are places where arms of war are stored, by which are signified such things as pertain to truth fighting against falsities, and in the opposite sense to falsity fighting against truths (n. 1788, 2685). Treasuries are places where wealth is stored, and by "wealth" and "riches" are signified the knowledges of good and truth (n. 4508), in the opposite sense the knowledges of evil and falsity; thus by "cities of store. houses," or "of arsenals," or "of treasuries," are signified in general, doctrines from falsified truths.
AC 6662. Pithom and Raamses. That this signifies their quality, namely, of doctrines from falsified truths, is evident from names in the Word, as being the quality and state of the thing being treated of.
AC 6663. And as they afflicted it, so it was multiplied. That this signifies that truths grew according to the infestations, is evident from the signification of "afflicting," as being infestation; and from the signification of "being multiplied," as being to grow in respect to truths (n. 6656). How the case herein is shall be told, because without experience of what is done in the other life, no one can now know what it is. Most spirits who come from the world and have lived the life of the Lord‘s commandments, before they can be uplifted into heaven and joined to societies there, are infested by the evils and falsities pertaining to them, to the end that they may be removed (n. 6639); for there are impurities which they have contracted in the life of the body that in no wise agree with heaven. The infestations take place by their being immersed in their evils and falsities; and while they are in them, spirits who are in like evils and falsities are present, and labor by every means to lead them away from truth and good. But still they are not immersed so deeply in their evils and falsities that the influx through the angels from the Lord may not Prevail; and the balance is maintained with exactness. The purpose of this is, that he who is infested may seem to himself to be in freedom, and thus to fight against the evils and falsities of himself, yet with the acknowledgment, if not at the time, yet afterward, that all the power of resisting was from the Lord (n. 1937, 1947, 2881, 5660). When this is being done, not only are the truths and goods strengthened which had been implanted before, but more are insinuated; this being the result of every spiritual combat in which the combatant is victorious. That it is so is also plain from common experience; for he who defends his opinion against others who attack it, confirms himself the more in his opinion, and then also finds other confirmations of it which he had not before observed, and also others which deny the opposite; and in this way he Strengthens himself in his opinion, and also illustrates it with further considerations. This is still more perfectly the case with spiritual combats, because the combat takes place in the spirit, and concerns goods and truths; and especially because the Lord is present and leads by the angels; for the contest is concerning eternal life and salvation,. It is common in such combats for the Lord to turn into good all the evils which the hells intend; wherefore it is not permitted them to bring forth more or other evils than can be turned into good that is suited to him who is in combat. The reason of this originates in the fact that the Lord’s kingdom is a kingdom of uses, and therefore nothing can be done there that is not a source of good. From all this it can now be seen how it is to be understood that truths grow according to infestations, which is signified by "as they afflicted it, so it was multiplied."
AC 6664. And so it was increased. That this signifies that they, namely, truths, were strengthened, is evident from the signification of "increasing," when said of truths multiplied by means of infestations from evils and falsities, as being to be strengthened; for no other truths remain than those which are strengthened; wherefore as many as are the truths strengthened, by so many are they increased. Truths are strengthened by infestations, (n. 6663).
AC 6665. And they were moved with loathing because of the sons of Israel. That this signifies greater aversion, is evident from the signification of "being moved with loathing," as being aversion, here greater aversion, because they were still more multiplied and increased by afflictions.
AC 6666. And the Egyptians made the sons of Israel to serve. That this signifies an intention to subjugate, is evident from the signification of "making to serve," as being subjugation, here the intention to subjugate, because they are in the continual endeavor to subjugate, but in no wise prevail against the good; from the signification of the "Egyptians," as being separated memory-knowledges which are opposed to the truths of the church (n. 6651); and from the signification of the "sons of Israel," as being the church (n. 6637). Hence it is evident that by "the Egyptians made the sons of Israel to serve" is signified the intention to subjugate by those who are in separated memory-knowledges which are opposed to the truths of the church.
 As regards the intention to subjugate, such as exists with the evil who are from hell, I have also been given to know this. Such is their endeavor and intention to subjugate those who are in good and truth that it cannot be described; for they make use of all malice, all cunning and fraud, all deceit, and all cruelty, so great and of such a nature that if these were told in part only, hardly anyone in the world could believe it; so cunning and artful are their devices, and so execrable. In a word, these infernals are of such a nature that they cannot possibly be resisted by any man, nor even by any angel, but by the Lord alone. The reason why they are possessed with such an endeavor and intention is that all their delight of life, thus their life itself, consists in doing evil; and therefore nothing else occupies their thoughts, consequently they intend nothing else. They are quite unable to do what is good, because this is repugnant to them: if they do what is good, it is for the sake of self, thus is done to self.
 From such spirits the hells are at this day immensely increased, and wonderful to say, especially from those who are within the church, on account of the cunning, deceit, hatred, revenge, and adultery, which flourish there more than elsewhere; for within the church cunning is now esteemed ingenious, and adultery honorable, and they who deem otherwise are laughed at. Its being so within the church at this day is a sign that its last time is at hand, for "Except there be an end, no flesh would be saved," according to the Lord‘s words in (Matt. 24:22); because all evil is contagious, and infects, as lees do the lump, thus at last all.
AC 6667. With cruelty. That this signifies unmercifulness, can be seen without explication; for they who have just been treated of have no mercy, because they have no love of the neighbor, but only the love of self. The love of the neighbor which appears with them is nothing but the love of self; for in so far as another favors them, that is, so far as he is theirs, so far he is loved; but in so far as he does not favor them, or in so far as he is not theirs, so far he is rejected; and if he had previously been a friend, so far he is hated. Such things lie hidden in the love of self, nor do they show themselves in the world, but in the other life, where they burst forth. The reason why they there burst forth is that externals are there taken away, and then it appears what the man has been inwardly.
AC 6668. And they rendered their life bitter with grievous service. That this signifies until the intention to subjugate became troublesome, is evident from the signification of "the life being rendered bitter," as being to become troublesome; and from the signification of "servitude," as being subjugation, here the intention to subjugate (n. 6666).
AC 6669. In clay, and in bricks. That this signifies by reason of the evils which they contrived, and the falsities which they devised, is evident from the signification of "clay," as being good, and in the opposite sense evil; and from the signification of "bricks," as being the falsities which they devise (n. 1296); concerning the evils and falsities which the infernals contrive and devise, (n. 6666). That "clay" denotes evil from which is falsity, is plain from the following passages in the Word:--
The wicked are like the driven sea, when it cannot rest; its waters cast up mire and clay (Isa. 57:20);
"mire" denotes falsity from which is evil; and "clay," evil from which is falsity.
 In Jeremiah:--
Thy feet are sunk in the clay, they have gone backward (Jer. 38:22);
"the feet sunk in the clay" denotes the natural sunk in evil.
Draw thee waters for the siege, strengthen thy fortresses; enter into the mire, and tread the clay, repair the brick-kiln; there shall the fire devour thee, and the sword shall cut thee off (Nahum 3:14, 15);
"to tread the clay" denotes to think from evil what is false.
He shall say, Woe to him that multiplieth what is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with clay! Shall they not rise up suddenly that bite thee? (Hab. 2:6, 7);
"to lade himself with clay" denotes with evil.
 In David:--
Jehovah hath made me to come out of the pit of devastation, out of the mire of clay, and He hath set my feet upon a rock (Ps. 40:2).
I sank in deep clay where there is no standing. I am come into depths of waters, and the wave overwhelmed me; rescue me out of the clay, lest I be submerged, and out of the depths of waters; and let not the deep swallow me up (Ps. 69:2, 14, 15);
"clay" denotes evil, from which is falsity. In Isaiah:--
The rulers shall come as clay, and as the potter treadeth the mire (Isa. 41:25).
 "Clay," however, denotes good in the following passages:--
Now, Jehovah, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand (Isa. 64:8);
"clay" denotes the man of the church who is being formed, thus the good of faith by means of which man is formed, that is, reformed.
 So in Jeremiah:--
Jehovah said to Jeremiah, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will make thee to hear My words. I went down therefore into the potter‘s house, and behold he wrought his work upon the board; but the vessel he was making was spoiled, as clay in the hand of the potter; and he turned back and made it another vessel, as was right in the hand of the potter to make it. Then was the word of Jehovah effected unto me, saying, Cannot I do with you, O house of Israel, as this potter? saith Jehovah. Behold, as the clay in the hand of the potter, so are ye in My hand, O house of Israel (Jer. 18:1-6);
the "house of Israel" denotes the church which was to be formed; and as the formation is done by means of the good of charity and the truth of faith, and these are signified by "clay" and the "potter’s vessel," therefore the prophet was ordered to go into the potter‘s house, which would not have been done unless these things had been signified by "clay" and the "potter’s vessel."
 Jehovah, or the Lord, is called a "potter," and the man who is being reformed is called "clay," namely, in (Isa. 29:15, 16; 45:9; Job 10:9; 33:6). That the Lord made clay with spittle, and anointed the eyes of the man born blind, and commanded him to wash in the pool of Siloam, and that thereupon he that was blind was made to see (John 9:6, 7, 11), was done because there was represented the reformation of a man who has been born in ignorance of truth, and that reformation is made through the good of faith, which is the "clay."
AC 6670. And in all service in the field. That this signifies the intention to subjugate directed against the things of the church, is evident from the signification of "service," as being the intention to subjugate (n. 6666); and from the signification of "field," as being the church (n. 2971, 3766).
AC 6671. With all their service wherein they made them to serve with cruelty. That this signifies the intention to subjugate in many ways by reason of unmercifulness, is evident from the signification of "service," as being the intention to subjugate (n. 6666, 6668, 6670), and because it is said "all service," there is signified that it is done in many ways; and from the signification of "cruelty," as being unmercifulness (n. 6667). EXODUS 1:8-14 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|