Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 4:18-20
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AC 7013. Verses 18-20. And Moses went, and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, Let me go I pray, and return into my brethren who are in Egypt, and I shall see whether they yet live. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And Jehovah said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt; because all the men seeking thy soul are dead. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and made them ride upon the ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt; and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. "And Moses went, and returned," signifies continuation of the former life; "to Jethro his father-in-law," signifies in simple good; "and said to him, Let me go I pray, and return unto my brethren who are in Egypt," signifies elevation to more interior and more spiritual life in the natural; "and I shall see whether they yet live," signifies the perception of that life; "and Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace," signifies assent and a devout wish; "and Jehovah said unto Moses in Midian," signifies enlightenment and confirmation from the Divine in this state; "Go, return into Egypt," signifies spiritual life in the natural; "because all the men seeking thy soul are dead," signifies the removal of the falsities that are endeavoring to destroy the life of truth and good; "and Moses took his wife," signifies good adjoined; "and his sons," signifies truths thence derived; "and made them ride upon the ass," signifies which would be of service to new intelligence; "and he returned into the land of Egypt," signifies in the natural mind; "and Moses took the rod of God in his hand," signifies that these things were from Divine power.

AC 7014. And Moses went, and returned. That this signifies continuation of the former life, is evident from the signification of "going," as being life (n. 4882, 5493, 5605); from the signification of "returning," or "going back," as being to live where he lived before; and from the representation of Moses, as being the Lord as to the law or truth from the Divine (n. 6771, 6827). When Moses was in Mount Horeb with Jehovah seen in a flame, he then represented the Lord as to Divine truth; but now with Jethro his father-in-law, who is the good of the church which is in the truth of simple good, be represents the Lord as to truth from the Divine. Here and elsewhere in the Word, in the internal sense, are described all the states of the Lordís life in the world, how He then made His Human Divine. That the states were successive, can be seen from the fact that the Lord when an infant was like an infant, and that He afterward grew in intelligence and wisdom, and continually insinuated into these the Divine love, even until He became the Divine love, that is, the Divine being or Jehovah, as to His Human also. And as the Lord in this way successively put on the Divine, He therefore first made Himself truth from the Divine, afterward Divine truth, and at last the Divine good. These were the steps of the glorification of the Lord which are described here and elsewhere in the internal sense of the Word.

AC 7015. Unto Jethro his-father-in-law. That this signifies in simple good, namely, continuation of life, is evident from the representation of Jethro, who being the priest of Midian denotes the good of the church which is in the truth of simple good (n. 6827); this good is meant by "simple good;" and from the signification of "father-in-law," as being that from which comes the conjunction of good and truth (n. 6827).

AC 7016. And said to him, Let me go I pray, and return unto my brethren who are in Egypt. That this signifies elevation to more interior and more spiritual life in the natural, is evident from the signification of "going and returning," as being what is successive of life, and here the successive of life is elevation to interior and more spiritual life, thus nearer to the Divine, for when "going and returning" are said of the Lord, who is represented by Moses, there is meant elevation to the Divine being or Jehovah who is in Him, and from whom He is; from the representation of the sons of Israel, who are here the "brethren," as being the LordĎs spiritual kingdom, and thence the spiritual church (n. 6426, 6637); and from the signification of "Egypt" as being the natural (n. 6147, 6252). Hence it is plain that by "let me go and return unto my brethren who are in Egypt," is signified elevation to more interior and more spiritual life in the natural. For as the dwelling of Moses in Midian signified life with those who are in the truth of simple good, thus in simple good (n. 7015), so now dwelling with the sons of Israel signifies life with those who are in the truth and good of the spiritual church, which life is more interior and spiritual than the former. The good and truth of this church are in the natural, (n. 4286, 4402).

AC 7017. And I shall see whether they yet live. That this signifies the perception of that life, is evident from the signification of "seeing," as being to understand and perceive (n. 2325, 2807, 3764, 3863, 4403-4421, 4567, 4723, 5400); and from the signification of "living," as being spiritual life (n. 5407). By the perception of that life is meant the perception which precedes; for when anyone proposes anything to himself, he perceives it as present, because he puts his mind into the state of that thing; and from this there are longings and consequent delight as if the thing were present. Thus the mediate ends conjoin themselves with the ultimate end, and make as it were one end.

AC 7018. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. That this signifies assent and a devout wish, is evident from the signification of "Jethro said to Moses," as being the answer; that it denotes assent, and also a devout wish, is signified by "Go in peace."

AC 7019. And Jehovah said unto Moses in Midian. That this signifies enlightenment and confirmation from the Divine in this state, is evident from the fact that Jehovah said to Moses that he should return to Egypt, when yet this had previously been commanded Moses by Jehovah (Exod. 3:10; 4:12), and when, in consequence of this command Moses had already prepared himself for the way. From this it can be seen that by this command are signified enlightenment and confirmation from the Divine. That the enlightenment and confirmation were in this state, namely, in a state of the truth of simple good, is signified by its being said by Jehovah to Moses in Midian. "Midian" denotes the truth of simple good, (n. 3242, 4756, 4788, 6773).

AC 7020. Go, return into Egypt. That this signifies spiritual life in the natural, is evident from the signification of "going and returning," as being more interior and spiritual life (n. 7016); and from the signification of "Egypt," as being the natural (n. 6147, 6252).

AC 7021. Because all the men seeking thy soul are dead. That this signifies the removal of the falsities that are endeavoring to destroy the life of truth and good, is evident from the signification of "being dead," as being that they are removed, for they who are dead have also been removed; from the signification of the "Egyptians," who here are "the men," as being those who are in falsities (n. 6692); and from the signification of "those seeking the soul," as being those who are endeavoring to destroy the life. And as spiritual life is the life of the truth that is of faith, and of the good that is of charity, it is therefore said "the life of truth and good." From this it is evident that by "all the men seeking thy soul are dead" is signified the removal of the falsities that are endeavoring to destroy the life of truth and good. By "soul" in the Word is meant every living thing, and it is attributed also to animals but "soul" is properly predicated of man, and when of man, the term is used in various senses. Man himself is called a "soul," because his life in general is so called, also specifically his intellectual life, or understanding, and likewise his voluntary life, or will.

[2] But in the spiritual sense by "soul" is meant the life of the truth which is of faith, and of the good which is of charity, and in general the man himself as to his spirit which lives after death, in which sense it is used in these passages:--

Be not afraid of those who are able to kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Matt. 10:28).

What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what price shall a man give sufficient for the redemption of his soul? (Matt. 16:26).

The Son of man is not come to destroy menís souls, but to save them (Luke 9:56).

Ye have profaned Me among My people, to slay the souls that ought not to die, and to make the souls to live that ought not to live (Ezek. 13:19).

In these passages the "soul" denotes the spiritual life of man, which life is that of his spirit after death. "To kill the soul," "to lose the soul," "to destroy the soul," denote to die spiritually, that is, to be damned.

AC 7022. And Moses took his wife. That this signifies good adjoined, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Lord as to the law, or truth, from the Divine; and from the signification of "wife," as being good adjoined (n. 4510, 4823). In the internal sense, and also in the supreme sense in which the Lord is treated of, by the wife of Moses is represented good conjoined with truth, because in each and all things in the spiritual world and in the natural, there is a likeness of a marriage. There is a likeness of a marriage where there is what is active and what is passive; and there must be the active and at the same time the passive where anything has to come into existence; for without the conjunction of these two nothing can possibly be produced. That there is in all things a likeness of a marriage, is because all things bear relation to good and truth, thus to the heavenly marriage, which is that of good and truth; and the heavenly marriage bears relation to the Divine marriage, which is that of Divine good and Divine truth. And because as before said nothing can come into existence and be produced unless there is an active and a passive, thus unless there is a likeness of a marriage, it is very evident that the truth which is of faith without the good which is of charity cannot produce anything, nor the good which is of charity without the truth which is of faith; but that there must be a conjunction of both to produce fruits, and to make the life of heaven in man. That in all things there is a likeness of a marriage, see (n. 1432, 2173, 2176, 5194); and that in every detail of the Word there is the marriage of good and truth, see (n. 683, 793, 801, 2516, 2712, 4138, 5138, 6343); consequently in every detail of the Word there is heaven, for heaven is this marriage itself; and as in every detail of the Word there is heaven, in every detail of the Word there is the Lord, because the Lord is the all in all things of heaven. From all this it can be seen why the wife of Moses represents good conjoined with truth, even in the supreme sense, in which the Lord is treated of; in like manner as does Sarah the wife of Abraham (n. 2063, 2065, 2172, 2173, 2198); and also Rebecca the wife of Isaac (n. 3012, 3013, 3077).

AC 7023. And his sons. That this signifies the truths thence derived, is evident from the signification of "sons," as being truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373); it is said "thence derived," because from the marriage just spoken of.

AC 7024. And he made them ride upon the ass. That this signifies the things that would be of service to new intelligence, is evident from the signification of "riding," as being the things of the intellect, here of new intelligence, which must be of life among those who are in the spiritual church (n. 7016); that these things are signified by "riding" is because a "horse" signifies the intellectual (n. 2761, 2762, 3217, 5321, 6534); and from the signification of an "ass," as being the truth that is of service, here to new intelligence (n. 2781, 5741), and also is being memory-knowledge (n. 5492).

AC 7025. And he returned unto the land of Egypt. That this signifies in the natural mind, is evident from the signification of "the land of Egypt," as being the natural mind (n. 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301).

AC 7026. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand. That this signifies that these things were from Divine power, is evident from the signification of "rod," as being power (n. 4013, 4015, 4876, 4936) thus "the rod of God" denotes Divine power. "Rod" denotes the power of the natural, and "hand" the power of the spiritual, and that the natural has power from the spiritual, thus that by rod" is signified power when it is in the hand, (n. 7011). That a "rod" denotes power, originates from the representatives in the other life, for in that life they who practice magical arts appear with rods, which also serve them for powers. Hence also the Egyptian magicians had rods, whereby they performed what appeared like miracles; and from this the ancients in their writings everywhere assign rods to magicians. From all this it can be seen that a rod is a representative of power, and that it is also a real correspondence, for power is actually exercised by means of rods; but with magicians this is an abuse of correspondence, neither is it of avail except within the hells where they are, and it avails there because illusions and phantasies reign there. And because there is a real correspondence of a rod with power, Moses was commanded to take a rod in his hand, and by it to do signs; and for the same reason also kings have a scepter, which is a short rod, and by it is signified royal power. The correspondence of a rod and of power, is from the fact that a rod or staff supports the hand and arm, thus at the same time the body, and in the Grand Man the hand and arm correspond to power (n. 878, 3387, 4931-4937, 5327, 5328, 5544, 6947, 7011).

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info