Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 4:21-23
AC 7027. Verses 21-23. And Jehovah said unto Moses, when thou goest to return into Egypt, see all the wonders which I have put in thy hand, and thou shalt do them before Pharaoh; and I will harden his heart, and he will not send away the people. And thou shalt say into Pharaoh, Thus saith Jehovah, My son, My firstborn, is Israel, and I say unto thee, Send My son away, that he may serve Me; and if thou refuse to send him away, behold I will slay thy son, thy firstborn. "And Jehovah said unto Moses," signifies perception from the Divine; "When thou goest to return into Egypt," signifies spiritual life in the natural; "see all the wonders which I have put in thy hand," signifies means of power from the spiritual then; "and thou shalt do them before Pharaoh," signifies against infesting falsities; "and I will harden his heart, and he will not send away the people," signifies obstinacy, and thus not yet liberation; "and thou shalt say unto Pharaoh," signifies exhortation; "Thus said Jehovah," signifies from the Divine; "My son, My firstborn, is Israel," signifies that they who are in spiritual truth and good have been adopted; "and I say unto thee," signifies command; "Send My son away," signifies that they should abstain from infesting the truths of the church; "that he may serve Me," signifies elevation into heaven in order to perform uses therefrom; "and if thou refuse to send him away," signifies obstinacy even to the last; "behold I will slay thy son, thy firstborn," signifies the extinction of faith without charity, and the consequent devastation of truth with them.
AC 7028. And Jehovah said unto Moses. That this signifies perception from the Divine, is evident from the signification of "saying," in the historicals of the Word, as being perception; that it denotes from the Divine, is signified by "Jehovah said." The reason why it is again said, "Jehovah said unto Moses," is that a new perception is signified (n. 2061, 2238, 2260, 2506, 2515, 2552).
AC 7029. When thou goest to return into Egypt. That this signifies spiritual life in the natural, is evident from the signification of "going and returning," as being elevation to a more interior and spiritual life; and from the signification of "Egypt," as being the natural (n. 7016).
AC 7030. See all the wonders which I have put in thy hand. That this signifies means of power from the spiritual then, is evident from the signification of "wonders" or "miracles," as being means of Divine power (n. 6910); and from the signification of "hand," as being spiritual power (n. 7011). From this it is evident that by "see all the wonders which I have put in thy hand" are signified means of power from the spiritual.
AC 7031. And thou shalt do them before Pharaoh. That this signifies against the infesting falsities, is evident from the representation of Pharaoh as being falsity infesting the truths of the church (n. 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692). That "thou shalt do them before Pharaoh" denotes against these falsities, is because it follows in a series from the things that precede for there by "See all the wonders which I have put in thy hand" is signified the means of power from the spiritual, thus against the infesting falsities; and in the internal sense those things follow in a series to which the words of the sense of the letter are applied.
AC 7032. And I will harden his heart, and he will not send away the people. That this signifies obstinacy, and thus not yet liberation, is evident from the signification of "hardening," as being obstinacy, and from the signification of the "heart," as being the will (n. 2930, 3888), thus by these words is signified obstinacy from the will, consequently from the delight of doing evil, because that which is of the will is delightful, and this is from the love; and from the signification of "not sending away the people," as being from obstinacy not to be willing to set at liberty, thus not yet liberation. It is said here and in what follows that "Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh." This is so said from the appearance, and from the common notion of the Divine as doing all things; but this is to be understood in the same way as when evil, anger, fury, devastation, and other like things are attributed to Jehovah or the Lord (n. 2447, 6071, 6991, 6997).
 As regards the obstinacy of those who are in falsities and the derivative evils, and in evils and the derivative falsities, be it known that the obstinacy is such as cannot be described; for they never desist except through grievous punishments and the consequent fears; exhortations and threats are of no avail whatever, because the delight of their life is to do evil. They contracted this delight during their life in the world, especially from the fact that they loved themselves only and not the neighbor, thus being in no Christian charity. As people of this kind do not suffer themselves to be led by the Lord, they act from their own proper will, which is evil by heredity, and also by actual life; and they who act from their own will, do evil from love; for that which is of the will is of the love; and from this they have the delight of doing evil, and so far as they are in this delight, so far they are in obstinacy.
 That this is so does not appear in the world, because in the world they are withheld by the love of self and the love of the world, for they fear the loss of reputation, and of the consequent gain and honor, if they were to do evil openly. Moreover the laws and the fear of the loss of life restrain them; but if these did not stand in the way, they would rush to destroy all who do not favor them, and would plunder them of all their property, and would mercilessly kill anyone. Such is man interiorly, that is, such is man as to his spirit, however much in this world he may appear different. This can be very plainly seen from them in the other life, for then the externals are taken away from those who have been such in the world, and they are left to their will, thus to their loves; and when they are left to these, they perceive nothing more delightful than to do evil, which also they do with such obstinacy that, as before said, they never desist except through punishments, and afterward by repeated sinkings down into hell. From all this it can be seen what a man is who is in no charity toward the neighbor; and also that everyone‘s life awaits him; not the civil life which was external and apparent in the world, but the spiritual life which was internal and did not appear in the world.
AC 7033. And thou shalt say into Pharaoh. That this signifies exhortation, is evident from the signification of "saying," when done by Divine command, as being exhortation; and from the representation of Pharaoh, as being falsity infesting the truths of the church, thus those who are in falsity and who infest (n. 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692).
AC 7034. Thus saith Jehovah. That this signifies from the Divine, that is, exhortation, is evident from what has been already said, and also from what follows.
AC 7035. My son, My firstborn, is Israel. That this signifies that they who are in spiritual truth and good have been adopted, is evident from the signification of "son," when said by Jehovah, or the Lord, of those who are of the spiritual church, as being to be adopted; from the signification of "firstborn," as being the faith of charity, which is of the spiritual church (n. 367, 2435, 3325, 4925, 4926, 4928, 4930); and from the representation of Israel, as being the spiritual church (n. 6637). That " My son, my firstborn, Israel," or those who are in spiritual truth and good, that is, who are of the spiritual church, have been adopted, and thus acknowledged as sons, is because the Lord by His coming into the world saved them (n. 6854, 6914); hence also, and likewise by virtue of faith in the Lord, they are called the "firstborn son." These are also meant by the Lord in John:--
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, and one Shepherd (John 10:16).
AC 7036. And I say unto thee. That this signifies command, is evident from the signification of "saying," when by Jehovah, as being command.
AC 7037. Send My son away. That this signifies that they should abstain from infesting the truths of the church, is evident from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the falsity infesting the truths of the church (n. 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692); from the signification of "sending away," as being a command to abstain; and from the signification of "son," as being those who are in spiritual truth and good, and have been adopted (n. 7035). Hence it is plain that by "Send My son away" is signified that they should abstain from infesting those who are in the truths of the church.
AC 7038. That they may serve Me. That this signifies elevation into heaven in order to perform uses therefrom, is evident from the signification of "serving Jehovah," or the Lord, as being to perform uses; and as this is said of those of the spiritual church who have been saved by the coming of the Lord, and who before His coming were in the lower earth, and were afterward elevated into heaven (n. 6854, 6914), and thereby came into a state of performing uses, therefore by "that they may serve Me" is signified elevation into heaven in order to perform uses therefrom. That "to serve the Lord" denotes to perform uses, is because true worship consists in the performance of uses, thus in the exercises of charity. He who believes that serving the Lord consists solely in frequenting a place of worship, in hearing preaching there, and in praying, and that this is sufficient, is much mistaken. The "cry worship of the Lord consists in performing uses; and during man’s life in the world uses consist in everyone‘s discharging aright his duty in his station, thus from the heart being of service to his country, to societies, and to the neighbor, in dealing sincerely with his fellow, and in performing kind offices with prudence in accordance with each person’s character. These uses are chiefly the works of charity, and are those whereby the Lord is chiefly worshiped. Frequenting a place of worship, hearing sermons, and saying prayers, are also necessary; but without the above uses they avail nothing, because they are not of the life, but teach what the life must be. The angels in heaven have all happiness from uses, and according to uses, so that to them uses are heaven.
 That happiness is from Divine order according to uses, can be seen from the things in man which correspond to those which are in the Grand Man; as those from the external senses, namely, from sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, which as has been shown at the end of many chapters, are correspondent. These senses therefore have delights exactly in accordance with the uses which they perform; the most delightful is the sense of conjugial love, on account of its greatest use, because from this comes the propagation of the human race, and from the human race, heaven; the delight of taste follows next, because it serves for the nourishment and thereby for the health of the body, in accordance with which is the sound action of the mind; the delight of smell is less, because it merely serves for recreation: and thus also for health; the delight of hearing and that of sight are in the last place, because they merely take up those things which will be of service to uses, and wait upon the intellectual part, and not so much the will part.
 From these and other like facts it becomes plain that it is uses according to which happiness is given in heaven by the Lord; and that it is uses through which the Lord is mainly worshiped. From this it is that John lay on the Lord‘s breast at table, and that the Lord loved him more than the rest; but this was not for his own sake, but because he represented the exercises of charity, that is, uses. John represented these, (n. 2135a, 2760, 3934).
AC 7038a. And if thou refuse to send him away. That this signifies obstinacy even to the last, is evident from the signification of "refusing to send him away," as being not to liberate in consequence of obstinacy (n. 7032).
AC 7039. Behold I will slay thy son, thy firstborn. That this signifies the extinction of faith without charity, and the consequent devastation of truth with them, is evident from the signification of "slaying," as being extinction; and from the signification of "son, the firstborn," namely, of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, as being faith without charity (n. 3325). For by Pharaoh and the Egyptians are represented the memory-knowledges which are of the church (n. 4749, 4964, 4966, 6004), thus which are of faith, for these are of the church. But because they turned these memory-knowledges into magic (n. 6692), and from this their works were evil, and devoid of any charity, therefore by their "firstborn" are signified such things as are of the memory-knowledge of faith, thus faith without charity. That these are signified by the "firstborn of Egypt," is evident from the signification of the "firstborn of Israel," as being the faith of charity (n. 7035).
 It is said "faith without charity," but by "faith" is here meant the memory-knowledge of such things as are of faith, for there is no faith where there is no charity. With those who are not in charity the things of faith are merely things of memory, and are in the memory under no other form than is any other memory-knowledge; and there is not there even the memory-knowledge of truth which is of faith, because it is defiled with ideas of falsity, and also serves as a means to defend falsities. As this is the case with faith without charity, it is therefore extinguished with the evil in the other life, and they are completely devastated as to truth, in order to prevent truths from being made into means for their evils, and thus lest hell should in some way have dominion in them over such things as are of heaven, and lest they should thereby hang between heaven and hell. This extinction and this devastation of truth are what is signified by the firstborn in Egypt being slain. That the Egyptians afterward perished in the sea Suph represented the subsequent state of damnation or the spiritual death of such persons, for as soon as the things of faith or of truth are taken away from them (which had been like wings that lifted them up), they soon sink down like weights into hell.EXODUS 4:21-23 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|