Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 4:24-26
AC 7040. Verses 24-26. And it came to pass in the way, in the inn, that Jehovah met him, and sought to kill him. And Zipporah took a stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and made it touch his feet; and she said, Because a bridegroom of bloods art thou to me. And He ceased from him. Then she said, A bridegroom of bloods as to circumcisions. "And it came to pass in the way, in the inn," signifies that the posterity of Jacob were in externals without an internal; "that Jehovah met him," signifies opposition; "and sought to kill him," signifies that a representative church could not be instituted with that posterity; "and Zipporah took a stone," signifies the quality shown by the representative church by means of truth; "and cut off the foreskin of her son," signifies the removal of filthy loves, and thereby the laying bare of the internal; "and made it touch his feet," signifies that the quality of the natural was then shown; "and she said, Because a bridegroom of bloods art thou to me," signifies that it was full of all violence and hostility against truth and good; "and He ceased from him," signifies that it was permitted that they should represent; "then she said, A bridegroom of bloods as to circumcisions," signifies that although the internal was full of violence and hostility against truth and good, still circumcision was to be received as a sign representative of purification from filthy loves.
AC 7041. And it came to pass in the way, in the inn. That this signifies that the posterity of Jacob were in externals without an internal, is evident from the representation of Moses here. In what precedes, and in what follows, the subject treated of in the internal sense is the spiritual church, which is meant by the "sons of Israel;" but in these three verses it is that this church was to have been instituted among the posterity of Jacob, but that it could not be instituted among them because they were in externals without an internal. For this reason Moses here does not represent the law or the Word, but that nation or posterity from Jacob of which he was to be the leader; thus he also represents the worship of that nation, for everywhere in the Word a leader or judge, and also a king, represents the nation and people of which he is the leader, judge, or king, because he is its head (n. 4789). This is the reason why Moses is not here named, and yet by its coming to pass in the way, in the inn, he is meant, and that Jehovah then met him, and sought to kill him, when yet He had before so expressly commanded that he should go and return to Egypt. By "being in the way" is signified what is instituted; and by the "inn" is signified the external natural or sensuous (n. 5495). And because as before said the subject treated of is the church to be instituted among that posterity, therefore that is signified which belonged to that nation, namely, an external without an internal, thus also an external natural or sensuous, but separated. The sensuous separated from the internal is full of fallacies and the consequent falsities, and it is against the truths and goods of faith, (n. 6948, 6949).
 Before the things which follow are unfolded, see what has been already shown concerning that posterity, namely, that with them there was the representative of a church, but not a church (n. 4281, 4288, 6304); that Divine worship among them was merely external separate from internal, and that to this worship they were driven by external means (n. 4281, 4433, 4844, 4847, 4865, 4899, 4903); that they were not chosen, but that they obstinately insisted upon being a church (n. 4290, 4293); that they were of such a nature that they could represent holy things, although they were in bodily and worldly loves (n. 4293, 4307); that that nation was such from its first origins (n. 4314, 4316, 4317); and many other things which have been shown concerning that nation (n. 4444, 4459, 4503, 4750, 4815, 4818, 4820, 4825, 4832, 4837, 4868, 4874, 4911, 4913, 5057, 6877).
AC 7042. That Jehovah met him. That this signifies opposition, is evident from the signification of "meeting," as being opposition, namely, to the possibility of any church being instituted with that nation. That it denotes opposition against the Divine, is signified by "Jehovah met him." From the sense of the letter it appears as if Jehovah or the Divine set Himself in opposition, because it is said that "Jehovah met him;" but the internal sense is that the opposition was against the Divine. For the Divine never opposes itself to anyone, but it is the man, or the nation, which opposes itself to the Divine, and when it opposes itself, as it cannot endure the Divine, it appears as if there were resistance by the Divine. How the case herein is can be seen from those who come into the other life, and desire to come into heaven, and yet are not such as to be capable of being there. When they are permitted to attempt what they desire, even when they are in the way and near to the entrance into heaven, they appear to themselves as monsters, and begin to be in anguish and torment, because they cannot endure the truth and good which are there; and they believe that heaven and the Divine have opposed themselves to them; when yet it is they who bring this upon themselves, because they are in what is the opposite. From this also it can be seen that the Divine does not oppose itself to anyone, but that it is the man who opposes himself to the Divine.
AC 7043. And sought to kill him. That this signifies that a representative church could not be instituted with that posterity, is evident from the signification of "seeking to kill," as being not to receive (n. 3387, 3395); here therefore not to receive or choose that nation, in order that a representative church might be instituted with it. That in these three verses that nation is constantly meant by "Moses," who was about to be its leader and head, may be seen above (n. 7041); and that that nation was not chosen, but that it obstinately insisted upon being a church (n. 4290, 4293) and also that no church, but only the representative of a church, was instituted with it (n. 4281, 4288, 6304); and that those things which are of the church, and are holy, can be represented even by the evil, because representation does not regard the person but the thing (n. 3670, 4208, 4281). The same is meant in the internal sense by its being said that Jehovah willed wholly to destroy that nation, and in its stead to raise up another nation from Moses (Num. 14:12); and also that Jehovah repented of bringing in that nation, and of having brought them into the land of Canaan.
AC 7044. And Zipporah took a stone. That this signifies the quality shown by the representative church by means of truth, is here evident from the representation of Zipporah, as being the representative church; and from the signification of a "stone," as being the truth of faith. That circumcision was performed with knives of stone, signified that purification from filthy loves was effected by means of the truths of faith (n. 2039, 2046, 2799) for circumcision was representative of purification from these loves (n. 2799). The reason why purification is effected by means of the truths of faith, is that these teach what is good, and also what is evil, and thus what ought to be done, and what ought not to be done; and when man knows these truths, and wills to act according to them, he is then led by the Lord, and is purified by His Divine means. As the truths of faith teach what is evil and what is good, it is evident that by "Zipporah took a stone" is signified the quality shown by means of truth. That Zipporah represents the representative church is evident from what follows in these verses.
AC 7045. And cut off the foreskin of her son. That this signifies the removal of filthy loves, and thereby the laying bare of the internal, is evident from the signification of "cutting off," as being to remove; from the signification of "the foreskin," as being earthly and bodily love, which defiles spiritual and celestial love (n. 3412, 4462); and from the signification of "son," as being the truth of the representative church. That a "son" denotes truth may be seen above (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373); and that it denotes the truth of that church, is because Zipporah represents that church, and calls him her "son," and by him shows the quality of that nation, and hence the quality of its worship. That by the "foreskin" are signified filthy loves, is because the loins with the genitals correspond to conjugial love (n. 5050-5062); and because they correspond to conjugial love, they correspond to all celestial and spiritual love (n. 686, 4277, 4280, 5054); and therefore the foreskin corresponds to the most external loves, which are called bodily and earthly. If these loves are devoid of internal loves, which are called spiritual and celestial, they are filthy, as was the case with that nation, which was in externals without an internal. It is said "without an internal," and by this is meant no acknowledgment of truth, and no affection of good, thus no faith, and no charity, for these are of the internal man, and from them proceed the activities of charity, which are external goods. This internal, which is devoid of faith and charity, and yet is full of evils and falsities, is called by the Lord "empty" (Matt. 12:43-45); hence it is said, "an external without an internal." Now as by the "foreskin" are signified loves the most external, therefore when they are removed, as is signified by Zipporah’s cutting off the foreskin, the quality of these loves appears, thus the laying bare of the internal.
AC 7046. And made it touch his feet. That this signifies that the quality of the natural was then shown, is evident from the signification of "making it touch," as being to show, for a thing is shown by the touch; and from the signification of the "feet," as being the natural (n. 2162, 3147, 3761, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952). By the quality of the natural being shown, is meant the quality of that nation interiorly, which appears when the exterior is removed. The interior with man in the world cannot appear until the exterior has been removed; because with the evil the exterior acts quite differently from what the interior wills and thinks; for the man feigns what is honorable, what is just, and also Christian good or charity; and this in order that it may be believed that he is such inwardly. He is compelled so to act by fears of the loss of gain, of reputation, and of honor, and fears of the penalties of the law and of the loss of life. But when these fears have been removed, and he acts from his interior, then like a madman he plunders another‘s property, and breathes the destruction and death even of his fellow-citizens, as is the case in civil wars. That the interiors are such is still more manifest from the evil in the other life, for the externals are then taken away from them, and the internals are laid bare (n. 7039), and then it is discovered that many who in the world have appeared as angels, are devils.
 This great disagreement between the interiors and exteriors is an indication that the state of man has been utterly perverted; for such a disagreement has no existence with a man who is in what is sincere, just, and good: he speaks as he thinks, and thinks as he speaks. But it is far otherwise with those who are not in what is sincere, not in what is just, and not in what is good; with these the interiors disagree with the exteriors. That the Jewish nation was of this character is described by the Lord in Matthew in these words:--
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of robbery and intemperance. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make yourselves like unto whited sepulchres, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matthew 23:25-28).
AC 7047. And she said, For a bridegroom of bloods art thou to me. That this signifies that it was full of all violence and hostility against truth and good, is evident from the signification of "bridegroom," as here being a representative of the church, or its external, when the representative church itself is the "bride". In these three verses Moses represents that nation, and the representative of a church among them, (n. 7041); and Zipporah represents the representative church, (n. 7044). As Zipporah represents this church, and Moses its external, therefore Zipporah does not call him her "husband," or "man," but her "bridegroom," for a bride and a bridegroom can represent what is diverse, but not a man, or husband, and a wife, because the conjugial makes a one. And from the signification of "blood," as being violence done to charity, (n. 374, 1005), and as being truth falsified and profaned (n. 4735, 6978), thus hostility against truth and good.
AC 7048. And He ceased from him. That this signifies that it was permitted that they should represent, is evident from the signification of "ceasing from him," namely, from killing him, as being permission that they should represent; for that "Jehovah sought to kill him," signified that a representative church could not be instituted with that nation (n. 7043); and therefore when it is now said that "He ceased from him," it signifies that it was permitted that they should represent, that is, that there should be instituted with that nation the representative of a church, but not a church. That it is one thing to represent a church, and another to be a church, is evident from the fact that even the evil can represent a church, but none except the good can be a church; for to represent a church is merely external (n. 3670, 4208, 4281).
AC 7049. Then she said, A bridegroom of bloods as to circumcisions. That this signifies that although the internal was full of violence and hostility against truth and good, still circumcision was to be received as a sign representative of purification from filthy loves, is evident from the signification of a "bridegroom of blood," as being what is full of all violence and hostility against truth and good (n. 7047); and from the signification of "circumcision," as being a sign representative of purification from filthy loves (n. 2039, 2632, 3412, 3413, 4462, 4486, 4493). This is said by Zipporah, because it was now permitted that nation to represent the church, which is signified by "ceasing from killing him" (n. 7048). Circumcision was made a sign representative of purification, because by "cutting off the foreskin" was signified the removal of filthy loves, and thereby the laying bare of the internal (n. 7045); and therefore when the internal is not at all attended to, as was the case with that nation, which was in externals without an internal, there then remains the signification of circumcision or the cutting off of the foreskin, namely, the removal of filthy loves, thus purification, for which reason it could serve as a representative sign.
AC 7050. That in these three verses there are secrets which cannot possibly be known without the internal sense, is evident from the details in them; for who would know what is signified by Jehovah, after He had commanded Moses to go to Egypt, presently, when he was in the way, meeting him, and seeking to kill him? Who would know what is signified by Zipporah, when she had cut off the foreskin of her son, making it touch his feet, and saying to Moses that he was a bridegroom of bloods to her, and also afterward by her saying that he was a bridegroom of bloods as to circumcisions? Who does not see that secrets have been stored up in these things, and that these secrets cannot possibly be disclosed except from the internal sense?
AC 7051. They who know nothing of the internal sense of the Word cannot believe otherwise than that the Israelitish and Jewish nation was chosen above every other nation, and hence was more excellent than all the rest, as also they themselves believed. And wonderful to say, this is believed not only by that nation itself, but also by Christians, in spite of the fact that the latter know that that nation is in filthy loves, in sordid avarice, in hatred, and in conceit; and that they also make light of, and even hold in aversion, the internal things which are of charity and faith, and which are of the Lord. The reason why Christians also believe that that nation was chosen above others, is that they believe that the election and salvation of man is from mercy, no matter how he lives, and thus that the wicked can be received into heaven equally with the pious and the upright; not considering that election is universal, namely, of all who live in good, and that the mercy of the Lord is toward every man who abstains from evil and is willing to live in good, and thus who suffers himself to be led of the Lord and to be regenerated, which is effected by the unbroken course of his life.
 Hence also it is that most persons in the Christian world also believe that that nation will again be chosen, and will then be brought back into the land of Canaan, and this also according to the sense of the letter, (Isa. 10:20-22; 11:11, 12; 29:22-24; 43:5, 6; 49:6-26; 56:8; 60:4; 61:3-10; 62:1-12; Jer. 3:14-19; 15:4, 14; 16:13, 15; 23:7, 8; 24:9, 10; 25:29; 29:14, 18; 30:3, 8-11; 31:8-10, 17; 33:16, 20, 26; Ezek. 5:10, 12, 15; 16:60; 20:41; 22:15, 16; 34:12, 13; 37:21, 22; 38:12; 39:23, 27, 28; Dan. 7:27; 12:7; Hosea 3:4, 5; Joel 2:32; 3:1-21; Amos 9:8, 9; Micah 5:7, 8). From these and also from other passages, even Christians believe that that nation will again be chosen and will be brought into the land of Canaan, although they know that that nation is waiting for a Messiah who will bring them in, and although they know that this expectation is vain, and that the kingdom of the Messiah or Christ is not of this world, and thus that the land of Canaan, into which the Messiah will bring men, is heaven.
 Neither do they consider that in the Word there is a spiritual sense, and that in this sense by "Israel" is not meant Israel, nor by "Jacob" Jacob, nor by "Judah" Judah; but that by these men are meant what they represent. Neither do they consider the history of that nation, showing what its quality was in the wilderness, and afterward in the land of Canaan, that at heart it was idolatrous; and what the prophets say of it, and of its spiritual whoredom and abominations. This quality is described in the song in Moses, in these words:--
I will hide My faces from them, I will see what their posterity will be; for they are a generation of perversions, sons in whom is no faithfulness. I said, I will cast them out into the furthest corners; I will make the memory of men to cease from man; unless their foes should say, Our hand is high, and Jehovah hath not done all this. For they are a nation lost in counsels, and there is no intelligence in them. Their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, clusters of bitterness are theirs. Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel gall of asps. Is not this hidden with Me, sealed up in My treasuries? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense, in time their foot shall slide; for the day of their destruction is near, and the things that are to come upon them make haste (Deut. 32:20, 26-28, 32-35).
Jehovah dictated this song to Moses (Deut. 31:19, 21). Of that nation the Lord also says in John:--
Ye are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father ye will to do. No was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth (John 8:44);
besides in many other passages.
 That although they know these things, Christians nevertheless believe that that nation will at last be converted to the Lord, and will then be brought into the land where they were before, is because, as already said, they do not know the internal sense of the Word; and because they suppose that the life of man effects nothing, and that evil, even when rooted in by repeated acts, is no hindrance to a man‘s becoming spiritual, and being regenerated, and thus accepted by the Lord, through faith, even that of one short hour; also that admission into heaven is of mercy alone, and that this mercy is toward a single nation, and not so toward all in the universe who receive the mercy of the Lord. They who think thus do not know that it is quite contrary to the Divine that some should be born as the elect to salvation and heaven, and some as the non-elect to damnation and hell. To think so about the Divine would be horrible, because such conduct would be the height of unmercifulness, when yet the Divine is mercy itself. From all this it can now be seen that the Israelitish and Jewish nation was not chosen, and still less that it will be chosen; and also that there was not anything of the church with it, nor could be, but only the representative of a church; and that the reason why it has been preserved even to this day, has been for the sake of the Word of the Old Testament (n. 3479).EXODUS 4:24-26 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
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