Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 24:15-16
AC 3075. Verses 15, 16. And it came to pass that scarcely had he done speaking, when behold Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was exceeding good to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up. "And it came to pass that scarcely had he done speaking,; signifies the effect of will; "when behold Rebekah came out," signifies the affection of truth from doctrinal things "who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham‘s brother," signifies all the origin of this affection "with her pitcher upon her shoulder," signifies receptions of truth, and endeavor; "and the damsel was exceeding good to look upon," signifies the beauty of the affection of truth; "a virgin, neither had any man known her," signifies pure from all falsity; "and she went down to the fountain," signifies truth Divine; "and filled her pitcher," signifies the vessels of reception; "and came up," signifies elevation.
AC 3076. And it came to pass that scarcely had he done speaking. That this signifies the effect of will, is evident from what immediately follows, that is, that all things in general and particular came to pass according to his prayer, or were accomplished as he wished. That "speaking" signifies willing may be seen above (n. 2626, 3037).
AC 3077. And behold Rebekah came out. That this signifies the affection of truth from doctrinal things, is evident from the representation of Rebekah, as being the truth Divine that was to be conjoined with the Divine good of the rational; but here, before she was betrothed, she puts on the representation of the affection of truth from doctrinal things; for from this comes truth, truth not being truth unless it has life, and its life is affection which is of love. That Rebekah represents the truth Divine that was to be conjoined with the Divine good of the rational, is evident from the several things contained in this chapter in the internal sense, and also from the fact that Isaac represents the Lord’s Divine rational (n. 1893, 2066, 2083, 2630); thus Rebekah, who became wife to Isaac, represents that in the rational which was conjoined as a wife to a husband; and it may be seen that this is Divine truth. For in the same way Abraham represented the Divine good itself, and Sarah his wife the Divine truth itself conjoined with the Divine good (n. 1468, 1901, 2063, 2065, 2904); and it is the same with Isaac and Rebekah, but in the Lord‘s Divine Human, namely, in His rational. In general, by a husband in the Word is signified good, and by a wife its truth (n. 1468, 2517). Moreover the essence of all marriage also (that is, conjugial love) is from the Divine marriage of good and truth, and of truth and good, in the Lord (n. 2508, 2618, 2728, 2729, 2803). That the affection of truth is from doctrinal things, is because it is said that she "came out," that is, from the city; and that by a "city" are signified doctrinal things, may be seen above (n. 402, 2451). Moreover truths are from doctrinal things.
AC 3078. Who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. That this signifies all the origin of this affection, is evident from the representation of Bethuel, and also of Milcah, and of Nahor, and of Abraham. What each represents specifically cannot be set forth and presented to the apprehension, for the reason that the first affection of truth did indeed derive its origin from the Divine things acquired by the Lord in the natural man (n. 3019), but still things from the mother were there, which could not be separated in a moment, and the affection was from them also. The quality of this affection in its origin is described in the internal sense by the words, "born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham‘s brother."
 Every affection, although it appears simple and as one thing, nevertheless contains within it things so innumerable that it cannot be comprehended by any idea, still less be described; for in every affection there is the man’s whole life that has been acquired from his infancy even to the time of life when he is in the affection; nay, there are other things besides, namely, those which he has inherited from father and mother, grandparents and great-grandparents; for the affection is the whole man such as he is. In the other life, by a manifestation of the affection there is sometimes presented to view how much there is in anyone of the love of self, and how much of the love of the world; and how much of the love of principles, and for what end and use; also how much of the love of good and truth, and what is the quality of that good and truth, and also how the good and truth are disposed, that is, how far conjoined, approximating, or separate; thus how much they agree or disagree with heavenly order. As just stated, all these things are presented to view by a manifestation of the affection, because the affection is the whole man. That such is the case appears incredible to man, and yet it is true.
AC 3079. With her pitcher upon her shoulder. That this signifies receptions of truth, and endeavor, is evident from the signification of a "pitcher," as being memory-knowledge, and thus a receptacle of truth (n. 3068); and from the signification of the "shoulder," as being all power, and thus endeavor (n. 1085). That "pitchers" or "water-jars," also vessels in general, signify in the internal sense things which are in the position of being a receptacle (as are memory-knowledges and knowledges in relation to truths, and as are truths themselves in relation to good), may be seen from many passages in the Word. The "vessels" of the temple and of the altar have no other signification, and because they signified such things they were also holy, their holiness being from no other source.
 And when Belshazzar, with his great men and his wives, was drinking wine out of the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had brought from the temple of Jerusalem, and they were praising the gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone, it was because of such signification of the vessels that the writing then appeared on the wall of his palace (Dan. 5:2). The "vessels of gold and of silver" denote the knowledges of good and truth, which were profaned; for the Chaldeans denote those who are in knowledges, but such as have been profaned by the falsities that are in them (n. 1368); so that the knowledges serve them to worship gods of gold and silver; for Belshazzar is called king of the chaldeans in this same chapter (Daniel 5:30).
 That "vessels" signify the externals of spiritual things, is also plain from other passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:--
As the sons of Israel bring their offering in a clean vessel into the house of Jehovah (Isa. 66:20);
where the Lord‘s kingdom is treated of. The "offering in a clean vessel" is representative of the external man relatively to the internal; that which brings the gift is the internal man; the "clean vessel" is the external man that is in agreement, thus it denotes the things in the external man, which are memory-knowledges, knowledges, and doctrinal things.
 In Jeremiah:--
The cry of Jerusalem is gone up, and their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters; they came to the pits, they found no waters, they returned with their vessels empty, they are ashamed (Jer. 14:2, 3);
"empty vessels" denote knowledges wherein there is no truth, and also truths wherein there is no good. Again:--
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel hath devoured me, he hath troubled me, he hath made me an empty vessel (Jer. 51:34);
where an "empty vessel" has a similar meaning. That it is Babel that lays waste, may be seen above (n. 1327). In Moses:--
As the valleys are they planted, as gardens by the river’s side waters shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be at many waters (Num. 24:6, 7).
This is Balaam‘s parable concerning Jacob and Israel; "waters flowing from his buckets," signify that truths flow from knowledges.
 In the parable of the ten virgins, five of whom took oil in their vessels with their lamps, while the foolish did not (Matt. 25:4), by the "virgins" are signified affections. That the wise "took oil in their vessels," denotes that there was good in truths, and thus charity in faith. That "oil" denotes good, may be seen above (n. 886); "lamps" denote love.
AC 3080. And the damsel was exceeding good to look upon. That this signifies the beauty of the affection of truth, is evident from the signification of a "damsel," as being an affection in which is innocence (n. 3067). That "exceeding good to look upon" signifies beauty (here the beauty of the affection of truth, because it is said of the damsel) comes from the fact that all beauty is from good in which there is innocence. Good itself when it flows in from the internal man into the external, makes beauty; and from this is all human beauty. This may likewise be seen from the fact that no one is affected by the face of another, but by the affection which beams forth from the face; and that they who are in good are affected by the affection of good which is there, and in the measure in which there is innocence in the good. Thus it is the spiritual in the natural which affects, but not the natural without the spiritual. In like manner they who are in good are affected by little children, who appear to them beautiful in proportion to the innocence of charity in their faces, gestures, and speech. That goodness and charity are what form and cause beauty, see (n. 553). Hence then it is that the "damsel exceeding good to look upon" signifies the beauty of the affection of truth in which there is good.
AC 3081. A virgin, neither had any man known her. That this signifies pure from all falsity, is evident from the signification of a "virgin." A "virgin" is often mentioned in the Word, and there signifies the Lord’s kingdom, and likewise the church, and consequently every one who is a kingdom of the Lord or who is a church; and this from the conjugial love in chaste virgins. In the spiritual sense conjugial love is the affection of good in truth, and the affection of truth from good, from which affections, conjoined as it were in marriage, comes conjugial love (n. 2508, 2618, 2727-2729). And because as before said this is seen in a virgin, the kingdom of the Lord, which is also compared to marriage and is called a marriage, is called a "virgin." That by "a man had not known her," is signified pure from all falsity, is because by a "man" in the Word is signified not only rational truth, but also in the opposite sense falsity (n. 265, 749, 1007); thus to be "known by a man" is to be contaminated with falsity, and "not to be known by a man" is to be pure from falsity: by a "man" is not here meant a husband (vir conjugii).
 That by a "virgin" in the Word are signified those who are in the kingdom of the Lord, or what is the same, those in whom the kingdom of the Lord is, is evident in John:--
These are they who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins; these are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, for they are without spot before the throne of God (Rev. 14:4, 5).
Here those are plainly called "virgins" who follow the Lamb, that is, who are in the Lord‘s kingdom; and they are also said to be "without spot."
 In the proper sense, those are "virgins" who are in love to the Lord, that is, the celestial, and thus those who are in the affection of good. Those also are called "virgins" who are in charity toward the neighbor, that is, the spiritual, and thus who are in the affection of truth; as may be seen from passages in the Word. Thus in Isaiah:--
The virgin daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and hath mocked thee; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head after thee (Isa. 37:22).
This is said to the king of Asshur; the "virgin daughter of Zion" denotes the celestial church; the "daughter of Jerusalem," the spiritual church.
 In Jeremiah:--
Again will I build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel; again shalt thou deck thy timbrels, and shalt go forth in the dance of them that make merry. Their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin be glad in the dance, and the young men and the old together (Jer. 31:4, 12, 13).
The "virgin of Israel" denotes the spiritual church; the affection of truth from good in this church is described here, as in other places, by "timbrels and dances." In the same:--
The ways of Zion do mourn, her priests do sigh, her virgins are sad. The Lord hath trodden the winepress, for the virgin daughter of Judah. Behold my sorrow; my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity (Lam. 1:4, 15, 18).
"Virgins" denote the affections of good and of truth. And again in the same:--
The women in Zion were ravished, the virgins in the cities of Judah (Lam. 5:11).
Here the " virgins" denote the affections of good.
 In Amos:--
They shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and the young men faint for thirst (Amos 8:12, 13).
The "fair virgins" denote the affections of truth; the "young men," truths, or what is the same, those who are in them; concerning these it is said that "they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it," and consequently "they shall faint for thirst."
 In Zechariah:--
Jehovah their God shall preserve them in that day, as the flock of His people; for how great is His goodness and how great is His beauty: corn shall make the young men grow (germinare), and new wine the virgins (Zech. 9:16, 17);
"young men" denoting truths, and "virgins," affections. In David:--
The King’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of inweavings of gold. She is led unto the King in broidered work; the virgins, her companions, that follow her, are brought unto Thee (Ps. 45:13, 14).
The "King‘s daughter" denotes the Lord’s spiritual kingdom; the "virgins, her companions, that follow her," denote the affections of truth.
 In the same:--
They have seen Thy goings, O God, the goings of my God in, the sanctuary. The singers went before, the players on the harp followed after, in the midst of the damsels playing the timbrels (Ps. 68:24, 25).
The "damsels playing the timbrels" also denote the affections of truth, the term "virgin" being used in distinction from "damsel" to express innocence. "Virgins" are so called from conjugial love, and thus denote those who are in innocence; for conjugial love is innocence itself (n. 2736). In John therefore in the passage quoted from the Apocalypse, they are said to "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth;" for by the "Lamb" is meant the Lord as to innocence; and all who are in heaven are called "virgins" from the innocence which is in their good. According to the amount and quality of the innocence in good, they " follow the Lamb."
AC 3082. And she went down to the fountain. That this signifies Divine truth, is evident from the signification of the "fountain," as being Divine truth (n. 2702, 3065).
AC 3083. And filled her pitcher. That this signifies vessels of reception, is evident from the signification of a "pitcher," which being a vessel for the reception of water, is in the internal sense a recipient of the knowledges of truth, and also of truth itself, which is signified by "water." That "water" in the internal sense denotes knowledges, and also truth, see (n. 28, 680, 2680, 2702, 3058).
AC 3084. And came up. That this signifies elevation, is evident from the signification of "coming up," as being to be elevated. Being elevated is said of passing from what is lower to what is higher, and also therefore of passing from what is exterior to what is interior, which is the same thing; for what is lower or higher in a human idea is exterior or interior in the angelic idea; for instance, heaven, which appears to man higher, but to angels interior; and the natural with man--this is exterior relatively to his spiritual; and so again is the spiritual relatively to the celestial; or what is the same, memory-knowledge, which is of the natural man, is exterior relatively to truth, and truth is exterior relatively to good; and therefore memory-knowledge relatively to truth is called a veil and also clothing, and truth likewise is so called relatively to good; and it is from this that one is said to "go up" to Jerusalem, but to "go down" from Jerusalem; also to "go up from Jerusalem to Zion," and to "go down from Zion to Jerusalem;" for by what is round about Jerusalem are signified the exteriors of the church, but by Jerusalem the interiors, and by Zion the inmosts. As in the passage before us in the internal sense there is described the first of the elevation of truth out of the natural man to the rational, it is therefore said first that the affection of truth represented by Rebekah "went down to the fountain," and then that she "came up;" for, as before said (n. 3074), the Divine love flows into the affection of good and from this into the affection of truth, and vivifies and enlightens the things that are in the natural man, and then disposes them in order (this is signified by "going down"); and by virtue of this, truths are raised out of the natural man into the rational, and are conjoined with the good there (this is signified by "going up").
AC 3085. In these two verses is described the affection of truth as to origin, as to quality, and as to the first of initiation; as to origin, by the words, "Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham‘s brother," by which in the internal sense is set forth all the origin of this affection (n. 3077, 3078) as to quality, by the words, "her pitcher was upon her shoulder; and the damsel was exceeding good to look upon," by which is described the quality (n. 3079-3081); as to the first of initiation, by the words, "she went down to the fountain, and filled her pitcher, and came up" (n. 3082-3084).
 But as before said, these things are not only beyond ordinary apprehension, but are also beyond that of more cultivated men--that is to say, such things as are contained in the internal sense in this chapter and in some that follow. The reason of this is that it scarcely enters the mind of anyone that there is a continual Divine influx through the internal man into the external; that is, an influx of celestial and spiritual things through the rational man into the natural, or what is the same into the natural things of the external man; and that by this influx truths are continually called forth from the natural man, are elevated, and are implanted in the good which is in the rational. As it is not known that this takes place, how should all the process be known, and in what manner it is effected; a process of wisdom so great (because from the Divine) that it can never be explored as to a ten-thousandth part; the things that can be seen being only the most general?
 And as such is the case, let no one wonder that the things here contained in the internal sense cannot be described to the apprehension, and that what are described transcend the apprehension; for they treat of this process and describe it. And besides, the internal sense is principally for the angels; and this in order that through the Word there may be communication between heaven and man; and by the angels such things as are referred to above are accounted as things most delightful, because heavenly food is nothing else than all that which is of intelligence and wisdom; and to them the blessedness of wisdom and intelligence is whatever treats of the Lord.
AC 3086. That some idea, although a most general one, may be formed of what is here contained in the internal sense, be it known that this whole chapter treats of the truth Divine that has to be conjoined with the Divine good; to wit that Divine good flowed into the natural man, that is, into the memory-knowledges, the knowledges, and the doctrinal things therein, for these are of the natural man in so far as they are in its memory; and that by this influx it enlightened, vivified, and disposed into order all things therein; for all light, life, and order in the natural man are from influx from the Divine, as may be known to every one if he attends to it. By means of this influx there comes forth affection; first, the general affection of truth, treated of in these two verses in regard to its origin (n. 3077, 3078); its quality (n. 3079-3081); and the first of initiation (n. 3082-3084); but in the verses now immediately following, the process is further described in the internal sense, namely, the exploration of that truth, also the separation of the things from the mother, which at first were adjoined to it, and so on.
 But I know that these are arcana too deep to fall within apprehension; and this as before said for the reason that they are things unknown; but as the internal sense describes them, and this as to all their circumstances, they must needs be set forth, no matter how much they may appear to be above the apprehension. At the very least it may in this way be seen what great arcana there are in the internal sense of the Word; also that the arcana are such as scarcely to be seen in the light of the world, in which man is during his life in the body, but that they always appear more distinctly and clearly in proportion as man comes from the light of the world into the light of heaven, into which he comes after death; thus into the light in which blessed and happy souls are, that is, the angels.GENESIS 24:15-16 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|