Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 24:21-33
AC 3139. Verses 31-33. And he said, Come, thou blessed of Jehovah, wherefore standest thou without? for I have swept the house, and there is room for the camels. And the man came into the house, and loosed the camels; and he gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men that were with him. And there was set before him to eat; and he said, I will not eat until I have spoken my words. And he said, Speak. "He said, Come, thou blessed of Jehovah," signifies an invitation of the Divine within Him; "wherefore standest thou without?" signifies somewhat therefrom; "for I have swept the house," signifies that all things were prepared and full of goods; "and there is room for the camels," signifies a state for all things that would be serviceable to Him; "and the man came into the house," signifies influx into the good therein; "and loosed the camels," signifies freedom for those things which were to serve; "and he gave straw and provender for the camels," signifies instruction in truths and goods; "and water to wash his feet," signifies purification there; "and the feet of the men that were with him," signifies purification of all things belonging to Him, in the natural man; "and there was set before him to eat," signifies that good in the natural man desired these things should "and he said, I will not eat," signifies refusal; "until I have spoken my words," signifies until instruction should be given; "and he said, Speak," signifies longing.
AC 3140. He said, Come, thou blessed of Jehovah. That this signifies an invitation of the Divine within Him, is evident from the signification of "Come," as being a" invitation; and from the signification of the "blessed of Jehovah," as being the Divine; that the "blessed Jehovah" is the Divine Itself, may be seen above (n. 1096, 1420, 1422); and it follows that the blessed of Jehovah" is the Divine therefrom. Good is the Divine Itself, but truth is the Divine thence derived. By the "man" here who was sent by Abraham, is signified the truth which was from the Divine, in the natural man (n. 3134); it is Divine truth which is called the "blessed of Jehovah," and which is invited.
AC 3141. Why standest thou without? That this signifies somewhat therefrom, is evident without explication. The case herein is as follows: The Lord‘s Divine rational was born of the Divine truth itself conjoined with the Divine good. The Divine rational is Isaac, who was born to Abraham (who here is the Divine good) of Sarah who here is the Divine truth; as before shown. The rational of the Lord alone was thus born Divine, and indeed from Himself; for the veriest being of the Lord was Jehovah or the Divine good itself; and the veriest beings of the Lord from this was of Jehovah or was the Divine truth itself. The Divine good in the rational, which is "Isaac," was thus born; and this was not food separate from truth, but was Divine good with Divine truth; and yet both together are called good in the rational, with which was to be conjoined truth from the natural man, which truth is "Rebekah." In order that the Lord might make His human Divine, both as to good and as to truth, and this by the ordinary way (n. 3138), it could not be done otherwise; for such is the Divine order, according to which is all regeneration, and thus according to which was the Lord’s glorification (n. 3138).
 This Divine good through Divine truth in the rational, was that which was flowing into the natural man, and was enlightening all things there. The process itself is here described, namely, that at first it flowed in somewhat more remotely, which is meant here by there being "somewhat therefrom," and that it was not willing to flow in with fuller presence before instruction. For the ordinary way is that instruction must precede, and that influx takes place according to the degrees of instruction; and that truth continually comes into existence thence, which is initiated, and is afterwards conjoined with the good of the rational. From all this it may be seen what is the nature of the arcana that are contained in the internal sense of the Word; and that these arcana are such as to be scarcely apprehended by man even as to their most general things; and yet that they are evident to the angels, together with in numerable particulars which can never be uttered in words.
AC 3142. For I have swept the house. That this signifies that all things were prepared, and full of goods, is evident from the signification of "sweeping," as being to prepare and to be filled (of which we shall speak presently); and from the signification of a "house" as being good (n. 2233, 2234, 2559); and that man himself, from the good which is in him, is called a house, (n. 3128). The reason "to sweep" signifies to prepare and to be filled, is that nothing else is required of man than to sweep the house; that is, to reject the cupidities of evil and the derivative persuasions of falsity; for he is then filled with goods, because good is continually flowing in from the Lord-- but into "the house," that is, into the man who is purified from such things as impede the influx, that is, which reflect, or pervert, or suffocate the inflowing good. Hence it was common with the ancients to speak of sweeping or cleaning the house, and of sweeping and preparing the way; and by sweeping the house was meant to purify one‘s self from evils, and thereby to prepare one’s self for goods to enter; but by sweeping the way was meant to prepare one‘s self so that truths might he received, for by a "house" was signified good, (n. 3128); and by a "way," truth, (n. 627, 2333).
 As in Isaiah:--
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Sweep (prepare) ye the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isa. 40:3).
In the same:--
Cast up, cast up, sweep (prepare) the way, take away the stumbling block out of the way of My people (Isa. 57:14).
Go through, go through the gates, sweep (prepare) the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway, gather out the stones (Isa. 62:10).
Behold I send Mine angel, and He shall sweep (prepare) the way before Me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple (Mal. 3:1).
In these passages, to "sweep the way" signifies to make themselves ready and prepare to receive truth. The subject treated of therein is the advent of the Lord, for which they were to prepare themselves for receiving the truth of faith, and thereby the good of charity, and by this eternal salvation.
 In David:--
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt, Thou didst drive out the nations and plantedst it; Thou didst sweep before it, and didst cause its root to be rooted, and it filled the land (Ps. 80:8, 9);
where in the supreme sense the Lord is treated of; the "vine out of Egypt" is truth from memory-knowledges; "driving out the nations" is purifying from evils; "sweeping before it," is making ready so that goods may fill. In the opposite sense "to sweep the house" is said also of the man who deprives himself of all goods and truths, and thus is filled with evils and falsities; as in Luke:--
The unclean spirit, finding no rest, says, I will return into my house whence I came out; and when he is come he findeth it swept and garnished; then goeth he and taketh to him seven other spirits worse than himself, and they enter in and dwell there (Luke 11:24-26; Matt. 12:43-45).
AC 3143. And there is room for the camels. That this signifies a state for all things that would be serviceable to Him, is evident from the signification of " room," as being state (n. 1273-1277, 1376-1381, 2625); and from the signification of "camels," as being general memory-knowledges (n. 3048, 3071). That these are things for service may be seen above (n. 1486, 3019, 3020); for all things that belong to the natural man are for no other use than to serve the spiritual; wherefore also menservants, maidservants, camels, and asses, in the internal sense chiefly signify the things which belong to the natural man.
AC 3144. And the man came into the house. That this signifies influx into the good therein, is evident from the signification of "coming;" here, to flow in; and from the signification of a house," as being good (n. 2233, 2234, 2559).
AC 3145. And loosed the camels. That this signifies freedom for those things which were to serve, is evident from the signification of "loosing," as being to make free; and from the signification of "camels," as being general memory-knowledges, and thus the things which were to serve (n. 3143) The real case herein is this: Without freedom no production of truth in the natural man is possible, nor any calling forth therefrom into the rational, and conjunction with good there. All these things take place in a free state; for it is the affection of truth from good which produces freedom. Unless truth is learned from affection, thus in freedom, it is not implanted; still less is it exalted toward the interiors and there made faith. That all reformation is effected in freedom, and that all freedom is of affection, and that the Lord keeps man in freedom, so that he may from himself and from what is his own be affected with truth and good and thereby be regenerated, may be seen above (n. 2870-2893). This is what is signified by "loosing the camels;" for if they were not significative of such things, these particulars would be too trifling to be recorded.
AC 3146. And he gave straw and provender for the camels. That this signifies instruction in truths and goods, is evident from the signification of "straw," as being the truths of the natural man, and from the signification of "provender" as being the goods therein (n. 3114). Because these things are signified by "straw and provender," it follows that to "give straw and provender" is to instruct in truths and goods. That freedom is for the sake of these things, namely, that man may be instructed in the affection and from the affection of truth, and thus that truths may be insinuated even to the spiritual man, or even to the soul, and may there be conjoined with good, may be seen from what was shown above concerning freedom (n. 2870-2893). much is the inrooting of faith, or of the truth which is of faith, that unless it is coupled with good in the rational, the truth of faith never receives any life, nor does any fruit come from it; for all that which is called the fruit of faith, is the fruit of the good of love and charity through the truth of faith. Unless spiritual heat, which is the good of love, operated by spiritual light, which is the truth of faith, the man would be as ground hard frozen as in winter time, when nothing grows, still less bears fruit. For as light without heat produces nothing, so faith produces nothing without love.
AC 3147. And water to wash his feet. That this signifies purification there, is evident from the signification of "water for washing," or of washing with water, as being to purify (concerning which presently); and from the signification of "feet," as being natural things, or what is the same, the things in the natural man (n. 2162). In the representative church it was customary to wash the feet with water, and thereby to signify that the unclean things of the natural man were washed away. The unclean things of the natural man are all those things which are of the love of self and of the love of the world; and when these unclean things have been washed away, then goods and truths flow in, for it is solely these unclean things that hinder the influx of good and truth from the Lord.
 For good is continually flowing in from the Lord, but when it comes through the internal or spiritual man to his external or natural man, it is there either perverted, turned back, or suffocated. But when the things which are of the love of self and of the love of the world are removed, then good is received there and is made fruitful; for then man practises the works of charity. This is evident from many considerations; as when in misfortune, distress, and sickness-, the things that belong to the external or natural man are merely lulled, the man forthwith begins to think piously and to will what is good, and also to practise works of piety in so far as he is able; but when the state is changed, there is a change also in all this.
 These things were signified by the washings in the Ancient Church, and the same were represented in the Jewish Church, The reason why they were signified in the Ancient Church, but represented in the Jewish church, was that the man of the Ancient Church regarded the rite as a something external in worship, and did not believe that he was purified by that washing, but by the washing away of the impurities of the natural man, which as before said are the things which are of the love of self and of the world. But the man of the Jewish Church believed that he was purified by that washing; neither knowing nor desiring to know that the purification of the interiors was signified.
 That by "washing" is signified a cleansing from the impurities referred to, is evident in Isaiah:--
Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes, cease to do evil (Isa. 1:16)
where it is evident that to "wash themselves" means to make themselves pure and to put away evils. Again:--
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, in the spirit of judgment and in the spirit of expurgation (Isa. 4:4)
where "washing away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purging the blood of Jerusalem," denotes purifying from evils and falsities. In Jeremiah:--
O Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall the thoughts of thine iniquity lodge within thee? (Jer. 4:14).
 In Ezekiel:--
I washed thee with water, and I washed away thy bloods from upon thee, and anointed thee with oil (Ezek. 16:9)
concerning Jerusalem, by which is there meant the Ancient Church; "washing with waters" denotes purifying from falsities; "washing away bloods" denotes purging from evils; "anointing with oil" denotes filling then with good. In David:--
Wash me from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow (Ps. 51:2, 7).
Here "being washed" plainly denotes being purified from evils and their falsities.
 These are the things that were signified by "washing" in the representative church; and it was commanded for the sake of the representation that when they had become unclean they should wash the skin, the hands, the feet, and also the garments, and should be cleansed; by all which things were signified those which are of the natural man. Lavers also, of brass, were placed outside the temple, namely, the brazen sea and the ten brazen lavers (1 Kings 7:23-39); and a laver of brass at which Aaron and his sons were to wash was placed between the tent of meeting and the altar; and thus outside the tent (Exod. 30:18, 19, 21); by which also was signified that only external or natural things were to be purified for unless these have been purified, that is, unless the things that are of the love of self and of the world have been removed, the internal things which are of love to the Lord and toward the neighbor cannot possibly flow in, as before said.
 For the better understanding of how these things are circumstanced, namely, that external things are to be purified, take as an example and illustration good works, or what is the same, the goods of charity which at this day are called the fruits of faith; these are external things, because they are the exercises of charity. Good works are evil works unless those things are removed which are of the love of self and of the world; for when works are done before these have been removed, they indeed appear good outwardly, but are inwardly evil; for they are done either for the sake of reputation, or for gain, or for the sake of one’s honor, or for recompense, thus they are either self-meritorious or hypocritical; for that which is of the love of self and the world causes the works to be such. But when these evils are removed, the works then become good; and they are goods of charity; that is, in them there is not regard to self, to the world, to reputation, to recompense; thus they are neither self-meritorious nor hypocritical for then celestial love and spiritual love flow in from the Lord into the works and cause them to be love and charity in act; and then the Lord through these loves also purifies the natural or external man, and disposes it into order, so as to receive correspondently the celestial and spiritual things that flow in.
 This is clearly evident from what the Lord taught when He washed the feet of the disciples, as we read in John:--
Then cometh He to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that hath been washed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit ye are clean already, but not all (John 13:4-17).
"He that hath been washed, needeth not save to wash his feet," signifies that he who has been reformed, has need only to be cleansed as to natural things, that is, has need that evils and falsities should be removed from them; and then all things are disposed into order by the influx of spiritual things from the Lord. Moreover to wash the feet was an office of charity, as meaning not to reflect on the evils of another; and it was also an office of humility, as meaning to cleanse another from evils as from impurities; as also is evident from the Lord‘s words in the passage just quoted (verses 12-17); also (Luke 7:37, 38, 44, 46; John 11:2; 1 Sam. 25:41).
 Everybody can see that washing himself does not purify anyone from evils and falsities, but only from the impurities that cling to him; nevertheless, as washing was among the rites commanded in the church, it follows that it involves something special, namely, spiritual washing, that is, purification from the uncleannesses which inwardly adhere to man. Therefore they who knew these things in that church, and thought about the purification of the heart, or the removal of the evils of the love of self and of the love of the world from the natural man, and who endeavored to effect this with all diligence, observed the rite of washing as external worship according to commandment; but those who did not know this and did not desire to know it, but thought that the mere rite of washing their garments, skin, hands, and feet, would purify them, and that provided they did these things they might be allowed to live in avarice, hatreds, revenge, unmercifulness, and cruelties, which are spiritual in, purity, practised this rite as an idolatrous one. Nevertheless they could represent by it, and by representation exhibit something of the church, whereby there might be some conjunction of heaven with man before the Lord’s advent; yet such conjunction as affected the man of the church little or not at all.
 The Jews and Israelites were such that they had no thought about the internal man, nor willingness to know anything about it; thus none at all concerning celestial and spiritual things, relating to the life after death. But yet lest all communication with heaven and thus with the Lord should perish, they were bound to external rites, whereby internal things were signified. All their captivities and plagues were in general for the end that external rites might be strictly observed for the sake of the representation. Hence then it was that Moses washed Aaron and his sons with water at the door of the tent, that they might be sanctified (Exod. 29:4; 40:12; Lev. 8:6) that Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and feet before they entered into the tent of meeting and came near to the altar to minister, that they might not die; and that this was to be to them a statute forever (Exod. 30:18-21; 40:30, 31) that Aaron was to wash his flesh before he put on the garments of ministry (Lev. 16:4, 24); that the Levites were to be purified by being sprinkled with the water of expiation; and that they were to cause a razor to pass over their flesh, and to wash their garments, and thus should be pure (Num. 8:6, 7) that whoever should eat the carcass even of a clean beast, or one that was torn, should wash his garments, and bathe himself in water; and if he did not wash himself and bathe his flesh, he should bear his iniquity (Lev. 17:15, 16) that whoever touched the bed of one affected with the flux, or who sat upon a vessel on which he had sat, and whoever touched his flesh, should wash his garments, and bathe himself with water, and should be unclean till the evening (Lev. 15:5-7, 10-12); that whoever let go the he-goat, as a scape-goat, should wash his flesh (Lev. 16:26); that when a leprous person was cleansed, he was to wash his garments, shave off all his hair, and wash himself with water, and he should be clean (Lev. 14:8, 9); nay, that the very vessels which were made unclean by the touch of things unclean, should be passed through water, and should be unclean until evening (Lev. 11:32). From these things it may be seen that no one was made clean or pure as to internal things by the rite of washing, but only represented one pure or spiritually clean, for the reason given above. That this is so, the Lord teaches plainly in (Matthew 15:1, 2, 20; Mark 7:1-23).
AC 3148. And the feet of the men that were with him. That this signifies the purification of all things belonging to Him, in the natural man, is evident from the signification of "feet," as being the things of the natural man (n. 2162); and from the signification of "the men that were with him," as being all things there. It was the custom for travelers, when they came into any house, to wash their feet; as when the brethren of Joseph were introduced into Joseph‘s house (Gen. 43:24); and when the Levite and his attendant were received into the house of the old man (Judges 19:21); and when Uriah on his return home was commanded by David to go down to his house and to wash his feet (2 Sam. 11:8). The reason was that traveling and journeying signified what relates to instruction, and thence to life (n. 1293, 1457, 1463, 2025); and that these were to be purified was shown above; and further, lest the impurity understood in the spiritual sense should adhere, and defile the house, that is, the man; as is also evident from the fact that the disciples were to shake off the dust of the feet, if the city or the house would not receive peace (Matt. 10:14).
AC 3149. And there was set before him to eat. That this signifies that it was the will of the affection of good in the natural man that these things should be appropriated, is evident from the representation of Laban, by whom it was set, as being the affection of good in the natural man (n. 3129, 3130); and from the signification of "eating," as being to be communicated and appropriated (n. 2187, 2343), namely, the Divine things treated of above (n. 3140, 3141).
AC 3150. And he said, I will not eat. That this signifies refusal, that is, that they were not yet to be so appropriated, is evident without explication.
AC 3151. Until I have spoken my words. That this signifies until instruction should be given, is evident from the signification of "speaking words," as being to instruct. Moreover the things which he spoke, and that follow in the series, belong to instruction. That Divine things flow into those which are in the natural man, according to the instruction and the consequent progress, may be seen above (n. 3141).
AC 3152. And he said, Speak. That this signifies longing, is evident from the signification of "speaking words," as being to instruct; here, in the imperative form, as meaning that he should instruct. It is evident that these words involve a longing.
AC 3153. What is contained in these three verses, in the internal sense, is indeed manifest from the explication, namely, that the things of the natural man were being prepared for receiving what is Divine, and that so the truths signified by "Rebekah," which were to be initiated and conjoined with the good of the rational, were being made Divine, and this by influx. But the things in the internal sense here are such that if they are not seen in one view of the thought, they appear too obscure for comprehension, and this the more because they are things not known - for example, how truths are called forth out of the natural man, and are initiated into good in the rational, when man is being regenerated. To most persons at this day these things are so wholly unknown that they do not even know that this takes place; chiefly because at this day there are few who are being regenerated; and those who are lo not know from doctrine that it is the good of charity into which the truth of faith is initiated and with which it is conjoined, and this in the rational; and that then the state is wholly changed, and this so that the man no longer thinks from the truth of faith to the good of charity, but from this good to truth. With the Lord however there was not regeneration, but glorification; that is, all things were made Divine by Him, both those in the rational and those in the natural. How this was done is described in the internal sense. GENESIS 24:21-33 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|