Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 25:13-16
AC 3265. Verses 13-16. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, in their names, according to their births the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam; and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa; Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, in their villages and in their castles; twelve princes of their peoples. "And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael," signifies the qualities of their doctrinal things; "in their names, according to their births," signifies interior qualities according to the derivations of faith; "the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam; and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa; Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah," signifies all things of the spiritual church, especially among the Gentiles; "these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names," signifies doctrinal things and their quality; "in their villages," signifies the external things of the church; " and in their castles," signifies the internal things; "twelve princes of their peoples," signifies all the primary things of this Spiritual Church.
AC 3266. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael. That this signifies the qualities of their doctrinal things, namely, of those who are spiritual, is evident from the signification of "name," as being quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006); from the signification of "sons," as being truths, and also doctrinal things (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623); and from the representation of Ishmael, as being those who are spiritual (n. 3263).
AC 3267. In their names, according to their births. That this signifies interior qualities according to the derivations of faith, is evident from the signification of "name," as being quality, or from the signification of "names," as being qualities (n. 3266), in this case interior qualities, because it is said, "these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, in their names," where "names" in the first place denote general qualities, and in the second place the qualities which are within the former, or which are interior in respect to those general qualities; and also because these qualities are according to the derivations of faith which are signified by "according to their births." "Births" signify the derivations of faith, thus of the church, (n. 1145, 1255, 1330, 3263).
 With the Lord‘s spiritual church the case is this: It is scattered throughout the whole world, and everywhere varies as to articles of belief, or the truths of faith; and these varieties are the derivations which are signified by the "births," and which come forth both at one and the same time and also one after another. It is the very same with the Lord’s spiritual kingdom in the heavens, in which there is variety as to the things of faith, and this to such a degree that there is not one society, nor even one person in a society, that in the things of the truth of faith has an idea altogether in agreement with the ideas of others (n. 3241) hut nevertheless the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom in the heavens is a one the reason of which is that with all there charity is the principal thing, for charity makes the spiritual church, and not faith, unless you call charity faith.
 He who is in charity loves his neighbor, and when the neighbor differs from him in matters of belief, he excuses it provided that his neighbor lives in good and truth. He also does not condemn the well-disposed Gentiles, although they are ignorant of the Lord, and do not know anything of the faith. For he who is in charity, that is, who lives in good, receives from the Lord truths of such a quality as agree with his good, and Gentiles receive such truths as in the other life may be bent into truths of faith (n. 2599-2603). But he who is not in charity, that is, who does not live in good, can never receive any truth; he may indeed know truth, but it is not implanted in his life; thus he may indeed have it in his mouth, but not in his heart. For truth cannot be conjoined with evil, and therefore those who know the truths which are called the articles of belief, and do not live in charity or in good, although they are in the church because born in it, are yet not of the church, for there is nothing of the church in them, that is nothing of good with which truth may be conjoined.
AC 3268. The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam; and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa; Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. That these signify all things that belong to the spiritual church, especially among the Gentiles, is evident from the representation of those who are here named, some of whom are mentioned elsewhere in the Word, particularly in the prophetical books-as Nebaioth, Kedar, Dumah, and Tema-and who there signify such things as belong to the spiritual church, especially among the Gentiles moreover the same is manifest from their being twelve, for "twelve" signifies all things of faith, thus of the church, as will be shown hereafter; and for this reason it is said in the sixteenth verse that they were "twelve princes of their peoples."
 That by Nebaioth and Kedar are represented the things that belong to the spiritual church, especially among the Gentiles, namely its goods and derivative truths, is evident in Isaiah:--
The abundance of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and frankincense, and they shall proclaim the praises of Jehovah. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee they shall come up with acceptance on Mine altar (Isaiah 60:6, 7)
which in the supreme sense is said of the Lord, and in the relative sense of His kingdom. The "flocks of Kedar" denote spiritual good. A "flock" is spiritual good, (n. 343, 415, 2566). The "rams of Nebaioth" denote spiritual truth. A "ram" is spiritual, (n. 2833).
 That "Kedar" is Arabia is manifest from the following passages, and that Arabia was called "Kedar" from the son of Israel, is evident from the fact that in both verses lands or nations are enumerated all of which are named from the sons and grandsons of Abraham-as Midian, Ephah, and Sheba (verses 2-4); and here likewise Kedar and Nebaioth.
 In Ezekiel:
Arabia, and all the princes of Kedar, these were the merchants of thy hand in lambs, and rams, and he-goats, in these were they thy merchants (Ezek. 27:21);
treating of Tyre, that is, of those who are in the knowledges of good and truth. "Tyre" has this signification, (n. 1201). "Arabia" denotes spiritual good; the "princes of Kedar," spiritual truths; "lambs, rams, and he-goats" denote spiritual goods and truths.
 In Jeremiah:--
Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and lay waste the sons of the east. Their tents and their flocks shall they take they shall carry away for themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels (Jer. 49:28, 29);
where the subject is the vastation of the spiritual church, meant by "Kedar and the sons of the east." "Tents and flocks" denote the goods of this church; "curtains and vessels," its truths; the holy things of worship are what are signified by "tents and flocks," and by "curtains and vessels;" and all the holy things of worship relate to good and truth
 But those who are not in truth, because not in good, are those who are represented by the "Arabians and Kedarites in the wilderness," as in Isaiah:--
Babylon shall not he inhabited forever, neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there (Isa. 13:19, 20).
In the same:--
Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit (Isa. 42:11).
By the ways hast thou sat for them, as an Arabian in the wilderness (Jeremiah 3:2).
Woe is me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell with the tents of Kedar (Ps. 120:5).
 In Isaiah:--
In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanites. Bring ye waters to meet him that is thirsty ye Inhabitants of the land of Tema forestall the fugitive with his bread. For they shall wander before the swords, from before the drawn sword, from before the bent bow, and from before the grievousness of war. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Yet within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall be consumed; and the residue of the number of bows of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar (Isa. 21:13-17).
To" lodge in the forest of Arabia" denotes vastation as to truth; "the travelling companies of Dedanites" denote those who are in knowledges (n. 3240, 3241); "the inhabitants of the land of Tema" denote those who are in simple good, such as is that of the well-disposed Gentiles. It is evident that these were called "Tema" from Ishmael’s son. "Kedar" denotes those who are in simple truth; of whom it is said that they shall "wander from before swords, and from before the grievousness of war," by which is signified that they will not endure temptation combats, because they are no longer in good.
 In Jeremiah:--
Pass over to the isles of Kittim, and see and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see whether there hath been done such a thing, whether a nation hath changed gods, which yet are no gods (Jeremiah 2:10, 11)
the "isles of Kittim" denote those who are more remote from worship, that is, Gentiles who are in simple good, and thereby in natural truth (n. 1156, 1158); that "Kedar" also denotes the same is manifest.
 In the same:--
Then took I the cup from the hand of Jehovah, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom Jehovah had sent me; Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are clipped at the corner of the beard and all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the west, that dwell in the wilderness (Jer. 25:17, 23, 24);
where also the vastation of the spiritual church is treated of, and Tema and Arabia are named along with several others, from which it is manifest that by "Tema," as by "Arabia," those are signified who are of the spiritual church; but to Arabia are attributed kings and cities, while princes and villages are ascribed to Kedar.
 Besides these, Dumah also is mentioned in (Isaiah 21:11). The reason why by these nations are signified the things that belong to the spiritual church, is that the Ancient Church, which was spiritual, was also among them (n. 1238, 2385); their doctrinals and rituals differed, and yet they were one church because they did not make faith, but charity, essential. In course of time however, as charity ceased, even that which there was of the church with them was lost; yet there still remained a representative of the church by them, with variety according to what there had been of the church with them. Hence it is that wherever they are named in the Word, they themselves are not signified, but only that of the church in general which had been there.
AC 3269. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names. That this signifies doctrinal things and their quality, is evident from the signification of "sons," as being truths, and also doctrinal things; and of "name," as being quality (n. 3266).
AC 3270. In their villages. That this signifies the external things of the church, is evident from the signification of villages," as being those things which are the externals of faith, thus of the church; the external things of the church are rituals, the internal things are doctrinal things, provided that these are not merely of memory-knowledge, but also of life. External things were represented by villages because these were outside of the cities; but internal things by the cities themselves. "Cities" are doctrinal things, (n. 402, 2268, 2449, 2712, 2943, 3216).
AC 3271. And in their castles. That this signifies internal things, is evident from the signification of "castles," as being the internal things of faith; here, of the church, because they are especially predicated of the Gentiles, who had no truth of faith, but only rational and natural truth. These truths are called "castles" when the truths of faith are called "cities." In the original tongue the words that signify villages and castles also signify courts and palaces; and "courts" are similarly the external things of the church, and "palaces" the internal.
AC 3272. Twelve princes of their peoples. That this signifies all the primary things of this spiritual church, is evident from the signification of "twelve," as being all things of faith or of the church (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130); from the signification of "princes," as being things primary (n. 1482, 2089); and from the signification of "peoples," as being those who are in truths (n. 1259, 1260), thus those who are of the spiritual church, for these are said to be in truths. That all numbers in the Word signify actual things, may be clearly seen from the number "twelve," which so often occurs. This number, wherever it occurs in the Word, signifies all; as for instance the "twelve tribes" in the Old Testament, and the "twelve apostles" in the New, signify all things of faith, and thus all things of the church. So here "twelve princes" signify all the primary things of this church, and these are represented by so many sons of Ishmael.
 That "twelve" has this signification may be seen from the passages adduced in the sections above cited, as also from the following passages in the Word. In John:--
I heard the number of those who were sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand (Rev. 7:4, 5);
and so on; where by "twelve thousand sealed out of every tribe" nothing else is signified than that all who are in faith, that is, who are in the good of faith, are saved. Again:--
A woman encompassed with the sun, and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1);
the "woman" denotes the church (n. 252, 253); the "sun," celestial love; and the "moon," spiritual love (n. 30-38, 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495); the "twelve stars" denote all things of faith. "Stars" are the knowledges of good and truth which are of faith, (n. 2495, 2849).
The holy city, New Jerusalem, had twelve gates, and upon the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits (twelve times twelve), which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls (Rev. 21:2, 12, 14, 16, 17, 21);
here by the "holy city" nothing else is signified than the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom; and by "gates," "wall," "foundations" are signified the things of charity and faith; and by "twelve," so often mentioned, are signified all of these things; that neither twelve tribes nor twelve apostles are signified, must be evident to every one. Again:--
In the midst of the street of it, and on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month (Rev. 22:2);
the "twelve fruits" are all things of charity.
 In Matthew:--
Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28);
here apostles are not meant by "apostles," nor thrones by "thrones," nor tribes by "tribes," but all things that are of faith (n. 2129). Moreover in the Word of the Old Testament, where "twelve tribes" are mentioned, it is all things of the church that are signified; and the case is the same with the "twelve stones according to the names of the twelve tribes of Israel" in the Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:21); and with the "twelve loaves" of the show bread set in order upon the table (Lev. 24:5, 6); and so in other instances. That all things of faith are contained also in the very names of the twelve sons of Jacob or Israel, will be seen, of the Lord’s Divine mercy in what follows in chapters 29 and 30.GENESIS 25:13-16 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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