Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 25:2-4
AC 3238. Verses 2-4. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah. "And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah," represents the general classes of the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom in the heavens and on earth; "and Jokshan begat Sheba and Dedan," signifies the derivations from the first class; "and the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim," signifies the derivations from the second class; "and the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah," signifies the derivations from the third class; "all these were the sons of Keturah," signifies as regards the doctrinal things and worships thence derived.
AC 3239. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. That these represent the general classes of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom in the heavens and on earth, cannot so well be established from the Word, because none of these men are elsewhere mentioned, with the exception of Midian, of whom something will be said hereafter. Yet this may be seen from the fact that all persons named in the Word represent something; as is sufficiently evident from all those mentioned hitherto, from the first chapter of Genesis. That in the internal sense of the Word names, both of persons and of kingdoms, provinces, and cities, signify actual things, see (n. 768, 1224, 1264, 1876, 1888), and in many other places where this is in particular confirmed from the Word. The reason why none of these except Midian are mentioned elsewhere in the Word, is that they are of the sons of the east, who are sometimes mentioned in the Word. That in general the "sons of the east" signify those who are of the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom, see (verse 6).
 That these sons of Abraham by Keturah have this representation, is evident from the fact that Abraham and Keturah represent the Lord as to the Divine spiritual, namely, Abraham the Lord as to Divine good spiritual, and Keturah as to Divine truth spiritual conjoined with this good, concerning which see (n. 3235, 3236). From this it follows that their sons represent the general classes or lots of the kingdom which is from the Lord’s Divine spiritual. They are called general classes or lots because the Lord‘s kingdom is represented by land, which is distributed by lots among those to whom it is given to be possessed as an inheritance, just as the land of Canaan was allotted to the sons of Israel. There are in general twelve classes, for by "twelve" are signified all the things of charity and of the derivative faith, which are of the Lord’s kingdom, concerning which see (verse 16); but here there are six, thus one-half the number; but the half of a number involves the same as the whole, for provided a like thing is involved, multiplication and division do not vary the thing itself as to what is essential.
AC 3240. And Jokshan begat Sheba and Dedan. That this signifies the derivations from the first class, is evident from the representation of Jokshan and of his sons Sheba and Dedan, concerning whom something will be said in what follows. As here there are mere names, and the states and derivations of the Lord‘s spiritual church are signified by them, the nature of such states and derivations in general must be declared. The celestial church differs from the spiritual church in this respect: Those who are of the celestial church, and are called celestial, are in love, that is to say they are in the good and truth of love; while those who are of the spiritual church, and are called spiritual, are in faith, that is, they are in the good and truth of faith. The good which the celestial have is that of love to the Lord, and their truth is that of love to the neighbor; whereas the good which the spiritual have is that of charity toward the neighbor, and their truth is that of faith, in so far as this truth is doctrine concerning charity. This shows that the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, as well as His celestial kingdom, has good and truth, but with much difference.
 Be it known moreover that they who are in each kingdom are distinguished among themselves by good and truth, for the reason that there are some who are more in good and others who are more in truth. From this then come the derivations, that is, the derivations of good and the derivations of truth. In the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom the derivations of good are what are represented by the sons of Jokshan who are named in this verse; but the derivations of truth in this kingdom are what are represented by the sons of Midian who are named in the following verse. Now as there are two classes of the spiritual (those who are more in good, and those who are more in truth), they have therefore two kinds of doctrinals, namely, those of charity and those of faith; doctrinals of charity for those who are in the good of faith and are here signified by the sons of Jokshan; but doctrinals of faith for those who are in the truth of faith and are signified by the sons of Midian.
 Sheba and Dedan are those who constitute the first class, that is, those who in the Lord’s spiritual kingdom are in the good of faith, and who have doctrinals of charity. From this it follows that by "Sheba and Dedan" are signified the knowledges of celestial things, or what is the same, those who are in these knowledges, that is, who are in the doctrinals of charity; for doctrinals are knowledges, and the celestial of the spiritual man is that of charity. That " Sheba" and "Dedan" have this signification was shown in (n. 117, 1168, 1171, 1172); but there Sheba and Dedan are the great-grandsons of Ham, and are called sons of Raamah; but be it known that there were no such persons as Ham and Japheth and Shem, but that those who after the flood belonged to the church called "Noah" were distinguished as to goods and truths into three classes, and these were the names given to those classes (n. 736, 1062, 1065, 1140, 1141, 1162). Nevertheless there were nations that were so called, but these nations were descended from others, as it is here plainly said that Sheba and Dedan were descended from Jokshan, the son of Abraham by Keturah.
 That "Sheba" signifies those who are in the knowledges of celestial things, thus who are in the good of faith, is evident from the passages cited above (n. 117, 1171); and that "Dedan" has a similar signification is also evident from the passages cited (n. 1172), and further from the following. In Isaiah:--
The prophecy concerning Arabia: in the forest in Arabia shall ye spend the night, ye companies of Dedan; bring ye waters to meet him that is thirsty, ye inhabitants of the land of Tema, with the bread thereof meet him that wandereth, for they shall wander before swords, before an outstretched sword (Isa. 21:13-15).
"Spending the night in the forest," signifies being desolated as to good; for by " Arabia" are meant those who are in celestial things, that is, who are in the good of faith, and "spending the night there in the forest" is being no longer in goods, from which comes desolation, which is also described by "wandering before swords, before an outstretched sword." Celestial things, that is, the goods of faith, or what is the same, the works of charity in which they are, are signified by "bringing waters to meet him that is thirsty, and meeting with bread him that wandereth."
 In Jeremiah:--
I took the cup from the hand of Jehovah, and made all the nations drink unto whom Jehovah sent me: Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and her kings and her princes, to give them up to desolation; Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people and Ill the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Zidon; Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are clipped at the corner (of the beard) all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media, and all the kings of the north (Jer. 25:17-19, 22, 23, 25, 26).
Here also the desolation of the spiritual church is treated of, the different classes of which church are enumerated in order, and are signified by "Jerusalem," the "cities of Judah," "Egypt," "Tyre," " Zidon," "Dedan," "Tema," "Buz," " Zimri," "Elam," "Media"
 In Ezekiel:--
Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish and all the young lions thereof shall say to thee, Art thou come to take the spoil? hast thou assembled thine assembly to take the prey? to carry away silver and old, to take away cattle and goods, to take great spoil? (Ezek. 38:13);
treating of Gog, by whom is signified external worship separate from internal, which is idolatrous (n. 1151); "Sheba and Dedan" denote the internal things of worship, namely, the goods of faith; "Tarshish" denotes a corresponding external worship; the "silver, gold, cattle, goods, spoil," which Gog, or the external of worship separate from the internal, desires to take away, are the knowledges of good and truth for which they fight, and which those defend who are signified by "Sheba and Dedan;" wherefore these are called "young lions." "Sheba" properly denotes those who are in the knowledges of good; "Dedan" those who are in the knowledges of truth from good.
AC 3241. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. That this signifies the derivations from the second class, is evident from the representation of Dedan, as being those who are in the good of faith, properly those who are in the truth of faith from good (n. 3240). That the derivations are from a second class is manifest. By these three sons of Dedan are especially signified the truths of faith from good; but what is signified by each can indeed be told, but cannot be confirmed by other passages from the Word, because the names are not mentioned elsewhere.
 In the kingdom of the Lord there are innumerable varieties as to goods and truths, and yet of these innumerable varieties one heaven is constituted; for the varieties are so many that no one society is exactly like another, that is, is never in the same good and truth (n. 684, 685, 690). The one heaven therein is constituted of the many varieties so disposed by the Lord that they agree, the agreement or harmony of the many being imparted by the Lord, by means of all referring themselves to Him (n. 551). The case herein is the same as with the organs, members, and viscera of the body, not one of which is exactly like another. They are all different and yet make a one, and this by reason of their all referring themselves to one soul, and through this to heaven, and thus to the Lord; for whatever is unconnected with the Lord is nothing. From this it is evident that the differences of truth and of good are innumerable in species; but their genera, and these the most general, which are spiritual churches, are signified by these sons and grandsons of Abraham.
 As they who are of the spiritual church have no perception of what is good and true, like those of the celestial church, but acknowledge as truths the things they have learned, they are on this account continually in dispute concerning them, reasoning whether a thing is true; and each person abides in that doctrine (and calls it true) which is of his own church. This is the source of so many differences. Moreover very many form their conclusions concerning things good and true from appearances and fallacies--one in one way, another in another, but none from any perception; they do not even know what perception is; and as their understanding is thus in obscurity as to the goods and truths of faith, it is not surprising that dissensions should arise concerning the most essential of all the things of faith, namely, concerning the Divine, the Human, and the Holy Proceeding of the Lord. The celestial perceive that these are not three, but One; but the spiritual abide in the idea of three, although they desire to think that they are One. Seeing then that there are dissensions concerning that which is the most essential, it is evident that the varieties and differences of doctrinal things must be in numerable. From this all may know whence come the derivations signified by those who are here named. But granting the existence of so many varieties and differences of doctrinal things (that is, of so many derivations), they nevertheless together form one church when all acknowledge charity as essential to the church; or what is the same, when they regard life is the end of doctrine; that is, when they inquire how the man of the church lives, and not so much what his sentiments are; for in the other life every one receives from the Lord a lot in accordance with his good of life, and not in accordance with his truth of doctrine separated from the good of life.
AC 3242. And the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. That this signifies the derivations from the third class, can be seen from the representation of Midian, as being those who are in the truth of faith; and as those who are in the truth of faith are "Midian," it follows that his "sons" are the derivations therefrom. With those who are in the truth of faith the case is this: No one is admitted into the Lord‘s kingdom unless he is in the good of faith, for the good of faith is of the life, and the life of faith remains, but not the doctrine of faith, except in so far as it makes one with the life; nevertheless they who are in the truth of faith (that is, who profess faith and call it essential, because they have so learned) and yet are in the good of life (that is, who are Christians in heart and not in profession only), are in the Lord’s spiritual kingdom. For anyone may easily be persuaded that faith is the essential when he has been so taught by his instructors and has imbibed this opinion in his childhood, and because they who are reputed most learned and the heads of the church say so, some of whom are afraid to speak of the good of life because their life condemns them; moreover the things that belong to faith flow in perceptibly, but not so those which belong to charity.
 They therefore who are in the truth of faith and yet in the good of life, are they who are called Midian;" and the truths according to which they live are the "sons of Midian;" and as those who are in the truth of faith conjoined with its good are "Midian," so also in the opposite sense are those who are in falsity from not having the good of life, as can be seen from the following passages. 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 (Isa. 60:6);
where the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom is treated of. The "dromedaries of Midian and Ephah" denote doctrinal things; doctrinal things of good are "gold;" those of truth are " frankincense;" both are the "praises of Jehovah;" hence also it is manifest what "Ephah" signifies. By the "Midianites" who drew Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites, and into Egypt to Potiphar, (Genesis 37:28, 36), are signified those who are in the truth of simple good.
 That by "Midian" are also signified those who are in falsity because they have not the goods of life, can be seen from what is said concerning Midian in Moses:--
The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian, with the rewards of divination in their hand, went to Balaam, and spake to him the words of Balak (Num. 22:4, 7).
In a good sense "Moab" denotes those who are in natural good and suffer themselves to be easily led astray; but in the opposite sense, those who adulterate goods (n. 2468). In a good sense "Midian" denotes those who are in the truth of simple good, as before said, and who thus allow themselves to be easily persuaded; in the opposite sense, as here, those who falsify truths. The falsifications are signified by "the rewards of divination in their hand;" and the deeds from these falsities, by their sending to Balaam in hostility to the sons of Israel, who denote the goods and derivative truths of faith.
 The like was signified by the whoredoms of the sons of Israel with the women of the Midianites, resulting in a plague, which was stayed by Phinehas thrusting his spear through the Midianitish woman and the man of Israel in the brothel (Num. 25:6-8); for by whoredoms were represented the falsifications of truth (n. 2466, 2729). And because falsifications of truth are what in the internal sense are signified by whoredoms, therefore by command twelve thousand of the sons of Israel smote the Midianites, slew their kings, and every male, and the women whom they had led captive that had known a man, and divided the spoil among themselves (Num. 25:16, 17; 31:1-54). The reason why there were twelve thousand, was that "twelve" signified all things of faith (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130), by which falsities are destroyed; the "kings" whom they killed are falsities, and so is "every male;" the "women that had known a man" are the affections of falsity; the "spoil" (as gold, silver, cattle) are the truths that were falsified; from all which it is evident that each and all of the things there mentioned are representative of the punishment and destruction of what is false by means of truths.
 It is similar in regard to what is said of the Midianites in the book of Judges, namely, that the sons of Israel, because they did evil in the eyes of Jehovah, were given into the hand of Midian seven years; and that the sons of Israel, by reason of Midian, made for themselves caves in the mountains, and also dens, and fortified places; and when Israel had sown, that Midian and Amalek and the sons of the east came up and ravaged the produce of their land; and afterwards that they were delivered by Gideon with three hundred men who lapped water with the tongue like a dog, and that those were sent home who bowed upon the knees and drank, besides other particulars (chapters 6, 7, 8). Here also the things mentioned each and all are representative of the falsification of truth, and of punishment on this account, even to their being destroyed by such things as are signified by lapping water with the tongue like a dog; but what each particular signifies in the internal sense it would be too tedious to unfold here; yet of the Lord’s Divine mercy it shall be told in its place. In Habakkuk:--
He beheld, and dispersed the nations; and the eternal mountains were scattered, the everlasting hills did bow. I saw the tents of Cushan under Aven, the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble (Habakkuk 3:6, 7);
where the advent of the Lord is treated of. The "tents of Cushan" denote a religiosity from evil; the "curtains of the land of Midian,‘ one from falsity.
AC 3243. All these were the sons of Keturah. That this signifies as regards the doctrinal things and worships thence derived, is evident from the signification of "sons," as being truths and doctrinal things (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623); and from the representation of Keturah, as being Divine truth spiritual conjoined with Divine good spiritual (n. 3236, 3237); thus those things which are of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom; and because the worship of this kingdom is according to doctrinal things, it follows that the "sons of Keturah" denote these things, and also the derivative worships. GENESIS 25:2-4 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|