Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 25:21-23
AC 3284. Verses 21-23. And Isaac entreated Jehovah for his woman, because she was barren, and Jehovah was entreated of him, and Rebekah his woman conceived. And the sons struggled together within her; and she said, If so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels, and the one people shall prevail over the other people, and the elder shall serve the younger. "And Isaac entreated Jehovah," signifies the communication of the Divine which was the Son with the Divine which was the Father; "for his woman, because she was barren," signifies that the Divine natural was not yet; "and Jehovah was entreated of him," signifies the effect; "and Rebekah his woman conceived," signifies that it was from Divine truth as a mother "and the sons struggled together within her," signifies combat as to which; "and she said, If so, why am I thus?" signifies straitness; "and she went to inquire of Jehovah," signifies a state of communication; "and Jehovah said unto her," signifies perception from the Divine; "two nations are in thy womb," signifies the natural as to interior and exterior good, that there is conception; "and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels," signifies that truth is thence derived; "and the one people shall prevail over the other people," signifies that at first truth will be superior to the good of truth; "and the elder shall serve the younger," signifies that for a time the good of truth will be inferior.
AC 3285. And Isaac entreated Jehovah. That this signifies the communication of the Divine which is the Son with the Divine which is the Father, is evident from the signification of "entreating," as being to communicate; for entreaty or prayer is nothing but communication; and from the representation of Isaac, as being the Divine rational; the Divine which is the Son is Isaac, that is, the rational when truth is conjoined with it; but the Divine which is the Father here is "Jehovah." This communication was in the Lord, for the Father was in the Son, and the Son in the Father (John 14:10, 11).
AC 3286. For his woman, because she was barren. That this signifies that the Divine natural was not yet, is evident from the signification of a "woman," as being Divine truth conjoined with the good of the rational, which truth was in the preceding chapter shown to be represented by Rebekah; and from the signification of "barren," as being that the Divine natural was not yet. For the case herein is this: The Divine natural had its origin from the Divine good of the rational as a father, and from the Divine truth therein as a mother; and when the Divine natural is not yet, then the truth of the rational is said to be "barren," here a "barren woman."
 As regards man, the case is that when he is being regenerated, good is insinuated by the Lord into his rational (that is, good will to the neighbor), to which will or good is adjoined truth from the natural man; but when this has been done, the natural is not yet regenerate, as may be known from the fact that the internal or rational man often fights with the external or natural man; and so long as there is combat the natural is not regenerate; and when this is not regenerate, the rational is barren as to truth. Such is the case in general; and in like manner in every particular in which the rational dissents from the natural, the rational is said in that particular to be barren as to truth.
 The work of regeneration is chiefly concerned in bringing about the correspondence of the natural man to the rational man, not only in general, but also in particular; and the natural man is reduced to correspondence by the Lord through the rational, in that good is insinuated into the rational, and in this good as in ground truths are implanted, and then by means of rational truths the natural is reduced to obedience; and when it obeys, then it corresponds and in so far as it corresponds, so far is the man regenerate.
AC 3287. And Jehovah was entreated of him. That this signifies the effect, is evident without explication, because when Jehovah has been entreated, the prayer then comes to pass, or is effected.
AC 3288. And Rebekah his woman conceived. That this signifies from Divine truth as from a mother, is evident from the representation of Rebekah, as being the Divine truth of the rational, treated of in the preceding chapter; and from the signification of "conceiving," as being the first beginning of the Divine natural as from a mother; for, as just said, the Divine natural had its origin from the Divine good of the rational as a father, and from the Divine truth of the rational as a mother. That this is the case is known to scarcely anyone, and this ignorance is the greater because few are aware that the rational is distinct from the natural; for only those know this who are truly rational, and they alone are truly rational who have been regenerated by the Lord; whereas they who have not been regenerated do not comprehend this, for to them the rational is the same as the natural.
AC 3289. And the sons struggled together within her. That this signifies combat as to which, is evident from the signification of "struggling," as being combat; and from the signification here of "sons," as being the natural as to good and as to truth; for that Esau and Jacob, who were the sons, represent the Lord‘s Divine natural, Esau the Divine natural as to good, and Jacob as to truth, will become evident from what follows. This struggling or combat is treated of in this chapter, being concerning the priority, as to whether good or truth is prior, or what is the same, whether charity which is of good, or truth which is of faith, is prior. From the earliest times there has been much contention in the spiritual church concerning this question; and because this priority is treated of in what follows, it is said that the "sons struggled within her," and by this is signified combat as to which.
AC 3290. And she said, If so, why am I thus? That this signifies straitness, is evident from the sense of these words, in that they are words of straitness, and indeed straitness on account of the struggle, that is, the combat between the brothers; "if so," signifies if they combated about this matter; "why thus," signifies that there ought not to be combat on this account; "I," or, "why am I," signifies that if they combated about this matter they would not receive influx from rational truth; and thereby would come straitness.
AC 3291. And she went to inquire of Jehovah. That this signifies a state of communication, is evident from the signification of "inquiring," as being when said of the Lord a communication; for it was Jehovah in Himself who was inquired of; in the historical sense however this communication is expressed by "praying" (n. 3285); and the state of communication by inquiring."
AC 3292. And Jehovah said unto her. That this signifies perception from the Divine, is thence evident; and also from the signification of "saying," as being to perceive (n. 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822, 1898, 1919, 2080, 2506, 2515, 2552); thus " Jehovah saying," signifies to perceive from the Divine.
AC 3293. Two nations are in thy womb. That this signifies the natural as to interior and exterior good, that there is conception, is evident from the signification of "nations," as being goods, especially the goods of the church (n. 1159, 1258, 1260, 1416, 1849); and that here the goods which are in the natural are signified, is evident from the fact that Esau and Jacob, who were then in the womb, represent the Lord’s Divine natural, as will become very evident from what follows, where they are treated of. The natural, like the rational, consists of good and truth; the good in the natural is all that which is of natural affection, and is called delight; but the truth is all that which is of the memory, and is called memory-knowledge. These two must be in the natural for there to be any natural. By itself, memory-knowledge abstractedly from any delight which is of affection, is not anything; for the natural has its life from the delight within it; and from this derives its ability to know anything; whereas delight, which is the good of the natural, is something without memory-knowledge; but only such a vitality as infants have. In order therefore for the natural to be human it must consist of both, the one being perfected by the other; but it has its real life from good.
 As regards this good which is here treated of, it is twofold, interior and exterior; the interior good communicates with the interior man, that is, with the rational; while the exterior good communicates with the external man, that is, with the things of the body, and makes the life in the external senses, and also in the actions. Without this twofold communication, man cannot live either as to the reason or as to the body. It is the interior communication which abides with man after death, and then makes his natural life, for a spirit also has natural life, inasmuch as his spiritual life is terminated in the natural as in an ultimate plane; for immediately after death a man is not able to think spiritually, except from the things that belong to his natural. The exterior communication however is that which a man has while he lives in the body, but this ceases by the death of the body. All this shows what is signified by "two nations in the womb," namely the natural as to interior and exterior good. "In the womb," in the internal sense, signifies conception, therefore it is here said "that there is conception."
AC 3294. And two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels. That this signifies that truth is thence derived, is evident from the signification of "people," as being truth (n. 1259, 1260); and from the signification of being "separated from the bowels," as being to originate thence. In the Word, where birth is treated of, when it is from the mother it is expressed as "coming forth from the womb" or "belly;" but when from the father, as being "separated from the bowels." For the womb and the loins are predicated of the things of love, that is, of good; but when the expression "separated from the bowels" is used, the origin of truth is signified; therefore here, when good is treated of, it is said that "two nations are from thy womb;" and when truth is treated of, that "two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels," whereby is signified, in the internal sense, the origin of truth from good. "Two peoples" are spoken of, because as good is interior and exterior (n. 3293), so also is truth. Interior truth in the natural is that which is conjoined with the interior good of the natural; but exterior truth is that which is conjoined with the exterior good of the natural; the interior truth is called natural truth, but the exterior truth is called sensuous. But how the case is with these kinds of truths, will of the Lord‘s Divine mercy appear from what follows, where Jacob is treated of; for by Jacob is represented this truth as to both kinds.
AC 3295. And the one people shall prevail over the other people. That this signifies that at first truth shall be superior to the good of truth, is evident from the signification of "people," as being truth (n. 3294); and from the signification of "prevailing over," as being superior. The "people" referred to in the first place signifies truth, but the "people" referred to in the second place, the good of truth; the good of truth being that good which comes forth from truth, and which in its first coming forth is truth, but is called good because it appears as good. Hence it is that by "people’ is also signified this good, which in its first coming forth is called the good of truth. In order to have some idea of this good, we must know that before a man has been regenerated he does good from truth; but after he has been regenerated he does good from good; or more clearly, before a man has been regenerated he does good from the understanding; but after he his been regenerated, from the will. The good therefore that is from the understanding is not in itself good, but truth, whereas the good which is from the will is good. For example: one who does not honor his parents, but from the commandment of the decalogue learns to honor them, when first he honors them, does it from the commandment; and as this honor is from the commandment it is not in itself good, because it is not from love, but is either from obedience to the law, or from fear of the law. Nevertheless it is called the good of truth, but in its first coming forth it is truth; for at that time the man does not do good, but truth; whereas when the man honors his parents from love, then it is good. The same is true in all other cases.
AC 3296. And the elder shall serve the younger. That this signifies that for a time the good of truth should be inferior, is evident from the signification of the "elder," as being good; from the signification of "serving," as being inferior; and from the signification of the "younger," as being truth. How the case herein is may be seen from what follows, where it is described under the representation of Esau and Jacob; for as before said by Esau is represented good, and by Jacob, truth. That there was struggling or combat concerning priority and dominion, is described in the internal sense by Jacob‘s taking away from Esau the birthright, and also his blessing; yet that this was done only for a time is manifest from Isaac’s prophecy concerning Esau And upon thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck (Gen. 27:40).
 These things have an internal sense, and what they signify cannot be known without the internal sense (namely, what is signified by two nations being in the womb, and by two peoples being separated from the bowels, and by one people prevailing over the other, and the elder serving the younger), is evident; and that they signify what has been said, is evident from what follows, where much will be said on this subject. Moreover it can with difficulty be believed that these expressions involve such things unless it is known how the case is with good and truth, and concerning the birth of the one from the other, and the change of state in man when he is being regenerated. In the internal sense indeed the Lord is treated of, and here how He made His natural Divine; nevertheless in the representative sense the regeneration of man is also treated of; for man‘s regeneration is an image of the Lord’s glorification (n. 3043, 3138, 3212); that is, in regeneration as in a certain image it appears how the Lord glorified His Human, or what is the same, made it Divine. For as the Lord altogether changed His human state into the Divine, so also in man, when He regenerates him, the Lord utterly changes the man‘s state, for He makes his old man new.GENESIS 25:21-23 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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