Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 25:29-30
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AC 3315. Verses 29, 30. And Jacob boiled pottage, and Esau came from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, Cause me to sup I pray of the red, this red, for I am weary; therefore he called his name Edom. "And Jacob boiled pottage," signifies a chaotic mass of doctrinal things; "and Esau came from the field," signifies the pursuit of the good of life; "and he was weary," signifies a state of combat; "and Esau said to Jacob," signifies the Lord‘s perception from the good of the natural; "Cause me to sup I pray of the red," signifies a longing for doctrinal things; "this red," signifies that which is apparently good; "for I am weary, signifies here as before a state of combat; "therefore he called his name Edom," signifies his quality therefrom as to good, to which were adjoined the doctrinal things of truth.

AC 3316. And Jacob boiled pottage. That this signifies a chaotic mass of doctrinal things, is evident from the representation of Jacob, as being the doctrine of natural truth (n. 3305), thus the doctrinal things which are in the natural man; and from the signification of "pottage," as being a chaotic mass of such things. "Boiling it," signifies amassing, for in the original tongue the expression is proper to pottage, as if it had been said that he "pottaged pottage," that is, he amassed it. The first state of the conjunction of good and truth is that which is described in this and the following verses, down to the end of the chapter.

[2] The first state of the man who is being regenerated, or in whom truth is being conjoined with good, is that first of all in his natural man, or in its storehouse called the memory, there are amassed the doctrinal things of truth without any certain order. The doctrinal things at that time therein may be compared to some undigested and uncompounded mass, and to a kind of chaos. But this is to the end that they may be reduced to order, for whatever is to be reduced to order is at first in this state of confusion; and this is what is signified by the pottage which Jacob boiled, that is, amassed. These doctrinal things are not reduced to order by themselves, but by the good which flows into them, and the good reduces them into order in exact proportion to the amount and the quality of its action upon them. When good first longs for and desires these doctrinal things, to the end that it may conjoin them with itself, it manifests itself under the appearance of the affection of truth. This is what is signified by Esau’s saying to Jacob, "cause me to sup I pray of the red, this red."

[3] These things do indeed appear remote from the sense of the letter, nevertheless when these words are read by man, and are apprehended by him according to the sense of the letter, the angels who are then with him have no idea at all of pottage, or of Jacob, or of Esau, or of what is red, or of supping of what is red, but instead thereof they have a spiritual idea which is altogether different and remote from such natural ideas, and into this spiritual idea these natural things are instantly turned. It is the same with other things in the Word; as for example when man reads of bread, the angels have no perception of bread, but instantly instead of bread they perceive celestial love and all that belongs thereto, that is, to love to the Lord; and when wine is read of in the Word, they do not perceive wine, but instead of wine spiritual love and all that belongs thereto, that is, to love toward the neighbor. So when pottage or pulse is read of, they do not perceive pottage or pulse, but doctrinal things not yet conjoined with good, thus an inordinated mass of them. This shows the nature and quality of the angelic thought and perception, and how remote it is from the thought and perception of man. If man thought in like manner when he is in a holy state, as when he attends the Holy Supper, and instead of bread perceived love to the Lord, and instead of wine love toward the neighbor, he would be in thought and perception like that of the angels, who would then approach nearer to him, till at last they could consociate their thoughts, but only so far as the man was at the same time in good.

[4] That "pottage" or "pulse" signifies a chaotic mass, is evident also from what is said in the book of Kings concerning the sons of the prophets and Elisha:--

Elisha came back to Gilgal, and there was a famine in the land and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said to his lad, Set on the great pot and boil pottage for the sons of the prophets; and one went out into the field to gather herbs, and he found a vine of the field and gathered from it gourds of the field his garment full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage, because they knew not; and they poured out to the men to eat; and it came to pass, in their eating of the pottage, that they cried out and said, O man of God there is death in the pot! and they could not eat; and he said, Take ye meal and he put it into the pot, and said, Pour out for the people; and they did eat, and there was no evil word in the pot (2 Kings 4:38-41).

In the internal sense these words signify things altogether different from that which they signify in the sense of the letter. A " famine in the land" signifies a scarcity of the knowledges of good and truth (n. 1460); the "sons of the prophets‘ signify those who teach (n. 2534); "pottage" signifies an ill-assorted mass of memory-knowledges; and " meal," the truth which is from good, or the spiritual which is from the celestial (n. 2177); thus that Elisha put meal in the pot, and there was then no evil in it, signifies that that chaotic mass was amended by means of spiritual truth from the Lord’s Word; for Elisha represented the Lord as to the Word (n. 2762). Apart from this spiritual sense, this story concerning the pottage and the change in it by the meal, would not have been worthy of relation in the most holy Word. It was for the sake of the representation of such things that this miracle was wrought, as also is the case with the rest of the miracles in the Word, all of which have Divine things concealed within them.

AC 3317. And Esau came from the field. That this signifies the pursuit of the good of life, is evident from the representation of Esau, as being the good of life of natural truth (n. 3300); and from the signification of "coming from the field," as being the pursuit of good; for meditating in the field denotes cogitating in good (n. 3196), because a "field" denotes the good of the church (n. 2971).

AC 3318. And he was weary. That this signifies a state of combat, is evident from the significative of "weary," or "weariness," as being the state after combat; here, a state of combat, because the subject is the conjunction of good with truth in the natural man. That " weary" here signifies a state of combat, cannot appear except from the series of things in the internal sense, and especially from the consideration that good cannot be conjoined with truth in the natural man without combats, or what is the same, without temptations. That it may be known how the case herein is in respect to man, it shall be briefly told.

[2] Man is nothing but an organ, or vessel, which receives life from the Lord; for man does not live from himself (n. 290, 1954, 2021, 2536, 2706, 2886-3001). The life which inflows with man from the Lord is from His Divine love. This love, or the life thence derived, inflows and applies itself to the vessels which are in man‘s rational, and to those which are In his natural. In consequence of the hereditary evil into which man is born, and of the actual evil which he acquires, these vessels are in a contrary position within him relatively to the inflowing life, yet in so far as the life which flows in can dispose the vessels to receive it, it does so dispose them. These vessels in the rational man, and in the natural, are what are called truths, but in themselves they are merely perceptions of the variations of form of these vessels, and of the changes of state according to which in divers ways these variations come forth, being effected in the most subtle substances, by methods inexpressible (n. 2487). Good itself, which has life from the Lord, or which is life, is that which flows in and disposes.

[3] When therefore these vessels, which are to be varied as to forms, are as before said in a contrary position and direction in respect to the life, it is evident that they must be reduced to a position In accordance with the life, or into compliance with it. This cannot possibly be effected so long as the man is in that state Into which he is born, and to which he has reduced himself; for the vessels are not obedient, being obstinately resistant, and hardening themselves against the heavenly order according to which the life acts; for the good which moves them, and with which they comply, is of the love of self and of the world; which good, from the gross heat that is in it, causes them to be of such a quality; and therefore before they can be rendered compliant and fit to receive anything of the life of the Lord’s love, they must be softened. This softening is effected by no other means than temptations; for temptations remove all that is of the love of self and of contempt for others in comparison with self, consequently all that is of self-glory, and also of hatred and revenge on this account. When therefore the vessels have been somewhat tempered and subdued by temptations, they begin to become yielding to, and compliant with, the life of the Lord‘s love, which continually flows in with man.

[4] Hence then it is that good begins to be conjoined with truths; first in the rational man, and afterwards in the natural; for as before said truths are nothing else than perceptions of the variations of form according to states that are continually being changed; and these perceptions are from the life which flows in. This is the reason why man is regenerated, that is, made new, by temptations; or what is the same, by spiritual combats and that he is afterwards gifted with another nature; being made mild, humble, simple, and contrite in heart. From these considerations it may now be seen what use temptations promote, namely, that good from the Lord may not only flow in, but may also dispose the vessels to obedience, and thus conjoin itself with them. That truths are vessels receptive of good, may be seen above (n. 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2261, 2269). Here therefore, because the subject is the conjunction of good and truth in the natural man, and the first of conjunction takes place by means of combats, which are those of temptations, it is evident that by "he was weary" is signified a state of combat.

[5] But as regards the Lord, who in the supreme sense is here treated of, He by the most grievous temptation combats reduced all things in Himself into Divine order, insomuch that there remained nothing at all of the human which He had derived from the mother (n. 1444, 1573, 2159, 2574, 2649, 3036), so that He was not made new as are other men, but altogether Divine. For the man who is made new by regeneration still retains in himself an inclination to evil, and even evil itself; but is withheld from evil by an influx of the life of the Lord’s love, and this with a force exceedingly great; whereas the Lord utterly cast out all the evil that was hereditary to Him from the mother, and made Himself Divine, even as to the vessels, that is, as to truths. This is that which in the Word is called "glorification."

AC 3319. And Esau said to Jacob. That this signifies the Lord‘s perception from the good of the natural, is evident from the signification of "saying," as being to perceive (n. 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822, 1898, 1919, 2080, 2862); and from the representation of Esau, as being the Lord as to the good of the natural (n. 3300, 3302), and below concerning Edom; and from the representation of Jacob, as being the truth of the natural (n. 3305), concerning which there is now perception.

AC 3320. Cause me to sup I pray of the red, this red. That this signifies a longing for doctrinal things, and that the red signifies that which is apparently good, is evident from the signification of "supping," as being to be communicated and conjoined (n. 3089); and therefore "cause me to sup I pray" signifies to long for the conjunction with himself of truth or of doctrinal things; and from the signification of "red" as being good (n. 3300); here, what is apparently good, because doctrinal things however disposed appear in the external form as good, although inwardly they are but a chaotic mass (n. 3316). The reason why these things are mentioned, is also that it was from this that Esau had the name Edom, for in the original tongue "red" is "Edom;" and this in order that by "Edom" may be signified the good to which are adjoined the doctrinal things of truth.

AC 3321. For I am weary. That this signifies a state of combat, is evident from the signification of " weary," or of "weariness," as being a state of combat (n. 3318). Mention is here again made of being weary, for the sake of confirmation that the conjunction of good with truth in the natural is effected by spiritual combats, that is, by temptations. In regard to the conjunction of good with truth in the natural, the case in general is this: Man’s rational receives truths before his natural; and this to the end that the Lord‘s life, which as before said is of love, may flow in through the rational into the natural, and dispose the natural, and reduce it to obedience. For the rational is purer, and the natural grosser; or what is the same, the rational is interior and the natural exterior; and as may be known it is according to order that the interior or purer can flow into the exterior or grosser, but not the reverse.

[2] Hence it is that man’s rational can be accommodated to truths and receive them before his natural, as may be plainly seen from the fact that with one who is to be regenerated the rational man battles much with the natural; or what is the same, the internal man with the external. For as also is known, the internal man can see truths and also will them, but the external refuses assent and resists; for in the natural man there are memory-knowledges which are in a great measure derived from the fallacies of the senses, and which not withstanding their being false the man believes to be true; there are also things innumerable which the natural man does not apprehend; for he is relatively in shade and thick darkness, and that which he does not apprehend, he believes either not to exist, or not to be so; there are likewise cupidities which are of the love of self and of the world, and all things that favor these he calls truths; and when the man yields to these the dominion, all things that result are contrary to spiritual truths. There are also in the natural man reasonings that are grounded in falsities impressed from infancy. Moreover, man apprehends by manifest sense what is in his natural man, but not so what is in his rational, until he has put off the body. This also causes him to believe the body to be every thing; and all that does not fall into the natural sense, he scarcely believes to be anything.

[3] From such causes and many others, it results that the natural man receives truths much later, and with greater difficulty, than does the rational man. Hence arises combat, which continues for a considerable time, not ceasing until the vessels recipient of good in the natural man have been softened by temptations, as before shown (n. 3318); for truths are nothing but vessels recipient of good (n. 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2261, 2269), which vessels are harder in proportion as man is more fixedly confirmed in the things which have been mentioned; and if the man is to be regenerated, the more fixedly he has been confirmed, the more grievous is the combat. As the case with the natural man is such that the conjunction of truths with good therein is effected through the combats of temptations, it is therefore here repeated, "I am weary."

AC 3322. Therefore he called his name Edom. That this signifies his quality therefrom as to good, to which were adjoined the doctrinal things of truth, is evident from the signification of "calling a name," or of "calling by name," as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006); and from the representation of Edom. There is frequent mention in the Word of Esau, and also of Edom; and by "Esau" is there signified the good of the natural before the doctrinal things of truth have been thus conjoined with this good, and also the good of life from influx out of the rational; and by "Edom is signified the good of the natural to which have been adjoined the doctrinal things of truth. But in the opposite sense, " Esau" signifies the evil of the love of self before falsities have been thus adjoined to this love; and "Edom" signifies the evil of this love when falsities have been adjoined to it. As has been frequently shown, most names in the Word have also an opposite sense, because the same things that in the churches have been good and true, in process of time through various adulterations degenerate into what is evil and false.

[2] That such things are signified by "Esau" and "Edom" may be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:--

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, marching in the multitude of His strength. Wherefore art you red in thine apparel, and Thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-press? I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the peoples there was no man with Me. I looked, but there was none to help, I was amazed that there was none to uphold, and Mine own arm brought salvation unto Me (Isa. 63:1, 3, 5);

where it is clearly evident that "Edom" is the Lord; and that it is the Lord as to the Divine good of the Divine natural is manifest, for the subject is the conjunction of good and truth in the Lord‘s Human, and also the temptation combats by which He conjoined them. That "garments" here are the truths of the natural man, or truths relatively inferior, may be seen above (n. 2576) and that "red" is the good of the natural (n. 3300). That the Lord by His own power, through temptation combats, conjoined truths in the natural with good, is described by, "I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the peoples there was no man with Me. I looked but there was none to help, I was amazed that there was none to uphold, and Mine own arm brought salvation unto Me." "Arm" denotes power, (n. 878).

[3] In the book of Judges:--

O Jehovah when Thou wentest forth out of Seir, when Thou marchedst out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens also dropped, the clouds also dropped water; the mountains flowed down (Judges 5:4, 5);

to "march out of the field of Edom" signifies nearly the same as, in Isaiah, to "come out of Edom." In like manner in Moses:--

Jehovah came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them (Deut. 33:2).


I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not nigh; there shall come up a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; and Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession of his enemies, while Israel doeth valiantly. And he shall have dominion over Jacob, and shall destroy the remnant from the city (Num. 24:17-19);

treating of the coming of the Lord into the world, whose Human Essence is called a "star out of Jacob," and a "scepter out of Israel." "Edom" and " Seir," which should be a "possession," signify the Divine good of the Lord’s Divine natural; their being the "possession of his enemies" signified that this should succeed in the place of those things which were before in the natural; dominion then over truths therein is meant by "having dominion over Jacob, and destroying the remnant from the city." "Jacob" signifies the truth of the natural, (n. 3305); and "city" signifies what is doctrinal, (n. 402, 2268, 2449, 2712, 2943, 3216). Dominion is said to be had over these when they are subordinated and subjected to good; for before this they are called "enemies," because they continually resist, as was shown above (n. 3321).

[4] In Amos:--

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of eternity that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations that were called by My name (Amos 9:11, 12);

the "tabernacle of David" denotes the church and worship of the Lord; the "remnant of Edom," those who are in good within the church; the "nations that were called by His name," those who are in good out of the church. "Nations" are those who are in good, (n. 1259, 1260, 1416, 1849). In David:--

Upon Edom will I cast my shoe. Who will bring me into the fortified city? who will lead me unto Edom? wilt not Thou, O God? (Ps. 60:8, 10);

where "Edom" denotes the good of the natural, as is evident from the signification of "shoe," as being the lowest natural (n. 1748).

[5] In Daniel:--

At the time of the end shall the king of the south thrust at him; and the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind with a chariot, and shall overflow and pass through; and when he shall come into the beauteous land many shall be overthrown; but these shall be rescued out of his hand, Edom and Moab, and the firstfruits of the sons of Ammon (Daniel 11:40, 41);

where the last state of the church is treated of; the "king of the north" denotes falsities, or what is the same, those who are in falsities "Edom," those who are in simple good, which is such good as exists with those who constitute the Lord‘s external church; in like manner "Moab" and the "sons of Ammon" (n. 2468); and because both, namely, "Edom" and "Moab," signify those who are in good, therefore in many passages both are named together; but the difference is that "Edom" is the good of the natural to which are adjoined the doctrinal things of truth, while "Moab" is natural good such as exists with those in whom these have not been conjoined; the two appear alike in the external form, but not in the internal.

[6] From this it is now evident why it was said:--

Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother; thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, because thou wast a sojourner in his land (Deut. 23:7);

as by an "Edomite" is signified the good of the natural, and by an "Egyptian," the truths thereof which are those of memory-knowledge (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462), therefore both are mentioned in a good sense. This shows why Jehovah said to Moses that they should not contend with the sons of Esau, and there should not be given of their land to the sons of Jacob so much as for the sole of the foot to tread upon (Deut. 2:4-6).

[7] But in the opposite sense by "Esau" and "Edom" are represented those who turn aside from good through the fact that they altogether despise truth, and are unwilling that anything of the truth of faith should be adjoined, which is chiefly owing to the love of self; and therefore in the opposite sense such persons are signified by "Esau" and "Edom;" as was also represented by the circumstance that the king of Edom went forth with a numerous people and a strong hand, and refused to permit Israel to pass through his border (Num. 20:14-22). This evil of the love of self, which is of such a nature as not to admit the truths of faith, thus neither the doctrinal things of truth, is described in various passages of the Word by "Esau" and "Edom," and at the same time the state of the church when it becomes of this quality as in Jeremiah:--

Against Edom. Is wisdom no more in Teman? Is counsel perished from the intelligent? Is their wisdom become of an ill savor? Flee ye; they have turned themselves away, they have gone into the deep to dwell, inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him. I will make Esau bare, I will reveal his hidden things, and he shall not be able to hide himself; his seed is laid waste, and his brethren, and his neighbors. Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive and let thy widows trust in Me. Edom shall become a waste, every one that passeth by it shall be amazed, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof (Jer. 49:7, 8, 10, 11, 17).

[8] In David:--

They say, Let the name of Israel be no more in remembrance; for they consult together with one heart; against thee do they make a covenant, the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab, and the Hagarenes (Ps. 73:4-6).

In Obadiah:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih concerning Edom, Behold I have made thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, in the height of thy habitation that saith in thine heart, Who shall bring me down to the earth? Though thou mount on high as the eagle, and though thou settest thy nest among the stars, I will bring thee down from thence. How are they of Esau searched out! their hidden things discovered! Shall I not in that day destroy the wise men out of Edom, and the intelligent from the mount of Esau? From the slaughter on account of the violence of thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off forever. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble; and they shall enkindle them, and devour them; and there shall not be any residue to the house of Esau; and they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau (Obadiah 1:1-10, 18, 19).

In this passage "Esau" and "Edom" denote the evil of the natural man originating in the love of self, which despises and rejects all truth, whence comes its devastation.

[9] In Ezekiel:--

Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it, and say unto it, Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, I am against thee, O Mount Seir, and I will stretch out Mine hand against thee, and I will make thee a waste and a devastation. Because thou hast had an enmity of eternity, and hast given over the sons of Israel to the hands of the sword, in the time of their calamity, in the time of the iniquity of the end. Because thou hast said, These two nations, and these two lands, shall be mine, and we will possess it, and Jehovah is there. And thou shalt know that I Jehovah have heard all thy blasphemies, which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel. Thou shalt be a waste, O Mount Seir and all Edom, all of it (Ezek. 35:2, 3, 5, 10, 12, 15);

where it is very evident that in the opposite sense "Edom" denotes those who despise, reject, and vilify spiritual goods and truths, which are the "mountains of Israel."

[10] Again:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, If I have not spoken in the fire of My jealousy against the remains of the nations, and against all Edom, which have given My land unto themselves for a possession, with the joy of all their heart, with despite of soul (Ezek. 36:5);

where the sense is the same; to "give the land unto themselves for a possession" denotes to vastate the church, that is, the good and truth of the church.

[11] In Malachi:--

The word of Jehovah against Israel. I have loved you, saith Jehovah; yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? Is not Esau Jacob’s brother? yet I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated, and I make his mountain a waste (Malachi 1:1-3);

where "Esau" denotes the evil of the natural that does not admit spiritual truth which is "Israel" (n. 3305), and what is doctrinal of truth which is "Jacob" (n. 3305); and on this account he is vastated, which is being "hated" (that "hating" is nothing else, is manifest from what was adduced above from the Word concerning Esau and Edom in a good sense); but when truth does not suffer itself to be adjoined to good, then evil is on the other hand predicated of Jacob, as in Hosea:--

To visit upon Jacob according to his ways; according to his works will He recompense him; in the womb he supplanted his brother (Hosea 12:2, 3).

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info