Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 26:19-21
AC 3423. Verses 19-21. And the servants of Isaac digged in the valley, and found there a well of living waters. And the shepherds of Gerar strove with Isaac‘s shepherds, saying, The waters are ours; and he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. And they digged another well, and they strove over that also, and he called the name of it Sitnah. "And the servants of Isaac digged in the valley, and found there a well of living waters," signifies the Word as to the literal sense in which is the internal sense; "and the shepherds of Gerar strove with Isaac’s shepherds," signifies that they who taught did not see any such thing therein, because the senses appear opposed; "saying, The waters are ours," signifies that they are in the truth; "and he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him," signifies denial on these accounts as well as on others, in being against the teachers, and on account of other things besides; "and they digged another well, and they strove over that also," signifies the internal sense of the Word, as to whether it has any existence; "and he called the name of it Sitnah," signifies their quality.
AC 3424. And the servants of Isaac digged in the valley, and found there a well of living waters. That this signifies the Word as to the literal sense in which is the internal sense, is evident from the signification of "digging in the valley," as being to make search lower down in respect to where truths are; for to "dig" is to search, and a "valley" denotes what is below (n. 1723, 3417); and from the signification of a well of living waters," as being the Word in which are truths Divine, thus the Word as to the literal sense in which is the internal sense. That the Word is called a "fountain," and indeed a fountain of living waters," is well known but the reason why the Word is also called a "well," is that the sense of the letter is relatively such and also because relatively to those who are spiritual the Word is not a "fountain," but a "well" (n. 2702, 3096). As a "valley" denotes that which is below, or what is the same, that which is exterior, and the fountain was found in a valley, and the literal sense is the lower or exterior sense of the Word, therefore it is the literal sense which is meant but because the internal sense, that is, the heavenly and Divine sense, is within this, therefore the waters thereof are called "living;" as were also the waters that went forth under the threshold of the new house, in Ezekiel:--
And it shall come to pass that every living creature that creepeth, to which the river there comes, shall live and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters are come thither and are healed, and everything liveth whithersoever the river cometh (Ezek. 47:9);
where the "river" is the Word; the "waters which cause everything to live" are the Divine truths contained in it; the "fish" are memory-knowledges (n. 40, 991).
 That the Word of the Lord is such that it gives life to him that thirsteth, that is, to him that desireth life, and that it is a "fountain whose waters are living," the Lord also teaches in John when speaking to the woman of Samaria at Jacob‘s well:--
If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up unto eternal life (John 4:10, 14).
That the Word is living and therefore gives life, is because in its supreme sense the Lord is treated of, and in the inmost sense His kingdom, in which the Lord is all; and this being the case, there is in the Word life itself, which flows into the minds of those who read the Word with reverence; hence it is that in respect to the Word that is from Himself the Lord declares Himself to be a "fountain of water springing up unto eternal life" (n. 2702).
 That just as the Lord’s Word is called a "fountain," so is it also called a "well," is evident in Moses:--
Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well, answer ye unto it: the princes digged the well; the chiefs of the people digged it for the lawgiver with their staves (Num. 21:17, 18).
These words were spoken at the "place Beer," that is, at the "place of the well." That by "well" here is signified the Word of the Ancient Church, spoken of above (n. 2897), is evident from what is there said; "princes" are primary truths that are the source. "Princes" signify primary truths, (n. 1482, 2089). The "chiefs of the people" are lower truths, such as are those contained in the literal sense (n. 1259, 1260, 2928, 3295). The "lawgiver" is the Lord. "Staves" denote the powers which they possessed.
AC 3425. And the shepherds of Gerar strove with Isaac‘s shepherds. That this signifies that they who taught did not see any such thing therein because the senses appeared opposed, is evident from the signification of "disputing," when the internal sense of the Word is concerned, as being to deny it to be such by saying that they do not see it; and from the signification of "shepherds," as being those who teach (n. 343) and from the signification of "Gerar," as being faith (n. 1209, 2504, 3365, 3384); thus "the shepherds of the valley of Gerar" denote those who acknowledge only the literal sense of the Word. The reason why they see no such thing that is, no interior sense, is that the two appear opposite, namely, what is in the internal sense, and what is in the literal sense. But their appearing to be opposite does not prove that they are so, for they wholly correspond; and the reason they appear opposite is that they who see the Word so are in what is opposite;
 just as in the case of a man who is in opposition within himself, that is, whose external or natural man is in entire disagreement with his internal or spiritual man. Such a man sees that which is of the internal or spiritual man as opposed to himself, when yet in respect to the external or natural man, he himself is in that which is opposed; and if he were not in this, so that his external or natural man yielded obedience to the internal or spiritual man, the two would wholly correspond. For example: the man who is in what is opposed believes that in order to his reception of eternal life riches are to be renounced, as well as all the pleasures of the body and of the world, thus the delights of life; such things being supposed to be opposed to spiritual life, whereas in themselves they are not so, but correspond, because they are means to an end, namely, that the internal or spiritual man may enjoy them so as to be able to perform the goods of charity, and also may live content in a healthful body. The ends alone are what cause the internal man and the external either to be opposed or to correspond; they are opposed when the riches, pleasures, and delights here spoken of become the ends, for in this case the spiritual and celestial things which are of the internal man are despised and derided, nay, are rejected; but they correspond when such things are not made ends, but means to higher ends, namely, to those things which belong to the life after death, thus to the heavenly kingdom and the Lord Himself. In this case bodily and worldly things appear to the man as scarcely anything in comparison; and when he thinks about them, he values them only as means to ends.
 From this it is evident that the things which appear opposed are not opposed in themselves; but they appear so because men are in what is opposed. They who are not in what is opposed, act, speak, and acquire riches, and also enjoy pleasures, similarly as do those who are in what is opposed, insomuch that in the outward appearance they can scarcely be distinguished from each other. The reason is that their ends alone are what distinguish them; or what is the same, their loves; for loves are ends. But although in the outward form, or as to the body, they appear alike, yet in the inward form, or as to the spirit, they are utterly unlike. The spirit of one who is in correspondence--that is, with whom the external man corresponds to the internal is fair and beautiful, such as is heavenly love in form; but the spirit of one who is in what is opposed--that is, with whom the external man is opposed to the internal--however great may be the outward resemblance to the other, is black and ugly, such as is the love of self and of the world, that is, such as is contempt of others and hatred in form.
 The case is the same with a host of things in the Word; that is to say, the things in the literal sense appear opposed to those in the internal sense; when yet they are by no means opposed, but wholly correspond. For example: it is frequently said in the Word that Jehovah or the Lord is angry, is wroth, destroys, and casts into hell; when yet He is never angry, and still less does He cast anyone into hell. The former is of the sense of the letter, but the latter is of the internal sense; and these appear opposed, but this is because the man is in what is opposed. In the same way the Lord appears as a sun to the angels who are in heaven, and thence as vernal warmth, and as light at day-dawn; but to the infernals He appears as something quite opaque, and thence as wintry cold, and as midnight darkness. Consequently to the angels He appears in love and charity, but to the infernals in hatred and enmity; thus to the latter according to the sense of the letter that He is angry, is wroth, destroys, and casts into hell; but to the former according to the internal sense that He is never angry and wroth, and still less destroys and casts into hell; so that when things are being treated of in the Word that are contrary to the Divine, it is inevitable that they should be presented in accordance with the appearance. Moreover it is the Divine which the wicked change into what is diabolical that works in this way; and therefore in so far as they approach the Divine, so far they cast themselves into infernal torments.
 The case is the same with the Lord’s words in the prayer: "Lead us not into temptation." The sense according to the letter is that He leads into temptation; but the internal sense is that He leads no one into temptation, as is well known (n. 1875). The same is true of all other things that belong to the literal sense of the Word.
AC 3426. Saying, the waters are ours. That this signifies that they are in truth, or that they have truths, is evident from the signification of "waters," as being knowledges, and also truths (n. 28, 680, 739, 2702, 3058).
AC 3427. And he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. That this signifies denial on these accounts as well as on others, in being against the teachers, and on account of other things besides, is evident from the fact that the names which were given of old were significative of the actual thing or state (n. 3422); whence they were enabled to bear in mind many things concerning these, especially in regard to their quality. In the present case, as the shepherds of Gerar disputed with the shepherds of Isaac, a name was given to the well from this circumstance. That disputing" or "contending" signifies also denying, may be seen above (n. 3425) hence comes the name "Esek," which in the original tongue means "contention" or "dispute," and is derived from a kindred word which means oppression and injury. And because by "well" here is signified the Word as to the literal sense in which is the internal sense, by "Esek," or " contention," is signified a denial of the internal sense of the Word. The causes of the denial are also contained in the same expression, and are manifestly those things treated of just above (n. 3425), namely, that the literal and spiritual senses appear opposed; and also other things besides.
 As regards the internal sense of the Word, the case is this: They who are in the mere memory-knowledge of knowledges and are called "Philistines," and they who are in the mere doctrinal things of faith, who are called "shepherds of the valley of Gerar," and are in no charity toward the neighbor, cannot possibly do otherwise than deny that there is an internal sense of the Word. The principal causes are that in their hearts they do not acknowledge the Lord, although they profess Him with the mouth; and also that at heart they do not love the neighbor, although they profess love toward him; and he who does not at heart acknowledge the Lord, and at heart love the neighbor, cannot possibly do otherwise than deny the internal sense of the Word for the Word in its internal sense treats of nothing else than love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor; and therefore the Lord says that on these two commandments hang the Law and the Prophets, that is, the whole Word (Matt. 22:37-40). How greatly these deny the internal sense of the Word has also been given me to see from such persons in the other life, for when the existence of an internal sense of the Word that does not appear in its literal sense, and that treats of love to the Lord and the neighbor, is merely mentioned in their presence, there is perceived not only denial by them, but also aversion, and even loathing. This is the primary cause of this denial.
 Another cause is that they altogether invert the Word by setting that above which is beneath, or what is the same, by setting that before which is behind; for they make faith to be the essential of the church, and the things which are of love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor to be the fruits of faith; when yet the truth is that if love to the Lord is compared to the tree of life in the paradise of Eden, charity and its works are the fruits therefrom, and faith and all things of faith are only the leaves. As therefore they so invert the Word as to derive the fruits not from the tree but from the leaves, it is not surprising that they deny the internal sense of the Word and acknowledge only its literal sense; for from the literal sense any dogma, even the most heretical, can be confirmed, as is well known.
 Moreover they who are in the mere doctrinal things of faith and not in the good of life, cannot but be in persuasive faith, that is, in preconceived principles, false as well as true. Consequently they must be more stupid than others, for in so far as anyone is in persuasive faith, so far he is stupid; but in so far as anyone is in the good of life (that is, in love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor), so far he is in intelligence, that is, in faith from the Lord. Hence also it is that the former must needs be in the negative as regards the internal sense of the Word; but the latter must needs be in the affirmative for with those who are merely in doctrinal things, and not in the good of life, the interiors are closed, so that the light of truth from the Lord cannot flow in and give them to perceive that it is so; whereas with those who are in love to the Lord the interiors are Lord can flow in, affect their minds, and give a perception that it is so.
 A further cause is that they have no other delight in reading the Word than that they may thus acquire honors and riches, and thereby reputation, which delight is the delight of the love of self and of the world; and this to such a degree that if they do not obtain from it such advantages, they will entirely reject the Word. They who are such, in their heart not only deny the internal sense of the Word when they hear of it, but also the literal sense itself, however much they may suppose that they believe it. For he who has as his end the delight of the love of self and of the world, completely casts out of his heart everything pertaining to eternal life; and only from his natural and corporeal man makes a profession of such things, which he calls truths not for the sake of the Lord and His kingdom, but for the sake of the Lord and His kingdom, but for the sake of himself and his own. These and many other things cause those called "shepherds of the valley of Gerar," and "Philistines," to deny the internal sense of the Word.
AC 3428. And they digged another well, and they strove over that also. That this signifies the internal sense of the Word as to whether there is such a thing, is evident from the signification of "another well," and of "striving", thus from the series; for when those who deny anything, as for instance those who deny the internal sense of the Word, again strive or contend, it must needs be as to whether it has any existence. It is known that most disputes at this day go no further; but so long as men remain in debate as to whether a thing is, and whether it is so, they can never advance into anything of wisdom; for in the thing itself concerning which they debate there are innumerable things which they can never see so long as they do not acknowledge that thing, because in this case they are all the time ignorant of everything that belongs to it.
 The learning of the present day scarcely passes the point of debating whether a thing has any existence, and whether it is thus, or thus; the result of which is that men are shut out from the understanding of truth. For example: he who merely disputes whether there is an internal sense of the Word can never see the innumerable, nay, illimitable things which are in the internal sense and again, he who disputes whether charity is anything in the church, and whether all things of this are not of faith, cannot possibly know the innumerable, nay, illimitable things which are in charity, but remains in complete ignorance of what charity is.
 The like is the case with the life after death, with the resurrection of the dead, with the last judgment, with heaven and with hell--they who merely debate whether these things exist, stand meanwhile outside the doors of wisdom, and are like persons who merely knock, and cannot even look into wisdom‘s magnificent palaces. And yet strange to say such men believe themselves to be wise in comparison with others, and that they are wise in proportion to their ability to debate whether a thing be so, and specially to prove that it is not so; when yet the simple who are in good, and whom they despise, can perceive in a moment, without any dispute, much more without learned controversy, that the thing is, and what is its quality. These have a common sense of the perception of truth, whereas the former have extinguished this sense by such methods, in desiring first of all to discuss whether the thing has any existence. The Lord speaks both of the former and of the latter when He says that things are hidden from the wise and intelligent, and revealed unto babes (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21).
AC 3429. And he called the name of it Sitnah. That this signifies their quality, is evident from the signification of "calling a name," as denoting the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421); and from the signification of "Sitnah," as being in the original tongue "antagonism," which is a further degree of denial. GENESIS 26:19-21 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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