Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 28:18-19
AC 3722. Verses 18, 19. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had placed for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the head of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of the city was Luz at the first. "And Jacob rose up early in the morning," signifies a state of enlightenment; " and took the stone," signifies truth "that he had placed for his pillows," signifies with which there was communication with the Divine; "and set it up for a pillar," signifies a holy boundary; "and poured oil upon the head of it," signifies the holy good from which it was derived; "and he called the name of that place Bethel," signifies the quality of the state; "but the name of the city was Luz at the first," signifies the quality of the former state.
AC 3723. And Jacob rose up early in the morning. That this signifies a state of enlightenment, is evident from the signification of "rising in the morning early," as being a state of enlightenment (n. 3458); for when mention is made in the Word of "arising," it implies somewhat of elevation (n. 2401, 2785, 2912, 2927, 3171); and "morning" signifies the coming of heavenly light. Thus in the present case the signification is elevation from obscurity into light, consequently a state of enlightenment.
AC 3724. And took the stone. That this signifies truth, is evident from the signification of "stone," as being truth (n. 1296, 1298, 3720).
AC 3725. That he had placed for his pillows. That this signifies with which there was communication with the Divine, is evident from the signification of "pillows," or neck supports, as being communication of a most general kind; concerning which see above (n. 3695).
AC 3726. And set it up for a pillar. That this signifies a holy boundary, is evident from the signification of a "pillar," concerning which in what follows. How the case herein is may be seen from what goes before; namely, that the subject is the order by which the Lord made His natural Divine; and in the representative sense, how the Lord makes new or regenerates the natural of man. The nature of this order has already been frequently stated and shown; namely, that while man is being regenerated, and truth is regarded in the first place, it is inverse; and that it is restored when man has been regenerated, and good is set in the first place, and truth in the last (n. 3325, 3330, 3332, 3336, 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3688). This was represented by the ladder by which the angels ascended and descended, where it is first said that they ascended, and afterwards that they descended (n. 3701). The ascent is now treated of; namely, that it is from the ultimate of order (n. 3720, 3721) in the present verse that it is truth which is the ultimate of order. It is this ultimate which is called a holy boundary, and is signified by the stone which Jacob took and set for a pillar. That truth is the ultimate of order, may be seen from the fact that good cannot terminate in good, but in truth, for truth is the recipient of good (n. 2261, 2434, 3049, 3068, 3180, 3318, 3387, 3470, 3570).
 Good in man without truth, that is, without conjunction with truth, is such good as there is in little children, who as yet have nothing of wisdom, because they have nothing of intelligence; but in so far as a child in his advancement to adult age receives truth from good, or in so far as truth in him is conjoined with good, so far he becomes a man. This shows that good is the first of order, and truth the last; and thus it follows that man ought to begin from memory-knowledges, which are the truths of the natural man, and afterwards from doctrinal things, which are the truths of the spiritual man in his natural, in order to be initiated into the intelligence of wisdom; that is, to enter into spiritual life, whereby man becomes man (n. 3504). For example, in order that man as a spiritual man may love his neighbor, he must first learn what spiritual love or charity is, and who is his neighbor. Before he knows this he may indeed love his neighbor, but as a natural, not as a spiritual man, that is, from natural good, not from spiritual good (n. 3470, 3471); whereas after he has attained this knowledge, then spiritual good from the Lord may be implanted therein; and this is the case with all the rest of what are called knowledges, or doctrinal things, or in general, truths.
 It is said that good from the Lord may be implanted in knowledges, also that truth is the recipient of good. They who have no other idea of knowledges, and also of truths, than that they are abstract things (such an idea as most people have also concerning thoughts), can in no wise apprehend what is meant by good being implanted in knowledges, and by truth being the recipient of good. But be it known that knowledges and truths are things no more abstracted from the purest substances of the interior man, that is, of the spirit, than sight is abstracted from its organ the eye, or than hearing is abstracted from its organ the ear. There are purer substances, and those real, from which knowledges and thoughts come forth into manifest being; and whose variations of form when animated and modified by the influx of life from the Lord, present them to view; while their agreements and harmonies, in succession or simultaneously, affect the mind, and constitute what is called beautiful, pleasant, and delightful.
 Spirits themselves equally with men are forms, that is, consist of continuous forms, but of a purer nature, and not visible to the bodily sight. And because these forms or substances are not visible to the bodily eye, man at this day apprehends no otherwise than that knowledges and thoughts are abstract things; hence also comes the insanity of our age--that men do not believe that they have a spirit within them which is to live after the death of the body, when yet this spirit is a substance much more real than the material substance of its body, nay, if you will believe it, the spirit, after being freed from bodily things, is that very purified body which many say they are to have at the time of the Last Judgment, when they believe that they shall first rise again. That spirits, or what is the same, souls, have a body, see each other as in clear clay, discourse together, hear each other, and enjoy much more exquisite sense than while they were in the body or in the world, may be seen very clearly from what has been so abundantly related above from experience.
AC 3727. In regard to the signification of a "pillar," as being a holy boundary, thus the ultimate of order, this comes from the fact that in the most ancient times stones were placed at the boundaries, which marked the possession or inheritance of one person from that of another, and were for a sign and a witness that the boundaries were at that place. The most ancient people, who in every object, and in every pillar, thought of something celestial and spiritual (n. 1977, 2995), in these stones also which they set up, thought from them concerning the ultimates in man, and thus concerning the ultimate of order, which is truth in the natural man. The ancients who were after the flood received this from the most ancient people who were before the flood (n. 920, 1409, 2179, 2896, 2897), and began to account those stones holy which were set up in the boundaries, because as before said, they signified holy truth which is in the ultimate of order. They also called those stones "pillars;" and thus it came to pass that pillars were introduced into worship, and that they erected them in the places where they had their groves, and afterwards where they had their temples, and also that they anointed them with oil, concerning which something shall be said in what follows. For the worship of the Ancient Church consisted in the perceptives and significatives of the most ancient people who were before the flood, as is manifest from the sections just cited. As the most ancient people spoke with angels and were together with them while on earth, they were instructed from heaven that stones signify truth, and that wood signifies good (n. 3720). This is the reason why "pillars" signify a holy boundary, thus the truth which is the ultimate of order in man; for the good that inflows through the internal man from the Lord is terminated in the external man, in the truth therein. Man’s thought, speech, and action, which are the ultimates of order, are nothing else than truths from good, being the images or forms of good for they belong to man‘s intellectual part, while the good which is in them, and from which they are, belongs to his will part.
 That pillars were erected for a sign and for a witness, and also for worship; and that in the internal sense they signify a holy boundary, or the truth in man’s natural which is the ultimate of order, may be seen from other passages in the Word as from the following, concerning the covenant between Laban and Jacob:--
Come now, let us make a covenant, I and thou; and let it be for a witness between me and thee. And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold the pillar which I have set up between me and thee; this heap be witness, and the pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap to me, and this pillar, for evil (Gen. 31:44, 45, 51, 52).
That in this passage a "pillar" signifies truth, will be seen in the explication of the passage.
 In Isaiah:--
In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak with the lips of Canaan, and swear to Jehovah Zebaoth. In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the boundary thereof to Jehovah; which shall be for a sign and for a witness unto Jehovah Zebaoth in the land of Egypt (Isa. 19:18-20);
"Egypt" denotes the memory-knowledges that belong to the natural man; an "altar," Divine worship in general, for in the second Ancient Church, which began from Eber, the altar was made the primary representative of worship (n. 921, 1343, 2777, 2811); the "midst of the land of Egypt" denotes what is primary and inmost of worship (n. 2940, 2973, 3436); a "pillar," the truth which is the ultimate of order in the natural. That this is in the boundary for a sign and for a witness, is manifest.
 In Moses:--
Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah, and rose up early in the morning and builded an altar near Mount Sinai, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel (Exod. 24:4);
where in like manner an "altar" was representative of all worship, and indeed of good in worship; while the twelve pillars were a representative of the truth which is from good in worship. "Twelve" denotes all things of truth in one complex, (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272); and the "twelve tribes" in like manner signify all things of the truth of the church, will of the Lord‘s Divine mercy be shown in the following chapter.
 Inasmuch as altars were representative of all the good of worship, and as the Jewish Church was instituted in order that it might represent the celestial church which acknowledged no other truth than that which is from good, which is called celestial truth for it was not in the least willing to separate truth from good, insomuch that it was not willing to mention anything of faith or truth unless it was thinking of good, and this from good, (n. 202, 337, 2069, 2715, 2718, 3246)--therefore there was a representative of truth by means of the stones of the altar, and it was forbidden to represent it by pillars, lest thereby truth should be separated from good, and should be representatively worshiped instead of good. For this reason it is written in Moses:--
Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any tree beside the altar of Jehovah thy God which thou shalt make thee; and thou shalt not set thee up a pillar, which Jehovah thy God hateth (Deut. 16:21, 22);
for to worship truth separate from good, or faith separate from charity, is contrary to the Divine, because contrary to order, and this is signified by the prohibition, "thou shalt not set thee up a pillar, which Jehovah thy God hateth."
 Nevertheless that they did set up pillars, and thereby represented those things which are contrary to order, is evident in Hosea:--
Israel according to the multiplying of his fruit, multiplies his altars; according to the good of their land they make goodly pillars; but He shall overturn their altars; He shall lay waste their pillars (Hosea 10:1, 2).
In the first book of Kings:--
Judah did that which was evil in the eyes of Jehovah; they also built them high places, and pillars, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree (1 Kings 14:22, 23).
In the second book of Kings:--
The sons of Israel set them up pillars and groves on every high hill, and under every green tree (2 Kings 17:10).
Hezekiah removed the high places, and he brake the pillars and cut down the grove and ground to pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made, for they did burn incense to it (2 Kings 18:4).
 Inasmuch as the Gentiles also had by tradition the belief that the holy of worship was represented by altars and by pillars, and yet were in evil and falsity, therefore by "altars" among the Gentiles are signified evils of worship, and by "pillars," falsities; for which reason it was commanded that they should be destroyed. As in Moses:--
Ye shall overthrow their altars, and break in pieces their pillars, and ye shall cut down their groves (Exod. 34:13; Deut. 7:5; 12:3).
Thou shalt not bow to their gods, nor worship them, nor do after their works because destroying thou shalt destroy them, and breaking thou shalt break in pieces their pillars (Exod. 23:24);
the "gods" of the nations denote falsities; their "works," evils to "break in pieces their pillars" denotes to destroy worship from falsity.
 In Jeremiah:--
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon shall break in pieces the pillars of the house of the sun that is in the land of Egypt, and the houses of the gods of Egypt shall he burn with fire (Jer. 43:13).
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon with the hoofs of his horses shall tread down all thy streets; he shall slay the people with the sword, and shall cause the pillars of thy strength to go down to the earth (Ezek. 26:11);
speaking of Tyre. "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon" denotes that which causes vastation (n. 1327) the "hoofs of the horses" denote the lowest intellectual things, such as are memory-knowledges from mere things of sense; that "hoofs" are the lowest things will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be confirmed elsewhere; "horses" denote intellectual things (n. 2760-2762); "streets," truths, and in the opposite sense, falsities (n. 2336); to "tread them down" is to destroy the knowledges of truth, which are signified by "Tyre". "Tyre," signifies the knowledges of truth, (n. 1201); to "slay the people with the sword" denotes to destroy truths by that which is false. "People" is predicated of truth, (n. 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581); and a "sword" signifies falsity combating, (n. 2799). From all this we see what is meant by "causing the pillars of strength to come down to the earth." That "strength" is predicated of what is true and of what is false, is also evident from the Word.
AC 3728. And poured oil upon the head of it. That this signifies holy good, is evident from the signification of "oil," as being the celestial of love, or good (n. 886, 3009); and from the signification of the "head," as being that which is higher, or what is the same, that which is interior. That good is higher, or interior, and truth lower, or exterior, has been shown above in many places. From this it is evident what was signified by the ancient rite of pouring oil on the head of a pillar, namely, that truth should not be without good, but from good, thus that good should have the dominion as the head over the body; for truth without good is not truth, but is a sound void of life, and such that it is dissipated of itself. In the other life also it is dissipated with those who have excelled others in knowing truth or the doctrinal things of faith, and even the doctrinal things of love if they have not lived in good, and thus if they have not retained truth from good.
 Hence the church is not a church from truth separate from good, consequently not from faith separate from charity but from truth which is from good, or from faith which is from charity. The like is signified also by what the Lord said to Jacob:--
I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst a pillar, where thou vowedst a vow unto Me (Gen. 31:13);
and by what is said again:--
Jacob set up a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink-offering thereon, and poured oil thereon (Gen. 35:14);
by "pouring out a drink-offering on a pillar" is signified the Divine good of faith; and by "pouring oil" upon it, the Divine good of love. Everyone can see that to pour oil upon a stone, without the signification of something celestial and spiritual, would be ridiculous and idolatrous.
AC 3729. And he called the name of that place Bethel. That this signifies the quality of the state, is evident from the signification of "name" and of "calling a name," as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421); and from the signification of "place," as being state (n. 2625, 2837, 3356, 3387). The quality of the state is that which is signified by "Bethel." In the original tongue "Bethel" means the "house of God;" and this is good in the ultimate of order, (n. 3720).
AC 3730. But the name of the city was Luz at the first. That this signifies the quality of the former state, is evident from the signification of "name," as being the quality (n. 3729); and from the signification of "city," as being that which is doctrinal of truth (n. 402, 2268, 2449, 2712, 2943, 3216). In the original tongue "Luz" means "recession," thus disjunction, which comes to pass when that which is doctrinal of truth, or truth itself, is put in the first place, and good is neglected; thus when truth alone is in the ultimate of order. But when truth is together with good in the ultimate of order, there is then no recession or disjunction, but accession or conjunction; and this is the quality of the state which is signified by "Luz." GENESIS 28:18-19 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|