Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 29:4-6
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AC 3774. Verses 4-6. And Jacob said unto them, My brethren whence are ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. And he said unto them, Hath he peace? And they said, Peace; and behold Rachel his daughter cometh with the flock. "And Jacob said unto them," signifies the truth of good; "My brethren whence are ye?" signifies charity there, from what origin is it? "and they said, Of Haran are we," signifies from the good of a common stock; "and he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor?" signifies, Have they the good of this stock? "and they said, We know him," signifies affirmation; "and he said unto them, Hath he peace?" signifies, is not this good from the Lord‘s kingdom? "and they said, Peace," signifies affirmation; "and behold Rachel his daughter," signifies the affection of interior truth; "cometh with the flock," signifies interior doctrinal things.

AC 3775. And Jacob said unto them. That this signifies the truth of good, is evident from the representation of Jacob, as being the Lord’s Divine natural, concerning which see above. inasmuch as all things in general and particular, wherever they may be, have relation to good and truth (n. 3166, 3513, 3519), so also have those in the natural; and because during man‘s regeneration the good and truth in the natural are at first in a different state from what they are during the progress and at the end of it, therefore by Jacob is represented the natural as to truth and good according to the state at the time here, in respect to the truth of good. But to explain in detail these various things in every case would be to render the subject obscure, especially with those who have not a distinct idea concerning truth and good, and still less concerning the truth through which is good, and the truth which is from good.

AC 3776. My brethren whence are ye? That this signifies charity there, from what origin is it? is evident from the signification of "brethren," as being those who are in good, and thence as being good itself, consequently charity (n. 367, 2360, 3303, 3459); and from the signification of "whence are ye?" as being from what origin is it? All this shows that whatever in the sense of the letter involves a question and is determined to persons, in the internal sense falls into an idea undetermined to any person; for in heaven among the angels the historicals of the letter vanish when they leave man and enter heaven; so that Jacob’s question to the men of Haran, "My brethren whence are ye?" signifies charity there, from what origin is it?

[2] The case herein is as follows-The charity the external form of which appears as charity is not always charity in the internal form. its quality and its source are known from its end. The charity that comes from a selfish or worldly end in its internal form is not charity, neither ought it to be called charity; but the charity that regards as its end the neighbor, the general good, heaven, and thus the Lord, is real charity, and has within it the affection of doing good from the heart, and the derivative delight of life which in the other life becomes bliss. It is of the utmost importance to know this, in order that man may know what the Lord‘s kingdom is in itself. Inquiry concerning this charity, or what is the same thing, concerning this good, is now treated of in these verses; and here it is first asked from what origin was the charity there; which is signified by, "My brethren whence are ye?"

AC 3777. And they said, Of Haran are we. That this signifies from the good of a common stock, is evident from the signification of "Haran," as being the collateral good of a common stock (n. 3612).

AC 3778. And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? That this signifies, Have they the good of this stock? is evident from the representation of Laban, as being the collateral good of a common stock (n. 3612, 3665); and from the representation of Nahor, as being that common stock from which is the good represented by Laban; that "to know," in the internal sense signifies to be therefrom, is manifest from the series. How the case is with the representation of collateral good by Nahor, Bethuel, and Laban, shall be briefly stated. Terah, who was the father of three sons-Abram, Nahor, and Haran (Gen. 11:27), represents the common stock from which come churches. Terah himself was indeed an idolater, but representatives do not regard the person but the thing (n. 1361). And because the representative Jewish Church commenced in Abraham, and was renewed among his descendants from Jacob, therefore Terah and his three sons put on the representation of churches-Abram the representation of a genuine church, such as exists with those who have the Word; but Nahor his brother the representation of a church such as exists among the Gentiles who have not the Word. That the Lord’s church is scattered throughout the universal earth, and that it exists among those Gentiles also who live in charity, is manifest from what has been shown here and there concerning the Gentiles.

[2] This therefore is the reason why by Nahor, his son Bethuel, and Bethuel‘s son Laban, there is represented the collateral good of a common stock, that is, the good in which they are who are of the Lord’s church among the Gentiles. This good differs from the good of a common stock in the direct line of descent, in this respect-that the truths which are conjoined with their good are not genuine, but most of them are external appearances which are called fallacies of the senses; for these Gentiles have not the Word whereby they can be enlightened. In its essence indeed good is only one, but it receives its quality from the truths implanted in it, and thereby becomes various. The truths that to the Gentiles appear as truths are in general that they should worship some God from whom they seek their good and to whom they attribute it, and so long as they live in the world they do not know that this God is the Lord; also that they should adore their God under images, which they account holy; besides many other things. Nevertheless these things are no hindrance to their being saved equally with Christians, provided they live in love to their God and in love toward the neighbor for thus in the other life they have a capacity to receive interior truths (n. 932, 1032, 1059, 2049, 2051, 2284, 2589-2604, 2861, 2863, 3263). This shows what is here meant by the collateral good of a common stock. That by Nahor are represented those out of the church who are in brotherhood by virtue of good, may be seen above (n. 2863, 2866, 2868); that by Bethuel is represented the good of the Gentiles of the first class (n. 2865, 3665); and by Laban the affection of external or corporeal good, and properly the collateral good of a common stock (n. 3612, 3665).

[3] With this good the case is that first of all it serves man as a means of procuring for himself spiritual good, for it is external corporeal, and is grounded in external appearances which in themselves are fallacies of the senses. In childhood man acknowledges nothing else as truth and good, and although he is taught what internal good and truth are, still he has no other idea concerning them than a corporeal one; and because such is the first idea, therefore such good and truth are the first means by which interior truths and goods are introduced. This is the arcanum which is here represented by Jacob and Laban.

AC 3779. And they said, We know him. That this signifies affirmation, may be seen without explication.

AC 3780. And he said into them, Hath he peace? That this signifies, Is not this good from the Lord‘s kingdom? is evident from the signification of "peace," concerning which in what follows. In the historical sense inquiry is made concerning Laban, as to whether he hath peace, but in the internal sense the inquiry is concerning the good which is represented by Laban. That Laban represents the collateral good of a common stock, that is, such good as exists among the Gentiles, who are in the general church, that is, in the Lord’s kingdom, (n. 3778). From this it is evident what is signified by the words, Is not this good from the Lord‘s kingdom?"

[2] In regard to peace, in the supreme sense it signifies the Lord Himself, and hence in the internal sense His kingdom, and it is the Lord’s Divine inmostly affecting the good in which are those who are therein. That these things are signified in the Word by "peace," is evident from many passages; as in Isaiah:--

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom (Isa. 9:6, 7);

where the "Prince of Peace" manifestly denotes the Lord; and "the increase of His government and peace" denotes the things which are in His kingdom, thus His kingdom itself. Again:--

The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the labor of righteousness quietness and security forever; and My people shall dwell in a habitation of peace (Isa. 32:17, 18);

in which passage the Lord‘s kingdom is treated of, where peace, quietness, and security succeed each other; a "habitation of peace" denotes heaven.

[3] Again:--

The angels of peace weep bitterly the paths are laid waste, the wayfaring man hath ceased (Isa. 33:7, 8);

"angels of peace" denote those who are in the Lord’s kingdom, thus that kingdom itself, and in the supreme sense the Lord; the "paths being laid waste, and the wayfaring man ceasing," signifies that there is no longer truth anywhere. "Paths" and "ways" are truths, (n. 627, 2333). Again:--

How delightful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth (Isa. 52:7);

where "he that bringeth good tidings and publisheth peace" denotes the Lord‘s kingdom. Again:--

The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed but My mercy shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed (Isa. 54:10).


The way of peace have they not known and there is no judgment in their tracks (Isa. 59:8).

In Jeremiah:--

I will take away My peace from this people, saith Jehovah, even compassion and mercy (Jer. 16:5).

[4] Again:--

The folds of peace are laid waste, because of the burning of the anger of Jehovah (Jer. 25:37).


The prophet who prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that Jehovah hath sent him (Jer. 28:9).


I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace (Jer. 29:11).

So in Haggai:--

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former; for in this place will I give peace (Haggai 2:9).

And in Zechariah:--

They shall be a seed of peace the vine shall give her fruit, and the earth shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew (Zech. 7:12).

In David:--

Keep integrity and behold the upright, because the end for that man is peace (Ps. 37:37).

In Luke:--

Jesus saith to His disciples, Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it; but if not, it shall turn to you again (Luke 10:5, 6).

In John:--

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you not as the world giveth, give I unto you (John 14:27).


Jesus said, These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye may have peace (John 16:33).

[5] In all these passages in the supreme sense "peace" signifies the Lord; and in the representative sense His kingdom, and good from the Lord therein, thus the Divine which flows into good, or into the affections of good, which also causes joy and happiness from the inmost. From this it is manifest what is meant by these words of the benediction:--

Jehovah lift up His faces upon thee and give thee peace (Num. 6:26);

and what by the salutation used of old, "Peace be unto you;" and the same addressed by the Lord to the apostles (John 20:19, 21, 26). See also what is said concerning peace elsewhere (n. 92, 93, 1726, 2780, 3170, 3696).

AC 3781. And they said, Peace. That this signifies affirmation, is evident without explication, for it is an affirmative reply.

AC 3782. And behold Rachel his daughter. That this signifies the affection of interior truth, is evident from the representation of Rachel, as being the affection of interior truth; and of Leah, as being the affection of exterior truth, concerning which in what follows.

AC 3783. Cometh with the flock. That this signifies interior doctrinal things, is evident from the signification of a "flock," as being the church, and also doctrinal things (n. 3767, 3768, 3772); in the present case interior doctrinal things, because it is said of Rachel that she "came with the flock."

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