Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 31:1-3
AC 4062. Verses 1-3. And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken all that was our father‘s; and from that which was our father’s hath he made all this abundance. And Jacob saw the faces of Laban, and behold he was not at all with him as yesterday and the day before. And Jehovah said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy nativity, and I will be with thee. "And he heard the words of Laban‘s sons, saying," signifies the truths of the good signified by "Laban," of what quality they were relatively to the good acquired thereby by the Lord in the natural; "Jacob hath taken all that was our father’s," signifies that all things of the good now meant by "Jacob" had been given Him therefrom; "and from that which was our father‘s hath he made all this abundance," signifies that He gave it to Himself; "and Jacob saw the faces of Laban," signifies a change of state with that good, when the good meant by "Jacob" receded; "and behold he was not at all with him as yesterday and the day before," signifies the state altogether changed toward the good signified by "Jacob," although nothing was taken away from it, but that it had its own as before, except the state in respect to conjunction; "and Jehovah said unto Jacob," signifies the Lord’s perception from the Divine; "return unto the land of thy fathers," signifies that He should now betake Himself nearer to good Divine; " and to thy nativity," signifies that He should betake Himself to the derivative truth; "and I will be with thee," signifies that it would then be Divine.
AC 4063. And he heard the words of Laban‘s sons, saying. That this signifies the truths of the good signified by "Laban," of what quality they were relatively to the good acquired thereby by the Lord in the natural, is evident from the signification of "sons," as being truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373); and from the representation of Laban, as being collateral good of a common stock (n. 3612, 3665, 3778), and thus such goods as may serve for the introducing of genuine goods and truths (n. 3974, 3982, 3986); here, the good that had so served, for its separation is treated of. Jacob’s "bearing the words" involves in the internal sense what their quality was relatively to the good acquired by the Lord in the natural, as may be seen from what now follows; for they were words of indignation, and declared that Jacob had taken all that was their father‘s, and Jacob saw the faces of Laban, that he was not as yesterday and the day before. Jacob represents the Lord’s natural, and in the foregoing chapter the good of truth therein, (n. 3659, 3669, 3677, 3775, 3829, 4009).
 How the case is with the good signified by "Laban" relatively to the good of truth represented by Jacob, may be seen from what has been stated and shown in the foregoing chapter. This may be further illustrated by the states of man‘s regeneration, which in the representative sense is also here treated of. When a man is being regenerated, he is kept by the Lord in a kind of mediate good. This good serves for introducing genuine goods and truths; but after these have been introduced, it is separated from them. Everyone who has learned anything about regeneration and about the new man, can understand that the new man is altogether different from the old; for the new man is in the affection of spiritual and heavenly things, and these produce its delights and pleasantnesses; whereas the old man is in the affections of worldly and earthly things, and these produce its delights and pleasantnesses; consequently the new man has regard to ends in heaven, but the old man to ends in the world. From this it is manifest that the new man is altogether different and diverse from the old.
 In order that a man may be brought from the state of the old man into that of the new, the concupiscences of the world must be put off, and the affections of heaven must be put on. This is effected by innumerable means, which are known to the Lord alone, and many of which have also been made known by the Lord to angels; but few if any to man. Nevertheless all of them both in general and particular have been made manifest in the internal sense of the Word. When therefore a man, from being the old man is made a new one (that is, when he is being regenerated), it is not done in a moment, as some believe, but through a course of years; nay, during the man’s whole life, even to its end; for his concupiscences have to be extirpated, and heavenly affections have to be insinuated; and the man has to be gifted with a life which he had not before, and of which indeed he knew scarcely anything. Seeing therefore that the man‘s states of life have to be so greatly changed, it must needs be that he is long kept in a kind of mediate good, that is, in a good which partakes both of the affections of the world, and of the affections of heaven; and unless he is kept in this mediate good, he in no wise admits heavenly goods and truths.
 This mediate or middle good is what is signified by "Laban and his flock." But man is kept in this middle good no longer than until it has served this use; but this having been served, it is separated. This separation is treated of in this chapter. That there is an intermediate good, and that it is separated after it has subserved its use, may be illustrated by the changes of state which every man undergoes from infancy even to old age. It is known that a man’s state is of one kind in infancy, of another in childhood, another in youth, another in adult age, and another in old age. It is also known that a man puts off his state of infancy with its toys when he passes into the state of youth; that he puts off his state of youth when he passes into the state of young manhood; and this again when he passes into the state of mature age; and at last this state when he passes into that of old age. And if one will consider he may also know that every age has its delights, and that by these he is introduced by successive steps into those of the age next following; and that these delights had served the purpose of bringing him thereto; and finally to the delight of intelligence and wisdom in old age.
 From all this it is manifest that former things are always left behind when a new state of life is put on. But this comparison can serve only to show that delights are means, and that these are left behind when the man enters into the state next following; whereas during man‘s regeneration his state becomes altogether different from his former one; and he is led to it, not in any natural manner, but by the Lord in a supernatural manner; nor does anyone arrive at this state except by the means or media of regeneration, which are provided by the Lord alone, and thus by the mediate good of which we have been speaking. And when the man has been brought to that state in which he has no longer worldly, earthly, and corporeal things as his end, but those which are of heaven, then this mediate good is separated. To have anything as the end is to love it more than anything else.
AC 4064. Jacob hath taken all that was our father’s. That this signifies that all things of the good meant by "Jacob" had been given him therefrom (namely, from that mediate good) may be seen without explication. But that they had not been so given to him, is manifest from what follows. It was the sons of Laban who said this.
AC 4065. And from that which was our father‘s hath he made all this abundance. That this signifies that He gave them to Himself, is evident from the signification of "making abundance," as being to give to Himself; for in the supreme sense this is predicated of the Lord, who never took anything of good and truth from another, but only from Himself. Other good that was related to His maternal human had indeed served Him as a means; for Laban, by whom that good is signified, was the brother of Rebekah, who was Jacob’s mother; but by that mediate good He procured for Himself those things whereby He made His natural Divine by His own power. It is one thing to acquire something from a means, and another to acquire it by a means. The Lord acquired good by a means, because He was born a man, and derived from the mother an hereditary which was to be expelled; but He did not acquire good from a means, because He was conceived of Jehovah, from whom He had the Divine; and He therefore gave Himself all the goods and truths which He made Divine. For the Divine Itself has need of none, not even of that mediate good; except that He willed that all things should be done according to order.
AC 4066. And Jacob saw the faces of Laban. That this signifies a change of state with that good when the good meant by "Jacob" receded, is evident from the representation of Jacob, as being the good of the natural, and from the representation of Laban, as being mediate good; and from the signification of "faces," as being the interiors (n. 358, 1999, 2434, 3527, 3573), here, changes of the interiors, or what is the same, changes of state; for it is said, "he saw his faces, and behold he was not at all with him as yesterday and the day before." The reason why in the Word the interiors are signified by "face," is that the interiors shine forth from the face, and present themselves in the face as in a mirror, or in an image; and hence the faces or countenance signifies states of the thoughts and states of the affections.
AC 4067. And behold he was not at all with him as yesterday and the day before. That this signifies the state altogether changed toward the good signified by "Jacob," from which however nothing was taken away, but it had its own as before, except the state as to conjunction, may be seen from the fact that "his being not at all with him as yesterday and the day before," denotes a state altogether changed toward Jacob (that is, toward the good signified by "Jacob"); and from what precedes, in that from Laban (that is, from the good signified by "Laban") nothing had been taken away, but that it had its own as before.
 In order that it may be comprehended how the case is in regard to the goods and truths in man, what is known to scarcely anyone must be revealed. It is indeed known and acknowledged that all good and all truth are from the Lord; and it is also acknowledged by some that there is an influx, but of such a nature that man is not aware of it. Yet as it is not known, at least is not acknowledged at heart, that there are spirits and angels around man, and that his internal man is in the midst of them, and is thus ruled by the Lord, it is little believed, although said. There are innumerable societies in the other life that are disposed and set in order by the Lord according to all the genera of good and truth; and there are societies in the opposite that are disposed according to all the genera of evil and falsity; insomuch that there is not any genus of good and truth, nor any species of that genus, nor indeed any specific variety, which does not have such angelic societies, or to which there are not angelic societies that correspond. Nor on the other hand, is there any genus of evil and falsity, nor any species of that genus, nor indeed any specific variety, to which there are not diabolical societies that correspond. In a society of such is every man as to his interiors (that is, as to his thoughts and affections) although he is not aware of it. Everything that a man thinks and wills is from this source, insomuch that if the societies of spirits and angels in which he is were taken away, he would that moment have no thought and no will, and would even fall down absolutely dead. Such is the state of man, although he believes that he has all things from himself, and that there is neither a hell nor a heaven; or that hell is far removed from him, and heaven also.
 Moreover the good in a man appears to him as what is simple or one, and yet is so manifold, and consists of things so various, that the man cannot possibly explore so much as its generals. It is the same with the evil in a man. Such as is the good in a man, such is the society of angels with him and such as is the evil in a man, such is the society of evil spirits with him. The man summons these societies to himself, that is, he places himself in a society of such spirits; for like is associated with like. For example: the man who is avaricious summons to himself societies of like spirits who are in the same cupidity. The man who loves himself in preference to others, and who despises others, summons those who are like himself. He who takes delight in revenge summons such as are in a like delight; and so in all other cases. These spirits communicate with hell, and the man is in the midst of them, and is altogether ruled by them, insomuch that he is not at his own disposal, but is at theirs, although from the delight and consequent freedom that he enjoys he supposes that he directs himself. But the man who is not avaricious, or who does not love himself in preference to others, nor despise others, and who does not take delight in revenge, is in a society of similar angels, and is led by the Lord by their means, and indeed by means of his freedom, to all the good and truth to which he suffers himself to be led; and in proportion as he suffers himself to be led to more interior and more perfect good, in the same proportion he is brought to more interior and perfect angelic societies. The changes of his state are nothing else than changes of societies. That this is the case is evident to me from the continuous experience of many years, whereby the fact has become as familiar to me as is that which has been familiar to a man from his infancy.
 From all this it is now evident how the case is with man‘s regeneration, and with the mediate delights and goods by means of which he is brought by the Lord from the state of his old man to the state of his new man, namely, that this is effected by means of angelic societies, and by changes of them. Mediate goods and delights are nothing else than such societies, which are applied to man by the Lord, to the intent that by their means he may be introduced to spiritual and celestial goods and truths; and when he has been brought to these, the societies are separated, and more interior and more perfect ones are adjoined to him. Nothing else is meant by the mediate good signified by "Laban," and by the separation of that good, which is the subject treated of in this chapter.
AC 4068. And Jehovah said unto Jacob. That this signifies the Lord’s perception from the Divine, is evident from the signification in the historicals of the Word of " saying," as being to perceive (n. 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822, 1898, 1919, 2080, 2619, 2862, 3395, 3509). That "Jehovah" is the Lord, may be seen above (n. 1343, 1736, 1793, 2921, 3023, 3035). From this it is evident that by "Jehovah said," is signified the Lord‘s perception from the Divine.
AC 4069. Return unto the land of thy fathers. That this signifies that He should now betake Himself nearer to good Divine, is evident from the signification of the land of the fathers, as here being good Divine, because it is predicated of the Lord; for the "land" (namely, Canaan), signifies the Lord’s kingdom (n. 1607, 3481), and in the supreme sense the Lord‘s Divine Human, because this flows in and produces His kingdom (n. 3038, 3705); and a "father" denotes good (n. 3703). And as the goods and truths had now been procured whereby the Lord was to make His natural Divine, which goods and truths were represented by Jacob’s tarrying with Laban, and by his acquisitions there, it follows that by his returning to the land of his fathers" is signified to betake Himself nearer to good Divine.
AC 4070. And to thy nativity. That this signifies that He should betake Himself nearer to the derivative truth, is evident from the signification of "nativity," as being the truth which is from good. For all truth is born from good; it has no other origin; and it is called truth because it is of good, and because it confirms that from which it is, namely, good. Hence the signification of "nativity" in this passage. The nativities or births are those of faith (n. 1145, 1255); and "to bring forth" denotes to acknowledge in faith and act, (n. 3905, 3915).
AC 4071. And I will be with thee. That this signifies that it would then he Divine, is evident from the fact that Jehovah spoke; and by "Jehovah" is meant the Lord, as above (n. 4068), thus the Divine. To be with him in whom this is, or who is this, is to be Divine. The supreme sense, which is concerning the Lord, is such that there appears a division in the sense of the letter; but in the supreme internal sense there is unity. GENESIS 31:1-3 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|