Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 31:19-21
AC 4109. Verses 19-21. And Laban was bone to shear his flock; and Rachel stole the teraphim which were her father’s. And Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Aramean, in that he told him not that he was fleeing. And he fled, he and all that he had; and he arose and passed over the river, and set his faces toward the mountain of Gilead. "And Laban was gone to shear his flock," signifies a state of use and of an end of good, which is the "flock of Laban;" "and Rachel stole the teraphim which were her father‘s," signifies a change of the state signified by Laban in respect to truth; "and Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Aramean," signifies a change of the state signified by Laban in respect to good ("Laban the Aramean" here denotes as before such good as does not contain Divine truth and good) "in that he told him not that he was fleeing," signifies by the separation; "and he fled, he and all that he had," signifies separation; "and he arose," signifies elevation; "and passed over the river," signifies a state wherein is conjunction; "and set his faces toward the mountain of Gilead," signifies good therein.
AC 4110. And Laban was gone to shear his flock. That this signifies a state of use and of an end of good, which is the "flock of Laban," is evident from the signification of "shearing," as being use, and thus end, for use is end and from the signification of "a flock," as being good (n. 343, 2566). This shows that a state of use and of end is signified by " going to shear." The subject here treated of is the separation of the mediate good which is "Laban," from the good procured by it which is "Jacob;" but how the case is with this separation cannot be known except from the societies of the spirits who are in that good, and from whom it flows in with man, in regard to which I may state from experience the facts which follow.
 There are good spirits, there are spirits of a middle sort, and there are evil spirits, who are adjoined to man during his regeneration, to the end that by their means he may be introduced into genuine goods and truths, and this by the Lord by means of angels; but they are such spirits or societies of spirits as are not in agreement with the person to be regenerated, except for a time; and therefore, when they have performed their use, they are separated. Their separation is effected in various ways- that of the good spirits in one way, that of the spirits of a middle sort in another way, and that of the evil spirits in still another way. The separation of the good spirits is effected without their being aware of it, for they know that of the Lord’s good pleasure it is well with them wherever they may be, or whithersoever they may be by Him transferred. But the separation of the spirits of a middle sort is effected by many means, even until they withdraw in freedom. For they are remitted into the state of their good, and therefore into a state of use and of the consequent end, in order that they may perceive therein their delight and their bliss. But inasmuch as they had found pleasure in their previous association with the regenerating man, they are by turns brought to it and sent away from it, until at last they feel discomfort in any further stay, and so withdraw in freedom. The evil spirits also are indeed removed in freedom, but in a freedom which only appears to them as freedom. They are adjoined for the purpose of introducing opposing ideas and feelings which are to be rejected, in order that the man may be the better confirmed in truths and goods; and when he begins to be confirmed in these, they perceive a discomfort in remaining, and a delight in separation, and in this manner they are separated in a freedom that comes of their delight. Such is the case with the separation of the spirits from a man when he is being regenerated, and consequently with the changes of his state as to good and truth.
 That "to shear a flock" denotes to perform use, is evident from the fact that in the internal sense the "shearing of a flock" is nothing else than use, for wool is obtained thereby. That "sheepshearing" denotes use, is also plain from these words in Moses:--
Every firstling male which is born of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto Jehovah thy God; thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thine ox, nor shear the firstling of thy flock; but thou shalt eat it before Jehovah thy God year by year in the place which Jehovah shall choose (Deut. 15:19)
where "not to shear the firstling of the flock" denotes not to make a household use from it. As "sheep-shearing" signified use, it was in those days an office and function of distinction to shear the flock and to be present at the shearings, as may be seen from what is said of Judah, that "he sheared his flock" (Gen. 38:12, 13); and of the sons of David, in the second book of Samuel:--
It came to pass after two years of days, that Absalom had sheep-shearers in Baalhazor, which is in Ephraim and Absalom called all the king‘s sons; and Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now thy servant hath sheep-shearers; let the king, I pray thee, and his servants, go with thy servant (2 Sam. 13:23, 24).
AC 4111. And Rachel stole the teraphim which were her father’s. That this signifies a change of the state signified by "Laban" in respect to truth, is evident from the signification here of "stealing" as being to take away what is dear and holy, thus to change the state; from the signification of the "teraphim," as being truths; and from the signification of "father," here Laban, as being the good signified by him; "father" also signifies good (n. 3703). From all this it is evident that by "Rachel stole the teraphim which were her father‘s," is signified a change of the state signified by "Laban" in respect to truth.
 What these things involve may also be seen from the state of spirits when they are being separated. The states of spirits in respect to good and truth are in accordance with the societies in which they are; for as before shown all thought inflows through others, and proximately through those with whom the subjects of the thought are in society; and therefore when these are removed from one society and are sent into another, the states of their thoughts and affections are changed, and consequently their state as to truth and good. But if they are sent into unaccordant societies, they have a sense of discomfort, and consequently a sense of restraint, and therefore they are separated from those societies and are carried away into accordant ones. It is for this reason that the evil cannot be present or stay in societies of the good, nor the good in societies of the evil; and that all spirits and angels have been distinguished into societies in accordance with the affections which are of love. But every affection of love contains within it manifold and various things (n. 3078, 3189, 4005); and yet one thing is regnant, so that each spirit can be in a number of societies, but still strives continually toward that one which is of his reigning affection, and is at last brought into it.
 As regards the good signified by "Laban," and its change of state, so long as it was with the good represented by Jacob, it was nearer the Divine, for "Jacob" is that good in the natural; and as it was nearer the Divine, it was also then in a more perfect state of truth and good; but when it was separated from this good, it came into another state both as to truth and as to good. For speaking generally, the changes of state in the other life are nothing else than approaches to the Divine and removals from the Divine. From this it is now manifest what is meant by the change of state when the good signified by "Laban" was being separated.
 That "Rachel stole the teraphim which were her father’s," signifies a change of state as to truths, is because by the "teraphim" are meant his gods, as is evident from what follows, for Laban says to Jacob:--Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods? And Jacob answered, With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, he shall not live before our brethren (verses 30 and 32); and in the internal sense "gods" signify truths, for which reason in the Word "God" is named when the subject is truth (n. 2586, 2769, 2807, 2822).
 The teraphim were idols that were used when they consulted or inquired of God, and because the answers which they received were to them truths Divine, truths were therefore signified by "teraphim," as in Hosea:--
The sons of Israel sat many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without ephod and teraphim (Hosea 3:4)
"ephod and teraphim" denote the truths Divine they received by the answers, for when they inquired of God, they put on the ephod (1 Sam. 23:9-12). In Zechariah:--
The teraphim speak iniquity, and the diviners see a lie, and the dreams speak vanity (Zech. 10:2)
where also the "teraphim" denote answers, but in that state iniquitous ones.
 And because such things were signified by "teraphim," they were found with some, although they were forbidden; as with Micah, in the book of Judges:--
Micah had a house of God, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and filled the hand of one of his sons, that he might become his priest. And some of the Danites said to their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod and teraphim, and a graven image and a molten image? And when these went into the house of Micah, they took the graven image, the ephod and the teraphim, and the molten image. And the priest‘s heart was good, and he took the ephod and the teraphim and the graven image. And Micah followed the sons of Dan, and said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and are gone away, and what have I more? (Judges 17:5; 18:14, 18, 20, 24).
Michal also, David’s wife, had them, as related in the first book of Samuel:--
And Michal took the teraphim, and laid them in the bed, and covered them with a garment. And Saul‘s messengers came, and behold, the teraphim were in the bed (1 Sam. 19:13, 16).
That nevertheless they were idols, which were forbidden, is manifest from what is said of them elsewhere (1 Sam. 15:23; 2 Kings 23:24; Ezek. 21:26).
AC 4112. And Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Aramean. That this signifies a change of the state signified by "Laban" in respect to good, is evident from the signification of "stealing," as being to take away what is dear and holy, and thus to change the state (n. 4111); from the signification of the "heart," as being that which proceeds from the will; and when the will is a will of good, the "heart" denotes good (n. 2930, 3313, 3888, 3889); and from the representation of Laban, as being mediate good, which is now being separated; and because it is being separated, Laban is now called "the Aramean," as also in the following verse, (n. 24); for "Laban the Aramean" denotes such good, in which there is not Divine good and truth as before. The reason why this is signified, is that Aram, or Syria, was separated from the land of Canaan by the river Euphrates, and was therefore outside the land of Canaan, by which in the internal sense is signified the Lord’s kingdom, and in the supreme sense the Lord‘s Divine Human (n. 4108). "Aram" and "Syria" specifically signify the knowledges of truth and good (n. 1232, 1234, 3051, 3249, 3664, 3680), and this because the Ancient Church was there also, and the remains of it continued there a long time, as is evident from Balaam, who was from that country, and who had knowledge of Jehovah and also prophesied concerning the Lord. But after idolatry had grown there, and Abram had been called away, and the representative church had been instituted in the land of Canaan, Aram or Syria put on the representation of a region out of the church, or separate from the church, and therefore remote from the things of the Lord’s kingdom; although still retaining its signification of the knowledges of good and truth. The reason why Jacob is said to have "stolen the heart of Laban" by not telling him that he would flee, is that a change of state as to truth was spoken of just above, and here therefore a change of state as to good; for where truth is treated of in the Word, good is also treated of, because of the heavenly marriage of good and truth in every particular of the Word (n. 683, 793, 801, 2516, 2712)
AC 4113. In that he told him not that he was fleeing. That this signifies by the separation, is evident without explication. By "Jacob stole the heart of Laban, in that he told him not that he was fleeing," is meant in the historical sense that Jacob deprived Laban of the hope of getting possession of all things that were his, and reduced him to a state of distress. For Laban had believed that because Jacob served him, all things that were Jacob‘s became his; not only his daughters who were Jacob’s wives, and their sons, but also his flocks, according to the known and received law of that time, as found in Moses:--
If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If his master give him a wife, and she bear him sons and daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master‘s, and he shall go out with his body (Exod. 21:2, 4).
That he had so thought, is manifest from Jacob’s words in what follows in this chapter:--Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Dread of Isaac had been with me, surely now hadst thou sent me away empty (verse 42); and from Laban‘s:--Laban answered and said unto Jacob, The daughters are my daughters, and the sons are my sons, and the flock is my flock, and all that thou seest is mine (verse 43) not considering that Jacob was not a bought servant, nor indeed a servant at all, and that he was of a more noble family than he, and also that he had received as his reward both his wives and his flock; so that the law did not apply to Jacob. Now as Jacob by his fleeing had deprived Laban of this hope, and thus had reduced him to a state of distress, it is said that he "stole the heart of Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he was fleeing." But by these words in the internal sense is signified the change by the separation of the state signified by "Laban" in respect to good. Concerning change of state by separation, see what has been said just above (n. 4111).
AC 4114. And he fled, he and all that he had. That this signifies separation, is evident from what has just been said, and without further explication.
AC 4115. And he arose. That this signifies elevation, is evident from what has been said above concerning the signification of "arising" (n. 4103).
AC 4116. And he passed over the river. That this signifies a state wherein is conjunction, is evident from the signification of the "river," here the Euphrates, as being conjunction, namely, with the Divine. The "river" has this signification here, because it was the boundary of the land of Canaan on that side; and all the boundaries of the land of Canaan represented and thence signified what was last and what was first; what was last because there there was an ending, and what was first because there there was a beginning; for all boundaries are of such a nature as to be last to those who are going out, and first to those who are entering in. As Jacob was now entering in, that river was his first boundary, and consequently denotes conjunction, namely, in the supreme sense, with the Divine; for by the land of Canaan in the internal sense there is signified the Lord’s celestial kingdom (n. 1607, 3481); and in the supreme sense the Lord‘s Divine Human (n. 3038, 3705). From this it is evident what is here signified by Jacob’s passing over the river. All things in the land of Canaan were representative in accordance with their distances, situations, and boundaries, (n. 1585, 3686); and so were the rivers which bounded it, as the river of Egypt, the Euphrates, and the Jordan, (n. 1866).
AC 4117. And set his faces toward the mountain of Gilead. That this signifies good therein, is evident from the signification of a "mountain," as being the celestial of love, that is, good (n. 795, 1430), with which there was conjunction "Gilead" signifies its quality. As the river was the boundary, and as before said the first of conjunction was there, therefore the "mountain of Gilead," which was on the hither side of the Jordan, signifies the good with which this first of conjunction took place.
 The land of Gilead, where the mountain stood, was within the limits of the land of Canaan as understood in a broad sense. It was on the hither side of the Jordan, and passed as an inheritance to the Reubenites and the Gadites, and especially to the half tribe of Manasseh; and as the inheritances extended thus far, it is said that it was within the limits of the land of Canaan as understood in a broad sense. That it passed as an inheritance to them, is evident in Moses (Num. 32:1, 26-41; Deut. 3:8, 10-16; Josh. 13:24-31). Therefore when the land of Canaan was presented in one complex, it was said, "from Gilead even unto Dan," and in another sense, "from Beer-sheba even unto Dan," for Dan also was a boundary (n. 1710, 3923). As regards the expression "from Beer-sheba even unto Dan," see above (n. 2858, 2859). "From Gilead even unto Dan" is found in Moses:--
Moses went up from the plains of Noah upon Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho and Jehovah showed him all the land of Gilead even unto Dan (Deut. 34:1, 2)
and in the book of Judges:
Gilead dwelleth in the passage of the Jordan and Dan, why shall he fear the ships? (Judges 5:17).
 Because Gilead was a boundary, it signified in the spiritual sense the first good, which is that of the senses of the body; for it is the good or the pleasure of these into which the man who is being regenerated is first of all initiated. In this sense is "Gilead" taken in the Prophets, as in (Jer. 8:20, 22; 22:6; 46:11; 50:19; Ezek. 47:18; Obad. 1:19; Micah 7:14; Zech. 10:10; Ps. 60:7); and in the opposite sense in (Hos. 6:8; 12:12).GENESIS 31:19-21 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|