Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 32:1-2
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AC 4233. Verses 1, 2. And Jacob went to his way, and the angels of God ran to meet him. And Jacob said when he saw them, This is the camp of God; and he called the name of that place Mahanaim. "And Jacob went to his way," signifies the successive advance of truth toward its conjunction with spiritual and celestial good; "and the angels of God ran to meet him," signifies enlightenment from good; "and Jacob said when he saw them, This is the camp of God," signifies heaven; "and be called the name of that place Mahanaim;" signifies the quality of the state.

AC 4234. And Jacob went to his way. That this signifies the successive advance of truth toward its conjunction with spiritual and celestial good, is evident from the representation of Jacob, as being here the truth of the natural. What Jacob represented has been already stated, namely, the Lord‘s natural; and as where Jacob is treated of in the historical narrative, in the internal sense the Lord is treated of, and how He made His natural Divine, therefore Jacob first represented the truth in that natural, and then the truth to which was adjoined the collateral good which was "Laban;" and after the Lord had ad-joined this good, Jacob represented it; but such good is not the good Divine in the natural, but is a mediate good by means of which the Lord could receive good Divine; and this mediate good was the good that Jacob represented when he withdrew from Laban. Nevertheless in itself this good is truth which from its mediate character possesses the capacity of conjoining itself with the good Divine in the natural. Such then is the truth that Jacob now represents.

[2] But the good with which this truth was to be conjoined is represented by Esau. Esau is the Divine good of the Lord’s Divine natural, (n. 3300, 3302, 3494, 3504, 3527, 3576, 3599, 3669, 3677). It is this very conjunction of truth Divine with the good Divine of the Lord‘s Divine natural, that is now treated of in the supreme sense. For after Jacob withdrew from Laban and came to the Jordan, thus to the first entrance into the land of Canaan, he advances into the representation of this conjunction; for in the internal sense the land of Canaan signifies heaven, and in the supreme sense the Lord’s Divine Human (n. 3038, 3705). It is for this reason that by the words, "and Jacob went to his way," is signified the successive advance of truth toward conjunction with spiritual and celestial good.

[3] But these things are of such a nature as to prevent their being fully set forth to the apprehension; the cause of which is that the most general things of this subject are unknown in the learned world, even among Christians. For it is scarcely known what the natural in man is, and what the rational, and that these are altogether distinct from each other; and scarcely even what spiritual truth is, and what its good, and that these also are most distinct from each other. Still less is it known that when man is being regenerated, truth is conjoined with good, in one distinct way in the natural, and in another distinct way in the rational, and this by innumerable means. It is not even known that the Lord made His Human Divine according to the same order as that in which He regenerates man.

[4] Since therefore these most general things are unknown, it must needs be that whatever is said about them will appear obscure. Nevertheless they have to be stated, because otherwise the Word cannot he unfolded as to its internal sense. At the very least this may be the means of showing how great angelic wisdom is, and also of what kind it is, for the internal sense of the Word is chiefly for the angels.

AC 4235. And the angels of God ran to meet him. That this signifies enlightenment from good, is evident from the signification of the "angels of God," as being something of the Lord; here, the Divine which was in the Lord; for in the Lord was the Divine Itself which is called the "Father." The very essence of life (which in man is called the soul) was therefrom, and was Himself. This Divine is what is called in common speech the Divine nature, or rather the Lord‘s Divine essence. Something of the Divine of the Lord is signified in the Word by the "angels of God," (n. 1925, 2319, 2821, 3039, 4085). By "the angels of God running to meet him" is signified in the proximate sense the influx of the Divine into the natural, and the consequent enlightenment; for all enlightenment is from the influx of the Divine. As the subject treated of is the inversion of state in the Lord’s natural, in order that good might be in the first place, and truth in the second; and as the subject treated of in this first part of the chapter is the implantation of truth in good therein (n. 4232), and as this could not be effected without enlightenment from the Divine, therefore the first thing treated of is the enlightenment effected by the good into which truth was to be implanted.

AC 4236. And Jacob said when he said them, This is the camp of God. That this signifies heaven, is because the "camp of God" signifies heaven, for the reason that an "army" signifies truths and goods (n. 3448), and truths and goods are marshalled by the Lord in heavenly order; hence an "encamping" denotes a marshalling by armies; and the heavenly order itself which is heaven, is the "camp." This "camp" or order is of such a nature that hell cannot possibly break in upon it, although it is in the constant endeavor to do so. Hence also this order, or heaven, is called a "camp," and the truths and goods (that is, the angels) who are marshalled in this order, are called "armies." This shows whence it is that the "camp of God" signifies heaven. It is this very order, and thus heaven itself, which was represented by the encampments of the sons of Israel in the wilderness; and their dwelling together in the wilderness according to their tribes was called the "camp." The tabernacle in the midst, and around which they encamped, represented the Lord Himself. That the sons of Israel encamped in this manner, may be seen in (Numbers 1:1-54; 33:2-56) as also that they encamped around the tabernacle by their tribes-toward the east Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; toward the south Reuben, Simeon, and Gad; toward the west Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin; toward the north Dan, Asher, and Naphtali; and the Levites in the middle near the tabernacle (Numbers 2:2-34).

[2] The tribes signified all goods and truths in the complex (n. 3858, 3862, 3926, 3939, 4060). It was for this reason that when Balaam saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes, and the spirit of God came upon him, he uttered his enunciation, saying:--

How good are thy tabernacles, O Jacob, thy dwelling places, O Israel, as the valleys are they planted, as gardens by the river (Num. 26:5, 6).

That by this prophecy was not meant the people named Jacob and Israel, but that it was the heaven of the Lord that was represented, is very manifest. For the same reason their marshallings in the wilderness, that is, their encampings by tribes, are called "camps" in other passages of the Word; and by a "camp" is there signified in the internal sense heavenly order; and by "encamping" a marshalling in accordance with this order, namely, the order in which goods and truths are disposed in heaven, as in (Lev. 4:12; 8:17; 13:46; 14:8; 16:26, 28; 24:14, 23; Num. 4:5-33; 5:2-4; 9:17; 10:1-10, 28; 11:31, 32; 12:14, 15; 31:19-24; Deut. 23:10-14).

[3] That the "camp of God" denotes heaven may also be seen in Joel:--

The earth quaked before Him, the heavens trembled, the sun and the moon were blackened, and the stars withdrew their brightness, and Jehovah uttered His voice before His army, for His camp is exceeding many, for numerous is he that doeth His word (Joel 2:10, 11).

In Zechariah:--

I will encamp at my house from the army, on account of him who passeth by, and on account of him who goeth away, lest the extortioner should pass over them (Zech. 9:8).

In John:--

Gog and Magog went up over the plain of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; but fire came up from God and consumed them (Rev. 20:9);

"Gog and Magog" denote those who are in external worship that is separated from internal and made idolatrous (n. 1151); the "plain of the earth" denotes the truth of the church. A "plain" is the truth which is of doctrine (n. 2450); and the "earth" is the church, (n. 556, 662, 1066, 1067, 1850, 2117, 2118, 3355); the "camp of the saints" denotes the heaven or kingdom of the Lord on the earth, which is the church.

[4] As most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so likewise has a "camp," which then signifies evils and falsities, consequently hell; as in David:--

Though the evil should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear (Ps. 27:3).

In the same:--

God hath scattered the bones of them that encamp against me thou hast put them to shame, because God hath rejected them (Ps. 53:5).

By the camp of Assyria, in which the angel of Jehovah smote a hundred and eighty-five thousand (Isa. 37:36), nothing else is meant; and the same by the camp of the Egyptians (Exod. 14:20).

AC 4237. And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. That this signifies the quality of the state, is evident from the signification of "calling a name," as being quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 3421); and from the signification of "place" as being state (n. 2625, 2837, 3356, 3387). In the original language "Mahanaim" means "two camps;" and "two camps" signify both heavens, or both kingdoms of the Lord, the celestial and the spiritual; and in the supreme sense the Lord‘s Divine celestial and Divine spiritual. Hence it is evident that the quality of the Lord’s state when His natural was being enlightened by spiritual and celestial good, is signified by "Mahanaim." But this quality of the state cannot be described, because the Divine states which the Lord had when He made the human in Himself Divine, do not fall into any human apprehension, nor even into angelic, except by means of appearances enlightened by the light of heaven which is from the Lord; and by means of the states of man‘s regeneration; for the regeneration of man is an image of the Lord’s glorification (n. 3138, 3212, 3296, 3490).

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