Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 32:6-8
AC 4246. Verses 6-8. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother, to Esau, and moreover he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him. And Jacob feared exceedingly, and was distressed; and he halved the people that was with him, and the flock, and the herd, and the camels, into two camps. And he said, If Esau come to the one camp, and smite it, then there will be a camp left for escape. " And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother, to Esau, and moreover he cometh to meet thee," signifies that good flows in continually, so as to appropriate to itself; "and four hundred men with him," signifies its state now, that it may take the prior place; "and Jacob feared exceedingly, and was distressed," signifies the state when it is being changed; "and he halved the people that was with him, and the flock, and the herd, and the camels, into two camps," signifies the preparation and disposal of the truths and goods in the natural to receive the good represented by Esau; "and he said, If Esau come to the one camp, and smite it, then there will be a camp left for escape," signifies according to every event.
AC 4247. And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy‘ brother, to Esau, and moreover he cometh to meet thee. That this signifies that good flows in continually, so as to appropriate to itself (namely, truths), is evident from the signification of "brother," here Esau, as being good, (namely, that of the Lord’s Divine natural, of which above); and from the signification of "coming to meet," as being to flow in; and as influx is signified, so is appropriation.
 From what has been said several times before on this subject, it may be seen how the case is with good and truth, and with the influx of good into truth, and with the appropriation of truth by good, namely, that good is continually flowing in, and that truth receives it, for truths are the vessels of good. The Divine good cannot be applied to any other vessels than genuine truths, for they correspond to each other. When a man is in the affection of truth (in which he is in the beginning before he begins to be regenerated), even then good is continually flowing in, but as yet has no vessels (that is, truths) into which to apply itself (that is, to be appropriated); for in the beginning of regeneration man is not as yet in knowledges. At that time however, as good is continually flowing in, it produces the affection of truth; which is from no other source than the continual endeavor of Divine good to flow in. From this it is evident that even at that time good is in the first place, and acts the principal part, although it appears as if it were truth that did this. But when a man is being regenerated (which takes place in adult age when he is in knowledges), good then manifests itself; for the man is not then so much in the affection of knowing truth, as in the affection of doing it. Heretofore truth had been in his understanding, but now it is in his will; and when it is in the will, it is in the man; for the will constitutes the man himself. Such is the constant circle in man that everything of knowledge is insinuated through the sight or through the hearing into the thought, and from this into the will, and from the will through the thought into act. Or again from the memory, which is like an internal eye, or internal sight, there is a similar circle-from this sight through the thought into the will, and from the will through the thought into act; or if anything hinders, into the endeavor to act, which, as soon as that which hindered is removed, goes forth into act.
 From this it is evident how the case is with influx, and with the appropriation of truth by good, namely, that first of all the truths of faith are insinuated through the hearing or through the sight, and are then stored up in the memory; from which they are successively elevated into knowledge, and at last flow into the will, and when in this they proceed thence through thought into act; and if they cannot go into act, they are in endeavor, which is itself an internal act, and whenever there is an opportunity this becomes an external act. Be it known however that while there is this circle, nevertheless it is good which produces the circle; for the life which is from the Lord does not flow in except into good, thus through good, and this from the inmosts. That the life which flows in through the inmosts produces this circle, may be seen by everyone, for without life nothing is produced; and as the life which is from the Lord does not flow in except into good and through good, it follows that good is that which produces; and that it flows into truths, and appropriates them to itself, in so far as the man is in the knowledges of truth, and is at the same time desirous to receive them.
AC 4248. And four hundred men with him. That this signifies its state now, that it may take the prior place, is evident from the signification of "four hundred," as properly being temptations and their duration (n. 2959, 2966). This is the state which is meant, as may be seen from what follows, namely, that "he feared exceedingly, and was distressed," and therefore "halved his camp into two" (verses 7, 8); and also that out of fear be made ardent supplication to Jehovah (verses 9-12); and finally wrestled with an angel, by which wrestling is signified temptation, as will be evident from the explication of this wrestling in what follows in this chapter. When the state with the man who is being regenerated is being inverted, that is, when good takes the first place, then come temptations. Before this time the man cannot undergo them, because he is not yet in the knowledges wherewith to defend himself, and to which he may have recourse for comfort. For this reason also no one undergoes temptations until he has arrived at adult age. Temptations are what unite truths to good (n. 2272, 3318, 3696, 3928). From this it is manifest that by the "four hundred men with him" is signified the state, that good may take the prior place.
AC 4249. And Jacob feared exceedingly‘, and was distressed. That this signifies the state when it is being changed, is evident from the fact that fear and distress are what is first in temptations, and that when the state is being inverted or changed these take precedence. The arcana which lie hidden more at large in what is here said that Esau went to meet Jacob with four hundred men, and that Jacob therefore feared and was distressed-cannot easily be set forth to the apprehension, for they are too interior. This only may be presented: that when good is taking the prior place and is subordinating truths to itself, which takes place when the man is undergoing spiritual temptations, the good that then flows in from within is attended with very many truths which have been stored up in his interior man. These cannot come to his mental view and apprehension until good acts the first part, for then the natural begins to be enlightened by good, whence it becomes apparent what things in it are in accord, and what are discordant, from which come the fear and distress that precede spiritual temptation. For spiritual temptation acts upon the conscience, which is of the interior man; and therefore when he enters into this temptation the man does not know whence come such fear and distress, although the angels with him know this well; for the temptation comes from the angels holding the man in goods and truths while evil spirits are holding him in evils and falsities.
 For the things that come forth with the spirits and angels who are with a man are perceived by the man exactly as if they were in him; for while a man is living in the body, and does not believe that all things flow in, he supposes that the things which come forth interiorly are not produced by causes outside of him, but that all the causes are within him, and are his very own; yet such is not the case. For whatever a man thinks and whatever he wills (that is, his every thought and his every affection) are either from hell or from heaven. When he thinks and wills evils, and is delighted with the consequent falsities, he may know that his thoughts and affections are from bell; and while he is thinking and willing goods, and is delighted with the derivative truths, he may know that they are from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord. But the thoughts and affections that appertain to a man appear for the most part under another aspect; as for example, the combat of evil spirits with angels that arises from the things which appertain to a man who is to be regenerated, appears under the aspect of fear and distress, and of temptation.
 These statements cannot but appear to man as paradoxes, because almost every man of the church at this day believes that all the truth which he thinks, and the good which he wills and does, are from himself, although he says otherwise when he speaks from the doctrine of faith. Nay, of such a nature is man that if anyone should say to him that there are evil spirits from hell who are flowing into his thought and will when he thinks and wills evils, and angels from heaven when he thinks and wills goods, he would stand amazed that anyone should maintain such a thing; for he would say that he feels life in himself, and thinks from himself and wills from himself. From this feeling in himself he forms his belief, and not from his doctrine; when yet the doctrine is true, but the feeling fallacious. It has been given me to know this from an almost continual experience of many years, and so to know it that no doubt whatever remains.
AC 4250. And he halved the people that was with him, and the flock, and the herd, and the camels, into two camps. That this signifies the preparation and disposal of the truths and goods in the natural to receive the good represented by Esau, is evident from the signification of "people," as being truths, and also falsities (n. 1259, 1260, 3581); from the signification of "flock," as being interior goods, and also things not good; from the signification of "herd," as being exterior goods, and also things not good (n. 2566, 4244); from the signification of "camels," as being exterior or general truths, and also things not true (n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145); and from the signification of "camps," as being order in a good sense genuine order, and in the opposite sense order not genuine (n. 4236). That by "to halve" is here meant to divide into two, and thus to dispose one’s self to receive, is manifest. How these things are circumstanced is evident from what was said just above, namely, that when good flows in, as is the case when the order is being inverted and good is taking the prior place, the natural is then enlightened, and it is seen what is genuine truth and good therein, and what not genuine; and the one kind is also discerned from the other, and thus some are retained, while others are removed; and hence the order becomes altogether different from what it had been before. For when good rules it is attended with this effect, because truths are then nothing but ministers and servants, and are disposed more and more nearly in accordance with heavenly order, according to the reception of good by truths, and also according to the quality of the good; for good takes its quality from truths.
AC 4251. And he said, If Esau come to the one camp, and smite it, then there will be a camp left for escape. That this signifies according to every event, is evident from the signification of a "camp," as being order; from the signification of "smiting," as being to destroy; and from the signification of "there will be a camp left for escape," as being that order should not perish in the natural, but that something should remain; and thus that there should be preparation and disposal in accordance with every event. For so long as truth has the dominion in the natural, it cannot see what is genuine truth and what not genuine, nor what is good; but when the good which is of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor has the dominion therein, then it sees this; and hence it is that when that time or state is at hand in which good takes the dominion, the man is almost in ignorance of what good and truth are, and thus of what is to be destroyed and what retained-as is plainly manifest in temptations. When a man is in such ignorance, then are made preparation and disposal, not by the man, but by the Lord; in the present case, by the Lord in Himself, because the Lord by His own power disposed and reduced all things in Himself into Divine order. GENESIS 32:6-8 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|