Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 33:1-3
AC 4337. In the foregoing chapters, where "Jacob" is spoken of, the subject treated of in the internal sense was the acquisition of truth in the natural, which acquisition is made in order that this truth may be conjoined with good, for all truth is for the sake of this end. "Jacob," in the internal sense, is this truth, and "Esau" is the good with which the truth is to be conjoined. Before the conjunction is effected, truth appears to be in the first place; but after the conjunction, good is actually in the first place (n. 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3701, 3995). This is also what is signified by the prophecy of Isaac to Esau:--
"Upon thy sword shalt thou live, and thou shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shall break his yoke from off thy neck" (Gen. 27:40).
And this state is what is described in the present chapter. For this reason Jacob calls Esau his "lord," and himself his "servant" (verses 5, 8, 13, 14).
 Be it known that Jacob here represents the good of truth. But regarded in itself the good of truth is only truth; for so long as truth is in the memory only, it is called truth; but when in the will and thence in act, it is called the good of truth; for to do truth is nothing else. Whatever proceeds from the will is called good, for the essential of the will is love and the derivative affection; and everything that is done from love and its affection is named good. Neither can truth be conjoined with the good that flows in through the internal man and is in its origin Divine (which is here represented by Esau), until the truth is truth in will and act; that is, the good of truth. For the good that flows in through the internal man and is in its origin Divine, flows into the will, and there meets the good of truth that has been insinuated through the external man.
AC 4338. Verses 1-3. And Jacob lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children over unto Leah, and over unto Rachel, and over unto the too handmaids. And he put the handmaids and their children first, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph after. And he himself passed over before them, and bowed himself to the earth seven times, until he drew near even unto his brother. "And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and saw," signifies the perception and attention of the good of truth, which is "Jacob;" "and behold Esau came," signifies Divine good natural; "and with him four hundred men," signifies the state; "and he divided the children over unto Leah," signifies the arrangement of external truths under their affection;" "and over unto Rachel," signifies the arrangement of interior truths under their affection; "and over unto the two handmaids," signifies under the affection of things that are of service to these affections; "and he put the handmaids and their children first, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph after," signifies order from the generals in which were the rest; "and be himself passed over before them," signifies the universal, thus all things; "and bowed himself to the earth seven times," signifies the submission of all things; "until he drew near even unto his brother," signifies conjunction on the part of the good from truth, which is "Jacob."
AC 4339. And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and saw. That this signifies the perception and attention of the good of truth, which is "Jacob," is evident from the signification of "lifting up his eyes and seeing," as being perception and attention. For lifting up the eyes is an external that corresponds to elevation of the mind (which is an internal), consequently to perception; and therefore "seeing" corresponds to attention. Jacob here represents the good of truth, (n. 4337).
AC 4340. And behold Esau came. That this signifies Divine good natural, is evident from the representation of Esau, as being Divine good in the natural (n. 3576).
AC 4341. And with him four hundred men. That this signifies its state, here the state of the conjunction of Divine good with truth in the natural, is because this conjunction is the subject treated of. "Four hundred" in the Word signifies the state and duration of temptation (n. 1847, 2959, 2966); and as all the conjunction of good with truth is effected through temptations, therefore it is a state of temptations which is here meant. Goods are conjoined with truths through temptations, (n. 2272, 3318); and temptations come when good begins to act the first part, (n. 4248, 4249); and also the union of the Lord’s Divine essence with His Human essence was effected through temptations, (n. 1737).
 The good itself which is to be conjoined with truth is not tempted, but the truth. And moreover truth is not tempted by good, but by falsities and evils, and also by fallacies and illusions and the affection of these, which adhere to truths in the natural. For when good flows in, which is effected by an internal way, or through the internal rational man, the ideas of the natural man, formed from the fallacies of the senses and the derivative illusions, cannot endure its approach, for they are in disagreement with it, and hence comes anxiety in the natural, and temptation. These are the things which are described in this chapter in the internal sense by Jacob‘s coming into fear and thence into anxiety, and consequently into a state of submission and humiliation, when Esau came with four hundred men; for their conjunction is not effected in any other way. From this it may be seen that by the "four hundred men" is signified a state of temptations; by "four hundred," this state itself, and by "men," the rational truths which are conjoined with good when it flows into the natural. By "men" are signified intellectual and rational things, (n. 265, 749, 1007, 3134).
 But these things are such as fall into obscurity with man, for the reason that when he is living in the body, the distinction between the rational and the natural does not appear not at all to those who are not regenerate, and very little even to those who are regenerate. For they do not react upon it, nor indeed do they care about it, for the knowledges of the interior things of man have been almost obliterated, and yet in old time these made the all of intelligence with men within the church. These things may however in some degree appear from what has been shown before concerning the rational and its influx into the natural, namely, that the natural is regenerated through the rational (n. 3286, 3288), and that the rational receives truths before the natural (n. 9368, 3671). These truths, which inflow with good from the rational into the natural, are what in the internal sense are signified by the "four hundred men" who came with Esau.
AC 4342. And he divided the children over unto Leah. That this signifies the arrangement of external truths under their affection, is evident from the signification of "dividing over unto," as being arrangement; from the signification of "children" or "sons," as being truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373); and from the representation of Leah, as being the affection of exterior truth (n. 3793, 3819). Hence the "children" or "sons" here denote truths of exterior affection, consequently external truths. Those truths are said to be external which are called sensuous truths, that is, those which flow in immediately from the world through the senses of the body. But interior truths (which are signified by the children of Rachel) are those which are interiorly in the natural, and are more nearly under the view of the rational, and to which fallacies and their illusions do not so strongly adhere as they do to sensuous truths. For the more interiorly truths go, the more are they purified from worldly and earthly things.
AC 4343. And over unto Rachel. That this signifies the arrangement of interior truths under their affection, is evident from the representation of Rachel, as being the affection of interior truth (n. 3758, 3782, 3793, 3819). Hence her "children" or "sons" here denote interior truths (n. 4342).
AC 4344. And over unto the two handmaids. That this signifies under the affection of things that are of service to these affections, is evident from the signification of "handmaids," as being the affections of memory-knowledges and of knowledges (n. 1895, 2567, 3835, 3849), and as being means that are of service for the conjunction of the external and the internal man (n. 3913, 3917); and from the representation of Zilpah and Bilhah, who here are the "handmaids," as being exterior affections that are of service as means (n. 3849, 3931).
AC 4345. And he put the handmaids and their children first, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph after. That this signifies order from more general things in which were all the rest, may be seen from what has been said just above respecting the signification of the "handmaids," of "Leah," of "Rachel," and of their "children" namely, that the "handmaids" denote the affections of memory-knowledges and of knowledges; "Leah," the affection of exterior truth; and "Rachel," the affection of interior truth. The affections of memory-knowledges and of knowledges are the most external, for memory-knowledges and knowledges themselves are things from which and in which are truths. The affection of external truth follows from this, and is more interior, and the affection of interior truth is still more interior. The more exterior they are, the more general also they are; and the more interior, the less general, and relatively are called particulars and singulars.
 With regard to generals, these are called generals because they consist of particulars, consequently because they contain particulars within them. Generals without particulars are not generals, but are so called from particulars. The case herein is like that of a whole and its parts. A whole cannot be called a whole unless there are parts, for the whole consists of parts. For in the nature of things there is nothing which does not come forth and subsist from other things, and because it comes forth and subsists from other things it is called a general, and the things of which it consists and from which it subsists are said to be particulars. External things are what consist of internal things, and therefore external things are relatively general. It is so with man and his faculties; the more exterior these are, the more general they are; for they consist of things more interior, and these of inmost things in order.
 The body itself, and the things of the body, such as those called the external senses and the actions, are relatively the most general. The natural mind and the things of this mind are less general, because more interior, and relatively are called particulars. But the rational mind and the things of this mind are still more interior, and relatively are singulars. All this is manifest to the life when man puts off the body and becomes a spirit; for it is then manifest to him that his bodily things had been no other than the most general of the things of his spirit, and that the bodily things had come forth and subsisted from those of his spirit; thus that the things of the spirit had been relatively particulars. And when the same spirit becomes an angel (that is, when he is uplifted into heaven), it is manifest to him that the same things which he had previously seen and felt in general, and thus in obscurity, he now sees and feels in particular and in clearness; for he now sees and feels innumerable things which he had previously seen and felt as one.
 This is also evident from man himself during his life in the world the things which he sees and feels in infancy are most general; but those which he sees and feels in childhood and youth are the particulars of these generals; and those which he sees and feels in adult age are the singulars of these particulars. For as a man advances in age, he insinuates particulars into the generals of infancy, and afterwards singulars into the particulars. For he advances successively toward things more interior, and infills the generals with particulars, and the particulars with singulars. From this it may now be seen what is meant by "order from the generals in which were all the rest," which is signified by his placing the handmaids and their children first, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and her children after.
 When a man is being regenerated, or what is the same, when the truths in him are being conjoined with good, the case is similar, and this is the subject here treated of. Then general affections with their truths (which here are the "handmaids" and their "children"), are first insinuated into good; then those less general (that is, those which are relatively particulars), which here are "Leah" and her "children;" and finally those still less general (that is, those which are relatively singulars), which here are "Rachel" and "Joseph." For man then passes in like manner as it were through ages, first being in his infancy, and then in childhood and youth, and finally in adult age.
AC 4346. And he himself passed over before them. That this signifies the universal, thus all things, is evident from the representation of Jacob, who here is "himself," as being the good of truth, that is, truth in will and act (n. 4337). The good of truth is the universal of all things; for the generals, particulars, and singulars spoken of just above, belong to it, because they are in it.
AC 4347. And bowed himself to the earth seven times. That this signifies the submission of all things, is evident from the signification of "bowing one’s self to the earth," as being an effect of humiliation (n. 2153), consequently submission. The highest degree of submission is signified by "seven times," and the submission of all things by "Jacob‘s bowing himself;" for Jacob represents the universal of all things (n. 4346).
 As regards humiliation and submission, few know why this must be in presence of the Divine when man is in worship; and consequently they do not know what it effects. They who are not in the knowledge of interior things cannot believe otherwise than that the Divine wills the humiliation and submission of man, as a man does who is in the lust of glory; and consequently that the Divine wills glory therefrom, and is affected with the glory which man ascribes to Him. But the case is altogether different. The Divine is not in any affection of glory, for what glory has the Divine from man? But He wills humiliation and submission, not for His own, but for man’s sake. For when man is in humiliation he feels aversion for the evil and falsity in him (n. 2327, 2423, 3994), and thus removes them, and on their removal the Divine can flow in with good and truth. Everyone may be aware of this in himself. He who is of elated mind is in the love of self, and not only sets himself above others, but also cares nothing for the Divine, and consequently rejects the influx of good, and thence its conjunction with truths. This is the genuine reason for man‘s humiliation before the Divine.
 It is therefore manifest that good cannot be conjoined with truths, thus that man cannot be regenerated, unless he humbles and submits himself. Humiliation and submission are predicated of truths because truths flow in through the external man, but good through the internal; and the things that inflow through the external man are attended with fallacies and the consequent falsities with their affections; whereas this is not the case with the things that inflow through the internal man, because it is the Divine that flows in through this, and comes to meet truths, in order that they may be conjoined. From this it is now manifest what is meant by the submission of all things, which is signified by Jacob’s "bowing himself to the earth seven times, until he drew near even unto his brother."
AC 4348. Until he drew near even unto his brother. That this signifies conjunction on the part of the good from truth which is "Jacob," is evident from the signification of "drawing near," as being to conjoin himself; from the representation of Esau, who here is the "brother," as being Divine good in the natural (n. 4337); and from the representation of Jacob, as being the good of truth (n. 4337). How these things are circumstanced has been explained just above (n. 4347). GENESIS 33:1-3 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|