Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 34:13-17
AC 4458. Verses 13-17. And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father in fraud, and spake, because he had defiled Dinah their sister; and they said unto them, We cannot do this word, to give our sister to a man that hath a foreskin, because this would be a reproach unto us. Nevertheless in this we will consent to you, if ye be as we, to circumcise for you every male. We will both give our daughters to you, and will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will be for one people. And if ye will not listen unto us to circumcise, we will even take our daughter and go. "And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father in fraud," signifies an evil opinion and intention concerning the truth and good of the Church among the Ancients; "and spake, because he had defiled Dinah their sister," signifies that the initiation to conjunction, which could not be different, should be made by accession; "and they said unto them, We cannot do this word," signifies that they disapproved; "to give our sister to a man that hath a foreskin," signifies unless they made the truth and good of the church to consist in representatives, and would recede from the things which these signify; "because this would be a reproach unto us," signifies that this would be contrary to them; "nevertheless in this will we consent to you, if ye be as we," signifies accession to their religiosity; "to circumcise for you every male," signifies an external representative only, and that so they would be pure to them; "we will both give our daughters to you, and will take your daughters to us," signifies conjunction in this manner; "and we will dwell with you," signifies in respect to life; "and we will be for one people," signifies in respect to doctrine; "and if ye will not listen unto us to circumcise," signifies unless they would recede from their truths and accede to external representatives; "We will even take our daughter and go," signifies that there would be no conjunction.
AC 4459. And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father in fraud. That this signifies an evil opinion and intention concerning the truth and good of the Church among the Ancients, is evident from the representation of Shechem, as being the truth among the ancients, or what is the same, truth from the ancient Divine stock (n. 4399, 4454); from the representation of Hamor, as being the good from which came this truth (n. 4399, 4431, 4447, 4454); and from the signification of "fraud,"’ as being an evil opinion and intention, for in a general sense "fraud" implies evil against another, and against what he speaks and what he does, because he who is in fraud thinks and intends that which is contrary to another, as is also evident from the effect described in this chapter. Hence it is evident that by the "sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father in fraud," is signified an evil opinion and intention concerning the truth and good of the Church among the Ancients.
 The sons or descendants of Jacob could have no other than an evil opinion and intention concerning the truth and good of the internal man, because they were in externals without internals (n. 4281, 4293, 4307, 4429, 4433); and they also made internal things of no account, and therefore utterly despised them. Such also is that nation at this day, and such are all who are in external things alone. They who are in external things alone do not even know what it is to be in internal things, for they do not know what that which is internal is. If anyone in their presence mentions what is internal they either affirm it to be so because they know it from doctrine (yet making this affirmation in fraud), or else they deny it with both heart and lips, for they go no further than the sensuous things of the external man. Consequently they do not believe in any life after death, nor that any resurrection is possible unless they are to rise with their bodies, and therefore they are permitted to have such an opinion of the resurrection, because otherwise they would have none at all, for they vest all life in the body, not knowing that the life of the body is from the life of the spirit which lives after death. They who are in externals alone can have no other belief; for with them external things extinguish all thought about internal things, and consequently all faith in them.
 At the present day this kind of ignorance reigns supreme, and therefore it is necessary to state what it is to be in external things apart from internal things. All those who are devoid of conscience are in external things alone, for the internal man manifests itself by conscience; and all those have no conscience who think and do what is true and good not for the sake of what is true and good, but for the sake of self by reason of their own honor and gain, and also merely on account of the fear of the law and of fear for their life, for if their reputation, honor, gain, or life were not endangered, they would rush without conscience into all kinds of wickedness. In the other life this is very evident from those who have been of this character in the life of the body, for there, where the interiors are open, they are in the perpetual endeavor to destroy others, and therefore they are in hell, where they are kept bound in a spiritual manner.
 That it may be further known what it is to be in external things, and what to be in internal things, and that they who are in external things alone cannot conceive what internal things are, and therefore cannot be affected by them (for no one is affected by things of which he has no conception), let us take as an example that in heaven to be least is to be greatest, and that to be humble is to be exalted; and also that to be poor and needy is to be rich and in abundance. They who are in external things alone cannot apprehend these things, for they think that the least cannot possibly be the greatest, nor the humble be exalted, the poor rich, or the needy in abundance, although in heaven this is precisely how the matter stands. And because they cannot apprehend these things they cannot be affected by them, and when from the bodily and worldly things in which they are, they reflect upon them, they feel an aversion for them. That such things exist in heaven they know not at all, and so long as they are in external things alone they do not desire to know them, nay, they cannot know them. Nevertheless in heaven the man who knows, acknowledges, and believes from the heart--that is, from affection--that he has no power from himself, but that all the power he has is from the Lord, is said to be the least, and yet is the greatest, because he has power from the Lord. The case is the same with the man who is humble, in that he is exalted; for he who is humble, acknowledging and believing from affection that he has no power of himself, no intelligence and wisdom of himself, and no good and truth of himself, is pre-eminently endowed by the Lord with power, with the intelligence of truth, and with the wisdom of good. It is the same with the poor and needy in respect to their being rich and in abundance; for he is said to be poor and needy who believes from his heart and from affection that he possesses nothing of himself, that he knows nothing and is wise in nothing of himself, and has no power of himself. In heaven such a man is rich and has abundance, for the Lord gives him all wealth, insomuch that he is wiser than all others and richer than all others, and dwells in the most magnificent palaces (n. 1116, 1626, 1627), and in the stores of all the riches of heaven.
 Take also as an example that one who is in external things alone cannot possibly comprehend that heavenly joy is to love his neighbor more than himself and the Lord above all things, and that happiness is according to the quantity and quality of this love; for the man who is in external things alone loves himself more than his neighbor; and if he loves others it is because they favor him, so that he loves them for the sake of himself, thus himself in them, and them in himself. A man of this character cannot know what it is to love others more than himself, and indeed he neither will nor can know it, and therefore when he is told that heaven consists in such love (n. 548) he feels an aversion for it Hence it is that they who during their bodily life have been of this character cannot approach any heavenly society, for when they do so, in their aversion they cast themselves headlong into hell.
 As there are few at this day who know what it is to be in external things, and what to be in internal things, and as most people believe that they who are in internal things cannot be in external things, and the converse, I may for the sake of illustration adduce one more example. Take the nourishment of the body and the nourishment of the soul: one who is in merely external pleasures, makes much of himself, indulges his stomach, loves to live sumptuously, and makes the height of pleasure to consist in eatables and drinkables. One who is in internal things also finds pleasure in these things, but his ruling affection is to nourish his body with food pleasurably for the sake of its health, to the end that he may have a sound mind in a sound body, thus chiefly for the sake of the health of the mind, to which the health of the body serves as a means. One who is a spiritual man does not rest here, but regards the health of the mind or soul as a means for the acquisition of intelligence and wisdom--not for the sake of reputation, honors, and gain, but for the sake of the life after death. One who is spiritual in a more interior degree regards intelligence and wisdom as a mediate end having for its object that he may serve as a useful member in the Lord‘s kingdom; and one who is a celestial man, that he may serve the Lord. To such a one bodily food is a means for the enjoyment of spiritual food, and spiritual food is a means for the enjoyment of celestial food; and as they ought to serve in this manner, these foods also correspond, and are therefore called foods. Hence it is evident what it is to be in external things alone, and what it is to be in internal things. The Jewish and Israelitish nation, treated of in the internal historical sense of this chapter, is (with the exception of those who die in infancy) for the most part of the character that has been indicated, for being in avarice they, more than all others, are in external things. They who love gains and profits merely for the sake of the gold and silver, in the possession of which consists the sole delight of their life, are in outermost or lowest things, for the objects of their love are merely earthly; whereas they who love gold and silver for the sake of some use, lift themselves above earthly things according to the use. The very use that a man loves determines his life and distinguishes it from others; an evil use makes the man infernal, and a good use makes him heavenly--not indeed the use itself, but the love of the use, for everyone’s life is in his love.
AC 4460. And spake, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. That this signifies that the initiation to conjunction, which could not be different, should be made by accession, may be seen from the explication of the words "he took her and lay with her and forced her," by which is signified that in no other way could this truth be conjoined with the affection of the truth signified by the sons of Jacob her brothers (n. 4433). That he had "defiled" her here involves the like signification.
AC 4461. And they said unto them, We cannot do this word. That this signifies that they disapproved, is evident without explication
AC 4462. To give our sister to a man that hath a foreskin. That this signifies unless they made the truth and good of the church to consist in representatives, and would recede from the things which these signify, is evident from the signification of the "foreskin," as being an external representative--a sign that they were of the church; and therefore it was usual to speak of circumcision and the foreskin when a distinction was to be made between those who were of the church and those who were not. For "circumcision" signifies recession from filthy loves, namely, from the love of self and of the world, and accession to heavenly loves, which are love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor, thus accession to the church. Hence it is that by these words is signified accession to their religiosity, and consequently that like them they should make the truth and good of the church consist in representatives by receding from the internal things which are signified, for otherwise they would not be like them, according to the words that follow: "In this will we consent to you, if ye be as we." Circumcision is a sign of purification from filthy loves, (n. 2039, 2632); and they who are in these loves were called "uncircumcised," (n. 2049, 3412, 3413).
 Scarcely anyone at this day knows what is the specific signification of circumcision, and therefore this must be told. The genitals in both sexes signify the things which belong to the conjunction of good and truth; nor do they merely signify these things, but also actually correspond to them. It has been shown at the end of the chapters that all man‘s organs and members have a correspondence with spiritual things in heaven, and consequently so have the organs and members allotted to generation. These correspond to the marriage of good and truth; and from this marriage descends conjugial love (n. 2618, 2727-2729, 2803, 3132, 4434). As the foreskin covers the genital, in the Most Ancient Church it corresponded to the obscuration of good and truth, but in the Ancient Church to their defilement. For with the man of the Most Ancient Church, who was an internal man, good and truth could be obscured but not defiled; whereas with the man of the Ancient Church, being a comparatively external man, good and truth could be defiled, because it is external things--that is, external loves--which defile. For this reason they who were of the Most Ancient Church knew nothing of circumcision, but only they who were of the Ancient Church.
 From this church circumcision spread to many nations; and it was not enjoined upon Abraham and his descendants as anything new, but merely as a discontinued rite that was to be restored; and it became to his posterity a sign that they were of the church. But that nation neither knew nor desired to know what this rite signified, for they made their religiosity consist in mere representatives, which are external matters, and therefore they included all the uncircumcised in one general condemnation, although circumcision was only a sign representative of purification from the love of self and of the world. Those who are purified from this love are the spiritually circumcised, and are said to be "circumcised in heart," as in Moses:--
Jehovah thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God in all thy heart, and in all thy soul (Deut. 30:6).
In the same:--
Ye shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and shall no longer harden your neck (Deut. 10:16).
And in Jeremiah:--
Break up your fallow ground, and take away the foreskin of your heart (Jer. 4:3, 4).
 But they who are in the loves of self and of the world are called "the uncircumcised," in spite of the fact that they had been circumcised; as in Jeremiah:--
Behold the days come in which I will visit upon everyone that is circumcised in the foreskin, upon Egypt, and upon Judah, and upon Edom, and upon the sons of Ammon, and upon Moab, and upon all that are cut off at the corner, that dwell in the wilderness; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart (Jer. 9:25, 26);
this passage shows that many other nations were circumcised, for it is said, "I will visit upon everyone that is circumcised in the foreskin," so that as already stated this was not a new rite, or restricted to the descendants of Jacob as a mark of distinction. The Philistines were not circumcised, and therefore it is they who are usually meant by "the uncircumcised" (1 Sam. 14:6; 17:26, 36; 31:4; 2 Sam. 1:20).
AC 4463. Because this would be a reproach unto us. That this signifies that this would be contrary to them, is evident from the signification of a "reproach," as being that which is contrary to their religiosity, and therefore contrary to them.
AC 4464. Nevertheless in this will we consent to you, if ye be as we. That this signifies accession to their religiosity, is evident from the signification of "consenting," as being accession; and from the signification of "to be as they," as being that they should be in external things only and not in internal things, for then they would be like them. See in (n. 4459), where it is shown what it is to be in external things alone, and what it is to be in internal things. It is necessary to state here why man ought to be in internal things. Everyone who reflects is able to know that it is by means of internal things that man has communication with heaven, for the whole heaven is in internal things, and unless a man is in heaven in respect to his thoughts and affections, that is, in respect to the things of his understanding and of his will, he cannot go to heaven after death, because he has no communication with it This communication is acquired by a man during his bodily life by means of truths that belong to his understanding and goods that belong to his will, and unless he acquires it then he cannot do so afterwards, because after death his mind cannot be opened toward interior things unless it has been opened during the life of the body.
 A man is not aware that he is encompassed with a certain spiritual sphere that is in accordance with the life of his affections, and that to the angels this sphere is more perceptible than is the sphere of an odor to the finest sense on earth. If a man’s life has been passed in mere external things, that is to say in the pleasures that come from hatred against his neighbor, from the consequent revenge and cruelty, from adulteries, from the exaltation of self and the attendant contempt for others, from clandestine robberies, from avarice, from deceit, from luxury, and from other like evils, then the spiritual sphere which encompasses him is as foul as is in this world the sphere of the odor from carcasses, dung, stinking garbage, and the like. The man who has lived such a life carries with him after death this foul sphere, and as he is wholly in it he must needs be in hell, the place of spheres of this character. Concerning the spheres in the other life, and whence they are, (n. 1048, 1053, 1316, 1504-1519, 1695, 2401, 2489).
 But those who are in internal things, that is to say those who have felt delight in benevolence and charity toward the neighbor, and above all those who have felt blessedness in love to the Lord, are encompassed with a grateful and pleasant sphere which is the heavenly sphere itself, and therefore they are in heaven. All the spheres which are perceived in the other life originate from the loves and the derivative affections in which the men have been, consequently from their life, for the loves and derivative affections make the life itself; and as the spheres in question originate from the loves and their derivative affections, they originate from the intentions and ends for the sake of which the man so wills and acts, for everyone has for his end that which he loves, and therefore a man‘s ends determine his life and constitute its quality, and this is the main source of his sphere. This sphere is most exquisitely perceived in heaven, because the universal heaven is in the sphere of ends. We can now see of what quality is the man who is in internal things, and also of what quality is he who is in external things, and also the reason why it is necessary to be in internal things and not in external things only.
 But these are matters of perfect indifference to the man who is in external things only, no matter how clever he may be as regards the things of civil life, or what may be the reputation for learning he has acquired on account of what he knows, for he is the kind of man who believes in nothing that he cannot see with his eyes and feel with his touch, consequently not in heaven or hell; and if he were told that he will enter the other life immediately after death, and will then see, hear, speak, and enjoy the sense of touch more perfectly than in the body, he would reject the statement as a paradox or fancy, although such is actually the case; and it would be the same if he were told that the soul or spirit which lives after death is the man himself, and not so the body which he carries about in the world.
 It follows from this that they who are in external things alone care nothing for what is said of internal things, although it is these which make men blessed and happy in the kingdom into which they are about to come, and in which they will live to eternity. Most Christians are in such unbelief, as I am permitted to know from those who have come from the Christian world into the other life, and with whom I have spoken; for in the other life they cannot conceal what they have thought, because the thoughts there show themselves openly nor can they conceal what they have had as their ends, that is, what they have loved, because this manifests itself by their sphere.
AC 4465. To circumcise for you every male. That this signifies an external representative only, and that so they would be pure to them, is evident from the signification of "circumcising every male," as being an external representative, a sign that they were of the church, here that they were of their religiosity (n. 4462). That so they would be pure in their eyes, follows, because the posterity of Jacob made purity and holiness to consist in external things and not in internal things.
AC 4466. We will both give our daughters to you, and will take your daughters to us. That this signifies conjunction in this manner, is evident from what has been said above concerning marriage (n. 4434), namely, that marriage in the spiritual sense is the conjunction of good and truth; for "to give our daughters to you, and to take your daughters to us," is to intermarry.
AC 4467. And we will dwell with you. That this signifies conjunction in respect to life, is evident from the signification of "dwelling with you," as being to live together (n. 1293, 3384, 3613, 4451).
AC 4468. And we will be for one people. That this signifies conjunction in respect to doctrine also, is evident from the signification of "people," as being the truth of the church, consequently doctrine (n. 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581). Thus "to be for one people," denotes conjunction by doctrine. There are two things which conjoin together the men of the church, namely, life and doctrine. When the life conjoins them, the doctrine does not separate them; but if the doctrine alone conjoins them, as is the case at this day within the church, they then separate from one another and make as many churches as there are doctrines; although the doctrine is for the sake of the life, and the life is from the doctrine. That the men of the church separate from one another if the doctrine alone conjoins them, is evident from the fact that a man who is of one doctrine will condemn him who is of another doctrine, sometimes to hell. But that the doctrine does not separate the men of the church if the life conjoins them, is evident from the fact that a man who is in goodness of life does not condemn another who is of a different opinion, but leaves the matter to his faith and conscience, and this even as regards those who are outside the church; for he says in his heart that ignorance cannot condemn any who live in innocence and mutual love, as do little children, who also are in ignorance when they die.
AC 4469. And if ye will not listen to us to circumcise. That this signifies unless they would recede from their truths, and accede to external representatives, is evident from what has been above unfolded (n. 4462). What is said in these verses by the sons of Jacob enfolds within it a contrary sense to that which was in the mind of Hamor and Shechem, and consequently also that which is contrary in the internal sense, as is evident from the explications. The reason is that as is stated in (verse 13), they spoke in fraud, and one who so speaks thinks differently from him with whom he is speaking.
AC 4470. We will even take our daughter and go. That this signifies that there would be no conjunction, is evident from the signification of marriage, as being the conjunction of good and truth (n. 4466). Hence "to take the daughter and go," is not to give her in marriage, thus that there would be no conjunction. The sons of Jacob here speak as Jacob their father; for they do not say, "we will take our sister," but "our daughter," the reason of which appears from the internal sense, namely, that it was the father’s part to refuse or comply, according to the law, (Exod. 22:15, 16). But as the posterity of Jacob and their religiosity are here treated of, it is the sons who represent this, and who therefore here answer in their father‘s stead. Jacob himself could not answer, because he here represents the Ancient Church (n. 4439). GENESIS 34:13-17 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|