Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 34:25-29
AC 4494. Verses 25-29. And it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that the two sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, brothers of Dinah, took each his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew every male. And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son at the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went forth. The sons of Jacob came upon those who were pierced, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. Their flocks, and their herds, and their asses, and whatever was in the city, and whatever was in the field, they took; and all their wealth, and all their babe, and their women, they took captive and made a prey of, and all that was in the house. "And it came to pass on the third day," signifies what is continuous even to the end; "when they were in pain," signifies cupidities; "that the two sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi," signifies faith and love; "brothers of Dinah," signifies the truths and goods of that church; "took each his sword," signifies falsity and evil; "and came upon the city boldly, and slew every male," signifies that they extirpated the truths of doctrine of the Church among the Ancients; "and they slew Hamor and Shechem his son at the edge of the sword," signifies the church itself; "and took Dinah out of Shechem‘s house, and went forth," signifies that they took away the affection of truth; "the sons of Jacob came upon those who were pierced, and plundered the city," signifies that all that posterity destroyed the doctrine; "because they had defiled their sister," signifies that they had befouled the truth of faith; "their flocks and their herds," signifies that they destroyed rational and natural good; "and their asses," signifies the truths thence derived; "and whatever was in the city, and whatever was in the field, they took," signifies all the truth and good of the church; "and all their wealth," signifies all the matters of knowledge they had acquired; "and all their babe," signifies all the innocence; "and their women," signifies the charity; "they took captive and made a prey of," signifies that they stripped them and perverted them; "and all that was in the house," signifies everything of the church.
AC 4495. And it came to pass on the third day. That this signifies what is continuous even to the end, is evident from the signification of the "third day," as being what is complete from beginning to end (n. 2788), thus also what is continuous. That this is the signification of the "third day," can scarcely be believed by those who regard the historicals of the Word as mere worldly histories, holy merely because they are in the sacred volume. But that not only the historicals of the Word themselves enfold within them spiritual and heavenly things which are not apparent in the letter, but that so also do all the words, and even all the numbers, has been shown in the preceding explications; that such is really the case will of the Lord’s Divine mercy become still more evident in the prophetic parts, which do not keep the mind so closely engaged with the succession of statements in the sense of the letter as do the historical parts. But that the number "three," also the number "seven," and the number "twelve," enfold deep secrets within them, must be evident to everyone who examines the Word in regard to its interiors and if these numbers are so full of significance, it follows that there must be something deeply hidden in all the other numbers that occur in the Word, for the Word is holy throughout.
 Sometimes when speaking with angels, as it were written numbers appeared before my eyes like those seen on paper in bright day, and I perceived that the very things they were speaking of fell into such numbers; and from this experience I learned that every number mentioned in the Word holds within it some mystery, as is very evident from the following passages:--
He measured the wall of the Holy Jerusalem a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Rev. 21:17).
He that hath intelligence let him compute the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred and sixty-six (Rev. 13:18).
That the number first mentioned--"144," results from the multiplication of twelve into itself, and that the number "666" is a product of three and six, is manifest, but what holy thing they enfold within them may appear from the holiness of the number "twelve" (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913), and of the number "three" (n. 720, 901, 1825, 2788, 4010).
 This latter number--"three," being significative of what is complete even to the end, thus of one period, great or small, was received in the representative church, and was employed whenever such a thing was signified; and also in the Word (in which all things have a signification both in general and in particular) as may be seen from the following instances:--
That they should go three days‘ journey and should sacrifice (Exod. 3:18; 5:3).
That they should be ready against the third day, because on the third day Jehovah would come down upon Mount Sinai (Exod. 19:11, 15, 16, 18).
That nothing should be left of the flesh of the sacrifice until the third day (Lev. 7:16-18; 19:6, 7).
That the water of separation should be sprinkled upon the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day (Num. 19:11-22).
That they who touched one slain in war should be purified on the third day and on the seventh day (Num. 31:19-25).
That Joshua commanded the people to pass over Jordan within three days (Josh. 1:11; 3:2).
That Jehovah called Samuel three times, and Samuel ran to Eli three times, and Eli understood the third time that Jehovah had called Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-8).
That Jonathan said to David that he should hide himself in the field unto the third day at even, and that Jonathan sent to him on the third morrow, and revealed the disposition of his father; and that Jonathan then shot three arrows at the side of the stone; and that after this David bowed himself three times to the earth before Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:5, 12, 19, 20, 35, 36, 41).
That three things were offered to David to chose from: that there should come seven years of famine, that he should flee three months before his enemies, or that there should be three days’ pestilence in the land (2 Sam. 24:11-13).
That Rehoboam said to the congregation of Israel who sought to be relieved from the yoke of his father, that they should go away three days, and come again; and that they came to Rehoboam the third day, as the King bade, saying, Come to me again the third day (1 Kings 12:5, 12).
That Elijah stretched himself upon the widow‘s son three times (1 Kings 17:21).
That Elijah told the people to pour water upon the burnt-offering and the wood the third time, and they did it the third time (1 Kings 18:34).
That Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17; Matt. 12:40).
That the Lord spoke of a man who planted a vineyard and sent his servants three times, and afterwards his son (Mark 12:2, 4-6; Luke 20:12, 13).
That He said of Peter that he should deny Him thrice (Matt. 26:34; John 13:38).
That He said to Peter three times, Lovest thou Me? (John 21:15-17).
From these and many other places in the Word it may be seen that there was some mystery in the number "three," and that therefore this number was received among the significatives in the ancient churches. That it signifies an entire period of the church and of the things in the church, whether great or small, is manifest; and that it consequently signifies what is complete and also continuous to the end, is very plain in Hosea:--
Jehovah will vivify us after two days; on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live before Him (Hosea 6:2).
AC 4496. When they were in pain. That this signifies cupidities is evident from the signification of the "pain" after circumcision, as being cupidity. The reason why this pain signifies cupidity is that circumcision signifies purification from the love of self and of the world (n. 2039, 2044, 2049, 2632, 3412, 3413, 4462), and all the cupidity of the flesh is from these loves, and is therefore signified by this "pain," because when a man is being purified from these loves, as is the case when he is being regenerated, he is in pain and anxiety, and it is the cupidities then being removed which are in pain and anguish. When any mystery is being represented by a ritual, each particular of the rite, until it is completed, enfolds something of the mystery. Such is the case with the lancets or knives with which the circumcision was performed, in that they were of stone (n. 2039, 2046, 2799); with the blood shed at the time; with the manner of the operation, and consequently with the state. This may be seen further from the processes of cleansings, inaugurations, and sanctifications, and all the other ceremonies. In the present instance by the "pain" after circumcision is signified the cupidity of Hamor, Shechem, and the men of the city, in their having a desire for the externals in which were the descendants of Jacob (n. 4493).
AC 4497. That the two sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi. That this signifies faith and love, is evident from the representation of Simeon, as being faith in the will (n. 3869-3872), and from the representation of Levi, as being spiritual love or charity (n. 3875, 3877). This is the signification in the genuine sense of "Simeon and Levi" and of the tribes called after them, but in the opposite sense they signify what is false and evil, for falsity is opposite to the truth of faith, and evil to the good of charity. Such is the representation of Simeon and Levi with respect to the Jewish nation, which had extinguished in itself everything of faith and charity (which were the internals of worship), as may better appear from what follows, where it is said of them that they killed Hamor, Shechem, and the men of the city; and that the sons of Jacob came upon those who were pierced, and made a prey of all things. The reason why it was Simeon and Levi who did this, was to represent the fact that the truth of faith and the good of charity had become falsity and evil; for when in the church truth becomes falsity and good becomes evil it is all over with the church.
AC 4498. Brothers of Dinah. That this signifies the truths and goods of that church, is evident from the signification of "brothers," as being truths and goods, or faith and charity (n. 367, 3303, 3803, 3815, 4121, 4191, 4267); and from the representation of Dinah, as being the affection of truth, and consequently the church (n. 3963, 3964, 4427).
AC 4499. Took each his sword. That this signifies falsity and evil, is evident from the signification of a "sword," as being truth combating, and hence the defense of truth; and in the opposite sense, falsity combating, and hence the vastation of truth (n. 2799). That "sword" here signifies evil also, is because Levi also was involved, by whom charity, thus good, was represented; and when this becomes evil it combats by falsity from evil, and what it then does is evil.
AC 4500. And came upon the city boldly, and slew every male. That this signifies that they extirpated the truths of doctrine of the Church among the Ancients, is evident from the signification of a "city," as being the doctrine of the church (n. 402, 2449, 2943, 3216, 4478), here of the Church among the Ancients, because this church is represented by Hamor and Shechem, whose city it was; from the signification of "boldly," as being with assurance, here the assurance of what is false and evil; and from the signification of a "male," as being truth (n. 749, 2046, 4005). Hence it is evident that by "they came upon the city boldly and slew every male" is signified that from the assurance of falsity and evil they extirpated the truths of doctrine of the Church among the Ancients. It was the Church among the Ancients (that came from the Most Ancient Church) which would have been set up with the posterity of Jacob, because the Ancient Church had begun to perish; but it is here described in the internal sense that they extinguished in themselves all the truth of faith and good of charity, thus all the internal of worship, and that therefore no church could be instituted with that posterity; from which it came to pass that because they stubbornly insisted, the mere representative of a church was instituted with them (n. 4281, 4288-4290, 4293, 4307, 4314, 4316, 4317, 4429, 4433, 4444).
AC 4501. And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son at the edge of the sword. That this signifies that they extirpated the church itself, is evident from the representation of Hamor, as being the Church among the Ancients as to good (n. 4447); from the representation of Shechem, as being the Church among the Ancients as to truth (n. 4454, 4472, 4473); and from the signification of the "edge of the sword," as being falsity and evil combating (n. 4499), thus the means by which they extinguished the church in themselves.
AC 4502. And took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went forth. That this signifies that they took away the affection of truth, is evident from the representation of Dinah, as being the affection of truth (n. 4498). It is according to the proximate internal sense that they took away the affection of truth from those who were of the remains of the Most Ancient Church, because it is said that they "took her out of Shechem‘s house," "Shechem’s house" signifying the good of the truth of that church. But as the subject treated of is the extirpation of truth and good among the descendants of Jacob who are here signified by his sons, and as all things are to be taken in application to the subject treated of, therefore by "Shechem‘s house" is here signified simply the good of truth such as had existed with the man of the Most Ancient Church; and what is signified is that this was extinguished in the nation sprung from Jacob; for in the internal sense of the Word the signification of the names and words is determined by the subject to which they are applied; yet here there is at the same time signified the breaking down of the good and truth with Hamor and Shechem and his family, because they acceded to externals, as shown above (n. 4493).
 That what has thus far been unfolded about Simeon and Levi is really so, may be seen from the prophetic utterances of Jacob just before his death:--
Simeon and Levi are brethren, instruments of violence are their swords; let not my soul come into their secret, in their congregation let not my glory be united, for in their anger they slew a man, and in their pleasure they unstrung an ox; cursed be their anger for it was vehement, and their fury for it was grievous; I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel (Gen. 49:5-7);
by "Simeon and Levi" are signified the truth of faith which with the descendants of Jacob was turned into falsity, and the good of charity which was turned into evil (n. 4499, 4500). They are called "brethren" because good is the brother of truth, or charity is the brother of faith (n. 4498). "Instruments of violence are their swords" signifies that falsities and evils inflicted violence on truths and goods (n. 4499). "Let not my soul come into their secret, in their congregation let not my glory be united" signifies disjunction as to life and doctrine, for In the Word "soul" is predicated of life (n. 1000, 1040, 1742, 3299), and "glory" of doctrine. "For in their anger they slew a man, and in their pleasure they unstrung an ox" signifies that in evil of set purpose they extinguished the truth of the church and the good of the church, for a "man" is the truth of the church, (n. 3134), and an "ox" is its good, (n. 2180, 2566, 2781). "Cursed be their anger for it was vehement, and their fury for it was grievous" signifies the penalty for turning away from truth and good, for "to curse" is to turn one’s self away, and also to be punished therefor, (n. 245, 379, 1423, 3530, 3584); "anger" is a turning away from truth, and "fury," from good, (n. 357, 3614). "I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel" signifies that goods and truths will no longer be in the external and the internal of their church. "To divide" and "to scatter" denote to separate and to extirpate from them, (n. 4424); "Jacob" is the external of the church, and "Israel" the internal, (n. 4286).
 These things were said of Simeon and Levi in that prophecy because by them is signified the truth and good of the church in general; but when these have become null and void, and still more when falsities and evils succeed in their place, the church is then extinct. That such is the meaning of these prophetic words is evident from the fact that the tribe of Simeon and the tribe of Levi were not cursed above the other tribes; for the tribe of Levi was taken for the priesthood, and the tribe of Simeon was among the other tribes of Israel as one of them.
AC 4503. The sons of Jacob came upon those who were pierced, and plundered the city. That this signifies that all that posterity destroyed the doctrine, is evident from the signification of the "sons of Jacob," as being the posterity from Jacob; from the signification of "to plunder" as being to destroy; and from the signification of a "city," as being the doctrine of the church (n. 4500). That after Simeon and Levi had slain every male in the city, and also Hamor and Shechem, they went forth, and that the sons of Jacob then came upon those who were pierced and plundered the city, is a mystery not manifest except from the internal sense.
 This mystery is that after the truth and good of the church represented by Simeon and Levi had been extinguished, and falsity and evil had taken their place, there were then superadded those falsities and evils which are signified in the opposite sense by the rest of the sons of Jacob. Each son of Jacob represented some general principle of faith and charity, (n. 2129, 3858, 3913, 3926, 3939, 4060); what was represented by Reuben, (n. 3861, 3866, 3870); what by Judah, (n. 3881); what by Dan, (n. 3921-3923); what by Naphtali, (n. 3927, 3928); what by Gad, (n. 3934, 3935); what by Asher, (n. 3938, 3939); what by Issachar, (n. 3956, 3957); and what by Zebulun, (n. 3960, 3961). These generals of faith and charity represented by them become falsities and evils of that kind when once the truth and good of the church have been extinguished, and then these falsities and evils are superadded; for falsities and evils continually grow in the church that has once been perverted and extinguished, and it is these which are signified by the sons of Jacob coming upon those who were pierced and plundering the city, after Simeon and Levi had slain every male in the city, and Hamor and Shechem also, and had taken away Dinah, and had gone forth.
 That by "those who are pierced" are signified in the Word truths and goods extinguished is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:--
Thou art cast forth out of thy sepulchre like an abominable shoot, the raiment of the slain that are pierced with the sword, that go down to the stones of the pit, as a carcass trodden under foot (Isa. 14:19);
said of Babylon; "those pierced with the sword" denote those who have profaned the truths of the church. Again:--
So that their pierced shall be cast forth, and the stink of their carcasses shall come up (Isa. 34:3);
treating of the falsities and evils that infest the church, which are meant by the "pierced."
 In Ezekiel:--
The violent of the nations shall draw their sword against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall profane thy comeliness; they shall let thee down into the pit, and thou shall die the deaths of those who are pierced in the midst of the seas (Ezek. 28:7, 8);
said of the prince of Tyre, by whom are signified the primary things of the knowledges of truth and good; "dying the deaths of those who are pierced in the midst of the seas," denotes those who hatch falsities by means of memory-knowledges, and thereby defile the truths of the church.
These also shall go down with them into hell, unto those who are pierced with the sword; when thou shalt be made to go down with the trees of Eden into the earth of lower things, thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that are pierced with the sword (Ezek. 31:17, 18).
Go down and lie with the uncircumcised; they shall fall in the midst of those who are pierced with the sword; the chief of the mighty ones shall speak to him in the midst of hell (Ezek. 32:19-21);
said of Pharoah and Egypt; "those pierced with the sword" denote those who become insane through knowledges, by which they extinguish in themselves the faith of the truth of the church.
 In David:--
I am accounted among those who go down into the pit; I have become as a man that has no strength, neglected among the dead, like the pierced that lie in the grave, whom Thou hast remembered no more, and who have been cut off by Thy hand (Ps. 88:4, 5);
"those who are pierced in hell," "in the pit," and "in the grave," denote those who have destroyed truths and goods in themselves by falsities and evils. It is obvious that they are not in hell merely because they had been pierced with the sword.
 In Isaiah:--
A city of tumults, a city that exulteth, they are not pierced with the sword, and are not slain in war; all who have been found in thee were bound together, they fled from afar (Isa. 22:2, 3);
said of fallacies from sensuous things through which the truths of the church cannot be seen, and concerning which they are therefore in negative doubt, and are said to be "pierced, but not with the sword."
 In Ezekiel:--
I bring a sword upon thee, and I destroy your high places, and your altars shall be destroyed, and your statues shall be broken, and I will cause your pierced ones to lie before your idols; when the pierced ones shall fall in the midst of you, you shall know that I am Jehovah; then ye shall acknowledge, when the pierced ones shall be in the midst of their idols, round about their altar (Ezek. 6:3, 4, 7, 13);
where the "pierced ones" denote those who are in falsities of doctrine.
Defile the house, and fill the courts with the pierced ones; they went forth and smote in the city (Ezek. 9:7);
a prophetic vision; "to defile the house and fill the courts with the pierced ones," denotes to profane goods and truths. Again:--
Ye have multiplied your pierced ones in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the pierced one; wherefore said the Lord Jehovih, Your pierced ones whom ye have put in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and that is the pot, and He shall bring you forth out of the midst of it (Ezek. 11:6, 7).
 As by "the pierced" are signified those who have extinguished the truths of the church in themselves by falsities and evils, therefore also in the representative church they who touched one who was pierced were unclean, of whom we read in Moses:--
Whosoever has touched upon the surface of the field one that is pierced with a sword, or the dead, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days (Num. 19:16, 18).
And therefore inquiry was made, and expiation was made by means of a calf, as again in Moses:--
If one pierced be found lying in the field, and it be not known who has smitten him, then the elders of the city and the judges shall come forth, and they shall measure toward the cities which are round about him that is pierced; and it shall be, at the city which is nearest unto him that is pierced the elders of that city shall take a she-calf of an ox, by which labor hath not been done, and which hath not drawn in the yoke, and they shall bring her down unto a river or a valley, and shall behead the calf there, and wash their hands over the beheaded calf, and shall say, Our hands have not shed blood, and our eyes have not seen it; expiate Thy people Israel, O Jehovah, and give not innocent blood in the midst of Thy people; and the blood shall be expiated for them (Deut. 21:1-8).
 That these laws were given because by the "pierced" is signified the perversion, destruction, and profanation of the truth of the church by falsity and evil, is manifest from every particular in the internal sense. It is said "a pierced one lying in the field," because by a "field" is signified the church (n. 2971, 3310, 3766). A "she-calf" by which labor has not been done signifies that innocence of the external man which is in ignorance. Unless these things were made known by the internal sense, the enjoining of such an expiatory process would excite universal surprise.
AC 4504. Because they had defiled their sister. That this signifies that they had befouled the truth of faith, is evident from the signification of "defiling," as being to befoul; and from the signification of a "sister," as being truth (n. 1495, 2508, 2524, 2556, 3386), here the truth of faith, because by Dinah, who is here the sister, is signified the affection of all things of faith (n. 4427). The reason why Shechem‘s defiling of their sister signifies that they befouled the truth of faith, is that the affection of all truth, thus the church itself, is represented by her (n. 3963, 3964); and as she was not given by her brothers to Shechem for a woman, but remained with them defiled, therefore the opposite was afterwards represented by her as by her brothers, namely, the affection of all falsities, thus the church corrupted; so that the words "they had defiled their sister" signify that they had befouled the truth of faith.
AC 4505. Their flocks and their herds. That this signifies that they destroyed rational and natural good, is evident from the signification of "flocks," as being rational good; and from the signification of "herds," as being natural good (n. 2566).
AC 4506. And their asses. That this signifies the truths thence derived, namely, from natural and rational good, is evident from the signification of "asses," also of the "sons of a she-ass," and also of "mules," as being the truths of the natural and of the rational (n. 2781).
AC 4507. And whatever was in the city, and whatever was in the field, they took. That this signifies all the truth and good of the church, is evident from the signification of a "city," as being doctrine, thus the truth of the church (n. 402, 2268, 2449, 2712, 2943, 3216, 4492, 4493); and from the signification of a "field," as being the church as to good, thus the good of the church (n. 2971, 3310, 3766, 4440, 4443); so that "whatever was in the city, and whatever was in the field" denotes all the truth and good of the church.
AC 4508. And all their wealth. That this signifies all the matters of knowledge they had acquired, is evident from the signification of "wealth," as being matters of knowledge, as is evident from many passages in the Word; for spiritual wealth, thus wealth understood in a spiritual sense, is nothing else. In so far as spiritual wealth consists in what is known, it consists in matters of knowledge; and in the Lord’s kingdom (and therefore in the church) these constitute the wealth, as of the Lord‘s Divine mercy will be confirmed from the Word elsewhere.
AC 4509. And all their babe. That this signifies all the innocence, is evident from the signification of a "babe," as being innocence (n. 430, 2126, 3183).
AC 4510. And their women. That this signifies the charity, is evident from the signification of "females," of "women," and of "wives," as being affections of truth and affections of good-- affections of truth when the consort is mentioned and he is called "husband;" and affections of good when the consort is not mentioned and the expression "man (vir)" is used (n. 915, 1468, 2517, 3236). In the present instance "women" denote the affections of good, because they were the women of the men of the city, by whom truths are signified (n. 4478); and the city is everywhere called the city of Shechem, by whom was represented the truth of the Church among the Ancients (n. 4454). The affection of spiritual good is the same thing as charity, and therefore by "women" is here signified charity.
AC 4511. They took captive and made a prey of. That this signifies that they stripped them and perverted them, is evident from the series of things in the internal sense.
AC 4512. And all that was in the house. That this signifies everything of the church, is evident from the signification of a "house," as being the church as to good (n. 1795, 3720), thus everything of the church; and because of this signification the "house" is mentioned last. GENESIS 34:25-29 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|