Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 37:1-3
AC 4666. Verses 1-3. And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father‘s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. These are the births of Jacob. Joseph a son of seventeen years was feeding the flock with his brethren; and he was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and with the sons of Zilpah his father’s women; and Joseph brought their evil report unto their father. And Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a tunic of various colors. "And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father‘s sojournings, in the land of Canaan," signifies that the Lord’s Divine natural was accordant under Divine rational good; "these are the births of Jacob," signifies the things which follow; "Joseph," signifies the Lord‘s spiritual Divine Human; "a son of seventeen years," signifies its state; "was feeding the flock with his brethren," signifies that it was present with those who were in faith and taught; "and he was a boy," signifies at first; "with the sons of Bilhah and with the sons of Zilpah his father’s women," signifies that it was rejected by them; "and Joseph brought their evil report unto their father," signifies that from it their quality was apparent; "and Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons," signifies the conjunction of the Divine spiritual of the rational with the Divine spiritual of the natural; "because he was the son of his old age," signifies its own life in it; "and he made him a tunic of various colors," signifies the appearances of truth thence, whereby the spiritual of the natural is known and distinguished.
AC 4667. And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father‘s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. That this signifies that the Lord’s Divine natural was accordant under Divine rational good, is evident from the signification of "to dwell," as being to live (n. 1293, 3384, 3613, 4451); from the representation of Jacob, as being in the supreme sense the Lord‘s Divine natural (n. 3305, 3509, 3525, 3546, 3576, 3599, 3775, 4009, 4234, 4286, 4538, 4570); from the representation of Isaac, who here is the "father," as being the Lord’s Divine rational as to good (n. 1893, 2066, 2630, 3012, 3194, 3210); and from the signification of the "land of Canaan," as being in the supreme sense the Lord‘s Divine Human (n. 3038, 3705). From all this it follows that Jacob’s dwelling in the land of his father‘s sojournings in the land of Canaan, denotes the Lord’s Divine natural living together or accordantly under Divine rational good, in the Divine Human. The Lord‘s natural has been treated of above (Genesis 35:22-26), that all things in it were now Divine (n. 4602-4610); and in (Genesis 35:27-29) the conjunction of the Lord’s Divine natural with His Divine rational (n. 4611-4619). Here the conclusion follows: that the Divine natural lived an accordant life under Divine rational good.
 It is said "under Divine rational good," because the natural lives under this; for the rational is higher or interior, or according to a customary form of speaking is prior, while the natural is lower or exterior, consequently posterior; thus the latter is subordinate to the former. Nay, when they are accordant, the natural is nothing else than the general of the rational; for whatever the natural has does not then belong to it, but to the rational. The difference is only such as exists between particulars and their general, or between singulars and their form, in which the singulars appear as a one. It is known to the learned that the end is the all in the cause, and that the cause is the all in the effect; thus that the cause is the end in form, and the effect the cause in form; and hence that the effect entirely perishes if you take away the cause, and the cause if you take away the end; and moreover that the cause is under the end, and the effect under the cause. It is similar with the natural and the rational.
AC 4668. These are the births of Jacob. That this signifies the things which follow, is evident from the signification of "births," as being the derivations of those things which are of the church, namely, of truth from good, or of faith from love; for no other births are meant in the internal sense of the Word. These are also treated of in what follows, wherefore it is said that the "births of Jacob" denote the things which follow, That such is the signification of "births" is evident also from the fact that no genealogical births are mentioned in what follows; but only Joseph, his dreams, the conspirings of his brothers against him, and at last his being carried away into Egypt. "Births" denote such derivations, (n. 1145, 1255, 1330, 3263, 3279, 3860, 3868, 4070).
AC 4669. Joseph. That this signifies the Lord‘s Divine spiritual Human, is evident from the representation of Joseph, as being in the supreme sense the Lord as to the Divine spiritual (n. 3969). That the Lord is represented by Joseph is known in the church, for when the heavenly Joseph is spoken of, no one else is thought of; but what of the Lord is represented by Joseph is not so well known, for it is the Divine spiritual which proceeds from His Divine Human. The Divine spiritual which proceeds from the Lord’s Divine Human is the Divine truth which is from Him in heaven and in the church. The spiritual in its essence is nothing else. The Divine spiritual, or Divine truth, is also what is called the Lord‘s royalty, and it is likewise signified by the Christ, or the Messiah (n. 2015, 3009, 3670). For this reason Joseph was made as it were a king in Egypt, that he might then represent what is of the Lord’s royalty.
AC 4670. A son of seventeen years. That this signifies its state, is evident from the years of the ages of those mentioned in the Word, in that like other numbers they signify things and states. All numbers in the Word signify things and states, (n. 575, 647, 648, 1988, 2075, 2252, 3252, 4264, 4495); as also years, (n. 487, 488, 493, 893).
 It indeed appears as if numbers of years, or years of ages, had no further meaning, because they seem to be more historical than other numbers. But that these also involve things and states is evident from what was unfolded in the fifth chapter of Genesis, and said as to the age of Abraham (Gen. 17:1; 25:7), and that of Isaac (Gen. 35:28); and moreover from the fact that there is no historical statement in the Word which does not involve what is heavenly; into which also it is changed when it passes from the thought of the man who is reading, to the angels with him, and through the angels to heaven, where from every historical of the Word a spiritual sense is produced
 But what is signified by Joseph‘s age of seventeen years may be seen from the signification of this number in other places, namely, a beginning, but here the beginning of the representation by Joseph, This number signifies a being and what is new, (n. 755, 853). Moreover in a general and potential way this number involves all that is represented by Joseph; for "seven" signifies holy, and "ten," remains. "Seven" in the Word adds holiness, (n. 881); and "ten" denotes remains, (n. 576, 1906, 2284). That the remains in the Lord by means of which He united the Human essence to the Divine, were Divine and of Himself, (n. 1906).
AC 4671. Was feeding the flock with his brethren. That this signifies that it was present with those who were in faith and taught, is evident from the signification of "feeding the flock," as being to teach, specifically from doctrinal things, those who are in the church. A feeder of the flock or "shepherd" denotes one who teaches, (n. 343, 3772, 3795). Here is signified that it was present with those who taught, because it is said that "Joseph was feeding with his brethren;" for his brethren in this chapter represent the church which turns away from charity to faith, and at last to faith separate, and so to falsities, as will appear in what follows.
AC 4672. And he was a boy. That this signifies at first, is evident from the signification of a "boy," when predicated of a new church, as being what is at first, or its first state; for the church is as an infant, a boy, a man, and at last an old man, for it passes through its several ages like a man. The church also in general is like a man, and is so called. Moreover in the church which from its age is called a "boy," and is such as quickly to turn away, the Lord is at first present, both with those who teach and with those who learn; but afterwards He is sent away by them, as is represented by Joseph’s being cast by his brethren into a pit and sold.
 Such is every church which begins from faith, but very different is the church which begins from charity. The church which begins from faith has nothing to direct it but the understanding, and the understanding nothing but what is hereditary in man, that is to say‘ the love of self and of the world. These persuade the understanding to search for things from the Word that will confirm them, "and to explain away what is not confirmatory. It is otherwise with the church which begins from charity: good is its director, and in good the Lord; for between the Lord and faith there intervenes the good of charity and of love, and without this intervention there can be no spiritual communication, for there is no influx without an intermediate. If evil is in the place of good, it drives away the Lord, and either rejects or perverts all things that are of Him, thus all that are of faith, for faith is from Him through good.
AC 4673. With the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s women. That this signifies that it was rejected by them, is evident from the signification of "the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah," as being exterior or lower affections of truth that serve as means (n. 3849, 3931); thus "with the sons of Bilhah and with the sons of Zilpah" signifies that Divine truth, which is "Joseph," was rejected to lower things, which are relatively things of service. Divine truth is said to be rejected to lower things when faith is placed before charity or becomes primary in the heart, and charity is placed after it and becomes secondary in the heart; for all Divine truth is from Divine good and thence proceeds If the like is not the case with a man, he is not in the Lord. This Divine truth is the holy itself of the spirit which proceeds from the Lord, and which is called the "Paraclete," and the "Spirit of truth" (John 14:16, 17).
AC 4674. And Joseph brought their evil report unto their father. That this signifies that from it their quality was apparent, is evident from the representation of Joseph, as being the Divine spiritual or Divine truth which is from the Lord (n. 4286, 4675); from the signification of "father," as being good (n. 3703, 3704), here the good of the Ancient Church which is represented by Jacob, as will be seen toward the end of this chapter; and from the signification of an "evil report," as being the faults and vices of those signified by Joseph‘s brethren, who as before said (n. 4671) denote those of the church who turn away from good and truth. This shows what is signified by these words in the proximate internal sense, namely, that the faults and vices signified by Joseph’s brethren were exposed to dew or made apparent by Divine truth when they were regarded from the good of the Ancient Church; or what is the same thing, that from this truth their quality was apparent.
 In regard to these things the case is this: The falsities and evils of the church (that is, of those who are in the church) do not appear to those who are therein, for falsities are not seen from falsities, nor evils from evils, because principles of falsity completely befog truths, and a life of evil extinguishes them. Both principles of falsity and a life of evil induce an appearance that falsities are truths and truths falsities, and that good is evil and evil good. That this is so is evident from manifold experience, But the church, or they who are in the church, appear entirely different in heaven; for in heaven there is Divine truth from the Lord, and Divine truth in heaven is light, and in this light their quality is apparent. For every man as to his soul or spirit is in some society, either angelic or diabolical. His thought is there, but his speech and actions are among men in various intercourse with them.
 How the case further is in regard to the quality of those who are in the church being made apparent by Divine truth, or in Divine light, may appear from the following considerations, Before evil spirits who are recently from the world cast themselves into hell, they above all others suppose that they will be received into heaven, believing that only reception is needed, and that everyone, of whatever quality, may of grace be admitted into heaven. But they are sometimes told that heaven is denied by the Lord to no one, and that they may be admitted if they are able to stay there. Some of them are even taken up into the first societies, at the entrance to heaven; but when they come thither they begin to be tormented and almost suffocated, so distressed is the life of their thought and will the life of their thought from principles of falsity, and the life of their will from a life of evil, in the world. And when they look at themselves in the light there, they appear to themselves as devils, some as corpses, and others as monsters, and they therefore cast themselves headlong down from that society, and from its light into some dark infernal mist, where they recover their former respiration, and where from phantasy they appear to themselves as spirits not evil. In this way they learn their quality. From this it is now clear in what manner it should be understood that from it (that is, from Divine truth) their quality was apparent,
AC 4675. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons. That this signifies the conjunction of the Divine spiritual of the rational with the Divine spiritual of the natural, is evident from the representation of Jacob when called "Israel," as being the Divine spiritual of the natural, or the celestial of the spiritual from the natural (n. 4286, 4598); from the representation of Joseph, as being the Divine spiritual of the rational, or the celestial of the spiritual from the rational (n. 4286, 4592); and from the signification of "loving," as being to be conjoined, for love is spiritual conjunction. Hence it is evident that by Israel‘s loving Joseph is signified the conjunction of the Divine spiritual of the rational with the Divine spiritual of the natural. Because this conjunction is treated of, Jacob here is not called "Jacob," as in the first and second verses, but "Israel;" and from the changing of the name it may be inferred that some secret thing is contained here in the internal sense. But what is the nature of the conjunction of the Divine spiritual of the rational with the Divine spiritual of the natural cannot as yet be unfolded, because it is not treated of in this chapter, but in the chapters which follow, in which so far as possible this secret will be unfolded. This only is to be said here that the spiritual is predicated both of the rational and of the natural; for the spiritual is the Divine truth which is from the Lord, and which when it shines in the rational or in the internal man, is called the spiritual of the rational; and when it shines thence in the natural or in the external man, is called the spiritual of the natural.
AC 4676. Because he was the son of his old age. That this signifies its own life in it, is evident from the signification of "old age," as being the putting off of a former state and the putting on of a new one, also as being newness of life (n. 3492, 4620). For "old age" in the internal sense does not signify old age, because the internal man, or man’s spirit, does not know what old age is; but as the body or external man grows old, the internal passes into newness of life, man‘s spirit being perfected by age as his bodily powers diminish. This is still more so in the other life, where those who are in heaven are continually brought by the Lord into more perfect life, and at last into the bloom of youth, even those who have died in a good Old age. From this it may be seen that by "old age" in the internal sense, is signified life, What is meant by its own life being in it has been explained above (n. 4667).
 It was said that man’s spirit or internal man does not know what old age is, and yet as before said it is this spirit that thinks in the body, and from it the body has its life. The reason why this thought of the spirit cannot be communicated to the body, and the man thus know that he lives after death, is that so long as his spirit remains in the body he cannot think otherwise than from the principles which his natural man has become imbued with; and when the principle and persuasion is that only the body lives, and that when this dies everything of man dies, the influx of this reality is not received. But still the influx manifests itself by the fact that most persons are solicitous about their burial and eulogies after death, and some about their reputation then, for which reason they erect magnificent monuments for themselves, that their memory may not perish, Into such things is turned the influx from heaven in respect to the permanent of life with those who in other respects have no belief in it, For without this influx they would be totally indifferent to all that concerns their memory after death.
AC 4677. And he made him a tunic. of various colors. That this signifies the appearances of truth thence, whereby the spiritual of the natural is known and distinguished, is evident from the signification of a "tunic," as being the truth of the natural, of which hereafter; and from the signification of "various colors," as being the appearance of truth by which the spiritual of the natural is known and distinguished, That these are signified by "various colors" cannot be known by anyone unless be knows that colors appear in the other life equally as in the world- colors which in beauty and variety far surpass those in this world and unless he knows what is the source of these colors. The colors seen in the other life are from the variation of the light there, and are so to speak modifications of intelligence and wisdom; for the light which appears there is from the Divine truth that is from the Lord, or is the Divine spiritual from, Him, or what is the same, is Divine intelligence and wisdom, which appears as light before the eyes of angels and spirits. Hence it is evident what is signified by the colors from that light, namely, qualities of truth, thus its appearances, and that they appear from the affections of good and truth. Concerning the colors in the other life see (n. 1042, 1043, 1053, 1624, 3993, 4530).
 That a "tunic" is the truth of the natural was said above (n. 3301), but as it was not there shown, I may now confirm it here from other passages in the Word. As the kings in the Jewish Church represented the Lord as to the Divine spiritual, or Divine truth (n. 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670), therefore their daughters were clothed in tunics of various colors, for by "daughters" were signified affections of good and truth, and therefore churches (n. 2362, 3963); of whom we read in the second book of Samuel:--
There was upon Tamar, David‘s daughter, a tunic of various colors, for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled (2 Samuel 13:18).
 And because the high priests represented the Lord as to the Divine celestial or Divine good, Aaron was clothed in garments that represented the Divine truth which is from the Divine good of the Lord; for Divine good is in the Lord, but Divine truth proceeds from Him, and is what was represented by these garments. So also when the Lord was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, the Divine good appeared as the sun, and the Divine truth was presented as raiment which appeared as the light (Matt. 17:2).
 The garments in which Aaron and his sons were clothed are thus described in Moses:--
Thou shalt make for Aaron a tunic of fine linen, and a miter of fine linen, and thou shalt make a belt, the work of the embroiderer. And for Aaron‘s sons thou shalt make tunics, and thou shalt make for them belts, and headtires shalt thou make for them, for glory and for adornment (Exod. 28:39, 40).
Every particular here signified something pertaining to the Divine truth from the Divine good of the Lord, the "tunic of fine linen" specifically signifying the Divine spiritual. So also in another place:--
Thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the tunic, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and shalt clothe him with the girdle of the ephod; afterwards thou shall cause his sons to approach, and put tunics upon them (Exod. 29:5, 8; 40:14).
What these particulars signify will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be shown when they come to be treated of. "Garments" in general are truths, (n 297, 1073, 2576, 4545).
 The prophets also were clothed in tunics, but in tunics of hair; because by the prophets the Lord was represented as to truths of doctrine, and because these are of the natural or external man, the prophets had tunics of hair, for "hair" signifies what is natural (n. 3301).
 That a "tunic" signifies Divine truth from the Lord, is still more obvious from those passages in the New Testament in which "tunic" is mentioned, as in John:--
The soldiers took His garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part, and also the tunic; now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top throughout They said therefore one to another, Let us not divide it, that the Scripture might he fulfilled which saith, They divided my vestments among them, and upon my tunic did they cast a lot (John 20:23, 24);
one who reads these words supposes that they involve no greater mystery than that the vestments were divided among the soldiers, and that a lot was cast upon the tunic, and yet every particular was representative and significative of something Divine, as well that the vestments were divided into four parts, as that the tunic was not divided, but upon it was cast a lot, especially that the tunic was without seam and woven from the top throughout; for by the "tunic" was signified the Lord‘s Divine truth, which as being one only and from good, was represented by the tunic being without seam and woven from the top throughout
 The like was signified by the "tunic of Aaron," which was woven, or the work of the weaver, as is evident from Moses:--
They made the tunics of fine linen, the work of the weaver, for Aaron and for his sons (Exod. 39:27).
There was also represented that the Lord did not suffer Divine truth to be rent into parts, as was done by the Jews with the lower truths of the church.
 Because Divine truth which is from Divine good is one only, the twelve disciples when sent to preach the gospel of the kingdom were commanded not to have two tunics; as in Luke:--
Jesus sent the twelve disciples to preach the kingdom of God and He said unto them, Take nothing for the way, neither staves, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver; neither have two tunics apiece (Luke 9:2, 3);
and in Mark:--
He commanded them that they should take nothing for the way save a staff only, no bag, no bread, no brass in their belt; but be clad with shoes; and put not on two tunics (Mark 6:8, 9);
And in Matthew:--
Possess neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your belts, nor bag for the way, nor two tunics, nor shoes, nor staves (Matthew 10:9, 10).
 All the particulars herein are representative of the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord’s kingdom which the disciples were sent to preach. That they were not to take with them gold, silver, brass, bag, nor bread, was because these things signified goods and truths which are from the Lord alone "gold" signifying good (n. 113, 1551, 1552); "silver," truth therefrom (n. 1551, 2954); "brass," natural good (n. 425, 1551); "bread," the good of love or celestial good (n. 276, 680, 2165, 2177, 3478, 3735, 4211, 4217). But the "tunic" and "shoe" signified the truths with which they were clothed, and the "staff" the power of truth from good. That a "staff" is this power see, (n. 4013, 4015); and that a "shoe" is the lowest natural, (n. 1748), here as to truth. A "tunic" is interior natural truth, and because these things ought not to be double, but single, it was forbidden to have two staves, two pairs of shoes, or two tunics. These arcana are within this command of the Lord, and cannot possibly be known except from the internal sense.
 All and each of the things the Lord said were representative of Divine things, consequently of the celestial and spiritual things of His kingdom, and thus were adapted to the apprehension of men, and at the same time to the understanding of spirits and angels; wherefore those things which the Lord said, filled and continue to fill the whole heaven. From this it is evident of what use and importance it is to know the internal sense of the Word. Moreover without this sense anyone can confirm from the Word whatever dogma he pleases; and because such is the appearance of the Word to those who are in evil, they therefore deride it, and are ready to believe anything rather than that it is Divine.GENESIS 37:1-3 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|