Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 38:1-5
AC 4813. Verses 1-5. And it came to pass in this time and Judah went down from his brethren, and turned aside even to a man, an Adullamite, and his name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a man, a Canaanite, and her name was Shua; and he took her, and came to her. And she conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Er. And she conceived again and bare a son, and she called his name Onan. And she added again and bare a son, and she called his name Shelah; and he was in Chezib when she bare him. "And it came to pass in this time," signifies the state of the things that follow; "and Judah went down from his brethren," signifies the posterity of Jacob, specifically the tribe of Judah, which was separated from the rest; "and turned aside even to a man, an Adullamite," signifies to falsity; "and his name was Hirah," signifies its quality; "and Judah saw there a daughter of a man, a Canaanite," signifies the affection of evil from the falsity of evil; "and her name was Shua," signifies its quality; "and he took her, and came to her," signifies that the tribe of Judah conjoined itself with these things; "and she conceived and bare a son," signifies that the falsity of the church was thence derived; "and he called his name Er," signifies its quality; "and she conceived again and bare a son," signifies evil; "and she called his name Onan," signifies its quality; "and she added again and bare a son," signifies what is idolatrous; "and called his name Shelah," signifies its quality; "and he was in Chezib when she bare him," signifies the state.
AC 4814. And it came to pass in this time. That this signifies the state of the things that follow, is evident from the signification of "time," as being state (n. 2625, 2788, 2837, 3254, 3356, 3404, 3938). That it is the state of the things that follow, is signified by its being said "it came to pass in this time," for what came to pass is related in what follows. Moreover the things which follow in a series flow from those which precede, for in the preceding chapter it is said of the sons of Jacob that they sold Joseph, and that Judah persuaded them to do it; of whom it is said in that chapter,
"And Judah said unto his brethren, What gain is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites" (Gen. 37:26, 27),
whereby was signified that the Divine truth was alienated by them, especially by Judah, by whom is there signified in the proximate sense the tribe of Judah, and in general the depraved in the church who are against all good whatever (n. 4750, 4751). This is referred to by its being said "in this time," for the subject now treated of is Judah, and his sons by the Canaanite woman, and afterward by Tamar his daughter-in-law; and by these things in the internal sense is described the tribe of Judah in respect to the things of the church instituted with that tribe.
 That by "time" is signified state, and hence by its "coming to pass in this time," the state of the things that follow, cannot but appear strange; for the reason that it cannot be comprehended how the notion of time can be changed into the notion of state, or that when "time" occurs in the Word, something relating to state is to be understood. But be it known that the thoughts of angels do not derive anything from time or from space, because they are in heaven; for when they left the world, they left also the notion of time and space, and put on notions of state, that is, of the state of good and truth. Wherefore when man reads the Word and then thinks of time and of the things belonging to time, the angels with him do not perceive anything of time, but perceive instead the things that are of state, which also correspond thereto. Neither does man in his interior thought perceive time, but only in his exterior, as may appear from the state of man when his exterior thought is lulled to rest, that is, when he is sleeping; and also from various other experiences.
 But be it known that there are in general two states, a state of good and a state of truth. The state of good is called a state of being, but the state of truth a state of coming into existence; for being is of good, and the derivative coming into existence is of truth. Space corresponds to the state of being, and time to the state of coming into existence. Hence it may be seen that when man reads "and it came to pass in this time," the angels with him can by no means perceive these words as man does. So likewise in other instances. For whatever is written in the Word is of such a nature that with angels it is turned into a corresponding sense, which does not at all appear in the sense of the letter; because what is worldly of the sense of the letter is turned into what is spiritual of the internal sense.
AC 4815. And Judah went down from his brethren. That this signifies the posterity of Jacob, and specifically the tribe of Judah, which was separated from the rest, is evident from the representation of Judah, as being in the universal sense the posterity of Jacob, and in the specific sense the tribe called the tribe of Judah; and from the signification of "going down from his brethren," as being to be separated from the rest of the tribes, here to go into worse evil than they; for "going down" involves to be cast down to evil, as "going up" involves elevation to good (n. 3084, 4539). The reason of this as before said is that the land of Canaan represented the Lord‘s kingdom, and Jerusalem and Zion the inmost of it; but the regions outside the boundaries of that land represented those things which are outside the Lord’s kingdom, namely, falsity and evil. Therefore going from Zion and Jerusalem toward the boundaries was called "going down;" but going from the boundaries to Jerusalem and Zion was called "going up." Hence "going up" involves elevation to what is true and good, and "going down," to be cast down to what is false and evil. As the falsity and evil to which the tribe of Judah cast itself down are here treated of, it is said that Judah "went down," and then that he "turned aside to a man, an Adullamite;" and by "turning aside" is signified turning to falsity, and afterward to evil.
 It is known that the tribe of Judah was separated from the rest of the tribes, and the reason was that this tribe might represent the Lord‘s celestial kingdom, but the rest of the tribes His spiritual kingdom. For this reason also Judah in the representative sense is the celestial man, and in the universal sense the Lord’s celestial kingdom (n. 3654, 3881); and the rest of the tribes were called by the one name, "Israelites," for Israel--in the representative sense is the spiritual man, and in the universal sense the Lord‘s spiritual kingdom (n. 3654, 4286).
 That the tribe of Judah went into worse evil than the rest is specifically signified by these words: "Judah went down from his brethren, and turned aside." That the tribe of Judah went into worse evil than the rest is evident from many passages in the Word, especially in the prophets; as in Jeremiah:--
Her treacherous sister Judah saw when for all the ways whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away and given her a bill of divorcement; yet treacherous Judah her sister feared not, but she also went and committed whoredom, so that by the voice of her whoredom the land was profaned, she committed adultery with stone and wood; yet for all these things treacherous Judah hath not returned unto Me; backsliding Israel hath justified her soul more than treacherous Judah (Jer. 3:7-11).
And in Ezekiel:--
Her sister indeed saw, yet she corrupted her love more than she, and her whoredoms above the whoredoms of her sister (Ezek. 23:11-49);
speaking of Jerusalem and Samaria, or of the tribes of Judah and the tribes of Israel. So in many other places.
 In the internal sense that tribe is described as to how it lapsed into falsity, and thence into evil, and at last into mere idolatry. This is indeed described in the internal sense before that tribe was separated from the rest, and before it so came to pass; but what is in the internal sense is Divine, and to the Divine future things are present. See what is foretold of this nation in (Deut. 31:16-22; 32:15-44).
AC 4816. And turned aside to a man, an Adullamite. That this signifies to falsity, is evident from the signification of "turning aside," as being to go away into what is perverse, for "turning aside," like "going down," is predicated of far removal from good to evil, and from truth to falsity; and from the signification of a "man (vir)" as being one who is intelligent, and in the abstract sense truth, because the genuine intellectual is from truths (n. 265, 749, 1007, 3134, 3309); but in the opposite sense it is one who is not intelligent, and consequently falsity. This falsity is represented by an Adullamite, for Adullam was on the boundary of the inheritance of Judah (Josh. 15:35), and hence signified the truth which is from good; as also in Micah:--
Yet will I bring an heir to thee O inhabitress of Mareshah, even to Adullam shall come the glory of Israel (Micah 1:15);
but as most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so too has Adullam, and it then signifies the falsity which is from evil. That most things have also an opposite sense is because before the land of Canaan was made an inheritance for the sons of Jacob, it was possessed by nations by whom were signified falsities and evils; and also afterwards when the sons of Jacob went into what is contrary; for lands take on the representation of the nations and peoples who inhabit them, according to their quality.
AC 4817. And his name was Hirah. That this signifies its quality, is evident from the signification of "name’s and of "calling a name," as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421). The quality of the falsity spoken of just above is what is signified; for by the names both of places and of persons in the Word are signified states and things (n. 1224, 1264, 1876, 1888, 1946, 2643, 3422, 4298, 4442).
AC 4818. And Judah saw there a daughter of a man, a Canaanite. That this signifies the affection of evil from the falsity of evil, is evident from the signification of a "daughter," as being the affection of good (n. 2362), and in the opposite sense the affection of evil (n. 3024); and from the signification of a "man," as being one who is intelligent, and in the abstract sense truth, but in the opposite sense one who is not intelligent, and falsity, as just above (n. 4816); and from the signification of a"Canaanite," as being evil (n. 1573, 1574). From this it is evident that by a "daughter of a man a Canaanite" is signified evil which is from the falsity of evil. What evil from the falsity of evil is, will be shown below.
 Here some thing must first be said about the origins of the tribe of Judah, for they are described in this chapter. There are three origins of this tribe, or of the Jewish nation--one from Shelah, the son of Judah, by his Canaanite wife; another from Perez, and the third from Zerah, the sons of Judah by Tamar his daughter-in-law. That the whole Jewish nation was from these three sons of Judah is evident from the enumeration of the sons and grandsons of Jacob who came with him into Egypt (Gen. 46:12); and also from their classification according to families, in Moses:--
The sons of Judah according to their families were of Shelah, the family of the Shelanites; of Perez, the family of the Perezites; of Zerah, the family of the Zerahites (Num. 26:20; 1 Chron. 4:21);
this shows what the origin of that nation was, namely, that one third of them was from the Canaanite mother, and that two thirds of them were from the daughter-in-law; consequently that all were from an illegitimate connection, for marriages with the daughters of the Canaanites were strictly forbidden (Gen. 24:3; Exod. 34:16; Deut. 7:3; 1 Kings 11:2; Ezra 9:1-15; 10:1-44), and to lie with one‘s daughter-in-law was a capital offence, as is evident in Moses:--
If a man lie with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have wrought confusion; their bloods shall be upon them (Lev. 20:12).
Judah’s referring this deed with his daughter-in-law to the levirate law in which an ordinance is made regarding the brother, but by no means regarding the father (verse 26), implies that his sons by Tamar should be acknowledged as the sons of Er his firstborn, who was born of the Canaanite mother, and who was evil in the eyes of Jehovah, and was therefore caused to die (verse 7); for those who were born first to the husband‘s brother were not his by whom they were conceived, but his whose seed they raised up, as is evident from (Deuteronomy 25:5, 6), and also from (verses 8 and 9) of this chapter. Moreover those who were born of Tamar were born of fornication; for Judah thought when he went unto her that she was a harlot (verses 15, 16, 21). This shows whence and of what quality was the origin of the Jewish nation, and that they spoke falsely when they said, "We were not born of fornication" (John 8:41).
 What this origin involves and represents is plain from what follows, namely, that their interiors were of such a quality, or had such an origin. Judah’s marrying a Canaanite involves an origin from the evil which is from the falsity of evil, for this is signified in the internal sense by "a daughter of a man a Canaanite;" his lying with his daughter-in-law involves and represents damnation from falsified truth from evil, for everywhere in the Word whoredom signifies the falsification of truth (n. 3708). Evil from the falsity of evil is evil of life from false doctrine which has been hatched by the evil of the love of self (that is, by those who are in this evil), and confirmed by the sense of the letter of the Word. Such is the origin of evil with the Jewish nation, and such is its origin with some in the Christian world, especially with those who in the Word are meant by Babylon. This evil is of such a nature that it closes every way to the internal man, insomuch that nothing of conscience can be formed therein; for the evil which a person does from false doctrine, he believes to be good, because he believes it to be true; and therefore he does it freely and with delight, as allowable. Thus heaven is so closed to him that it cannot he opened.
 The quality of this evil may be shown by an example. With those who from the evil of the love of self believe that Jehovah has chosen a single nation only, and that all the rest of mankind are relatively slaves, and so vile that they may be killed at pleasure or he cruelly treated--as the Jewish nation believed, and at this day the Babylonish nation also believes--and confirm this belief from the sense of the letter of the Word, then whatever evil they do from this false doctrine and others built upon this as a foundation, is evil from the falsity of evil, and destroys the internal man, preventing any conscience from ever being formed therein. These are they spoken of in the Word who are said to be "in bloods," for they are in cruel rage against the whole human race which does not adore their articles of faith, and thus themselves, and does not offer its gifts upon their altars.
 Take another example with those who from the evil of the love of self and of the world believe that there must be some one as the Lord‘s vicar on earth, who has the power of opening and shutting heaven, and thus of ruling over the minds and consciences of all, and who confirm this falsity from the sense of the letter of the Word, whatever of evil they do from this belief is evil from the falsity of evil, which in like manner destroys the internal man with those who from this evil claim for themselves this power, and in this way rule; and this evil is destructive to such a degree that they no longer know what the internal man is, nor that anyone has conscience, consequently they no longer believe that there is any life after death, nor that there is a heaven or a hell, no matter how they may speak of these things.
 This evil, as regards its quality, cannot be distinguished by men in the world from other evils, but in the other life it is known by the angels as in clear day; for evils and falsities are manifest in that life as to their distinctions of quality and origin, which are innumerable; and according to the genera and species of these also are the distinctions of the hells. Concerning these innumerable differences man knows scarcely anything; he merely believes that evil exists, but what its quality is he does not know, and this for the sole reason that he does not know what good is, and this because he does not know what charity is; for if he had known the good of charity he would have known also the opposites or evils, with their distinctions.
AC 4819. And her name was Shua. That this signifies its quality, is evident from the signification of "name," as being quality (n. 4817), here the quality of evil from the falsity of evil (n. 4818).
AC 4820. And he took her, and came to her. That this signifies that the tribe of Judah conjoined itself with these things, namely, with evils from the falsities of evil, is evident from the signification of "taking her"--that is to say, for a woman--and "coming" or "entering to her," as being to be conjoined, as explained several times above. For in the internal sense marriages represent the conjunction of good and truth, because this is their source (n. 2727-2759), but in the opposite sense the conjunction of evil and falsity, here the conjunction of the tribe of Judah with evil and falsity; for this is said of Judah, by whom is signified the tribe named after him, as may be seen above (n. 4815). It is not said here that he took her for a wife, but only that he took her and came to her, for the reason that the connection was unlawful (n. 4818); and also because it was thus tacitly indicated that it was not a marriage, but a whoredom, thus that the sons born of her were born of whoredom. The conjunction of evil with falsity is nothing else. Her being afterwards called his wife; in these words--"and the days were multiplied, and Shua’s daughter died, the wife of Judah" (verse 12), will be spoken of below.
AC 4821. And she conceived, and bare a son. That this signifies that the falsity of the church was thence derived, is evident from the signification of "conceiving and bearing," as being to acknowledge in faith and act (n. 3905, 3915, 3919); and from the signification of a "son," as being the truth of the church, but in the opposite sense falsity (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373, 4257). Hence by her "conceiving and bearing a son" is here signified that the church with the tribe of Judah acknowledges falsity in faith and act. That by this son is signified the falsity of the church, is because he was the first born, and in the ancient churches by the firstborn was signified the truth of faith (n. 352, 3325), and in the opposite sense falsity--as was also signified by the firstborn of men and of beasts in Egypt (n. 3325). That not truth but falsity is signified, is plain from what shortly follows; for it is said, "Er, Judah‘s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of Jehovah; and Jehovah caused him to die" (verse 7). The name of his son Er also involves this quality, as likewise the name of the second son Onan involves his quality, namely, what is wrong or evil.
AC 4822. And he called his name Er. That this signifies its quality, is evident from the signification of "calling a name," as being quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421), namely, the quality of the falsity of the church, of which just above (n. 4821). It is said "the quality of the falsity," because falsities differ one from another, just as truths do, and to such a degree that their different kinds can scarcely he enumerated; and each kind of falsity has its own quality by which it is distinguished from another. There are general falsities which reign with the depraved in every church, and the falsity is varied with everyone in the church according to his life. The falsity which was in the Jewish Church, and which is here treated of, was falsity from the evil of the love of self, and of the derivative love of the world (n. 4818).
AC 4823. And she conceived again, and bare a son. That this signifies evil, is evident from the signification of a "son," as being truth, and also good (n. 264); thus in the opposite sense falsity and also evil, but the evil which is from falsity. This evil in its essence is falsity, because it is from it; for one who from a false doctrine does what is evil, does also what is false; but because it is done in act, it is called evil. That by the firstborn son is signified falsity, and by this one evil, is evident from its being related of this son that he did evil in act, namely, that "he destroyed the seed to the earth, that he might not give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did was evil in the eyes of Jehovah; and He caused him also to die" (verses 9 and 10). Here also it is evident that this evil was from falsity. Moreover in the ancient churches by the second son was signified the truth of faith in act; and therefore by this son falsity in act, that is, evil. That evil is what is signified by him, may be seen also from the fact that Er the firstborn was named by his father, or Judah; while this son, or Onan, was named by his mother, the daughter of Shua, as may be seen in the original tongue. For in the Word by a "man" is signified falsity, and by a "woman" the evil thereof (n. 915, 2517, 4510). That by the daughter of Shua is signified evil, may be seen above (n. 4818, 4819). Wherefore Er, because he was named by his father, signifies falsity, and Onan, because he was named by his mother, signifies evil; for the former was thus as it were the father’s son, but the latter as it were the mother‘s.
 In the Word "man and wife," and also "husband and wife," are often mentioned; and when "man and wife" are mentioned, by "man" is signified truth, and by "wife" good, and in the opposite sense by "man" is signified falsity, and by "wife" evil; but when "husband and wife" are mentioned, good is signified by "husband," and truth by "wife," and in the opposite sense evil is signified by "husband," and falsity by "wife." The reason of this mystery is this: in the celestial church the husband was in good, and the wife in the truth of this good; but in the spiritual church the man is in truth, and the wife in the good of this truth; such were they in fact then, and such are they now, for the interiors of man have undergone this change. Hence where celestial good and celestial truth from it are treated of in the Word, it is said "husband and wife;" but where spiritual good and spiritual truth from it are treated of, it is said "man and wife," or rather "man and woman." From this, as also from the expressions themselves, it is known what good and what truth are treated of in the Word, in its internal sense.
 This too is the reason of its having been occasionally stated that marriages represent the conjunction of good and truth, and of truth and good. Moreover conjugial love has its origin from this conjunction of good with truth; and conjugial love with the spiritual from the conjunction of truth with good. Marriages also actually correspond to these conjunctions. From all this it is evident what is involved in the father’s naming the first son, and the mother‘s naming the second, and also the third-- as appears from the original tongue--namely, that the father named the first son, because by him was signified falsity, and that the mother named the second, because by him was signified evil.
AC 4824. And she called his name Onan. That this signifies its quality, namely, the quality of the evil spoken of just above (n. 4823), is evident from the signification of "calling a name," as being the quality (n. 4822). "Onan" signifies and involves the quality of this evil.
AC 4825. And she added again and bare a son. That this signifies what is idolatrous, is evident from the signification of a "son" here, as being what is idolatrous, for those who were born before signified falsity and evil (n. 4821, 4823). From this it follows that the third son means what is idolatrous, for both falsity and evil produce this, and are in it. Of the three sons who were born to Judah of the Canaanite woman, this son was the only one that survived, from whom came a third part of the Jewish nation; and that this nation took its rise from what is idolatrous, is here meant in the internal sense. That this nation was very prone to idolatry is evident from the historic and prophetic parts of the Word according to the sense of the letter; and that it was continually idolatrous is plain from the internal sense. For idolatry consists not only in worshiping idols, graven images, and other gods, but also in worshiping external things without their internals. In this that nation was continually idolatrous, adoring external things only, and entirely removing internal things, not being willing even to know about them. They had indeed holy things with them--as the tent of meeting, with the ark, the mercy-seat on it, the tables on which were the loaves, the lampstand, incenses, and the altar outside the tent, on which were offered burnt-offerings and sacrifices--all which things were called holy; and the inmost of the tent was called the holy of holies, and also the sanctuary. They also had with them the garments that belonged to Aaron and to their high priests, and were called the garments of holiness; for there was the ephod with the breast-plate in which was the Urim and Thummim, besides other things. Yet these things were not holy in themselves, but were holy from representing holy things, namely, the Divine celestial and spiritual things of the Lord’s kingdom, and also the Lord Himself. Still less were they holy from the people with whom they were, for that people were not at all affected by the internal things which were represented, but only by the external; and to be affected by external things only is idolatrous, for it is to worship wood and stone, and also the gold and silver with which they are covered, from a phantasy that they are holy in themselves. Such was that nation, and such also it is at this day.
 But still there might be with them a representative of a church, because the representative does not regard the person, but the thing (n. 665, 1097, 3670, 4208, 4281, 4288). Thus their worship did not make them blessed and happy in the other life, but only prosperous in the world so long as they continued in the representatives, and did not turn aside to the idols of the Gentiles, and thus become openly idolaters; for then not anything of the church could any longer be represented with that nation. These are the things which are meant by what is idolatrous that is signified by the third son of Judah by the Canaanite woman. This idolatry with that nation had its origin from their internal idolatry, for they above other nations were in the love of self and the world (n. 4459, 4750); and those who are in the love of self and of the world are in internal idolatry, for they worship themselves and the world, and perform holy ceremonies for the sake of self-adoration and gain, that is, for self as an end--not for the Lord‘s church and kingdom as an end, thus not for the Lord.
AC 4826. And she called his name Shelah. That this signifies its quality, is evident from the signification of "calling a name," as being quality, of which above, where the two former sons of Judah, Er and Onan, are treated of (n. 4822, 4824). The quality of the idolatry is what is signified by Shelah, for there are many idolatries--there is external idolatry and there internal, both being in general the worship of falsity and evil.
AC 4827. And he was in Chezib when she bare him. That this signifies the state, is evident from the signification of "Chezib," as being the state, namely, the state of the idolatry signified by Shelah, in which the Jewish nation was; and from the signification of "bearing," as being to be conjoined in act (n. 3905, 3915, 3919); and because the conjunction was with the evil that is in idolatry it is said that "she" called his name Shelah, as appears from the original language; for by "her," namely, the daughter of Shua, is signified evil from the falsity of evil (n. 4818, 4819). GENESIS 38:1-5 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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