Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 38:11
AC 4841. Verse 11. And Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law, Remain a widow in thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown up; for he said, Lest he also die, like his brethren. And Tamar went and abode in her father‘s house. "And Judah said," signifies in general the posterity of Jacob, specifically that from Judah; "to Tamar his daughter-in-law," signifies a church representative of spiritual and celestial things, which is called "daughter-in-law" from truth; "Remain a widow in thy father’s house," signifies alienation from itself; "till Shelah my son be grown up," signifies until the time; "for he said," signifies thought; "Lest he also die, like his brethren," signifies fear lest it should perish; "and Tamar went and abode in her father‘s house," signifies alienation from itself.
AC 4842. And Judah said. That this signifies in general the posterity of Jacob, specifically that from Judah, is evident from the signification of "Judah" in the proximate sense, as being the nation which was from Jacob, and specifically that which was from Jacob by Judah, as also above (n. 4815). In the Word a distinction is indeed made between Judah and Israel, and in the historic sense by "Judah" is meant the tribe of Judah, and by "Israel" the ten tribes which were separated from that tribe. But in the internal or spiritual sense by Judah is represented the celestial or good of the church, and by Israel the spiritual or truth of the church; while in the opposite sense by Judah is represented the evil of the church, and by Israel the falsity of the church, wherever these existed, whether with the Jews or with the Israelites. For the internal or spiritual sense of the Word is universal, and does not distinguish the tribes, as does the external or historic sense. Hence it is that by "Judah" in the proximate sense is signified the whole nation which was from Jacob, and specifically that which was from Jacob by Judah.
AC 4843. To Tamar his daughter-in-law. That this signifies a church representative of spiritual and celestial things, which is called "daughter-in-law" from truth, is evident from the representation of Tamar, as being a church representative of spiritual and celestial things, of which above (n. 4831); and from the signification of a "daughter-in-law," as being the spiritual or truth of the church. That a "daughter-in-law" has this meaning in the internal sense is because all things belonging to marriage, and all who were born from marriage, represented such things as are of the heavenly marriage (n. 4837), and consequently which are of good and truth; for these are of the heavenly marriage. From this it is that in the Word a husband signifies good, and a wife truth; and also that sons and daughters signify the truths and goods that are from them. Hence a daughter-in-law, being the wife of a son now become a husband, signifies the truth of the church conjoined with good and so on. But in regard to those who are of the celestial church these significations are different from what they are in regard to those who are of the spiritual church; for in the spiritual church the husband is called "man," and signifies truth; and the wife is called "woman," and signifies good (n. 4823).
 That by a "daughter-in-law" in the internal sense of the Word is signified the truth of the church adjoined to its good, consequently in the opposite sense the falsity of the church adjoined to its evil, is also evident from the passages in the Word in which "daughter-in-law" is mentioned as in Hosea:
They sacrifice upon the heads of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under the oak, and the poplar, and the terebinth, because the shadow thereof is good therefore your daughters commit whoredom, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. Shall not I visit upon your daughters because they commit whoredom, and upon your daughters-in-law because they commit adultery? (Hosea 4:13, 14);
where the subject treated of is the worship of evil and falsity, the worship of evil being signified by "sacrificing upon the heads of the mountains," and the worship of falsity by "burning incense upon the hills." A life of evil is signified by the "daughters committing whoredom," and the doctrine of falsity from which is a life of evil is signified by the "daughters-in-law committing adultery." That in the Word adulteries and whoredoms signify adulterations of good and falsifications of truth may be seen above (n. 2466, 2729, 3399); and therefore "daughters-in-law" here denote affections of falsity.
 In Micah:
The great one speaketh the perversity of his soul; and he wresteth it. Their good one is as a thorn the upright, as a bramble. The son lightly esteemeth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s foes are they of his household (Micah 7:3, 4, 6);
where the subject treated of is the falsity from evil in which the church is in the last time, when vastated, and in the proximate sense that in which the Jewish Church was. The "daughter rising up against her mother," signifies that the affection of evil is opposed to truth; and the "daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law," that the affection of falsity is opposed to good.
 As the case is similar with the man who is in temptations for in these there is a combat of evil against truth and of falsity against good, spiritual temptations being nothing else than vastations of the falsity and evil in a man therefore temptations or spiritual combats are described by the Lord in almost the same words, in Matthew:
Jesus said, Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth I am not come to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law and a man‘s foes shall be they of his household (Matthew 10:34-36);
the like words quoted just above from the prophet signified the vastation of the church, but here they signify the temptations of those who are of the church, because as already said temptations are nothing else than vastations, or removals, of falsity and evil; and for this reason both temptations and vastations are also signified and described by inundations of water and by floods (n. 705, 739, 756, 907). Here also therefore the "daughter being at variance against her mother" denotes the affection of evil opposed to truth, and the "daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law," the affection of falsity opposed to good; and because in the man who is in temptation evils and falsities are within or are his, they are said to be of his household "a man’s foes shall be they of his household." That temptations are what are thus described is plain from the Lord‘s saying that He came not to send peace upon the earth, but a sword, for by a "sword" is signified truth combating, and in the opposite sense falsity combating (n. 2799, 4499), when yet He came to give peace (John 14:27; 16:33). That it is temptations which are so described is evident from what follows in that chapter: "He that taketh not up his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me."
 So also in Luke:
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but division for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (Luke 12:51-53);
from these sayings also it is plain that by "father," "mother," "son," "daughter," "daughter-in-law," and "mother-in-law," are signified those things which are from the heavenly marriage, namely, goods and truths in their order, and also their opposites; as likewise in Mark:
Jesus said, There is no man that has left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields, for My sake and the gospels, but he shall receive a hundred-fold in this time, houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life (Mark 10:29, 30);
one unacquainted with the internal sense of the Word will suppose that nothing more than house, brethren, sisters, father, mother, wife, children, and fields are signified by these words here; but it is such things as appertain to man, his own, which he must forsake; and the spiritual and celestial things that are of the Lord which he must receive in their place, and this by means of temptations, which are meant by "persecutions." Everyone can see that if he forsake a mother he will not receive mothers; in like manner neither brethren, sisters, etc.
AC 4844. Remain a widow in thy father’s house. That this signifies alienation from itself, is evident from the fact that thereby he wanted her to go away and return no more to him. He indeed told her to remain there until Shelah his son was grown up; but still he thought that she would not be given to Shelah his son, for he said in himself, "Lest he also die, like his brethren." This is proved also by his action in the matter, as appears from (verse 14): "Tamar saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him to wife." From this it follows that by his words is signified that he alienated her away from himself; that is, in the internal sense, that the church representative of spiritual and celestial things, which is represented by Tamar (n. 4811, 4831), was alienated from the Jewish Church, which is represented by Judah. For they could not agree together, because Judaism was only a representative of a church, and not a representative church (n. 4307, 4500); because it acknowledged what is external, but not what is internal.
 A "widow" also signifies the truth of the church without its good, because a "wife" in the representative sense signifies truth, and a "husband" good (n. 4823, 4843); wherefore a wife without a husband is the truth of the church without its good. And when it is said of her that she should "remain in her father‘s house," it signifies that the truth of the church would be alienated, and also that it would not be received in his house; neither could the Jewish nation receive it, because it was not in good, but in evil.
 A "widow" is often mentioned in the Word, and one unacquainted with the internal sense cannot but believe that by a "widow" is signified a widow. But a "widow" in the internal sense signifies the truth of the church without good, that is, those who are in truth without good and still desire to be in good, consequently who love to be led by good; and a "husband" is the good which should lead. In the Ancient Church such persons were understood in the good sense by widows, whether they were women or men. For the Ancient Church distinguished the neighbor toward whom they were to exercise charity into a number of classes, some of which they called poor, some miserable and afflicted, some bound and in prison, some blind and lame, and others strangers, orphans, and widows; and they dispensed works of charity to them according to their qualities. Their doctrinals taught them these things; and that church knew no other doctrinals. Wherefore they who lived at that time both taught and wrote according to their doctrinals, and consequently when they spoke of widows they had in mind no other than such as were in truth without good and yet desired to be led by good.
 From this it is also plain that the doctrinals of the Ancient Church taught those things which related to charity and the neighbor, and that their knowledges consisted in knowing what external things signified. For the church was representative of spiritual and celestial things, and therefore the spiritual and celestial things which were represented and signified were what they learned by means of doctrinals and knowledges. But these doctrinals and knowledges are at this day entirely obliterated, and indeed to such a degree that it is not known that they ever existed; for the doctrinals of faith succeeded in their place, which if widowed and separated from those of charity, teach almost nothing. For the doctrinals of charity teach what good is, but the doctrinals of faith what truth is, and to teach truth without good is to walk as one who is blind, because good is what teaches and leads, and truth is what is taught and led. There is as great a difference between these two doctrinals as between light and darkness; and unless the darkness be illumined by the light, that is, unless truth be illumined by good, or faith by charity, there is nothing but darkness. Hence it is that no one knows by looking at it, and consequently neither from perception, whether truth is truth, but only from doctrine imbibed in childhood and confirmed in adult age. Hence also it is that churches differ so widely that what one calls truth, another calls falsity, and they are never in agreement.
 That by "widows" in a good sense are signified those who are in truth without good, but still desire to be led by good, is evident from the passages in the Word in which "widows" are mentioned as in David: Jehovah, who executeth judgment for the oppressed, who giveth food to the hungry, Jehovah who looseth the bound, Jehovah who openeth [the eyes of] the blind, Jehovah who raiseth up them that are bowed down, Jehovah who loveth the just, Jehovah who preserveth the sojourners; He upholdeth the orphan and the widow (Ps. 146:7-9); here in the internal sense those are meant who are instructed in truths and led to good by the Lord; but some of these are called the "oppressed," some the "hungry," others the "bound," the "blind," those who are "bowed down," the "sojourners," the "orphan," and the "widow," and this according to their quality; but what this is, no one can know except from the internal sense. The doctrinals of the Ancient Church taught this. In this passage, as in several others, the sojourner, orphan, and widow are named jointly, because by the "sojourner" are signified those who wish to be instructed in the truths of faith (n. 1463, 4444), by the "orphan," those who are in good without truth and desire to be led to good by means of truth, and by the "widow," those who are in truth without good, and desire to be led to truth by means of good. These three are named jointly here and elsewhere in the Word for the reason that in the internal sense they constitute one class, inasmuch as by them, taken together, are signified those who wish to be instructed and to be led to good and truth.
A father of the orphans, and a judge of the widows, is God in the habitation of His holiness (Ps. 68:5);
the "orphans" denote those who, like little children, are in the good of innocence, but not yet in truth, whose father is said to be the Lord, because He leads them as a father, and this through truth into good, that is, into the good of life or of wisdom. "Widows’ denote those who as adults are in truth, but not yet in good, whose judge is said to be the Lord, because He leads them, and this through good into truth, that is, into the truth of intelligence; for by a "judge" is signified one who leads. Good without truth, which is the "orphan," becomes the good of wisdom through the doctrine of truth; and truth without good, which is the "widow," becomes the truth of intelligence through a life of good.
 In Isaiah:
Woe unto them that decree statutes of iniquity to turn aside the poor from judgment, and to take away into judgment the miserable of My people, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may plunder the orphans (Isa. 10:1, 2);
here by the "miserable," the "poor," the "widows," and the "orphans," are signified not those who are naturally, but those who are spiritually such; and because in the Jewish church, as in the Ancient, all things were representative, it was also representative to do good to the orphans and the widows; for thus charity toward those who in the spiritual sense were such was represented in heaven.
 In Jeremiah:
Do ye judgment and justice, and rescue the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor; and defraud not the sojourner, the orphan, or the widow, neither do violence, neither shed innocent blood in this place (Jer. 22:3);
here also by the "sojourner, the orphan, and the widow" are signified those who are spiritually such; for in the spiritual world or heaven it is not known who the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow are, those who have been in this condition in the world not being so there; and therefore when these words are read by man, they are perceived by angels according to their spiritual or internal sense.
 Likewise in Ezekiel:
behold, the princes of Israel, everyone according to his arm, have been in thee to shed blood. In thee have they set light by father and mother; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the sojourner; in thee have they defrauded the orphan and the widow (Ezek. 22:6, 7).
Also in Malachi:
I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the orphan, and that turn aside the sojourner, and fear not Me (Mal. 3:5).
And in Moses:
A sojourner shalt thou not wrong, neither shalt thou oppress him. Ye shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If thou shalt afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto Me, I will surely hear their cry and My anger shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be widows, and your sons orphans (Exod. 22:21-24).
 This, like all the rest of the precepts, judgments, and statutes in the Jewish Church, was representative; and in that church they were kept so to do in externals, and by such things to represent the internal things of charity, although they had nothing of charity, nor did them from internal affection. The internal was from affection to instruct in truths and to lead by truths to good those who were in ignorance, and to lead by good to truths those who had knowledge; whereby they would have done good in the spiritual sense to the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow. Yet that the external might remain for the sake of representation, it was among the curses pronounced on Mount Ebal, to turn aside the judgment of the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow (Deut. 27:19). To "turn aside their judgment" means to do what is contrary, that is, by instruction and life to lead to what is false and evil. And because depriving others of goods and truths, and appropriating them to self for the sake of self-honor and gain was among those curses, the Lord said:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees for ye devour widows‘ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers therefore ye shall receive more abundant judgment (Matt. 23:14; Luke 20:47);
"devouring widows’ houses" means taking away truths from those who desire them, and teaching falsities.
 In like manner it was representative that what was left in the fields, oliveyards, and vineyards, should be for the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow (Deut. 24:19-22); and also that when they had made an end of tithing the tithes of their increase in the third year, they should give it to the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow, that they might eat within their gates, and be filled (Deut. 26:12). Because it is the Lord alone who instructs, and leads to good and truth, it is said in Jeremiah:
Leave thy orphans, I will make them alive; and the widows shall confide upon Me (Jer. 49:11);
and in Moses:
Jehovah doth execute the judgment of the orphan and widow, and loveth the sojourner, in giving him bread and raiment (Deut. 10:18);
"bread" denotes the good of love (n. 2165, 2177, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735); "raiment," the truth of faith (n. 4545, 4763).
 What is related of Elijah, that when there was a famine for want of rain in the land he was sent to Zarephath to a widow, and that he asked of her a little cake, which she was first to make and to give to him, and was afterwards to make for herself and her son, and that then the barrel of meal with her was not consumed, and the cruse of oil did not fail (1 Kings 17:1-16), was representative, like all the other things related of Elijah, and in general all that are in the Word. The famine that was in the land because there was no rain, represented the vastation of truth in the church (n. 1460, 3364); the widow in Zarephath represented those outside of the church who desire truth; the cake which she was to make for him first, represented the good of love to the Lord (n. 2177), whom, out of the little she had, she was to love above herself and her son; the barrel of meal signifies truth from good (n. 2177), and the cruse of oil charity and love (n. 886, 3728, 4582); Elijah represents the Word, by means of which such things are done (n. 2762).
 This is meant also, in the internal sense, by the Lord‘s words in Luke:
No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine over all the land; but unto none of them was Elijah sent, except to Zarephath of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow (Luke 4:24-26);
that is, to those without the church who desire truth. But the widows within the vastated church, to whom Elijah was not sent, are they who are not in truth, because not in good, for wherever there is no good there is also no truth, however much truth may appear with them in outer form like truth, and yet be as a shell without a kernel.
 They who are in such truth, and also they who are in falsity, are signified by "widows" in the opposite sense as in Isaiah:
Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The elder and the honored in faces is the head, and the prophet the teacher of a lie is the tail. Therefore the Lord will not be glad over their young men, neither will He have compassion on their orphans and widows (Isa. 9:14, 16, 17).
I will fan them with a winnowing fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy My people they have not turned from their ways. Their widows are increased to Me above the sand of the seas; I will bring to them, upon the mother a young man, a waster at noonday. She that hath borne seven languisheth; she hath breathed out her soul, her sun is gone down while it is yet day (Jer. 15:7-9).
Our inheritance is turned unto strangers, our houses unto aliens. We have become fatherless orphans, our mothers are as widows (Lam. 5:2, 3).
 As by "widows" were signified those who are not in truth because not in good, it was reproachful for churches, even such as were in falsities from evil, to be called widows as in the Revelation:
She hath said in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and I shall not see mourning. Therefore in one day shall her plagues come, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be burned with fire (Rev. 18:7, 8);
speaking of Babylon. In like manner of the same in Isaiah:
Hear this, thou delicate one, that sitteth securely, that sayest in thy heart, I am, and there is none else like me I shall not sit a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children. But these two evils shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood (Isa. 47:8, 9).
 From all this it is now evident what is meant by a "widow" in the internal sense of the Word; and as a widow represented and thence signified the truth of the church without its good because a wife signifies truth and a husband good therefore, in the ancient churches, where all things in general and particular were representative, it was forbidden the priests to marry a widow who was not the widow of a priest, as is written in Moses:
The high priest shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or one divorced, or a polluted woman, or a harlot, these shall he not take; but a virgin of his own people shall he take to wife (Lev. 21:13, 14);
and concerning the new temple and the new priesthood in Ezekiel:
The priests, the Levites, shall not take for their wives a widow, nor one divorced but they shall take virgins of the seed of the house of Israel yet a widow that is the widow of a priest they may take (Ezek. 44:22).
For the virgins whom they were to marry represented and thence signified the affection of truth, and the widow of a priest the affection of truth from good; for a "priest" in the representative sense is the good of the church. For this reason it was also allowed the widows who were daughters of a priest, who were childless, to eat of the offerings or holy things (Lev. 22:12, 13).
 That this is the signification of a "widow," was known from their doctrinals to those who were of the Ancient Church; for their doctrinals were doctrinals of love and charity, which contained innumerable things that at this day are wholly obliterated. From these doctrinals they knew what charity to exercise, or what duty they owed the neighbor, thus who were called widows, who orphans, who sojourners, and so on. Their knowledges of truth and memory-knowledges were to know what the rituals of their church represented and signified; and those who were learned among them knew what the things on the earth and in the world represented; for they knew that universal nature was a theater representative of the heavenly kingdom (n. 2758, 2989, 2999, 3483). Such things elevated their minds to heavenly things, and their doctrinals led to life. But after the church turned aside from charity to faith, and still more after it separated faith from charity, and made faith saving without charity and its works, men’s minds could no longer be elevated by knowledges to heavenly things, nor by doctrinals be led to life; and this to such a degree that at last scarcely anyone believes that there is any life after death, and scarcely anyone knows what the heavenly is. That there is any spiritual sense in the Word which does not appear in the letter, cannot be believed. In this way men‘s minds have been closed.
AC 4845. Till Shelah my son be grown up. That this signifies until the time, is evident from the signification of "growing up," as being to be of this age, thus until the time; and from the representation of Shelah, the son, as being what is idolatrous, of which above (n. 4825, 4826), thus the Jewish religion, which with them was idolatrous (n. 4825) Hence by the words, "till Shelah my son be grown up," is signified until the time that the Jewish religion can receive internal things, or the spiritual and celestial things of the representative church, which is Tamar (n. 4829, 4831, 4843).
AC 4846. For he said. That this signifies thought, is evident from the signification of "saying" in the historic parts of the Word, as being to perceive and also to think (n. 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822, 1898, 1919, 2080, 3395). Here therefore by "he said" is signified that he said in himself, or thought, that Tamar would not be given to Shelah his son for a wife in the internal sense that the internal things of the representative church would be alienated (n. 4844).
AC 4847. Lest he also die, like his brethren. That this signifies fear lest it should perish, namely, the representative of a church that was with the posterity descended from Jacob, and specifically that descended from Jacob through Judah, is evident from the signification of "lest he also die," as being fear lest it should perish. In regard to this that the representative of a church which was with the posterity of Jacob would perish if the internal things of a genuine representative church were adjoined to it, the case is as follows. A representative church, such as had existed among the ancients, was to have been instituted with the posterity of Jacob; but that nation was of such a quality that they wished to worship and to adore external things only, and did not wish to know anything at all about internal things; for they were immersed in the cupidities of the love of self and of the world, and thence in falsities. That nation, more than the Gentiles, believed that there were many gods, but that Jehovah was greater than they because He could do greater miracles; and therefore as soon as the miracles ceased, and also when they had become little esteemed because or being frequent and familiar, they straightway turned to other gods, as is very evident from the historic and prophetic parts of the Word.
 Because that nation were of such a quality, a representative church such as had existed among the ancients could not be instituted with them, but only the representative of a church; and it was provided by the Lord that some communication with heaven might thereby be effected; for what is representative is possible with the evil, because it regards not the person, but the thing. From this it is plain that in so far as they were concerned their worship was merely idolatrous (n. 4825), although the representatives contained within them holy Divine things. With such idolatrous worship, what is internal could not be conjoined, for if what is internal had been conjoined, that is, if they had acknowledged internal things, they would have profaned holy things; for if a holy internal is conjoined with an idolatrous external it becomes profane. It is for this reason that internal things were not disclosed to that nation, and that if they had been disclosed it would have perished.
 That that nation could not receive and acknowledge internal things, however much they might have been revealed to them, is very plain from what they are at this day; for they now know internal things, because they live among Christians; but still they reject and also scoff at them. Even the most of those who have been converted do the same at heart. Thus it is evident that a church representative of spiritual and celestial things was not with that nation, but only the representative of a church, that is, the external without the internal, which in itself is idolatrous. From these things it may also be seen how erroneously those Christians think who believe that at the end of the church the Jewish nation will be converted, and be chosen in preference to Christians; and still more those who believe that the Messiah, or the Lord, will then appear to them and by a great prophet and great miracles bring them back into the land of Canaan. But into these errors those fall who by "Judah," "Israel, and the "land of Canaan," in the prophetic parts of the Word, understand simply Judah, Israel, and the land of Canaan; and who thus believe only the literal sense, and care not for any internal sense.
AC 4848. [And Tamar went. and abode in her father’s house. That this signifies alienation from itself, is evident from the signification of abiding a widow in the house of a father, as being alienation, of which above (n. 4844). GENESIS 38:11 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|