Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 38:15-18
AC 4863. Verses 15-18. And Judah saw her, and thought her to be a harlot, because she had covered her faces. And he turned aside unto her to the way, and said, Grant I pray that I may come to thee; for he knew not that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, "What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come to me? And he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock. And she said, If thou wilt give a pledge till thou send it? And he said, what pledge shall I give thee? And she said, Thy signet, and thy kerchief, and thy staff that is in thy hand. And he gave them to her, and came to her; and she conceived to him. "And Judah saw her," signifies how the religiosity of the Jewish nation at that time regarded the internal things of the representative church; "and thought her to be a harlot," signifies no otherwise than as falsity; "because she had covered her faces," signifies that interior things were hidden to them; "and he turned aside unto her to the way," signifies that it adjoined itself because it was such; "and said, Grant I pray that I may come to thee," signifies lust for conjunction; "for he knew not that she was his daughter-in-law," signifies that it did not perceive it to be the truth of the representative church; "and she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come to me?" signifies the reciprocal of conjunction with a condition; "and he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock," signifies a pledge of conjunction; "and she said, If thou wilt give a pledge till thou send it?" signifies the reciprocal if there is certainty; "and he said, What pledge shall I give thee?" signifies that it was certain; "and she said, Thy signet," signifies a token of consent; "and thy kerchief," signifies by means of truth; "and thy staff that is in thy hand," signifies by means of its power; "and he gave them to her," signifies that thus it was certain; "and came to her," signifies conjunction; "and she conceived to him," signifies thus reception.
AC 4864. And Judah saw her. That this signifies how the religiosity of the Jewish nation at that time regarded the internal things of the representative church, is evident from the signification of "seeing," as being to notice and understand (n. 2150, 2325, 2807, 3764, 3863), thus to consider; and from the representation of Tamar, who is meant by "her," as being a church representative of spiritual and celestial things (n. 4829, 4831), here the internal of that church, because the subject treated of is the way in which that internal was regarded and received by the religiosity of the Jewish nation and from the representation of Judah, as being specifically the Jewish nation (n. 4815, 4842), consequently the religiosity of that nation; for where that nation is mentioned in the Word, something relating to its church is meant in the internal sense. For the internal sense has no concern with the events and history of any nation, but only with its quality as to the things of the church. From this it is evident that by Judah’s seeing her is signified how the religiosity of the Jewish nation at that time regarded the internal things of a representative church.
AC 4865. And thought her to be a harlot. That this signifies no otherwise than as falsity, is evident from the signification of a "harlot," as being falsity (n. 2466, 2729, 3399); and thus it means that the Jewish nation from its religiosity regards the internal of the church no otherwise than as falsity. That a "harlot" denotes falsity, is because marriage represents the heavenly marriage, which is of good and truth, the husband representing good, and the wife truth; and hence sons represent truths, and daughters goods; and son-in-law and daughter-in-law, father-in-law and mother-in-law, and the several relationships, according to their degrees, represent those things which are of the heavenly marriage. Therefore adulteries and harlotries, being opposite, signify evil and falsity; and they are opposite in reality, for those who spend their lives in adultery and harlotry care nothing for good and truth. The reason is, that genuine conjugial love descends from the heavenly marriage, that is, from the marriage of good and truth; but adulteries and harlotries arise from the conjunction of evil and falsity, which is from hell (n. 2727-2759).
 That the Jewish nation regarded, and also at this day regards, the internal things of the church no otherwise than as falsities, is what is signified by Judah‘s regarding Tamar his daughter-in-law no otherwise than as a harlot, and by his conjoining himself with her as with a harlot. By this origin of that nation is represented the origin and quality of their religiosity. That this nation regards the internal of the church as a harlot, or as falsity, is very evident. As for example, if anyone tells them that it is an internal of the church that the Messiah whose coming is predicted in the prophetic parts of the Word and whom they therefore expect is the Lord, they utterly reject it as false. If anyone tells them that it is an internal of the church that the Messiah’s kingdom is not worldly and temporal, but heavenly and eternal, they pronounce this also to be false. If anyone tells them that the rituals of their church represented the Messiah and His heavenly kingdom, they do not know what this means.
 If anyone tells them that the internal of the church is the good of charity, and the truth of faith in doctrine and at the same time in life, they regard it as no otherwise than false. And so in all other instances. Nay, at the mere suggestion of the church having an internal, they laugh stupidly. The reason is that they are solely in externals, and indeed in the lowest of externals, namely, the love of earthly things; for they above all other men are in avarice, which is altogether earthly. Such men cannot possibly regard the interior things of the church in any other way; for they are more remote from heavenly light than the rest of mankind, thus above all others are in thick darkness.
AC 4866. For she had covered her faces. That this signifies that interior things were hidden to them, is evident from the representation of Tamar, as being the representative church (n. 4829, 4831); and from the signification of "covering," as being to be hidden; and from the signification of "faces," as being the internals (n. 358, 1999, 2434, 3527, 3573, 4066, 4326, 4796-4799). From this it is evident that by her covering her face is signified that the interior things of the church were hidden to them (n. 4859, 4865).
AC 4867. And he turned aside unto her to the way. That this signifies that it [the religiosity of the Jewish nation] adjoined itself because it was of such a quality, is evident from the signification of a "way," as being truth (n. 627, 2333, 3123, 3142, 3477), thus in the opposite sense falsity, here falsity because he regarded her as a harlot, by whom falsity is signified, as may be seen just above (n. 4865). On this account also it is said that he turned aside to the way; for "to turn aside" is predicated of falsity (n. 4815, 4816).
AC 4868. And said, Grant I pray that I may come to thee. That this signifies lust for conjunction, is evident from the signification of "coming or entering to anyone," as being to be conjoined (n. 4820). That lust is meant such as is that for conjunction with a harlot, is plain; in the internal sense, with falsity. That the Jewish nation, which is here signified by "Judah" (n. 4815, 4842, 4864), regarded the internal truth of the representative church no otherwise than as falsity, and also at this day so regards it, can be seen above (n. 4865). What is now here treated of is that nevertheless this nation conjoined itself with this truth, yet not as with a wife, but as with a harlot, that is, not as with truth, but as with falsity. Lust is predicated of conjunction with falsity, just as of conjunction with a harlot.
 All those conjoin themselves with internal truth as with a harlot who believe only the external sense of the Word, that is, only its literal sense, and entirely reject all its internal, that is, its spiritual sense; but especially those who apply the external or literal sense of the Word to favor the cupidities of the love of self and of the world, or of rule and gain. They who do this cannot but regard internal truth in this way; and if they conjoin themselves with it, they do so from lust as for conjunction with a harlot. This is done especially by those who are of the Jewish nation, and also by those who in the Word are meant by Babylon; but not by those who indeed believe in simplicity the literal sense of the Word, and yet live according to those things which are of the internal sense, that is in love and charity, and thence in faith for these are of the internal sense of the Word and who also from the literal sense teach these things; for the internal and the external sense come together in the two precepts to love the Lord above all things, and the neighbor as one‘s self.
 That the Jewish nation regard internal truth as a harlot, and that, if they conjoin themselves with it, they do so from lust as for conjunction with a harlot, may be illustrated by the following examples. If they are told that the Word is holy, even most holy, also that every tittle therein is holy, they acknowledge it and conjoin themselves, but this from such lust; for they believe that it is holy in the letter, and not that by this means the holy flows in with those who when they read it are in the affection of good and truth.
 If they are told that many who are mentioned in the Word are to be venerated as holy as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David, they acknowledge it and conjoin themselves, but from such a lust; for they believe that these persons were chosen in preference to others, that they are therefore holy, and that they should for this reason be worshiped as deities; when yet these men have holiness from no other source than this, that they represented the Lord; and a holy representative does not at all affect the person. Moreover the life of everyone without distinction remains with him after death.
 If they are told that the ark that was with them, the temple, the altar of burnt offering, the altar of incense, the bread upon the table, the lampstand with its lamps, the perpetual fire, the sacrifices, the incenses, the oil, also the garments of Aaron, especially the breastplate on which were the Urim and Thummim, were holy, they acknowledge it and conjoin themselves, but from the same lust; for they believe that these things were holy in themselves, thus that the wood, the stone, the gold, silver, bread, and fire were holy, and this interiorly because Jehovah was in them, or that the holiness of Jehovah applied to them was actually in them. This is their internal truth, which yet is relatively falsity; for the holy is solely in good and truth, which is from the Lord in love to Him and in love toward the neighbor, and thence in faith; thus only in living subjects, that is, in men who receive these things from the Lord.
 Again, if they are told that the Christian Church is one with the church that was instituted with them, but that it is internal, whereas theirs was external, so that when the church instituted with them is stripped of its externals and laid bare, the Christian Church comes to view, they do not acknowledge this truth otherwise than as a harlot, that is, as falsity. Never the Less some of them, who are converted from Judaism to Christianity, conjoin themselves with this truth, but also from the same lust. Such things in the Word are often called "whoredoms." In regard to those however who are signified in the Word by "Babylon," these regard in a similar way the internal truths of the church; but because they are acquainted with internal things, and also acknowledge them in childhood, but deny them in adult age, they are described in the Word by foul adulteries and abominable copulations; for they are profanations.
AC 4869. For he knew not that she was his daughter-in-law. That this signifies that it did not perceive it to be the truth of the representative church, is evident from the signification of a "daughter-in-law," as being the truth of the church adjoined to its good (n. 4843). That it is the truth of the representative church which is signified, is because by Tamar, who is here the daughter-in-law, is represented a church representative of spiritual and celestial things (n. 4829, 4831). On this subject see what was shown above (n. 4865, 4866, 4868).
AC 4870. And she said, What wilt thou give me that thou mayest come to me? That this signifies the reciprocal of conjunction with a condition, is evident from the signification of "to come to me," as being conjunction (n. 4820, 4868). That it is what is reciprocal with a condition, is evident without explication.
AC 4871. And he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from the flock. That this signifies a pledge of conjunction, is evident from the signification of a "kid of the goats," as being the innocence of the external or natural man (n. 3519); and because it is innocence, it is a pledge of conjugial love, or a pledge of conjunction, for genuine conjugial love is innocence (n. 2736). Hence it was a custom received from the ancients that when they went anew unto their wives, they sent before-hand a kid of the goats, as appears also from what is related of Samson in the book of Judges:
It came to pass after days, in the days of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid of the goats for he said, I will enter to my wife into the chamber (Judges 15:1).
In like manner in the present case; but as the promised kid of the goats was not to be accepted, Tamar required a pledge. It is said a pledge of conjunction, not a marriage pledge, because on the part of Judah it was conjunction like that with a harlot.
AC 4872. And she said, If thou wilt give a pledge till thou send it? That this signifies the reciprocal if there is certainty, is evident from what was said above by Tamar, "What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come to me?" as signifying the reciprocal of conjunction with a condition (n. 4870), here the reciprocal in case of certainty, because the pledge was for certainty that the thing promised would be given.
AC 4873. And he said, What pledge shall I give thee? That this signifies that it was certain, is evident from the signification of a "pledge," as being certainty, of which just above (n. 4872). That it was certain is evident also from what now follows that the pledge was given.
AC 4874. And she said, Thy signet. That this signifies a token of consent, is evident from the signification of a "signet," as being a token of consent. That a "signet" is a token of consent, is because in ancient times decrees were confirmed by a signet, and therefore by a signet is properly signified confirmation itself and testification that it is so. Tamar’s asking for his signet, kerchief, and staff, as a pledge that a kid of the goats would be sent, which afterwards she did not accept, involves a mystery which without the internal sense cannot possibly be known. The mystery is this: as a kid of the goats signified the genuine conjugial, consequently what is internal for everything genuine is at the same time internal and as there was not this on the part of Judah, Tamar therefore did not accept a kid of the goats, as appears from what follows; but instead of it took an external with which the internal of the church, signified by "Tamar," might be conjoined. The external of the church is signified by the signet, kerchief, and staff by the "signet" consent itself, by the "kerchief" external truth, and by the "staff" the power of this truth; moreover these things are pledges of the conjunction of the external or natural man.
 The conjunction of internal truth with the external or with the religiosity of the Jewish nation, is represented by the conjunction of Tamar with Judah as a daughter-in-law with her father-in-law under the pretext of the duty of a husband‘s brother; and the conjunction of the religiosity of the Jewish nation with the internal of the church is represented by the conjunction of Judah with Tamar as with a harlot. Moreover the conjunctions are precisely of this nature; but their quality cannot be so well explained to the apprehension To angels and good spirits however their quality is very manifest, for it is presented to them in the light of Heaven, in which the arcana of the Word lie open as in clear day quite otherwise than as in the light of the world, which exists with man. In brief: the representatives instituted with the posterity of Jacob were not precisely like those in the Ancient Church; but were for the most part like those in the church instituted by Hebrew, which was called the Hebrew Church. In this church were many new kinds of worship, such as burnt-offerings, sacrifices, and other things, which were unknown in the Ancient Church; but the internal of the church was not conjoined with these representatives in the same way as with those of the Ancient Church. But the way in which the internal of the church was conjoined with the representatives among the Jewish nation, and the converse, is described in the internal sense by the conjunction of Tamar with Judah as a daughter-in-law with her father-in-law under the pretext of the duty of a husband’s brother; and by the conjunction of Judah with Tamar as with a harlot. In regard to the Hebrew Church see above (n. 1238, 1241, 1327, 1343, 3031, 4516, 4517); and in regard to the sacrifices in this church not existing in the Ancient (n. 923, 1128, 1343, 2180, 2818).
AC 4875. And thy kerchief. That this signifies by means of truth, namely, a token of consent, is evident from the signification of a "kerchief," as being truth. That a "kerchief" denotes truth, is because it is among those things which relate to garments, and by garments are in general signified truths; for as garments clothe the flesh, so truths clothe good (n. 297, 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763). Among the ancients therefore, everything with which they were clothed signified some special and particular truth; hence a tunic signified one truth, the outer garment (chlamys) another, the outermost garment (toga) another; the coverings of the head too, as the miter and turban, another; also the coverings of the thighs and feet, as breeches and stockings, another; and so on. But a "kerchief" signified outermost or lowest truth, being made of threads twisted together, by which the determinations of such truth are signified. A "kerchief" signifies such truth also in Moses: Every open vessel upon which there is not a cloth (or kerchief) for a covering, it is unclean
whereby was signified that nothing should be indeterminate; for whatever is indeterminate is open. Moreover it is outermost truths to which interior truths are determined, and in which they terminate.
AC 4876. And thy staff that is in thy hand. That this signifies by means of its power, that is, of that truth, is evident from the signification of a "staff," as being power, of which presently; and from the signification of a "hand," as being also power (n. 878, 3091, 3387, 3563). It is said "that is in thy hand," because the power of that lowest truth is signified such as belonged to the religiosity of the Jewish nation, which here is "Judah." That power is predicated of truth may be seen above (n. 3091, 3563). A "staff" is frequently mentioned in the Word, and it is surprising that scarcely anyone at this day knows that anything in the spiritual world was represented by it, as where Moses was commanded that whenever miracles were wrought, he was to lift up his staff, and thereby they were wrought. This was known among Gentiles also, as is evident from their fabulous tales in which staffs are ascribed to magicians. That a "staff" signifies power, is because it is a support; for it supports the hand and arm, and through them the whole body; wherefore a staff takes on the signification of the part which it immediately supports, that is, the hand and arm, by both of which in the Word is signified the power of truth. Moreover it will be seen at the end of the chapters that in the Grand Man the hand and are correspond to this power.
 That by a staff was represented power, appears, as just said, from what is related of Moses, in that he was commanded to take a staff (or rod), with which he was to do miracles; and that he took the rod of God in his hand (Exod. 4:17, 20); that when smitten by the rod, the waters in Egypt became blood (Exod. 7:15, 19, 20); that when the rod was stretched out over the streams, frogs came up (Exod. 8:1-11); that when the dust was smitten by the rod, it became lice (Exod. 8:16-20); that when the rod was stretched out toward heaven, there was hail (Exod. 9:23); and that when the rod was stretched out over the land, locusts came up (Exod. 10:3-21). As the hand is the principal, by which power is signified, and a rod is the instrumental, therefore miracles were also wrought when his hand was stretched forth (Exod. 10:12, 13); when his hand was stretched forth toward heaven, there was thick darkness over the land of Egypt (Exod. 10:21, 22); and when his hand was stretched forth over the sea Suph, by an east wind the sea was made dry land; and on again stretching forth his hand, the waters returned (Exod. 14:21, 26, 27).
 Moreover when the rock of Horeb was smitten with the rod, waters flowed out (Exod. 17:5, 6; Num. 20:7-10). When Joshua fought against Amalek,
"Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed" (Exod. 17:9, 11).
From these passages it is very evident that a rod or staff, like the hand, represented power, and in the supreme sense the Divine omnipotence of the Lord; and it is also evident that at that time representatives constituted the externals of the church; and that the internals, which are spiritual and celestial things such as are in heaven, corresponded to them; and that from this came their efficacy. From this it is also plain how irrational those are who believe that there was any power infused into the staff or the hand of Moses.
 That in the spiritual sense, a "staff" is power, appears also from many passages in the prophets, as in Isaiah:
Behold the Lord Jehovah Zebaoth doth take away from Jerusalem staff and stay, the whole staff of bread, and the whole staff of water (Isa. 3:1);
the "staff of bread" denotes support and power from the good of love, and the "staff of water," support and power from the truth of faith. That "bread" is the good of love may be seen above (n. 276, 680, 2165, 2177, 3464, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735); and that "water" is the truth of faith (n. 28, 680, 739, 2702, 3058, 3424). The "staff of bread" is mentioned in like manner in (Ezekiel 4:16; 5:16; 14:13; Ps. 105:16).
 Again in Isaiah:
Thus said the Lord Jehovih Zebaoth, O My people that dwellest in Lion, be not afraid of Asshur, who shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff upon thee, in the way of Egypt. Jehovah shall stir up against him a scourge, as in the plague of Midian at the rock of Oreb; and his staff shall be over the sea, and he shall lift it up in the way of Egypt (Isa. 10:24, 26);
where "staff" denotes power from reasoning and memory-knowledge, such as is the power of those who reason from memory-knowledges against the truths of faith, and either pervert them or make them of no account. This is signified by the "rod" with which Asshur shall smite, and by the "staff" which he shall lift up in the way of Egypt. That by "Asshur" is meant reasoning may be seen above (n. 1186); and that by "Egypt" is meant memory-knowledge (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462).
 In like manner in Zechariah:
The pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the staff of Egypt shall depart away (Zech. 10:11).
Thou hast trusted on the staff of a bruised reed, even upon Egypt; whereon if a man lean it will go into his hand and pierce it (Isa. 36:6);
"Egypt" denotes memory-knowledges, as above; power from them in spiritual things is the "staff of a bruised reed;" the "hand" which it goes into and pierces, is power from the Word. Again:
Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the rod of the rulers (Isa. 14:5);
where "staff" and "rod" manifestly denote power.
 In Jeremiah:
Grieve, all ye circuits of Moab, and say, How is the staff of strength broken, the staff of beauty (Jer. 48:17);
the "staff of strength" denotes power from good, and the "staff of beauty" power from truth.
 In Hosea:
My people interrogate their wood, and their staff will answer them; for the spirit of whoredom hath led them astray (Hosea 4:12);
"interrogating wood" means consulting evils; the "staff answering" means that falsity is thence, which has power from the evil which they confirm; the "spirit of whoredom" denotes a life of falsity from evil. In David:
Yea, when I walk in the valley of shadow, I will fear not evil to me; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me (Ps. 23:4);
"Thy rod and Thy staff" denote the Divine truth and good, which have power. Again:
The staff of wickedness shall not rest upon the lot of the just (Ps. 125:3).
Thou shalt crush them with a rod of iron thou shalt scatter them like a potter‘s vessels (Ps. 2:9);
a "rod of iron" denotes the power of spiritual truth in natural, for all natural truth in which there is spiritual truth has power; "iron" is natural truth (n. 425, 426). So also in the Revelation:
He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; that he may pasture them with a rod of iron as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers (Rev. 2:26, 27; 12:5; 19:15).
 Because a staff represented the power of truth, that is, the power of good through truth, therefore kings had scepters, which were made like short staffs; for by kings the Lord is represented as to truth, the Divine truth being the royalty itself (n. 1672, 1728, 2015, 2069, 3670, 4581). The scepter signifies the power belonging to them, not by dignity, but by the truth which should rule, and no other truth than that which is from good; thus principally the Divine truth, and with Christians the Lord, from whom is all Divine truth.
AC 4877. And he gave them to her. That this signifies that thus it was certain, is evident from the signification of the pledge which Tamar requested and which was given to her, as being what is certain (n. 4872, 4873).
AC 4878. And came to him. That this signifies conjunction, is evident from the signification of "coming" or "entering to anyone," as being conjunction, of which also above (n. 4820, 4868, 4870).
AC 4879. And she conceived to him. That this signifies reception thereby, is evident from the signification of "conceiving," as being reception (n. 3860, 3868, 3919); but what the quality of the reception was may be seen above (n. 4874). GENESIS 38:15-18 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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