Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 38:24-26
AC 4900. Verses 24-26. And it came to pass about three months after, and it was told Judah, saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot; and moreover behold she is with child to whoredoms. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. She was brought forth, and she sent to her father-in-law, saying, By the man whose these are am I with child; and she said, Acknowledge I pray whose are these, the signet and the kerchief and the staff And Judah acknowledged them, and said, She is more just than I; forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son. And he added no further to know her. "And it came to pass about three months after," signifies a new state; "and it was told Judah," signifies communication; "saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot," signifies perception then that it is false that anything conjugial exists between them; "and moreover behold she is with child to whoredoms," signifies and that anything can be produced thence; "and Judah said," signifies sentence from the religiosity in which the Jewish nation was; "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt," signifies that it ought to be extirpated; "she was brought forth," signifies that it was nearly effected; "and she sent to her father-in-law," signifies insinuation; "saying, By the man whose these are, am I with child," signifies that such a quality was in their religiosity; "and she said, Acknowledge I pray whose are these, the signet and the kerchief and the staff," signifies that it might be known from the pledges; "and Judah acknowledged them," signifies that being theirs they made affirmation; "and said, She is more just than I," signifies that there was no conjunction of the external with the internal, but of the internal with the external; "forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son," signifies because the external was of such a quality; "and he added no further to know her," signifies that there was no further conjunction.
AC 4901. And it came to pass about three months after. That this signifies a new state, is evident from the Signification of "three" as being what is complete, and hence the last and the first together, or the end and the beginning together (n. 1825, 2788, 4495); and from the signification of "month" as being state (n. 3814). For in the internal sense all periods of time signify states, as hour, day, week, month, year, age; and also the lesser divisions of time, as noon, evening, night, and morning, which are times of the day; and as summer, autumn, winter, and spring, which are times of the year; and also the several periods of life, as infancy and childhood, youth, adult age, and old age; all of which times, with others, signify states. What states are may be seen above (n. 4850).
 That times signify states is because times do not exist in the other life. The progression of the life of spirits and angels indeed appears as in time; but they have no thought from times, as men in the world have; their thought is from states of the life, and this without notion of times. The reason of this is that the progressions of their life are not distinguished into different ages, for there they do not grow old, and there are no days or years, because their sun, which is the Lord, is always rising and never sets. Hence no notion of time enters their thoughts, but only a notion of state and its progressions - notions being taken from the things that are and exist before the senses.
 These things must needs seem paradoxical, but only for the reason that man in every idea of his thought has somewhat adjoined from time and space. From this source are his memory and recollection, and also his lower thought, the ideas of which are called material. But that memory out of which comes such ideas is quiescent in the other life. They who are in that life are in interior memory, and in the ideas of its thought; and thought from this latter memory has not times and spaces adjoined to it, but states and their progressions instead. Hence also it is that they correspond, and in consequence of such correspondence times in the Word signify states. Man has an exterior memory which is proper to him in the body, and also an interior memory which is proper to his spirit, (n. 2469-2494).
 That by "about three months after" is signified a new state, is because by "months," into which also times in the world are distinguished, is signified state, and by "three" is signified the last and the first together, or the end and the beginning together, as said above. Because in the spiritual world there is a continual progression of states from one into another, and consequently in the last or end of every state there is a first or beginning, hence what is continuous, therefore by the words "about three months after" is signified a new state. It is similar also in the church, which is the spiritual world or the Lord‘s kingdom on earth, the last of the church with one nation being always the first of the church with another. As the last is thus continued into the first, it is several times said of the Lord that He is the Last and the First (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; Rev. 21:6; 22:13); and thereby in the relative sense is signified what is perpetual, and in the supreme sense what is eternal.
AC 4902. And it was told Judah. That this signifies communication, is evident from the signification of "being told," as being communication, of which above (n. 4856).
AC 4903. Saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot. That this signifies perception then that it is false that anything conjugial exists between them, is evident from the signification of "saying" in the historic parts of the Word, as being perception, of which above (n. 4892); from the signification of "playing the harlot," as being falsity (n. 2466, 2729, 3399, 4865); from the representation of Tamar, as being the internal of the representative church, of which also above (n. 4864); and from the signification of "daughter-in-law," as being the truth of the church (n. 4843, 4869). Hence by the words "saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot" is signified perception then that it is false that anything conjugial exists between them. How these things stand in the series may be seen above (n. 4864-4866), namely, that the Jewish nation from their religiosity perceived the internal of the church simply as a harlot, and its preaching and consequent life simply as whoredom. For they who are in the external alone without the internal do not otherwise regard the internal of the church, since they call that false which is true, and that true which is false. The reason is that no one can see from the external alone whether a thing be false or true, but only from the internal. There must be an internal sight which shall judge of those things which are of external sight, and in order to do this the internal sight must be wholly in the light of heaven; and it is not in the light of heaven unless it is in faith in the Lord, and from this faith reads the Word.
 That the Jewish nation were in the external without the internal, and therefore believed truth to be falsity, and falsity truth, is evident from their teaching that it was allowable to hate an enemy; and also from their life in that they hated all who were not of their religiosity. They even believed that they were pleasing and serving Jehovah when they treated the Gentiles with barbarity and cruelty, exposing their bodies after they had been slain to be devoured by birds and wild beasts, cutting them in two with saws while alive, lacerating them with harrows and axes of iron, and making them pass through the brick-kiln (2 Sam. 12:31). Moreover it was in accordance with their teachings to treat in almost the same way a companion who for any cause was declared an enemy. Thus it is plainly evident that there was nothing internal in their religiosity. If anyone had then said to them that such things are contrary to the internal of the church, they would have replied that this was false. That they were merely in externals, were wholly ignorant of what the internal is, and led a life contrary to the internal, is plain also from what the Lord teaches in (Matthew 5:21-48).
AC 4904. And moreover behold she is with child to whoredoms. That this signifies, and that anything can be produced thence, is evident from the signification of "carrying in the womb" or "being with child," as being to produce something, for by "seed" is signified the truth of faith, and by "conception" its reception, whence by "carrying in the womb" or "being with child" is signified producing; and from the signification of "whoredom," as being falsity, namely, from their religiosity, as above (n. 4903). From this it is evident that by these words, "saying, Tamar thy daughter-in-law hath played the harlot; and moreover, behold, she is with child to whoredoms" is signified a perception that it is false that anything conjugial exists between them, and that anything can be produced thence. To be produced, when predicated of the church, denotes the good which is produced by means of truth; and it is produced when truth passes through the understanding into the will, and from the will into act. For as before said the "seed" is the truth of faith, and "conception" is reception, and reception is effected when truth which is of the understanding passes into good which is of the will, or when truth which is of faith passes into good which is of charity; and when it is in the will, it is in its womb, and is then first produced; and when man is in good in act, that is, when he produces good from the will, thus from delight and freedom, it then goes forth from the womb or is born - which also is meant by being reborn or regenerated. From this it is evident what is signified in the spiritual sense by "being with child." Here however the contrary is signified - that nothing of good could be produced; for that nation which is here described was not in any truth, because not in any internal of the church, but in falsity.
 That to be reborn or regenerated, that is, to be made an internal man, was a thing wholly unknown to that nation, and consequently that it seemed to them as a harlot, is evident from Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews (John 3:1-13), for he said, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb?" (John 3:4). It is known that the Lord opened the internal things of His kingdom and church, and yet these internal things were known to the ancients-as, that man should be reborn in order to enter into life; and that he should then put off the old man, that is, the loves of self and of the world with their evil desires, and should put on the new, that is, love toward the neighbor and to God; and also that heaven was in the regenerate man - besides other internal things. These things were known to those who belonged to the Ancient Church, but they were led to them by external things which were representative. But as such things were entirely lost with the Jewish nation, the Lord taught them, but abolished the representatives themselves, because most of these had respect to Himself; for the image must vanish when the form itself appears.
 He therefore set up a new church, which should not like the former be led by representatives to internal things, but should know them without representatives; and He enjoined instead only a few external observances, namely, Baptism and the Holy Supper- Baptism, that by it regeneration might be remembered; and the Holy Supper, that by it might be remembered the Lord, and His love toward the whole human race, and the reciprocal love of man to Him. These things are said that it may be known that the internal things of the church, which the Lord taught, were known to the ancients, but were so entirely lost with the Jewish nation that they were regarded merely as falsities.
AC 4905. And Judah said. That this signifies sentence from the religiosity in which the Jewish nation was, is evident from the representation of Judah, as being the religiosity of the Jewish nation (n. 4864). That sentence from this is signified is plain from what now follow
AC 4906. Bring her forth, and let her be burnt. That this signifies that it ought to be extirpated, namely, the internal of the church which is represented by Tamar, is evident from the signification of "bringing her forth and burning her," as being to extirpate. "Bringing forth" is predicated of the truth, and "burning" of the good, which has to be extirpated. That "burning" is predicated of the extirpation of good is evident from many passages in the Word; and the reason is that "fire" and "flame" in the spiritual sense denote good, and hence "heat" denotes the affection of good; but in the opposite sense "fire" and "flame" denote evil, and the "heat" thence the affection of evil (n. 1297, 1861, 2446). Moreover good is actually spiritual fire, from which comes the spiritual heat which vivifies, and evil is the fire and the consequent heat which consumes. That the good of love is spiritual fire, and that the affection of this good is spiritual heat, will be very evident to one who attends and reflects; for if he reflects whence man has vital fire and heat, he will find that it is from love; because as soon as love ceases, the man grows cold, while the more he is in love, the warmer he grows. Unless man‘s vitality were from this origin he could have no life at all. But this spiritual fire or heat which produces life becomes a burning and consuming fire with the evil, for with them it is turned into this kind of fire. With animals devoid of reason spiritual heat likewise flows in and produces life, but a life according to the reception in their organic forms, for which reason their knowledges and affections are connate, as with bees and the rest.
AC 4907. She was brought forth. That this signifies that it was nearly effected, that is, its extirpation, is evident from the signification of "being brought forth and burnt," as being to be extirpated, of which just above (n. 4906). Here therefore by "being brought forth to be burnt" is meant that extirpation was nearly effected.
AC 4908. And she sent to her father-in-law. That this signifies insinuation, namely, that she was with child by him, is evident from the series, from which this meaning results.
AC 4909. Saying, By the man whose these are am I with child. That this signifies that such a quality was in their religiosity, is evident from the representation of Judah, who here is "the man," as being the religiosity of the Jewish nation (n. 4864, 4905); and from the signification of "carrying in the womb" or "being with child," as being to be produced (n. 4904); but here to be in, for that which has been produced (that is, that which is conceived) is in. This product is the first effect, which because efficient is called a cause, from which is further effect, of which above (n. 4904). What was in their religiosity may be seen from what was said above (n. 4899), and also from what follows.
AC 4910. And she said, Acknowledge I pray whose are these, the signet and the kerchief and the staff. That this signifies that it might be known from the pledges, is evident from the signification of the "signet, kerchief, and staff," as being pledges of the conjunction of the external or natural man (n. 4874, 4887).
AC 4911. And Judah acknowledged them. That this signifies that being theirs they made affirmation, is evident from the signification of "acknowledging," as being to affirm, and this because he acknowledged from the pledges that it was his. In this passage the genius of that nation is described, which is such that though they reject the internal of the church as false, yet when it is insinuated into them that it is theirs, they accept and affirm it, They who are in the filth of loves, that is, in avarice, and at the same time in the love of self, as that nation is, cannot elevate the mind’s view and see truth from any other source than self; and therefore when it is attributed to themselves, they affirm it. For example, if they are told that the Word in itself is Divine, and contains arcana of heaven, and also such arcana as can be comprehended only by angels, they affirm this to be true, for they regard the Word as their own, because it was for them, among them, and treats of them in the letter; but if the arcana or spiritual truths themselves are disclosed to them, they reject them.
 If they are told that the rituals of their church were all holy in themselves, they affirm this to be true, because they regard these rituals as their own; but if it is said that those holy things were in the rituals apart from them, this they deny. Again, if they should be told that the Jewish Church was celestial and the Israelitish Church spiritual, and if it were explained to them what the celestial and spiritual are, they would affirm this also; but if it were said that these churches are called celestial and spiritual for the reason that every particular in them represented celestial and spiritual things, and that representatives have regard to the thing and not to the person, they would deny it. Again, if they are told that in the staff of Moses there was power from Jehovah, and thus Divine power, they affirm it and call it true; but if they are told that this power was not in the staff, but only in the Divine command, this they deny and call it false.
 If they are told that the brazen serpent set up by Moses healed those who were bitten by serpents, and thus that it was miraculous, they affirm it; but if it is said that it was not healing and miraculous in itself, but from the Lord who was represented, they deny it and call it false. Compare what is related and said of the serpent in several passages, (Num. 21:7-9; 2 Kings 18:4; John 3:14, 15). So also in all other instances. Such are the things which are signified by Judah‘s acknowledging, and which on the part of the nation signified by him were conjoined with the internal of the church which is represented by Tamar; and because they were such, Judah did not come to her as a husband’s brother to a wife, but as a whoremonger to a harlot.
AC 4912. And said, She is more just than I. That this signifies that there was no conjunction of the external with the internal, but only of the internal with the external, is evident from what was said above (n. 4899) about the church with the Jewish nation, and in them, namely, that there was a church with that people, that is, the internal was conjoined with the external; but that there was no church in them, that is, the external was not conjoined with the internal; for that the church may be in a nation there must be reciprocity.
AC 4913. Forasmuch as I gave her not to Shelah my son. That this signifies because the external was of such a quality, is evident from what has been explained above - that Tamar could not be given to Shelah, Judah‘s son, because in this case there would be conjunction as of a wife with her husband in accordance with the law in regard to the duty of a husband’s brother; whereas the religiosity of the Jewish nation, which was to be represented, was not such, but was such as is the conjunction of a father-in-law with a daughter-in-law as with a harlot.
AC 4914. And he added no further to know her. That this signifies that there was no further conjunction, is evident from the signification of "knowing," as being to be conjoined; and from the signification of "adding no further," as being that it was no further, consequently that there was no further any conjunction with the internal of the church; for the internal of the church is represented by Tamar. For this reason also Judah had no more sons. GENESIS 38:24-26 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|