Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 38:6-10
AC 4828. Verses 6-10. And Judah took a woman for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of Jehovah; and Jehovah caused him to die. And Judah said unto Onan, Come to thy brothels wife, and perform the duty of a husband‘s brother unto her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed would not be his; and it came to pass when he came to his brother’s wife, and he destroyed it to the earth, that he might not give seed to his brother. And that which he did was evil in the eyes of Jehovah, and He caused him also to die. "And Judah took a woman," signifies the church which was for his posterity; "for Er his firstborn," signifies falsity of faith; "and her name was Tamar," signifies the quality of the church, that it was a church representative of spiritual and celestial things; "and Er, Judah‘s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of Jehovah," signifies that it was in the falsity of evil; "and Jehovah caused him to die," signifies that there was no representative of the church; "and Judah said unto Onan," signifies to preserve a representative of the church; "Come to thy brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a husband‘s brother unto her," signifies that it should be continued; "and raise up seed to thy brother," signifies lest the church should perish; "and Onan knew that the seed would not be his," signifies aversion and hatred; "and it came to pass when he came to his brother’s wife, and he destroyed it to the earth," signifies what is contrary to conjugial love; "that he might not give seed to his brother," signifies that thus there was no continuation; "and that which he did was evil in the eyes of Jehovah," signifies that it was contrary to the Divine order; "and He caused him also to die," signifies that thee was also no representative of the church.
AC 4829. And Judah took a woman. That this signifies the church which was for his posterity, is evident from the representation of Tamar, who is the "woman" here, as being the church, of which in what follows. That it was for the posterity of Judah, is signified by his taking her for Er his first-born, that he might have descendants thence.
AC 4830. For Er his firstborn. That this signifies falsity of faith, is evident from the representation of Er, as being falsity (n. 4821, 4822); and from the signification of the "firstborn," as being faith (n. 352, 3325, 4821).
AC 4831. And her name was Tamar. That this signifies the quality of the church, that it was a church representative of spiritual and celestial things, is evident from the signification of "name," as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421), here the quality of the church, because in this chapter by Tamar is represented the church, and indeed a church representative of spiritual and celestial things which was to be instituted among the posterity of Judah. That this church is represented by Tamar, is evident from what follows. This entire chapter in the internal sense treats of the Jewish Church, that it should become representative of the spiritual and celestial things of the Lord‘s kingdom, as had been the Ancient Church; and this not only in external, but also in internal form. For the church is not a church from externals, that is, from rituals, but from internals, which are essential, while externals are only formal. The posterity of Jacob were such as not to be willing to receive internal things; therefore with them the Ancient Church could not be renewed, but only a representative of that Church (n. 4307, 4444, 4500). The internal of the church here is Tamar, and its external is Judah with his three sons by the Canaanite woman.
AC 4832. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of Jehovah. That this signifies that he was in the falsity of evil, is evident from the representation of Er and the signification of the "firstborn," as being falsity of faith, of which just above (n. 4830). That this falsity was the falsity of evil, is evident from what was said above (n. 4818); but the falsity of evil in this son was of such a nature that not even a representative of a church could be instituted among any posterity from him; wherefore it is said that he was "evil in the eyes of Jehovah and Jehovah caused him to die." With that whole nation from its first origin, especially from Judah, there was falsity of evil, that is, false doctrine from evil of life, but different in one son of Judah from what it was in another. It was foreseen what might be serviceable, and that it was not that which was in Er the firstborn, nor that which was in Onan the second son, but only that which was in Shelah. Therefore the first two were destroyed, and the last was preserved. That falsity of evil was with that whole nation from its first origin is plainly described in Moses in these words:--
They have corrupted themselves, they are not His sons, it is their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation. And Jehovah saw and reprobated because of indignation His sons and His daughters. And He said, I will hide My faces from them, I will see what their posterity shall be; for they are a generation of perversities, sons in whom is no faithfulness; I will add evils upon them, I will spend Mine arrows upon them. They shall be exhausted with hunger, and consumed with burning coals, and bitter overthrow. They are a nation void of counsels, and there is no intelligence in them. Their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are of bitternesses their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel gall of asps. Is not this laid up in store with Me, sealed in My treasuries? The day of their destruction is at hand, and the things that are to come upon them make haste (Deut. 32:5, 19-24, 28, 32-35);
by these words in the internal sense is described the falsity of evil in which that nation was, and which was rooted in them.
AC 4833. And Jehovah caused him to die. That this signifies that there was no representative of the church, is evident from the signification of "dying," as being to cease to be such (n. 494), and also the end of representation (n. 3253, 3259, 3276), here therefore is signified that there could be no representative of the church among any posterity from him, according to what was said just above (n. 4832).
AC 4834. And Judah said unto Onan. That this signifies to preserve a representative of the church, is evident from the things which follow, to which they have reference; for he said to him that he should perform to his brother the duty of a husband‘s brother, by which was represented the preservation and continuation of the church, now to be spoken of.
AC 4835. Come to thy brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a husband‘s brother unto her. That this signifies that he should continue it, namely, the representative of the church, is evident from the signification of "to come" or "enter to a brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a husband‘s brother unto her," as being to preserve and continue that which is of the church. The commandment in the Mosaic law that if any man died childless, his brother should take the widow to wife and raise up seed to his brother, and that the firstborn should be called by the name of the deceased brother, but the rest of the sons should be his own, was called "the duty of the husband’s brother." That this statute was not a new thing originating in the Jewish Church, but had been in use before, is evident from this history, and the same is true of many other statutes that were commanded the Israelites by Moses--as that they should not take wives of the daughters of the Canaanites, and that they should marry within their families (Gen. 24:3, 4; 28:1, 2). From these and many other instances it is evident that there had been a church before, in which such things had been instituted as were afterwards promulgated and enjoined upon the sons of Jacob. That altars and sacrifices had been in use from ancient times is plain from (Genesis 8:20, 21; 22:3, 7, 8, 13). From this it is clear that the Jewish Church was not a new church, but that it was a resuscitation of the Ancient Church which had perished.
 What the law in regard to the husband‘s brother had been is evident in Moses:--
If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no son, the wife of the deceased shall not marry without, to a strange man her husband’s brother shall enter to her, and take her to him to wife, and thus perform the duty of a husband‘s brother unto her. Then it shall be that the first-born whom she beareth shall stand upon the name of his deceased brother, that his name be not blotted out of Israel. But if the man will not marry his brother’s wife, his brother‘s wife shall go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuses to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel he will not perform the duty of a husband‘s brother unto me. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him; and if he stand and say, I desire not to take her; then shall his brother’s wife come near unto him in the sight of the elders, and shall draw his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face and she shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto the man that doth not build up his brother‘s house; whence his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe taken off (Deut. 25:5-10).
 One who does not know what the duty of a husband’s brother represents, can have no other belief than that it was merely for the sake of preserving the name, and hence the inheritance; but the preservation of a name and of an inheritance was not of so much importance that for the sake of it a brother should enter into marriage with his brother‘s wife; but this was enjoined that thereby might he represented the preservation and continuation of the church. For marriage represented the marriage of good and truth, that is, the heavenly marriage, and consequently the church also, for the church is a church from the marriage of good and truth; and when the church is in this marriage it makes one with heaven, which is the heavenly marriage itself. As marriage has this representation, therefore sons and daughters represented and also signified truths and goods; wherefore to be childless signified a deprivation of good and truth, thus that there was no longer any representative of the church in that house, consequently that it was out of communion. Moreover the brother represented kindred good, with which might be conjoined the truth which was represented by the widowed wife; for in order that truth may be the truth which has life and produces fruit, and so continue that which is of the church, it cannot be conjoined with any other than its own and kindred good. This is what is perceived in heaven by the duty prescribed to the husband’s brother.
 That if the man would not perform the duty of a husband‘s brother, his brother’s wife should take his shoe from off his foot and spit in his face, signified that, as one who was devoid of external and internal good and truth, he would destroy the things of the church; for a "shoe" is what is external (n. 1748), and the "face" is what is internal (n. 1999, 2434, 3527, 4066, 4796). From this it is evident that by the duty of the husband‘s brother was represented the preservation and continuation of the church. But when the representatives of internal things ceased by the coming of the Lord, then this law was abolished. This is circumstanced as are the soul or spirit of man and his body. The soul or spirit of man is his internal, and the body is his external; or what is the same, the soul or spirit is the very form of man, but the body is his representative image; and when a man rises again, his representative image, or his external, which is the body, is put off; for he is then in his internal, or in his form itself. It is circumstanced also as is one who is in darkness, and from it sees the things which are of the light; or what is the same as is one who is in the light of the world, and from this sees the things which are of the light of heaven; for the light of the world in comparison with the light of heaven is as darkness. In darkness, or in the light of the world, the things which are of the light of heaven do not appear such as they are in themselves, but as in a representative image, as the mind of man appears in his face; and therefore when the light of heaven appears in its clearness, the darkness or representative image is dissipated. This was effected by the coming of the Lord.
AC 4835a. And raise up seed to thy brother. That this signifies lest the church should perish, is evident from the signification of "seed," as being truth from good, or the faith of charity (n. 1025, 1447, 1610, 1940, 2848, 3310, 3373, 3671). The like is also signified by the "firstborn who was to stand upon the name of the deceased brother" (n. 352, 367, 2435, 3325, 3494). To "raise up the seed to a brother" is to continue that which is of the church, according to what was said just above (n. 4834), thus lest the church should perish.
AC 4836. And Onan knew that the seed would not be his. That this signifies aversion and hatred, is evident from the representation of Onan, as being evil (n. 4823, 4824); and because not to give seed to one’s brother, or not to perform the duty of a husband‘s brother, is not to will the good and truth of the church, and its continuation (n. 4834), therefore by these words is signified aversion and hatred; for evil is nothing else than aversion and hatred toward the good and truth of the church.
AC 4837. And it came to pass, when he came to his brother’s wife, and he destroyed it to the earth. That this signifies what is contrary to conjugial love, is evident from what now follows. By Er Judah‘s firstborn is described the falsity of evil in which the Jewish nation was at first; by Onan the second son is described the evil which is from the falsity of evil, in which that nation was afterwards; and by Shelah the third son is described the idolatry thence derived, in which they were thereafter continually (n. 4826). Evil from the falsity of evil is described by what Onan did, that he was not willing to give seed to his brother, but that he destroyed it to the earth. That by this is signified what is contrary to conjugial love, is because in the internal sense by the conjugial is meant what is of the church; for the church is the marriage of good and truth, and to this marriage, evil from the falsity of evil is altogether contrary, that is, those who are in such evil are contrary to this marriage.
 That this nation had not anything conjugial, whether understood in a spiritual or in a natural sense, is very evident from the fact that they were permitted to have more wives than one; for where there is the conjugial as understood in a spiritual sense, that is, where the good and truth of the church are, consequently where the church is, this is by no means permitted, for the genuine conjugial is never possible except among those with whom the church or kingdom of the Lord is, and not with these except between two (n. 1907, 2740, 3246). Marriage between two persons who are in genuine conjugial love corresponds to the heavenly marriage, that is, to the conjunction of good and truth, the husband corresponding to good, and the wife to the truth of this good; moreover when they are in genuine conjugial love, they are in this heavenly marriage. Therefore wherever the church is, it is never permitted to have more wives than one; but because there was no church among the posterity of Jacob, but only a representative of a church, or the external of a church without its internal (n. 4311, 4500), it was therefore permitted among them. Further, the marriage of one husband with several wives would present in heaven an idea or image as if one good were conjoined with several truths which do not agree together, and thus as if there was no good; for a good from truths which do not agree together becomes none at all, since good has its quality from truths and their agreement.
 It would also present an image as if the church were not one, but several, and these distinct from one another according to the truths of faith, or according to doctrinals; when yet it is one when good is the essential in it and this is qualified and as it were modified by truths. The church is an image of heaven; for it is the kingdom of the Lord on earth. Heaven is distinguished into many general societies, and into lesser ones subordinate to these; but still they are one through good; for the truths of faith there are in agreement according to good; for they have regard to good, and are from it. If heaven were distinguished according to the truths of faith, and not according to good, there would be no heaven, for there would be no unanimity; for the angels could not have from the Lord a oneness of life, or one soul. This is possible only in good, that is in love to the Lord, and in love toward the neighbor. For love conjoins all; and when everyone has love for good and truth, they have a common life, which is from the Lord, and thus have the Lord, who conjoins all. The love of good and truth is what is called love toward the neighbor; for the neighbor is he who is in good and thence in truth, and in the abstract sense is good itself and its truth. From these things it may be seen why within the church marriage must be between one husband and one wife; and why it was permitted the descendants of Jacob to take a number of wives; and that the reason for this was that there was no church among them, and consequently a representative of a church could not be instituted among them by marriages, because they were in what is contrary to conjugial love.
AC 4838. That he might not give seed to his brother. That this signifies that thus there was no continuation, is evident from the signification of "giving seed to one’s brother," or performing the duty of a husband‘s brother, as being to continue that which is of the church, of which above (n. 4834); and therefore by "not giving seed to his brother," is signified that the there was no continuation.
AC 4839. And that which he did was evil in the eyes of Jehovah. That this signifies that it was contrary to the Divine order, is evident from the signification of "evil in the eyes of Jehovah," or evil against Him, as being what is contrary to the order which is from Him. This appears also from the deed, and likewise from the statute in regard to the husband’s brother, namely, that his brother‘s wife should take his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and that his name should be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe taken off (Deut. 25:8-10), whereby was signified that he was without good external or internal; and they who are without good, and are in evil, are against Divine order. All that evil which springs or flows forth from interior evil (that is, from the intention or end of evil, such as was this of Onan’s), is contrary to Divine order; but that which does not spring or flow forth from interior evil, that is, from an intention or end of evil, though it sometimes appears like evil, yet is not so, provided the end is not evil, for the end qualifies every deed. For man‘s life is in his end, because what he loves and thence thinks, he has for his end; the life of his soul being nothing else.
 Everyone is able to know that evil is contrary to Divine order, and good according to it; for Divine order is the Lord Himself in heaven, because the Divine good and truth which are from Him constitute order, insomuch that they are order, Divine good its essential, and Divine truth its formal. When Divine order is represented in form it appears as a man; for the Lord, from whom it is, is the only Man (n. 49, 288, 477, 565, 1871, 1894, 3638, 3639); and in so far as angels, spirits, and men receive from Him, that is, in so far as they are in good and thence in truth, thus in so far as they are in His Divine order, so far they are men. From this it is that the universal heaven represents one man, which is called the Grand Man, and that the whole and every part of man corresponds thereto, as has been shown at the end of the chapters. From this also it is that the angels in heaven all appear in the human form; and that, on the other hand, the evil spirits who are in hell, though from fantasy they appear to one another like men, in the light of heaven appear as monsters, more dire and horrible according to the evil in which they are (n. 4533); and this because evil itself is contrary to order, and thus contrary to the human form; for as before said the Divine order when represented in form appears as a man.
AC 4840. And He caused him also to die. That this signifies that there was also no representative of the church, is evident from what was shown above (n. 4833), where similar words occur. GENESIS 38:6-10 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|