Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 39:1
AC 4962. Verse 1. And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar bought him, Pharaoh‘s chamberlain, prince of the guards, an Egyptian man, of the hand of the Ishmaelites, who had brought him down thither. "And Joseph," signifies the celestial of the spiritual from the rational; "was brought down to Egypt," signifies to the memory-knowledges (scientifica) of the church; "and Potiphar bought him, Pharaoh’s chamberlain," signifies that it was among the interior things of memory-knowledges; "prince of the guards," signifies those which are primary for interpretation; "an Egyptian man," signifies natural truth; "of the hand of the Ishmaelites," signifies from simple good; "who had brought him down thither," signifies the descent from that good to these memory-knowledges.
AC 4963. And Joseph. That this signifies the celestial of the spiritual from the rational, is evident from the representation of Joseph, as being the celestial spiritual man that is from the rational (n. 4286); here therefore, because it treats of the Lord, Joseph represents the Lord‘s internal man. Everyone who is born a man is external and internal; his external is that which is seen with the eyes, and by which he is in company with men, and by which the things proper to the natural world are done; and the internal is that which is not seen with the eyes, and by which man is in company with spirits and angels, and by which the things proper to the spiritual world are done. The reason why every man has an internal and an external, or is an internal and an external man, is that through man there may be a conjunction of heaven with the world; for heaven flows in through the internal man into the external, and thereby perceives what is in the world; and the external man which is in the world thence perceives what is in heaven. It is to this end that man has been so created.
 In respect to His Human the Lord also had an external and an internal, because it pleased Him to be born like other men. The external (that is, His external man) was represented by Jacob, and afterward by Israel; but His internal man is represented by Joseph. This internal man is what is called the celestial spiritual from the rational; or what is the same thing, the Lord’s internal, which was human, was the celestial of the spiritual from the rational. This, and the glorification of it, are treated of in the internal sense of this and the following chapters wherein Joseph is treated of. But what the celestial of the spiritual from the rational is has been explained above (n. 4286, 4585, 4592, 4594), namely, that it is above the celestial of the spiritual from the natural, which is represented by Israel.
 The Lord was indeed born as are other men, but it is known that he who is born a man derives what is his from both the father and the mother, and that he has his inmost from the father, but his exteriors (that is, the things which clothe this inmost) from the mother. Both that which he derives from the father, and that which he derives from the mother, are defiled with hereditary evil. But it was different with the Lord: that which He derived from the mother in like manner had in it an heredity such as is that of any other man; but that which He derived from the Father, who was Jehovah, was Divine. For this reason the Lord‘s internal man was not like the internal of another man; for His inmost was Jehovah. This is therefore the intermediate which is called the celestial of the spiritual from the rational. But concerning this, of the Lord’s Divine mercy more will be said in the following pages.
AC 4964. Was brought down to Egypt. That this signifies to the memory-knowledges (scientifica) of the church, is evident from the signification of "Egypt" as being memory-knowledge (that is, memory-knowledge in general), treated of in (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462); but what the nature of that memory-knowledge was which is properly signified by "Egypt," has not as yet been explained. In the Ancient Church there were doctrinal things and there were memory-knowledges. The doctrinal things treated of love to God and of charity toward the neighbor; but the memory-knowledges treated of the correspondences of the natural world with the spiritual world, and of the representatives of spiritual and celestial things in things natural and earthly. Such were the memory-knowledges of those who were in the Ancient Church.
 Egypt was one of those countries and kingdoms where the Ancient Church was (n. 1238, 2385); but as in Egypt it was chiefly memory-knowledges that were handed down to posterity, therefore such knowledge in general is signified by "Egypt;" and it is for this reason also that Egypt is so often treated of in the prophetic Word, and by it such knowledge is specifically meant. The very magic of the Egyptians also had its origin thence; for they were acquainted with the correspondences of the natural world with the spiritual, and afterward, when the church among them was at an end, these correspondences were abused by being turned to magical things. Now because they had such knowledges (that taught correspondences, and also representatives and significatives) and as these knowledges were of service to the doctrinal things of the church, especially to the understanding of those things which were said in their Word. The Ancient Church had a Word both prophetic and historic, similar to the present Word, but yet a different one, (n. 2686); therefore by "being brought down to Egypt" is signified to the memory-knowledges of the church.
 As the Lord is represented by Joseph, its being here said that Joseph was "brought down to Egypt," signifies that when the Lord glorified His internal man, that is made it Divine, He was first imbued with the memory-knowledges of the church, and from and by them advanced to things more and more interior, and at last even to those which are Divine. For it pleased Him to glorify Himself, that is, to make Himself Divine, according to the same order as that in which He regenerates man, that is, makes him spiritual (n. 3138, 3212, 3296, 3490, 4402), namely, from external things, which are memory-knowledges and the truths of faith, successively to internal things, which are of charity toward the neighbor and of love to Him. From this it is plain what is signified by the following words in Hosea:--
When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1);
that these words were spoken of the Lord can be seen in (Matthew 2:15).
AC 4965. And Potiphar bought him, Pharaoh‘s chamberlain. That this signifies that it was among the interior things of memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "Pharaoh’s chamberlain," as being the interior things of memory-knowledges (n. 4789); his "buying" signifies that he ascribed these things to himself (n. 4397, 4487). The interior things of memory-knowledges are those which approach more nearly to spiritual things, and are applications of memory-knowledges to heavenly things; for these are what the internal man sees, when the external only sees the memory-knowledges in the outward form.
AC 4966. Prince of the guards. That this signifies those which are primary for interpretation, is evident from the signification of "prince of the guards," as being things primary for interpretation (n. 4790): things primary for interpretation are those which primarily conduce to the interpretation of the Word, and thus to the understanding of the doctrinal things of love to God and of charity toward the neighbor, which are from the Word. Be it known that the memory-knowledges of the ancients were altogether different from those of the present day. As before said the memory-knowledges of the ancients treated of the correspondence of things in the natural world with things in the spiritual world. The memory-knowledges which are now called philosophy, such as that of Aristotle and others like him, were unknown to them. This is evident also from the books of the ancient writers, most of which were written in language that signified, represented and corresponded to interior things, as is evident from the following instances, not to mention others.
 They located Helicon on a mountain, and by it they meant heaven; they gave to Parnassus a place below on a hill, by which they meant memory-knowledges, where they said that a flying horse, called Pegasus, broke open a fountain with his hoof; the sciences they called virgins, with other such traditions. For they knew from correspondences and representatives that a mountain denotes heaven; a hill, that heaven which is beneath, or which is with man; a horse, the understanding; the wings with which he flew, spiritual things; a hoof, the natural mind; a fountain, intelligence; the three virgins who were called the Graces, affections of good; and the virgins who were called the Muses, affections of truth. So also they assigned to the sun horses, the food of which they called ambrosia, and their drink, nectar; for they knew that the sun signified celestial love, horses the intellectual things therefrom; and that food signifies celestial things, and drink spiritual things.
 From the ancients also there still survives the custom for kings at their coronation to sit upon a silver throne, to be clothed with a crimson robe, to be anointed with oil, to wear a crown on the head, and to carry a scepter, sword, and keys in their hands, to ride in royal pomp upon a white horse whose hoofs are shod with silver, and to be waited on at table by the chiefs of the kingdom, with other ceremonies; for they knew that a king represented Divine truth which is from Divine good, and hence they knew what is signified by a silver throne, a crimson robe, anointing oil, a crown, a scepter, a sword, keys, a white horse, hoofs shod with silver, and being waited on by chief men. Who at this day knows these significations, and where are the knowledges that teach them? Men call such things emblems, not knowing anything whatever about correspondence and representation. From all this it is evident of what nature were the knowledges of the ancients, and that they brought them into a knowledge of spiritual and heavenly things which at this day are scarcely known to exist.
 The knowledges which succeeded those of the ancients, and are properly called philosophy, rather draw away the mind from the knowledge of such things, because they can also be applied to the confirmation of falsities; and moreover when truths are confirmed by means of them, they plunge the mind into darkness, because they are for the most part bare expressions, whereby confirmations are effected which are comprehended by few, and regarding which even these few are not agreed. From this it is evident how far mankind have receded from the erudition of the ancients, which led to wisdom. The Gentiles received those knowledges from the Ancient Church, the external worship of which consisted in representatives and significatives, and the internal in those things which were represented and signified. These were the knowledges which, in the genuine sense, are signified by "Egypt."
AC 4967. An Egyptian man. That this signifies natural truth, is evident from the signification of a "man," as being truth (n. 3134); and from the signification of "Egypt," as being memory-knowledge in general, treated of just above (n. 4964, 4966); and because "Egypt" is memory-knowledge, it is also the natural; for all the memory-knowledge in man is natural, because it is in his natural man, even the memory-knowledge concerning spiritual and celestial things. The reason of this is that man sees these knowledges in the natural, and from it; and those which he does not see from the natural, he does not apprehend. But the regenerate man, who is called spiritual, and the unregenerate man, who is merely natural, see these knowledges in different ways; with the former the knowledges are enlightened by the light of heaven, but with the latter not so, but by the light which flows in through spirits who are in falsity and evil; which light is indeed from the light of heaven, but becomes in them opaque, like the light of evening or of night; for such spirits, and hence such men, see as owls-clearly at night, and obscurely in the daytime, that is, they see falsities clearly and truths obscurely; and hence see clearly the things of the world, and obscurely, if at all, the things of heaven. From these considerations it is evident that genuine memory-knowledge is natural truth; for all genuine memory-knowledge, such as is signified by "Eat" in a good sense, is natural truth.
AC 4968. Of the hand of the Ishmaelites. That this signifies from simple good, is evident from the representation of the Ishmaelites, as being those who are in simple good (n. 3263, 4747), here therefore the natural truth which is from simple good. In (Genesis 37:36), it is so said that the Midianites sold Joseph into Egypt unto Potiphar, Pharaoh‘s chamberlain, prince of the guards; but here it is said that Potiphar, Pharaoh’s chamberlain, prince of the guards, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, who had brought him down thither. This way of speaking is used for the sake of the internal sense; for in the first instance the alienation of Divine truth is treated of, which is not wrought by those who are in simple good, but by those who are in simple truth, who are represented by the Midianites (n. 4788); but here it treats of the acquisition or attainment of memory-knowledges, and of the natural truth which is from simple good; and therefore it is said "of the Ishmaelites," for these represent those who are in simple good. From this it is plain that it is so said for the sake of the internal sense. Nor is there any contradiction in the historical narrative; for it is said of the Midianites that they drew Joseph out of the pit, and consequently that they delivered him to the Ishmaelites, by whom he was brought down into Egypt; thus that as the Midianites delivered him up to the Ishmaelites who were going to Egypt, they sold him into Egypt.
AC 4969. Who had brought him down thither. That this signifies the descent from that good to these memory-knowledges, is evident from the representation of the Ishmaelites, who brought him down, as being those who are in simple good (n. 4968); and from the signification of "Egypt," which is meant by "thither," as being memory-knowledge in general (n. 4964, 4966). It is said "go down," because memory-knowledges are treated of, which are exterior; for in the Word to go from interior to exterior things is called "going down," but from exterior to interior "going up" (n. 3084, 4539). GENESIS 39:1 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|