Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 39:10-15
AC 4998. Verses 10-15. And it came to pass as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, to be with her. And it came to pass on a certain day that he went into the house to do his work; and no man of the men of the house was there in the house. And she caught hold of him in his garment, saying, Lie with me; and he left his garment in her‘ hand, and fled, and got him out. And it came to pass when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, that she cried unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought this a Hebrew man to mock us; he came to me to lie with me, and I cried with a great voice; and it came to pass when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment by me, and fled, and got him out. "And it came to pass," signifies a fourth state; "as she spake to Joseph day by day," signifies thought concerning this matter; "that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her," signifies that it was averse to being conjoined; "to be with her," signifies lest in this way it should be united; "and it came to pass on a certain day," signifies a fifth state; "that he went into the house to do his work," signifies when it was in the work of conjunction with spiritual good in the natural; "and no man of the men of the house was there in the house," signifies that it was without the aid of anyone; "and she caught hold of him in his garment," signifies that truth not spiritual applied itself to the ultimate of spiritual truth; "saying, Lie with me," signifies for the purpose of conjunction; "and he left his garment in her hand," signifies that it took away this ultimate truth; "and fled, and got him out," signifies that thus it had no truth by which to defend itself; "and it came to pass when she saw," signifies perception concerning this matter; "that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth," signifies concerning the separation of ultimate truth; "that she cried unto the men of her house," signifies falsities; "and spake unto them, saying," signifies exhortation; "See, he hath brought us a Hebrew man," signifies a servant; "to mock us," signifies that it rose up; "he came to me to lie with me," signifies that it desired to conjoin itself; "and I cried with a great voice," signifies aversion; "and it came to pass when he heard," signifies when it was perceived; "that I lifted up my voice and cried," signifies that there was great aversion; "that he left his garment by me," signifies a witness that it made an approach; "and fled and got him out," signifies that nevertheless it separated itself.
AC 4999. And it came to pass. That this signifies a fourth state, may be seen from what was said above (n. 4979, 4987).
AC 5000. As she spake to Joseph day by day. That this signifies thought concerning this matter, is evident from the signification of "speaking," as being to think (n. 2271, 2287, 2619), namely, concerning Joseph, and therefore concerning that matter which is here meant by "Joseph." "Day by day," or every day, means intensely. "To speak," in the internal sense, is to think, because thought is interior speech; and when man thinks, he is then speaking with himself. Interior things are expressed in the sense of the letter by the exterior things which correspond.
AC 5001. That he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her. That this signifies that it was averse to being conjoined, is evident from the signification of "hearkening not" as being not to listen or obey (n. 2542, 3869), here to be averse to, because he was so far from listening that he left his garment and fled; and from the signification of "lying by her," as being to be conjoined unlawfully (n. 4989).
AC 5002. To be with her. That this signifies lest in this way it should be united, is evident from the signification of "being with" anyone, as being to be more closely conjoined, or to be united. That "to be" means to be united, is because the very being of a thing is good, and all good is of love, which is spiritual conjunction or unition. Hence in the supreme sense the Lord is called being or Jehovah, because from Him is all the good which is of love or of spiritual conjunction. As heaven makes a one through love from Him and the reciprocal love to Him through reception, and through mutual love, it is therefore called a marriage, through which it is. It would be similar with the church, if love and charity were the being of it. Therefore where there is no conjunction or union, there is no being; for unless there is something to bring to a one or to unite, there must be dissolution and extinction.
 Thus in a civil society, where everyone is for himself and no one for another except for the sake of himself, unless there were laws to unite, and fears of the loss of gain, honor, fame, and life, the society would be utterly dissipated; so that the being of such a society is also conjunction or unition, but only in externals, while in respect to internals there is no being in it. For this reason also such persons in the other life are kept in hell, and are in like manner held together there by external bonds, especially by fears; but whenever these bonds are relaxed, one rushes to compass the destruction of another, and desires nothing more than to put him out of existence. It is otherwise in heaven, where there is internal conjunction through love to the Lord and the derivative mutual love. When external bonds are relaxed there, they are more closely conjoined together; and because they are thus brought nearer to the Divine being which is from the Lord, they are more interiorly in affection and thence in freedom, consequently in blessedness, happiness, and joy.
AC 5003. And it came to pass on a certain day. That this signifies a fifth state, is evident from the signification of "it came to pass," or "it was," as involving what is new (n. 4979, 4987, 4999), thus a new state, here a fifth.
AC 5004. That he went into the house to do his work. That this signifies when it was in the work of conjunction with spiritual good in the natural, is evident from the fact that it is this conjunction which is treated of in this chapter under the representation of Joseph; and therefore when it is said, "he went into the house to do his work," the work of this conjunction is signified.
AC 5005. And no man of the men of the house was there in the house. That this signifies that it was without the aid of anyone, is evident from the fact that hereby is signified that he was alone; and because in the internal sense by "Joseph" is signified the Lord, and how He glorified His internal Human, or made it Divine, by these words is signified that He did this without the aid of anyone. That the Lord made His Human Divine by His own power, thus without the aid of anyone, may be seen from the fact that because He was conceived of Jehovah, the Divine was in Him, and thus the Divine was His; and therefore when He was in the world, and made the Human in Himself Divine, He did this from His own Divine, or from Himself. This is described in Isaiah in the words:--
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is honorable in His apparel, marching in the multitude of His strength? I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the peoples there was no man with Me. I looked but there was no one helping: and I was amazed, but there was no one upholding; therefore Mine own arm brought salvation to Me (Isa. 63:1, 3, 5).
And again in the same prophet:--
He saw that there was no man, and was as it were amazed that there was no one interceding; therefore His own arm brought salvation to Him; and His righteousness stirred Him up. Therefore He put on righteousness as a coat of mail, and a helmet of salvation upon His head (Isa. 59:16, 17).
The Lord by His own power made the Human in Himself Divine, (n. 1616, 1749, 1755, 1812, 1813, 1921, 1928, 1999, 2025, 2026, 2083, 2500, 2523, 2776, 3043, 3141, 3381, 3382, 3637, 4286).
AC 5006. And she caught hold of him in his garment. That this signifies that truth not spiritual applied itself to the ultimate of spiritual truth, is evident from the representation of Potiphar’s wife, of whom these things are said, as being truth natural not spiritual (n. 4988); from the signification here of "to catch hold of" as being to apply itself; and from the signification of a "garment," as being truth (n. 1073, 2576, 4545, 4763), here the ultimate of spiritual truth, which in this state is Joseph‘s, for "Joseph" here is good spiritual natural (n. 4988, 4992). That it is the truth of this good with which truth natural not spiritual wished to be conjoined, is plain from the series of things in the internal sense.
 But what it means, and what it involves, to say that truth natural not spiritual wished to be conjoined with truth spiritual natural, is at this day a secret, chiefly because few are solicitous or wish to know what spiritual truth is; and what truth not spiritual; and they are so far from being solicitous about it as to be scarcely willing to hear the word spiritual, for at the bare mention of it gloom assails them, together with sadness, and loathing is excited, and so it is rejected. That this really happens has also been shown me. While my mind was dwelling on such things, there were spirits present from Christendom, who were then let into the state in which they had been in the world; and they were not only affected with sadness at the mere thought of spiritual good and truth, but were also seized with so great a loathing, from aversion, that they said they felt within them the like of that which in the world excites vomiting. But it was given me to tell them that this was in consequence of their affections having been fixed upon merely earthly, bodily, and worldly things, for when a man is immersed in these he loathes the things of heaven; and that they had frequented places of worship where the Word is preached, from no desire to know the things which are of heaven, but from some other desire contracted from the time of early childhood. From this it was plain what is the quality of Christendom at this day.
 The cause-to speak generally’s that the Christian Church at this day preaches faith alone and not charity, and thus doctrine but not life; and when life is not preached, a man comes into no affection of good; and when he is in no affection of good, he is also in no affection of truth. It is for this reason that it is contrary to the delight of the life of most persons to hear anything more about the things of heaven than what they have known from infancy.
 And yet the fact is that man is in this world in order to be initiated by his activities there into the things which are of heaven, and that his life in this world is hardly a moment in comparison with his life after death, for this is eternal. But there are few who believe that they will live after death; and for this reason also, heavenly things are of no account to them. But this I can declare with certainty: that man immediately after death is in the other life, and that his life in this world is wholly continued there, and is of the same quality as it had been in this world. This I can assert, because I know it; for I have talked after their decease with almost all with whom I had been acquainted in the life of the body, and thus by living experience it has been given me to know what lot awaits everyone, namely, a lot according to his life; yet those who are of such a quality do not believe even these things. But what is meant and involved in truth natural not spiritual wishing to be conjoined with truth spiritual natural, which is signified by her "catching hold of Joseph in his garment," will be shown in what presently follows.
AC 5007. Saying, Lie with me. That this signifies for the purpose of conjunction, is evident from the signification of "lying with," as being conjunction (n. 4989, 5001); here for the purpose of conjunction, or to the intent that it might be conjoined.
AC 5008. And he left his garment in her hand. That this signifies that it took away this ultimate truth, is evident from the signification of "leaving in her hand," as being in her power, for "hand" is ability or power (n. 878, 3091, 3387, 3563, 4931-4937); and because she caught hold of his garment, it is here meant to take away; and from the signification of a "garment," as being ultimate truth (n. 5006). That truth natural not spiritual wished to conjoin itself with truth spiritual natural, and that this was averse to conjunction, and for this reason left ultimate truth, or suffered it to be taken away, cannot be comprehended by anyone unless it is made clear by examples. But first let it be seen what truth natural not spiritual is, and what truth spiritual natural (n. 4988, 4992), and that there is an affinity in their ultimates, yet not any conjunction.
 But as before said, let this be made clear by examples, and let this be the first. It is a truth natural not spiritual, within the church, that good ought to be done to the poor, to widows, and to the fatherless, and that to do good to them is the charity which is enjoined in the Word; but truth not spiritual - that is, they who are in truth not spiritual - understand by the poor, the widows, and the fatherless, only those who are so called; whereas truth spiritual natural that is they who are in this truth - do indeed confirm this, but put in the last place this meaning of the poor, the widows, and the fatherless; for they say in their hearts that not all are poor who call themselves poor, and that among the poor there are those who live most wickedly, and fear neither God nor men, and who would rush into every iniquity unless withheld by fear; and moreover that by the "poor" in the Word are meant those who are spiritually such, who know and confess at heart that they have nothing of truth and good from themselves, but that all things are bestowed on them by free gift. The same is true of the widows" and the "fatherless," with a difference in respect to state. From this example it is plain that to do good to the poor, to the widows, and to the fatherless, under these named is an ultimate of truth to those who are in truth spiritual natural; and that this truth is like a garment, which clothes interior things. It is also plain that this ultimate of truth concurs with the truth possessed by those who are in truth natural not spiritual, but that still there is not conjunction but affinity.
 Let us take as an example that good ought to be done to the neighbor. They who are in truth spiritual natural regard everyone as the neighbor, but yet all in different respects and degrees; and they say at heart that those who are in good are in preference to others the neighbor to whom good is to be done; and that those who are in evil are also the neighbor, but that good is done to them when they are punished according to the laws, because by means of punishments they are amended; and in this way also care is taken lest evil be done to the good by them and by their example. Those within the church who are in truth natural not spiritual also say that everyone is the neighbor, but they do not admit of degrees and distinctions; and therefore if they are in natural good they do good without distinction to everyone who excites their pity, and oftener to the evil than to the good, because in their knavery the evil know how to excite pity. From this example also it is plain that they who are in truth natural not spiritual, and they who are in truth spiritual natural, are agreed in this ultimate truth; but that nevertheless there is not conjunction therein, but only affinity, because the one regards the neighbor and charity toward him with a different idea and in a different sense from that of the other.
 Let us take also this example. They who are in truth spiritual natural say, in general, that the poor and miserable shall inherit the heavenly kingdom. But this is to them an ultimate truth, for inwardly they hold that those are poor and miserable who are spiritually such, and that it is these who are meant in the Word as inheriting the kingdom of heaven. But those within the church who are in truth natural not spiritual say that none can inherit the heavenly kingdom except those who in the world have been reduced to poverty, who live in misery, and who are more afflicted than others; they also call riches, dignities, and worldly joys, so many distractions, or means of withdrawing man from heaven. From this example also it is plain what the ultimate truth is, and of what nature, in which they agree; yet that there is not conjunction, but affinity.
 Let us take also this example. They who are in truth spiritual natural regard it as an ultimate truth, that those things which are called holy in the Word, were holy, as the ark with the mercy-seat, the lampstand, the incense, bread, altar, and so on, and also as the temple, and the garments of Aaron, which are called holy garments, especially the ephod with the breastplate containing the urim and thummim. And yet in regard to this ultimate truth they have the idea that these things were not holy in themselves, nor was any holiness infused into them, but that they were holy representatively, that is, they represented spiritual and celestial things of the Lord‘s kingdom, and in the supreme sense the Lord Himself. But they who are in truth natural not spiritual in like manner call these things holy, but holy in themselves by infusion. From this it is plain that the two are agreed, but that they do not conjoin themselves; for this truth is of a different form-because of a different idea- with the spiritual man from what it is with the merely natural man.
 Let us take one other example. It is an ultimate truth to the spiritual man that all Divine truths can be confirmed from the literal sense of the Word, and also, with those who are enlightened, by rational or intellectual things. This ultimate and general truth is acknowledged by the natural man also; but he believes in simplicity that everything is true which can be confirmed from the Word, and especially that which he himself has confirmed from it. In this therefore they concur- that all Divine truth can he confirmed; but this general truth is viewed differently by the one from what it is by the other. The merely natural man believes to be Divine truth whatever he has confirmed in himself, or has heard confirmed by others, no’ knowing that falsity can be confirmed as well as truth, and that falsity when confirmed appears exactly like truth, and even more true than truth itself, because the fallacies of the senses chime in, and present it in the light of the world separate from the light of heaven.
 From this it is plain what is the quality of ultimate spiritual truth in the sight of the natural man - that it is like a garment; and when this garment is withdrawn, the natural and the spiritual man do not at all agree, and consequently the spiritual man has no longer anything by which to defend himself against the natural man. This is what is signified by Joseph‘s fleeing and getting out when he had left his garment. For the merely natural man does not acknowledge interior things; and therefore when exterior things are taken away or withdrawn, the two are at once dissociated. Furthermore, the natural man calls all things false by which the spiritual man confirms ultimate truth; for he cannot see whether that which be confirms is really so, it being impossible from natural light to see the things which are of spiritual light. This is contrary to order; but it is according to order that the things which are in natural light should be seen from spiritual light.
AC 5009. And fled, and got him out. That this signifies that thus truth spiritual natural had no truth by which to defend itself, is evident from the signification of "fleeing and getting out," after he had left his garment, as being that separation was effected, or that there was no longer anything in common; and consequently as a "garment" is ultimate truth, that it had no truth by which to defend itself (n. 5008).
AC 5010. And it came to pass when she saw. That this signifies perception concerning this matter, is evident from the signification of "seeing," as being perception (n. 2150, 3764, 4567, 4723). Concerning this matter, is concerning the separation effected by ultimate truth being no longer acknowledged, which is signified by his "leaving his garment in her hand, and fleeing out" (n. 5008, 5009).
AC 5011. That she cried unto the men of her house. That this signifies falsities, is evident from the signification of a "cry," as being falsity (n. 2240); hence "to cry" is predicated of falsity. The "men of her house" in the genuine sense are the truths of good, but in the opposite sense they are the falsities of evil. That the things which Potiphar’s wife now tells to the men of the house, and afterward to her husband, are falsities, is evident from her very words. That natural truth, which is here the wife of Potiphar, after ultimate spiritual truth (which in its outmost appearance seems as if conjoined with it) has been torn away, cannot but speak falsities, or things contrary to the truth, may be seen above (n. 5008).
AC 5012. And spake unto them, saying. That this signifies exhortation, is evident from the signification of "saying" here, as being exhortation; for "saying" in the internal sense is perception (n. 2862, 3395, 3509), and also communication (n. 3060, 4131); here therefore, because it is said that she "cried," and afterward that she "spake, saying," vehement communication is meant, that is, exhortation to hear.
AC 5013. See, he hath brought us a Hebrew man. That this signifies a servant, is evident from the signification of a "Hebrew man" as being predicated of service (n. 1703), and as is also clear from what is said later, where Joseph is called a "Hebrew servant," and also simply a "servant:" "the Hebrew servant whom thou hast brought to us came to me" (verse 17); "according to these words did thy servant to me" (verse 19). That a "Hebrew man" here is a servant, is chiefly for the reason that those who are in truth and good natural not spiritual, who are here represented by Potiphar and his wife, regard spiritual truth and good, which is represented by Joseph, no otherwise than as a servant; for in both life and doctrine they are in inverted order, because with them the natural rules and the spiritual serves; when yet it is according to order that the spiritual should rule and the natural serve; for the spiritual is prior, interior and higher, and nearer the Divine; while the natural is posterior, exterior, and lower, and more remote from the Divine. For this reason the spiritual in man and in the church is compared to heaven, and is also called heaven; and the natural is compared to earth, and is also called earth. Hence also it is that they who are spiritual, that is, in whom the spiritual has ruled, appear in the other life in the light of heaven with the head upward toward the Lord, and with the feet downward toward hell; whereas they who are natural, that is, they in whom the natural has ruled, appear in the light of heaven with the feet upward and the head downward, however differently they may appear in their own light, which is a fatuous light resulting from the evil affections and consequent phantasies in which they are (n. 1528, 3340, 4214, 4418, 4531, 4532). That natural men regard spiritual things as subservient, was also represented by the Egyptians regarding the Hebrews no otherwise than as servants; for by the Egyptians were represented those who are in natural knowledge and who therefore are natural, but by the Hebrews, those who are of the church and are therefore relatively spiritual. Moreover the Egyptians regarded the Hebrews as being so vile-as servants-that it was an abomination to them to eat with the Hebrews (Gen. 43:32); and the sacrifices offered by the Hebrews were also an abomination to them (Exod. 8:26).
AC 5014. To mock us. That this signifies that it rose up, is evident from the series itself in the internal sense, and also from the signification of "mocking," when said with vehemence, as being to rise up.
AC 5015. He came to me to lie with me. That this signifies that it, namely, truth spiritual natural, desired to conjoin itself, is evident from the signification of "coming," as here being to desire, for he who comes with a purpose, desires; and from the signification of "lying with," as being to conjoin itself (n. 4989, 5001, 5007).
AC 5016. And I cried with a great voice. That this signifies that there was aversion, is evident from the signification of a "cry," as being false speaking (n. 5011); and therefore "to cry." in the present instance, involves such false speaking, namely, in that she "cried unto the men of the house" for help, that it was repugnant to her; and in that it is said that she "cried with a great voice," that she felt aversion for it.
AC 5017. And it came to pass when he heard. That this signifies when it was perceived, is evident from the signification of "hearing," as being to obey, and also as being to perceive. That it means to obey may be seen above (n. 2542, 3869); that it means also to perceive is plain from the very function of the ear, and hence from the nature of the hearing. The function of the ear is to receive another‘s speech and convey it to the common sensory, in order that the sensory may perceive what the other person is thinking, so that "to hear" is to perceive. Thus it is the nature of the hearing to transfer what anyone is speaking from his own thought into the thought of another, and from the thought into his will, and from the will into act; hence "to hear" is to obey. These two offices are proper to the hearing. In the languages these are distinguished by "hearing" anyone, which is to perceive, and by "listening," or "hearkening" to anyone, which is to obey. That these two offices belong to hearing is because man cannot communicate the things of his thought, and also the things of his will, by any other way; nor can he otherwise persuade and by reasons induce others to do and to obey what he wills. From all this it is evident by what a circle communications are effected--from will into thought, and so into speech; and from speech through the ear into another’s thought and will. Hence also it is that the spirits and angels who correspond to the ear or to the sense of hearing in the Grand Man, are not only perceptions, but also obediences. That they are obediences, may be seen above (n. 4652-4660); and because they are obediences, they are also perceptions, for the one involves the other.
AC 5018. That I lifted up my voice and cried. That this signifies that there was great aversion, is evident from the signification of "crying with a great voice," as being aversion (n. 5016); here therefore "lifting up the voice and crying" denotes great aversion.
AC 5019. That he left my garment by me. That this signifies a witness that it made an approach, is evident from the signification of "leaving the garment," as being to take away ultimate truth (n. 5008); but here a witness, because the garment in her hand and which she showed (that is, the ultimate truth by which it proved that it desired to conjoin itself, was a witness that it made an approach. This meaning does indeed seem somewhat remote, but still it is that which is involved in what she said (n. 5028).
AC 5020. And fled, and got him out. That this signifies that nevertheless it separated itself, is evident from the signification of "fleeing and getting out," as being to separate itself (n. 5009). These then are the falsities which Potiphar‘s wife spake to the men of the house concerning Joseph-- in the internal sense, which truth natural not spiritual spake concerning truth spiritual natural, or which the natural man not spiritual spake concerning the spiritual natural man (n. 4988, 4992, 5008). GENESIS 39:10-15 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|