Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 41:33-36
AC 5285. Verses 33-36. And now let Pharaoh see a man intelligent and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint governors over the land, and take the fifth of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance of produce. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and heap up corn under the hand of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them guard it. And the food shall be for a store to the land against the seven years of famine that shall be in the land of Egypt, and the land shall not be cut off in the famine. "And now let Pharaoh see," signifies the looking forward of the natural; "a man intelligent and wise," signifies about the inflowing truth and good; "and set him over the land of Egypt," signifies that will bring into order all things in the natural mind; "let Pharaoh do this," signifies further looking forward; "and let him appoint governors over the land," signifies the orderly arrangement of generals in the natural; "and take up the fifth of the land of Egypt," signifies that were to be preserved and afterward stored up; "in the seven years of abundance of produce," signifies that had been insinuated at the times when truths with goods were multiplied; "and let them gather all the food," signifies all things that are of use; "of those good years that come," signifies that are to be gathered in at those times; "and heap up corn," signifies every good of truth at the same time; "under the hand of Pharaoh," signifies for need and consequent disposal in the natural; "for food in the cities," signifies such things in the interiors of the natural mind; "and let them guard it," signifies there to be laid up in store; "and the food shall be for a store to the land," signifies that it shall be there for every use of the natural; "against the seven years of famine," signifies according to the need in cases of deficiency; "that shall be in the land of Egypt," signifies that shall be in the natural; "and the land shall not be cut off in the famine," signifies lest the man should perish.
AC 5286. And now let Pharaoh see. That this signifies the looking forward of the natural, is evident from the signification of "seeing," or "looking," as being to look forward; for "seeing" here implies activity, namely, in doing; but when it does not imply that something is to be done, it signifies understanding and perceiving (n. 2150, 2325, 2807, 3764, 3863, 4403-4421, 4567, 4723, 5114). With the looking forward of the natural the case is this. Man‘s natural, or his natural mind, which is beneath his rational mind, does not of itself look forward to anything, although it appears to do this as of itself; but its looking forward is from within, for the inner looks forward in the outer very much as a man looks at himself in a mirror, in which the figure appears as if it were there. This is also presented in the internal sense by Joseph’s speaking thus to Pharaoh; for by Joseph is represented the celestial of the spiritual, which is inner, and by Pharaoh the natural, which is outer; and Joseph seemed to Pharaoh to be that very man intelligent and wise who is here spoken of.
AC 5287. A man intelligent and wise. That this signifies about the inflowing truth and good, is evident from the signification of an "intelligent man," as being truth, and of a "wise man," as being the good of truth. Be it known that in the internal sense by a "man intelligent and wise" is not meant any such man, but abstractedly from person that which belongs to one who is intelligent and wise, thus truth and good. In the other life, especially in the heavens, all thought, and hence all speech, are carried on by means of what is abstracted from persons, and therefore thought and speech there are universal, and are relatively without limit; for so far as thought and speech are determined to persons and their specific qualities, and to names, and also to words, so far they become less universal, and are determined to the actual thing, and there abide. On the other hand, in so far as they are not determined to persons and what is connected with them, but to realities abstracted from them, so far they are determined away from the actual thing, and are extended beyond self, and the mental view becomes higher and consequently more universal.
 This is very apparent from man‘s thought, which in so far as it regards the words of one speaking, so far it does not regard his meaning; and which in so far as it regards the particular things of the memory, and dwells on them, so far it does not perceive the nature of the real things; and, still more important, in so far as it regards itself in everything, so far it narrows the thoughts and removes itself from viewing a subject in a universal manner. Hence it is that in proportion as anyone loves himself more than others, in the same proportion he is less wise. From this it is now plain why things abstracted from persons are signified in the internal sense by the things which in the sense of the letter are determined to persons (n. 5225). In the Word a distinction is occasionally made between "wisdom," "intelligence," and "knowledge;" and by "wisdom" is meant what is from good, by "intelligence" what is from truth, and by "knowledge" both of these in man’s natural; as in Moses:--
I have filled Bezaleel with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in intelligence, and in knowledge, and in all work (Exod. 31:2, 3; 35:30, 31);
Give you men, wise and understanding, and knowing, according to your tribes; that I may set them for your heads (Deut. 1:13).
AC 5288. And set him over the land of Egypt. That this signifies that will bring into order all things in the natural mind, is evident from the signification of "setting over" anything, as being to appoint one who will bring into order, thus also to bring into order; and from the signification of the "land of Egypt," as being the natural mind (n. 5276, 5278, 5279). By "him" is here meant a "man intelligent and wise," by whom is signified truth and good. From this it is plain that by these words is signified that truth and good will bring into order all things in the natural. It is indeed good and truth that bring into order each and all things in the natural mind; for they flow in from within, and thus arrange them. One who does not know how the case is with man‘s intellectual faculty, and how man can mentally view things, perceive them, think analytically, draw conclusions thence, and at last pass them over to the will, and through the will into act, sees nothing to wonder at in these things; he supposes that all things flow naturally in this way, being quite unaware that they are one and all from influx through heaven from the Lord, and that without this influx a man could not think at all, and that when the influx ceases so does everything of thought. So neither does he know that the good flowing in through heaven from the Lord brings all things into order, and in so far as the man allows, forms them after the image of heaven, and that from this the thought flows agreeably to the heavenly form. The heavenly form is that form into which the heavenly societies are brought into order, and they are brought into order in accordance with the form that is induced by the good and truth that proceed from the Lord.
AC 5289. Let Pharaoh do this. That this signifies further looking forward, is evident from what was unfolded above (n. 5286).
AC 5290. And let him appoint governors over the land. That this signifies the orderly arrangement of generals in the natural, is evident from the signification of "appointing over," as being to bring into order; from the signification of "governors," as being generals; and from the signification of the "land," here the land of Egypt, as being the natural mind (n. 5288). The reason why "governors" signify generals, is that it is generals in which and under which are particulars (n. 917, 4269, 4325, 4329, 4345, 4383, 5208) by "princes" however are signified primary things (n. 1482, 2089, 5044).
AC 5291. And take the fifth of the land of Egypt. That this signifies that are to be preserved and afterward stored up, is evident from the signification of "taking a fifth," as here involving the same as tithing or taking a tenth: "to tithe," in the Word, signifies to make remains, and to make remains is to gather truths and goods, and then to store them up. Remains are goods and truths stored up by the Lord in the inner man, (n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 661, 1050, 1906, 2284, 5135); and by "tithes" in the Word are signified remains, (n. 576, 1738, 2280); and likewise by "ten," (n. 1906, 2284); and hence also by "five," which number is half of ten. Half and double in the Word involve the like as the numbers to which they are applied as "twenty" the like as "ten," "four" the like as "two," "six" as "three," "twenty-four" as "twelve," and so on; so also numbers still further multiplied involve the like, as a "hundred" and also a "thousand" the like as "ten," "seventy-two" and also a "hundred and forty-four" the like as "twelve." That therefore compound numbers involve can be known from the simple numbers from which and with which they are multiplied; also what the more simple numbers involve can be known from the whole numbers, as what "five" is can be known from "ten," and what "two and a half" is from "five," and so on. In general it is to be known that numbers multiplied involve the like as the simple numbers, but what is more full; and that numbers divided involve the same, but what is not so full.
 As regards "five" in particular, this number has a twofold signification, signifying a little and hence something, and also signifying remains. That it signifies a little is from its relation to those numbers which signify much, namely, to a "thousand" and a "hundred," and hence also to "ten." A "thousand" and a "hundred" signify much, (n. 2575, 2636); and hence also "ten," (n. 3107, 4638). Hence it is that "five" signifies a little and also something (n. 649, 4638). "Five" signifies remains when it has reference to "ten," "ten" signifying remains, as already said. All numbers in the Word signify real things, (n. 575, 647, 648, 755, 813, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2252, 3252, 4264, 4495, 4670, 5265).
 He who does not know that the Word has an internal sense, not appearing in the letter, will be greatly surprised that the numbers in the Word signify real things, chiefly because he cannot form any spiritual idea from numbers; nevertheless, that numbers flow from the spiritual idea the angels have may be seen above (n. 5265). What the ideas or real things are to which numbers correspond he may indeed know, but the source of this correspondence still lies hidden from him-such as the correspondence of "twelve" to all things of faith, and the correspondence of "seven" to holy things, also the correspondence of "ten," and of "five," to the goods and truths stored up by the Lord in the inner man, and so on. It suffices to know that there is a correspondence, and that it is from this correspondence that all the numbers in the Word signify something in the spiritual world, consequently that the Divine inspired into them lies hidden within them.
 Take for instance the following passages in which "five" is mentioned, as in the Lord’s parable about the man who went into another country, and delivered to his servants according to their abilities, to one five talents, to another two, and to a third one:--
And he that had received the five talents traded with them, and gained other five talents; and likewise he that had received two gained other two; but he that had received one hid his lord‘s silver in the earth (Matt. 25:14);
one who does not think beyond the literal sense cannot know but that the very numbers, five, two, and one, were taken simply for composing the story of the parable, and that they involve nothing further, whereas there is a secret in these numbers themselves; for by the "servant who received five talents" are signified those who have admitted goods and truths from the Lord, thus who have received remains; by "him who received two" are signified those who have joined charity to faith when well on in years; and by "him who received one," those who have received faith alone without charity. Of the last it is said that he "hid his lord’s silver in the earth;" for by the "silver" he had is signified in the internal sense the truth that is of faith (n. 1551, 2954) and faith without charity cannot make gain or bear fruit. Such are the things in these numbers.
 It is similar with other parables, as with the one about the man who, going into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, gave to his servants ten pounds, and told them to trade with them till he came. When he returned the first said:--
Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well done thou good servant, because thou hast been faithful in a very little, be thou over ten cities. And the second said, Lord, thy pound hath made five pounds. And he said unto him also, Be thou also over five cities. The third had laid up the pound in a napkin. But the lord said, Take away from him the pound, and give it unto him that hath ten pounds (Luke 19:12);
here in like manner "ten" and "five" signify remains "ten" more, "five" fewer. He who laid up the pound in a napkin denotes those who procure for themselves the truths of faith but do not conjoin them with the goods of charity, and so have no gain or fruit from them.
 It is the same where the Lord mentions these numbers in other places as with him that was called to the supper and said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them" (Luke 14:19); with the rich man who said to Abraham, "I have five brethren;" that one might be sent to tell them, lest they also come into this place of torment (Luke 16:28) with the ten virgins, five of whom were prudent, and five foolish (Matt. 25:1-13); and likewise in these words of the Lord: "think ye that I am come to give peace upon earth? I tell you, Nay; but division; for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three" (Luke 12:51); and also even in the historic facts that the Lord fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, and that He commanded them to sit down by hundreds and by fifties; and after they had eaten they took up twelve baskets of fragments (Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6:38; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-13).
 As these passages are historic it can hardly be believed that the numbers in them are significant as the number "five thousand" of the men, and also the number "five" of the loaves, and "two" of the fishes, as also the number "one hundred," and the number "fifty," of the companies that sat down, and lastly "twelve" which was the number of the baskets containing the fragments; when yet there is a secret in each number. For every detail happened of Providence, in order that Divine things might be represented
 In the following passages also, "five" signifies in both the genuine and the opposite sense such things in the spiritual world as it corresponds to. In Isaiah:--
There shall be left therein gleanings as in the shaking of an olive-tree, two or three berries in the head of the bough, four or five in the branches of a fruitful tree (Isa. 17:6).
In the same:--
In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak with the lips of Canaan, and swear to Jehovah Zebaoth (Isa. 19:18).
One thousand shall flee before the rebuke of one, before the rebuke of five shall ye flee; till ye be left as a mast upon the head of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill (Isa. 30:17).
In the Revelation:--
The fifth angel sounded, then I saw a star from heaven fallen into the earth; and there was given to him the key of the pit of the abyss. To the locusts that came out thence it was said that they should not kill the men who had not the seal of God on their foreheads, but that they should be tormented five months (Rev. 9:1, 3-5, 10).
In the same:--
Here is intelligence, if anyone has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains, where the woman sitteth upon them; and they are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he mast remain a little while (Rev. 17:9, 10).
 In like manner the number "five" was representative in the following instances--that the valuation of a man and of a woman should be according to years, from a month to five years, and from five years to twenty (Lev. 27:1-9) Again, if a field were redeemed, a fifth part should be added (Lev. 27:19). And if tithes were redeemed, a fifth part should be added (Lev. 27:31). That the superfluous firstborn were to be redeemed for five shekels (Num. 3:46-51). That the firstborn of an unclean beast was to be redeemed by adding a fifth part (Lev. 27:27). That as a fine for certain transgressions a fifth part was to be added (Lev. 22:14; 27:13, 15; Num. 5:6-8). And that if a man shall steal an ox or a sheep, and kill it or sell it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep (Exod. 22:1).
 That the number "five" holds within it a heavenly secret, and that "ten" does the same, is evident from the cherubim, of which we read in the first book of Kings:--
Solomon made in the adytum two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. Five cubits was the wing of the one cherub, and five cubits the wing of the other cherub it was ten cubits from the ends of its wings even unto the ends of its wings so the cherub was ten cubits. Both the cherubim were of one measure and one form (1 Kings 6:23-27).
The same is evident also from the lavers around the temple, and from the lampstands, of which it is written in the same book:--
The bases of the lavers were placed, five by the shoulder of the house to the right, and five by the shoulder of the house to the left. Also that the lampstands were placed, five on the right and five on the left, before the adytum (1 Kings 7:39, 49).
That the brazen sea was ten ells from brim to brim, and five ells in height, and thirty ells in circumference (1 Kings 7:23), was in order that holy things might be signified by the numbers "ten" and "five," and also by "thirty," which number of the circumference does not indeed geometrically answer to the diameter, but still it spiritually involves that which is signified by the compass of that vessel.
 That in the spiritual world all numbers signify real things is plainly manifest from the numbers in Ezekiel where is described the new earth, the new city, and the new temple, which the angel measured in detail (see chapters 40, 43, 45, 49). The description of nearly all the holy things there is set forth by numbers, and therefore one who does not know what those numbers involve can know scarcely anything about the secrets contained therein. The number "ten" and the number "five" occur there (Ezekiel 40:7, 11, 48; 41:2, 9, 11, 12; 42:4; 45:11, 14), besides the multiplied numbers, "twenty-five," "fifty," "five hundred," and "five thousand." It is manifest from the details in these chapters that the new earth, the new city, and the new temple signify the Lord‘s kingdom in the heavens, and hence His church on earth.
 These instances of the use of the number "five" are here brought together because in this and the following verses it is told of the land of Egypt that a fifth part of the produce was to be collected there in the seven years of plenty, and to be preserved for use in the following years of famine. Therefore it has been shown that by a "fifth part" are signified goods and truths stored up in man by the Lord, and reserved for use when there shall be a famine, that is when there shall be a lack and privation of good and truth; for unless such things were stored up in man by the Lord, there would be nothing to uplift him in a state of temptation and vastation, consequently nothing through which he could be regenerated; and thus he would be without the means of salvation in the other life.
AC 5292. In the seven years of abundance of produce. That this signifies that had been insinuated at the times when truths with goods were multiplied, is evident from the signification of "years," as being states, and hence also times; and from the signification of "abundance of produce," as being the multiplication of truth, or truth multiplied (n. 5276, 5278, 5280); here therefore are signified truths with goods multiplied, because truths are nothing without goods, and no truths are stored up in the inner man (n. 5291), except such as are conjoined with goods. That "years" signify not only states, but also times, is because in the internal sense "years" signify entire states, that is, entire periods from the beginning of a state to the end. These periods cannot be expressed otherwise than by times, nor can they be apprehended as anything else by those who are in time. "Years" and "days" are both states and times, (n. 23, 487, 488, 493, 893, 2906).
AC 5293. And let them gather all the food. That this signifies all things that are of use, is evident from the signification of "gathering," as being to bring together and preserve; and from the signification of "food," as being things that are of use. In the internal sense "food" properly signifies the things that nourish the soul of man, that is, that nourish him after death, for he then lives as a soul or spirit, and no longer needs material food, but spiritual food, which consists in everything that is of use, and everything that is conducive to use. That which is conducive to use is to know what is good and true; that which is of use is to will and do what is good and true. These are the things that nourish the angels, and are therefore called spiritual and heavenly food. Man’s mind within which are his interior understanding and interior will, or his intentions or ends, is not nourished by any other food even while he lives in the body. Material food does not penetrate to the mind, but only to the things of the body, which that food sustains to the end that this mind may enjoy its food while the body enjoys its food, that is, that this mind may be sound in a sound body.
 That "food" in the spiritual sense denotes everything that is of use, is because all man‘s knowing, and all his understanding and being wise, and therefore all his willing, ought to have use for their end; hence the quality of his life is according to the quality of his use. That "food" in the internal sense denotes everything that is of use, is plain from these words of the Lord:--
Jesus said to the disciples, I have food to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to perfect His work (John 4:32-34);
and in another place:--
Labor not for the food that perisheth, but for that food that remaineth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed (John 6:27).
AC 5294. Of those good years that come. That this signifies that are to be gathered in at those times, is evident from the signification of "years," as being states, and also times (n. 5292). The "good years that come" are therefore those times when truths with goods are multiplied, which are signified by the "seven years of abundance of produce."
AC 5295. And let them heap up corn. That this signifies every good of truth at the same time, is evident from the signification of "heaping up," as being to gather and at the same time preserve; and from the signification of "corn," as being the good of the natural (n. 3580), here the good of truth that is in the natural. The good of truth is truth in the will and in act. That "corn" signifies good is because a "field" in the spiritual sense is the church; and hence whatever belongs to a field, such as seed, sowing, harvest, crop, corn, and also the head or ear of corn, and in particular wheat, barley, and other kinds of grain, denote such things as are of the church; and all the things of the church bear relation to good and truth.
AC 5296. Under the hand of Pharaoh. That this signifies for need and consequent disposal in the natural, is evident from the signification of the "hand," as being power (n. 878, 3387, 4931-4937); hence "under the hand" denotes for disposal in every case of need, for what is in the power of anyone is at his disposal; and from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the natural.
AC 5297. For food in the cities. That this signifies such things in the interiors of the natural mind, is evident from the signification of "food," as being all things that are of use, thus truths and goods (n. 5293); and from the signification of "cities," as being the interiors of the natural mind. In the universal sense "cities" signify the doctrinal things of the church (n. 402, 2268, 2449, 2451, 2712, 2943, 3216, 4492, 4493); but in an individual sense they signify the interiors of man where doctrinal things are, or rather where are truths conjoined with good. That the truths and goods in man form as it were a city, may be seen above (n. 3584); and hence that man himself in whom is the church is called the "city of God." The signification of a "city" is circumstanced as is that of a "house." In the universal sense a "house" signifies good, but in the individual sense it signifies a man (n. 3128), and specifically his mind as to the good and truth conjoined in it (n. 3538, 4973, 5023); and a house with its apartments, out-buildings, and courts, is a city in the least form.
 The interiors of the natural mind are signified by "cities" in Isaiah:--
In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak with the lips of Canaan, and that swear to Jehovah Zebaoth (Isa. 19:18);
and the goods and truths in the interiors are signified by the "cities" in the Lord’s parable in Luke:--
He said to him that by the pound had made ten pounds, Well done thou good servant; because thou hast been faithful in a very little, be thou over ten cities. And he said to the second, who had made five pounds, Be thou also over five cities (Luke 19:12).
Here therefore by "heaping up food in the cities and guarding it," is signified that truths conjoined with good were to be stored up in the interiors of the natural mind; and when these truths and goods have been stored up there, they are called "remains," in which the veriest spiritual life of man consists, and from which he is spiritually nourished in every case of need and want, that is, in every spiritual famine.
AC 5298. And let them guard it. That this signifies there to be laid up in store, is evident from the signification of "guarding," as being to store up, namely, in the interiors of the natural mind, which are signified by "cities" (n. 5297).
AC 5299. And the food shall be for a store to the land. That this signifies that it should be there for every use of the natural, is evident from the signification of "food," as being goods and truths (n. 5293); and from the signification of "for a store," as being what is laid up for every use, because for use in the following years of famine; and from the signification of the "land," here the land of Egypt, as being the natural mind (n. 5276, 5278, 5279, 5288).
AC 5300. Against the seven years of famine. That this signifies according to the need in cases of deficiency, is evident from the signification of "famine," as being a lack of truth (n. 5277, 5278). That it is for a case of need then is plain; for "years" in the internal sense are states, and therefore "against those years" denotes those states when there is need.
AC 5301. That shall be in the land of Egypt. That this signifies that shall be in the natural, is evident from the signification of the "land of Egypt," as being the natural mind (n. 5276, 5278, 5279, 5288). It is here and elsewhere said "the natural," and thereby is meant the natural mind; for man has two minds, a rational mind and a natural mind; the rational mind is of the internal man, and the natural mind is of the external man. This mind or this man is what is meant by "the natural" simply so called. That the mind is the man himself, will be seen in what now follows.
AC 5302. And the land shall not be cut off in the famine. That this signifies lest the man should perish, namely, by the lack of truth, is evident from the signification of "being cut off," as being to perish; and from the signification of "land," here the land of Egypt, as being the natural mind (n. 5301); and because it is the natural mind, it is the man himself, for man is man from his mind; for the mind itself constitutes the man, and such as the mind is, such is the man. By the "mind" is meant man‘s intellect and will, and consequently his veriest life. Stupid people suppose that man is man from his outward form, in that he has a face like a man’s; those less stupid say man is man because he can speak; and those still less stupid, that man is man because he can think. But man is not man from these things, but from the fact that he can think what is true and will what is good, and that when he thinks truth and wills good he can look up to the Divine and perceptibly receive it. It is in this that man is distinguished from the brute animals.
 But his seeming like a man, and his ability to speak and to think, do not make him a man; for if he thinks what is false and wills what is evil, this makes him not merely like a brute animal, but worse; for by means of these very faculties he destroys what is human in himself, and makes himself a wild beast. This is especially evident from such persons in the other life, who when seen in the light of heaven and looked at by angels, appear as monsters, and some of them as wild beasts, the deceitful as serpents, and others in other forms. But when they are removed from that light and are let back into their own light which they have in hell, they seem to one another like men. But how the case stands that man would perish when the truth fails him, had he not goods and truths stored up by the Lord in the interiors (signified by the "food for a store to the land against the seven years of famine, that the land shall not be cut off in the famine") will be told in the following verses of this chapter.GENESIS 41:33-36 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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