Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 41:50-52
AC 5347. Verses 50-52. And to Joseph were born two sons before the year of famine came, whom Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On bare to him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh; For God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father‘s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim; For God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. "And to Joseph were born two sons," signifies good and truth therefrom; "before the year of famine came," signifies that came through the natural; "whom Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On bare to him," signifies that came from the marriage; "and Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh," signifies a new will in the natural, and its quality; "For God hath made me forget all my toil," signifies removal after temptations; "and all my father’s house," signifies the removal of hereditary evils; "and the name of the second called he Ephraim," signifies a new understanding in the natural, and its quality; "For God hath made me fruitful," signifies the consequent multiplication of truth from good; "in the land of my affliction," signifies where temptations were suffered.
AC 5348. And to Joseph were born two sons. That this signifies good and truth therefrom, namely from the influx of the celestial of the spiritual into the natural, is evident from the signification of "being born," as being to be reborn, thus the birth of truth from good, or of faith from charity (n. 4070, 4668, 5160) - that the births spoken of in the Word are spiritual births may be seen above (n. 1145, 1255, 1330, 3263, 3279, 3860, 3866); and from the signification of "sons," here Manasseh and Ephraim, as being good and truth. For by "Manasseh" is signified the will of the new natural, and by "Ephraim" its understanding; or what is the same thing, by "Manasseh" is signified the good of the new natural, because good is predicated of the will; and by "Ephraim" is signified its truth, because truth is predicated of the understanding. In other passages also where we read of two sons being born, by one is signified good, and by the other truth, as by Esau and Jacob. Good is signified by "Esau", (n. 3302, 3322, 3494, 3504, 3576, 3599), and truth by "Jacob," (n. 3305, 3509, 3525, 3546, 3576); so likewise with the two sons of Judah by Tamar, Perez and Zerah (n. 4927-4929); and so here with Manasseh and Ephraim. Their birth is now treated of, because in what immediately precedes was described the influx of the celestial of the spiritual into the natural, and hence its rebirth, which is effected solely by means of good and truth.
AC 5349. Before the year of famine came. That this signifies that came through the natural, is evident from the signification of "before the year of famine came," as being while the state of the multiplication of truth from good lasted, which state is signified by the years of abundance of produce, and thus before the state of desolation signified by the years of famine. As in the former state truth from good was multiplied in the natural, and thus good and truth were born to the celestial of the spiritual through the natural, therefore this consequence is signified by the words, "before the year of famine came."
AC 5350. Whom Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On bare to him. That this signifies that came from the marriage, is evident from what was said above (n. 5332).
AC 5351. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. That this signifies a new will in the natural, and its quality, is evident from the representation of Manasseh in the Word, as being spiritual good in the natural, and thus a new will: this name also involves the very quality of this good, or of this new will. That the "name" involves this quality may be seen from the names given to others also, the quality of which is at the same time indicated, as is the name "Manasseh" in the words, "for God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father‘s house;" for in this way is described the quality signified by "Manasseh." Moreover when it is said "he called the name," there is also signified that the name itself contains the quality; for the "name" and "calling the name" signifies the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421).
 The reason why the first born, who is named Manasseh, signifies spiritual good in the natural, or the new will therein, is that good is actually the firstborn in the church, or in the man who becomes a church; whereas truth is not the firstborn, and yet it appears as if it were (n. 352, 367, 2435, 3325, 3494, 4925, 4926, 4928, 4930), as may also be seen from the fact that in man the will precedes; for man’s willing is the first of his life, and his understanding comes after, and applies itself in accordance with his willing. What proceeds from the will is called "good" in those who by regeneration have received from the Lord a new will, but "evil" in those who have not desired to receive it; and what proceeds from the understanding is called "truth" in the regenerate, but "falsity" in the unregenerate. Yet as man‘s will does not appear to the sense except through the understanding (for the understanding is the will in form, or the will formed to the sense), it is therefore supposed that the truth which proceeds from the understanding is the firstborn, and yet it is not, except in appearance, for the reason given.
 Hence the old controversy as to whether the truth which is of faith, or the good which is of charity, is the firstborn of the church. They who decided from the appearance, said that truth is the firstborn, but they who did not decide from the appearance, acknowledged that good is the firstborn. Hence also it is that at the present day faith is made the first and very essential of the church, and charity is made secondary and not essential; but men have gone into error much further than the ancients, by declaring that faith alone saves. In the church by "faith" is meant all the truth of doctrine, and by "charity" all the good of life. They indeed call charity and its works the "fruits of faith;" but who believes that fruits do anything for salvation when it is believed that a man may be saved by faith at the last hour of his life, whatever his previous life has been, and when in their teaching they even separate works, which are of charity, from faith, saying that faith alone saves without good works, or that works, which are of the life, do nothing toward salvation? Oh, what a faith! and oh, what a church! they adore dead faith, and reject living faith; and yet faith without charity is as a body without a soul, and we know that a body without a soul is removed from sight and cast forth, because of its stench: so is it with faith without charity in the other life. All those who have been in faith so called without charity are in hell, while all who have been in charity are in heaven; for everyone’s life remains, but not his doctrine except in so far as it is derived from his life.
 That by "Manasseh" is signified the new will in the natural, or what is the same, spiritual good there, cannot be so well shown from other passages of the Word as that by "Ephraim" is signified the new understanding in the natural, or spiritual truth therein. Nevertheless the signification of "Manasseh" can be inferred from that of "Ephraim;" for in the Word where two are thus mentioned, by the one is signified good, and by the other truth; and therefore that by "Manasseh" is signified spiritual good in the natural, which good is of the new will, will be seen in what presently follows about "Ephraim."
AC 5352. For God hath made me forget all my toil. That this signifies removal after temptations, is evident from the signification of "forgetting," as being removal (n. 5170, 5278); and from the signification of "toil," as being combats, thus temptations. Hence it follows that by the words "God hath made me forget all my toil" is signified removal after temptations, that is, the removal of the evils which have caused pain. That this is signified is plain also from what is related of Joseph in the land of Canaan among his brethren, and afterward in Egypt - in the land of Canaan that he was cast into a pit and sold, in Egypt that he served and was kept in prison for some years. That temptations are signified by these events has already been shown, and that these are what are meant by his "toil" is plain.
AC 5353. And all my fathers house. That this signifies the removal of hereditary evils, is evident from the signification of "father‘s house," as here being hereditary evils; for by a "house" in the internal sense is signified a man, and indeed his mind either rational or natural, but specifically the will therein, consequently good or evil, because these are predicated of the will (n. 710, 2233, 2234, 3128, 4973, 4982, 5023); and therefore by "father’s house" here are signified hereditary evils. The quality signified by "Manasseh" is contained in these and the immediately preceding words. In the original language "Manasseh" means "forgetfulness," thus in the internal sense the removal of evils, both actual and hereditary; for when these are removed, a new will arises, for the new will comes into existence through the influx of good from the Lord. The influx of good from the Lord with man is continuous; but there are evils both actual and hereditary that hinder and obstruct the reception of it; and therefore when these are removed, a new will comes into existence. This is very evident in the case of those who are in misfortune, misery, and illness; for as in these the loves of self and of the world, from which come all evils, are removed, the man thinks well about God and the neighbor, and also wishes his neighbor well. It is similar in temptations, which are spiritual pains, and hence inward miseries and despairings: by these chiefly are evils removed, and after they have been removed, heavenly good flows in from the Lord, whereby a new will is formed in the natural, and this new will is "Manasseh" in the representative sense.
AC 5354. And the name of the second called he Ephraim. That this signifies a new understanding in the natural, and its quality, is evident from the signification of a "name" and "calling a name," as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421); and from the representation of Ephraim, as being the understanding in the natural. But first must be told what is meant by the new understanding and the new will signified by "Ephraim and Manasseh." In the church it is indeed known that man must be born again (that is, must be regenerated) in order that he may enter the kingdom of God; for the Lord has plainly declared this in (John 3:3, 5). But what it is to be born again is known only to few, for the reason that few know what good and evil are, and this because they do not know what charity toward the neighbor is; if they knew this, they would also know what good is, and from good what evil is; for all that is good which comes from genuine charity toward the neighbor.
 But no one can be in this good from himself, because it is the celestial itself which flows in from the Lord. This celestial flows in continually, but evils and falsities stand in the way of its being received; and therefore in order to its reception it is necessary for man to remove evils, and as far as he is able falsities also, and thus dispose himself to receive the influx. When after evils have been removed the man receives the influx, he at the same time receives a new will and a new understanding; and from the new will he feels delight in doing good to the neighbor from no selfish end, and from the new understanding he perceives delight in learning what is good and true for its own sake and for the sake of the life. Inasmuch as this new understanding and new will come into existence through influx from the Lord, the man who has been regenerated acknowledges and believes that the good and truth with which he is affected are not from himself but from the Lord, and also that whatever is from himself, or of his own, is nothing but evil.
 From all this it is plain what it is to be born again, and also what the new will and new understanding are. But the regeneration through which come the new understanding and the new will is not accomplished in a moment, but goes on from earliest infancy even to the close of life, and afterward in the other life to eternity, and this by Divine means, innumerable and unspeakable; for man of himself is nothing but evil, which continually exhales as from a furnace, and continually endeavors to extinguish the nascent good. The removal of such evil, and the inrooting of good in its place, cannot be effected short of the whole course of life, and through Divine means numberless and unspeakable. Of these means scarcely any are known at the present day, for the reason that man does not suffer himself to be regenerated, nor does he believe regeneration to be anything, because he does not believe in a life after death. The process of regeneration, which includes unspeakable things, makes up the main part of angelic wisdom, and is of such a nature that it cannot be fully exhausted by any angel to eternity. Hence it is that this is the chief subject treated of in the internal sense of the Word.
 That "Ephraim" is the new understanding in the natural, is plain from very many passages in the Word, especially in the prophet Hosea, which treats much of "Ephraim," and in which we read as follows:--
I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me, in that thou hast wholly committed whoredom, O Ephraim, Israel is defiled. Israel and Ephraim shall go to ruin by their iniquity; Judah shall also go to ruin with them. Ephraim shall become a solitude in the day of reproof. And I am as a moth to Ephraim, and as a boring-worm to the house of Judah. And Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, and Ephraim went to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb; and this one could not heal you (Hosea 5:3, 5, 9, 12, 13).
Again in the same prophet:--
When I healed Israel, then was the iniquity of Ephraim unveiled, and the evils of Samaria; for they have wrought a lie; and a thief cometh, and a troop spreadeth itself abroad. And Ephraim was like a silly dove without heart; they called Egypt, they went to Assyria. When they shall go I will spread my net over them (Hosea 7:1, 11, 12).
Israel is swallowed up; now shall they be among the nations as a vessel wherein is no desire; when they went up to Assyria, a wild ass alone; Ephraim winneth him loves with a harlot‘s hire (Hosea 8:8, 9);
Israel shall not dwell in the land of Jehovah, and Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat what is unclean in Assyria (Hosea 9:3);
Ephraim hath compassed me about with a lie, and the house of Israel with deceit; and Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints; Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; every day he multiplieth a lie and wasting, and they make a covenant with the Assyrian, and oil is carried down into Egypt (Hosea 11:12; 12:1);
besides many other passages in the same prophet concerning Ephraim (Hosea 4:17-19; 5:3, 5, 9, 11-14; 7:8, 9; 9:8, 11, 13, 16; 10:6, 11; 11:3, 8, 9; 12:8, 14; 13:1, 12; 14:8).
 In all these passages by "Ephraim" is meant the intellectual of the church, by "Israel" its spiritual, and by "Judah" its celestial; and it is because the intellectual of the church is signified by "Ephraim" that it is so often said of him that he "goes away into Egypt," and "into Assyria;" for by "Egypt" are signified memory-knowledges, and by "Assyria" reasonings from these; both being predicated of the understanding. "Egypt" signifies memory-knowledge, (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 2588, 3325, 4749, 4964, 4966); and also that "Assyria" signifies reason and reasoning, (n. 119, 1186),
 In like manner in the following passages by "Ephraim" is signified the understanding of the church:--
Exult greatly, O daughter of Zion; sound, O daughter of Jerusalem behold thy King cometh to thee. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and I will cut off the battle how; He shall speak peace against the nations; and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. I will bend Judah for Me, I will fill Ephraim with the bow, and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, with thy sons, O Javan (Zech. 9:9, 10, 13);
said of the coming of the Lord and of the church of the Gentiles. "To cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem" denotes to cut off all the understanding of the church; "to fill Ephraim with the bow" denotes to give a new understanding. That a "chariot" signifies what is of doctrine may be seen above (n. 5321), a "horse," what is of the understanding (n. 2760-2762, 3217, 5321); and a "bow" also what is of doctrine (n. 2685, 2686, 2709); for what is of doctrine depends on what is of the understanding, for it is believed as it is understood, the understanding of the doctrine determining the quality of the faith.
 Hence also the sons of Ephraim are called "shooters with the bow," in David:--
The sons of Ephraim, who were armed and shooters with the bow, turned back in the day of battle (Ps. 78:9).
Son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the sons of Israel his companions; then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and of all the house of Israel his companions; afterward join them for thee one to another into one stick, that the two may become one in my hand. Behold I will take the stick of Joseph that is in the hands of Ephraim and of the tribes of Israel his companions, and will add those who are upon it with the stick of Judah, and I will make them one stick, that they may be one in My hand (Ezek. 37:16, 17, 19);
where also by " Judah" is meant the celestial of the church, by "Israel" its spiritual, and by "Ephraim" its intellectual. That these are made one through the good of charity, is signified by one stick being made out of two. A "stick of wood" is the good of charity and consequently the good of works, (n. 1110, 2784, 2812, 3720, 4943),
 In Jeremiah:--
There shall be a day that the watchman from the mountain of Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, let us go up to Zion unto Jehovah our God. I will be a father to Israel, and Ephraim My firstborn is he (Jer. 31:6, 9).
In the same:--
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a calf unaccustomed; turn Thou me, that I may be turned. Is not Ephraim a precious son to Me? is he not a child of delights? For after I have spoken against him, I will surely remember him again (Jer. 31:18, 20).
In the same:--
I will bring back Israel to his habitation, that he may feed in Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be sated in the mountain of Ephraim and in Gilead (Jer. 50:19).
Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower and to the glory of his adornment, which are upon the head of the valley of the fat ones that are troubled with wine (Isa. 28:1).
 In these passages also by "Ephraim" is signified the understanding of the church. The understanding of the church is the understanding the men of the Church have of truths and goods, that is, of the doctrinal things of faith and charity; thus their notion, concept, or idea about them. Truth itself is the spiritual of the church, and good is its celestial; but truth and good are understood differently by different men; such therefore as is the understanding of truth, such is the truth with everyone. It is similar with the understanding of good.
 What the will of the church is that is signified by "Manasseh," may be known from its understanding, which is "Ephraim." It is with the will of the church as with its understanding, namely, that it is varied with each person. "Manasseh" signifies this will in Isaiah:--
In the wrath of Jehovah Zebaoth the land is darkened, and the people is become like food for the fire; no man shall spare his brother; they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: they together are against Judah (Isa. 9:19-21);
where "every man eating the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Ephraim, Manasseh" denotes that the will of the man of the church will be against his understanding, and his understanding against his will.
 In David:--
God hath spoken by His holiness: I will exult, I will divide Shechem, and met’ out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; and Ephraim is the strength of My head (Ps. 60:6, 7).
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up Thy might (Ps. 80:1, 2);
where also "Ephraim" denotes the understanding of the church, and "Manasseh" its will. The same is plain also from the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh by Jacob before his death (Gen. 48:13-20); and also from Jacob‘s accepting Ephraim in place of Reuben, and Manasseh in place of Simeon (Gen. 48:3, 5); for by Reuben was represented the understanding of the church, or faith in the understanding and in doctrine (n. 3861, 3866), and by Simeon, faith in act, or obedience and will to do the truth, from which and by which is charity, and thus truth in act, which is the good of the new will (n. 3869-3872).
 The reason why Jacob, then Israel, blessed Ephraim in preference to Manasseh, by putting his right hand upon the former and his left upon the latter (Gen. 48:13-20), was the same that Jacob had for diverting to himself the birthright of Esau, and the same as in the case of Perez and Zerah the sons of Judah by Tamar, when Zerah, who was the firstborn, came forth after Perez (Gen. 38:28-30). This reason was that the truth of faith, which is of the understanding, is apparently in the first place during man’s regeneration, and then the good of charity, which is of the will, is apparently in the second place; and yet good is actually in the first place, and is manifestly so when the man has been regenerated (n. 3324, 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3701, 4243, 4244, 4247, 4337, 4925, 4926, 4928, 4930, 4977).
AC 5355. For God hath made me fruitful. That this signifies the consequent multiplication of truth from good, is evil dent from the signification of "making fruitful," as being multiplication, namely, of truth from good; for "fruitfulness" is predicated of good, and "multiplication" of truth (n. 43, 55, 913, 983, 1940, 2846, 2847). Hence in the original language "Ephraim" was named from fruitfulness, and his quality is contained in the words, "for God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction." This quality is that truth from good was multiplied in the natural after the temptations suffered there. What the multiplication of truth from good is shall be briefly stated. When man is in good, that is, in love toward the neighbor, he is also in the love of truth; consequently in so far as he is in this good, so far he is affected by truth, for good is in truth as the soul in its body. As therefore good multiplies truth, so it propagates itself; and if it is the good of genuine charity, it propagates itself in truth and by truth indefinitely; for there is no limit to good or to truth. The Infinite is in all things in general and in particular, because they are all from the Infinite; but still the indefinite can never in any way reach the Infinite, because there is no ratio between the finite and the Infinite. In the church today there is rarely any multiplication of truth, for the reason that at this day there is no good of genuine charity. It is believed to be sufficient to know the dogmas of faith of the church in which the man is born, and to confirm them by various means. But one who is in the good of genuine charity, and thence in the affection of truth, is not content with this, but desires to be enlightened from the Word as to what truth is, and to see the truth before he confirms it. Moreover he sees it from good, because the perception of truth is from good; for the Lord is in good, and gives the perception. When a man receives truth in this way, it increases indefinitely. In this respect it is like a little seed, which grows into a tree, and produces other little seeds, which in turn produce a garden, and so on.
AC 5356. In the land of my affliction. That this signifies where temptations were suffered, is evident from the signification of the "land," here the land of Egypt, as being the natural (n. 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301); and from the signification of "affliction," as being temptation (n. 1846). From this it is plain that by "in the land of my affliction" is signified in the natural where temptations were suffered, and consequently that truth from good was multiplied therein. As this fruitfulness or multiplication of truth from good is effected chiefly by means of temptations, it was thus expressed. The reasons why this fruitfulness is effected chiefly by means of temptations, are these. Temptations remove the loves of self and of the world, thus evils; on the removal of which the affection of good and truth flows in from the Lord (n. 5354). Temptations also give quality to the perception of good and truth, by means of the opposite things which evil spirits then infuse; and it is by perceiving opposites that we get relatives, from which comes all quality; for no one knows what is good without also knowing what is not good, nor what is true without knowing what is not true. Temptations also confirm goods and truths, for the man then fights against evils and falsities, and by conquering comes into a stronger affirmative. Moreover by means of temptations evils and falsities are subdued, so that they no longer venture to rise up; and in this way evils with falsities are rejected to the sides, and there hang, but drooping downward; while goods with truths are in the midst, and according to the zeal of affection are lifted upward, thus to heaven toward the Lord, by whom they are lifted up. GENESIS 41:50-52 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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