Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 42:1-5
AC 5398. In this chapter and in those which follow about Joseph and the sons of Jacob, in the internal sense is described the regeneration of the natural as to the truths and goods of the church--that this is not effected by means of memory-knowledges, but by influx from the Divine. At the present day they who are of the church know so little about regeneration that it is scarcely anything. They do not even know that regeneration goes on through the whole course of life of one who is being regenerated, and that it is continued in the other life; or that the arcana of regeneration are so innumerable that scarcely a ten thousandth part of them can be known by the angels, and that those they do know are what effect their intelligence and wisdom. The reason why they who are of the church at this day know so little about regeneration is that they talk so much about remission of sins and about justification, and believe that sins are remitted in a moment, and some that they are wiped away like filth from the body by water, and that man is justified by faith alone or by the confidence of a single moment. The reason why the men of the church so believe is that they do not know what sin or evil is. If they knew this, they would know that sins can by no means be wiped away from anyone, but that when the man is kept in good by the Lord they are separated or rejected to the sides so as not to rise up, and that this cannot be effected unless evil is continually cast out, and this by means which are unlimited in number, and for the most part unutterable.
 Those in the other life who have brought with them the opinion that man is justified in a moment by faith, and wholly cleansed from sins, are astounded when they see that regeneration is effected by means unlimited in number and unutterable, and they then laugh at and call insane the ignorance in which they had been in the world in regard to the instantaneous remission of sins and justification. They are sometimes told that the Lord remits the sins of those who desire it from the heart; yet still they are not thereby separated from the diabolical crew, to whom they are held fast by the evils that attend their life, which they have with them complete. They then learn by experience that to be separated from the hells is to be separated from sins, and that this cannot be done except by thousands upon thousands of ways known to the Lord only, and this--if you will believe it--in a continual succession to eternity. For man is so evil that he cannot to eternity be fully delivered from even one sin, but can only by the mercy of the Lord (if he has received it) be withheld from sin, and kept in good.
 In what manner therefore man receives new life and is regenerated, is contained in the sanctuary of the Word, that is, in its internal sense, chiefly to the end that when the Word is being read by man the angels may thereby be in their happiness of wisdom, and also be at the same time in the delight of serving as means. In this and the following chapters about Joseph’s brethren, the subject treated of in the supreme internal sense is the glorification of the Lord‘s natural, and in the representative sense, the regeneration of the natural in man by the Lord, here as to the truths of the church therein.
AC 5399. Verses 1-5. And Jacob saw that there was produce in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, Why do ye look at one another? And he said, Behold I have heard that there is produce in Egypt; get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; and we shall live, and not die. And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn from Egypt. And Benjamin, Joseph‘s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Peradventure mischief may befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy in the midst of those that came; for the famine was in the land of Canaan. "And Jacob saw," signifies the things which are of faith ("Jacob" signifies the natural as to the truth which is of the church); "that there was produce in Egypt," signifies a disposition to procure truths by means of memory-knowledges, which are "Egypt;" "and Jacob said to his sons," signifies perception regarding truths in general; "Why do ye look at one another?" signifies why did they hesitate; "and he said, Behold I have heard that there is produce in Egypt," signifies that truths can be procured by means of memory-knowledges; "get you down thither, and buy for us from thence," signifies appropriation by means of them; "and we shall live, and not die," signifies spiritual life thereby; "and they went down," signifies endeavor and act; "Joseph’s ten brethren," signifies such truths of the church as corresponded; "to buy corn from Egypt," signifies to appropriate to themselves the good of truth by means of memory-knowledges; "but Benjamin, Joseph‘s brother," signifies the spiritual of the celestial, which is the intermediate; "Jacob sent not with his brethren," signifies that they were without this intermediate; "for he said, Peradventure mischief may befall him," signifies that without the celestial of the spiritual, which is "Joseph," it would perish; "and the sons of Israel came to buy in the midst of those that came," signifies that it desired that spiritual truths, like all others, should be procured by means of memory-knowledges; "for the famine was in the land of Canaan," signifies that there was desolation as to the things of the church in the natural.
AC 5400. And he saw. That this signifies the things which are of faith, is evident from the signification of "seeing," as being the things which are of faith (n. 897, 2325, 2807, 3863, 3869, 4403-4421). For spiritual sight abstracted from such things as are of the world is nothing else than a perception of truth, or of the things of faith; and therefore in the internal sense nothing else is signified by "seeing." For the internal sense comes forth when the things of the world are removed, because the internal sense relates to such things as are of heaven. The light of heaven, by which is sight there, is Divine truth from the Lord, which appears before the eyes of the angels as light, a thousand times brighter than the midday light in the world; and as this light has life in it, therefore at the same time that it illumines the eyesight of the angels, it illumines also the sight of their understanding, and causes a perception of truth in accordance with the amount and quality of the good in which they are. As in the internal sense of this chapter are described the things of faith, or the truths of the church, therefore at the very beginning of the chapter it is said that "he saw;" and by his "seeing" are signified the things of faith.
AC 5401. Jacob. That this signifies the natural as to the truth which is of the church, is evident from the representation of Jacob, as being the doctrine of truth in the natural, and in the supreme sense the Lord’s natural as to truth (n. 3305, 3509, 3525, 3546, 3599, 4009, 4538).
AC 5402. That there was produce in Egypt. That this signifies a disposition to procure truths by means of memory-knowledges which are "Egypt," is evident from the signification of "produce," as being the truths of the church, or the truths which are of faith. "Abundance of produce" denotes the multiplication of truth, (n. 5276, 5280, 5292); and from the signification of "Egypt," as being memory-knowledges (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462), and in the genuine sense the memory-knowledges of the church (n. 4749, 4964, 4966). That a disposition to procure these things is involved, is plain from what presently follows. By the memory-knowledges of the church, which here are "Egypt," are meant all knowledges of truth and good, before they have been conjoined with the interior man, or through the interior man with heaven, and thus through heaven with the Lord. The doctrinals of the church and its rituals, as also the knowledges of what spiritual things these represent and how, and the like, are nothing but memory-knowledges until the man has seen from the Word whether they are true, and in this way has made them his own.
 There are two ways of procuring the truths which are of faith--by means of doctrinal things, and by means of the Word. When man procures them only by doctrinal things, he then has faith in those who have drawn them from the Word, and he confirms them in himself to be true because others have said so; thus he does not believe them from his own faith, but from that of others. But when he procures them for himself from the Word, and thereby confirms them in himself to be true, he then believes them because they are from the Divine, and thus believes them from faith given from the Divine. Everyone who is within the church first procures the truths which are of faith from doctrinal things, and also must so procure them, because he has not yet sufficient strength of judgment to enable him to see them himself from the Word; but in this case these truths are to him nothing but memory-knowledges. But when he is able to view them from his own judgment, if he then does not consult the Word in order to see from it whether they are true, they remain in him as memory-knowledges; while if he does consult the Word from the affection and end of knowing truths, he then, when he has found them, procures for himself the things of faith from the genuine fountain, and they are appropriated to him from the Divine. These and other like things are what are here treated of in the internal sense; for "Egypt" denotes these memory-knowledges, and "Joseph" is truth from the Divine, thus truth from the Word.
AC 5403. And Jacob said to his sons. That this signifies perception regarding truths in general, is evident from the signification of "saying," in the historicals of the Word, as being perception (n. 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822, 1898, 1919, 2080, 2619, 2862, 3395, 3509); and from the signification of "sons," as being the truths of faith (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373, 4257); and because they were the sons of Jacob, truths in general are signified; for by Jacob‘s twelve sons, as by the twelve tribes, were signified all things of faith, thus truths in general (n. 2129, 2130, 3858, 3862, 3926, 3939, 4060).
AC 5404. Why do ye look at one another? That this signifies why did they hesitate, may be seen without explication.
AC 5405. And he said, Behold I have heard that there is produce in Egypt. That this signifies that truths can be procured by means of memory-knowledges, may be seen from what was unfolded just above (n. 5402), where it was shown that by there being "produce in Egypt" is signified a disposition to procure truths by means of memory-knowledges, which are "Egypt," and also what is meant by the memory-knowledges, which are "Egypt." "Produce" is here expressed in the original language by a word that means "breaking," and by a similar word are also meant "buying" and "selling" where it is said that Jacob’s sons "bought" it in Egypt, and that Joseph "sold" it there. The reason of this is that in the Ancient Church bread was broken when it was given to another, and by this was signified to communicate good from one‘s own, and (at the same time) to appropriate it from one’s own, thus to make love mutual. For when bread is broken and given to another it is communicated from one‘s own; or when bread is broken among several, then the one piece of bread becomes a mutual possession, and consequently there is conjunction through charity. From this it is plain that the breaking of bread was significative of mutual love.
 As this rite was accepted and customary in the Ancient Church, therefore the "breaking" itself meant produce that was made common. That "bread" is the good of love may be seen above (n. 276, 680, 1798, 2165, 2177, 3464, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735, 4976). It was for this reason that the Lord brake the bread when He gave it, as in Matthew:--
Jesus took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and brake and gave the bread to the disciples (Matthew 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16).
In the same:--
Jesus took the seven loaves and the fishes; and He gave thanks and brake, and gave to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude (Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6).
Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and He gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19).
It came to pass when the Lord was reclining with them, He took the bread, and blessed it and brake and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him. And the disciples told how the Lord was known of them in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:30, 31, 35).
This is the fast that I choose, to break thy bread to the hungry (Isa. 58:6, 7).
AC 5406. Get you down thither, and buy for us from thence. That this signifies appropriation by means of them, is evident from the signification of "going down," as being said of going toward exterior things; and from the signification of "buying," as being appropriation (n. 4397, 5374); that this is effected by means of memory-knowledges is signified by "from thence," that is, from Egypt. "Egypt" denotes memory-knowledges. In the Word we often read of "going up" and "going down," when going from one place to another is spoken of--not because one place was more elevated than the other, but because "going up" is predicated of going toward what is interior or higher, and "going down" of going toward what is exterior or lower; that is to say "going up" is predicated of going toward spiritual and celestial things, for these are interior, and are also believed to be higher, and "going down" is predicated of going toward natural and earthly things, for these are exterior and are also in appearance lower. For this reason it is that not only here but also everywhere else in the Word, we read of "going down" from the land of Canaan to Egypt, and of "going up" from Egypt to the land of Canaan; for by the "land of Canaan" is signified what is heavenly, and by "Egypt" what is natural. For the land of Canaan in the representative sense is the heavenly kingdom, and consequently celestial and spiritual goods and truths, which also are interiorly in the man who is a kingdom of the Lord; while Egypt in the representative sense is the natural kingdom, and consequently the goods and truths which are of the external church, and are for the most part memory-knowledges. "Going up" is predicated of going toward interior things, (n. 4539).
AC 5407. And we shall live, and not die. That this signifies spiritual life, is evident from the signification of "living and not dying," as being spiritual life, because nothing else is signified in the internal sense by "living and not dying." For in the other world by "life" is signified in general heaven, and in particular eternal happiness; and by "death" is signified in general hell, and in particular eternal unhappiness there, as in plain from many passages in the Word. That heaven in general and eternal happiness in particular is called "life," is because the wisdom of good and the intelligence of truth are there; and in the wisdom of good and the intelligence of truth is life from the Lord, from whom is the all of life. But because in hell there is the contrary--evil in place of good and falsity in place of truth, thus the extinction of spiritual life--therefore in hell relatively there is death; for spiritual death is evil and falsity, and in man it is to will evil, and thence to think falsity. Evil genii and spirits are unwilling to hear it said of them that they do not live, or that they are dead; for they say that they have life because they are able to will and to think. But they are told that as life is in good and truth, it cannot possibly be in evil and falsity, for these are contrary.
AC 5408. And they went down. That this signifies endeavor and act, namely to procure and appropriate truths to themselves by means of memory-knowledges, is plain from the signification of "going down," namely, to Egypt, as being both the endeavor and the act.
AC 5409. Joseph’s ten brethren. That this signifies such truths of the church as corresponded, is evident from the signification of "brethren," as being the truths which are of the church. It is from the correspondence that these are called the "brethren" of Joseph, who is truth from the Divine; for the correspondence causes them to be conjoined as brother with brother. By the "sons of Jacob" are signified all things of faith, or the truths of the church in general (n. 5403); and the same are signified by "Joseph‘s brethren," but from the correspondence. By the ten sons of Jacob by Leah are signified the truths of the external church, and by the two sons of Jacob by Rachel are signified the truths of the internal church, as is plain from what has been shown concerning Leah and Rachel, that "Leah" is the affection of exterior truth, and "Rachel" the affection of interior truth (n. 3758, 3782, 3793, 3819). That the internal and the external of the church are "brothers," may be seen above (n. 1222). The Lord Himself calls "brethren" the derivative truths and goods in correspondence through charity and faith, that is, those who are in truths and the derivative good; as in Matthew:--
The King shall say unto them, Verily I say unto you, in so far as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me (Matthew 25:40).
And in another passage:--
Jesus answered them, saying, Who is My mother, or My brethren? And looking round about He said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and My mother (Mark 3:33-35; Matt. 12:49; Luke 8:21).
AC 5410. To buy corn from Egypt. That this signifies to appropriate to themselves the good of truth by means of memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "buying," as being to appropriate (n. 4397, 5374, 5406); from the signification of "corn," as being the good of truth (n. 5295); and from the signification of "Egypt," as being memory-knowledges (n. 5402).
AC 5411. And Benjamin, Joseph’s brother. That this signifies the spiritual of the celestial, which is the intermediate is evident from the representation of Benjamin, as being the spiritual of the celestial (n. 4592); and also that the spiritual of the celestial is the intermediate. In general it should be known that the internal cannot have communication with the external, and the converse, unless there is an intermediate; consequently that truth from the Divine, which is "Joseph," cannot have communication with truths in general in the natural, which are the "sons of Jacob," without the intermediate represented by Benjamin, and called the "spiritual of the celestial." An intermediate, to be such, must partake of both the internal and the external. The reason why there must be an intermediate is that the internal and the external are most distinct from each other, and so distinct that they can be separated, just as man‘s ultimate external, which is the body, is separated when he dies from his internal, which is his spirit. The external dies when the intermediate is sundered, and the external lives when the intermediate is between; and just so far and in such a way does the external live, as is the intermediate between. As Jacob’s sons were without Benjamin (that is, without the intermediate), therefore Joseph could not manifest himself to his brethren; and for the same reason spoke hardly to them, calling them spies, and putting them in custody; and for the same reason also they did not know Joseph.
 But what is the nature of this intermediate represented by Benjamin and called the spiritual of the celestial, cannot be described so as to be apprehended, for there is a want of knowledge about the celestial of the spiritual, which is "Joseph," and about the truths of the church in so far as they are only memory-knowledges, which are the "sons of Jacob;" hence also about the spiritual of the celestial, which is "Benjamin." But in heaven the nature of this intermediate appears as in clear day, being there shown in the light of heaven, in which at the same time is perception by means of unutterable representatives; for the light of heaven is intelligence itself from the Divine, and from it there is perceptive power in regard to every thing that is represented by means of this light. This is not the case with the world‘s light, which has nothing of intelligence in it; but by its means understanding is induced by the influx of the light of heaven into it, and at the same time by the influx of the perception that is in the light of heaven. Hence it is that man is so far in the light of heaven as he is in intelligence, and that he is so far in intelligence as he is in the truths of faith, and that he is so far in the truths of faith as he is in the good of love; consequently that man is so far in the light of heaven as he is in the good of love.
AC 5412. Jacob sent not with his brethren. That this signifies that they were without this intermediate, may be seen from what has just now been said.
AC 5413. For he said, Peradventure mischief may befall him. That this signifies that without the celestial of the spiritual which is "Joseph," it would perish, is evident from the signification of "mischief befalling," as here being to perish. This was said by the father because he loved him, and feared lest he should perish among his brethren, like Joseph; but these same words were adduced and received in the Word on account of the internal sense, which is, that with its externals only, without the internal, the intermediate would perish; for the intermediate is "Benjamin," the externals are the "sons of Jacob," and the internal is "Joseph." Every intermediate perishes when it has only the external things without the internal, because it comes into existence from the internal, and hence also subsists from it; for it comes into existence by the internal’s looking into the external from the affection and end of associating the external with itself. Thus the intermediate is conjoined with the internal, and from the internal with the external, but not with the external without the internal. From this it is plain that the intermediate would perish if it were with the external alone without the internal. Moreover it is a general law, as well of the things of the spiritual world as of those of the natural world, that a thing can subsist with its prior, but not without this with its posterior, and that it would perish if it were with this alone. The reason is that everything without connection with what is prior to itself is without connection with the First, from whom is all coming into existence, and subsistence.
AC 5414. And the sons of Israel came to buy among those that came. That this signifies that it desired that like all other truths, spiritual truths should be procured by means of memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of the "sons of Israel," as being spiritual truths. "Sons" are truths, (n. 5403); and "Israel" is the celestial spiritual man from the natural, (n. 4286, 4570, 4598); thus the "sons of Israel" are spiritual truths in the natural; from the signification of "buying," as being to be procured; and from the signification of "in the midst of those that came," as being like all other truths, that is, in that they are procured by means of memory-knowledges.
AC 5415. For the famine was in the land of Canaan. That this signifies that there was desolation as to the things of the church in the natural, is evident from the signification of "famine," as being a lack of knowledges, and the consequent desolation (n. 3364, 5277, 5279, 5281, 5300, 5349, 5360, 5376); and from the signification of the "land of Canaan," as being the church (n. 3686, 3705, 4447); and because it is the church, it is also that which is of the church. Hence it is that by the "famine being in the land of Canaan" is signified desolation as to the things of the church. That the desolation was in the natural, is because these things are predicated of the sons of Jacob, by whom are signified the things of the external church (n. 5409), consequently those of the church in the natural. GENESIS 42:1-5 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|