Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 43:11-14
AC 5615. Verses 11-14. And their father Israel said unto them, If therefore this be so, do this; take of the song of the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little resin and a little honey, wax and stacte, terebinth nuts and almonds; and take double silver in your hand; and the silver that was returned in the mouth of your bags carry back in your hand; peradventure it was an error; and take your brother, and arise, and return into the man; and God Shaddai give you mercies before the man, and send you your other brother and Benjamin. And I, as I have been bereaved I shall be bereaved. "And their father Israel said unto them," signifies perception from spiritual good; "If therefore this be so, do this," signifies if it cannot be done otherwise, so let it be done; "take of the song of the land in your vessels," signifies the choice things of the church in the truths of faith; "and carry down the man a present," signifies to obtain favor; "a little resin and a little honey," signifies the truths of good of the exterior natural, and its delight; "wax and stacte," signifies the truths of good of the interior natural; "terebinth nuts and almonds," signifies goods of life corresponding to these truths; "and take double silver in your hands," signifies truth received in the abilities; "and the silver that was returned in the mouth of your bags carry back in your hand," signifies that by truth gratuitously given in the exterior natural they were to submit themselves as far as possible; "peradventure it was an error," signifies lest he be adverse; "and take your brother," signifies that thus they would have the good of faith; "and arise, and return unto the man," signifies life from spiritual truth; "and God Shaddai," signifies consolation after hardships; "give you mercies before the man," signifies may spiritual truth receive you graciously; "and send you your other brother," signifies may it give the good of faith; "and Benjamin," signifies and also interior truth; "and I, as I have been bereaved I shall be bereaved," signifies that the church, before these things are done, will be as if deprived of its truths.
AC 5616. And their father Israel said unto thee. That this signifies perception from spiritual good, is evident from the signification of "saying" in the historicals of the Word, as being perception; and from the representation of Israel, as being spiritual good (n. 5595). He is called "father" because the truths that his sons represent are from this good as from a father.
AC 5617. If therefore this be so, do this. That this signifies that if it cannot be done otherwise so let it be done, is evident without explication.
AC 5618. Take of the song of the land in your vessels. That this signifies the choice things of the church in the truths of faith, is evident from the signification of the "song," as being the choice things; and from the signification of the "land," as being the church (n. 5577); and from the signification of "vessels," as being the truths of faith (n. 3068, 309, 3316, 3318). The word "song" is used because this word in the original tongue is derived from singing; hence the "song of the land" signifies productions hailed with songs and praises, consequently in the internal sense choice things.
AC 5619. And carry down the man a present. That this signifies obtaining favor, is evident from the signification of "offering a present to the man," here to Joseph, who is called the "lord of the land," as being to obtain favor. It was customary in the Ancient representative Church, and thence in the Jewish, to give some present to judges, and at a later period to kings and priests, when they were approached, moreover this was commanded. The reason was that the presents they gave them represented such things in man as ought to be offered to the Lord when He is approached, which are things that are from freedom, consequently from the man himself; for his freedom is what is from the heart, and what is from the heart is from the will, and what is from the will is from the affection which is of the love, and what is from the affection which is of the love is free, thus of the man himself (n. 1947, 2870-2893, 3158). From this it is that a present should be given by man to the Lord on approaching Him. It was this present that was represented; for kings represented the Lord as to Divine truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670, 4581, 4966, 5044), and priests as to Divine good (n. 1728, 2015, 3670). That these presents were initiations, (n. 4262); and initiations are for obtaining favor.
AC 5620. A little resin and a little honey. That this signifies the truths of good of the exterior natural and its delight, is evident from the signification of "resin," as being the truth of good or truth from good (n. 4748). The reason why "resin" has this signification is that it ranks among unguents, and also among aromatics. "Aromatics" signify such things as are of truth from good, especially if they are of an unctuous nature, and so partake of oil; for "oil" signifies good (n. 886, 3728, 4582). That this resin was aromatic, may be seen in (Gen. 37:25); and for this reason also the same word in the original means balsam. That it was like an ointment, or thick oil, is evident. This then is the reason why by "resin" is signified the truth of good which is in the natural, here in the exterior, because resin" is put first and joined with "honey," which is the delight therein. That "honey" denotes delight is because it is sweet, and everything sweet in the natural world corresponds to what is delightful and pleasant in the spiritual world. The reason why it is called its delight, that is, the delight of truth from good in the exterior natural, is that every truth and especially every truth of good has its own delight; but a delight from the affection of these, and from the derivative use.
 That "honey" is delight is evident also from other passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:--
A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us). Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good (Isa 7:14, 15);
speaking of the Lord; "butter" denotes the celestial; "honey," +hat which is from the celestial.
 In the same:--
It shall come to pass for the multitude of milk that they shall yield, he shall eat butter; and butter and honey shall everyone eat that is left in the midst of the land (Isa. 7:22);
speaking of the Lord‘s kingdom; "milk" denotes spiritual good; "butter," celestial good; and "honey," that which is from them, thus what is happy, pleasant, and delightful.
 In Ezekiel:--
Thus wast thou adorned with gold and silver; and thy garments were of fine linen and silk and broidered work. Thou didst eat fine flour and honey and oil; so thou becamest beautiful very exceedingly, and thou didst prosper even unto a kingdom. With fine flour and oil and honey I fed thee; but thou didst set it before them for an odor of rest (Ezek. 16:13, 19);
speaking of Jerusalem, by which is meant the spiritual church, the quality of which is described as it was With the ancients, and as it afterward became. Her being "adorned with gold and silver" denotes with celestial and spiritual good and truth; her "garments of fine linen, silk, and broidered work" denotes truths in the rational and in each natural; "fine flour" denotes the spiritual; "honey," its pleasantness; and "oil,’ its good. That such things as belong to heaven are signified by these particulars can be seen by anyone.
 In the same:--
Judah and the land of Israel were thy traders, in wheat of Minnith, and pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm (Ezek. 27:17);
speaking of Tyre, by which is signified the spiritual church such as it was in the beginning and such as it afterward became, but in respect to the knowledges of good and truth (n. 1201). "Honey" here also denotes the pleasantness and delight from the affections of knowing and learning celestial and spiritual goods and truths.
 In Moses:--
Thou makest him ride on the high places of the earth, and he eats the produce of the fields. He maketh him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flint of the rock (Deut. 32:13);
here also treating of the Ancient spiritual Church; "to suck honey out of the rock" denotes delight from truths of memory-knowledge.
 In David:--
I feed them with the fat of wheat, and with honey out of the rock I sate them (Ps. 81:16);
"to sate with honey out of the rock" denotes to fill with delight from the truths of faith.
 In Deuteronomy:--
Jehovah bringeth me unto a good land, a land of rivers of water, of fountains and of deeps that go out from the valley, and from the mountain; a land of wheat and barley, and of vine and of fig and of pomegranate; a land of oil olive and of honey (Deut. 8:7, 8);
speaking of the land of Canaan; in the internal sense, of the Lord‘s kingdom in the heavens. A "land of oil olive and of honey" denotes spiritual good and its pleasantness.
 Hence also the land of Canaan was called A land flowing with milk and honey (Num. 13:27; 14:8; Deut. 26:9, 15; 27:3; Jer. 11:5; 32:22; Ezek. 20:6). In the internal sense of these passages by the "land of Canaan" is meant, as before said, the Lord’s kingdom; "flowing with milk" denotes an abundance of celestial spiritual things; and "with honey," an abundance of derivative happiness and delights.
 In David:--
The judgments of Jehovah are truth, righteous are they together; more to be desired are they than gold and much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the dropping of the honeycombs (Ps. 19:9, 10);
the "judgments of Jehovah" denote truth Divine; "sweeter than honey and the dropping of the honeycombs" denotes delights from good and pleasantnesses from truth. Again:--
Sweet are Thy words to my palate, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Ps. 119:103);
where the meaning is similar.
 The manna that Jacob‘s posterity had for bread in the wilderness is thus described in Moses:--
The manna was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like a cake kneaded with honey (Exod. 16:31);
as the manna signified the truth Divine that descends through heaven from the Lord, it consequently signified the Lord Himself as to the Divine Human, as He Himself teaches in (John 6:51, 58); for it is the Lord’s Divine Human from which all truth Divine comes, yea, of which all truth Divine treats; and this being so, the manna is described in respect to delight and pleasantness by the taste, that it was "like a cake kneaded with honey." The taste denotes the delight of good and the pleasantness of truth, (n. 3502),
 As John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, which is the Divine truth on earth, in like manner as Elijah (n. 2762, 5247), he was therefore the "Elijah who was to come" before the Lord (Mal. 4:5; Matt. 17:10-12; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:17); wherefore his clothing and food were significative, of which we read in Matthew:--
John had his clothing of camel‘s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loin; and his meat was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).
The "clothing of camel’s hair" signified that the Word, such as is its literal sense as to truth (which sense is a clothing for the internal sense), is natural; for what is natural is signified by "hair," and also by "camels;" and the "meat being of locusts and wild honey" signified the Word such as is its literal sense as to good; the delight of this is signified by "wild honey."
 The delight of truth Divine in respect to the external sense is also described by "honey" in Ezekiel:--
He said unto me, Son of man, feed thy belly and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. And when I ate it, it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness (Ezek. 3:3).
And in John:--
The angel said unto me, Take the little book and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. So I took the little book out of the angel‘s hand and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; but when I had eaten it my belly was made bitter. Then he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings (Rev. 10:9-11).
The "roll" in Ezekiel, and the "little book" in John, denote truth Divine. That in the external form this appears delightful, is signified by the flavor being "sweet as honey;" for truth Divine, like the Word, is delightful in the external form or in the literal sense because this admits of being unfolded by interpretations in everyone’s favor. But not so the internal sense, which is therefore signified by the "bitter" taste; for this sense discloses man‘s interiors. The reason why the external sense is delightful, is as before said that the things in it can be unfolded favorably; for they are only general truths, and general truths are susceptible of this before they are qualified by particulars, and these by singulars. It is delightful also because it is natural, and what is spiritual conceals itself within. Moreover it must be delightful in order that man may receive it, that is, be introduced into it, and not be deterred at the very threshold.
 The "honeycomb and broiled fish" that the Lord ate with the disciples after His resurrection, also signified the external sense of the Word (the "fish" as to its truth and the "honeycomb" as to its pleasantness), in regard to which we read in Luke:--
Jesus said, Have ye here anything to eat? They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb, and He took them and did eat before them (Luke 24:41-43).
And because these things are signified, the Lord therefore said to them:--
These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me (Luke 24:44).
It appears as if such things were not signified, because their having a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb seems as if fortuitous; nevertheless it was of providence, and not only this, but also all other, even the least, of the things that occur in the Word. As such things were signified, therefore the Lord said of the Word that in it were written the things concerning Himself. Yet the things written of the Lord in the literal sense of the Old Testament are few; but those in its internal sense are all so written, for from this is the holiness of the Word. This is what is meant by His saying that "all things must be fulfilled which are written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Him."
 From all this it may now be seen that by "honey" is signified the delight that is from good and truth, or from the affection of them, and that there is specifically signified external delight, thus the delight of the exterior natural. As this delight is of such a nature as to be from the world through the things of the senses, and thereby contains within it many things from the love of the world, the use of honey in the meat-offerings was therefore forbidden, as in Leviticus:--
No meat-offering which ye shall bring unto Jehovah shall be made with leaven; for there shall be no leaven, nor any honey, from what ye burn with fire to Jehovah (Lev. 2:11);
where "honey" denotes such external delight, which, because it contains in it what partakes of the love of the world, was also like leaven, and was on this account forbidden. What "leaven" or "leavened" means, see (n. 2342),
AC 5621. Wax and stacte. That this signifies the truths of good of the interior natural, is evident from the signification of "wax," here aromatic wax, as being the truth of good; and from the signification of "stacte," as also being truth from good (n. 4748). Their being of the interior natural is because these spices are purer than resin and honey, and are therefore mentioned in the second place; for such particulars are enumerated in the Word in accordance with the order. By "wax" here is not meant common, but aromatic wax, such as storax. This wax is signified by the term used in the original language, and spice also by the same. Hence it is plain why this aromatic wax signifies the truth of good; for all spices, being sweet-scented, in the internal sense signify the truths which are from good. This may be seen from the fact that truths from good are perceived in heaven pleasantly, like sweet-scented things in the world; and therefore when the perceptions of the angels are turned into odors, as of the Lord’s good pleasure often happens, they are then smelt as fragrances from spices and from flowers. This is the reason why frankincense and incense were compounded of materials of grateful odor, and were employed for a holy use; and also why aromatics were mixed with the anointing oil. One who does not know that such things derive their cause from things perceived in heaven, may be of the opinion that they were commanded merely to render outward worship grateful; but in that case there would be in them nothing of heaven, or nothing holy, and consequently such matters of worship would not have anything Divine in them. Frankincense and incense, and also the fragrant substances used in the anointing oil, were representative of spiritual and celestial things, (n. 4748); and the spheres of faith and love are turned into grateful odors, and therefore grateful and sweet-scented and also spicy odors signify truths of faith which are from the good of love, (n. 1514, 1517-1519, 4628),
AC 5622. Terebinth nuts and almonds. That this signifies goods of life corresponding to these truths, is evident from the signification of "terebinth nuts," as being goods of life corresponding to the truths of good of the exterior natural which are signified by "resin"; and from the signification of "almonds," as being goods of life corresponding to the truths of good of the interior natural which are signified by "aromatic wax and stacte." That these "nuts" have this signification is because they are fruits, and "fruits" in the Word signify works; the fruits of useful trees good works, or what is the same, goods of the life, for in respect to use the goods of life and good works. That "terebinth nuts" signify goods of life corresponding to truths of good of the exterior natural, is because they are of a less noble tree; and things that are exterior are signified by such objects as are less noble. The reason is, that in themselves exterior things are grosser than interior; for they are generals composed of very many interior things.
 That "almonds" signify goods of life corresponding to the truths of good of the interior natural, is because the almond is a nobler tree. This tree itself signifies in the spiritual sense a perception of interior truth which is from good, its "blossom" interior truth which is from good, and its "fruit" good of life thence derived. In this sense the "almond tree" is spoken of in Jeremiah:--
The word of Jehovah came to pass, saying, Jeremiah what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou hast well seen; for I wake over My word to do it (Jer. 1:11, 12);
a "rod" denotes power; "almond tree," the perception of interior truth; here, being predicated of Jehovah, it denotes waking over it; "word" denotes truth.
 By the "almonds which budded from the rod of Aaron for the tribe of Levi," are also signified goods of charity or goods of life, of which we read in Moses:--
It came to pass on the morrow, when Moses entered into the tent of meeting, behold the rod of Aaron for the tribe of Levi had blossomed and brought forth blossom, so that the flower flowered, and bare almonds (Num. 17:8).
This was a sign that this tribe was chosen for the priesthood; for by the "the tribe of Levi" was signified charity (n. 3875, 3877, 4497, 4502, 4503), which is the essential of the spiritual church.
AC 5623. And take double silver in your hands. That this signifies truth received in the abilities, is evident from the signification of "silver," as being truth (n. 1551, 2954) and from the signification of "double," as being again in succession (n. 1335), namely truth which was gratuitously bestowed on them, and which was to be bestowed on them again; and from the signification of "hands," as being abilities (n. 878, 3387, 4931-4937, 5327, 5328). Truth in the abilities means in the capacities for receiving it, thus according to the capacities. But the capacities or abilities for receiving truth are wholly according to good, because the Lord adjoins them to good; for when the Lord flows in with good He also flows in with capacity. Hence truth received in the abilities means according to goods. That the capacities for receiving truth are according to good is evident from much experience in the other life. They who are in good there have the capacity not only for perceiving truth, but also for receiving it, yet according to the amount and quality of the good in which they are. But they who are in evil have on the other hand no capacity for receiving truth. This comes from pleasure and consequent desire. They who are in good have pleasure in perfecting good by means of truth, because good takes its quality from truths; and therefore they desire truths. But they who are in evil have pleasure in evil, and in confirming it by falsities, and therefore they desire falsities; and because they desire falsities they are averse to truths. For this reason they have no capacity for receiving truths, for they reject or stifle or pervert them as soon as they reach the ear or occur to the thought. Besides, every man who is of sound mind has a capacity for receiving truths; but they extinguish this capacity who turn to evil, and they exalt it who turn to good.
AC 5624. And the silver that was returned in the mouth of your bags carry back in your hand. That this signifies that by means of the truth given gratuitously in the exterior natural they were to submit themselves as far as possible, is evident from the signification of the "silver returned," as being truth given gratuitously (n. 5530); from the signification of "in the mouth of their bags," as being in the threshold of the exterior natural (n. 5497); and from the signification of "in the hand," as being in the ability (n. 5623), thus as far as possible. Their submitting themselves by means of this truth is signified by their "carrying it back;" for in the spiritual world to carry back truth to the Lord, from whom it has been received gratuitously, is to submit one‘s self by means of it. But the manner in which they submitted themselves by its means is plain from the conversation with the man who was over Joseph’s house (verses 18-24).
AC 5625. Peradventure it was an error. That this signifies lest he be adverse, is evident from the signification of an "error," as being what is adverse, for the error here meant is as if they had forgotten to pay the silver and so were taking it back, everyone in his own sack; for which reason he might possibly be adverse to them, as they also believed; for they were afraid because they were brought to Joseph‘s house, and said, "Upon the word of the silver that was returned in our bags in the beginning are we brought, to roll down upon us, and to throw himself upon us, and to take us for servants, and our asses" (verse 18). Moreover "sin" signifies disjunction and aversion (n. 5229, 5474); and so does "error" if there is sin in it, but in a less degree; wherefore it is said "lest he be adverse."
AC 5626. And take your brother. That this signifies that in this way they would have the good of faith, is evident from the representation of Simeon, who is here the "brother" whom they were to take, as being faith in the will (n. 3869-3872, 4497, 4502, 4503, 5482), thus the good of faith, because when the truth of faith passes into the will it becomes the good of faith; for the truth then passes into the man’s life, and when it is there it is regarded not as something to be known, but as something to be done; consequently it changes its essence and becomes actual. Hence it is no longer called truth, but good.
AC 5627. And arise, return unto the man. That this signifies life from spiritual truth, is evident from the signification of "arising," as being elevation to things interior, consequently to spiritual things (n. 2401, 2785, 2912, 2927, 3171, 4103, 4881); from the signification of "returning," as being the consequent life (n. 5614); and from the representation of Joseph, when called "the man," as being spiritual truth (n. 5584).
AC 5628. And God Shaddai. That this signifies consolation after hardships, is evident from the signification of "Shaddai," as being temptation and consolation after it (n. 1992, 4572); here therefore consolation after the hardships they had suffered in Egypt. That it is consolation after hardships is plain also from the words that follow in continuance-" give you mercies before the man." That "Shaddai" signifies temptation and consolation after it, is because the ancients designated the One Only God by various names, according to the various things that were from Him; and as they believed that temptations were from Him, they then called God "Shaddai," and by this name they did not mean another God, but the Only One in respect to temptations. But when the Ancient Church declined, they began to worship as many gods as there were names for the One Only God, and also of themselves added to them many more. This practice at last became so prevalent that every family had its own god, and they wholly distinguished him from the rest who were worshiped by other families.
 Terah‘s family, of which was Abraham, worshiped Shaddai for its god (n. 1356, 1992, 2559, 3667); and hence not only Abraham, but Jacob also, acknowledged Shaddai as his god, even in the land of Canaan; and this was permitted them lest they should be forced from their own religiosity; for no one is forced from what he regards as holy. But as the ancients understood by "Shaddai" Jehovah Himself, or the Lord, who was so styled when they underwent temptations, therefore Jehovah or the Lord regained this name with Abraham, as is plain from (Gen. 17:1), and also with Jacob, (Gen. 35:11). The reason why not merely temptation, but consolation also, is signified by " Shaddai," is that consolation follows all spiritual temptations. This has been given me to know by experience in the other life; for when anyone there suffers hard things from evil spirits, through infestations, incitements to evils, and persuasions to falsities, after the evil spirits have been removed, he is received by angels, and is brought into a state of comfort by means of a delight conformable to his genius.
AC 5629. Give you mercies before the man. That this signifies, may spiritual truth receive you graciously, is evident from the signification of "giving mercies," as being to receive graciously; and from the representation of Joseph, as being when called "the man," spiritual truth (n. 5627).
AC 5630. And send you your other brother. That this signifies, may it give the good of faith, is evident from the representation of Simeon, who is here the "other brother," as being the good of faith (n. 5626). That "sending" denotes to give is because "sending" is used in reference to the person, and "giving" in reference to the thing signified by the person.
AC 5631. And Benjamin. That this signifies, and also interior truth, is evident from the representation of Benjamin, as being interior truth (n. 5600).
AC 5632. And I, as I had been bereaved, I shall be bereaved. That this signifies that before these things are done the church will be deprived of its truths, is evident from the representation of Israel, who says this of himself, as being the church (n. 3305, 4286); and from the signification of being bereaved," as being to be deprived of the truths of the church (n. 5536). That this is so before these things are done is plain, for if there is no good of faith which is represented by Simeon (n. 5630), and no interior truth, which is the intermediate represented by Benjamin, the church has not any truth, except such as is on the lips merely, and not in the heart. GENESIS 43:11-14 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|