Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 45:6-8
AC 5891. Verses 6-8. For this two years the famine is in the midst of the land; and there are yet five years wherein is no plowing and harvest. And God sent me before you to put for you remains in the land, and to make you live for a great escape. And now not you have sent me hither, but God; and He hath set me for a father to Pharaoh, and for lord to all his house, and I rule in all the land of Egypt. "For this," signifies that this is the case; "two years the famine is in the midst of the land," signifies a state of lack of good in the natural mind; "and there are yet five years," signifies the duration of this state until remains shine forth; "wherein is no plowing and harvest," signifies that meanwhile good and the derivative truth will not appear; "and God sent me before you," signifies that it was determined by the Divine providence; "to put for you remains in the land," signifies the midst and inmost of the church; "and to make you live," signifies spiritual life thence for truths in the natural; "for a great escape," signifies deliverance from damnation. "And now not you have sent me hither," signifies that they had not dismissed to the memory-knowledges which are of the natural; "but God," signifies that the Divine did this; "and He hath set me for a father to Pharaoh," signifies that now the natural is from him; "and for lord to all his house," signifies that from him is everything in the natural; "and I rule in all the land of Egypt," signifies that he arranges the memory-knowledges therein.
AC 5892. For this. That this signifies that this is the case, is evident without explication, for it is an expression which refers to what goes before and what follows.
AC 5893. Two years the famine is in the midst of the land. That this signifies a state of good in the natural mind, is evident from the signification of "years," as being states (n. 487, 488, 493, 893); from the signification of "famine," as being a lack of good (for "bread" in the spiritual sense is the good of love, and "food" is the good of truth, and therefore "famine" is a lack of good, and "thirst" is a lack of truth); and from the signification of "in the midst of the land," namely, of Egypt, as being the natural mind (n. 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301). It is said "in the midst" because the "midst" is the inmost (n. 1074, 2940, 2973), where good is. "Two years" denotes a state of the conjunction of good and truth, because "two" signifies conjunction (n. 5194), here not yet conjunction, because they are two years of famine.
 The case herein is this. There must be truths in the natural mind in order that good may work, and the truths must be introduced by means of the affection which is of genuine love. All things whatever that are in man’s memory have been introduced by means of some love, and remain there conjoined with it. So also it is with the truths of faith--if these truths have been introduced by means of the love of truth, they remain conjoined with this love. When they have been conjoined, then the case is as follows. If the affection is reproduced, the truths which are conjoined with it come forth at the same time; and if the truths are reproduced, the affection itself with which they have been conjoined comes forth at the same time. Wherefore during man‘s regeneration (which is effected in adult age, because previously he does not think from himself about the truths of faith) he is ruled by means of angels from the Lord, by being kept in the truths which he has impressed upon himself to be truths, and by means of these truths in the affection with which they have been conjoined; and as this affection, namely, of truth, is from good, he is thus led by degrees to good.
 That this is so is evident to me from much experience, for I have noticed that when evil spirits have injected evils and falsities, then angels from the Lord kept me in the truths which had been implanted, and thus withheld me from evils and falsities. From this also it was plain that the truths of faith, which have been inrooted by means of the affection of truth, are the plane into which angels work. Wherefore they who have not this plane cannot be led by angels, but suffer themselves to be led by hell, for the working of the angels cannot then be fixed anywhere, but flows through. But this plane cannot be acquired unless the truths of faith have been put into act, and thus implanted in the will, and through the will in the life. It is also worthy of mention that the working of the angels into the truths of faith with man seldom takes place manifestly, that is, so as to excite thought about this truth; but there is produced a general idea of such things as are in agreement with this truth, together with affection. For this working is effected by means of an imperceptible influx, which when presented to the sight appears like an inflowing light, which light consists of innumerable truths in good, which encompass some single thing in the man, and keep him while in truth also in the love of this truth. Thus the angels elevate the mind of the man from falsities, and protect him from evils. But these things are wholly unknown to the man.
AC 5894. And there are yet five years. That this signifies the duration of this state until remains shine forth, is evident from the signification of "five," as being remains (n. 5291); and from the signification of "years," as being states (n. 5893). Duration is signified by there being "yet" this number of years. From this it is plain that by these words is signified the duration of this state until remains shine forth. Remains are truths and goods stored in the interior man by the Lord (n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 660, 1050, 1738, 1906, 2284, 5135, 5342). Here, remains are the acknowledgments and affections of truth before good manifests itself. With good these shine forth. Meanwhile so much is drawn from them as conduces to the use of life. such is the providence of the Lord, and this continually, although man knows nothing whatever of it, nor indeed is willing to know. For he denies a providence in the singulars, when yet it is in the veriest singulars of all, from the first thread of man’s life even to the last, and afterward to eternity. With every man there is a concurrence every moment of more things of providence than can be comprised in any number. This I know from heaven.
AC 5895. Wherein is no plowing and harvest. That this signifies that meanwhile good and the derivative truth will not appear, is evident from the signification of "plowing," as being preparation by good for receiving truths; and from the signification of "harvest," as being truths from good--for harvest is the already ripe crop when it is being gathered, hence "harvest" is the truth which is from good. Before this truth comes into existence, truths indeed appear, but they are truths through which is good, and not truths from good. A man who acts from truth is in truths through which is good, but he who acts from good is in truths which are from good. That "plowing" is said to denote good, is because a "field" which is plowed signifies the church as to good (n. 2971), thus good which is of the church (n. 3310, 3317, 4982) Thus "plowing" is preparation by good for receiving truths; moreover the oxen which were used in plowing signify goods in the natural (n. 2180, 2566, 2781).
 As this was the signification of "plowing," it was forbidden in the representative church "to plow with an ox and an ass together" (Deut. 22:10), which never would have been forbidden except for some reason from within, thus from the spiritual world. For otherwise what harm could there be in their plowing together? and what the worthiness of such a law in the Word? The reason from within, or from the spiritual world, is that "plowing with an ox" signifies good in the natural, and "plowing with an ass" signifies truth therein. An "ass" denotes the truth of memory-knowledge, thus truth in the natural, (n. 5492, 5741). The interior or spiritual reason of this command was that the angels could not have a separate idea of good and truth, but they must be conjoined and make a one; and therefore they were not willing to view such plowing by an ox and an ass. The celestial angels are not even willing to think of truth separate from good, for all the truth with them is in good; thus also to them truth is good. For the same reason it was forbidden "to wear a mixed garment, of wool and linen together" (Deut. 22:11), for "wool" signifies good, and "linen" truth.
 That "to plow" and also "to harrow," "to sow" and "to reap," signify such things as belong to good and its truth, is manifest in Hosea:--
I will make Ephraim ride; Judah shall plow, Jacob shall harrow for him; sow for yourselves according to righteousness, reap according to piety; break up for you the fallow ground: and it is time to seek Jehovah, till He come and teach righteousness (Hosea 5:11, 12);
"to ride" is predicated of Ephraim because "to ride" is to enjoy understanding; and "Ephraim" is the intellectual of the church; but "to plow" is predicated of Judah because "Judah" is the good of the church.
 In Amos:--
Shall horses run on the rock? will one plow with oxen? that ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (Amos 6:12);
"shall horses run on the rock?" denotes shall the truth of faith be understood? for "rock" in the spiritual sense is faith (n. 2760); and "horses" are those things which are of the understanding (n. 2761, 2762, 3217, 5321); "will one plow with oxen?" denotes shall he do good? "oxen" being good in the natural (n. 2180, 2566, 2781). That this could not be done is signified by the words which follow: "because ye have turned judgment into gall and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood."
 In Luke:--
Jesus said, No man putting his hand to the plough, but looking backward, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
These words signify the same as those which the Lord speaks in Matthew:--
He that is upon the house, let him not go down to take anything out of his house; and he that is In the field, let him not return back to take his garments (Matthew 24:17, 18);
the sense of these words is: he who is in good shall not betake himself therefrom to the things that belong to the doctrinals of faith (n. 3652). Thus "he who puts his hand to the plough" is he who is in good; "but looking backward" is he who then looks to the doctrinal things of faith, and thus forsakes good. It was on this account that Elijah was displeased that Elisha, who was plowing in the field, when called, asked that he might first kiss his father and mother; for Elijah said, "Go, return; for what have I done to thee?" (1 Kings 19:19-21). In the opposite sense "plowing" signifies the evil which blots out good, thus vastation; as in Jeremiah:--
Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall be heaps, and the mountain of the house as the lofty places of the forest (Jer. 26:18; Micah 3:12).
AC 5896. And God sent me before you. That this signifies that it was determined by the Divine providence, is evident from the signification of "God sent me before you," as being the Divine providence (n. 5890).
AC 5897. To put for you remains in the land. That this signifies the midst and inmost of the church, is evident from the signification of "remains," as being goods joined to truths stored up within man by the Lord (n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 660, 1050, 1906, 2284, 5135, 5342), here in the midst and inmost of the church. It is said "the midst and inmost," because what is inmost with man does occupy the midst in the natural where inmost and interior things are together. In general, those things which are inmost in those which follow one another in succession, the same are also in the midst or center in those which, from these, are simultaneous, as is the case in the natural; thus do inmost things arrange themselves in the exterior ones. "To put for you remains in the land" implies that the inmost of the church must be with the sons of Jacob; not that they would be in the inmost, but that the representative of the church in all its form might be instituted with them, and that the Word might be there. These things are signified by the "remains" relatively to the church, abstractedly from the nation.
 "Remains," and also "residue," are occasionally mentioned in the Word, but by both these expressions there have been understood merely the remains and residue of a people or a nation according to the letter; while it has been heretofore quite unknown that in the spiritual sense they signify the goods and truths stored up in the interior man by the Lord; as in the following passages. In Isaiah:--
In that day shall the shoot of Jehovah be for honor and for glory, and the fruit of the earth for magnificence and adornment to them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass that he that remaineth in Zion, and he that is left (residuus) in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, everyone that is written unto life in Jerusalem (Isa. 4:2, 3);
"they that remained in Zion, and they that were left in Jerusalem" were in no wise made holy nor more than others written unto life; whence it is clear that by "those who remained and who were left" are meant the things that are holy and that are written unto life. These are goods conjoined with truths and stored up in the interior man by the Lord.
 In the same:--
In that day the remains of Israel, and they that are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more lean on their smiter, but shall lean on Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remains shall return, the remains of Jacob, unto the mighty God (Isa. 10:20, 21);
that the "remains" are not the remains of any people or nation may be seen from the fact that in the Word, especially the prophetic Word, by "Israel" was not meant Israel, nor by "Jacob" Jacob, but by both the church and what is of the church. And this being the case, by the "remains" are not meant the remains of Israel and Jacob, but the truths and goods which belong to the church. Yea, neither do the "remains of a people," and the "residue of a nation" (when it is so said), signify the remains of any people or the residue of any nation, because by "people" in the internal sense are signified truths (n. 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581), and by "nation" goods (n. 1259, 1260, 1416). That it has been unknown, and appears strange, that by "remains" are signified truths and goods, is because the literal sense, especially where it is historical, withdraws and forcibly withholds from thinking things like these.
 In the same:--
Then there shall be a path for the remains of the people, which shall be left (residuoe) from Asshur; as there was for Israel through the sea, when he came up out of the land of Egypt (Isa. 11:16);
where the meaning is similar; "they that are left from Asshur" being those who have not been destroyed through perverse reasonings. "Asshur" is such reasonings, (n. 1186). Again:--
In that day shall Jehovah Zebaoth be for a crown of ornament, and for a diadem of comeliness, to the remains of His people (Isa. 28:5).
Moreover the escape of the house of Judah which is left (residua), shall again take root downward, and yield fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth remains, and out of Mount Zion they that escape (Isa 37:31, 32).
Butter and honey shall everyone eat that is left (residuus) in the midst of the land (Isa. 7:22).
I will gather together the remains of My flock out of all the lands whither I have scattered them, and I will bring them back to their fold, that they may bring forth and be multiplied (Jer. 23:3).
The people of those left (residuorum) by the sword found grace in the wilderness in going to give rest to him, to Israel (Jer. 31:2);
"the people of those left by the sword in the wilderness" were they who were called "infants," who the rest being dead, were brought into the land of Canaan. These "infants" were the residue, and by them were signified the goods of innocence, and by their introduction into the land of Canaan was represented admission into the Lord‘s kingdom.
 In Ezekiel:--
I will make a residue, when ye shall have some that escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered in the earth. Then they that escape of you shall remember Me among the nations where they shall be captives (Ezek. 6:8, 9).
The reason why the goods and truths stored up by the Lord in man’s interiors were represented by the "residue and the remains among the nations whither they were scattered and where they were made captives," is that man is continually among evils and falsities, and is held in captivity by them. Evils and falsities are what are signified by the "nations." The external man, when separated from the internal, is altogether in these, and therefore unless the Lord were to gather up the goods and truths which as occasion offers are insinuated into a man during the progress of life, the man could not possibly be saved, for without remains there is salvation for none.
 In Joel:--
It shall come to pass that everyone who shall call on the name of Jehovah shall escape; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the residue whom Jehovah doth call (Joel 2:32).
There shall be remains of Jacob among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, as a lion among the beasts of the forest (Micah 5:8).
The remains of Israel shall not do perversity, nor speak a lie; neither shall a tongue of deceit be found in their mouth: they shall feed and be at rest, none making afraid (Zephaniah 3:13);
in this passage are described remains in respect to their quality, and it is known that this quality never belonged to the people called "Israel." From this also it is manifest that by "remains" are meant other things; and that these are goods and truths is clear, because these are what do no perversity, nor speak a lie, neither is a tongue of deceit found in their mouth.
 In Zechariah:--
The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof; which shall be marvelous in the eyes of the remains of My people: now, not as in former days, am I to the remains of this people, for it is a seed of peace; the vine will yield its fruit, and the earth will yield its increase, and the heavens will yield their dew; and I will make the remains of this people heirs of all these things (Zech. 8:5, 6, 11, 12);
the remains are here called a "seed of peace," but it is they who are in truths of good whose fruitfulness is described by "the vine shall yield its fruit, the earth its increase, and the heavens their dew."
 The remains which are meant in the spiritual sense, are closed up by evils of life and by persuasions of falsity, so as no longer to appear; and by the denial of truth which had previously been acknowledged (both of these acts being from affection), they are consumed, for this is the commingling of truth and falsity which is called profanation. Of these things we read in the Word, in Isaiah:--
He shall remove man, and the deserts shall be multiplied in the midst of the land: scarcely any longer is there in it a tenth part, and yet it shall be for exterminating (Isa. 6:12, 13);
that "ten" denotes remains, see (n. 276, 1906, 2284). Again:--
I will kill thy root, and he shall kill them that are left of thee (Isa. 14:30);
speaking of the Philistines, who are those in the mere knowledge of knowledges, and not in life (n. 1197, 1198, 3412, 3413); those who are left are called a "root," because from them, as from a root, grow forth goods and truths, which make man to be man. Wherefore "he shall remove man" denotes to destroy remains.
 In Jeremiah:--
The young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; and there shall be no remains unto them (Jer. 11:22, 23);
speaking of the men of Anathoth. Again:--
I will take the remains of Judah, who have set their faces to come into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, that they be all consumed; and there shall not be an escaper, or one left to the remains of Judah, who have come to dwell in the land of Egypt (Jer. 44:12, 14, 28);
the reason why they who were of Judah should not sojourn in Egypt, nor dwell there, and that this was so severely forbidden them, was that the tribe of Judah represented the Lord‘s celestial church, and the celestial are utterly unwilling to know about the memory-knowledges which are signified by "Egypt;" for they know all things from the celestial good in which they are, which good would perish if they were to be take themselves to memory-knowledges. Nay, they who are of the Lord’s celestial kingdom, being in celestial good (and celestial truth being charity, while spiritual truth is faith), are not willing even to mention faith, lest they should "go down" from good and "look backward" (n. 202, 337, 2715, 3246, 4448). This also is what is meant by the words:--
He that is upon the house, let him not go down to take anything out of the house; and be that is in the field, let him not return back to take his garments (Matt. 24:17, 18);
see just above (n. 5895); and also by these words:--
Remember Lot‘s wife (Luke 17:32);
who looked back and became a pillar of salt. In regard to looking and returning back, see (n. 2454, 3652).
 By the nations which were so accursed that there was not even any residue left, was represented that iniquity was so consummated with them that nothing of good and truth survived, thus that there were no remains; as in Moses:--
They smote Og the king of Bashan, and all his sons, and all his people, until they left no residue (Num. 21:35; Deut. 3:3).
They took all the cities of Sihon, and gave to the curse every city of man, and the women, and the little child; they left no residue (Deut. 2:34).
So in other passages where it is written that they were "given to the curse."
 In regard to remains, or the goods and truths stored up in man’s interiors by the Lord, the case is this. When a man is in good and truth from affection, thus from freedom, then good and truth are implanted. And when this takes place, the angels from heaven approach nearer and conjoin themselves with the man. It is this conjunction which causes the goods with truths to come forth in the man‘s interiors. But when a man is in things external, as when he is in worldly and bodily things, then the angels are removed, and when they are removed, then nothing at all of these goods and truths appears. Nevertheless as conjunction has once been effected, the man is in the capacity for conjunction with the angels, thus with the good and truth appertaining to them; but this conjunction does not take place oftener and further than is well-pleasing to the Lord, who disposes these things according to every use of the man’s life.
AC 5898. And to make you live. That this signifies spiritual life thence for truths in the natural, is evident from the signification of "to make live," as being spiritual life (n. 5890). As everything of spiritual life is from remains, therefore it is said spiritual life thence. And because it is thence, therefore immediately after what is said about remains, it is also said "to make you live," namely the truths in the natural which are represented by the sons of Jacob (n. 5403, 5419, 5427, 5458, 5512).
AC 5899. For a great escape. That this signifies deliverance from damnation, is evident from the signification of "escape," as being deliverance from damnation, which deliverance is effected by means of remains, that is, by means of the goods and truths stored up with man by the Lord. They who receive these goods and truths, that is, who allow them to be implanted in their interiors, escape damnation, and are among the residue. Hence it is that mention is made of "escape" in the Word throughout where a "residue" and "remains" are spoken of, as here by Joseph, and also in other places; as in Isaiah:--
In that day the fruit of the earth shall be for magnificence and ornament for the escape of Israel; and it shall come to pass, that he that remaineth in Zion, and he that is left in Jerusalem, shall be called holy (Isa. 4:2, 3).
In that day the remains of Israel, and the escape of the house of Jacob, shall no more lean upon their smiter (Isa. 10:20).
Moreover the escape of the house of Judah that are left shall again take root downward, and yield fruit upward; for out of Jerusalem shall go forth remains, and out of Mount Zion an escape (Isa. 37:31, 32).
I will make a residue, when ye shall have some that escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered in the earth; then they that escape of you shall remember Me (Ezek. 6:8, 9).
It shall come to pass that he who shall call on the name of Jehovah shall escape; because in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be an escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the residue whom Jehovah doth call (Joel 2:32).
There shall not be an escaper, or one left to the remains of Judah (Jer. 44:12, 14).
From these passages it is plain what it is "to escape," namely, that they who "escape" are they who have remains, and that "to escape" is to be delivered from damnation.
AC 5900. And now not you sent me hither. That this signifies that they had not dismissed to the memory-knowledges which are of the natural, is evident from the signification of "Egypt," which is "hither," where he was sent, as being the memory-knowledges which are in the natural (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 4749, 4964, 4966, 5700). That "not you sent me," denotes that they did not dismiss is evident.
AC 5901. But God. That this signifies that the Divine had done this, is evident without explication. How the case herein is, has been unfolded wherein it is said of Joseph that he was sold into Egypt and there first ministered in the house of Potiphar; namely, that as in the supreme sense he represented the Lord and in a lower sense those who are being regenerated by the Lord, memory-knowledges are the first things which are to be learned; for they are the things from which truths are to be concluded, and in which truths are then to be terminated. Afterward progress is made toward more interior things. All this is what Joseph represented, and this being so, it was the Divine which sent him there.
AC 5902. And He hath set me for a father to Pharaoh. That this signifies that now the natural is from him, is evident from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the natural in general (n. 5160, 5799). That it is from him is signified by his being "set for a father," for the sons depend on the father. By "father" in the proper sense is signified good (n. 2803, 3703, 3704, 5581); and as on good depend all things in both the internal and the external man, by "God setting him for a father to Pharaoh" is signified that from him, as from good, is the natural; for Joseph represents the internal celestial, or internal good (n. 5805, 5826, 5827, 5869, 5877). This by influx sets in order all things in the natural, and at last causes the natural to be from itself.
AC 5903. And for lord to all his house. That this signifies that from him is everything in the natural, is evident from the signification of "all the house of Pharaoh," as being everything in the natural. That everything there is from him, is signified by Joseph‘s being set for lord over it. Moreover "lord" in the Word is predicated of good.
AC 5904. And I rule over all the land of Egypt. That this signifies that he arranges the memory-knowledges therein, is evident from the signification of "to rule," as being to arrange; and from the signification of the "land of Egypt," as being the natural mind (n. 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301), thus all memory-knowledges, for these belong to the natural mind. Memory-knowledges are what constitute the intellectual of this mind, but the good which flows in from the internal and arranges the memory-knowledges there, is what makes as it were the will part there. GENESIS 45:6-8 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|