Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 47:2-6
AC 6069. Verses 2-6. And from among his brethren he took five men, and set them before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What are your works? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are a shepherd of the flock, both we and our fathers. And they said unto Pharaoh, To sojourn in the land have we come; for there is no pasture for thy servants‘ flock; for the famine is grievous in the land of Canaan; and now I pray let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren have come unto thee; the land of Egypt before thee is it; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren dwell; let them dwell in the land of Goshen; and if thou knowest, and there be among them, men of activity, then set them as princes over my cattle. "And from among his brethren he took five men," signifies from the truths of the church some; "and set them before Pharaoh," signifies insinuation into memory-knowledges; "and Pharaoh said unto his brethren," signifies a perception about the truths of the church in the natural; "What are your work?" signifies about services and uses; "and they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are a shepherd of the flock," signifies that they lead to good; "both we and our fathers," signifies that this is so from the ancients; "and they said unto Pharaoh," signifies continuance of perception; "To sojourn in the land have we come," signifies to seek life in memory-knowledges; "for there is no pasture for thy servants’ flock," signifies that memory-knowledges are wanting in which are goods of truth; "for the famine is grievous in the land of Canaan," signifies that there is a lack of such things in the church; "and now I pray let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen," signifies that they may live in the midst of them; "and Pharaoh said unto Joseph, saying," signifies perception in the natural where memory-knowledges are; "Thy father and thy brethren have come unto thee," signifies with respect to the influx of the internal celestial into spiritual good from the natural, and into the truths of the church there; "the land of Egypt before thee is it," signifies that the memory-knowledges of the natural mind are under the auspices of the internal celestial; "in the best of the land make thy father and thy brethren dwell," signifies that they should live in the inmost of these; "let them dwell in the land of Goshen," signifies where is the midst; "and if thou knowest, and there be among them, men of activity," signifies the more excellent things in doctrine; "then set them as princes over my cattle," signifies that they may be the primary things of memory-knowledges.
AC 6070. And from among his brethren he took five men. That this signifies from the truths of the church some, is evident from the representation of the sons of Jacob, who here are the "brethren," as being the truths of the church (n. 5403, 5419, 5427, 5458, 5512); and from the signification of "five," as being some (n. 4638, 5291).
AC 6071. And set them before Pharaoh. That this signifies insinuation into memory-knowledges, is evident from the representation of Pharaoh, as being memory-knowledge in general (n. 5799, 6015). Insinuation is signified by "setting before him," because the end in presenting them was to insinuate them, that is, the truths of the church, for these are the "sons of Jacob." As regards truths, that they must be insinuated into the memory-knowledges of the church, see (n. 6004, 6023, 6052); but as at this day this is a subject about which nothing is known, it must be illustrated further. At the present day the memory-knowledges of the church are those which belong to the literal sense of the Word. Unless truths from the internal sense are insinuated into these memory-knowledges, the mind can be drawn into every heresy; but when truths have been insinuated into them, the mind cannot be drawn into heresies.
 For example, he who has learned from the literal sense of the Word that God is angry, that He punishes, leads into temptations, casts into hell, and causes evil, may be drawn into false ideas about God, as that from good itself, which is God, can come forth evil, thus what is opposite to Him; when yet from good comes good, and from evil comes evil. But this memory-knowledge appears with quite another aspect if interior truths are insinuated into it, as for instance this truth: that it is the evil with man that causes him to be angry, that leads into temptations, punishes, casts into hell, and from itself is continually producing evils; and that this matter is circumstanced as are the laws in kingdoms, which laws are from the king, while the evils of penalty are not from the king, but from those who do evils.
 Then again this truth: that hells exist, the source of all evil, and that this is permitted because it is unavoidable for man‘s sake, seeing that he is in evil and his life is thence derived, and therefore unless he is left in evil he cannot be in freedom, thus cannot be reformed. Nevertheless nothing but good comes from God, for in so far as man suffers it, God bends evil into good.
 Also this truth: that the most general things are to be believed first, and that they are afterward to be illustrated by individual truths; as for instance this general memory-knowledge: that all things which take place are from God, thus also the evils of penalty; but in what manner these are from God is to be learned afterward, and also the nature and origin of that which is done from permission.
 In like manner this truth: that all worship of God must needs begin with holy fear, within which is the thought that God will reward the good and punish the evil. The simple and little children must believe this, because they do not yet apprehend what permission is given according to the Lord’s words, "Rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matt. 10:28); and when they begin by not daring through fear to do what is evil, there is gradually insinuated love together with good, and then they begin to know and perceive that nothing but good is from God, and that evil is from themselves, and at last that all evil is from hell.
 Moreover they who are in heaven perceive that nothing but good is from God; but they who are in hell say that all evil is from God, because He permits it, and does not remove it. But to those who are in the world of spirits it is said in reply, that if civil were taken away from them they would have no life, neither would a man who is in evil; and that the evil which is in them punishes itself according to law, and that by reason of the evils of penalty they at last abstain from doing evils; and also that the punishment of the evil is the protection of the good. Add to this that they who are in evil, and also they who are in external worship without internal, as were the Jews, must by all means be in fear of God, and believe that He punishes; for from fear of God they are able to do what is good, but in no wise from love.
 When these and many other truths are insinuated into the memory-knowledge above referred to, it appears in a very different aspect; for then this memory-knowledge becomes like a transparent vessel, in which the truths that shine through cause the vessel to be seen no otherwise than as one general truth.
AC 6072. And Pharaoh said unto his brethren. That this signifies a perception about the truths of the church in the natural, is evident from the signification of "saying," as being perception (n. 6063); from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the natural and memory-knowledge in general (n. 6063); and from the representation of the sons of Jacob, who here are the "brethren," as being the truths of the church in the natural (n. 6064). From all this it is evident that by "Pharaoh said unto his brethren" is signified a perception of the natural about the truths of the church therein.
AC 6073. What are your works? That this signifies about services and uses, is evident from the signification of "works,"as being goods (n. 6048), thus services and uses, for these are goods. All the goods which are called goods of charity are nothing but uses, and uses are nothing but works for the neighbor, for our country, for the church, for the Lord‘s kingdom. Moreover regarded in itself charity itself does not become charity until it comes into act and becomes work. For to love anyone, and not do him good when we have the power, is not to love him; but to do him good when we have the power, and to do it from our hearts, this is to love him; and then all things of charity toward him are contained within the very deed or work;for a man’s works are the complex of all things of his charity and faith, and are what are called spiritual goods, and indeed become goods by exercise, that is, by means of uses.
 As the angels who are in heaven are in good from the Lord, they long for nothing more than to perform uses. These are the very delights of their life, and it is also according to uses that they enjoy bliss and happiness (n. 453, 454, 696, 997, 3645), which likewise the Lord teaches in Matthew:
The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then shall He render to everyone according to his works (Matthew 16:27);
by "works" here are not meant works such as they appear in the outward form, but such as they are in their inward form, namely, such as is the charity contained in them; the angels regard works in no other way.
 And because a man‘s works are the complex of all things of his charity and faith, and the life causes charity to be charity and faith to be faith, thus good, therefore the Lord loved John more than the rest of His disciples, and he lay on His breast at supper (John 21:20); for by him were represented the goods or works of charity (n. 2135a, 2760); for which reason also the Lord said unto him, "Follow Me," and not to Peter, by whom was represented faith (n. 2135a, 2760). Wherefore faith, which is "Peter," said with indignation, "Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus said unto him, If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me" (John 21:21-23). By this was also foretold that faith would despise works, and yet that these are near the Lord, as may also be clearly seen from the Lord’s words to the sheep and to the goats (Matt. 25:34-46), wherein nothing but works are recounted. And that faith would reject the Lord is evident from the representation by Peter when he denied Him thrice; that he did this at night, signifies the last time of the church, when there is no longer any charity (n. 6000); that he did it thrice signifies that this condition is then complete (n. 1825, 2788, 4495, 5159); that it was before the cock crew, signifies before newness of the church would arise, for the twilight and morning which follow the night signify the first of the church (n. 2405, 5962).
AC 6074. And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are a shepherd of the flock. That this signifies that they lead to good, is evident from the signification of a "shepherd of the flock," as being one who leads to good (n. 6044), here the truths which lead to good, because the sons of Jacob denote the truths of the church.
AC 6075. Both we and our fathers. That this signifies that this is so from the ancients, is evident from the signification of "fathers," as being those who were of the ancient churches (n. 6050). In many passages of the Word where the Jews and the Israelites are treated of, their fathers are mentioned with praise. They who abide in the sense of the letter understand by "fathers" in these passages no others than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and also the sons of Jacob. But in the internal sense by "fathers" there, when spoken of in a good sense, are not meant these patriarchs, but they who were of the Most Ancient Church which was before the flood, and they who were of the Ancient Church which was after the flood. The men of both these churches were called "fathers" because from them the church had descended, and the things of the church had been derived.
 By "fathers" are meant those who were of the Ancient Churches, in Moses:--
Jehovah had delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them (Deut. 10:15).
Remember the days of eternity, understand the years of generation and generation. When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. But when Jeshurun waxed fat, he forsook God, they sacrifice to demons, to gods that come from what is near, and that your fathers knew not (Deut. 32:7, 8, 16, 17).
This passage occurs in the prophetic song of Moses, in which the Ancient Church is treated of from verse seven to verse fifteen, and the posterity of Jacob from verse fifteen to verse forty-four. The state of the Most Ancient Church which was before the flood is signified by the "days of eternity;" and the state of the Ancient Church which was after the flood by the "years of generation and generation;" the state of their good by the "inheritance which the Most High gave to the nations;" and the state of their truth by the "Most High separating the sons of man, and setting the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel." This number, or twelve, means all truths of faith in the complex, (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913). From this it is plain that by "fathers" are signified those who were of the Ancient Churches.
 In like manner in the following passages. In Isaiah:--
Our house of holiness, and our ornament, where our fathers praised Thee, is become a burning of fire (Isa 64:11).
Did not thy father eat and drink? but he did judgment and justice; then it was well with him (Jer 22:15).
They sinned to Jehovah, the habitation of justice, and the hope of their fathers, to Jehovah (Jer. 50:7).
We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the work Thou didst in their days, in the days of antiquity (Ps. 44:1).
"Fathers" have the like signification in (Daniel 11:24, 37, 38).
That they who were of the Ancient Churches are meant by "fathers"in these passages, is not seen in the sense of the letter, but only from the internal sense, in which the church and its goods and truths are treated of. Moreover the church itself, being the heavenly marriage, that is, the marriage of good and truth, is called in the Word "father" as to good, and "mother" as to truth (n. 3703, 5581).
AC 6076. And they said unto Pharaoh. That this signifies continuance of perception, is evident from the signification of"saying," as being perception (n. 6063); and from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the natural in general. Continuance of perception by the natural is signified, because the expression "they said unto Pharaoh" was also used just above (n. 6074), and now here again.
AC 6077. To sojourn in the land have we come. That this signifies to seek life in memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "to sojourn," as being to be instructed, and also to live (n. 1463, 2025); thus "to come to sojourn" means to seek life; and from the signification of "land," here the land of Egypt, as being where memory-knowledge is, thus as being memory-knowledge. In regard to the life of truth being in memory-knowledges, or to truths seeking their life in memory-knowledges, be it known that all things which are in the spiritual world, and hence all things which are in the natural world, seek something ulterior in which to be, and to act as cause in effect, to the end that they may continually be producing something. This ulterior thing is as it were a body, and that which seeks to be in it is as it were a soul. This effort ceases only in the ultimates of nature, where things inert have place. In the natural world this is seen in everything; and it is also seen in the spiritual world, in that good seeks to live in truths, and truths seek to live in memory-knowledges, and memory-knowledges in things of sense, and things of sense in the world.
 As to what specifically regards truths being in memory©knowledges, be it known that interior truths may indeed he insinuated into memory-knowledges, but the truths have no life therein until there is good in the memory-knowledges; for in good there is life, and in truths from good, and thus in memory-knowledges from good through truths. Then good is like a soul to truths, and through truths to memory-knowledges, which are like a body. In a word, charity toward the neighbor vivifies and animates faith, and through faith the memory-knowledges that belong to the natural mind.
 There are few at this day who know that truths and memory-knowledges are distinct from each other. The reason is that few are in the truths of faith from charity, and truths of faith in which there is not charity are nothing else than memory-knowledges, for they are in the memory exactly as are other things which are there. But when truths of faith are from charity, or when charity is in them, they then perceptibly distinguish themselves from memory-knowledges, and sometimes elevate themselves from them, and they then view the memory-knowledges as beneath them. This may be very clearly seen from the state of man after death. He can then think and speak rationally about the truths and goods of faith, and this with more perspicuity than in the life of the body, but be cannot recall any memory-knowledges from the memory, these being then with him as things forgotten and obliterated, although he has them all with him (n. 2475-2486). From this it is evident that truths of faith, which in themselves are spiritual, and memory-knowledges, which in themselves are natural, are distinct from each other; and that truths of faith are elevated from memory-knowledges toward heaven by means of the affection of the good of charity.
AC 6078. For there is no pasture for thy servants‘ flock. That this signifies that memory-knowledges are wanting in which are the goods of truth, is evident from the signification of "pasture for a flock," as being the memory-knowledges in which are goods of truth; thus "no pasture" is memory-knowledges in which there are no goods of truth. "Pasture" in the internal sense is that which sustains the spiritual life, and especially is it the truth of memory-knowledge, for the soul of man desires this as the body desires food. This truth nourishes, and therefore "to feed" denotes to be instructed (n. 5201). That memory-knowledges and truths sustain the soul of man is very evident from man’s longing to know things, and also from the correspondence of food with memory-knowledges (n. 1480, 3114, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915), which correspondence also shows itself in man when he is partaking of food, for if this is done while he is speaking and listening, the vessels which receive the chyle are opened, and he is more fully nourished than if he is alone. Spiritual truths and instructions in them would have the same effect with-men if they were in the affection of good. That truths nourish the spiritual life is especially manifest with good spirits and with the angels in heaven, for both good spirits and angels have a constant longing to know things and to be wise; and when they lack this spiritual food they feel desolate, their life is languid, and they are hungry; and they are not restored and raised into the bliss of their life until their longing is satisfied. But in order that memory-knowledges may yield healthful nourishment to the soul, there must be in them life from the goods of truth. If there is no life from this source, the memory-knowledges do indeed sustain the man‘s interior life, but only his natural life, and not his spiritual life.
 That "pasture" in the internal sense denotes that which sustains man’s spiritual life, is also evident from other passages in the Word; as in Isaiah:--
I gave thee for a covenant of the people, to restore the land; to say to them that are bound, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Be ye revealed. They shall feed upon the ways; and on all hillsides shall be their pasture (Isa 49:8, 9);
"to feed upon the ways" denotes to be instructed in truths. "Ways" are truths, (n. 627, 2333); and "to feed" is to be instructed, (n. 5201); "pasture on all hillsides" denotes to be sustained from good, for "hills," like "mountains," are the goods of love (n. 795, 796, 1430, 2722, 4210).
 In Jeremiah:--
Woe to the shepherds that destroy and scatter the flock of My pasture (Jer. 23:1);
where "pasture" denotes such things as sustain spiritual life. Again:--
The princes of Zion are become like harts; they have found no pasture (Lam. 1:6);
"they have found no pasture" denotes no truth of good.
 In Ezekiel:--
I, even I, will search for My flock, I will feed them in a good pasture, and in the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be; thus shall they lie down in a good fold, and in fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 34:11, 14);
where "good and fat pasture upon the mountains of Israel" denotes the goods of truth. Again:--
Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures (Ezek. 34:18);
where the signification is similar. In Hosea:--
I knew thee in the wilderness, in the land of drought. When they had their pasture, then were they sated; they were sated, and their heart was elated (Hosea 13:5, 6).
The beast groaneth, the herds of the ox are perplexed, because they have no pasture, yea, the flocks of small cattle are made desolate (Joel 1:18).
Jehovah is my shepherd; in pasture of herb He will make me lie down; to the waters of rest He will lead me; He will restore my soul (Ps. 23:1-3).
Jehovah hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the flock of His pasture (Ps. 100:3).
 "Pasture" in these passages denotes the truths in which man is instructed, here such things as regard spiritual life; for spiritual life is such that if this pasturage fails, it languishes and as it were pines away as does the body when it lacks food. That "pasture" denotes the good and truth which restore and sustain the soul or spirit of man, is clear from the Lord‘s words in John:--
I am the door; by Me if anyone enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture (John 10:9);
where "pasture" denotes the goods and truths which those have who acknowledge the Lord, and seek life from Him alone.
AC 6079. For the famine is grievous in the land of Canaan. That this signifies that there is a lack of such things in the church, is evident from the signification of "famine," as being a lack of good (n. 5893); and from the signification of the "land of Canaan," as being the church (n. 6067).
AC 6080. And now I pray let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen. That this signifies that they may live in the midst of them, is evident from the signification of "dwelling," as being to live (n. 1293, 3384, 3613, 4451, 6051); and from the signification of the "land of Goshen," as being the midst or inmost in the natural (n. 5910, 6028, 6031, 6068).
AC 6081. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, saying. That this signifies perception in the natural where memory-knowledges are, is evident from the signification of "saying," as being perception; from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the natural where is memory-knowledge (n. 5799, 6015, 6063); and from the representation of Joseph, as being the internal, from which the natural has perception (n. 5469).
AC 6082. Thy father and thy brethren have come unto thee. That this signifies with respect to the influx of the internal celestial into spiritual good from the natural, and into the truths of the church there, is evident from the representation of Israel, who is here the "father," as being spiritual good from the natural (n. 5801, 5803, 5807, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833); and from the representation of his sons, who are here the "brethren," as being the truths of the church in the natural (n. 5414, 5879, 5951). That the influx of the internal celestial is signified, is because these things were said to Joseph, by whom is represented the internal celestial (n. 5869, 5877), and influx into the natural or into the external comes from the internal.
AC 6083. The land of Egypt, before thee is it. That this signifies that the memory-knowledges of the natural mind are under the auspices of the internal celestial, is evident from the signification of the "land of Egypt," as being the natural mind where memory-knowledges are (n. 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301); and from the signification of "before thee," as being under the auspices of the internal celestial, which is "Joseph" (n. 5869, 5877).
AC 6084. In the best of the land make thy father and thy, brethren dwell. That this signifies that they shall live in the inmost of memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of the "best of the land," as being the inmost of the natural mind where memory-knowledges are, for the "land of Egypt" is this mind (n. 6083); from the signification of "dwelling," as being to live (n. 1293, 3384, 3613, 4451, 6051); and from the representation of Israel and his sons, who are here the "father and brethren" who shall live therein, as being spiritual good from the natural and the truths of the church there (n. 6082).
 That the "best" denotes the inmost is because that is the best which is kept directly in view; for the eye is ever directed to that which most affects and delights; and that which is kept directly in view is also the inmost, because it is in the center, and is therefore before the eyes in the strongest light; while other things are round about in the circumference, and are therefore less clear, and at last obscure, because they do not delight and affect so much. This is the case with memory-knowledges before the internal sight, the objects of this sight being no other than memory-knowledges and truths. That which is delightful and good in the objects is what directs the sight toward them. But be it known that truths and the memory-knowledges which agree with them come directly under the view (that is, are in the inmost) with those who are delighted and affected with spiritual and celestial truths, for to them these truths are the best things; but falsities and the memory-knowledges which agree with them come directly under the view (that is, are in the inmost) with those whom the evils of love of self and of the world affect and delight. (n. 6068).
AC 6085. Let them dwell in the land of Goshen. That this signifies where the midst is, is evident from the signification of "dwelling," as being to live (n. 6084); and from the signification of the "land of Goshen," as being the midst or inmost in the natural (n. 5910, 6028, 6031, 6068).
AC 6086. And if thou knowest, and there be among them, men of activity. That this signifies the more excellent things in doctrine, is evident from the signification of "men of activity," as being things more excellent in doctrine, for "man (vir)" signifies one who is intelligent, and also truth (n. 158, 265, 749, 1007, 3134, 4823), consequently doctrine; and "active" signifies excellent; for in the original tongue "activity" is expressed by a word that also signifies forces and valor, which in the internal sense are things which have power, and thus surpass in excellence.
AC 6087. Then set them as princes over my cattle. That this signifies that they may be the primary things of memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "princes," as being primary things (n. 1482, 2089, 5044); and from the signification of "cattle," as being truths from which is good (n. 6016, 6045, 6049), here memory-knowledges in which these truths are, because it is said "over my cattle," namely, Pharaoh’s, by whom are represented, not truths in which is good, but memory-knowledges in which are truths. GENESIS 47:2-6 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|