Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 49:16-18
AC 6395. Verses 17-18. Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribe of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent upon the way, an arrow-snake upon the path, biting the horse‘s heels, and his rider shall fall backward I wait for thy salvation, O Jehovah. "Dan," signifies those who are in truth and not as yet in good; "shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel," signifies that he is one of the truths in general which the tribes of Israel represent; "Dan shall be a serpent upon the way," signifies their reasoning about truth, because good does not as yet lead; "an arrow-snake upon the path," signifies from truth about good; "biting the horse’s heels," signifies fallacies from lowest nature; "and his rider shall fall backward," signifies that hence comes a receding; "I wait for Thy salvation O Jehovah," signifies unless the Lord brings aid.
AC 6396. That Dan signifies those who are in truth and not as yet in good, is evident from the representation of Dan, as being the good of life (n. 3921, 3923); but here those who are in some good of life from truth, but not as yet from good. For with the man who is being regenerated by the Lord the case is this. He is first in truth and not in any good of life from truth; next he is in the good of life from truth, but not yet from good; afterward, when he has been regenerated, he is in the good of life from good, and he then perceives truth from good, and multiplies it in himself: these are the degrees of regeneration. By "Dan" are meant those who are in the good of life from truth, but not yet from good; the good with them as yet lies deeply hidden in truth, and gives them the affection of truth, and impels them to live according to truth. They who are such are in the Lord‘s kingdom; but as they do not do good from good, but from truth, that is, not from a new will, but from the intellectual, and thus not from love, but from obedience because it is so commanded, they are therefore among those in the Lord’s kingdom who are in the first or ultimate heaven.
 These are they who are represented by Dan, for in this prophetic utterance of Israel, in the internal sense, by his twelve sons are described in general all who are in the Lord‘s kingdom in respect to their quality. That they who are signified by "Dan" are in the ultimate heaven, or in the ultimate part of the Lord’s kingdom, because in truth and not yet in good, was represented by the lot of Dan falling last, when the land of Canaan was distributed for an inheritance among the tribes (Josh. 19:40-48); and by their inheritance lying in the extremity of that land (Judges 18); for the lot was cast before Jehovah (Josh. 18:6), and therefore fell to each one according to his representation. That the land of Canaan represented the Lord‘s kingdom (n. 1607, 3038, 3481, 3686, 3705, 4447, 4454), and hence all the borders were representative (n. 1607, 1866, 4116) thus the ultimates of that land represented the ultimates in the Lord’s kingdom (n. 4240); and therefore Dan represented those who are in the ultimates there; for before truth has been conjoined with good, it is in the ultimate; but if truth is completely separated from good, it is not then in any border of the Lord‘s kingdom, but is outside of it.
 That the inheritance of Dan was the ultimate of the land of Canaan is evident from the fact that when the whole extent of that land was described, it was said, "from Beersheba even to Dan" (2 Sam. 3:10; 17:11; 24:15; 1 Kings 4:25). By "Beersheba" in these passages is signified the inmost of the land, because Abraham and Isaac dwelt there before Jerusalem and Zion became the inmost of the land.
 The quality of those who are in truth and Such yet in good, was also represented by the Danites who sought out land where they might dwell (Judges 18), in their leading away a Levite out of the house of Micah, and taking away his ephod, teraphim, and graven image; whereby is signified the worship of those who are in truth and not yet in good; for they adore external things and disregard internal. No one perceives what is internal but he who is in good. That this was represented by the Danites is evident from the fact that all the historicals of the Word, both those in the books of Moses, and those in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, are representative of the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord’s kingdom; and so also is this story in the book of Judges about the Danites. As to what further concerns those who are in truth and not yet in good, their quality is described in the internal sense in what now follows about Dan.
AC 6397. Shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. That this signifies that he is one of the truths in general which the tribes of Israel represent, is evident from the signification of "judging," as being truth in its office; from the signification of "people," as being those who are in truth (n. 1259, 1260, 2928, 3295, 3581, 4619), here those who are in truth and not yet in good, for these are "Dan" or the "people" of Dan (n. 6396); and from the representation of the "tribes of Israel," as being all the truths and goods of faith in general (n. 3858, 3926, 3939, 4060, 6335). Hence by "he shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel" is signified that this truth, represented by Dan, is also among the general truths which the tribes of Israel represent. That "judging his people" denotes truth in its office, is because by the tribes of Israel are represented all truths in general, as may be seen from the passages above cited, and truths are what judge; thus by "judging his people" is signified truth in its office.
 We read in the Word that four and twenty elders are to sit upon thrones and judge nations and peoples; and that the twelve apostles are in like manner to sit upon thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. He who does not know the internal sense of the Word may believe that so it will be. But how this is to be understood may be seen from the internal sense when it is known what is signified by the "four and twenty elders," and by the "twelve apostles," and by the "thrones," namely, all truths in their complex, according to what is judgment. The like is here meant by "judging the people as one of the tribes of Israel," not that they, or any elders of them, are to judge; but the truths themselves which are signified by them; consequently the Lord alone, for from Him all truth proceeds. Of the four and twenty elders, that they are to sit upon thrones and to judge, it is thus written in John:--
Around the throne were four and twenty thrones, and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white garments, who had upon their heads crowns of gold (Rev. 4:4; 11:16).
I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them (Rev. 20:4).
Of the twelve apostles it is thus written in Matthew:--
Jesus said, Ye who have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).
And in Luke:--
I appoint unto you, as the Father has appointed unto Me a kingdom, that ye may eat and drink upon My table in My kingdom, and sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 17:29, 30).
 That in these passages neither four and twenty elders nor twelve apostles are meant, but all truths and goods in general, is evident from the fact that no man, nor even an angel, can judge anyone; for no one but the Lord alone can know the interiors, what they are and what they will be, and this to eternity. By the "twelve apostles" the same is signified as by the "twelve tribes," namely, all truths and goods in the complex, (n. 2129, 2553, 3488, 3858). From all this it is now plain that by "Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel" is signified that the truth which is represented by Dan is one among the general truths through which is judgment.
AC 6398. Dan shall be a serpent upon the way. That this signifies their reasoning about truth because good does not as yet lead, is evident from the representation of Dan, as being those who are in truth and not yet in good (n. 6396); from the signification of a "serpent," as being reasoning from what is sensuous; and from the signification of "way," as being truth (n. 627, 2333). Thus by "Dan being a serpent upon the way" is signified their reasoning about truth, because good does not yet lead. The quality of this reasoning and of the consequent truth, will be told in what follows.
 That a "serpent" denotes reasoning from what is sensuous, is because the interiors of man are represented in heaven by animals of various kinds, and hence in the Word the like are signified by the same animals. The sensuous things of man were represented by serpents because sensuous things are the lowest things in man, and are relatively earthly, and as it were creeping as may also be seen from the forms through which sensuous things flow, concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy elsewhere. Hence these sensuous things were represented by serpents, and even the Lord’s Divine sensuous was represented by the brazen serpent in the wilderness (n. 4211); and prudence and circumspection, in externals, is signified by "serpents" in Matthew
Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
But when a man is in what is sensuous, remote from what is internal, as are those who are in truth and not yet in good, and speaks from what is sensuous, then by the "serpent" is signified reasoning; here therefore, where Dan is treated of, is signified reasoning about truth, because good does not yet lead. In other cases malice, cunning, and deceit, are signified by "serpents," but by poisonous serpents, as by "vipers" and the like, the reasoning of which is poison. The "serpent" denotes reasoning from what is sensuous, (n. 195-197); also the "serpent" denotes all evil in general; and evils are distinguished by different kinds of serpents (n. 251, 254, 257).
AC 6399. An arrow-snake upon the path. That this signifies reasoning from truth about good, is evident from the signification of an "arrow-snake," as being reasoning about good; and from the signification of "path," as being truth (n. 627, 2333, 3477). That an "arrow-snake upon the path" denotes reasoning from truth about good, is because by a "serpent" is signified reasoning, thus by an "arrow-snake" is signified the reasoning which projects itself, namely, from truth toward good; for with those who are represented by Dan truth is beneath, and good is above.
AC 6400. Biting the horse‘s heels. That this signifies fallacies from lowest nature, is evident from the signification of "biting," as being to adhere, and thereby do harm to; and from the signification of a " horse’s heel," as being fallacies from lowest nature for the "heel" denotes the lowest natural and corporeal (n. 259, 4938-4952), and a "horse," the intellectual (n. 2761, 2762, 3217, 5321, 6125); here a "horse" denotes fallacies, because it denotes the intellectual of the lowest natural or sensuous. That they who are in truth and not yet in good are in fallacies from lowest nature, may be seen from the fact that truth is not in any light unless good is with it, and in it; for good is like a flame which emits light from itself; and when good meets with any truth, it not only illuminates it, but also brings it to itself into its own light. They therefore who are in truth and not yet in good, are in shade and darkness; because truth has no light from itself, and the light which they have from good is faint, like a light which is going out; and therefore when these persons think and reason about truth, and from truth about good, they are like those who see phantasms in the dark, and believe them to be real bodies; or who see marks on a wall in a shady place, and in fancy make of them the image of some man or animal; and yet when the light comes, they are seen to be mere marks without any form; and it is the same with truths with those here treated of, for they see as truths those things which are not truths, and which are rather to be likened to phantasms, and to marks on a wall. Moreover all the heresies in the church have arisen from those who have been in some truth from the Word, but not in good; to them heresy has appeared exactly like truth; and in like manner the falsities in the church. That they who have promulgated these have not been in good, may be seen from the fact that they have rejected the good of charity far behind the truth of faith, and have in part devised such things as do not at all agree with the good of charity.
 It is said that they who are in truth and not yet in good reason about good and truth from fallacies from lowest nature, and therefore it is necessary to say what fallacies are. Take for example the life after death. They who are in fallacies from lowest nature, as are those who are in truth and not yet in good, do not believe that there is anything alive in man except his body, nor that when man dies he can rise again unless he again receives his body. If they are told that there is an interior man who lives in the body, and who is raised up by the Lord when the body dies, and that the man when raised has a body such as spirits or angels have, and that he sees, hears, speaks, is in company with others, and appears to himself exactly like a man, just as does a man in this world, they cannot apprehend it. Fallacies from lowest nature make them believe such things to be impossible, chiefly because they do not see them with the eyes of their body.
 Moreover when such persons think about the spirit or soul, they have no idea whatever about it except such as they have of the invisible things in nature, whence they make it either a mere breath, or aerial, or ethereal, or like a flame; some a mere thinking power which has scarcely any vitality until it is again joined to the body. The reason why they think in this way is that to them all interior things are in shade and darkness, and only outward things are in light, which shows how easily they may fall into error; for if they think only of how the body is to be put together again; of the destruction of the world, and that this has been vainly awaited for so many ages; of brute animals having a life not unlike the life of man; and that none of the dead appear and make known the state of their life - when they think these and other such things, they easily recede from belief in the resurrection; and so in many other cases. The reason is that they are not in good, and through good in light. Such being their state, it is also said, "and his rider shall fall backward; I wait for Thy salvation, O Jehovah." By this is signified that hence comes a receding unless the Lord brings aid.
AC 6401. And his rider shall fall backward. That this signifies that hence comes a receding, is evident from the signification of "falling backward," as being to recede, namely, from truth; and from the signification of "rider," as being one who is in fallacies from lowest nature. These fallacies are signified by "horse", (n. 6400); and therefore by "rider" are signified they who are in fallacies. How the case herein is, has just been shown. As by "Dan" are signified those within the church who are such as were described above (n. 6400), and who thus are among the last in the Lord‘s kingdom, therefore by "Dan" are also signified those who from fallacies hatch falsities and spread them about. Their falsities are also called "horses," and their reasonings about truth and good, "serpents," in Jeremiah:--
The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan; at the voice of the neighing of his strong ones the whole land trembled; and they are come and have devoured the land and the fullness thereof, the city and those that dwell therein. For behold I send among you serpents, vipers, which will not be charmed; and they shall bite you (Jer. 8:16-17).
AC 6402. I wait for Thy salvation O Jehovah. That this signifies unless the Lord brings aid, is evident from the signification of "waiting for salvation," as here being to bring aid. "Jehovah" is the Lord, (n. 1343, 1736, 2156, 2329, 2447, 2921, 3023, 3035, 5663, 6303). In regard to the aid which the Lord brings when they recede who are in truth and not yet led by good, which is signified by "the rider shall fall backward, I wait for Thy salvation O Jehovah," be it known that they look downward or outward, for they are not yet in good; whereas they who are in good, as are the regenerate, look upward or inward; for when man is being regenerated, the order is changed in this way. As they who are in truth and not yet in good look downward or outward, therefore also they are among those who belong to the province of the outer skin in the Grand Man; for the outer skin is turned outward from the interiors of the body, and gets its sense of touch from what is without, but not sensibly from what is within. Hence it is plain that these persons are in the Lord’s kingdom, because in the Grand Man, but in its ultimates. As to those who constitute the skin, see (n. 5552-5559). GENESIS 49:16-18 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|