Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 49:5-7
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AC 6351. Verses 5-7. Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of violence are their swords. Into their secret let not my soul come; in their assembly let not my glory be united; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their good pleasure they unstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger for it was vehement, and their wrath for it was hard. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. "Simeon and Levi are brethren," signifies faith in the will, and charity, here the reverse, because they signify faith separate from charity; "instruments of violence are their swords," signifies that doctrinal things serve to destroy the works of charity, thus charity itself; "into their secret let not my soul come," signifies that spiritual good does not desire to know the evils which are of their will; "in their assembly let not my glory be united," signifies that neither does the truth of spiritual good desire to know the falsities of their thought thence derived; "for in their anger they slew a man," signifies that they utterly averted themselves, and in their turning away extinguished faith; "and in their good pleasure they unstrung an ox," signifies that from a depraved will they utterly weakened the external good of charity; "cursed be their anger for it was vehement," signifies a grievous turning away from good, and the consequent condemnation; "and their wrath, for it was hard," signifies a turning away from the derivative truth, that it was confirmed; "I will divide them in Jacob," signifies that they must be banished from the natural man; "and scatter them in Israel," signifies from the spiritual man also.

AC 6352. Simeon and Levi are brethren. That this signifies faith in the will, and charity, here the reverse, because they signify faith separated from charity, is evident from the representation of Simeon, as being faith in the will (n. 3869-3872, 4497, 4502, 4503, 5482, 5626, 5630); and from the representation of Levi, as being charity (n. 3875, 3877), but here the reverse, because they signify faith separate from charity. For when this faith is represented by Reuben, as is plain from the explication of (verse 4), it follows that no faith in the will, and thus no charity, are what are represented by Simeon and Levi, for these things follow in a series from their beginning. Therefore by Simeon is represented falsity in the will, and by Levi evil in act, for these are opposite to faith in the will and to charity. That these are signified is plain from Simeon and Levi being cursed.

AC 6353. Instruments of violence are their swords. That this signifies that doctrinal things serve to destroy the works of charity, thus charity itself, is evident from the signification of "instruments of violence," as being what serves to destroy charity (that "instruments" denote things that are of service is evident, and that "violence" denotes the destruction of charity, will be seen presently); and from the signification of "swords," as being doctrinal things. For "swords (gladii)" denote the truths of faith, by means of which combat is waged against falsities and evils (n. 2799), thus "swords (machaerae)" are doctrinal things, here the doctrinal things by means of which combat is waged against truth and good, and by means of which these are extinguished, because this is done by those who are in faith alone, or in faith separate from charity, with whom the reverse prevails.

[2] The doctrinal things of those who are in faith alone, whereby they destroy the works of charity, are chiefly those which teach that man is saved by faith alone without the works of charity, and that these are not necessary, and that man is saved by faith alone even in the last hour, no matter how he had lived through the whole course of his life, thus those who have practiced nothing but cruelties, those who have practiced nothing but adulteries, those who have practiced nothing but profane things; and hence that salvation is merely admission into heaven, none being admitted but they who have received this grace at the end of their life; and thus that some have been elected out of mercy, and some damned out of unmercifulness; when yet heaven is denied by the Lord to no one, but the life and the communication of life (which are there perceived as an odor is perceived by those exposed to it on earth) render it impossible for the wicked to dwell there, because they are tormented by the evil of their life there more than in the deepest hell.

[3] That a "sword" signifies falsity combating and slaying, is evident in John:--

There went forth another horse that was red, and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth, that they should kill one another, whence there was given unto him a great sword (Rev. 6:4).

Again:--

If anyone shall kill with the sword, with the sword must he be killed (Rev. 13:10, 14).

[4] That "violence" is violence inflicted on charity, is clear from many passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:--

The violent one shall cease, and the scorner shall be consumed, all who ripen iniquity shall be cut off, who make a man sin in a word, and ensnare him who reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just into emptiness (Isa. 29:20, 21);

in this passage the "violent one" is expressed by another word in the original, but of similar signification; that the "violent one" is one who inflicts violence on charity, is signified by "making a man sin in a word," and "turning aside the just."

[5] In the same:--

Their works are works of iniquity, and the deed of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood (Isa. 59:6, 7);

where "violence" is violence inflicted on charity, which is also signified by "shedding blood" (n. 374, 1005). Again:--

Violence shall no more be in thy land, wasting and a breach in thy borders (Isa. 60:18);

where "violence" denotes the destruction of charity, for hence comes "wasting and breach in the land," that is, in the church.

[6] In Jeremiah:--

I proclaim violence and vastation; because the word of Jehovah is made a reproach unto me, and a shame all the day (Jer. 20:8);

where "violence" also denotes violence in spiritual things, thus the destruction of charity and also of faith. In Ezekiel:--

The land is full of judgment of bloods, and the city is full of violence (Ezek. 7:23);

where "judgment of bloods" denotes the destruction of faith; and "violence," the destruction of charity.

[7] Again:--

If he beget a son that is violent, a shedder of blood, that doeth anyone of these things: if he hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his companionís wife, hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath seized spoil, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to idols, hath committed abomination, hath given upon interest, and hath received usury; shall he live? he shall not live, dying he shall die (Ezek. 18:10-13);

here a "son that is violent and a shedder of blood" is described, and all the works of charity which it destroys are recounted; thus a "son that is violent and a shedder of blood" is a destroyer of charity and faith.

[8] In David:--

Deliver me O Jehovah from the evil man, preserve me from the man of violences, who think evils in their heart, the whole day they gather themselves together for war; they sharpen their tongue like a serpent, the poison of the asp is under their lips. Keep me O Jehovah from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the man of violences. let not the man of tongue subsist in the earth; let evil hunt the man of violence to overthrow him (Ps. 140:1-4, 11);

a "man of violences" denotes those who destroy the truths of faith and the goods of charity; their fighting against these truths and goods is signified by their "gathering themselves together the whole day for war, sharpening the tongue as a serpent, the poison of the asp under their lips, and evil hunting him to overthrow him." And so in other passages, as (Ezek. 12:19; Joel 3:19; Mal. 2:16, 17; Zeph. 3:4; Ps. 18:48; 55:9-11; 58:3-6; Deut. 19:16).

AC 6354. Into their secret let not my soul come. That this signifies that spiritual good does not desire to know the evils that are of their will, is evident from the representation of Israel, who says this of himself, as being spiritual good (n. 6340); and from the signification of "not coming into a secret," as being not to desire to know, namely, the evils of the will that are signified by "Simeon and Levi" (n. 6352) it is said "my soul" because by "soul" is here signified the life of good belonging to spiritual good; the life of its truth is signified by "glory," of which in what follows.

AC 6355. In their assembly let not my glory be united. That this signifies that neither does the truth of spiritual good desire to know the falsities of their thought thence derived, is evident from the representation of Israel, as being spiritual good (n. 6340); and from the signification of "such being united in their assembly," as being not to desire to be conjoined with the falsities of their thought, thus also not to desire to know them (falsities of thought being signified by "assembly," which like "multitude," is predicated of truths, and in the opposite sense of falsities); and from the signification of "glory," which is predicated of truth (n. 4809, 5922), for truth is glory to those who are in spiritual good.

AC 6356. For in their anger they slew a man. That this signifies that they utterly averted themselves, and in their turning away extinguished faith, is evident from the signification of "anger," as being a receding from charity, and a turning away (n. 357, 5034, 5798); from the signification of "" as being to extinguish; and from the signification of "man (vir)," as being the truth of faith (n. 3134, 3309, 3459, 4823).

AC 6357. And in their good pleasure they unstrung an ox. That this signifies that from a depraved will they utterly weakened the external good of charity, is evident from the signification of "good pleasure," as being the will, here a depraved will; from the signification of "unstringing," as being to weaken; and from the signification of an "ox," as being the natural or external good of charity (n. 2180, 2566, 2781). The reason why an "ox" is here spoken of, and just before a "man," is that by a "man" is signified the truth of faith, and by an "ox" the good of charity; and in order that when good is treated of, truth may also be treated of, because of the heavenly marriage in everything of the Word (n. 6343).

AC 6358. Cursed be their anger for it was vehement. That this signifies a grievous turning away from good and the consequent condemnation, is evident from the signification of "being cursed," as being condemnation, for he who has been cursed has been condemned; and from the signification of "anger," as being a turning away from good (n. 357, 5034, 5798, 6356); thus "vehement anger" denotes a grievous turning away.

AC 6359. And their wrath for it was hard. That this signifies a turning away from the derivative truth, that it was confirmed, is evident from the signification of "wrath," as being a turning away from truth. "Wrath" is predicated of truth, and "anger" of good, (n. 3614); and from the signification of "hard," as being what is confirmed, for the falsity which has been confirmed even to persuasion, is hard. That it is hard has been given to know from experience, for among spirits and among the angels truth from good appears and is presented to view as soft, but falsity from evil as hard, and this in proportion as the falsity from evil is more confirmed. When persuasion has been brought about by means of confirmation from many things, this hardness appears there like the hardness of bone. Such hardness is also like the hardness in this world, in that it reflects the rays of light. Thus when the light of heaven from the Lord falls upon the hardness produced by falsity from evil, it is reflected; but on the other hand, when the light of heaven from the Lord falls upon the softness produced by truth from good, it is received.

AC 6360. I will divide them in Jacob. That this signifies that they must be banished from the natural man, is evident from the signification of "dividing," as being separation and removal from truth and good (n. 4424), thus banishment; and from the representation of Jacob, as being the natural or external man (n. 3305, 3576, 4286, 4292, 4570, 6236).

AC 6361. And scatter them in Israel. That this signifies from the spiritual man also, is evident from the signification of "scattering," as being banishment; but "scattering" is distinguished from "dividing" in that the latter is predicated of the external man and of truth, but "scattering" of the internal man and of good. Jacob represents the natural or external man, and Israel the spiritual or internal, (n. 4286, 4292, 4570). That these things which were said by Israel of Simeon and Levi, and also those which were said of Reuben, do not signify what would befall their descendants in the end of the days, as is said in the first verse, may be seen from the fact that the descendants of Simeon and Levi were not cursed, and divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel; for the tribe of Simeon was among the rest of the tribes as one of them; and the tribe of Levi was made the priesthood, thus was rather blessed than cursed; and so with the tribe of Reuben, which also was not more vile than the other tribes. Hence it is very manifest that what is said in this chapter of the sons of Jacob, as to what should befall them in the end of the days, is not what should befall themselves, but what should befall those who are meant by them in the internal sense; and here those who are in faith separated from charity, for these are here meant in the internal sense by "Reuben," "Simeon," and "Levi." From this it is very evident that there is an internal sense of the Word which does not appear in the letter, nor to anyone unless he knows the correspondences of natural things with spiritual, and not at all to him who does not know what the spiritual and what the celestial are.

GENESIS 49:5-7    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info