Spiritual Meaning of

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 Reuben, Firstborn

The signification of the firstborn is faith (AC 352, 367, 2435, 3325); and from the representation of Jacob is the good of natural truth (AC 4538); and from that Reuben is the quality of faith. For Reuben in the genuine sense signifies the truth of faith (AC 3861, 3866); but after the truth of faith has been made good, be signifies the good of faith. Moreover regarded in itself faith is charity, and thus regarded in itself the truth of faith is the good of faith, because faith is impossible except from charity, that is, truth is impossible except from good; and therefore when a man has been regenerated, good is in the first place, or is the firstborn (AC 3325, 3494). Hence it is that by Reuben Jacob's firstborn is here signified the good of faith. The like is signified also in Moses:--

Let Reuben live and not die, and it shall be that his numbers are mortal (Deut. 33:6);

the reason why in this passage Reuben denotes the good of faith, is that he is put in the first place, and Judah in the second, thus in a different order in this prophecy of Moses respecting the sons of Israel from that in the prophecy of Jacob (Gen. 49), for as before said (AC 4603), the order in which they are named is determined in accordance with the state of the subject that is being treated of.

[2] In like manner in John:--

I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of every tribe. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand, of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand (Rev. 7:4, 5);

here Judah is named in the first place, Reuben in the second, and Gad in the third. These three here constitute the first class, and as the Lord's kingdom is the subject treated of, Judah signifies celestial good such as is in the inmost or third heaven, Reuben spiritual good which is the same as the good of faith such as is in the second or middle heaven, and Gad the good of the natural such as is in the first heaven. But it is otherwise in the prophecy of Deborah and Barak:--

The princes in Issachar were with Deborah, and as was Issachar so was Barak; into the valley he was sent at his feet, in the classes of Reuben were great decrees of heart; why dwellest thou between two burdens to hear the hissings of the droves? to the classes of Reuben were great searchings of heart (Judges 5:15, 16);

it is impossible to know the meaning of these words unless it is known what Issachar, Deborah, Barak, and Reuben represent; and what the princes, the valley, the classes, the decrees of heart, the two burdens, and the hissings of the droves, signify; but it is evident that Reuben here denotes faith.

from AC 4605

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