Arcana Coelestia #3690

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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3690. 'Jacob went out from Beersheba' means life more remote from matters of doctrine that are Divine. This is clear from the meaning of 'going' as living, dealt with in 3335, 3685, and so of 'going away' as living more remotely; and from the meaning of 'Beersheba' as doctrine that is Divine, dealt with in 2723, 2858, 2859, 3466. From this it is evident that 'Jacob went out from Beersheba' means life more remote from matters of doctrine that are Divine. Life is said to be more remote when it consists in external truths and is governed by these, as was the case in the early and later childhood of those who are being regenerated, dealt with just above in 3688.

[2] To demonstrate more fully what that life is, and what it is like, let a further brief statement be made about it. All the details of the historical tales contained in the Word are truths more remote from the actual matters of doctrine that are Divine. Nevertheless they are of service to young and older children in that by means of those tales they are led gradually into more interior matters of doctrine concerning what is true and good, and at length into Divine ones; for inmostly those tales hold what is Divine within them. When young children read them and in innocence are filled with affection for them, the angels present with them experience a delightful heavenly state, for the Lord fills those angels with affection for the internal sense and so for the things which the events of the historical tales represent and mean. It is that heavenly delight experienced by angels which flows in and causes the young children to take delight in those tales. In order that this first state may exist, that is, the state in early and later childhood of those who are to be regenerated, the historical tales in the Word have therefore been provided and written in such a way that every single detail there contains that which is Divine within them.

[3] How remote they are from matters of doctrine that are Divine may be seen from an example taken from those historical tales. When at first someone knows merely that God came down on Mount Sinai and gave Moses the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, and that Moses smashed them and God wrote similar commandments on another set of tablets, and this historical description in itself delights him, his life is governed by external truth and is remote from matters of doctrine that are Divine. Later on however when he starts to take delight in and have an affection for the commands or precepts there, and lives according to them, his life is now governed by actual truth; yet his life is still remote from matters of doctrine that are Divine. For the life he leads in keeping with those commands is no more than a morally correct life, the precepts of which are well known to everyone living in human society from the life of the community and from the laws existing there, such as worship of the Supreme Being, honouring parents, not committing murder, not committing adultery, and not stealing.

[4] But a person who is being regenerated is gradually led away from this more remote or morally correct life to life that comes closer to matters of doctrine that are Divine, that is, closer to spiritual life. When this happens he starts to wonder why such commands or precepts were sent down from heaven in so miraculous a fashion and why they were written on tablets with the finger of God, when they are in fact known to all peoples and are also written in the laws of those who have never heard anything from the Word. When he enters into this state of thinking he is then led by the Lord, if he belongs among those who are able to be regenerated, into a state more interior still, that is to say, into a state when he thinks that deeper things lie within which he does not as yet know. And when he reads the Word in this state he discovers in various places in the Prophets, and especially in the Gospels, that every one of those precepts contains within it things more heavenly still.

[5] In the commandment about honouring parents, for example, he discovers that when people are born anew, that is, are being regenerated, they receive another Father, and in that case become His sons, and that He is the one who is to be honoured, thus that this is the meaning which lies more interiorly in that commandment. He also gradually learns who that new Father is, namely the Lord, and at length how He is to be honoured, that is to say, worshipped, and that He is worshipped when He is loved. When a person who is being regenerated possesses this truth and lives according to it, a matter of doctrine that is Divine exists with him. His state at that time is an angelic state, and from this he now sees the things he had known previously as things which follow in order one after another and which flow from the Divine, like the steps of a stairway, at the top of which is Jehovah or the Lord, and on the steps themselves His angels going up and coming down. So he sees things that had previously delighted him as steps more remote from himself. The same may be said of the rest of the Ten Commandments, see 2609. From this one may now see what the life more remote from matters of doctrine that are Divine is, meant by the statement that Jacob went out from Beersheba.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.