The Bible

 

Genesis 46

Study the Inner Meaning

           

1 And Israel journeyed, and all that he had, and came to Beer-sheba, and sacrificed sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

2 And God said to Israel in the visions of the night, and He said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Behold me.

3 And He said, I am God; the God of thy father; fear not from going·​·down to Egypt, for I will there set thee for a great nation.

4 I will go·​·down with thee toward Egypt; and I will cause thee to go·​·up, even to go·​·up; and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.

5 And Jacob rose·​·up from Beer-sheba; and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their infants, and their women, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

6 And they took their livestock, and their acquisition which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him;

7 his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed, brought he with him into Egypt.

8 And these are the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt, of Jacob and of his sons: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn.

9 And the sons of Reuben: Enoch, and Pallu, and Hezron, and Carmi.

10 And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.

11 And the sons of Levi: Gershon and Kohath, and Merari.

12 And the sons of Judah: Er, and Onan, and Shelah, and Perez, and Zeraḥ; but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan. And the sons of Perez were Hezron and Chamul.

13 And the sons of Issachar: Tola, and Puwah, and Iob, and Shimron.

14 And the sons of Zebulun: Sered, and Elon, and Jahleel.

15 These are the sons of Leah, to whom she gave·​·birth for Jacob in Paddan-aram, and his daughter Dinah; all the souls of his sons and of his daughters were thirty and three.

16 And the sons of Gad: Ziphion, and Haggi, Shuni, and Ezbon, Eri, and Arodi, and Areli.

17 And the sons of Asher: Imnah, and Ishvah, and Ishvi, and Beriah, and Serah their sister; and the sons of Beriah: Cheber, and Malchiel.

18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter, and to these she gave·​·birth for Jacob, sixteen souls.

19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin.

20 And to Joseph was·​·born* in the land of Egypt Manasseh and Ephraim, to whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, gave·​·birth for him.

21 And the sons of Benjamin: Bela, and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, Ehi, and Rosh, Muppim, and Huppim, and Ard.

22 These are the sons of Rachel, who were·​·born to Jacob; all the souls were fourteen.

23 And the sons of Dan: Hushim.

24 And the sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, and Guni, and Jezer, and Shillem.

25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and to these she gave·​·birth for Jacob; all the souls were seven.

26 All the souls that came with Jacob to Egypt, that came·​·forth from his thigh, besides the women of the sons of Jacob, all the souls were sixty and six.

27 And the sons of Joseph, who were·​·born to him in Egypt, were two souls. All the souls of the house of Jacob, who came to Egypt, were seventy.

28 And he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to go* before him to Goshen; and they came to the land of Goshen.

29 And Joseph harnessed his chariot, and went·​·up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen; and he was seen of him, and fell upon his necks, and wept upon his necks a long while.*

30 And Israel said to Joseph, Let me die, after that I have seen thy faces, that thou art yet alive.

31 And Joseph said to his brothers, and to his father’s house, I will go·​·up, and will tell Pharaoh, and will say to him, My brothers, and my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, are come to me;

32 and the men are shepherds of the flock, for they are men of livestock; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

33 And it may be that Pharaoh will call you, and will say, What are your works?

34 And you shall say: Thy servants have been men of livestock from our youth and even until now, both we, and our fathers; so·​·that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd of the flock is an abomination of Egypt.

  

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Genesis 46      

By Helen Kennedy

Genesis 46

1. So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his Father Isaac.

“Israel took his journey” tells us that he was starting out in the direction of being joined with his son, Joseph. Because this is moving towards a heavenly connection, Beersheba has a good meaning: charity and faith. By practicing charity, or kindness towards others in our thoughts and actions, and believing in God, we are worshiping Him, which is the inner meaning of offering sacrifices. (See Secrets of Heaven 5995)

2. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.”

When God speaks to Israel at night, it connotes darkness, or that Jacob is in a state of obscurity about God, perhaps not really sure of his visions. This can further be seen by God calling him “Jacob” which denotes natural truth, or God’s way as seen in natural truths. When Jacob says, “Here I am”, it shows that he was starting to understand the things of God.

3. And He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.

Because Jacob is starting to understand, “the God of your father” denotes that divine intelligence is flowing into the truths that Jacob is seeing, in a natural way. “Not fearing to go down to Egypt” shows us, in our natural way, that we shouldn’t fear learning about God’s ways for us, but should instead feel confident that the Lord will guide us. This can be seen in what follows immediately—the great nation that the Lord will make from Jacob means that the truths will turn out good, or that we will be led to good things because of the truths we learn.

4. “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”

We are assured of the Lord’s presence with us, because He tells Jacob, “I will go down with you to Egypt,” and then He will “surely bring you up again.” The mention of Joseph means that there will be truths from the deeper, inmost parts of us that will come and put a “hand on your eyes,” or help Jacob to see things in a deeper, more inward way (Secrets of Heaven 6008). This is the Lord saying that he will help all of us who believe in Him and live in charity to see truths with more detail and clarity.

5. Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Being enlightened by natural truths is meant by Jacob arising from Beersheba (Secrets of Heaven 6009).

His sons carrying him can mean that truths from a more spiritual origin cause the natural truth to enlighten our minds (see below for the meanings of the names of Jacob’s sons.) “Their little ones” brings to mind the innocence in this, especially since the children are named before “their wives,” which denote aspects of charity.

Jacob being put into the carts sent by Pharaoh shows that this further progression is enlightening things obtained from factual knowledge meant by Pharaoh (Secrets of Heaven 6009).

6. So they took their livestock and their goods which they had acquired in the land of Canaan and went to Egypt, Jacob and his descendants with him.

Taking their livestock and goods which they already possessed denotes the things of good and truth which a person already has before starting on the journey -- things of faith and natural truths. Faith belonging to natural truths is how we follow the commandments literally, without any sense of a deeper meaning. For example, if we do not commit murder but don't also understand that to hate another person is, in our spirits, also to commit murder. (Again, refer to Secrets of Heaven 6009).

7. His sons and his son’s sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.

“Sons” in the Word symbolize truths and “daughters” goods, so daughters of his sons would mean good things that spring from truths already known.

8. Now these were the names of the children of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn.

In the Word “names” indicate “qualities,” so the listing of all the names of the sons of Jacob plus their offspring indicates spiritual qualities which the Lord is providing for us as He takes us on the journey of being made spiritual. Reuben means faith in the understanding, so it occupies first place.

To understand the complexity of the things the Lord is doing for us, it helps to know the meanings of the names of Jacob’s descendants:

9. The sons of Reuben were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.

Reuben’s sons mean teachings about faith (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

10. The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

The sons of Simeon mean faith in the will, or a willingness to do the things that faith teaches.

11. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Levi represents spiritual love, which is why his descendants were priests, meaning they represent teachings about spiritual things.

12. The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zehar (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

Judah means celestial or the innermost love, so his sons indicate teachings regarding it. For example, a spiritual love is to love others as ourselves, but a celestial or innermost love it to love others more than ourselves.

13. The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah, Job and Shimron.

Since Issachar represents heavenly married love (conjugial love), his sons indicate true teachings about married love.

14. The sons of Zebulun were Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

Zebulun and his sons mean the heavenly marriage and teachings regarding it. By the heavenly marriage is meant the joining of love and wisdom, or good and truth together in a marriage, meaning that wisdom gives guidance to our love, and love motivates our wisdom.

15. These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, with his daughter Dinah. All the persons, his sons and his daughters, were thirty-three.

“Leah” being female represents an affection or love, here the spiritual affection flowing into the natural part of us. “Padam Aram” means that we “must be born anew or made spiritual,” (Secrets of Heaven 6025) and that process begins with knowing things, or having knowledges, about it.

That all of Jacob’s sons so far were born there represents new births or new insights into this process.

16. The sons of Gad were Ziphon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

They represent the good actions which are the result of us having faith, and the teachings from it.

17. The sons of Asher were Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah and Serah, their sister. And the sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel.

These mean the happiness of eternal life, the delight of it, and teachings about it.

18. These were the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob: sixteen persons.

Gad and Asher, being born of Zilpah, a handmaid of Leah and not a wife, shows that they represent outer or external qualities or things in the natural part of us. Doing the things faith teaches us needs to occur in our natural life, while thinking of the happiness and delight of living forever is a truth that buoys us up. With this truth we are inspired to continue living the life of being born anew (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

19. The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, were Joseph and Benjamin.

Contrasted with the sons of Zilpah, who represent outer or external qualities, the sons of Rachel represent inner or spiritual qualities, Joseph representing good of our inner life and Benjamin, the truth of it.

20. And to Joseph in the land of Egypt there were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah, priest of On, bore to him.

To Joseph in the land of Egypt means that inmost and inner heavenly qualities are flowing down into the natural part of us. Asenath, who was married to Joseph, was a priest’s daughter, and their marriage must represent a quality of the marriage of good and truth. The priest was Egyptian, and Egypt represents truths in the natural needed to receive the inner good represented by Joseph. Joseph’s children, Manasseh and Ephraim, symbolize a new area of the will and a new associated area of the understanding which the Lord is creating in those being prepared for heaven.

21. “The sons of Benjamin were Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

The sons of Benjamin represent the deeper spiritual part of us, and teachings regarding it.

22. These were the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob: fourteen persons in all.

Mentioning that these were the descendants of Rachel shows that they were born from affection — Rachel, a female, representing a love within us. Since she is Joseph’s mother, her name represents a love for the innermost, or celestial qualities.

23. The son of Dan was Hushim.

We are up a level, again, here, to the sons of Jacob, Dan and Naphtali.

Dan represents the first state of a person who is about to be regenerated, but in the outer, or most external part of him or her (Secrets of Heaven 3923).

Dan’s son, Hushim, means the holiness of faith and the good of life, and teachings regarding them. When we believe right things, then they show us how to live a better life.

24. The sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

Naphtali represents victory over these temptations, and also a perception of usefulness after temptation (Apocalypse Revealed 354).

Naphtali’s sons represent temptations in which victory is won, and teachings regarding them. As soon as we start to live a better life, thoughts and desires wanting to lead us astray are not far behind.

25. These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel, his daughter, and she bore these to Jacob seven persons in all.

Bilhah was a handmaid of Rachel’s, so she signifies things which belong to Rachel, which are a love for the deepest or innermost qualities God opens up in us. The seven in “Seven persons in all” shows us a completion as these states flow into us from the Lord. This is further shown by the next sentence, which is a short summation of this.

26. All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all.

The people going with Jacob to Egypt represent all the truths and forms of good introduced into the natural or external part of us. Those who didn’t come from Jacob, his sons’ wives” represent things that aren’t really serving good things of love coming from the Lord into our natural life (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

27. And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.

The sons of Joseph born in Egypt signify innermost heavenly, and inner spiritual qualities flowing down into the natural part of us, as in verse 20 where it says they were born to Joseph. That they were “two persons” means that new areas of the will and understanding were opening up. “Seventy” means all and in its proper order (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

28. Then he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out before him the way to Goshen. And they came to the land of Goshen.

Judah going before Joseph means forms of good that are intermediary, or in the middle between the good in innermost parts of us (Joseph) and the good in outermost or natural (Joseph). “Goshen,” the land they were going to, signifies inner things within our natural person.

29. So Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while.

Chariots always signify doctrinal teachings, so Joseph making his chariot ready means teachings about innermost things, like loving the Lord about all or not looking for personal credit when doing something good. Joseph presenting himself to his father, Israel, tells us there is an inflowing from deeper things, and our outer self is perceiving it. “Falling on his neck” symbolizes our innermost and outermost things joined. Joseph weeping means this conjoining is through mercy. Weeping for a good while represents mercy or the depth that this affection coming from the Lord has for our natural or external selves (Refer to Secrets of Heaven 6026).

30. And Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”

“Israel said to Joseph” indicates a spiritual good that is present within our natural selves. “Now let me die” means an old way of life is ending and a new way of life is beginning. “Now that I have seen your face,” means that mercy has been discerned in the outermost parts. “Because you are still alive” shows that the outer parts discern there are much better things flowing in now, showing better ways to live.

31. Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, “My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me.

Joseph speaking to his brothers indicates that the natural understands some of the inner things represented by Joseph. “His father’s household” means the natural understands by the forms or in the way that it can. Joseph going up to Pharaoh indicates there is communication even to the point where innermost things are flowing into our factual knowledges about the life we must live to be in heaven. Joseph’s brothers and his father’s house coming to him means all the truths and forms of good that we have are going to be infilled with the deeper, celestial love that Joseph brings.

32. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds and all that they have.’

“The men are shepherds” means that the truths represented by his brothers leads to good. That all their flocks and herds are with them shows that good things of the interior and the exterior, and whatever is dependent on them, are all present. An example of this is that we are supposed to do useful things for one another. The innermost or celestial person does good things because they love the Lord; the spiritual or inner person because they love the neighbor; and the outermost or natural person does good things for others out of obedience.

33. “So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, “What is your occupation?”

“When Pharaoh calls you,” represents the natural part of us where factual knowledge about heavenly things resides. “What is your occupation?” shows the natural is interested and wants to know about the good that will be flowing into it.

34. “That you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.

This verse shows that truths leading to good have been present and are present now. “That you may dwell in the land of Goshen” shows that spiritual truths will be in the center of natural things from now on, and since they’re in Egypt it shows they will be inflowing into the factual knowledge that teaches about a heavenly life.

“Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians,” signifies the separation between false outer, factual knowledge (the Egyptians) and the factual knowledge telling of inner or spiritual truths that lead us to heaven, are meant by Joseph’s brothers (Secrets of Heaven 6039).

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 5994, 5999, 6009, 6010, 6011, 6012, 6013, ...

Apocalypse Explained 654

Apocalypse Revealed 503


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 1195, 2723, 2959, 3021, 3862, 4286, 4316, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 349


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 431, 750

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 12:2, 15:1, 20:3, 21:31, 22:1, 11, 28:13, 15, 29:24, 29, 30:4, 9, 21, 35, 33:4, 34:5, 35:22, 23, 37:12, 38:3, 4, 5, 30, 41:45, 50, 43:32, 44:27, 45:10, 19, 28, 47:1, 3, 27, 48:1, 50:13, 24

Exodus 1:1, 5, 7, 12, 6:14, 16, 8:22

Numbers 3:17, 20:15, 26:21

Deuteronomy 10:22, 26:5

Joshua 24:4

Judges 7:2, 9

1 Samuel 8:2

1 Chronicles 2:3, 5, 4:1, 24, 5:3, 6:1, 7:1, 6, 13, 30, 31, 8:1, 9:4, 6

Nehemiah 11:24

Psalms 105:23

Isaiah 52:4

Zechariah 1:8

Luke 2:29, 3:33

Acts 7:14, 15

Bible Word Meanings

israel
Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

journeyed
'To journey' signifies the institutes and order of life.

came
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

God
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

father
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

isaac
'Isaac' represents spiritual love. 'Isaac,' in Genesis 17:19, signifies the rational divine. 'Isaac' signifies the Lord's divine rational in reference to divine good. Isaac' signifies...

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

Jacob
Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

Fear not
Fear not, as in Revelation 1:17; Daniel 10:5, 12; Matthew 17:5, 7; 28:10, etc., signifies resuscitation to life, and at the same time adoration from...

fear
The fearful signify people who have no faith.

going
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

egypt
'Mizraim' signifies the same thing as Egypt.

great
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

nation
The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nations.” When it uses “nation,” it is talking about a group with the...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

joseph
'The tribe of Zebulon' signifies the conjunction of people in the third heaven with the Lord, 'the tribe of Joseph,' the conjunction of people in...

Put
'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

hand
Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

eyes
'Pairs of hands, eyes, etc.' relate to the will and understanding, or to good and truth. The right side to the will or good, and...

rose
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

Sons of Israel
'The camp of the sons of Israel' represents the church.

women
The word "woman" is used a number of different ways in the Bible – as a simple description, as someone connected to a man ("his...

pharaoh
'Pharaoh' signifies scientific ideas, or the natural principle in general. 'Pharaoh' signifies false ideas infesting the truth of the church. Pharaoh,' in Genesis 40, represents...

sent
'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

livestock
Animals in the Bible generally refer to spiritual activity, the things we actually do on a spiritual level. "Cattle," as typically used in the Bible,...

acquisition
Acquisition (Genesis 12:5) means all things which are sensual truths or things of science which are the ground of thought in man. Acquisition and purchase...

acquired
Acquisition (Genesis 12:5) means all things which are sensual truths or things of science which are the ground of thought in man. Acquisition and purchase...

land
Is there any difference in meaning between “earth” and “ground”? At first it doesn’t seem so; both refer to the soil making up the land...

Land of Canaan
The land of Canaan' in the Word, means love, and consequently, the will of the celestial self.

canaan
Canaan signifies a worship in things external without internals, which arose out of the internal church corrupted, called Ham. Thus it is that Ham is...

seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

daughters
Marriages among people – both in the Bible and in life – represent spiritual marriage. Women represent the desire to be good and to do...

names
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

reuben
'Reuben,' in the highest sense, signifies omniscience. In a spiritual sense, he signifies wisdom, intelligence, science, and faith. In a natural sense, he signifies sight....

firstborn
When the Bible talks about generations or birth order, the internal meaning has to do with the progression of spiritual states and their relative importance....

enoch
'Hanoch' denotes those who are in the truth of faith.

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

Simeon
In Revelation 7, 'Simeon', in the highest sense, signifies providence, in a spiritual sense, love towards our neighbor, or charity, and in a natural sense,...

Sons of Levi
'The sons of Levi,' as in Deuteronomy 21:5, signify the affection of good and truth, which is charity.

levi
'Levi' signifies truth in practice, which is the good of life. 'Levi,' in the highest sense, signifies love and mercy, in a spiritual sense, he...

Sons of Judah
'The sons of Judah,' as in Joel 3:6, signify the celestial aspects of faith.

judah
City of Judah,' as in Isaiah 40:9, signifies the doctrine of love towards the Lord and love towards our neighbor in its whole extent.

Er
Er, mentioned in Gen. 38:3, signifies the quality of falsity derived from the evil of self-love, which prevailed in the Jewish church, or the false...

onan
'Onan,' as in Genesis 38, describes the evil from the falsity of evil which was later prominent among the Jewish peoples.

Shelah
'Shelah,' as in Genesis 38:2, signifies the quality of evil derived from falsity of evil, or the quality of the idolatry with the Jewish nation.

zera
'Zarah,' as in Genesis 38:30, signifies the quality of good as actually being firstborn, and truth only seems to be. 'Zarah' in the original tongue...

died
'The soul going forth' and 'dying,' as in Genesis 35:18, signifies the extreme of temptation, which is when the old self dies and the new...

Issachar
Issachar,' in the highest sense, signifies the divine good of truth, and truth of good. In a spiritual sense, he signifies celestial conjugial love, which...

birth
To beget or to be begotten is very similar in meaning to birth: It represents one spiritual state leading to the next spiritual state. "Beget,"...

Paddan-Aram
'Padan Aram,' as in Genesis 28:2, signifies the exterior knowledges of good and truth.

souls
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

thirty
'Thirty' has a twofold significance because it is is the product of five and six, and also three and ten. From five multiplied by six,...

gad
Gad, in a supreme sense, signifies omnipotence; in a spiritual sense, the good of life, or use; and in a natural sense, works. Gad, in...

sister
The Lord calls people who are in truth from the good of charity from Him 'sisters,' as in Matthew 12:50. 'Sister' denotes intellectual truth, when...

laban
'Laban' signifies the affection of good in the natural self, or the affection of external good, and properly collateral good of a common stock. The...

rachel
'Rachel' denotes the affection of interior truth.

wife
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg...

and Benjamin
'The tribe of Zebulon' signifies the conjunction of people in the third heaven with the Lord, 'the tribe of Joseph,' the conjunction of people in...

Benjamin
Also, Benjamin signifies the Word in its ultimate sense (Deut. 33:12)

born
In a general sense, being "born" in the Bible represents one spiritual state producing another, usually some form of love or affection producing or "giving...

manasseh
'Manasseh' signifies the will of the spiritual church.

ephraim
Ephraim was the second son born to Joseph in Egypt and was, along with his older brother Manasseh, elevated by Jacob to the same status...

Asenath
Asenath became the wife of Joseph. "And gave him Asenath the daughter of Potiphar the priest of On for a woman" (Genesis 41:45) That hereby...

Priest of On
'The priest of On' denotes good.

Naaman
'Naaman, the Syrian,' as in 2 Kings 5:10, represents people who falsify the knowledges of truth and good from the Word. Naaman being healed of...

fourteen
Fourteen, as in Genesis 31:40, signifies a first period of time. The fourteenth year, as in Genesis 14:5, signifies the first temptation of the Lord...

dan
The tribe of Dan (Jer. 8:16) signifies truth in its own ultimate degree of order, here truth in the church, which is contained in the...

naphtali
'Naphtali' in a supreme sense, signifies the proper power of the Lord’s divine human. In a spiritual sense, he signifies temptation and victory and a...

Bilhah
Bilhah is the maidservant of Rachel, and Rachel is Jacob's second wife. Jacob's first wife is Rachel's sister, Leah. Leah has a maidservant, too, Zilpah....

seven
The number 'seven' was considered holy, as is well known, because of the six days of creation, and the seventh, which is the celestial self,...

thigh
In Revelation 19:16, 'the Lord’s thigh' signifies the Word regarding its divine good. 'The thigh and loins' signify conjugial love, and because this is the...

sixty
'Sixty' means the full time and state of the implantation of truth in our minds.

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

goshen
‘The land of Goshen,’ as in Genesis 46:28, signifies the innermost parts of the natural mind.

meet
In natural language, to "meet" someone can be positive or negative: it can be a welcoming and greeting, or it can be "meeting" them in...

see
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

fell
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

necks
'The neck' signifies influx and the communication of interior and exterior levels and the following conjunction. The inmost or third heaven has reference to the...

wept
'Weeping with a loud voice' signifies the ultimate of grief.

die
Dead (Gen. 23:8) signifies night, in respect to the goodnesses and truths of faith.

after
According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

faces
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

brothers
There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

say
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

shepherds
The Writings tell us that shepherds represent those who lead and teach others, using knowledge and true ideas to help people reach the goodness of...

herds
'A herd,' as mentioned in Genesis 32:7, denotes exterior or natural good, and also not good things.

flock
A flock, as in Genesis 26, denotes interior or rational good. A flock signifies those who are in spiritual good. A flock signifies natural interior...

flocks
It’s pretty easy for most people to read the Bible and get a sense for what “sheep” means without any help. They are simple, peaceful,...

call
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

works
'Works,' as in Genesis 46:33, denote goods, because they are from the will, and anything from the will is either good or evil, but anything...

servants
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

youth
'Tender of age' denotes the state of truths newly received not yet genuine.

fathers
Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

dwell
Many people were nomadic in Biblical times, especially the times of the Old Testament, and lived in tents that could be struck, moved and re-raised...

shepherd
The Writings tell us that shepherds represent those who lead and teach others, using knowledge and true ideas to help people reach the goodness of...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Joseph Welcomes His Family
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Sending Out the Seventy
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


Thanks to the Kempton Project for the permission to use this New Church translation of the Word.

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Genesis 46      

By Helen Kennedy

Genesis 46

1. So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his Father Isaac.

“Israel took his journey” tells us that he was starting out in the direction of being joined with his son, Joseph. Because this is moving towards a heavenly connection, Beersheba has a good meaning: charity and faith. By practicing charity, or kindness towards others in our thoughts and actions, and believing in God, we are worshiping Him, which is the inner meaning of offering sacrifices. (See Secrets of Heaven 5995)

2. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.”

When God speaks to Israel at night, it connotes darkness, or that Jacob is in a state of obscurity about God, perhaps not really sure of his visions. This can further be seen by God calling him “Jacob” which denotes natural truth, or God’s way as seen in natural truths. When Jacob says, “Here I am”, it shows that he was starting to understand the things of God.

3. And He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.

Because Jacob is starting to understand, “the God of your father” denotes that divine intelligence is flowing into the truths that Jacob is seeing, in a natural way. “Not fearing to go down to Egypt” shows us, in our natural way, that we shouldn’t fear learning about God’s ways for us, but should instead feel confident that the Lord will guide us. This can be seen in what follows immediately—the great nation that the Lord will make from Jacob means that the truths will turn out good, or that we will be led to good things because of the truths we learn.

4. “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”

We are assured of the Lord’s presence with us, because He tells Jacob, “I will go down with you to Egypt,” and then He will “surely bring you up again.” The mention of Joseph means that there will be truths from the deeper, inmost parts of us that will come and put a “hand on your eyes,” or help Jacob to see things in a deeper, more inward way (Secrets of Heaven 6008). This is the Lord saying that he will help all of us who believe in Him and live in charity to see truths with more detail and clarity.

5. Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Being enlightened by natural truths is meant by Jacob arising from Beersheba (Secrets of Heaven 6009).

His sons carrying him can mean that truths from a more spiritual origin cause the natural truth to enlighten our minds (see below for the meanings of the names of Jacob’s sons.) “Their little ones” brings to mind the innocence in this, especially since the children are named before “their wives,” which denote aspects of charity.

Jacob being put into the carts sent by Pharaoh shows that this further progression is enlightening things obtained from factual knowledge meant by Pharaoh (Secrets of Heaven 6009).

6. So they took their livestock and their goods which they had acquired in the land of Canaan and went to Egypt, Jacob and his descendants with him.

Taking their livestock and goods which they already possessed denotes the things of good and truth which a person already has before starting on the journey -- things of faith and natural truths. Faith belonging to natural truths is how we follow the commandments literally, without any sense of a deeper meaning. For example, if we do not commit murder but don't also understand that to hate another person is, in our spirits, also to commit murder. (Again, refer to Secrets of Heaven 6009).

7. His sons and his son’s sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.

“Sons” in the Word symbolize truths and “daughters” goods, so daughters of his sons would mean good things that spring from truths already known.

8. Now these were the names of the children of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn.

In the Word “names” indicate “qualities,” so the listing of all the names of the sons of Jacob plus their offspring indicates spiritual qualities which the Lord is providing for us as He takes us on the journey of being made spiritual. Reuben means faith in the understanding, so it occupies first place.

To understand the complexity of the things the Lord is doing for us, it helps to know the meanings of the names of Jacob’s descendants:

9. The sons of Reuben were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.

Reuben’s sons mean teachings about faith (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

10. The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.

The sons of Simeon mean faith in the will, or a willingness to do the things that faith teaches.

11. The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Levi represents spiritual love, which is why his descendants were priests, meaning they represent teachings about spiritual things.

12. The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zehar (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

Judah means celestial or the innermost love, so his sons indicate teachings regarding it. For example, a spiritual love is to love others as ourselves, but a celestial or innermost love it to love others more than ourselves.

13. The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah, Job and Shimron.

Since Issachar represents heavenly married love (conjugial love), his sons indicate true teachings about married love.

14. The sons of Zebulun were Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

Zebulun and his sons mean the heavenly marriage and teachings regarding it. By the heavenly marriage is meant the joining of love and wisdom, or good and truth together in a marriage, meaning that wisdom gives guidance to our love, and love motivates our wisdom.

15. These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, with his daughter Dinah. All the persons, his sons and his daughters, were thirty-three.

“Leah” being female represents an affection or love, here the spiritual affection flowing into the natural part of us. “Padam Aram” means that we “must be born anew or made spiritual,” (Secrets of Heaven 6025) and that process begins with knowing things, or having knowledges, about it.

That all of Jacob’s sons so far were born there represents new births or new insights into this process.

16. The sons of Gad were Ziphon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

They represent the good actions which are the result of us having faith, and the teachings from it.

17. The sons of Asher were Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah and Serah, their sister. And the sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel.

These mean the happiness of eternal life, the delight of it, and teachings about it.

18. These were the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob: sixteen persons.

Gad and Asher, being born of Zilpah, a handmaid of Leah and not a wife, shows that they represent outer or external qualities or things in the natural part of us. Doing the things faith teaches us needs to occur in our natural life, while thinking of the happiness and delight of living forever is a truth that buoys us up. With this truth we are inspired to continue living the life of being born anew (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

19. The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, were Joseph and Benjamin.

Contrasted with the sons of Zilpah, who represent outer or external qualities, the sons of Rachel represent inner or spiritual qualities, Joseph representing good of our inner life and Benjamin, the truth of it.

20. And to Joseph in the land of Egypt there were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah, priest of On, bore to him.

To Joseph in the land of Egypt means that inmost and inner heavenly qualities are flowing down into the natural part of us. Asenath, who was married to Joseph, was a priest’s daughter, and their marriage must represent a quality of the marriage of good and truth. The priest was Egyptian, and Egypt represents truths in the natural needed to receive the inner good represented by Joseph. Joseph’s children, Manasseh and Ephraim, symbolize a new area of the will and a new associated area of the understanding which the Lord is creating in those being prepared for heaven.

21. “The sons of Benjamin were Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

The sons of Benjamin represent the deeper spiritual part of us, and teachings regarding it.

22. These were the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob: fourteen persons in all.

Mentioning that these were the descendants of Rachel shows that they were born from affection — Rachel, a female, representing a love within us. Since she is Joseph’s mother, her name represents a love for the innermost, or celestial qualities.

23. The son of Dan was Hushim.

We are up a level, again, here, to the sons of Jacob, Dan and Naphtali.

Dan represents the first state of a person who is about to be regenerated, but in the outer, or most external part of him or her (Secrets of Heaven 3923).

Dan’s son, Hushim, means the holiness of faith and the good of life, and teachings regarding them. When we believe right things, then they show us how to live a better life.

24. The sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

Naphtali represents victory over these temptations, and also a perception of usefulness after temptation (Apocalypse Revealed 354).

Naphtali’s sons represent temptations in which victory is won, and teachings regarding them. As soon as we start to live a better life, thoughts and desires wanting to lead us astray are not far behind.

25. These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel, his daughter, and she bore these to Jacob seven persons in all.

Bilhah was a handmaid of Rachel’s, so she signifies things which belong to Rachel, which are a love for the deepest or innermost qualities God opens up in us. The seven in “Seven persons in all” shows us a completion as these states flow into us from the Lord. This is further shown by the next sentence, which is a short summation of this.

26. All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all.

The people going with Jacob to Egypt represent all the truths and forms of good introduced into the natural or external part of us. Those who didn’t come from Jacob, his sons’ wives” represent things that aren’t really serving good things of love coming from the Lord into our natural life (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

27. And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.

The sons of Joseph born in Egypt signify innermost heavenly, and inner spiritual qualities flowing down into the natural part of us, as in verse 20 where it says they were born to Joseph. That they were “two persons” means that new areas of the will and understanding were opening up. “Seventy” means all and in its proper order (Secrets of Heaven 6024).

28. Then he sent Judah before him to Joseph, to point out before him the way to Goshen. And they came to the land of Goshen.

Judah going before Joseph means forms of good that are intermediary, or in the middle between the good in innermost parts of us (Joseph) and the good in outermost or natural (Joseph). “Goshen,” the land they were going to, signifies inner things within our natural person.

29. So Joseph made ready his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel; and he presented himself to him, and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while.

Chariots always signify doctrinal teachings, so Joseph making his chariot ready means teachings about innermost things, like loving the Lord about all or not looking for personal credit when doing something good. Joseph presenting himself to his father, Israel, tells us there is an inflowing from deeper things, and our outer self is perceiving it. “Falling on his neck” symbolizes our innermost and outermost things joined. Joseph weeping means this conjoining is through mercy. Weeping for a good while represents mercy or the depth that this affection coming from the Lord has for our natural or external selves (Refer to Secrets of Heaven 6026).

30. And Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”

“Israel said to Joseph” indicates a spiritual good that is present within our natural selves. “Now let me die” means an old way of life is ending and a new way of life is beginning. “Now that I have seen your face,” means that mercy has been discerned in the outermost parts. “Because you are still alive” shows that the outer parts discern there are much better things flowing in now, showing better ways to live.

31. Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, “My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me.

Joseph speaking to his brothers indicates that the natural understands some of the inner things represented by Joseph. “His father’s household” means the natural understands by the forms or in the way that it can. Joseph going up to Pharaoh indicates there is communication even to the point where innermost things are flowing into our factual knowledges about the life we must live to be in heaven. Joseph’s brothers and his father’s house coming to him means all the truths and forms of good that we have are going to be infilled with the deeper, celestial love that Joseph brings.

32. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds and all that they have.’

“The men are shepherds” means that the truths represented by his brothers leads to good. That all their flocks and herds are with them shows that good things of the interior and the exterior, and whatever is dependent on them, are all present. An example of this is that we are supposed to do useful things for one another. The innermost or celestial person does good things because they love the Lord; the spiritual or inner person because they love the neighbor; and the outermost or natural person does good things for others out of obedience.

33. “So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, “What is your occupation?”

“When Pharaoh calls you,” represents the natural part of us where factual knowledge about heavenly things resides. “What is your occupation?” shows the natural is interested and wants to know about the good that will be flowing into it.

34. “That you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.

This verse shows that truths leading to good have been present and are present now. “That you may dwell in the land of Goshen” shows that spiritual truths will be in the center of natural things from now on, and since they’re in Egypt it shows they will be inflowing into the factual knowledge that teaches about a heavenly life.

“Every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians,” signifies the separation between false outer, factual knowledge (the Egyptians) and the factual knowledge telling of inner or spiritual truths that lead us to heaven, are meant by Joseph’s brothers (Secrets of Heaven 6039).


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