3325. 'Sell me - as if today - your birthright' means that in the short term the doctrine of truth was apparently prior. This is clear from the meaning of 'selling' as claiming for oneself; from the meaning of 'as if today' as in the short term (for in the internal sense of the Word 'today' means that which is perpetual and eternal, 2838. But to avoid its meaning perpetual and eternal the expression 'as if today' is used, the expression as if indicating that it was so apparently); and from the meaning of 'birthright' as the fact that it - that is to say, the doctrine of truth, which Jacob represents, 3305 - is prior.
 By the expressions prior and priority of place, describing the birthright, are meant not only first in time but also first in degree; that is to say, it is a question of which one is to have dominion, good or truth? For until it has been joined to good truth is always prior; or what amounts to the same, until they have been regenerated, people governed by truth believe that truth is prior to and higher than good. That is how it appears at that time; but once truth with them has been joined to good, that is, once they have been regenerated, they see and perceive that truth is posterior and lower than good, and with them good has dominion over truth. This is what is meant by that which Isaac his father told Esau,
Behold, of the fatness of the earth will be your dwelling, and of the dew of heaven from above. And by your sword you will live, and you will serve your brother; and it will be, when you have dominion, that you will break his yoke from above your neck Genesis 27:39-40.
 But because within the Church those who are not being regenerated outnumber those who are, and those who are not base their judgements on what is the appearance, it has therefore been disputed, even from ancient times, whether priority of place belongs to truth or to good. With those who have not been regenerated and also with those who are not completely regenerate the opinion prevails that truth is prior, for they have not yet acquired a perception of good; and as long as anybody is without a perception of good he is in the dark or ignorant regarding these matters. But because those who have been regenerated are governed by good itself, they are able to discern from resulting intelligence and wisdom what good is, and that good comes from the Lord and flows in by way of the internal man into the external, doing so constantly without the person being aware of it. They are able to perceive that it joins itself to the truths of doctrine that are in the memory, and that as a consequence good in itself is prior even though it has not appeared so beforehand. This then is why the dispute arose about which one was prior and higher than the other, a dispute which was represented by Esau and Jacob, as well as by Perez and Zerah, Judah's sons by Tamar, Genesis 38:28-30, and also after that by Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, Genesis 48:13-14, 17-20. The dispute arises because the spiritual Church is such that it has to be led to good by means of truth, and while being led to good it does not have the perception of good except insofar as this, quantitatively and qualitatively, lies concealed within the affection for truth. At that time it is indistinguishable from the delight of self-love and of love of the world which exists at the same time within that affection and is believed to be good.
 Good however is the firstborn, that is, good flowing from love to the Lord and from love towards the neighbour, for no other good is good except that which flows from these. This becomes clear from the fact that life is present within good but not within truth except the life received from good, and from the fact that good flows into truths and gives them life, as may be seen clearly from what has been stated and shown already in 3324 about good and truth. For this reason all in whom love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour are present are called 'the firstborn'. They were also represented in the Jewish Church by firstborn creatures - that is, when these are understood in the relative sense; for the Lord is the Firstborn, and those people are likenesses and images of Him.
 The Lord as regards His Divine Human is the Firstborn. This is clear in David,
He will cry to Me, You are My Father, My God, and the Rock of My Salvation; I will also make Him the Firstborn, supreme over the kings of the earth. My mercy I will keep for Him for ever, and My covenant will stand firm for Him, and I will establish His seed for ever, and His throne as the days of the heavens. Psalms 89:26-29.
This refers to the Lord. And in John,
From Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the Firstborn from mortal men, and Prince of the kings of the earth. Revelation 1:5.
And to fulfil those things that had been written regarding Him and that represented Him He was also the Firstborn Son, Luke 2:7, 22-23.
 The Lord also calls 'the firstborn' those in whom love to Him and charity towards the neighbour are present because they are likenesses and images of Him This is clear in John,
The hundred and forty-four thousand purchased from the earth - these are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins; these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes; these have been purchased from men as firstfruits (the firstborn) to God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are spotless before God's throne. Revelation 14:3-5.
'A hundred and forty-four', or twelve times twelve, stands for those who have the faith that is grounded in charity, 3272, 'thousands' for countless numbers or for them all, 2575, 'virgins' for the good that flows from love to the Lord and from charity towards the neighbour, 2362, 3081, and so for those with whom innocence is present, which is also the meaning of 'following the Lamb' since the Lord by virtue of His innocence is called 'the Lamb'. This is why they are called the firstfruits or the firstborn.
 From these quotations it is evident that the Lord as regards the Divine Human was represented in the Jewish Church by firstborn beings, as also are those with whom love to Him is present, for they abide in the Lord. But the firstborn beings mentioned in the Word have a dual representation. They represent the Lord as regards Divine celestial love and as regards Divine spiritual love. The Lord's Divine celestial love is specific to the celestial Church, or to those belonging to that Church, who are called celestial on account of their love to the Lord. The Lord's Divine spiritual love is specific to the spiritual Church, or to those belonging to that Church, who are referred to as spiritual on account of their love to the neighbour. The Lord's Divine love goes out to all, but because people receive it variously - the celestial person in one way, the spiritual in another - it is said to be specific.
 Concerning the firstborn beings which represented the Lord as regards Divine celestial love, and also the people who belonged specifically to the celestial Church, the following is said in Moses,
The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. You shall do the same with your oxen and your flock. Seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth you shall give it to Me. And you shall be men who are sanctified to Me. Exodus 22:29-31.
The reason why it was to stay seven days with its mother was that the seventh day meant the celestial man, 84-87, and that seven consequently means that which is holy, 395, 433, 716, 881. The reason why on the eighth day they were to be given to Jehovah was that the eighth day meant the continuation from a new beginning, that is to say, the continuation of love, 2044. In the same author,
The firstborn among beasts, which is given as the firstborn to Jehovah, no man shall consecrate it; whether an ox or of the herd, it is Jehovah's. Leviticus 27:26, 27.
In the same author,
The firstfruits of all that is in the land, which they bring to Jehovah, shall be yours (Aaron's); every clean person in your house shall eat them. All that opens the womb among all flesh which they offer to Jehovah, man and beast, shall be yours. Nevertheless you shall redeem the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of unclean beasts you shall redeem. The firstborn of an ox, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat you shall not redeem; they are holy. Their blood you shall sprinkle over the altar and burn their fat as a fire-offering for an odour of rest to Jehovah. Numbers 18:13, 15-18.
In the same author,
Every firstborn male that is born among your herds and among your flocks you shall sanctify to Jehovah your God; you shall do no work by means of the firstborn of your oxen, and you shall not shear the firstborn of your flock. And if there is a blemish in it, lameness or blindness, any ill blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to Jehovah your God. Deuteronomy 15:19-22.
Deuteronomy 15:19, 15:21; Numbers 18:12-13, 18:15, 18:17)
 Because 'the firstborn [among beasts]' represented the Lord and those who are the Lord's by virtue of love to Him, the tribe of Levi was therefore taken instead of all the firstborn, the reason for this being that Levi represented the Lord as regards His love. Also, Levi means love, for Levi is a name that means to cling to and to be joined together - and 'to cling to' and 'to be joined together' in the internal sense is love. This will in the Lord's Divine mercy be dealt with later on, at Genesis 29:34. Regarding the Levites the following is said in Moses,
Jehovah spoke to Moses. saying, Behold, I Myself will take the Levites from the midst of the children of Israel, instead of every firstborn, that which opens the womb, from the children of Israel; and the Levites will be Mine. For every firstborn is Mine; on the day I struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified every firstborn for Myself in Israel; from man even to beast they shall be Mine. Numbers 3:11-13.
In the same author,
Jehovah said to Moses, Number every firstborn male from the children of Israel, a month old and over, and take the number of their names. And take the Levites for Me - I am Jehovah - instead of every firstborn among the children of Israel, and the beast of the Levites instead of every firstborn among the beasts of the children of Israel. Numbers 3:40-41, and following verses.
Also Numbers 8:14, 16-18. And the Levites were given to Aaron, Numbers 8:19, because Aaron represented the Lord as regards the priesthood, that is, as regards Divine love; for the priesthood represented the Lord's Divine love, see 1728, 2015 (end).
 Concerning the firstborn creatures however which represented the Lord as regards Divine spiritual love, and also the people who belonged specifically to the spiritual Church, the following is said in Jeremiah,
With weeping they will come, and with supplications I will lead them, I will bring them to springs of water in a straight path on which they will not stumble; and I will be a Father to Israel, and Ephraim will be My firstborn. Jeremiah 31:9.
This refers to a new spiritual Church. 'Israel' stands for spiritual good, 'Ephraim' for spiritual truth, who is called 'the firstborn' because the subject is a Church that is to be established in which the understanding - which is the holder of truth - is apparently the firstborn. Indeed Ephraim took Reuben's place and became the firstborn, Genesis 48:5, 20; 1 Chronicles 5:1. He did so because Joseph, whose sons were Ephraim and Manasseh, represented the Lord as regards Divine spiritual love. But fundamentally Israel, that is, spiritual good, is the firstborn. This is clear in Moses,
Jehovah said to Moses, You shall say to Pharaoh, Thus said Jehovah, My firstborn son is Israel, and I say to you, Send My son so that he may serve Me, and you have refused to send him; behold, I kill your son, the firstborn. Exodus 4:22-23.
Here 'Israel' in the highest sense is the Lord as regards Divine spiritual love, and in the relative sense those in whom spiritual love, that is, charity towards the neighbour, is present.
Acts of the Apostles 5:1; Exodus 4:21-23)
 In the case of the spiritual Church, in the beginning or when it is about to be established, it is the doctrine of truth that is the firstborn with the external Church and the truth taught by doctrine the firstborn with the internal Church - or what amounts to the same, the doctrine of faith is the firstborn with the external Church and faith itself with the internal Church. But once it has been set up, or is a reality among its members, it is the good flowing from charity that is the firstborn with the external Church and charity itself with the internal Church. When however the Church does not allow itself to be established, as happens when it is no longer possible for the member of the Church to be regenerated, it gradually retreats from charity and turns aside to faith. Furthermore it no longer concerns itself with life but with doctrine; and when that happens it casts itself into shadows and sinks into falsities and evils. In so doing it ceases to be a Church and brings about its own annihilation. This was represented by Cain, in that he slew Abel his brother - Cain meaning faith separated from charity, and Abel the charity which he annihilated, see 340, 342, 357, 362, and following paragraphs. Later on it was represented by Ham - and Canaan his son - in that he mocked Noah his father, 1062, 1063, 1076, 1140, 1141, 1162, 1179. After that it was represented by Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, in that he defiled his father's bed, Genesis 35:22, and at length by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, in that these afflicted the children of Israel. It is clear from the Word that all these were accursed, as the following shows:
Jehovah said, What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying out to Me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. Genesis 4:10-11.
Ham and Canaan
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and pointed it out to his two brothers. And Noah awoke from his wine. He said, Cursed be Canaan, a slave of slaves will he be to his brothers. Genesis 9:22, 24-25.
Reuben, my firstborn, you are my strength, and the beginning of my power, excelling in eminence, and excelling in might. Unstable as water, may you not excel, for you went up to your father's bed; then you defiled it. He went up to my couch. Genesis 49:3-4.
This was why he was deprived of the birthright, 1 Chronicles 5:1. The same was represented by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and therefore their firstborn sons and firstborn creatures were slain. This is clear from their representation as facts, 1164, 1165, 1186, for whenever anyone enters into the arcana of faith along the path of factual knowledge, he no longer believes anything, apart from that which he is able to grasp through sensory evidence and factual knowledge. In that case things which belong to the doctrine of faith, and above all those which are matters of charity, he perverts and annihilates.
Acts of the Apostles 5:1; Arcana Coelestia 1062-1063, 1140-1141)
 These are the considerations which are represented in the internal sense by the slaying of the firstborn sons and firstborn creatures of Egypt, referred to in Moses as follows,
I will pass through the land of Egypt during that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from man even to beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement; I am Jehovah. And the blood will be a sign on your houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass by over you, and the plague will not be on you for a destroyer when I strike the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:12-13.
'The firstborn of Egypt' is doctrinal teaching regarding faith and regarding charity, which is perverted, as has been stated, by means of facts. 'The gods of Egypt' on whom judgement would be executed are falsities. No plague would be brought by the destroyer where there was blood on houses means in the highest sense the place where the Lord as regards Divine spiritual love resides, and in the relative sense where spiritual love, that is, charity towards the neighbour, resides, see 1001.
Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165)
 Further reference to Pharaoh and the Egyptians is made in the same book as follows,
Moses said, Thus said Jehovah, As at midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, and Pharaoh's firstborn who was to sit on his throne, even to the firstborn of the servant-girl who is behind the mill, and all the firstborn of the beasts. But on all the children of Israel not a dog will move its tongue, from man even to beast. Exodus 11:4-7.
And after that,
It happened at midnight, that Jehovah struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from Pharaoh's firstborn who was to sit on his throne even to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, 1
and all the firstborn of the beasts. Exodus 12:29.
The reason why it took place at midnight was that 'night' means the final state of the Church when there is no faith any longer because there is no charity any longer, 221, 709, 1712, 2353. In David,
He struck all the firstborn in Egypt, the beginning of powers in the tents of Ham. Psalms 78:51.
In the same author,
Then Israel came to Egypt, and Jacob became a sojourner in the land of Ham. God struck all the firstborn in their land, the beginning of all their powers. Psalms 105:23, 36.
'The tents of Ham' is the name given to the worship of the Egyptians, which is based on false assumptions that result from truth separated from good, or what amounts to the same, from faith separated from charity - 'tents' meaning worship, see 414, 1102, 1566, 2145, 2152, 3312, and 'Ham' faith separated from charity, 1062, 1063, 1076, 1140, 1141, 1162, 1179.
Arcana Coelestia 1062-1063, Arcana Coelestia 1140-1141)
 This confirms yet again that 'the slaying of the firstborn of Egypt' had no other meaning. Now because all the firstborn of Egypt had been slain, and yet so that the firstborn might represent the Lord as regards Divine spiritual love and at the same time represent those who are governed by that love, [the Israelites] were commanded to sanctify all the firstborn the instant they were leaving. These matters are stated in Moses as follows,
Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Sanctify to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel; with man and with beast let them be Mine. You shall make over to Jehovah all that opens the womb, and every firstling of a beast, that are yours; the males shall be Jehovah's. And every firstling of an ass you shall redeem in the herd. If you do not redeem it, you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. And it shall be - when your son asks you in time to come, saying, What is this? - that you shall say to him, By a strong hand Jehovah led us out of Egypt, from the home of slaves. And so it was, that Pharaoh hardened himself against sending us away, and Jehovah slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man even to the firstborn of the beasts. Therefore I sacrifice to Jehovah all that open the womb, the males, and all the firstborn of my sons I redeem. Exodus 13:1-2, 12-15; 34:19-20; Numbers 33:3-4.
From all these quotations one may now see what is meant in the spiritual sense by the birthright.
1. literally, in the house of the pit
Genesis 25:31; Numbers 8:17, 18:12-13)