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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)


[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)


[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

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Arcana Coelestia 9374, 9378, 9379, 9382, 9386, 9429, 9504, 9779, 9806, 9828, 9954, 10027, 10090, 10215, 10251, 10337, 10355, 10375, 10396, 10397, 10400, 10432, 10450, 10460, 10468, 10528, 10549, 10551, 10635, 10636, 10641, 10690


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 19, 64, 66, 83, 130, 355, 375, 701, 710, 735, 746

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1


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Arcana Coelestia #3048

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3048. The servant took ten camels, of the camels of his lord, and departed. That this signifies general memory-knowledges in the natural man, is evident from the signification here of “servant,” as being the natural man (see above, n. 3019, 3020) and from the signification of “ten,” as being remains (that these are goods and truths with man stored up by the Lord, may be seen above, n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 660, 661, 1050, 1906, 2284; and that “ten,” or remains, when predicated of the Lord, are the Divine things which the Lord acquired for Himself, n. 1738, 1906); and also from the signification of “camels,” as being general memory-knowledges; and because these were Divine, or acquired by the Lord, it is said that they were “ten,” and then it is said that they were “camels, of the camels of his lord.” That he “departed,” signifies the initiation thereby which is treated of in this chapter.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 560-561, 660-661, Arcana Coelestia 3019-3020)


[2] The subject here is the process of the conjunction of truth with good in the Lord’s Divine rational; first, the process of initiation (n. 3012-3013), the nature of which is described in a series; here, that the Lord separated in the natural man the things which were from Himself, that is, which were Divine, from those which were of the maternal. The things which were from Himself, or which were Divine, are the things by which the initiation was effected; and they are here the “ten camels, of the camels of his lord.” And hence it is that in the following verses much mention is made of “camels” as that he made the camels fall on their knees without the city (verse 11); that Rebekah also gave drink to the camels (verses 14, 19-20); that they were brought into the house, and that straw and provender were given them (verses 31-32); and further, that Rebekah and her girls rode upon the camels (verse 61); and that Isaac saw the camels coming; and when Rebekah saw Isaac, that she alighted off her camel (verses 63-64). Camels are mentioned so often because of the internal sense, in which they signify the general memory-knowledges in the natural man, from which comes the affection of truth which is to be initiated into the affection of good in the rational, and this in the usual way, as shown above; for the rational as to truth cannot possibly be born and perfected without memory-knowledges and knowledges.

[3] That “camels” signify general memory-knowledges is evident from other passages in the Word where they are mentioned, as in Isaiah:

The prophecy of the beasts of the south: In the land of straitness and distress; from whence come the young lion and the old lion, the viper and the flying fire serpent; they carry their riches upon the shoulder of young asses, and their treasures upon the hump of camels, to a people that shall not profit; for Egypt shall help in vain and to no purpose (Isaiah 30:6-7).

The “beasts of the south” denote those who are in the light of knowledges, or in knowledges, but in a life of evil; “carrying their riches upon the shoulder of young asses” denotes the knowledges pertaining to their rational (that a “young ass” is rational truth may be seen above, n. 2781); “their treasures upon the hump of camels,” denotes the knowledges pertaining to their natural; the camels’ “hump” is what is natural; the “camels” themselves signify the general memory-knowledges which are there; the “treasures” are the knowledges which they hold as precious; that “Egypt shall help in vain and to no purpose” denotes that memory-knowledges are of no use to them; that “Egypt” is memory-knowledge may be seen above (n. 1164-1165, 1186, 1462, 2588 the end). That “camels” here are not camels is plain; for it is said “the young lion and the old lion carry their treasures upon the hump of camels”; and anyone can see that some arcanum of the church is hereby signified.

(References: Isaiah 21:6-9)


[4] Again:

The prophecy of the wilderness of the sea: Thus hath the Lord said, Go, set a watchman; let him declare what he seeth: and he saw a chariot, a pair of horsemen, a chariot of an ass, a chariot of a camel, and he hearkened diligently. And he answered and said, Babel is fallen, is fallen (Isaiah 21:1, 6-7, 9).

The “wilderness of the sea” here denotes the emptiness of memory-knowledges that are not for use; a “chariot of an ass,” a collection of particular memory-knowledges; a “chariot of a camel,” a collection of general memory-knowledges in the natural man. It is the empty reasonings with those signified by “Babel” which are thus described.

[5] Again:

Thy heart shall be enlarged because the multitude of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the wealth of the nations shall come unto thee. The abundance of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of Jehovah (Isaiah 60:5-6).

This is concerning the Lord, and concerning the Divine celestial and spiritual things in His natural: the “multitude of the sea” denotes the immense supply of natural truth; the “wealth of the nations,” the immense supply of natural good; the “abundance of camels,” the abundant supply of general memory-knowledges; “gold and frankincense,” goods and truths, which are the “praises of Jehovah;” “from Sheba” is from the celestial things of love and faith (see n. 113, 117, 1171). That:

The queen of Sheba came to Solomon to Jerusalem with exceeding great riches, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-2)

represented the wisdom and intelligence which came to the Lord, who in the internal sense here is “Solomon.” The “camels bearing spices, gold, and precious stones” are the things of wisdom and intelligence in the natural man.

[6] In Jeremiah:

To Arabia, and to the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel smote: Arise ye, go up to Arabia, and lay waste the sons of the East. Their tents shall they take, and they shall carry away for themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels. And their camels shall be a booty, and I will scatter them to every wind (Jeremiah 49:28-29, 32).

Here “Arabia and the kingdoms of Hazor,” in the opposite sense, denote those who are in knowledges of celestial and spiritual things, but for the end of no other use than that they may be esteemed wise and intelligent by themselves and the world; the “camels which should be taken away from them, and should be for a booty, and should be scattered to every wind,” are in general the memory-knowledges and the knowledges of good and truth which are also taken away from them in the life of the body by their believing contrary things, and in the other life wholly.

[7] In Zechariah:

And this shall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will smite all the peoples that shall fight against Jerusalem; thus shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of every beast (Zech. 14:12, 15).

Here the “plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass,” denotes the privation of intellectual things, which thus succeed in order from rational things to natural things (what is meant by the “horse,” may be seen above, n. 2761, 2762; what by the “mule” n. 2781; and what by the “ass,” n. 2781); “camels” denote the general memory-knowledges in the natural man. The like was signified by the murrain in Egypt, which was “Upon the cattle in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels,cupon herd and upon flock” (Exodus 9:2-3).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2761-2762)


[8] From these passages it is evident that by “camels” in the internal sense of the Word are signified the general memory-knowledges of the natural man. General memory-knowledges are those which include in themselves many particulars, and these singulars; and they form in general the natural man as to the intellectual part of it.

(References: Genesis 24:10; Isaiah 21:6-9)

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Arcana Coelestia 3054, 3071, 3094, 3097, 3102, 3136, 3143, 3190, 3199, 3203, 3301, 3762, 4038, 4104, 4156, 4250, 4264, 4748, 7503, 9372, 9595, 9828, 10227


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 242

Other New Christian Commentary

Ten 1

Arabia and the kingdoms of Hazor 1

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Queen of Sheba 1

Treasures on the back of camels 1


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Genesis 24

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1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:

4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?

6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.

7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence.

8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again.

9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.

10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.

11 And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.

12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.

13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:

14 And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.

16 And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.

17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.

19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.

20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.

21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the LORD had made his journey prosperous or not.

22 And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;

23 And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in?

24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor.

25 She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.

26 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD.

27 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren.

28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.

29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.

30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.

31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.

32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him.

33 And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on.

34 And he said, I am Abraham's servant.

35 And the LORD hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses.

36 And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath.

37 And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell:

38 But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son.

39 And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me.

40 And he said unto me, The LORD, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house:

41 Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath.

42 And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go;

43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink;

44 And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out for my master's son.

45 And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee.

46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.

47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? And she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands.

48 And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son.

49 And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me: and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.

50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good.

51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken.

52 And it came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.

53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.

54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master.

55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go.

56 And he said unto them, Hinder me not, seeing the LORD hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to my master.

57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and inquire at her mouth.

58 And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.

59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men.

60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the south country.

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself.

66 And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 1356, 1358, 1992, 2851, 2943, 2959, 3015, ...


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 600

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 11:26, 29, 12:1, 2, 7, 9, 11, 13:2, 14:19, 22, 16:14, 17:1, 18:4, 11, 22:17, 20, 23, 23:2, 24:7, 15, 26, 40, 45, 52, 25:5, 11, 20, 26:29, 27:43, 28:1, 2, 3, 29:2, 5, 13, 31:24, 29, 32:1, ...

Exodus 2:16, 4:31, 23:20, 23, 33:2, 34:6, 16

Deuteronomy 6:13, 7:3

Joshua 2:12, 14, 17, 15:18

Judges 3:8, 6:37, 7:15, 14:3

1 Samuel 1:13, 9:11, 14:10, 30:15

1 Kings 3:6, 12:15, 24

2 Chronicles 20:18

Ezra 5:11

Job 1:3

Psalms 32:8, 37:5

Proverbs 10:22, 19:14

Isaiah 3:21, 51:2, 65:24

Ezekiel 16:11

Jonah 1:9

Acts of the Apostles 7:5

2 Corinthians 6:14

Word/Phrase Explanations

Abraham
Abraham (or Abram, as he is named in the beginning of his story) is one of the major characters in the story of the sacred...

old
'Old waste places' signify the celestial aspects of faith.

Well
'A well,' as in Numbers 21:17-18, signifies the Word of the ancient church. 'A well,' or 'pit,' as in Luke 14:5, signifies falsity and the...

age
“Age” is used in slightly different ways in natural language, and those differences are reflected in the word’s spiritual meanings. All the variations, though, reflect...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

all things
The Lord is life itself, is the Creator of the universe, and is the source of life on an ongoing basis. So in a literal...

servant
“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...

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...

over
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

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

hand
In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

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...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

Earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

wife
It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

Son
'A son,' as in Genesis 5:28, signifies the rise of a new church. 'Son,' as in Genesis 24:3, signifies the Lord’s rationality regarding good. 'A...

the daughters of
The daughters of Rabbah' signify people who are in natural good and falsify the truths of the church.

Daughters
"Behold I have two daughters,” etc. (Gen. 19:8), signifies the affections of good and truth, and the blessedness perceivable from the enjoyment thereof, by those...

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...

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...

country
Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

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...

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

spake
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

sware
The Lord swearing by himself signifies that divine truth testifies, for He is divine truth itself, and this testifies from itself and means itself. It...

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...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Send
'To send' signifies revealing.

angel
"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

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...

follow
To go after or to follow, as in Genesis 24:8, signifies to be separated from the natural, and conjoined to the rational principle.

oath
'To sware' is a binding.

master
In most cases, a "master" in the Bible refers to truth: knowledge, an understanding of the situation at hand, an understanding of the Lord's wishes,...

ten
Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

Mesopotamia
'Mesopotamia' denotes knowledges of truth.

city
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

Nahor
'Nahor,' as in Genesis 22:20, signifies the Lord’s church among the Gentiles.

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,"...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

time
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

Evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

Women
'Women,' as in Genesis 45:19, signify the affections of truth. But in Genesis 31:50, 'women' signify affections of not genuine truth, so not of the...

Go out
To go out to meet, as in Genesis 14:17, signifies to submit themselves. To go out, as in Genesis 28:10, signifies to live more remotely....

Shew
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

Stand
'To stand,' and 'come forth' as in Daniel 7:10, refers to truth. In Genesis 24:13, it signifies a state of conjunction of divine truth with...

Pass
'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

Damsel
The damsel of Rebecca (Gen. 24:61) signifies subservient affections. See Daughter.

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...

Let down
'To let down,' as in Genesis 24:18, signifies an act of submission.

Pitcher
'A vial or pitcher' signifies what is contained in them.

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

came to pass
The phrase “it came to pass,” often also translated as “it happened,” generally indicates the end of one spiritual state and the beginning of a...

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...

brother
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...

Shoulder
'The shoulder' signifies all power. 'The shoulder,' as in Ezekiel 29:7, signifies the power or faculty of understanding truth. 'To dwell between his shoulders,' as...

Look
To look,' as in Genesis 18:22, signifies thinking, because seeing denotes understanding. Look not back behind thee,' as in Genesis 19:17, means that Lot, who...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

Filled
'To be satiated,' as in Revelation 19:21, signifies being nourished by lusts, and taking them in with delight.

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...

drink a little water
In Genesis 24:17 'to sip' signifies exploration if truth could be conjoined, because 'sipping' has a similar meaning as 'drinking,' but in a lesser sense.

my lord
Characters in the Bible will often address others using the term “my lord,” and it seems to be no more than an expression of respect....

trough
'A water-trough' signifies the doctrine of charity.

drew
"Drawing" is used a number of different ways in the Bible, generally in the sense of pulling, leading or moving: People most commonly draw water,...

wondering
Used as nouns, "marvels" and "wonders" are generally synonymous with miracles, which are expressions of the Lord's power in the world. In particular, the Lord...

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

golden
Gold means good, and just as gold was the most precious metal known to ancient mankind so it represents the good of the highest and...

Half
Half and double in reference to numbers in the world have a similar signification as the numbers themselves.

Shekel
'A shekel' signifies the price or estimation of good and truth, and 'half a shekel' signifies the determination of the quantity thereof.

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...

Bracelets
Bracelets (Gen. 25:22) signify truth, and in this passage divine truth, because the Lord is treated of.

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...

Room
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

Father
Father, son, mother, and daughter, as in Luke 12:51, 53: By father against son, and by son against the father, is understood evil against truth,...

Us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

straw
To 'give straw and provender,' as in Genesis 24:32, signifies instruction in truths and goods.

Enough
'Sufficiency' relates to the reception of good, because good is the spiritual nourishment of the soul, as natural food is the nourishment of the body.

bowed down
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

head
The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

truth
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

Led
'To be led by the Lord' is to be in a state of essential liberty, blessedness, and happiness.

Brethren
Brethren (Gen. 27:29) signify the affections of good.

mother
In general, mothers in the Bible represent the Lord's church on earth, or the church among those who know and follow the Lord. In some...

name
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...

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...

saw
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...

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...

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

Words
'Words,' as in Exodus 34:28, signify everything pertaining to doctrine.

prepared
In general, when something is "prepared" in the Bible it means that it is in the proper spiritual order, which happens when our hearts and...

wash
'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

wash his feet
It’s not hard to see how the custom of foot-washing arose in the Ancient Middle East. People walking barefoot or in sandals on dry, dusty...

feet
Our feet are the lowest and most utilitarian parts of our bodies, and in the Bible they represent the lowest and most utilitarian part of...

meat
'Provision' or 'meat,' as in Genesis 42:25 and Psalm 78:25, signifies support from truth and good.

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

silver
'Spoil of gold, and silver, and cattle' signifies falsified truths.

Sarah
'Sarah' denotes truth joined to good. Sarai was called 'Sarah' so she would represent the divine intellectual principle by adding the 'H' from the name...

to
‘To grow’ signifies to be perfected.

walk
To walk in the Bible represents living, and usually means living according to the true things taught to us by the Lord -- to "walk...

Prosper
'To be made to prosper' signifies being provided for. Which is why 'Jehovah made it prosper in his hand' means Divine Providence. 

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

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

heart
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

haste
'To hasten' or 'hastiness' in the internal sense, does not denote what is quick, but what is certain, and also what is full, thus every...

drank
Food in the Bible represents the desire for good, and water and other drinks represent the understanding and true ideas we need to recognize what...

asked
The words "ask" and "question" are used a number of different in natural language, and a number of different ways in the Bible. The spiritual...

truly
There's a great deal of talk in Swedenborg about "truth" as a concept – it's how we learn the Lord's will, what we must seek...

turn
Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

Right hand
'The right hand' signifies the whole of a person regarding intellectual power, and so, regarding faith. 'To place the right hand on the head,' signifies...

and Bethuel
'Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Kesed, Haza, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel,' as in Genesis 22:22, 23, signify various religions and the kinds of worship practiced in them....

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

son's wife
'Sons' wives,' as in Genesis 6:18, signify truths joined to goods.

Jewels
Jewels' when applied to the ears, signify good in act.

Raiment
Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

precious things
In Jeremiah 20:4-5, 'wealth,' 'labor,' 'precious things,' and 'all the treasures of the kings of Judah' signify the knowledges of faith.

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...

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...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

the least
'Tittle' or 'the least' in the Word represents heavenly things.

least
The idea of "least" is not addressed directly in Swedenborg, but a central idea is relatively clear from several references to Matthew 25:40: And the...

Call
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

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...

sent away
To "send away" means creating a separation of spiritual states. This phrase is used a great deal in Exodus, when Moses repeatedly calls on Pharaoh...

Nurse
'The nurse,' in Genesis 24:59, signifies a state of innocence. 'The nurse,' in Genesis 35, signifies hereditary evil. 'A nurse,' as she feeds and nurses...

gate
"Gates" in ancient times had a significance that does not hold in the modern world. Cities then were enclosed by walls for protection; gates in...

hate
If you truly hate someone, that means you would kill them and destroy their reputation if you could do so without repercussion – not a...

South
'South' denotes truth in light.

Meditate in the field
'To meditate in the field,' as in Genesis 24:63, signifies thinking rationally in a state of good.

field
When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

lifted
The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

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

Camel
A camel (Matt. 22:24) signifies scientific knowledge. Camels are confirming scientifics, and cattle are the knowledges of good and truth (Jer. 49:32.)

Vail
'A veil,' as in Genesis 38:19, signifies obscurity of the truth. The first vail of the tabernacle, which was the screen in front of the...

Tent
'Tent' is used in the Word to signify the celestial and holy aspects of love, because in ancient time they performed holy worship in their...

loved
To some degree, there really is no spiritual meaning to the word “love” in the Bible. Why? Because if you truly love another, that is...

comforted
When the Bible talks about someone being comforted or consoled, it generally means that they are being offered ideas that will help bring them to...

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.


 Conjugial Love
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Correspondences of Water
Illustration of places in the Word that relate to water.
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Family Worship: The Story of Isaac and Rebekah
Ideas for reading and discussing the story of Isaac and Rebekah in Genesis 24. Includes suggestions for extending the experience such as dramatizing parts of the story.
Religion Lesson | Ages 3 - 12

 Gifts for a Bride
The story includes two love stories: Isaac and Rebekah, and a beautiful wedding Swedenborg witnessed in heaven.
Story | Ages 4 - 8

 Isaac and Rebekah
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 Isaac and Rebekah
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Isaac and Rebekah Marry
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Isaac Greets Rebekah
Drawing of Isaac greeting Rebekah after her journey.
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Isaac Marries Rebekah
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Isaac Meets Rebekah
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Marriage & Consent
Consent is more than a person saying "yes" to a marriage proposal. It sets the stage for asking and giving consent throughout a marriage.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Preparing for Marriage
Lesson and activities to explore ways we can prepare for a loving marriage.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Protecting Marriage
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Puppet Play: Isaac and Rebekah
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Marriage Is a Gift from God
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Rebekah at the Well
This story shows the Lord’s love and care for those who trust in Him and obey His teachings. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Rebekah at the Well: Servant Asks for Water
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Rebekah Gives Servant Water
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Servant Brings Rebekah
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Story of Isaac and Rebekah Retold
Retelling of the story of Isaac and Rebekah for younger children.
Story | Ages 4 - 8


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