1453. Having Bethel toward the sea, and Ai on the East, signifies that the Lord's state was still obscure, that is to say, in regard to the knowledges of celestial and spiritual things; for it is one thing to be in celestial things, and another to be in the knowledges of celestial things. Infants and children are in celestial things more than adults, because they are in love toward their parents, and in mutual love, and also in innocence; but adults are in the knowledges of celestial things more than infants and children, while very many of them are not in the celestial things of love. Before man is instructed in the things of love and faith, he is in an obscure state, that is, in regard to knowledges; which state is here described by having Bethel toward the sea, that is on the west, and Ai on the east. By "Bethel," as has been said, is signified the knowledges of celestial things; but by "Ai" the knowledges of worldly things. The knowledges of celestial things are said to be "on the west" when they are in obscurity, for in the Word "the west" signifies what is obscure; and the knowledges of worldly things are said to be "on the east" when they are in clearness, for relatively to the west, the east is clearness. That the west and the east have this signification needs no confirmation, for it is evident to everyone without confirmation.
 And that "Bethel" signifies the knowledges of celestial things, may be seen from other passages in the Word where Bethel is named; as in the next chapter, where it is said that
Abram went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent was in the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, unto the place of the altar which he made there (Gen. 13:3-4);
where "on his journeys from the south to Bethel," signifies progression into the light of knowledges, on which account it is not here said that Bethel was on the west and Ai on the east. When Jacob saw the ladder, he said:
This is none other but the House of God, and this is the gate of heaven; and he called the name of that place Bethel (Gen. 28:17, 19);
where the knowledge of celestial things is in like manner signified by "Bethel;" for man is a Bethel, that is a House of God, and also a gate of heaven, when he is in the celestial things of knowledges. When a man is being regenerated, he is introduced by means of the knowledges of spiritual and celestial things; but when he has been regenerated, he has then been introduced, and is in the celestial and spiritual things of the knowledges. Afterwards:
God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there; make there an altar to God who appeared unto thee (Gen. 35:1, 6-7);
where in like manner "Bethel" signifies knowledges.
 That the ark of Jehovah was in Bethel, and that the sons of Israel came thither and inquired of Jehovah (Judges 20:18, 26, 27; 1 Sam. 7:16, 10:3) signify similar things; also that the king of Assyria sent one of the priests whom he had brought from Samaria, and he dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Jehovah (2 Kings 17:27, 28). In Amos:
Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and there shalt thou prophesy; but prophesy not again any more at Bethel, for this is the king's sanctuary, and this is the house of the kingdom (Amos 7:12-13).
 After Jeroboam had profaned Bethel (1 Kings 12:32; 13:1-8; 2 Kings 23:15) it had an opposite representation (see Hosea 10:15; Amos 3:14-15; 4:5-7). But that "Ai" signifies the knowledges of worldly things, may also be confirmed from the historical and the prophetical parts of the Word (see Josh. 7:2; 8:1-28; Jer. 49:3-4).