3272. Twelve princes of their peoples. That this signifies all the primary things of this spiritual church, is evident from the signification of "twelve," as being all things of faith or of the church (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130); from the signification of "princes," as being things primary (n. 1482, 2089); and from the signification of "peoples," as being those who are in truths (n. 1259, 1260), thus those who are of the spiritual church, for these are said to be in truths.
That all numbers in the Word signify actual things, may be clearly seen from the number "twelve," which so often occurs. This number, wherever it occurs in the Word, signifies all; as for instance the "twelve tribes" in the Old Testament, and the "twelve apostles" in the New, signify all things of faith, and thus all things of the church. So here "twelve princes" signify all the primary things of this church, and these are represented by so many sons of Ishmael.
 That "twelve" has this signification may be seen from the passages adduced in the sections above cited, as also from the following passages in the Word. In John:
I heard the number of those who were sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand (Rev. 7:4-5); and so on;
where by "twelve thousand sealed out of every tribe" nothing else is signified than that all who are in faith, that is, who are in the good of faith, are saved. Again:
A woman encompassed with the sun, and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1);
the "woman" denotes the church (n. 252, 253); the "sun," celestial love; and the "moon," spiritual love (n. 30-38, 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495); the "twelve stars" denote all things of faith. (That "stars" are the knowledges of good and truth which are of faith, may be seen above, n. 2495, 2849.)
The holy city, New Jerusalem, had twelve gates, and upon the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits (twelve times twelve), which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls (Rev. 21:2, 12, 14, 16-17, 21);
here by the "holy city" nothing else is signified than the Lord's spiritual kingdom; and by "gates," "wall," "foundations" are signified the things of charity and faith; and by "twelve," so often mentioned, are signified all of these things; that neither twelve tribes nor twelve apostles are signified, must be evident to everyone. Again:
In the midst of the street of it, and on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month (Rev. 22:2);
the "twelve fruits" are all things of charity.
 In Matthew:
Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28);
here apostles are not meant by "apostles," nor thrones by "thrones," nor tribes by "tribes," but all things that are of faith (n. 2129). Moreover in the Word of the Old Testament, where "twelve tribes" are mentioned, it is all things of the church that are signified; and the case is the same with the "twelve stones according to the names of the twelve tribes of Israel" in the Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:21); and with the "twelve loaves" of the show bread set in order upon the table (Lev. 24:5-6); and so in other instances. That all things of faith are contained also in the very names of the twelve sons of Jacob or Israel, will be seen, of the Lord's Divine mercy in what follows in chapters 29 and 30.