(AC) - A Disclosure of the Hidden Treasures of Heaven Contained in the Holy Scripture or Word of the Lord, Together with Amazing Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels

AC 3325

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3325. Sell me as this day thy birthright. That this signifies that as to time the doctrine of truth was apparently prior, is evident from the signification of "selling," as being to claim for one's self; and from the signification of "as this day," meaning as to time, for in the internal sense of the Word "this day" signifies that which is perpetual and eternal (n. 2838); and in order that it might not be so in the present case, it is said "as this day," thus by "as" it becomes only apparently so; and from the signification of "birthright," as being prior, namely that the doctrine of truth, which is represented by Jacob, is so (n. 3305).
[2] By prior, or priority, which is signified by "birthright," is meant not only priority of time, but also priority of degree; that is, as to which should have the dominion, good or truth. For such is always truth before it has been conjoined with good, or what is the same, such are always those who are in truth, that before they are regenerate they believe truth to be both prior and superior to good, and so indeed it then appears. But when in them truth has been conjoined with good, that is, when they have been regenerated, they then see and perceive that truth is posterior and inferior; and then in them good has dominion over truth, which is signified by what Isaac his father said to Esau:
Behold of the fatness of the earth shall be thy dwelling, and of the dew of heaven from above; and on thy sword shalt thou live, and thou shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck (Gen. 27:39-40).
[3] But as within the church there are more not being regenerated than being regenerated; and as they who are not being regenerated draw conclusions from the appearance, therefore there has been a dispute even from ancient times as to whether the priority belongs to truth or to good. With those who have not been regenerated, and also with those who have not been fully regenerated, the opinion has prevailed that truth is prior, for as yet they have no perception of good; and so long as anyone has no perception of good, he is in shade or in ignorance in relation to these things. But they who have been regenerated, being in good itself, are able from the consequent intelligence and wisdom to observe what good is, and that it is from the Lord, and that it flows in through the internal man into the external, and this continually, the man being altogether unconscious of it; and that it adjoins itself to the truths of doctrinal things that are in the memory; consequently that in itself good is prior, although before it had not appeared so. Such then was the source of the dispute concerning the priority and superiority of the one over the other which was represented by Esau and Jacob; and also by Perez and Zarah, the sons of Judah by Tamar (Gen. 38:28-30); afterwards also by Ephraim and Manasseh the sons of Joseph (Gen. 48:13-14, 17-20); and this because the spiritual church is of such a nature that it must be introduced through truth into good, and at this time be devoid of the perception of good, except such and so much as lies concealed in the affection of truth, at which time good cannot be discriminated from the delight of the love of self and of the world, which is at the same time in that affection, and is believed to be good.
[4] But that good is the firstborn (that is, the good of love to the Lord, and of love toward the neighbor, for there is no other good than that which is good from these loves) is evident from the fact that there is life in good, but none in truth except the life which is from good; and that good flows into truths and causes them to live may sufficiently appear from what has been stated and shown above concerning good and truth (n. 3324). Wherefore all are called "firstborn" who are in love to the Lord and in charity toward the neighbor, and these were also represented in the Jewish Church by what is firstborn, that is, they are meant by it in the relative sense, because the Lord is the Firstborn, and all that are firstborn are His likenesses and images.
[5] That the Lord as to the Divine Human is the Firstborn, is evident from David:
He shall call unto Me, Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation. I also will make him the firstborn, high above the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and My covenant shall be faithful with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of the heavens* (Ps. 89:26-29);
where the Lord is treated of. And in John:
From Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, the Firstborn of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5).
In order that all that had been written and represented concerning Him might be fulfilled, He was likewise by birth the firstborn (Luke 2:7, 22-23).
[6] That they too, as being His images and likenesses, are called the "firstborn" of the Lord who are in love to Him and in charity toward the neighbor, is evident in John:
The hundred and forty and four thousand bought from the earth: these are they who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins; these are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; these were bought from among men, the firstfruits (firstborn) unto God and the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without spot before the throne of God (Rev. 14:3-5).
The "hundred and forty and four," or twelve times twelve, denote those who are in the faith of charity (n. 3272); "thousands" denote those who are innumerable, that is, all such (n. 2575); "virgins" denote the good of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor (n. 2362, 3081), thus those who are in innocence, which is also signified by "following the Lamb;" for the Lord is called "the Lamb" from innocence. Hence they are said to be the "firstfruits," or firstborn.
[7] From the above passages it is manifest that the Lord as to the Divine Human was represented in the Jewish Church by that which was firstborn; and also they who are in love to Him, for these are in the Lord. But what is firstborn has in the Word a twofold representation, representing the Lord both as to Divine celestial love, and as to Divine spiritual love. The Lord's Divine celestial love is relative to the celestial church, or to those who are of this church and are called celestial from love to the Lord; the Lord's Divine spiritual love is relative to the spiritual church, or to those who are of this church and are called spiritual from love toward the neighbor. The Lord's Divine love is toward all, but inasmuch as it is variously received by men, in one way by the celestial man and in another by the spiritual man, it is said to be relative. [8] Concerning the firstborn that represented the Lord as to Divine celestial love, and also those relatively who were of the celestial church, it is thus written in Moses:
The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto Me. Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen and with thy flock; seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it Me; and ye shall be men of holiness unto Me (Exod. 22:29-31);
that it should be seven days with the dam, was because the "seventh day" signified the celestial man (n. 84-87); and because from this "seven" signified what is holy (n. 395, 433, 716, 881); that it should be given to Jehovah on the eighth day, was because the "eighth day" signified what was continuous from a new beginning, namely, what was continuous of love (n. 2044).
The firstling among beasts which is made a firstling to Jehovah, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox or sheep it is Jehovah's (Lev. 27:26).
The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring unto Jehovah, shall be for thee (Aaron). Everything that openeth the womb of all flesh which they offer unto Jehovah, both of man and beast, shall be thine. Nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem; and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem. The firstling of an ox, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, thou shalt not redeem; they are holy; thou shalt sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shalt burn their fat for an offering made by fire for an odor of rest to Jehovah (Num. 18:13, 15, 17).
All the firstling males that are born of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto Jehovah thy God; thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thine ox, nor shear the firstling of thy flock. If it have any blemish, as if it be lame or blind, any evil blemish whatsoever, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto Jehovah thy God (Deut. 15:19, 21).
[9] Inasmuch as the firstborn represented the Lord, and those who are the Lord's by virtue of love to Him, therefore the tribe of Levi was accepted instead of every firstborn, and this because Levi represented the Lord as to love. "Levi" also signifies love, for "Levi" is "adhesion" and "conjunction," and in the internal sense adhesion and conjunction are love, on which subject of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter (at chapter 29, verse 34). Concerning the Levites it is written in Moses:
Jehovah spake to Moses, saying, And I behold I will take the Levites from the midst of the sons of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the womb among the sons of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine; for all the firstborn are Mine; in the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto Me all the firstborn in Israel, from man even to beast; Mine they shall be (Num. 3:11-13).
Jehovah said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn males of the sons of Israel, from the son of a month and upward, and take the number of their names. And thou shalt take the Levites for Me (I am Jehovah) instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the beast of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the beast of the sons of Israel (Num. 3:40-41, etc.; also Num. 8:14, 16-18);
and it is said (Num. 8:19) that the Levites were given to Aaron, because Aaron represented the Lord as to the priesthood, that is, as to the Divine love. (That the priesthood represented the Lord's Divine love may be seen above, n. 1728, 2015.)
[10] But concerning the firstborn who represented the Lord as to Divine spiritual love, and also those relatively who are of the spiritual church, it is written in Jeremiah:
They shall come with weeping, and with prayers will I lead them; I will bring them to fountains of waters, in the way of what is upright, wherein they shall not stumble; and I will be to Israel for a father, and Ephraim shall be My firstborn (Jer. 31:9);
where a new spiritual church is treated of, "Israel" denoting spiritual good; "Ephraim," spiritual truth, who is called the "firstborn" because a church about to be planted is treated of, in which the intellectual which is of truth is apparently the firstborn; for Ephraim succeeded in the place of Reuben, and was made the firstborn (Gen. 48:5, 20; 1 Chron. 5:1); and this because by Joseph, whose sons were Ephraim and Manasseh, was represented the Lord as to Divine spiritual love. But that "Israel" is essentially the "firstborn," that is, denotes spiritual good, is evident from Moses:
Jehovah said to Moses, Thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith Jehovah, Israel is My son, My firstborn, and I have said unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me; and thou hast refused to let him go; behold I will slay thy son, thy firstborn (Exod. 4:21-23);
where "Israel" in the supreme sense signifies the Lord as to Divine spiritual love, but in the relative sense those who are in spiritual love, that is, in charity toward the neighbor.
[11] In the spiritual church, in the beginning, or when it is about to be planted, the doctrine of truth is the firstborn with the external church, and the truth of doctrine is the firstborn with the internal church; or what is the same, the doctrine of faith is the firstborn with the external church, and faith itself with the internal church. But when the church has been planted, that is, in those with whom it exists in life and practice, the good of charity is the firstborn with the external church, and charity itself with the internal. But when the church does not suffer itself to be planted, as is the case when the man of the church can no longer be regenerated, by successive steps it recedes from charity and turns away to faith, being no longer studious of life but of doctrine; and when this is the case it casts itself into shades and falls into falsities and evils, and thus becomes no church, and is of itself extinguished. This was represented by Cain, in that he slew his brother Abel. (That "Cain" is faith separate from charity, and that "Abel" is charity, which he extinguished, may be seen above, n. 340, 342, 357, 362.) The same was afterwards represented by Ham and his son Canaan, in that he mocked at his father Noah (n. 1062, 1063, 1076, 1140, 1141, 1162, 1179); afterwards by Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, in that he defiled his father's bed (Gen. 35:22); and lastly by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, in that they ill-treated the sons of Israel. That all of these were cursed is evident from the Word.
Concerning Cain it is said:
Jehovah said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground; and now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's bloods from thy hand (Gen. 4:10-11).
Concerning Ham and Canaan:
Ham the father of Canaan saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren. And Noah awoke from his wine, and he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren (Gen. 9:22, 24-25).
And concerning Reuben:
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my strength, and the beginning of my power, excellent in honor, and excellent in might; unstable as water, thou shalt not excel because thou wentest up to thy father's bed, then defiledst thou my couch (Gen. 49:3-4);
and therefore he was deprived of the birthright (1 Chron. 5:1).
[12] That the same was represented by Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and that therefore their firstborn and firstborn beasts were slain, is evident from their representation, as being memory-knowledges (n. 1164, 1165, 1186), by which-when man enters into the arcana of faith, and no longer believes anything but that which he can apprehend in accordance with the senses and memory-knowledge-he then perverts and extinguishes the things of the doctrine of faith, and especially the things of charity. This is what is represented in the internal sense by the firstborn of men and firstborn of beasts in Egypt being slain, concerning which it is written in Moses:
I will pass through the land of Egypt in that night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from man even to beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments; I am Jehovah. And the blood shall be to you for a sign upon the houses where ye are, and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be upon you for a destroyer, when I smite the land of Egypt (Exod. 12:12-13);
the "firstborn of Egypt" denotes the doctrine of faith and of charity which as before said is perverted by means of memory-knowledges; the "gods of Egypt" on whom judgments were to be executed, are falsities; there being "no plague as a destroyer where blood was upon the houses," signifies in the supreme sense where the Lord is as to Divine spiritual love, and in the relative sense, where spiritual love is, that is, charity toward the neighbor (n. 1001).
[13] Moreover concerning Pharaoh and the Egyptians it is thus written:
Moses said, Thus saith Jehovah, About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon the throne, unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beast. And against any of the sons of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, from man even to beast (Exod. 11:4-7).
And again:
It came to pass at midnight that Jehovah smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the house of the pit; and all the firstborn of beast (Exod. 12:29);
that this was done at midnight was because "night" signifies the last state of the church, when there is no longer any faith because there is no charity (n. 221, 709, 1712, 2353). In David:
He smote all the firstborn in Egypt, the beginning of strength in the tents of Ham (Ps. 78:51).
Israel also came into Egypt, and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. God smote all the firstborn in their land, the beginning of all their strength (Ps. 105:23, 36).
The worship of the Egyptians from principles of what is false that originate from truth separated from good, or what is the same, from faith separated from charity, is called the "tents of Ham." (That "tents" signify worship may be seen above, n. 414, 1102, 1566, 2145, 2152, 3312; and that "Ham" is faith separated from charity, n. 1062, 1063, 1076, 1140, 1141, 1162, 1179.)
[14] By this is further confirmed what is signified by the firstborn of Egypt being slain; and because all the firstborn were slain, in order that the firstborn might nevertheless represent the Lord as to Divine spiritual love, and at the same time those who are in this love, it was commanded at the time of the exodus that all the firstborn should be sanctified, concerning which we read in Moses:
Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and of beast-it is Mine. Thou shall cause to pass over unto Jehovah all that openeth the womb, and every firstling which thou hast, the progeny of a beast, the males shall be Jehovah's. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, thou shalt break its neck; and all the firstborn of man among thy sons thou shall redeem. And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shall say unto him, By a strong hand Jehovah brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondmen; and it came to pass when Pharaoh hardened himself against letting us go, that Jehovah slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of man even to the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to Jehovah all that openeth the womb, being males, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem (Exod. 13:1-2, 12-15; 34:19-20; Num. 8:17).
From this it is now evident what is signified in the spiritual sense by "birthright."
* The Latin here is saeculorum, "of the ages"; but this seems to be a misprint or slip of the pen, for the Hebrew is shamayim, which is rendered coelorum, as usual, in Arcana Coelestia n. 255, 9954; Doctrine of the Lord n. 6, 44; Apocalypse Explained n. 205, 253, 375, 684, 768; that is, in all the other places where this text is quoted by Swedenborg.


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