3432. And digged another well, and for this they strove not. That this signifies the literal sense of the Word, is evident from the signification of a "well," as being the Word (n. 2702, 3096, 3424), here, the Word as to the literal sense, for it is said that he "removed from thence, and digged another well, and for this they strove not," by which is signified that sense of the Word which is more exterior, and which they do not deny; and it is this which is called the literal sense. The literal sense of the Word is threefold; namely, historical, prophetical, and doctrinal, each of which is such that it may be apprehended even by those who are in externals.
 As regards the Word the case is this: In the most ancient time, when the celestial church existed, the Word was not, because the men of that church had the Word inscribed on their hearts; for the Lord taught them immediately through heaven what was good, and thence what was true, and gave them both to perceive from love and charity, and to know from revelation. To them the veriest Word was the Lord. After this church another succeeded that was not celestial but spiritual, and at first this church had no other Word than that which had been gathered from the most ancient people; which Word was representative of the Lord, and significative of His kingdom; thus the internal sense was to them the very Word. (That they had also a written Word, both historic and prophetic, which is no longer extant; and that in this there was in like manner an internal sense, which had relation to the Lord, may be seen above, n. 2686.) Hence it was the wisdom of that time both to speak and to write by representatives and significatives; within the church concerning Divine things, and out of the church concerning other things; as is evident from the writings of those ancient people which remain with us. But in process of time this wisdom perished, to such a degree that at last they did not know that there was any internal sense even in the books of the Word. The Jewish and Israelitish nation was of the character here referred to, and accounted the prophetic Word holy from the fact that it sounded ancient, and they heard the name Jehovah in the sense of the letter; and they did not believe that anything Divine was deeply hidden within it; nor does the Christian world think any more reverently of the Word.
 From this we can see how in succeeding time wisdom retired from inmost things to outermost; and that man had removed himself from heaven, and had at last descended even to the dust of the earth, wherein he now places wisdom. As it has fared thus with the Word, so that its internal sense has been successively obliterated, and at this day to such a degree that it is not known that there is such a sense, when yet this sense is the veriest Word in which the Divine proximately dwells, therefore its successive states are described in this chapter.