3776. My brethren whence are ye? That this signifies, What is the origin of the charity? is evident from the signification of "brethren," as being those who are in good, and thence as being good itself, consequently charity (see n. 367, 2360, 3303, 3459); and from the signification of "whence are ye?" as being from what origin is it? All this shows that whatever in the sense of the letter involves a question and is determined to persons, in the internal sense falls into an idea undetermined to any person; for in heaven among the angels the historicals of the letter vanish when they leave man and enter heaven; so that Jacob's question to the men of Haran, "My brethren whence are ye?" signifies charity there, from what origin is it?
 The case herein is as follows: The charity the external form of which appears as charity is not always charity in the internal form. Its quality and its source are known from its end. The charity that comes from a selfish or worldly end in its internal form is not charity, neither ought it to be called charity; but the charity that regards as its end the neighbor, the general good, heaven, and thus the Lord, is real charity, and has within it the affection of doing good from the heart, and the derivative delight of life which in the other life becomes bliss. It is of the utmost importance to know this, in order that man may know what the Lord's kingdom is in itself. Inquiry concerning this charity, or what is the same thing, concerning this good, is now treated of in these verses; and here it is first asked from what origin was the charity there; which is signified by, "My brethren whence are ye?"