4747. And behold a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead. That this signifies those who are in simple good, such as the Gentiles are in, is evident from the representation of the Ishmaelites, as being those who are in simple good as to life, and thence in natural truth as to doctrine (n. 3263); and from the signification of "Gilead," as being exterior good, by which man is first initiated when he is being regenerated (n. 4117, 4124). From this it is evident that by a "company of Ishmaelites from Gilead" is signified such good as is with the Gentiles, that is, those who are in such simple good.
 How these things are circumstanced may be seen from what has been already said, and also from what follows. This only need now be said in advance: they who are within the church and have confirmed themselves against Divine truths, especially against these - that the Lord's Human is Divine, and that the works of charity contribute to salvation - if they have confirmed themselves against them, not only by doctrine but also by life, they have reduced themselves to such a state as to their interiors that afterwards they cannot possibly be brought to receive them, for what is once confirmed by doctrine, and at the same time by life, remains to eternity. Those who do not know the interior state of man may suppose that anyone, no matter how he has confirmed himself against these truths, can yet easily accept them afterwards, provided he is convinced. But that this is impossible has been granted me to know by much experience in regard to such persons in the other life. For whatever is confirmed by doctrine is absorbed by the intellectual part, and what is confirmed by life is absorbed by the will part; and that which is inrooted in both man's lives, the life of his understanding and the life of his will, cannot be rooted out. The very soul of man which lives after death is formed thereby, and is of such a nature that it never recedes therefrom. This is also the reason why the lot of those within the church with whom this is the case, is worse than the lot of those who are out of the church; for those who are out of the church, who are called Gentiles, have not confirmed themselves against these truths, because they have not known them; and therefore such of them as have lived in mutual charity, easily receive Divine truths, if not in the world, yet in the other life. (See what was adduced from experience in regard to the state and lot of the Gentiles and other peoples in the other life, n. 2589-2604.)
 For this reason when any new church is being set up by the Lord, it is not set up with those who are within the church, but with those who are without, that is, with the Gentiles. These things are often treated of in the Word. This much is premised in order that it may be known what is involved in Joseph's being cast into the pit by his brethren, and in his being drawn out thence by the Midianites, and sold to the Ishmaelites. For by Joseph's brethren are represented those within the church who have confirmed themselves against Divine truth, especially against the two truths, that the Lord's Human is Divine, and that works of charity contribute to salvation, and this not only by doctrine, but also by life; while by the Ishmaelites are represented those who are in simple good, and by the Midianites those who are in the truth of this good. It is related of the latter that they drew Joseph out of the pit; and of the former that they bought him. But what is signified by their bringing him into Egypt, and their selling him to Potiphar, Pharaoh's chamberlain, will be shown in what follows.