6398. Dan shall be a serpent upon the way. That this signifies their reasoning about truth because good does not as yet lead, is evident from the representation of Dan, as being those who are in truth and not yet in good (see n. 6396); from the signification of a "serpent," as being reasoning from what is sensuous (of which in what follows); and from the signification of "way," as being truth (n. 627, 2333). Thus by "Dan being a serpent upon the way" is signified their reasoning about truth, because good does not yet lead. The quality of this reasoning and of the consequent truth, will be told in what follows.
 That a "serpent" denotes reasoning from what is sensuous, is because the interiors of man are represented in heaven by animals of various kinds, and hence in the Word the like are signified by the same animals. The sensuous things of man were represented by serpents because sensuous things are the lowest things in man, and are relatively earthly, and as it were creeping; as may also be seen from the forms through which sensuous things flow, concerning which, of the Lord's Divine mercy elsewhere. Hence these sensuous things were represented by serpents, and even the Lord's Divine sensuous was represented by the brazen serpent in the wilderness (n. 4211); and prudence and circumspection, in externals, is signified by "serpents" in Matthew:
Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16).
But when a man is in what is sensuous, remote from what is internal, as are those who are in truth and not yet in good and speaks from what is sensuous, then by the "serpent" is signified reasoning; here therefore, where Dan is treated of, is signified reasoning about truth, because good does not yet lead. In other cases malice, cunning, and deceit, are signified by "serpents," but by poisonous serpents, as by "vipers" and the like, the reasoning of which is poison. (That the "serpent" denotes reasoning from what is sensuous may be seen above, n. 195-197; also that the "serpent" denotes all evil in general; and that evils are distinguished by different kinds of serpents n. 251, 254, 257.)