Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4601

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4601. 'That Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine' means the profanation of good by means of faith separated from charity; 'and Israel heard' means that this faith was cast aside. This is clear from the representation of 'Reuben' as faith present in doctrine and in the understanding, which is the attribute of the Church that is born first, dealt with in 3861, 3866, at this point when that faith has been separated from charity, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'lying with Bilhah his father's concubine' as the profanation of good, for committing adultery means perverting or adulterating forms of good, 2466, 2729, 3399, but 'lying with a father's concubine' profaning them; and from the meaning of 'Israel heard' as the fact that this faith was cast aside. In the proper sense the expression 'Israel heard' means that the spiritual Church knew this and assented to it, for 'hearing' means hearkening, while 'Israel' means the spiritual Church. But the fact that the true Church does not assent to it will be evident from what is going to be said about Reuben. In the internal sense however the meaning is that that faith was cast aside, for although Jacob's feelings and thoughts concerning this unmentionable and outrageous deed are not stated, his utter disgust and abhorrence is evident from his prophecy concerning Reuben,

Reuben, you my firstborn, are my strength and the beginning of my might, excelling in eminence, and excelling in power. Unstable as water, may you not excel, for you went up to your father's bed; then you profaned It. He went up to my couch. Gen 49:3, 4.
The same is also evident from the fact that because of what he did Reuben was deprived of the birthright, 1 Chron 5:1.
These considerations show that 'Israel heard' means that that faith was cast aside. As regards the birthright meaning the faith of the Church, see 352, 2435, 3325.

[2] The profanation of good by faith separated from charity takes place when people acknowledge and believe the truth of the Church and its good and yet lead lives contrary to these. Indeed with those who in understanding and consequently in life separate matters of faith from those of charity, evil is joined to truth and falsity to good; and it is this joining together that is called profanation. The situation is different with those who, though they know what the truth and good of faith are, nevertheless do not in their hearts have any belief in these. See what has been stated and shown already concerning profanation in 301-303, 571, 582, 593, 1001, 1003, 1008, 1010, 1059, 1327, 1328, 2051, 2426, 3398, 3399, 3402, 3489, 3898, 4050, 4289; also that the profanation of good by faith separated from charity was represented by Cain when he killed Abel, by Ham when he was cursed by his father, and by the Egyptians when they were drowned in the Red Sea, 3325,a as well as here by Reuben, 3325, 3870.

[3] In order that members of the spiritual Church might be saved the Lord miraculously separated the understanding part of their minds from the will part and imparted to the understanding the ability to accept a new will, 863, 875, 895, 927, 928, 1023, 1043, 1044, 2256, 4328, 4493. When therefore the understanding takes hold of and perceives the [truth and] good of faith and makes these its own, and yet the person's own will - that is, his will to do evil - reigns and rules, truth comes to be joined to evil and good to falsity. This joining of truth to evil and of good to falsity is profanation and is meant by eating and drinking in an unworthy manner in the Holy Supper. From people like this the good meant by the body and the truth meant by the blood [cannot] be separated; for when these have been joined to falsity and evil as described, they cannot be separated ever at all, and as a consequence the deepest hell awaits those persons. But those who know what the truth and good of faith are and yet in their hearts have no belief in them, as is the case with the vast majority of people at the present day, are unable to profane them because the understanding does not accept them and absorb them into itself.

[4] The subject here is the casting aside of this faith, for in what follows immediately after this the subject is truths and goods in their genuine order, and immediately after that the joining of these to the rational or understanding part, 'the sons of Jacob' who in the verses immediately after this are mentioned by name being truths and goods in that order, 'Isaac' the rational or understanding part, and 'Jacob's coming with his sons to Isaac' being in the internal sense that joining to the understanding part.


a 3325 refers to the death of the firstborn but not to the drowning in the Red Sea.

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