Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5773

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5773. 'And they rent their clothes' means mourning. This is clear from the meaning of 'rending one's clothes' as mourning over lost truth, dealt with in 4763, in this case over truths of their own which they could no longer lay claim to, since they offered to become slaves both in front of the one who was over Joseph's house, verse 9, and in front of Joseph himself, verse 16, which meant that they had no freedom of their own, and accordingly no truths of their own.

[2] As regards mourning over truths of their own, which mourning is meant by them rending their clothes and offering to become slaves, it should be recognized that with people who are being regenerated a reversal takes place. That is to say, first they are led by means of truth to good, but after that they are led from good to truth. When this reversal takes place, or when the state is altered and becomes the reverse of what existed previously, there is mourning. For they are subjected to temptations, by means of which things properly their own are weakened and broken down, and good is introduced. Together with that good a new will is introduced, and with this a new freedom, and so something new of their own. This is represented by the return of Joseph's brothers in despair to Joseph and their offer to become slaves; by the retention of them for quite a long time in that state; and by Joseph's not revealing to them who he really was until that temptation was over. For once temptation is completed the Lord sheds light and brings comfort with it.

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