Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4208

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4208. 'And Jacob swore by the Dread of his father Isaac' means confirmation from the Divine Human, which in that state is called 'the Dread'. This is clear from the meaning of 'swearing' as confirmation, dealt with in 2842, 3375; and from the meaning of 'the Dread of Isaac' as the Lord's Divine Human, dealt with in 4180. The fact that when people swore oaths they did so by the Lord's Divine Human, see 2842.

[2] The reason for the use here of the expressions 'the God of Abraham, the God of Nahor, the God of their father (who was Terah)' and 'the Dread of Isaac, Jacob's father' is that Terah's sons acknowledged just so many gods, for they were idolaters, 1353, 1356, 1992, 3667. It was also a peculiar feature of that house that each family worshipped its own individual god. This is why at this point the expressions 'the God of Abraham', 'the God of Nahor', 'the God of their father', and 'the Dread of Isaac' are used. Abraham's family however was commanded to acknowledge Jehovah as its God. All the same, they did not acknowledge Him to be anything more than just another god by whom they could distinguish themselves from the gentiles, and so only His name was different. This also accounts for their defection on so many occasions to other gods, as is made clear in the historical sections of the Word. The reason why they defected was that they were interested solely in things of an external nature. What things of an internal nature were they did not know at all and did not wish to know.

[3] So far as those people's participation in them was concerned, the religious practices of their Church were wholly idolatrous because they had been separated from the things of an internal nature; for every religious practice of the Church when separated from what is internal is idolatrous. Yet it was still possible for those people to represent the genuine condition of the Church since representations have nothing to do with the person who represents, only with the thing represented, 665, 1097 (end), 1361, 3147. But in order that a representative Church might come into being, and in this way some kind of communication between the Lord and man through heaven might exist, it was particularly necessary for them to be kept in their acknowledgement of Jehovah, if not in their hearts yet with their lips. For among them representatives were not an expression of internal entities but of external ones. And this was the kind of communication they had, different from that in the genuine Church in which communication was effected through things of an internal nature. For this reason also their Divine worship made no difference to their souls, that is, it did not yield them blessings in the next life, only prosperity in the world.

[4] In order that they might be kept in external things so many miracles were therefore performed among them which would never have taken place if things of an internal nature had had a place among them. For the same reason they were also compelled on many occasions to worship Jehovah through the imposition of punishments, captivities, and threats, though no one is compelled by the Lord to engage in internal worship, for this is implanted only in a state of freedom, 1937, 1947, 2874-2881, 3145, 3146, 3158, 4031. The chief external practice required of them was that they should confess the name Jehovah, for Jehovah was the Lord who was represented in all the practices of that Church. On the point that Jehovah was the Lord, see 1343, 1736, 2921, 3035.

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