Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4293

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4293. In the internal historical sense 'for as a prince you have contended with God and with men, and have prevailed' means on account of the stubborn perverseness which was a product of their false delusions and evil desires. This becomes clear from the meaning of 'God' and the meaning of 'men' as truths and goods, dealt with above in 4287, though here the selfsame words have the opposite meaning because in this internal historical sense they are expressions used in reference to the descendants of Jacob, with whom no truths or goods were present interiorly, as shown above, only falsities and evils. Falsities are false delusions because they are the product of such delusions, and evils are evil desires because they are the product of such desires.

[2] As regards that nation's insistence that they should play the representative part, that is, that they themselves should constitute the Church in preference to all nations throughout the whole world, see above in 4290. More than this it is the fact that they were allowed to do so on account of the stubborn perverseness which was a product of their false delusions and of their evil desires that is meant here. No one can know the nature of those delusions and desires unless he has some contact with them in the next life. To enable me to know, such contact has been granted to me, for I have talked on several occasions to those people there. They love themselves and worldly wealth more than anybody else does, and above all they fear loss of position as well as loss of gain more than anybody else does. Consequently today as in former times they despise everyone else in comparison with themselves; they are also utterly intent on the acquisition of wealth, and in addition are full of fear. Because that nation has been like this since ancient times they were better able than others to be kept in external holiness devoid of all internal holiness, and so in outward form to represent things that constituted the Church It was these false delusions and evil desires that produced such stubborn perverseness.

[3] This is also apparent from many things which are mentioned regarding them in the historical narratives of the Word. After being punished they were able to demonstrate an external humility such as no other nation could do, for they were able for whole days to lie prostrate on the ground and to roll themselves in the dust and not get up until the third day. They were also able for many days to beat their breasts, and to go around in sackcloth, in tattered garments, with ashes or dust sprinkled over their head. They were able to fast continuously for many days, and during that time to burst into bitter tears. But these were the expressions solely of bodily and earthly love, and a fear of losing their pre- eminence and worldly wealth. For there was not anything internal which moved them since they did not know at all, and did not even wish to know, what the internal was, such as the matter of a life after death, or that of eternal salvation.

[4] From this it may be seen that because their nature was such they had to be dispossessed of all internal holiness, for this holiness accords in no way at all with the kind of external holiness that has just been described; indeed the two are utterly contrary to each other. It may also be seen that they were better able than others to play the part of a representative of the Church, that is to say, to represent holy things in external form, devoid of all internal holiness; and that thus by means of that nation some kind of communication with the heavens was possible, see 4288.

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