Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4317

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4317. In the internal historical sense 'because he touched, in the hollow of Jacob's thigh, the sinew of that which was displaced' means because of their heredity which could not be rooted out through regeneration because they would not allow that to happen. This is clear from the meaning of 'the thigh' as conjugial love, and consequently all celestial and spiritual love, dealt with in 4280, and 'the hollow of the thigh' as the place where conjugial love, and also all celestial and spiritual love, is joined to natural good, 4277, 4280. Consequently 'touching it', that is, so damaging it that limping results, means destroying the good that flows from those loves. And since it was Jacob in whom this was done, that among his descendants which had come down from him, and so was hereditary, is meant. 'The sinew of that which was displaced' means falsity, see 4303, in this case falsity which stems from hereditary evil. The fact that this heredity could not be rooted out through regeneration because they would not allow that to happen follows from this and from the whole train of thought.

[2] The possession of such a heredity and their inability to be regenerated is quite clear from all that is recorded in the Word about them, and especially from the following in Moses,

Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, You yourselves saw all that Jehovah did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants, and to all his land; and Jehovah has not given you A heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, even to this day. Deut 29:2, 4.

In the same author,

I know the people's imagination, which they are performing today, before I bring them into the land which I have sworn [to give them]. Deut 31:21.

And further on,

I will hide My face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, sons with no truth in them. I would scatter them far, I would make the memory of them cease from mankind, except that I feared the wrath of the enemy. For they are a nation from whose counsel is perishing and in whom there is no intelligence. For from the vine of Sodom comes their vine, and from the fields of Gomorrah their grapes; they have grapes of hemlock, clusters that are bitter. The poison of dragons is their wine, and the cruel head of asps. Is not this stored up with Me, sealed up in My treasuries? Deut 32:20, 26-34.

The same things are said in many other places, in particular in Jeremiah.

[3] Further evidence that their heredity is meant by the touching of Jacob's thigh and his consequently having a limp may be seen in Hosea,

The controversy of Jehovah with Judah: He will make a visitation on Jacob over his ways, and will render to him according to his deeds. In the womb he supplanted his brother; in his grief he contended with God, and contended against the angel and prevailed; he wept and appealed to him. Hosea 12:2-4.

Here 'contending with God' means, in the internal historical sense, their insistence that a representative of the Church should exist with them, 4290, 4293. From this it is evident that the kind of heredity they possessed had been derived from Jacob himself, as may be shown from further places still but must be passed over for the time being.

[4] As regards heredity specifically, the belief at the present day in the Church is that all hereditary evil is derived from the first parent and that all are therefore condemned in respect of that evil. But this is untrue. The origin of hereditary evil in everyone lies with his parents and parents' parents, that is, with successive generations of ancestors. Every evil which each of these has acquired to himself by his own actions in life, inasmuch as it becomes so to speak part of his character through regular practice or habit, is passed on to his children and becomes hereditary in them; and that evil accompanies what has been implanted in parents from grandparents and ancestors. Hereditary evil coming from the father is more internal, and hereditary evil from the mother more external. That coming from the father cannot be rooted out easily whereas that from the mother can. When a person is being regenerated the deeply-implanted hereditary evil that is received from immediate forbears is rooted out; but with those who are not being regenerated, or who are unable to be, it remains. This then is hereditary evil; see also 313, 494, 2122, 2910, 3518, 3701. This matter is also plain to anyone who reflects, as well as from the fact that every family has some evil or good characteristic by which it is distinguished from other families; and that characteristic, as is well known, is inherited from parents and ancestors. The same applies to the Jewish nation which is still in existence. It is clearly different from all other nations and may be recognized not only from its particular disposition but also from its customs, speech, and facial characteristics.

[5] But few people know what hereditary evil is. It is believed to consist in the doing of evil, when in fact it consists in the willing and therefore thinking of it. It is within the will itself and therefore within thought that hereditary evil dwells. It is the actual inclination to evil which is within them and which attaches itself even when the person does what is good. It is recognized through the kind of delight which enters in when evil befalls another. This root lies hidden deep down, for the interior form itself receiving good and truth from heaven, that is, from the Lord by way of heaven, is perverted and so to speak twisted out of shape, with the result that when good and truth flow in from the Lord these are either cast back or perverted or smothered. This is why no perception of what is good and true exists at the present day, but instead, in the case of the regenerate, conscience which acknowledges as good and true that which has been learned from parents and teachers. Hereditary evil leads to loving oneself more than others, willing evil on another if he does not promote oneself to honour, and taking delight in acts of revenge. It also leads to loving the world more than heaven and to all evil desires or evil affections, which spring from the same source. Man does not know that such things exist within him, still less that they are the opposite of heavenly affections In the next life however he is shown plainly how much evil, hereditary in origin, he has drawn to himself through his own actions in life, and also how far he has removed himself from heaven through evil affections from the same source.

[6] The fact that hereditary evil in Jacob's descendants could not be rooted out through regeneration because they would not allow that to happen is also evident from the historical descriptions in the Word - in all their temptations in the desert they gave in, as described in Moses, which they also did subsequently in the land of Canaan as often as they did not see miracles taking place. Those temptations however were external ones, and not internal or spiritual. In spiritual things they were incapable of being tempted because they had no knowledge of internal truths nor any possession of internal goods, as shown already; and nobody is able to be tempted except in what he knows or possesses. Temptations are the actual means by which regeneration is accomplished. This is what is meant by them not allowing regeneration to happen. Concerning their state and fate in the next life, see 939-941, 3481.

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