5122. 'The three shoots are three days' means continuous derivatives even to the final one. This is clear from the meaning of 'three' as a single period and the continuity of it from start to finish, dealt with in 2788, 4495; from the meaning of 'shoots' as derivatives, dealt with in 5114; and from the meaning of 'days' as states, dealt with in 23, 487, 488, 493, 893, 2788, 3462, 3785, 4850. From all this it follows that 'the three shoots are three days' means the state in which the sensory power represented by 'the cupbearer' undergoes rebirth, from the first to the final degrees of it, its consecutive derivatives being meant by 'shoots'.
 The states of rebirth which each sensory power and every aspect of the natural, as well as every aspect of the rational, pass through have from beginning to end their own progressive stages. When they attain any end they also begin at that point something else that is new; that is to say, they pass on from the end they had been striving to attain in a prior state to the realization of some further end, and so on after that. Eventually order is turned around, so that what has been last becomes first. This is what happens when a person is being regenerated, both in the case of his rational and in that of his natural. While his regeneration is taking place the phases that make up the first state are the stages of a movement from the truths of faith towards forms of the good of charity, when the truths of faith seemingly play the leading role while forms of the good of charity play a secondary one; for the truths of faith have the good of charity as their end in view. Phases like these continue until the person's regeneration is completed. Once this is completed charity then moves from the final place to the first in the line, and so becomes the point from which new states begin. These states develop in two directions - in an increasingly inward direction and also in a more outward one. Inwardly they move closer to love to the Lord, while outwardly they move closer first to the truths of faith, then to natural truths, and after that to truths as these are perceived by the senses. Then these three degrees of truths are brought into agreement one after another with forms of the good of charity and love present within the rational and so are brought into heavenly order.
 These are the matters that are meant by progressive stages of development and by continuous derivatives even to the final one. Such stages and derivatives are unending in the case of a person who is being regenerated. They begin when he is a young child and continue through to the final phase of his life in the world; indeed they continue for ever after that, though his regeneration can never reach the point when he can by any means be called perfect. For there are countless, indeed a limitless number of things to be regenerated, both within his rational and within his natural. Everything there has limitless shoots, that is, stages of development and derivatives that progress in both inward and outward directions. A person has no immediate awareness at all of this, but the Lord is aware of every particular detail and is making provision for it moment by moment. If He were to stop doing this for a single instant every stage of development would be thrown into confusion. For one stage looks to the next in an unending sequence and produces chains of sequences which never cease. From this it is evident that Divine Foresight and Providence exist in every particular detail, and that if they did not, or did so in a merely overall way, the human race would perish.