While sibling rivalry is a common thing among children, it seems farfetched that their struggle for primacy would begin early in the womb. This is the scenario we are presented with in Genesis 25:21-23, where Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, conceived two male sons, who struggled while in her womb!
Jehovah even tells Rebekah that her younger son would prevail over the older. Children don’t become competitive in the womb before they become conscious to the outside world and its spoils. And why would God play favorites? So what goes here?
According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, God’s Holy Word was written for both the minds of terrestrial humans and the superior—or spiritual—minds of angels. Whereas humans grasp these biblical stories simply as historical accounts, angels distill higher spiritual meaning from the same words.
Angels interpret the story of the birth of Esau and Jacob and their struggle for primacy as the conflict that takes place in every individual, of every era, who is being reformed and regenerated by God for life in a blessed and eternal kingdom. The two brothers symbolize the birth of a new heart and mind, that is, both love and truth coming into existence within the inner reality and essence of a spiritually evolving individual.
That Jacob is curiously holding onto Esau’s ankle while Esau comes into the world symbolizes that truth (or knowledge) must be attached to goodness for an individual to be spiritually reborn.
While love comes first as to spiritual importance (Esau was born first) it is truth (Jacob) that takes over the process of spiritual development. The struggle between the two brothers represents the struggle people must go through to become conscious of the proper order for spiritual evolution. The human intellect first needs to accumulate knowledge. Next, as the human intellect matures spiritually, it recognizes the importance of love.
Understood literally (materialistically) it seems as though Jacob tricked his older brother into giving up his birthright for some “slop” (pottage) to eat. However, when spiritually understood, this represents that the process of spiritual regeneration requires bringing proper order to the knowledge amassed (slop) in one’s mind. If knowledge isn’t evaluated and prioritized, it cannot be attached to true goodness.
So Esau’s giving up his birthright to his younger brother and feeling he is “going to die” symbolizes that love understands that humans must first learn truth before becoming good. Esau’s premonition of death represents that although love takes a backseat to truth at the beginning, it rises up again from this “death-like” state to gain primary importance.
Even Isaac, their father, also understands Esau’s ultimate importance. This is evidenced by his prophecy that his older son will escape his younger son’s yoke and regain dominion (Genesis, 27:40). I have left out many details of this deeper interpretation of Scripture because it goes well beyond the scope of this short post.
Why am I sharing with you how angels understand Scripture? The answer is that the Lord God wants to share this rarefied knowledge with humans on earth—now! This is how the Lord will make His triumphant return and make all things “anew.” The Second Coming will commence within the hearts and minds of willing individuals.
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