This is such a profound series and as many times as I have read it there seems to be something about this leading into and included the story of Joseph that resonates so strongly that one wonders if the angels associated with this section of the Word are somehow more needed now to support the states of the Church in us individually and across the Church more universally. What is Benjamin in the Lord? That’s such a big question. I perhaps can say something of what Benjamin might be in the Lord as the Word, that seems a little more accessible. To understand what Benjamin represents we need to have a sense of what Joseph represents for these two go together, although it appears that it’s the representation of Benjamin that is able to be seen a little less obscurely.
Genesis 35:16-20 Concordant Literal Version of the Old Testament
16 And journeying is Jacob from Beth-El, and it comes to be still some distance over land to come to Ephrath. And bearing is Rachel, and hard is she having it in her bearing. 17 And coming is it, as she has it hard in her bearing, then saying to her is the midwife, “You must not fear, for this, moreover, is a son for you!” 18 And coming is it, when forth fares her soul (for she died), that she is calling his name Ben-oni. Yet his father calls his name Benjamin. 19 And dying is Rachel, and is being entombed on the way to Ephrath. (It is now Bethlehem..) 20 And setting up is Jacob a monument over her tomb. It is the monument, the tomb of Rachel, till today.
Arcana Coelestia 4584.
Verses 16-20. And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was still a tract of land to come to Ephrath; and Rachel brought forth, and suffered hard things in her bringing forth. And it came to pass in her suffering hard things in her bringing forth that the midwife said unto her, Fear not, for this also is to thee a son. And it came to pass as her soul was going forth, that she was about to die; and she called his name Benoni; and his father called him Benjamin. And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, this is Bethlehem. And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; this is the pillar of Rachel’s grave even to this day. “And they journeyed from Bethel, and there was still a tract of land to come to Ephrath,” signifies that now was the spiritual of the celestial (“Joseph” is the celestial of the spiritual); “and Rachel brought forth, and suffered hard things in her bringing forth,” signifies the temptations of interior truth; “and it came to pass in her suffering hard things in her bringing forth,” signifies after temptations; “that the midwife said unto her, Fear not,” signifies perception from the natural; “for this also is to thee a son,” signifies spiritual truth; “and it came to pass as her soul was in departing that she was about to die,” signifies a state of temptations; “and she called his name Benoni,” signifies the quality of this state; “and his father called him Benjamin,” signifies the quality of the spiritual of the celestial; “and Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath,” signifies the end of the former affection of interior truth; “this is Bethlehem,” signifies in place thereof the resurrection of a new spiritual of the celestial; “and Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave,” signifies the holy of the spiritual truth that would rise again there; “this is the pillar of Rachel’s grave even to this day,” signifies the state of the holy forever.
Joseph is the celestial of the spiritual or good that is a product of rational or spiritual truth. This truth is above our comprehension, like the light we see by but can’t actually see – it illuminates but in itself is not illuminated. From this comes a certain quality of good that inflows into the human mind to give support to the Lord’s love for the salvation of the human race – ultimately this is all the Lord is interested in. So what might Joseph be? Perhaps he is the gentle desire or prompting to engage with the Word as the basis for self-examination and repentance. So then we come to the Word and begin to engage with it through the sense of the letter (there’s a delight for the things found there, for the stories carry a strong appeal in themselves, so perhaps this delight for them is the kind of good represented by Jacob at work within us).
But if the Lord’s love for the salvation of the human race is to find it fulfilment we can’t remain in the sense of the letter for this is natural, bound to historicals belonging to the outer world of space and time, so the good represented by Joseph (what is of a celestial quality and so is focussed on the salvation of the human race) continues to work in us, and Rachel who represents the affection for interior truths but with a strong maternal hereditary element is thrown into labour. These interior truths are within the maternal body, but cannot remain so, they have to be separated out so they can live. The body within which such truths are to be found is one’s historical faith, that which has been inherited through tradition, for “mother” in the Word represents the external Church. A faith received unconsciously must be made conscious if it is to become saving, but the separation of what is interior from the grip of natural affectional ties cannot occur without the pain of struggle and temptation.
The understanding of truth that had served up to the point of it being cast off knows only the pain of its loss, that which is born from the perspective of the maternal aspect of one’s historical faith is called Ben-oni which means son of my pain (or sorrow). For the birth of a son represents a new understanding of truths from the Word that is born from their practice and application to the interior life or states of mind. Now when the things of the Word begin to be understood apart from their historical container in a way where they can actually address the affectional and thought life of the human mind, for through this new focus on inner things more interior evils and falsities are able to be seen and removed. This is recognised by the good present, by Jacob or the Father in the natural, through which the true quality of the son is acknowledged. For the son that is born is the Lord’s arm of salvation, which appears to be of a natural origin, but is, of course, of a celestial or Divine origin. This is the spiritual-celestial man or an understanding of truths from the Word that addresses the interior things of life. It is identified as such by being called Benjamin or the Son of My Right Hand, which is described as “spiritual truth which springs from celestial good, and consequent power.” AC 4592. The good referred to here is represented by Joseph, Benjamin is the truth from that good, and so represents the understanding of truths that arise from their practice, which is the only form of truth that saves.