signification of the ear, which is obedience; and from the signification of the boring through with an awl,—that is, at a door or at a post,—which is to attach; here, because it concerns obedience, it signifies to devote [i.e. to service]. The injunction follows therefore that "he shall serve him," that is, obey, "for ever." From this it is plain that boring through the ear of the servant with an awl at a door or at a post by his master, is a representative of obedience. How these things are may be seen from what has preceded; namely, that those who are in truths only and not in corresponding good, that is who are in faith and not in charity, are not free but servants. On the other hand, those who act from good or charity are free, since they act from themselves; for to act from good or charity is to act from the heart, that is from the will, and thus from what is man's own. For that which is of the will is of the man; and what is done from the will is said to go forth from the heart. But those who are only in truths of faith, and not in the good of charity, are relatively servants; for they do not act from themselves,—because they have not the good within themselves from which to act, but out of themselves; and they do it as often as they think of it. Those who remain such to the end of life continue in that state after death; nor can they be brought to such a state that they may act from an affection of charity, thus from good; but they act from obedience. . . . They who actually, that is in very life, put the doctrine of faith in the first place and charity in the second, are Hebrew servants in the representative sense. . . . That the boring of the ear with an awl by his master is representative of obedience, is evident too from the consideration that to fix the ear to a door was to effect that attention should be paid to those things which his master who is in the chamber commands; thus to cause to hear continually, and accordingly obey; here, in the spiritual sense, to cause to obey the things which good wills and commands, for by the lord of the servant spiritual good is represented. As the ear signifies the hearing which is of obedience, therefore from an origin out of the spiritual world there has passed into human speech the expression to pull the ear, for to make to give heed and to remember; and likewise the words hear and hearken in the sense of to obey. For the interior sense of very many expressions has flowed from correspondences from the spiritual world; as when we speak of spiritual light, and of sight from it, which are things belonging to faith; also of spiritual fire and of life therefrom, which things pertain to love.
"And he shall serve him for ever." . . . In the literal sense
- This expression, though not unknown in English parlance, is less common than perhaps in some of the other modern languages, and than it appears to have been anciently, at least in the spoken Latin language. (Virg. Eel, vi. 3.)