This is an exposition of the internal or spiritual sense of the books of Genesis and Exodus, according to the law of correspondences. It unfolds the spiritual significance of the creation; of the stories of Adam and Eve, and of the deluge; of the lives of the patriarchs; of the captivity of the chosen people in Egypt and of their deliverance therefrom, and of their subsequent history; of the ritual of the Jewish religion, its sacrifices and observances:—and in general, traces the foreshadowing through both books of the incarnation and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many passages from other parts of the Word are also fully explained. Relations of things heard and seen in the spiritual world are interspersed, explaining the process of dying, and of man's resuscitation and conscious entrance into the interior life; the nature of the soul; of heaven and heavenly joy;and of hell, its nature and its miseries. It also treats of the Grand Man, or the whole angelic heaven, and the correspondence of the societies therein with the different organs and senses of the body; the origin and correspondence of diseases; the spirits and inhabitants of the various planets, and of other earths in the starry heavens. All of which are related to a true understanding of the Divine Word. This is book #3 out of 12 and covers Genesis 18 - 22
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Arcana Coelestia (Heavenly Arcana)
Volume 3: Genesis 18 - 22
Emanuel Swedenborg – A Biographical Primer
Arcana Coelestia, Volume 3
Preface To The 18th Chapter.
Arcana Coelestia, Vol. 3, E. Swedenborg
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
By Thomas Hitchcock
Swedish philosopher, born in Stockholm, Jan. 29, 1688, died in London, England, March 29, 1772. He was the son of Jesper Swedberg, bishop of Skara, the name being changed to Swedenborg in 1719 on the occasion of the ennobling of the family. This advancement entitled him, as head of the family, to a seat in the house of nobles of the Swedish diet, but did not confer the title of baron, as has been supposed. Emanuel was educated at Upsal, completing his studies in 1709. After two years of travel in England, Holland, and France, he went to reside at Greifswald in Pomerania, then a Swedish town, and busied himself with scientific research. He also wrote some Latin fables, which were published under the title of Camena Borea. A collection of Latin poems, written by him during his travels, was also published about the same time in a volume entitled Ludus Heliconius. In 1716 he returned to Sweden and established a periodical called Dædalus Hyperboreus, devoted to mathematics and mechanics, which appeared irregularly for two years. During this time he had become intimate with Christopher Polhem, an eminent engineer, and Polhem introduced him to Charles XII., who appointed him assessor extraordinary of the college of mines, and associate engineer with Polhem. For two years Swedenborg maintained close personal relations with the king, and assisted him much in his military operations. During the siege of Frederickshald, at which Charles met his death, Swedenborg constructed, under Polhem's direction, the machines by which several vessels were transported overland from Strömstad to the Iddefiord, 14 miles. At the king's suggestion, it is said, Polhem betrothed his daughter to Swedenborg; but as the young lady preferred another man, Swedenborg relinquished his claim and never married. From 1717 to 1722 he published pamphlets on scientific subjects; among them one describing a method of determining longitude by means of the moon. In 1721 he made a short tour on the continent, visiting mines and smelting works. On his return in 1722 he was promoted to be full assessor of mines, and for the next 12 years he devoted himself to the duties of that office, refusing the professorship of mathematics at Upsal in 1724. In 1734 he published Opera Philosophica et Mineralia in three large folio volumes, illustrated with numerous plates, viz.: vol. i., Principia; vol. ii., De Ferro; vol. iii., De Cupro et Orichalco. In the same year also appeared his Prodromus de Infinito. In 1736 he began another tour of travel, which, with study and writing, occupied him for several years. In 1740-'41 he published his Œconomia Regni Animalis, in two parts, and in 1744-'5 his Regnum Animale, in three parts. Between 1729 and 1741 he was elected successively a member of the academy of sciences at Upsal, corresponding member of the imperial academy of sciences at St. Petersburg, and member of the academy of sciences at Stockholm. His series of scientific publications ended in 1745 with the treatise De Cultu et Amore Dei, &c., in which is set forth, under the form of a prose poem or allegory, his theory of the process of creation. Thereafter, as he says, he was called by God to the work of revealing to men a new system of religious truth. For that end he was permitted to converse with spirits and angels, and behold the wonders of the spiritual world. That he might be more free to perform his task, he resigned his assessorship, retaining half the salary by way of pension. He devoted himself first to the study of the Bible in the original, and then to the writing of books explanatory of his new doctrines, which were published entirely at his own expense. From 1749 to 1756 appeared the Arcana Cœlestia (8 vols. 4to), containing a commentary on Genesis and Exodus, interspersed with accounts of “wonderful things seen and heard in heaven and in hell.” This was followed in 1758 by the De Cœlo et Inferno, De Telluribus in Mundo, De Ultimo Judicio, De Nova Hierosolyma, and De Equo Albo. In 1763 were published the four doctrinal treatises: Doctrina Vitæ, De Fide, De Domino, and De Scriptura Sacra, with a Continuatio de Ultimo Judicio, and the treatise De Divino Amore et de Divina Sapientia. In 1764, the Divina Providentia appeared; in 1766, the Apocalypsis Revelata; in 1768, De Amore Conjugiali; in 1769, Summaria Expositio Doctrinæ and De Commercio Animæ et Corporis; and in 1771, the Vera Christiana Religio. Besides these, he left at his death an immense mass of manuscripts, of which the following have been since printed: Itinerarium, Clavis Hieroglyphica, Opuscula, Apocalypsis Explicata, Adversaria in Libros Veteris Testamenti, Diarium Spirituale, Index Biblicus, Sensus Internus Prophetarum et Psalmorum, Dicta Probantia, De Athanasio Symbolo, De Charitate, Canones, Coronis Veræ Christianæ Religionis, and Invitatio ad Novam Ecclesiam. Copies of a few of these manuscripts have recently been reproduced by the photolithographic process, by subscription, not so much for circulation as for the sake of preserving the contents of the originals from destruction by decay. — Swedenborg's manner of life was simple and modest. He spent much of his time, in later years, in Holland and England, for which countries he expressed great admiration on account of the freedom of speech and writing permitted there. He made no efforts to gain proselytes to his doctrines further than by printing and distributing his writings, and never referred to his intercourse with the spiritual world except when questioned. Several instances are reported of his obtaining information from departed souls respecting affairs unknown even to their families, and describing events in distant places in advance of news by the ordinary means of communication. It is related that, as he lay on his deathbed in London, Ferelius, a Swedish clergyman, solemnly adjured him to tell the truth in regard to his teachings. Swedenborg raised himself half upright in bed, and placing his hand on his breast said with emphasis: “As true as you see me before you, so true is everything I have written. I could have said more had I been permitted. When you come into eternity, you will see all things as I have stated and described them, and we shall have much to say concerning them to each other.” He then received the holy supper from Ferelius, and presented him with a copy of his Arcana Cœlestia. A day or two afterward he peacefully breathed his last. His body was buried in a vault of the Swedish church in Prince's square, a little east of the tower. A eulogium was pronounced upon him in the Swedish house of nobles in October, 1772, by Samuel Sandels, which accords him high praise, not merely for learning and talent, but also for uprightness and fidelity in the discharge of his duties as a public functionary. Several of his acquaintances have also left written testimony to his virtuous character. — Swedenborg's scientific works have long since ceased to be of practical value, but are still highly interesting as collections of facts, and as exhibiting their author's peculiar method of philosophizing. The system he followed was substantially that of Descartes, of whom he continued to the end of his life to speak with admiration, and this led him to conclusions resembling in some striking points those of Spinoza, who was likewise a Cartesian. His “Economy of the Animal Kingdom” is the best of his many productions anterior to his theological career. In it he attempts to deduce a knowledge of the soul from an anatomical and physiological knowledge of the body, and evolves many doctrines which he afterward elaborated in his theological works. Indeed, some of his disciples hold that his seership was the natural result of his intellectual and moral development, and by no means an abnormal condition of mind. According to his own account, it came upon him gradually, and neither astonished nor alarmed him, although in its early stages he was subject to great mental excitement, the phenomena of which may have given rise to exaggerated stories of his insanity. The works written by him subsequent to this change in his mind are quite as systematic and coherent as his earlier productions, and only his claim to a divine mission, and his frequent descriptions of what he saw and heard in the spiritual world, mark them as peculiar. They are consistent from first to last, and though they appeared at intervals during a period of 27 years, they nowhere deviate from the fundamental principles laid down at the outset. — The general features of Swedenborg's theology are presented in his treatise called the “True Christian Religion.” He teaches that God is one in essence and in person, and has been revealed to men as the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Lord is a trinity, not of persons but of principles, and it is these principles which are spoken of in the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Father is the divine love, the Son the divine wisdom, and the Holy Ghost the divine operation or energy acting upon the universe. The Lord is infinite, eternal, self-existent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and not only the creator but the sustainer of all creation, which without him would cease to exist. For the sake of redeeming mankind he assumed a natural body born of the Virgin Mary, and glorified it or made it divine, so that it is now invisible to men, and also usually to the angels except as the sun of heaven. Redemption consisted, not in suffering vicariously the punishment of men's sins (for that could not be done, and, if it could, would be useless), but in actual combats, by means of the assumed humanity, with the powers of hell, and overcoming them. This victory restored to man spiritual freedom, which had begun to be impaired by diabolic possessions as narrated in the Gospels, and enabled him to work out his salvation. This he does by looking to the Lord, with faith in him, by repentance, and above all by a life according to the commandments of the decalogue. The chief points that Swedenborg insists on in religion are faith in the Lord and the avoidance of evils as sins against him. Upon everything else, such as outward worship, prayer and meditation, and works of eleemosynary charity, he lays but little stress. The essence of charity is love to the neighbor and occupation in some useful employment. The Word, he says, is the divine truth itself, written to reveal the Lord to man and to serve as a medium of conjunction between earth and heaven. This Word consists of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, the Psalms, the prophecies, the four Gospels, and the Apocalypse. The other books bound up with these in our Bibles are not the Word, although good and useful to the church. The distinction between the two consists in this: that the Word contains an internal or spiritual sense, which the rest of the Bible has not. This spiritual sense is symbolical, and may be discerned by the application of the law of symbolism resulting from the universal correspondence of natural with spiritual things. Thus, the garden of Eden and all things mentioned as existing in it symbolize the human soul and its affections and thoughts; and the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the alienation of mankind at a remote period from their original state of innocence. Hence, too, the decalogue forbids not merely outward sins, but the inward spiritual sins corresponding to them, and the Psalms and prophecies relate not merely to David and the Jews, but to experiences of the human soul independent of dates and localities. At the same time the literal sense alone can be relied on as a basis of doctrine, and Swedenborg is careful to cite it profusely in support of his teachings. The reason he gives for his mission is that the knowledge of true doctrine had been lost and the church destroyed by a false theology and accompanying evils of life. By the promulgation of the truth revealed to him a new church has been established by the Lord, and thus the prophecies in the Apocalypse of the descent of the New Jerusalem have been fulfilled in their symbolical sense. The second coming of the Lord, predicted in Matt, xxiv., has also been accomplished in the same way, a last judgment having been effected in the spiritual world in the year 1757, so that we are now living under a new dispensation. The treatise on “Heaven and Hell” embodies Swedenborg's teachings on the nature of those two realms, and their relations to this world. They exist, he says, not in some other region of space, but within the natural world, as the soul of man exists within his body, being in fact in the souls of men and resting in them as our souls rest in our bodies. At death the body, which is the material envelope of the soul, is cast aside, never to be resumed, and consequently its resurrection is not to be looked for. The soul is the man himself, and is a perfect human being, with a spiritual body of its own, and rises into a conscious perception of the spiritual world, of which the man had previously been unconsciously an inhabitant. He sees and feels and possesses all the other senses, and retains all his personal characteristics. After a longer or shorter preparation in an intermediate state called the world of spirits, which lies between heaven and hell, he is drawn by his own elective affinity to the place where he belongs, and remains there to eternity. Both heaven and hell consist of innumerable societies, each composed of human beings of similar and concordant affections; and both are divided into three distinct regions, according to the degrees of perfection or depravity of their inhabitants. The Arcana Cœlestia, Swedenborg's largest work, is mainly an exposition of the internal or symbolical sense of Genesis and Exodus, with accounts of his experiences in the spiritual world, and various doctrinal teachings interspersed between the chapters. “The Apocalypse Revealed” and “The Apocalypse Explained” are similar expositions of the Apocalypse. In his “Conjugial Love” Swedenborg expounds his doctrine of the relations of the sexes. Males, he says, are masculine and females feminine in soul as well as in body. The masculine element is love clothed with wisdom, while the feminine is wisdom clothed with love. Hence the characteristic of man is wisdom or understanding, and that of woman love or affection. Marriage is the conjunction of two souls who complement each other, and by their union make one complete being, just as the will and the understanding make the individual. Hence the only true marriage is of one man and one woman, and it exists in the next world as well as in this. Polygamy is a degraded state, but not a sin with those whose religion permits it; but adultery is destructive of the life of the soul, and closes heaven against those who confirm themselves in it. The treatises on the “Divine Love and Wisdom” and the “Divine Providence” embody Swedenborg's spiritual philosophy, and exhibit the symmetrical relations of the various parts of his religious system. Love, he says, is the life of man. God alone is Love itself and Life itself, and angels and men are but recipients of life from him. He is very Man, and our humanity is derived from him, so that it is literally true that we are created in his image and likeness. His infinite love clothes itself with infinite wisdom and manifests itself in ceaseless operation, producing, maintaining, and reproducing the boundless universe, with all its innumerable parts and inhabitants. In like manner men, being made in the image of God, also have love or the will, and wisdom or the understanding, and the two produce in them their finite operation. It being the nature of love to desire objects upon which to exercise itself, God could not but create the universe. The creation of this and other solar systems, all of which are inhabited, was effected by a spiritual sun, which is the first emanation proceeding from God, and which is seen in the spiritual world as our sun is seen by us. By means of this spiritual sun natural suns were created, and from them atmospheres, waters, earths, plants, animals, and finally man. Angels, spirits, and devils are men who have been born and died on this or some similar planet. Hence, all things were created from God, and not out of nothing. The spiritual world is related to the natural as cause is to effect, and the supreme first cause of all is God himself. These three, end, cause, and effect, constitute three distinct or discrete degrees, which are repeated in various forms in all created things, and on a grand scale in the universe as a whole. Creation, being from God, is, like the individual man, an image of him, and hence is in the human form in its greatest and least parts, and with more or less approximation to perfection. As we are finitely men, because God is an infinite Man, so all animals, plants, and even minerals wear a resemblance to man, and throughout all nature there is an incessant effort to evolve the human form. In the sight of God and the angels, larger and smaller bodies of human beings and the societies of heaven and hell appear organized like men, and Swedenborg calls the universe the Grand Man (Maximus Homo). As infinite love was the end and infinite wisdom the cause of creation, so the divine life and power are constantly active in sustaining and directing it. This activity is the Divine Providence, and it reaches to every smallest particular of nature and humanity. Man has freedom, because without it he could not be an adequate recipient of the divine love, and by the abuse of his freedom he has introduced evil into the world. The Divine Providence seeks, without destroying this freedom, to lead man back to his original integrity. Hence all the wonderful dealings of God with man recorded in the Scriptures; hence the incarnation; and hence the various forms of religion which exist in the world, all of which embody more or less the essentials of salvation, namely, the worship of God and abstinence from evils as sins against him. The smaller treatises of Swedenborg are mostly extracts from his larger works, with amplifications and additions. — The fullest account of him and his writings is that of William White (2 vols., London, 1867, since republished in one volume). See, also, “Documents concerning Swedenborg,” by R. L. Tafel (London, 1875 et seq.). All of his theological and some of his scientific works have been translated into English. The theological works have also been reprinted in Latin by Dr. J. F. I. Tafel, of Tübingen, Germany, and partially translated and published in French, German, Italian, Danish, and Swedish. Societies for promoting their circulation are in operation both in the United States and in Europe. The principal writers who have undertaken the exposition of Swedenborg's doctrines in England are John Clowes, Robert Hindmarsh, C. A. Tulk, Samuel Noble, J. J. G. Wilkinson, and Jonathan Bayley; in France, E. Richer and J. F. Les Boys-des-Guays; and in the United States, George Bush, Theophilus Parsons, E. H. Sears, Henry James, B. F. Barrett, W. B. Hayden, and Chauncey Giles. For an account of the ecclesiastical organization based upon Swedenborg's doctrines.
At the end of the preceding chapter, the subject of the Last Judgment was treated of, and it was shown what is signified thereby, namely, not the destruction of the world, but the last time of the church. When this is at hand, the Lord says that He "will come in the clouds of the heavens, with power and glory" (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27). Hitherto no one has known what is meant by the "clouds of the heavens." But it has been disclosed to me that nothing else is meant than the literal sense of the Word; and by "power and glory" the internal sense of the Word, for in the internal sense of the Word there is glory, since whatever is there is concerning the Lord and His kingdom (see in volume 1, n. 1769-1772). Similar is the signification of the "cloud" which encompassed Peter, James, and John, when the Lord appeared to them in glory; of which it is said in Luke: A voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him; but when the voice had passed, Jesus was found alone (Luke 9:35-36), where by "Moses and Elias," who spoke with the Lord, was represented the Word of the Old Testament, which is also called "Moses and the Prophets" (by "Moses," his books together with the other historical books, and by "Elias" the prophet, all the books of the Prophets); but by "Peter, James, and John," as in all other places where they are named in the books of the Evangelists, were represented faith, charity, and the good of charity. That they only were present signifies that no others can see the glory of the Lord, which is in His Word than those who are in faith, in its charity, and in the good of charity. Others are indeed able to see, but still do not see, because they do not believe. This is the internal sense in regard to the foregoing two passages; and in various places in the Prophets also, a "cloud" signifies the Word in its letter, and "glory" the Word in its life. The nature and quality of the internal sense of the Word has already been frequently stated, and has been shown in the explication word by word. It was those skilled in the Law in the Lord's time who least of all believed that there was anything written in the Word concerning the Lord. At the present day, those skilled in the Law know indeed, but it may be that they will believe least of all that there is any other glory in the Word than that which appears in the letter; when yet this is the cloud in which is the glory. CHAPTER 18. From this chapter we may see, in an especial manner, what is the nature of the internal sense of the Word, and how the angels perceive it when it is being read by man. From the historical sense of the letter we can understand nothing else than that Jehovah appeared to Abraham under the form of three men; and that Sarah, Abraham, and his lad prepared food for them, namely, cakes made of the meal of fine flour, a "son of an ox," and also butter and milk; which things, though they are true historicals describing what really took place, are still not so perceived by the angels; but the things which they represent and signify are what are perceived, altogether abstractedly from the letter, in accordance with the explication given in the CONTENTS. Thus, instead of the things historically related in this chapter, the angels perceive the state of the Lord's perception in the Human, and the communication with the Divine at that time, before the perfect union of His Divine Essence with the Human Essence, and of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence, which state is also that concerning which the Lord thus speaks: No one hath seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath set Him forth (John 1:18). And by the various kinds of food here mentioned, the angels perceive nothing but celestial and spiritual goods, concerning which see the explication. Moreover by what is afterwards said concerning the son that Sarah should bear at the set time of another year, they perceive nothing else than that the Lord's human rational should be made Divine. Lastly, by the things which Abraham spoke with Jehovah concerning the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels perceive nothing else than the Lord's intercession for the human race; and by five, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, and ten, they perceive His intercession for those with whom truths should be adjoined to goods, and who should have goods by means of temptations and combats, or by means of other states. So it is with all other things in the Word, as may be more clearly seen from the explication word by word, where it is shown that in each word similar things are involved in the Word, both Historic and Prophetic. That there is such an internal sense everywhere in the Word, which treats solely of the Lord, of His kingdom in the heavens, of His church on earth and in particular with every man, thus treating of the goods of love and truths of faith, may also be seen by every one from the passages cited by the Evangelists from the Old Testament. As in Matthew: The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand, until I made thine enemies thy footstool (Matt. 22:44; compare Ps. 110:1). That these words treat of the Lord, cannot be apparent in the literal sense of the passage cited, as found in David; but yet that no other than the Lord is meant, He Himself here teaches in Matthew. Again: Thou Bethlehem, the land of Judah, art in no wise least among the leaders of Judah; for out of thee shall come forth a Leader, who shall feed My people Israel (Matt. 2:6; compare Micah 5:2). They who abide in the literal sense, as do the Jews, know indeed from this passage that the Lord should be born there; but as they are expecting a leader and a king who will bring them back into the land of Canaan, they therefore explain the words found here according to the letter; that is, by the "land of Judah" they understand the land of Canaan; by "Israel" they understand Israel, although they know not where Israel now is; and by a "Leader" they still understand their Messiah; when yet other things are meant by "Judah" and "Israel;" namely, by "Judah" those who are celestial, by "Israel," those who are spiritual, in heaven and on earth; and by the "Leader" the Lord. Again in the same: A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, a cry, and great wailing; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted, because they are not (Matt. 2:18; compare Jer. 31:15). They who abide in the literal sense of these words cannot possibly gather from it what is the internal sense; and yet that there is an internal sense is evident in the Evangelist. Again: Out of Egypt have I called My Son (Matt. 2:15; compare Hos. 11:1). In Hosea it is said: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt. They called them, so they went from their faces, and I made Ephraim to go (Hos. 11:1-3). They who know not that there is an internal sense, cannot know otherwise than that Jacob is here meant when he entered into Egypt, and his posterity when they went out from it, and that by Ephraim is meant the tribe of Ephraim, thus the same things that are in the historicals of the Word nevertheless it is evident from the Word of the Evangelist that they signify the Lord. But what the several particulars signify could not possibly be known unless it were disclosed by means of the internal sense. GENESIS 18 1. And Jehovah appeared unto him in the oak-groves of Mamre, and he was sitting at the door of the tent, as the day was growing hot. 2. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold three men standing over him; and he saw, and ran to meet them from the door of the tent, and bowed himself toward the earth. 3. And he said, My Lord, if I pray I have found grace in thine eyes, pass not I pray from over thy servant. 4. Let I pray a little water be taken, and wash ye your feet, and lie down under the tree. 5. And I will take a piece of bread, and support ye your heart; afterwards ye may pass on; for therefore have ye passed over unto your servant. And they said, So do as thou hast spoken. 6. And Abraham hastened toward the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of meal of fine flour, knead, and make cakes. 7. And Abraham ran unto the herd and took a son of an ox, tender and good, and gave it to the lad, and he hasted to make it. 8. And he took butter and milk, and the son of an ox that he had made, and set before them; and he stood before them under the tree, and they did eat. 9. And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold in the tent. 10. And he said, Returning I will return unto thee about this time of life, and behold Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard at the door of the tent, and it was behind him. 11. And Abraham and Sarah were old, entering into days; it had ceased to be with Sarah in the way as of women. 12. And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am grown old shall I have pleasure? and my lord old? 13. And Jehovah said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I indeed truly bear, and I am become old? 14. Shall anything be wonderful for Jehovah? At the set time I will return unto thee, about this time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15. And Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And He said, Nay, for thou didst laugh. 16. And the men rose up thence, and looked toward the faces of Sodom; and Abraham went with them, to send them away. 17. And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that which I do? 18. And Abraham shall surely be for a nation great and numerous, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him. 19. For I know him, because he will command his sons, and his house after him, and they will keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and judgment; that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken concerning him. 20. And Jehovah said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah has become great, and because their sin has become very grievous. 21. I will go down I pray, and I will see whether they have made a consummation according to the cry thereof which is come unto Me, and if not I will know. 22. And the men looked forth thence, and went toward Sodom; and Abraham as yet he was standing before Jehovah. 23. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24. Peradventure there be fifty righteous in the midst of the city; wilt Thou also destroy and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous that are in the midst of it? 25. Be it far from Thee to do according to this thing, to cause the righteous to die with the wicked, so that the righteous be as the wicked; be it far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do judgment? 26. And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous in the midst of the city, I will spare all the place for their sake. 27. And Abraham answered and said, Behold I pray I have taken upon me to speak unto my Lord, and I am dust and ashes. 28. Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous; wilt Thou destroy all the city for five? and He said, I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five. 29. And he added yet to speak unto Him, and said, Peradventure forty shall be found there; and He said, I will not do it for forty's sake. 30. And he said, Oh let not my Lord be angry, and I will speak: peradventure thirty shall be found there; and He said, I will not do it if I find thirty there. 31. And he said, Behold I pray I have taken upon me to speak unto my Lord: peradventure twenty shall be found there; and He said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake. 32. And he said, Oh let not my Lord be angry, and I will speak but this once: peradventure ten shall be found there; and He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. 33. And Jehovah went when He had completed His speaking unto Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place.
THE CONTENTS. In the first place, this chapter treats concerning the Lord's state of perception in the Human and concerning the communication with the Divine at that time, before the perfect union of His Human Essence with the Divine Essence, which state is also that in regard to which the Lord says, "No one hath seen God at any time, the Only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father" (John 1:18).
The Lord's state of perception in the Human at that time is signified by the "oak-groves of Mamre" (verse 1); and that in this state He perceived the Divine which was manifesting itself before His Human (verse 2); at which He rejoiced (verse 3); and desired that the Divine should draw nearer to His Human by putting on something natural (verse 4), and His Human nearer to the Divine by putting on the celestial (verse 5). The celestial and the derivative spiritual, which He put on, are signified by the "three measures of meal of fine flour" of which the cakes were made (verse 6); and that He also put on a conforming natural, is signified by the "son of an ox" (verse 7); the result being conformation, and a communication of the Divine with the Human, and of the Human with the Divine (verse 8).
In the second place, this chapter treats concerning the Lord's perception in that state respecting the rational with Him, in that it would put off the Human, and be made Divine.
That the rational would be made Divine, is signified by the "son" whom Sarah was to bear (verse 10). That the human rational truth that was with the Lord did not perceive this, and thus did not believe it, is signified by Sarah's "laughing" at the door of the tent that was behind him (verses 10-13, 15). It is confirmed that the Lord would put off this also, and would put on in its place truth Divine (verse 14).
In the third place, the chapter treats concerning the Lord's grief and anxiety over the human race, because men were so greatly imbued with the love of self, and from this with the cupidity of exercising command over others from what is evil and false, for whom in that state He interceded, and obtained that those should be saved with whom there should be goods and truths; and who these are, is recounted in order.
The Lord's perception concerning the human race, that it was in evil and falsity, "Sodom" being the love of self and the derivative cupidity of exercising command from what is evil, and "Gomorrah" being the same from what is false (verses 16, 20). That this could not be concealed from the Lord in that state, because by Him and from Him is all salvation (verses 17-19); that is to say, they were to be visited when their wickedness reached its height (verses 20-21). That when He was in this perception (verse 22), He interceded for them; first for those with whom there should be truths, and these truths full of goods, who are signified by the "fifty" (verses 23-26); also for those with whom there should be less of good, but this good nevertheless conjoined with truths, who are signified by the "forty-five" (verses 27-28); next for those who have been in temptations, who are signified by the "forty" (verse 29); as likewise for those who have been in some combats against evils, who are signified by the "thirty" (verse 30); afterwards for those with whom there should be states of the affection of good from any other source, who are signified by the "twenty" (verse 31); lastly for those with whom there should be states of the affection of truth, who are signified by the "ten" (verse 32); and the constant answer was that they should be saved (verses 26, 28-32). These things being accomplished, the Lord returned into His former state of perception (verse 33). These are the arcana contained in the internal sense of this chapter, which are not manifest from the letter.
THE INTERNAL SENSE Verse l. And Jehovah appeared unto him in the oak groves of Mamre, and he was sitting at the door of the tent, as the day was growing hot. "Jehovah appeared unto him," signifies the Lord's perception; "in the oak-groves of Mamre," signifies the quality of the perception; "he was sitting at the door of the tent," signifies the holiness which at that time appertained to Him; "as the day was growing hot," signifies from love.
Jehovah appeared unto him. That this signifies the Lord's perception, may be seen from the fact that the historicals of the Word are merely representative, and the words therein significative, of those things which are in the internal sense. In the internal sense of the passage before us the subject treated of is the Lord and His perception, which perception was represented by the appearing to Abraham of Jehovah; for such is the representative nature in the historicals of the Word of every appearing, of every discourse, and of every deed. But what they represent does not appear unless the historicals are attended to simply as objects, like those of sight, from which there is given the occasion and the opportunity for thinking about things more lofty; for instance, from gardens, as we behold them, for thinking about fruits, their uses, and also the derivative delight of life, and, still more loftily, about paradisal or heavenly happiness. When such things are thought of, the several objects of the garden are indeed seen, but so slightly that they are not attended to. The case is the very same with the historicals of the Word, for when the celestial and spiritual things that are in the internal sense of these historicals are thought of, these, together with the words themselves, are attended to just as little.
In the oak-groves of Mamre. That this signifies the quality of the perception, is evident from the representation and signification of "oak-groves," and also from the representation and signification of "Mamre." What "oak-groves" represented and signified in general was shown in volume 1 (n. 1442-1443); and what "the oak-groves of Mamre" represented and signified specifically (n. 1616), namely, perceptions, but such as are human from memory-knowledges , and from the first rational things thence derived. What perception is, is at this day utterly unknown, because at this day no one has perception like that of the ancients, especially like that of the most ancients; for these latter knew from perception whether a thing was good, and consequently whether it was true. There was an influx into their rational from the Lord through heaven, whereby, when they thought about any holy thing, they instantly perceived whether it was so, or was not so. Such perception afterwards perished with man, when he began to be no longer in heavenly ideas, but solely in worldly and corporeal ones; and in place of it there succeeded conscience, which also is a kind of perception; for to act contrary to conscience and according to conscience is nothing else than to perceive from it whether a thing is so or is not so, or whether it is to be done. But the perception of conscience is not from good that flows in, but it is from the truth that from infancy has been implanted in the rational of men in accordance with the holy of their worship, and which has afterwards been confirmed, for this alone do they in such case believe to be good. Hence it is that conscience is a kind of perception, but from such truth; and when charity and innocence are insinuated into this truth by the Lord, there comes into existence the good of this conscience. From these few observations we can see what perception is. But between perception and conscience there is much difference. (See what is said about perception in volume 1, n. 104, 125, 371, 483, 495, 503, 521, 536, 597, 607, 784, 865, 895, 1121, 1616; about the perception of spirits and angels, n. 202-203, 1008, 1383-1384, 1390-1392, 1394, 1397, 1504; and that the learned do not know what perception is, n. 1387.) As regards the Lord when He lived in the world, all His thought was from Divine perception, because He alone was a Divine and Celestial Man; for He was the only one in whom was Jehovah Himself, from whom was His perception (as to which see also in volume 1, n. 1616, 1791). His perceptions were more and more interior in proportion as He approached more nearly to union with Jehovah. Of what quality His perception was at the time here treated of, may be seen from what has been said about the oak-groves of Mamre in volume 1 (n. 1616); and of what quality it became when He perceived the things that are contained in this chapter, is described in what now follows.
He was sitting at the door of the tent. That this signifies the holy which at that time appertained to Him, namely, the holy of love-which is signified by the day growing hot, as explained in what follows-is evident from the signification of a "tent," as being what is holy (see n. 414, 1102, 1566, where also the reason of this signification of "tents" is explained). As the Lord was then in the perception which is signified by the oak-groves of Mamre, which is a lower rational perception, but yet is a perception more internal than that which is signified by the oak-grove of Moreh (concerning which see n. 1442, 1443), it is here represented and therefore signified by His sitting at the door of the tent, that is, at the entrance to what is holy. How the case is with perceptions, as being less or more interior, may be illustrated by the perceptions of the most ancient people, from whom I have heard that the more they were in memory-knowledges from the things which are objects of hearing and sight, the lower were their perceptions; but that the more they were uplifted above them to the celestial things of charity and love, the more interior their perceptions were, because they were then nearer to the Lord.
As the day was growing hot. That this signifies from love, is evident from the signification of "heat," as being in the internal sense love; and since heat belongs either to the day or to the year, love is represented either by the heat of the day or by the heat of the year, according to what is related in the historicals. That "heat" signifies love may be seen from the fact that love is called spiritual heat, and that growing warm is predicated of all affection, even in common speech; and further from the fact that love and its affections, in man's interiors, as also in his exteriors, and even in his very corporeals, make themselves manifest under the guise of heat; in fact heat has no other origin in connection with man when it flows forth from his interiors. Such however as is the love, such is the heat. Celestial love and spiritual love are what give genuine heat. All other heat, namely, that which is from the loves of self and of the world, and also from other filthy loves, is unclean, and in the other life sinks into what is excrementitious (see n. 1773). Be it known moreover that holiness is never predicated except of love and charity; not of faith except insofar as love and charity are in the truths of faith. Except from this the truths of faith are not holy. (See what was said before, n. 2049.)
Verse 2. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and behold three men standing over him; and he saw them, and ran to meet them from the door of the tent, and bowed himself toward the earth. "He lifted up his eyes," signifies that He saw within Himself; "and behold three men standing over him," signifies the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding; "and he saw them," signifies when He observed this; "and ran to meet them," signifies that in thought He approached nearer to the things that were being perceived; "from the door of the tent," signifies from the holy which at that time appertained to the Lord; "and bowed himself toward the earth," signifies the effect of humiliation, from the consequent joy.
He lifted up his eyes. That this signifies that the Lord saw within Himself, is evident from the signification of "lifting up the eyes." By "eyes" in the Word is signified the interior sight, or the understanding, as may be seen from the passages cited above (n. 212). Hence to "lift up the eyes" means to see and perceive things which are above self. Things that are interior are expressed in the Word by those which are higher, as "looking upward," "lifting up the eyes to heaven," "thinking high things," the reason of which is that man supposes heaven to be on high, or above himself; when yet it is not on high, but is in things internal-as when a man is in the celestial things of love, his heaven is then within him (see n. 450). From this it follows that to "lift up the eyes" signifies to see within oneself.
Behold three men standing over him. That this signifies the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding, may be seen without explication; for it is known to everyone that there is a Trine, and that this Trine is a One. That it is a One is plainly evident in this chapter, to wit, in verse 3, where it is said, "He said, My Lord, if I pray I have found grace in Thine eyes, pass Thou not, I pray," which words were addressed to the three men. And further, in verse 10, "And he said, Returning I will return unto thee." In verse 13, "And Jehovah said unto Abraham." In verse 15, "He said, Nay, but thou didst laugh." In verse 17, "And Jehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that which I do?" In verse 19, "Because I have known him." In verse 20, "And Jehovah said." In verse 21, "I will go down, and I will see whether they have made a consummation according to the cry thereof which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know." In verse 23, Abraham said, "Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" In verse 25, "Be it far from Thee to do according to this thing; be it far from Thee." In verse 26, "And Jehovah said, If I find fifty righteous I will spare the whole place for their sake." In verse 27, "I have taken upon me to speak unto my Lord." In verse 28, "Wilt Thou destroy the whole city for five? And He said, I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five." In verse 29, "He added yet to speak unto Him; He said, I will not do it for forty's sake." In verse 30, "Let not my Lord be angry; He said, I will not do it if I find thirty there." In verse 31, "He said, I have taken upon me to speak unto my Lord; He said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake." In verse 32, "Let not I pray my Lord be angry; and He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake." And in verse 33, "And Jehovah went when He had left off speaking to Abraham." From all this it may be seen that by the three men who appeared to Abraham was signified the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding; and that this Trine is in itself a One. In the internal sense the subject here treated of is Jehovah, in that He appeared to the Lord, and that the Lord perceived this; but not by an appearing such as there was to Abraham; for it is historically true that three men were seen by Abraham, but this represents the Divine perception, or the perception from the Divine which the Lord had when in the Human, which perception is treated of in what follows.
And he saw them. That this signifies when the Lord observed this, is evident from the signification of "seeing" in the internal sense, as being to understand and observe, and also to be illuminated (see n. 1584). Nothing is more common in the Word than for "seeing" to have this signification. The signification here is that the Lord observed a perception from the Divine to be present, as just stated.
And Abraham ran to meet them. That this signifies that the Lord approached nearer to the things which were perceived, is evident from the series of things in the internal sense; for the preceding verse treats of the Lord's perception, in which He then was; this verse treats of His observing the perception to be from the Divine, and here now His approaching nearer to it is represented and thus signified by his running to meet them.
From the door of the tent. That this signifies from the holy which then appertained to the Lord, is evident from the signification of a "tent," as being what is holy, and from the signification of the "door," as being the entrance into what is holy (explained above, n. 2145).
And bowed himself toward the earth. That this signifies the effect of the humiliation from the consequent joy, is evident from the signification of "bowing himself," as being to humble. Just as all interior affections have gestures corresponding to them in outward or bodily motions, which gestures are the effects of the affections as their effecting causes, so the action of humbling oneself has humiliation and also prostration. That this prostration was from joy is evident, because He observed, as before said, the perception to be from the Divine. The state of the Lord's humiliation when He was in the Human, has already been treated of in various places, and of the Lord's Divine mercy shall be further treated of in this chapter.
Verse 3. And he said, My Lord, if I pray I have found grace in Thine eyes, pass not I pray from Thy servant. "And he said," signifies that the Lord so thought; "My Lord," signifies the Trine in a One; "if I pray I have found grace in Thine eyes," signifies the deference of the Lord's state when He noticed that perception; "pass not I pray from Thy servant," signifies that He intensely desired that what He began to perceive should not pass away. The "servant" is the human that appertained to the Lord before it was made Divine.
He said. That this signifies that the Lord so thought, is evident from the signification of "saying," when found in the historical sense, as being to perceive (see n. 1898, 1919, 2080).
My Lord. That this signifies the Trine in a One, namely, the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding, which Trine is in a One, is evident from its being here said "Lord," in the singular number. So too in verses 27, 31, "Behold I pray I have taken upon me to speak unto my Lord," and in verses 30, 32, "Let not I pray my Lord be angry." The three men are also called "Jehovah," in verse 13, "Jehovah said unto Abraham;" in verse 14, "Shall anything be wonderful for Jehovah?" in verse 22, "Abraham was yet standing before Jehovah;" and in verse 33, "And Jehovah went when He left off speaking to Abraham." Hence it is evident that the three men (that is, the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding), are the same as the Lord, and the Lord the same as Jehovah. In the Christian Faith, called the Creed, the same is acknowledged, where it is said in plain words, "There are not three Uncreate, nor three Infinite, nor three Eternal, nor three Almighty, nor three Lords, but One." There are none who separate this Trine which is in a One except those who say that they acknowledge one Supreme Existence , the Creator of the Universe; which is forgiven those who are outside of the church. But they who are within the church, and say this, although they say it and sometimes think it, do not in fact acknowledge any God; still less do they acknowledge the Lord.
If I pray I have found grace in Thine eyes. That this signifies the deference of the Lord's state when He observed that perception, may be seen from the affection of humiliation which there is in these very words; and also in those which directly follow-"Pass not I pray from over Thy servant"-in which likewise there is humiliation. In every particular in the Word there are both affection and subject matter. The celestial angels perceive the Word such as it is in the internal sense as to the affection; but the spiritual angels perceive it such as it is in the internal sense as to the matter. Those who perceive the Word in the internal sense as to the affection, pay no attention to the words which belong to the matter, but form for themselves ideas from the affection and its series, and this with endless variety. Here for example at the words, "If I pray I have found grace in Thine eyes, pass not I pray from over Thy servant," they perceive the Lord's state of humiliation in the Human, but only the affection of the humiliation. From this, in a manner, variety, and abundance inexpressible, they form for themselves celestial ideas, which can scarcely be called ideas, but rather so many lights of affections and perceptions, which follow in a continuous series, in accordance with the series of the affection of the things contained in the Word that is being read. This shows that the perception, thought, and speech of the celestial angels are more ineffable and much richer than the perception, thought, and speech of the spiritual angels, the latter being simply determined to the subject matter , in accordance with the series of the expressions. (That the speech of the celestial angels is of this nature, may be seen in volume 1, n. 1647.) Hence it is that these words, "If I pray I have found grace in Thine eyes," in the celestial sense signify the deference of the Lord's state when He observed that perception. Moreover to "find grace in thine eyes" was a customary mode of speech for every expression of deference; as may be seen from Laban's deference to Jacob: Laban said unto him, If I pray I have found grace in thine eyes (Gen. 30:27); also from Jacob's deference to Esau: Jacob said, Nay, I pray, if I pray I have found grace in thine eyes (Gen. 33:10); and in like manner elsewhere in the Word.
Pass not I pray from over Thy servant. That this signifies that He intensely desired, appears from what has just been said, the case being much the same, namely, that here also there is deference, which is expressed in this way, and at the same time the affection of desire that what He began to perceive should not pass away.
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