Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 10:32
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AC 1253. Verse 32. These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their nativities, in their nations. "These are the families of the sons of Noah," signifies the worships of the Ancient Church in particular; "according to their nativities," signifies in proportion as they could be reformed; "in their nations," signifies the worships of that church in general.

AC 1254. These are the families of the sons of Noah. That this signifies the worships of the Ancient Church in particular, is evident from the signification of a "family," and of "the families of the sons," as being worships, and in fact the species of the worships. The nations named in the preceding verses of this chapter signify nothing else than various worships of the Ancient Church, and therefore the families of which the nations consisted must signify the same. In the internal sense no other families can be meant than those of things spiritual and celestial.

AC 1255. According to their nativities. That this signifies in proportion as they could be reformed, is evident from the signification of a "nativity," as being reformation. While a man is being born again, or regenerated, by the Lord, each and all things that he receives anew are nativities or births. So here, as the subject is the Ancient Church, the nativities signify in proportion as they could be reformed. As regards the reformations of the nations, they were not all in the same worship, nor in the same doctrine, for the reason that they were not all of the same genius, and were not all similarly educated and instructed from infancy. The principles which a man imbibes from infancy the Lord never breaks, but bends. If they are things that the man esteems holy, and are such as are not contrary to Divine and natural order, but are in themselves matters of indifference, the Lord lets them alone, and suffers the man to remain in them. So it was with many things in the second Ancient Church, concerning which of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter.

AC 1256. In their nations. That these nations signify the various worships of that church in general, is evident from what has been said before about nations, and from what follows.

AC 1257. And from these were spread abroad the nations in the earth after the flood. "From these were spread abroad the nations in the earth," signifies that from them came all the worships of the church in respect to goods and evils, which are signified by "the nations;" "the earth" is the church; "after the flood," signifies from the beginning of the Ancient Church.

AC 1258. And from these were spread abroad the nations in the earth. That this signifies that from them came all the worships of the church in respect to goods and evils, and that these are meant by the nations," is evident from the signification of "nations." By a nation, as has been explained before, are meant many families together. In the Most Ancient and in the Ancient Church, the many families which acknowledged one father constituted one nation. But as to "nations" signifying in the internal sense the worships of the church, and this in respect to the goods or evils in the worship, the case is this When families and nations are viewed by the angels, they have no idea of a nation, but only of the worship in it; for they regard all from the quality itself, that is, from what they are. The quality or character of a man, from which he is regarded in heaven, is his charity and faith. This any one may clearly apprehend if he considers that when he looks at any man, or any family, or nation, he thinks for the most part of what quality they are, every one from that which is dominant in himself at the time. The idea of their quality comes instantly to mind, and in himself he estimates them from that. Still more is this the case with the Lord; and, from Him, with the angels, who cannot but regard a man, a family, and a nation, from their quality in respect to charity and faith. And hence it is that in the internal sense by "nations" nothing else is signified than the worship of the church, and this in respect to its quality, which is the good of charity and the derivative truth of faith. When the term "nations" occurs in the Word, the angels do not abide at all in the idea of a nation, in accordance with the historical sense of the letter, but in the idea of the good and truth in the nation that is named.

AC 1259. Further, as regards nations signifying the goods and evils in worship, the case is this. In the most ancient times, as has been stated before, men lived distinguished into nations, families, and households, in order that the church on earth might represent the Lord‘s kingdom, wherein all are distinguished into societies, and these societies into greater ones, and these again into still greater societies, and this according to the differences of love and of faith, in general and in particular, (n. 684, 685). Thus these in like manner are distinguished as it were into households, families, and nations. And hence it is that in the Word "houses, families, and nations" signify the goods of love and of the derivative faith; and an accurate distinction is there made between "nations" and "people." A "nation" signifies good or evil, and a "people" truth or falsity, and this so constantly as never to vary, as may be seen from the following passages.

[2] In Isaiah:--

In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto it shall the nations seek, and His rest shall be a glory. In that day the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to acquire the remnant of His people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah (Isaiah 11:10-12).

Here "peoples" denote the truths, and "nations" the goods, of the church; and there is a manifest distinction made between them. The subject treated of is the Lord’s kingdom and the church, and in a universal sense every regenerate man. The signification of the names is as stated above; and by "Israel" is signified the spiritual things of the church, and by "Judah" its celestial things. Again:--

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; Thou hast multiplied the nation, Thou hast magnified gladness for it (Isa. 9:2, 3).

The "people" here denote truths, and therefore are said to "walk in darkness," and to "see light;" the "nation" denotes goods.

[3] And again:--

What answer shall be made to the messengers of the nation? That Jehovah hath founded Zion, and in her shall the wretched ones of His people confide (Isa. 14:32).

Here likewise the "nation" denotes good, and "people" truth. And again:--

Jehovah Zebaoth will swallow up in this mountain the faces of the covering, of the covering over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations (Isa. 25:7).

Here a new church is spoken of, or the church of the nations; "peoples" denote its truths, and "nations" its goods. Again:--

Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation that keepeth faithfulnesses may enter in (Isa. 26:2),

where "nation" manifestly denotes goods. Again:--

All the nations shall be gathered together, and the peoples shall be assembled (Isa. 43:9).

This also is said of the church of the nations; "nations" denoting its goods, and "peoples" its truths. And because they are distinct from each other, both are treated of; otherwise there would be a vain repetition. Again:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, Behold I will lift up Mine hand to the nations, and will exalt My ensign to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, and shall carry thy daughters upon their shoulder (Isa. 49:22).

This is said of the Lord‘s kingdom; and the "nations" in like manner denote goods, and the "peoples" truths.

[4] Again:--

Thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left, and thy seed shall inherit the nations, and they shall inhabit the desolate cities (Isa. 54:3);

treating of the Lord’s kingdom, and of the church which is called the church of the nations. That the "nations" denote the goods of charity, or, what is the same, those in whom there are goods of charity, is evident from its being said that the "seed"- or faith-" shall inherit" them; "cities" denote truths. Again:

Behold I have given Him for a witness to the peoples, a prince and lawgiver to the peoples. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knewest not, and a nation that knew not thee shall run unto thee (Isa. 55:4, 5).

This is said of the Lord‘s kingdom; " peoples" denote truths; "nations" goods. Those in the church who are endowed with the good of charity are "nations," and those who are endowed with the truths of faith are "peoples;" for goods and truths are predicated according to the subjects in whom they are. Again:--

Nations shall walk to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Then thou shalt see and flow together, and thine heart shall be amazed and be enlarged; because the multitude of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the army of the nations shall come unto thee (Isa. 60:3, 5)

treating of the Lord’s kingdom, and of the church of the nations. "Nations" here denote goods; "kings," who belong to peoples, truths.

[5] In Zephaniah:--

The remains of My people shall spoil them, and the residue of My nation shall inherit them (Zephaniah 2:9).

In Zechariah:--

Many peoples and numerous nations shall come to seek Jehovah of Armies in Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:22).

"Jerusalem" denotes the Lord‘s kingdom, and the church; "peoples" those who are in the truths of faith; "nations" those who are in the good of charity; and therefore they are mentioned distinctively. In David:--

Thou wilt deliver Me from the contentions of the people; Thou wilt set Me for the head of the nations; a people whom I have not known shall serve Me (Ps. 18:43).

Here likewise the "people" denote those who are in truths; and the "nations" those who are in good; and they are both mentioned because they constitute the man of the church. Again:--

The peoples shall confess Thee, O God, all the peoples shall confess Thee, the nations shall be glad and shall exult, because Thou shalt judge the peoples in uprightness, and shalt lead the nations into the land (Ps. 67:4, 5).

Here "peoples" manifestly denote those who are in the truths of faith; and "nations" those who are in the good of charity.

[6] In Moses:--

Remember the days of eternity, understand the years of generation and generation; ask thy father, and he will show thee thine elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, and separated the sons of man, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (Deut. 32:7, 8).

This is said of the Most Ancient Church, and of the Ancient Churches, which are "the days of eternity, and the years of generation and generation;" and in which they who were in the good of charity were called "nations," to whom an inheritance was given; and they who were in the derivative truths of faith were called "sons of man," and afterwards "peoples." It was because the goods of the church are signified by "nations," and its truths by "peoples," that it was said concerning Esau and Jacob, while they were yet in the womb, Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels (Gen. 25:23). From these passages it may now be seen what the church of the nations is, in its genuine sense. The Most Ancient Church was a true church of the nations, and so afterwards was the Ancient Church.

[7] Because those who are in charity are called "nations," and those who are in faith "peoples," the priesthood of the Lord is predicated of nations-because of things celestial, which are goods-and His royalty of peoples because of spiritual things, which are truths. This was also represented in the Jewish Church, where before they had kings they were a nation, but after they received kings they became a people.

AC 1260. Because in the Most Ancient and in the Ancient Church, nations signified goods, or good men, therefore in the opposite sense they signify evils, or evil men. In like manner peoples, because they signified truths, in the opposite sense signify falsities. For in a depraved church good is turned into evil, and truth into falsity. Hence comes the signification of "nations" and of "peoples" in this opposite sense in many places in the Word, as in (Isaiah 13:4; 14:6; 18:2, 7; 30:28; 34:1, 2; Ezek. 20:32).

AC 1261. As nations signified goods, so also did families, for each nation consisted of families; and so in like manner did households, for each family consisted of a number of households. Concerning a "household" or "house," (n. 710). "Families," however, signify goods when predicated of nations, and truths when predicated of peoples, as in David:--

All the families of the nations shall bow themselves before Thee for the kingdom is Jehovah’s, and He is the ruler over the nations (Ps. 22:27, 28).


Give unto Jehovah, ye families of the peoples, give unto Jehovah glory and strength (Ps. 96:7).

In the verse now before us, and also in the preceding verse of this tenth chapter of Genesis, "families" are predicated of goods, because they were families of the nations.

AC 1262. From what has been said it may now be seen that by "the earth" is here signified the church; for when "earth" (or "land") is mentioned, there cannot but be a perception of the nation or people there; and when a nation or people is perceived, there must be a perception of their quality. Hence by "the earth" nothing else is signified than the church, as has been shown before (n. 662, 1066).

AC 1263. That "after the flood" signifies from the beginning of the Ancient Church, is evident from the fact that the flood was the end of the Most Ancient Church and the beginning of the Ancient Church, as was shown before (n. 705, 739, 790).

AC 1264. From all this it may now be seen that although in this chapter mere names of nations and families occur, yet it contains, in general, not only all the differences of worship as regards the goods of charity and truths of faith that were in the Ancient Church, but also all that are in any church; in fact it contains more than any man could ever believe. Such is the Word of the Lord.