Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 10:8-9
AC 1173. Verses 8, 9. And Cush begat Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was mighty in hunting before Jehovah; wherefore it was said, As Nimrod mighty in hunting before Jehovah. By "Cush" are signified here as before, interior knowledges of things spiritual and celestial; by "Nimrod" are signified those who made internal worship external; thus by "Nimrod" is signified such external worship. "Cush begat Nimrod," means that they who had knowledges of interior things instituted such worship. He was "a mighty one in the earth," signifies that such a religion prevailed in the church, "the earth" being the church, as before. "He was mighty in hunting before Jehovah," signifies that he persuaded many; "wherefore it was said, As Nimrod mighty in hunting before Jehovah," signifies that because so many were persuaded, such a form of speech became proverbial; and further, it signifies that such a religion easily captivates the minds of men.
AC 1174. That by "Cush" are signified interior knowledges of spiritual and celestial things, is evident from what has been said and shown before concerning Cush.
AC 1175. That by "Nimrod" are signified those who made internal worship external, and that "Nimrod" thus signifies such external worship, may be seen from what follows. It must be here stated, beforehand, what is meant by making internal worship external. It was said and shown above that internal worship, which is from love and charity, is worship itself; and that external worship without this internal worship is no worship. To make internal worship external is to make external worship essential, rather than internal, which is the reverse of the former, being as if it was said that internal worship without external is no worship, while the truth is that external worship without internal is no worship. Such is the religion of those who separate faith from charity, in that they set the things which are of faith before those which are of charity, or the things which are of the knowledges of faith before those which are of the life, thus formal things before essential ones. All external worship is a formality of internal worship, for internal worship is the very essential; and to make worship consist of that which is formal, without that which is essential, is to make internal worship external. As for example, to hold that if one should live where there is no church, no preaching, no sacraments, no priesthood, he could not be saved, or could have no worship; when yet he can worship the Lord from what is internal. But it does not follow from this that there ought not to be external worship.
 To make the matter yet more clear, take as a further example the setting up as the essential itself of worship the frequenting of churches, going to the sacraments, hearing sermons, praying, observing feasts, and many other things which are external and ceremonial, while, talking about faith, men persuade themselves that these are sufficient - all of which are formal things of worship. It is quite true that those who make worship from love and charity the essential, act in the same way, that is, they frequent churches, go to the sacraments, hear sermons, pray, observe feasts, and the like, and this very earnestly and diligently; but they do not make the essential of worship consist in these things. In the external worship of these men there is what is holy and living, because there is internal worship in it; but in the external worship of those referred to before there is not what is holy and not what is living. For the very essential itself is what sanctifies and vivifies the formal or ceremonial; but faith separated from charity cannot sanctify and vivify worship, because the essence and life are absent. Such worship is called "Nimrod;" and it is born of the knowledges which are "Cush," as these are born from faith separated from charity, which faith is "Ham." From "Ham," or faith separated, through the knowledges which belong to faith separated, no other worship can possibly be born. These are the things that are signified by "Nimrod."
AC 1176. Cush begat Nimrod. That this signifies that they who had knowledges of interior things instituted such worship, is evident from what has just been said. Knowledges of interior things are what they call doctrinals, which they also distinguish from rituals. For example, their chief doctrinal is that faith alone saves; but they do not know that love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor are faith itself; and that the knowledges which they call faith exist for no other end than that by means of them men may receive from the Lord love to Him and love toward the neighbor; and that this is the faith which saves. It is those who make faith consist in knowledges alone, who beget and institute such worship as is spoken of above.
AC 1177. He was a mighty one in the earth. That this signifies that such a religion prevailed in the church, may be seen from what presently follows. That the " earth" is the church has been shown before (n. 620, 636, 662).
AC 1178. He was mighty in hunting before Jehovah. That this signifies that he persuaded many, is evident from its being so with faith separated from charity; and also from the signification of "hunting" in the Word. Faith separated from charity is of such a nature that men are easily persuaded. The greater part of mankind do not know what internal things are, but only external things; and most men abide in things of sense, in pleasures and in cupidities, and have in view themselves and the world; and therefore they are easily captivated by such a religion. From the signification of "hunting:" in the Word "hunting" signifies in general persuading; specifically, captivating the minds of men by favoring their sensuous inclinations, pleasures, and cupidities, by using doctrinals which they explain at their own pleasure in accordance with their temper and that of the other, and with a view to their own self-exaltation and enrichment, - thus by persuading.
 As is made evident in Ezekiel:--
Woe to them that sew cushions upon all the joints of My hands, and that make veils upon the head, of every stature, to hunt souls. Do ye hunt souls for My people, and make souls alive for yourselves? And ye have profaned Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to make the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to My people that listen unto a lie. behold, I am against your cushions wherewith ye there hunt souls to make them By, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls go, the souls that ye hunt to make them fly, and your veils also will I tear, and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your land, to be hunted (Ezekiel 13:18-21).
What is meant by "hunting" is here explained, that it is captivating by persuasions, and by knowledges which they pervert, and interpret in favor of themselves, and in accommodation to the temper of another.
 In Micah:--
The merciful man is perished out of the earth, and there is none up right among man; they all lie in wait for bloods they hunt every man his brother with a net, when they do evil with the hands instead of doing good, the prince asketh and judgeth for the sake of reward, and the great man, he uttereth the perversity of his soul, and they wrest it (Micah 7:2, 3).
Here likewise what is meant by "hunting" is explained, that it is to lie in wait for the sake of self, or to call the false true, and utter perversity, and distort, and thereby to persuade. In David:--
A man of tongue shall not be established in the earth; evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him (Ps. 140:11).
This is said of the wicked who persuade by means of falsities, think evilly and talk blandly for the purpose of deceiving; "tongue" here denotes falsehood.
AC 1179. Wherefore it was said, As Nimrod mighty in hunting before Jehovah. That this signifies that, because so many were persuaded, such a form of speech became proverbial and that it further signifies that such a religion easily captivates the minds of men, may be seen from all that has been said, and from the very sense of the letter. Moreover, as in ancient times they gave names to actual things, they gave this name to this worship, saying that "Nimrod" - that is, this worship "was mighty in hunting," that is, was one that captivates the minds of men. It is said "before Jehovah," because they who were in such worship called faith separated "Jehovah," or "the man Jehovah," as is evident from what has been said before (n. 340) concerning Cain, by whom in like manner there is signified faith separated from charity. But the difference between "Cain" and "Ham" is that the former was in the celestial church which had perception, and the latter in the spiritual church which had no perception; and therefore the former was more heinous than the latter. In ancient times such were called "mighty," as in Isaiah:--
All the glory of Kedar shall be consumed, and the residue of the number, the bows of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar shall be diminished (Isaiah 21:16, 17).
And in Hosea:--
Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity, ye have eaten the fruit of a lie, for thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men (Hosea 10:13)
and in other places. They called themselves "men (viri)," and " mighty," from faith; for there is a term in the original language which expresses the idea of might and at the same time of a man (vir), which term in the Word is predicated of faith, and that in both senses.GENESIS 10:8-9 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|