Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 11:27
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AC 1359. Verse 27. And these are the births of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. "And these are the births of Terah," signifies the origins and derivations of the idolatry from which came the representative church. Terah was the son of Nahor, and was also a nation named from him as its father. By him there is signified idolatrous worship. Abram, Nahor, and Haran were sons of Terah, and also nations named from them as their fathers. By them are here signified the idolatrous worships derived from that one. From Lot also there came two nations that were idolaters.

AC 1360. And these are the births of Terah. This signifies the origins and derivations of the idolatry from which came the representative church. It has been shown above (verse 10) that "births" signify origins and derivations. Here now the Third Church after the flood is treated of, which succeeded when the second--treated of from (verse 10) to this-- became idolatrous in Terah. It has been shown that Terah, Abram, Nahor, and Haran were idolaters, as well as the nations derived from them, as the Ishmaelites and Midianites, and others who were descendants of Abram; besides others in Syria that were derived from Nahor; and also the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descendants of Lot.

AC 1361. That from being idolatrous the church became representative, no one can know unless he knows what a representative is. The things that were represented in the Jewish Church, and in the Word, are the Lord and His kingdom, consequently the celestial things of love, and the spiritual things of faith: these are what were represented, besides many things that pertain to these, such as all things that belong to the church. The representing objects are either persons or things that are in the world or upon the earth; in a word, all things that are objects of the senses, insomuch that there is scarcely any object that cannot be a representative. But it is a general law of representation that there is no reflection upon the person or upon the thing which represents, but only upon that thing itself which is represented.

[2] For example, every king, whoever he was, in Judah and Israel, and even in Egypt and elsewhere, could represent the Lord. Their royalty itself is what is representative. So that the worst of all kings could represent, such as the Pharaoh who set Joseph over the land of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon (Dan. 2:37, 38), Saul, and the other kings of Judah and of Israel, of whatever character they were. The anointing itself--from which they were called Jehovah‘s anointed--involved this. In like manner all priests, how many soever they were, represented the Lord; the priestly function itself being what is representative; and so in like manner the priests who were evil and impure; because in representatives there is no reflection upon the person, in regard to what his quality is. And not only did men represent, but also beasts, such as all that were offered in sacrifice; the lambs and sheep representing celestial things; the doves and turtledoves, spiritual things; and in like manner the rams, goats, bullocks, and oxen represented lower celestial and spiritual things.

[3] And not only were animate things used as representatives, but also inanimate things, such as the altar and even the stones of the altar, the ark and the tabernacle with all that was in them, and, as every one may know, the temple with all that was therein, such as the lamps, the breads, and the garments of Aaron. Nor these things only, but also all the rites in the Jewish Church were representative. In the Ancient Churches, representatives extended to all the objects of the senses, to mountains and hills, to valleys, plains, rivers, brooks, fountains, and pools, to groves and trees in general, and to every tree in particular, insomuch that each tree had some definite signification; all which, afterwards, when the significative church had ceased, were made representatives. From all this it may be seen what is meant by representatives. And as things celestial and spiritual that is the things of the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens, and of the Lord‘s kingdom on earth could be represented not only by men, whosoever and of what quality soever they were, but also by beasts, and even by inanimate things, it may now be seen what a representative church is.

[4] The representatives were of such an efficacy that all things that were done according to the rites commanded appeared holy before the spirits and angels, as for instance when the high priest washed himself with water, when he ministered clothed in his pontifical garments, when he stood before the burning lights, no matter what kind of man he was, even if most impure, and in his heart an idolater. The case was the same with all the other priests. For, as before said, in representatives the person was not reflected upon, but only the thing itself that was represented, quite abstractedly from the person, as it was abstractedly from the oxen, the bullocks and the lambs that were sacrificed, or from the blood that was poured round about the altar, and also abstractedly from the altar itself; and so on.

[5] This representative church was instituted-after all internal worship was lost, and when worship had become not only merely external, but also idolatrous-in order that there might be some conjunction of heaven with earth, that is, of the Lord through heaven with man, even after the conjunction by the internal things of worship had perished. But what kind of conjunction this is by representatives alone, shall of the Lord’s Divine mercy be told in what follows. Representatives do not begin until the following chapter; in which, and in those that follow, all things in general and in particular are purely representative. Here, the subject treated of is the state of those who were the fathers, before certain of them and their descendants became representative; and it has been shown above that they were in idolatrous worship.

AC 1362. That Terah was the son of Nahor, and also a nation named from him as its father, and that by him is signified idolatrous worship, has been shown before. That Terah was a nation, may be seen from the fact that the nations which originated from his sons acknowledged him as their father, just as the sons of Jacob, or the Jews and Israelites, and also the Ishmaelites, Midianites, and others, acknowledged Abraham; and the Moabites and Ammonites acknowledged Lot. Although these nations were not named from them, but from their sons, yet when all acknowledge a common father and call themselves his sons-as the sons of Terah, the sons of Abraham, or the sons of Lot-in a general sense a nation is signified by each one of these, as here by Terah, by Abram, by Nahor, and by Lot; for they are the stocks or roots of the nations. So with the descendants of Jacob, who were all named from his twelve sons, and yet were called Jacob and Israel, as also the seed and the sons of Abraham (John 8:33, 39).

AC 1363. That Abram, Nahor, and Haran were sons of Terah, and that they were also nations named from them as their fathers, and that by them idolatrous worships are here signified, is evident from the explanations given above; and also from the fact that idolatry is signified by Terah, whose sons they were. But what idolatrous worships are here signified by the three sons of Terah, and afterwards by Lot the son of Haran, may be seen if idolatrous worships are examined according to their kinds. There are in general four idolatrous worships, one more interior than another. The three more interior ones are as the sons of one parent; the fourth is as the son of the third. Idolatrous worships are internal and external the internal are those which condemn man; the external not so much. The more interior the idolatrous worship is, the more it condemns; but the more exterior, the less. Internal idolaters do not acknowledge God, but adore themselves and the world, and make idols of all their cupidities whereas external idolaters are able to acknowledge God, although they do not know who is the God of the universe. Internal idolaters are known from the life they have acquired; and in proportion as this life departs from the life of charity, in the same proportion are they more interior idolaters. External idolaters are known solely from their worship; and, although idolaters they can still have the life of charity. Internal idolaters can profane holy things, but external idolaters cannot; and therefore external idolatry is tolerated, in order to prevent the profanation of holy things; as may be seen from what has been said before (n. 571, 582); and at (verse 9), (n. 1327).

AC 1364. That from Lot there sprang two nations that were idolaters, is evident from his two sons, Moab and Ben-Ammi, by his daughters (Gen. 19:37, 38), from whom descended the Moabites and the Ammonites, who, as is evident from the Word, were idolaters. Lot is mentioned here as the father of the idolatrous worships signified by Moab and Ben-Ammi.

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info