Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 11:5
AC 1310. Verse 5. And Jehovah came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of man were building. "Jehovah came down," signifies judgment upon them; "to see the city and the tower," signifies because they had perverted doctrine and profaned worship; "which the sons of man were building," signifies which they had devised for themselves.
AC 1311. And Jehovah came down. That this signifies judgment upon them, is evident from what has gone before and from what follows, and also from the signification of "coming down," when predicated of Jehovah; from what has gone before, in that the subject has been the building of the city and tower of Babel; from what follows, in that the subject is the confusion of lips and of dispersion; from the signification of "coming down," when predicated of Jehovah, in that this is said when judgment takes place. Jehovah or the Lord is everywhere present and knows all things from eternity; and therefore it cannot be said of Him that He came down to see, except in the literal sense, where it is so said according to the appearances with man. But in the internal sense it is not so, for in this sense the subject is presented as it is in itself, and not according to the appearances; so that in the passage before us "to come down to see" signifies judgment.
 Judgment is predicated of a state when evil has reached its highest, or, as it is termed in the Word, when it is "consummated," or when "iniquity is consummated." For the case herein is that all evil has its limits as far as which it is permitted to go; but when it goes beyond these limits, it incurs the penalty of the evil. This is so both in particular and in general. The punishment of evil is what is then called a judgment. And because it appears at first as if the Lord did not see or observe that the evil exists,--for when a man does evil without punishment, he supposes that the Lord troubles not Himself about the matter, but when he undergoes the penalty he begins to think that the Lord sees, and even that the Lord inflicts the punishment,--it is therefore said, in accordance with these appearances, that Jehovah came down to see.
 To "come down" is predicated of Jehovah, because "the highest" is predicated of Him, that is, He is said to be in the highest, and this too according to the appearance, for He is not in things highest but in things inmost, and this is the reason why in the Word what is highest and what is inmost have the same signification. On the other hand, judgment or the penalty of evil takes place in lower and lowest things. This explains why He is said to "come down;" as also in David:--
O Jehovah, bow Thy heavens and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke; cast forth lightning and scatter them (Ps. 144:5, 6),
where the punishment of evil, or judgment, is signified. In Isaiah:--
Jehovah of Armies shall come down to fight upon Mount Zion, and upon the hill thereof (Isaiah 31:4).
O that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence (Isaiah 64:1).
Here in like manner to "come down" denotes the penalty, or judgment, inflicted upon evil. In Micah:--
Jehovah cometh forth out of His place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth, and the mountains shall be molten under Him (Micah 1:3, 4).
AC 1312. To see the city and the tower. That these words signify because they had perverted doctrine and profaned worship, is evident from the signification of a "city" and of a "tower," concerning which before.
AC 1313. Which the sons of man were building. That this signifies which they had devised for themselves, is clear without explication. "The sons of man" here are the sons of the church; for they who are not of the church, and have not the knowledges of faith, cannot devise such things. That such as these cannot profane holy things, has been shown before (n. 301-303, 593). GENESIS 11:5 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|