Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 12:10
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AC 1459. Verse 10. And there was a famine in the land. And Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; because the famine was grievous in the land. "There was a famine in the land," signifies a scarcity of knowledges as yet with the Lord when a child; "and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn," signifies instruction in knowledges from the Word; "Egypt" is the memory-knowledge of knowledges (scientia cognitionum); "to sojourn" is to be instructed; "because the famine was grievous in the land," signifies much scarcity in His external man.

AC 1460. There was a famine in the land. That this signifies a scarcity of knowledges as yet with the Lord when a child, is evident from what has been already said. During childhood the knowledges in a man never come from that which is interior, but from the objects of the senses, especially from the hearing. For, as before said, there are in the external man receiving vessels, called the things of the memory, and these are formed by means of knowledges--as everybody may know--the internal man flowing in and helping; consequently knowledges are learned and are implanted in the memory in accordance with the influx of the internal man. Thus also was it with the Lord when He was a child--for He was born as are other men and was instructed as are other men--but with Him the interiors were celestial, which adapted the vessels for the reception of the knowledges, and in such a way that the knowledges should afterwards become vessels to receive the Divine. The interiors with Him were Divine, from Jehovah His Father; the exteriors were human, from Mary His mother. Hence it may be seen that with the Lord, equally as with other men, there was in His external man, during His childhood, a scarcity of knowledges.

[2] That "famine" signifies a scarcity of knowledges, is evident from the Word in other places, as in Isaiah:--

They do not look into the work of Jehovah, and see not the doing of His hands. Therefore My people go into captivity because they have no knowledge (cognitio), and their glory are mortals of famine, and their multitude are parched with thirst (Isaiah 5:12, 13);

"mortals of famine" denote a scarcity of the knowledges of celestial things; a "multitude parched with thirst," a scarcity of the knowledges of spiritual things. In Jeremiah:--

They have lied against Jehovah, and have said, It is not He neither shall evil come upon us neither shall we see sword nor famine and the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them (Jeremiah 5:12, 13);

"sword and famine" denote the deprivation of the knowledges of truth and of good; "the prophets" are those who teach, in whom the word is not. That "to be consumed by the sword and famine," is to be deprived of the knowledges of truth and of good; and that vastation is denoted, by "the sword" as to spiritual things, and by "famine" as to celestial things, is evident in various places in the Word (Jer. 14:13-16, 18; Lam. 4:9).

[3] So too in Ezekiel:--

And I will increase famine upon you, and will break your staff of bread; and I will send upon you famine, and the evil wild beast; and they shall bereave thee, and I will bring the sword upon thee (Ezek. 5:16, 17);

"famine" denotes the deprivation of the knowledges of celestial things, or of the knowledges of good, whence come falsities and evils. In David:--

And He called for a famine upon the land, He brake the whole staff of bread (Ps. 105:16);

"to break the staff of bread," signifies to be deprived of heavenly food; for the life of good spirits and angels is sustained by no other food than the knowledges of good and truth, and the goods and truths themselves, whence comes the signification of "famine" and of "bread," in the internal sense. Again:--

He hath satisfied the longing soul, and hath filled the hungry soul with good (Ps. 107:9);

denoting those who desire knowledges. In Jeremiah:--

Lift up thy hands for the soul of thy young children, who faint for hunger at the head of all the streets (Lam. 2:19)

"hunger" denotes the lack of knowledges; "the streets," truths. In Ezekiel:--

They shall dwell confidently, and none to make afraid. And I will raise up for them a plant for a name, and they shall be no more consumed with famine in the land (Ezekiel 34:28, 29),

denoting that they shall no longer be made destitute of the knowledges of good and truth.

[4] In John:--

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more (Rev. 7:16);

concerning the Lord’s kingdom, where there is an abundance of all celestial knowledges and goods, which is "not to hunger;" and of spiritual knowledges and truths, which is "not to thirst." In like manner spake the Lord in John:--

I am the Bread of life he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst (John 6:35).

And in Luke:--

Blessed are ye that hunger now, for ye shall be filled (Luke 6:21).

And again:--

He hath filled the hungry with good things (Luke 1:53);

where celestial goods and their knowledges are treated of. That "famine" signifies a scarcity of knowledges, is plainly said in Amos:--

Behold, the days are coming, that I will send a famine upon the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for waters, but of hearing the words of Jehovah (Amos 8:11, 12).

AC 1461. And Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn. That this signifies instruction in knowledges (cognitiones) from the Word, is evident from the signification of "Egypt," and from the signification of "sojourning." That "Egypt" signifies the memory-knowledge of knowledges, and that "to sojourn" signifies to be instructed, will be seen presently. That in His childhood the Lord was instructed as are other men, is evident from the passages in Luke that were adduced in the explication of (verse 9) (n. 1457); and also from what has been said just above concerning the external man, which cannot be reduced to correspondence and agreement with the internal except by means of knowledges. The external man is corporeal and sensuous nor does it receive anything celestial and spiritual unless knowledges are implanted in it, as in ground; for in these celestial things can have their recipient vessels. But the knowledges must be from the Word. Knowledges from the Word are such that they are open from the Lord Himself; for the Word itself is from the Lord through heaven, and the Lord‘s life is in all things of the Word, both in general and in particular, although it does not so appear in the external form. Hence it may be seen that in His childhood the Lord did not will to imbue Himself with any other knowledges than those of the Word, which was open to Him, as before said, from Jehovah Himself, His Father, with whom He was to be united and become One; and this the more, because nothing is said in the Word that does not in its inmosts have regard to Him and that has not first come from Him; for the Human Essence was only a something that was added to His Divine Essence that was from eternity.

AC 1462. That relatively to the Lord, "Egypt" is the memory-knowledge of knowledges, but relatively to all other men is memory-knowledge (scientia) in general, is evident from its signification in the Word (n. 1164, 1165). For the Ancient Church was in Egypt as well as in many other places (n. 1238); and when this church was there, memory-knowledges (scientiae) flourished there more than anything else; hence by Egypt has been signified memory-knowledge. But after the people desired to enter by means of memory-knowledges into the mysteries of faith, and thus from their own power to investigate the truth of Divine arcana, Egypt became addicted to magic, and signified things of memory-knowledge which pervert, whence come falsities, and from these evils, as is evident in (Isaiah 19:11).

[2] That useful memory-knowledges are signified by "Egypt," thus in the present passage the memory-knowledge of knowledges, which is able to serve as vessels for celestial and spiritual things, is evident from the following passages in the Word. In Isaiah:--

They have seduced Egypt, the corner stone of the tribes (Isaiah 19:13),

where it is called "the corner stone of the tribes," as it should serve for a support to the things that are of faith, which are signified by "the tribes." Again:--

In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak with the lip of Canaan, and swear to Jehovah Zebaoth each shall be called the city of the sun. In that day there shall be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to Jehovah at the border thereof. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto Jehovah Zebaoth in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of the oppressors, and He shall send them a Saviour and a Prince, and He shall deliver them; and Jehovah shall become known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day and they shall offer sacrifice and meat-offering, and shall vow a vow to Jehovah, and shall perform it. And Jehovah shall smite Egypt in smiting and in healing, and they shall return unto Jehovah, and He shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them (Isa. 19:18-22).

Here Egypt is spoken of in a good sense, denoting those who are in memory-knowledges (scientifica), that is, in natural truths, which are the vessels of spiritual truths.

[3] Again:--

In that day there shall be a path from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria shall come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve Assyria. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land, which Jehovah Zebaoth shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance (Isa. 19:23-25).

Here by "Egypt" is signified the memory-knowledge of natural truths; by "Assyria," reason or rational things; by "Israel," spiritual things; all of which succeed one another; and therefore it is said that "in that day there shall be a path from Egypt to Assyria," and that "Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Assyria."

[4] In Ezekiel:--

Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was thine expansion, that it might be to thee for an ensign (Ezekiel 27:7);

concerning Tyre, by which is signified the possession of knowledges; "fine linen with broidered work" denotes the truths of memory-knowledges, that serve; for memory-knowledges being of the external man, ought to serve the internal man. Again:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, At the end of forty years will I gather Egypt from the peoples whither they have been scattered, and I will bring back the captivity of Egypt (Ezek. 29:13, 14);

denoting the same that is said in many places concerning Judah and Israel, in that they should be gathered from the peoples and brought back from captivity. In Zechariah:--

And it shall come to pass that whoso of the families of the earth goeth not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King Jehovah Zebaoth, upon them there shall be no rain and if the family of Egypt go not up and come not (Zechariah 14:17, 18);

also concerning Egypt in a good sense, and by which the like is meant.

[5] That memory-knowledge, or human wisdom, is signified by "Egypt," is evident also in Daniel, where the memory-knowledges of celestial and spiritual things are called "the hidden things of gold and silver," and also "the desirable things of Egypt" (Daniel 11:43). And it is said of Solomon that "his wisdom was multiplied above the wisdom of all the sons of the east, and above all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (1 Kings 4:30). The house built by Solomon for Pharaoh’s daughter represented nothing else (1 Kings 7:8).

[6] That the Lord when an infant was brought into Egypt, signified the same that is here signified by Abram; and it took place for the additional reason that He might fulfill all the things that had been represented concerning Him. In the inmost sense the migration of Jacob add his sons into Egypt represented the first instruction of the Lord in knowledges from the Word, as is also manifest from the following passages. It is said of the Lord in Matthew:--

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee. And he arose and took the young child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My son (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-21);

concerning which it is said in Hosea:--

When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1);

from which it is evident that by the "child Israel," is meant the Lord; and that His instruction when a child is meant by the words, "I called My son out of Egypt."

[7] Again in Hosea:--

By a prophet the Lord made Israel to go up out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he kept (Hosea 12:13, 14);

where in like manner by "Israel" is meant the Lord; by "a prophet" is signified one who teaches, and thus the doctrine of knowledges. In David:--

Turn us again, O God Zebaoth, cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved. Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt, Thou didst drive out the nations, and plantedst it (Ps. 80:7, 8);

where also the Lord is treated of, who is called "a vine out of Egypt" in regard to the knowledges in which He was being instructed.

AC 1463. That "to sojourn" means to be instructed, is evident from the signification of "sojourning" in the Word, as being to be instructed; and this for the reason that sojourning and migration, or proceeding from place to place, is in heaven nothing but change of state, as before shown (n. 1376, 1379); and therefore, whenever traveling, sojourning, and passing from place to place, occur in the Word, nothing else is suggested to the angels than such change of state as exists with them. There are changes of state of both the thoughts and the affections changes of the state of the thoughts are knowledges, and in the world of spirits these changes are presented by means of instructions; which also was the reason why the men of the Most Ancient Church, having communication with the angelic heaven, by sojourning perceived nothing else. So in the passage before us, Abram‘s going down into Egypt to sojourn, signifies nothing else than the instruction of the Lord.

[2] Similar, too, is the signification of Jacob and his sons’ going down into Egypt; as in Isaiah:--

Thus hath said the Lord Jehovih, My people went down in the beginning into Egypt to sojourn there and Assyria oppressed them without cause (Isaiah 52:4);

where "Assyria" denotes reasonings. Hence also in the Jewish Church, those who were being instructed were called "sojourners, sojourning in the midst of them," concerning whom it was commanded that they should be treated as the home born (Exod. 12:48, 49; Lev. 24:22; Num. 15:13-16, 26, 29; 19:10). Of them it is thus written in Ezekiel:--

Ye shall divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass that ye shall divide it by lot, for an inheritance unto you and to the sojourners that sojourn in the midst of you; and they shall be unto you as the home-born among the sons of Israel with you shall they cast the lot for an inheritance in the midst of the tribes of Israel; and it shall come to pass that in what tribe the sojourner sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance (Ezekiel 47:21-23).

This is concerning the New Jerusalem, or the Lord‘s kingdom; by "the sojourners sojourning" are meant those who suffer themselves to be instructed, consequently the Gentiles; that those are meant who are being instructed, is evident from its being said that in the tribe with which he has sojourned, there his inheritance should be given; "tribes" denote the things that are of faith.

[3] "Sojourning" has also nearly the same signification as "journeying," and "dwelling." By "journeying" are signified the arrangements and order of life, and by "dwelling" is signified to live (n. 1293); on which account the land of Canaan is also called the land of the sojournings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 28:4; 36:7; 37:1; Exod. 6:4); and Jacob said unto Pharaoh:--

The days of the years of my sojournings, few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their sojournings (Gen. 47:9);

where "sojourning" denotes life and instructions.

AC 1464. Because the famine was grievous in the land. That this signifies much scarcity in His external man, is evident from the signification of "famine," as given above in this verse. The arcana here contained are more than can be briefly told. The Lord had the power of learning above every other man; but because, unlike other men, He was to be instructed in celestial things before He was instructed in spiritual things, this is here declared; and also for the further reason that there was hereditary evil from the mother in His external man, against which He was to fight, and which He was to overcome; and also for other reasons innumerable.

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