Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 12:16-17
AC 1484a. Verse 16. And he did well unto Abram for her sake; and he had flock and herd, and he-asses and menservants, and maidservants and she-asses, and camels. "He did well unto Abram for her sake," signifies that memory-knowledges were multiplied with the Lord; "and he had flock and herd, and he-asses and menservants, and maidservants and she-asses, and camels," signifies all the things in general that belong to memory-knowledges.
AC 1485. And he did well unto Abram for her sake. That this signifies that memory-knowledges were multiplied with the Lord, is evident from the signification of "doing well unto," as being to enrich. This is said of the memory-knowledge that is signified by "Pharaoh," that it did well unto Abram, that is to the Lord when a child; and this for her sake, that is, for the sake of the intellectual truth that He desired. It was this desire for truth from which the enriching came.
AC 1486. And he had flock and herd, and he-asses and menservants, and maidservants and she-asses, and camels. That these words signify all things in general that belong to memory knowledges, is evident from the signification of all these things in the Word. But it would be too tedious to show what is signified by each in particular, as what by the "flock and herd," the "he-asses and menservants," the "maidservants and sheasses," and the "camels." Each has its own peculiar signification. In general they signify all things that belong to the memory-knowledge of knowledges, and to memory-knowledges. Regarded in themselves, memory-knowledges are "he-asses and menservants;" their pleasures are "maidservants and she-asses;" "camels" are general things of service; "flock and herd" are possessions; and so in the Word throughout. All things whatever that are in the external man, are nothing but things of service, that is, they are for the service of the internal man. So it is with all memory-knowledges, which belong solely to the external man; for they are procured from earthly and worldly things by means of sensuous impressions, in order that they may serve the interior or rational man, and this the spiritual man, this the celestial, and this the Lord. Thus are they subordinated one to another, as are the more external things to the more internal, in their order; and thus all things whatever, both in general and in particular, are, in their order, subordinated to the Lord. Memory-knowledges are therefore the lowest and outermost things, in which are terminated in their order the things that are more interior; and because they are the lowest and outermost things, they must be pre-eminently things of service. Every one may know for what such knowledges may be serviceable, if he reflects or inquires in himself for what use they are; and when he is thus reflecting upon their use, he can also apprehend the quality of the use. Every memory-knowledge must be for the sake of some use, and this is its service.
>Verse 17. And Jehovah smote Pharaoh with great plagues, and his house, because of the word of Sarai, Abram’s wife. "Jehovah smote Pharaoh with great plagues," signifies that the memory-knowledges were destroyed; "and his house," signifies which He had collected; "because of the word of Sarai, Abram‘s wife," signifies because of the truth that was to be adjoined to the celestial.
AC 1487. And Jehovah smote Pharaoh with great plagues. That this signifies that the memory-knowledges were destroyed, is evident from the signification of "Pharaoh," as being memory-knowledge in general, consequently the memory-knowledges that belong to such knowledge; and from the signification of being "smitten with plagues," as being to be destroyed. As regards memory-knowledges the case is this. In childhood they are acquired for no other end than that of knowing; with the Lord, they were acquired from the delights and affection of truth. The memory-knowledges acquired in childhood are very numerous, but are disposed by the Lord into order so as to serve for use; first, to give the ability to think; then that they may be of use by means of thought; and lastly that this may take effect, that is to say that the very life may consist in use, and be a life of uses. These are the things performed by the memory-knowledges that are acquired in childhood; and without them the external man can never be conjoined with the internal, and at the same time become use. When man becomes use, that is, when he thinks all things from the end of use, and does all things for the end of use--if not by manifest reflection, still by tacit reflection from a nature acquired by so doing--then the memory-knowledges which have served the first use--that the man may become rational--being no longer of service, are destroyed; and so on. These are the things here meant by the words "Jehovah smote Pharaoh with great plagues."
AC 1488. And his house. That this signifies which He had collected, is evident from the signification of a "house," as being, in this place, the memory-knowledges that are collected. To collect memory-knowledges, and by their means frame the external man, and build it up, is not unlike building a house; and therefore such things are signified in many passages of the Word by "building," and by "building houses," as in Isaiah:--
I create new heavens and a new earth they shall build houses, and inhabit them and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them they shall not build and another inhabit (Isaiah 65:17, 21, 22);
here "houses" mean where there are wisdom and intelligence, thus where there are the knowledges of good and truth; for the Lord’s kingdom is here treated of, namely, the new heavens and the new earth. In Jeremiah:--
Build ye houses and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them (Jeremiah 29:5);
where the meaning is similar. In David:--
Blessed is the man that feareth Jehovah, that delighteth greatly in His commandments; wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endureth forever (Ps. 112:1, 3);
where "wealth and riches" denote the wealth and riches of wisdom and intelligence, thus knowledges; which are "in his house," that is, are in him.
 "House" is used in the opposite sense in Zephaniah:--
I will visit upon them that say in their heart, Jehovah hath not done good, and hath not done evil and their wealth shall be for a spoil, and their houses a desolation; and they shall build houses and shall not in habit them, and they shall plant vineyards but shall not drink the wine thereof (Zephaniah 1:12, 13).
Go up into the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house. Ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and ye brought it into the house, and I did blow it away. Why? saith Jehovah. Because of My house, which is deserted, while ye run every one to his own house; therefore upon you are the heavens shut from dew (Haggai 1:8-10);
"houses" denote memory-knowledges by which, through reasoning, come falsities. In Isaiah:--
Woe unto them that join house to house, that cause field to draw near to field, till there be no place, and ye dwell alone in the midst of the land. Shall not many houses be for a desolation, great and good, without an inhabitant? The vineyard of Jehovah is the house of Israel (Isaiah 5:8, 9, 7);
also denoting memory-knowledges by means of which come falsities. In Amos:--
Behold, Jehovah commandeth, and will smite the great horse with breaches, and the little house with clefts. Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? that ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (Amos 6:11, 12);
where "houses" denote in like manner falsities and the derivative evils; "horses," reasoning; "judgment," truths, which are "turned into gall;" and "the fruit of righteousness," goods which are "turned into wormwood."
 Thus throughout the Word, "houses" denote human minds, in which there should be intelligence and wisdom. In the passage before us, "the house of Pharaoh" denotes memory-knowledges by means of which comes intelligence, and thereby wisdom. The like is also signified by the house which Solomon built for the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Kings 7:8). Because "houses" denote minds, in which are intelligence and wisdom, and in which are affections belonging to the will, the word "house" in the Word is of a wide signification; but what its specific signification is, may be seen from the things of which it is predicated. Man himself is also called "a house."
AC 1489. Because of Sarai, Abram‘s wife. That this signifies because of the truth that was to be adjoined to what is celestial, is evident from the signification of a "wife," and consequently of "Sarai the wife," as being truth that is to be adjoined to the celestial, concerning which above, at (verse 12). The case is this: unless the knowledges which in childhood have performed the use of making the man rational, are destroyed, so that they are as nothing, truth can never be conjoined with what is celestial. These first memory-knowledges are for the most part earthly, corporeal, and worldly. However Divine may be the precepts that a child learns, he still has no other idea concerning them than that which is obtainable from such knowledges; and therefore, so long as those lowest knowledges cling to him, from which are his ideas, his mind cannot be elevated. With the Lord it was the same, because He was born as are other men, and was to be instructed as are others, but according to Divine order, which is such as has been stated. In these things which are said concerning Abram in Egypt, there is described the Divine order--how in the Lord the external man was conjoined with the internal, so that the external also might become Divine. GENESIS 12:16-17 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|