Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 12:9
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AC 1456. Verse 9. And Abram journeyed, going and journeying toward the south. "And Abram journeyed, going and journeying," signifies further progression; "toward the south," signifies into goods and truths, and thus into a state of light as to the interiors.

AC 1457. And Abram journeyed, going and journeying. That this signifies further progression, is evident from the signification of "to go," and "to journey." Among the ancients, travels, journeys, and sojournings, signified nothing else; hence also in the internal sense they signify nothing else in the Word. Here commence the Lord’s advancements into knowledges. That the Lord was also instructed as are other men, may be seen in Luke:--

The child grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of His appearing to Israel (Luke 1:80).


The Child grew and waxed strong in spirit, and was filled with wisdom, and grace was upon Him (Luke 2:40).


Joseph and the mother of Jesus after three days found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions; and all that heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers. Seeing Him they wondered; but He said unto them, How is it that ye sought Me? Knew ye not that I must be in the things that are My Father‘s? (Luke 2:46-49).

That He was then twelve years old, is stated in (Luke 2:42), of the same chapter. Again:--

Then Jesus advanced in wisdom and in age, and in grace with God and men (Luke 2:52).

AC 1458. That "toward the south" signifies into goods and truths, and thus into a state of light as to the interiors, is evident from the signification of "the south." That "the south" signifies a state of light, comes from the fact that there are neither quarters nor times in the other life, but states which are signified by quarters and times. The states of intellectual things are as the states of the times of the day and of the year, and also as the states of the quarters. The states of the day are those of evening, night, morning, and noon; the states of the year are those of autumn, winter, spring, and summer; and the states of the quarters are those of the sun, in its relation to the west, the north, the east, and the south. Similar to these are the states of intellectual things. And, what is wonderful, in heaven those are in light who are in a state of wisdom and intelligence, exactly according to their state; those being in the greatest light who are in a state of the highest wisdom and intelligence; but the wisdom there is that of love and charity, and the intelligence is that of faith in the Lord. That in the other life there is light to which the light of the world can scarcely be compared, is to me a fact established by much experience, and because there is in heaven such a correspondence between light and intellectual things, therefore in the Word, in this and in other passages, nothing else is signified in the internal sense by "the south." "The south" here signifies the intelligence which is procured by means of knowledges. These knowledges are celestial and spiritual truths, which in heaven are so many radiations of light, and they are also presented visible by means of the light, as before stated. As the Lord was now to be imbued with knowledges in order that as to the Human Essence also He might become the very Light of heaven, it is here said that "Abram journeyed, going and journeying toward the south."

[2] That this is the signification of "the south," may be seen from similar passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:--

I will say to the north, Give; and to the south, Keep not back; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the end of the earth (Isaiah 43:6);

"the north" denotes those who are in ignorance; "the south" those who are in knowledges; "sons" truths; and "daughters" goods. Again:--

If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in the darkness, and thy thick darkness as the noonday (or south-meridies) (Isaiah 58:10);

to "draw out the soul to the hungry and to satisfy the afflicted soul," denotes the goods of charity in general; the "light rising in the darkness," means that they shall have the intelligence of truth; and "the thick darkness as the south," means that they shall have the wisdom of good; "the south," from its heat, signifies good, and from its light, truth.

[3] In Ezekiel:--

In the visions of God brought He me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, whereon was as it were the building of a city on the south (Ezekiel 40:2)

concerning the New Jerusalem, or the Lord’s kingdom, which, because it is in the light of wisdom and intelligence, is "on the south." In David:--

Jehovah shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (Ps. 37:6).


Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror of the night, for the arrow that flieth by day, for the pestilence that walketh in the thick darkness, for the destruction that wasteth at noonday (or in the south) (Ps. 91:6, 6);

"not to fear for the destruction that wasteth in the south," means not to be afraid because of the damnation which comes upon those who are in knowledges and pervert them. In Ezekiel:--

Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop (thy word) to the south, and prophesy to the forest of the field of the south, and say to the forest of the south, All faces from the south to the north shall be burned in her (Ezekiel 20:46, 47);

"the forest of the south," denotes those who are in the light of truths, and who extinguish it, and thus those of this character who are within the church.

[4] In Daniel:--

Out of one of them there went forth a little horn, and it grew exceedingly toward the south, and toward the east, and toward beauty (decus), and it grew even to the army of the heavens (Daniel 8:9, 10);

meaning those who fight against goods and truths. In Jeremiah:--

Give glory to Jehovah your God, before He maketh it grow dark, and before your feet stumble upon the mountains of twilight and ye look for light, and He turn it into the shadow of death, He shall make it thick darkness the cities of the south shall be shut, and there is none to open (Jeremiah 13:16, 19);

"the cities of the south" denote the knowledges of truth and good. In Obadiah:--

The captivity of Jerusalem which is in Sepharad shall inherit the cities of the south (Obadiah 1:20);

"the cities of the south" denote in like manner truths and goods; hence the very truths and goods of which they are the heirs the Lord‘s kingdom is here treated of.

[5] That Abram’s journeying, going and journeying toward the south, signifies, as before said, the Lord‘s progression into goods and truths, and thus into a state of light as to the interiors, is to be thus understood: knowledges are the things that open the way for seeing celestial and spiritual things; by means of knowledges the way is opened for the internal man to advance toward the external, in which latter are the receiving vessels, which are as many as are the knowledges of good and truth; into these knowledges, as into their vessels, do celestial things inflow.

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