Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 14:1-2
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AC 1659. The things contained in this chapter appear as if they were not representative, for it treats only of wars between several kings, and the rescue of Lot by Abram; and finally concerning Melchizedek; and thus it seems as if they contained no heavenly arcanum. But still these things, like all the rest conceal in the internal sense the deepest arcana, which also follow in a continuous series from those which go before, and connect themselves in a continuous series with those which follow.

[2] In those which precede, the Lord has been treated of, and His instruction, and also His external man, which was to be conjoined with the internal by means of knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones). But as His external man was--as before said--of such a nature that it had in it by inheritance from the mother things that hindered conjunction, and yet that were to be expelled by means of combats and temptations, before His external man could be united to His internal man, or His Human Essence to the Divine Essence, therefore these combats are treated of in this chapter; and are represented and signified in the internal sense by the wars of which it treats. It is known within the church that Melchizedek represented the Lord, and therefore that the Lord is meant in the internal sense where Melchizedek is mentioned. It may be concluded from this, that not only the things concerning Melchizedek, but all the rest also, are representative; for not a syllable can have been written in the Word which was not sent down from heaven, and consequently in which the angels do not see heavenly things.

[3] In very ancient times also, many things were represented by wars, which they called the Wars of Jehovah, and which signified nothing else than the combats of the church, and of those who were of the church, that is, their temptations, which are nothing but combats and wars with the evils in themselves, and consequently with the diabolical crew that excite the evils, and endeavor to destroy the church and the man of the church. That nothing else is meant in the Word by "wars," may be clearly seen from the fact that nothing can be treated of in the Word except the Lord and His kingdom, and the church; because it is Divine and not human, consequently heavenly and not worldly, and therefore by "wars," in the sense of the letter, nothing else can be meant in the internal sense. This will be more evident from what follows.

AC 1660. Verses 1, 2. And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, this Zoar. "It came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim," signifies so many kinds of apparent goods and truths, which in themselves are not goods and truths, in the Lord’s external man. Each of the kings and each of the nations signifies some such good and truth; "they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, this is Zoar," signifies so many kinds of cupidities of evil, and of persuasions of falsity, against which the Lord combated.

AC 1661. And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim. That these signify so many kinds of apparent goods and truths, which in themselves are not goods and truths, that were in the Lord‘s external man, may be seen from the signification of all these in the internal sense, and also from what follows. For the Lord’s combat against evils and falsities is treated of; here, His first combat, which took place in his childhood and earliest youth; which He then first engaged in and sustained when He had been imbued with knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones), on which account it is here said, "in the days of these."

[2] No one can ever fight against evils and falsities until he has learned to know what evil and falsity are, and therefore not until he has been instructed. A man does not know what evil is, still less what falsity is, until he has the full use of his understanding and judgment, which is the reason why a man does not come into temptations until he has arrived at adult age; thus every man in his age of manhood, but the Lord in His childhood.

[3] Every man combats first of all from the goods and truths he has received through knowledges; and from them and by them he judges about evils and falsities. Every man also, when he first begins to combat, supposes that the goods and truths from which he combats are his own; that is, he attributes them to himself, and at the same time attributes to himself the power by which he resists. This also is permitted for the man cannot then know otherwise. Until a man has been regenerated, he cannot possibly know, so as to be able to say that he knows, acknowledges, and believes, that nothing of good and truth is from himself, but that all good and truth are from the Lord; or that he cannot resist any evil and falsity from his own power; for he does not know that evil spirits excite and infuse the evils and falsities still less that by means of evil spirits he is in communication with hell; and that hell presses upon him as the sea does upon every part of a dike, which pressure of hell no man can possibly resist by his own powers. But as until he has been regenerated a man cannot but suppose that he resists by his own powers, this also is permitted; and thus he is introduced into combats or temptations; but afterwards he is more and more enlightened.

[4] When a man is in such a state that he supposes good and truth to be from himself, and that the power of resisting is his own, then the goods and truths from which he combats against evils and falsities are not goods and truths, although they appear so; for there is what is his own in them, and he places self-merit in victory, and glories as if it were he who had overcome the evil and falsity, when yet it is the Lord alone who combats and overcomes. That this is really the case, none can know but they who are being regenerated by means of temptations.

[5] And as in his earliest childhood the Lord was introduced into most grievous combats against evils and falsities, neither could He at that time suppose otherwise; and this not only because it was according to Divine order that His Human Essence should be introduced to the Divine Essence and be united to it by means of continual combats and victories, but also because the goods and truths from which He combated against evils and falsities were of the external man; and as these goods and truths were therefore not altogether Divine, they are therefore called appearances of good and truth. His Divine Essence introduced His Human in this manner, in order that it might overcome from its own power. But there are more arcana here than can possibly be described. In a word, in the first combats, the goods and truths in the Lord, from which he combated, were imbued with things inherited from the mother, and so far as they were imbued with things inherited from the mother, they were not Divine; but by degrees, as He overcame the evil and falsity, they were purified and made Divine.

AC 1662. That each of the kings, and each of the nations, signifies such good and such truth, is evident from their signification in the internal sense, as applied to the subject here treated of; for every nation, and every land, signifies some certain thing in general, and this both in the proper and in the opposite sense; but the general signification applies itself to the subject being treated of. That apparent goods and truths are signified by the names of these kings and these nations, can be confirmed by many passages; but as this has been done so many times before, and as so many names occur here, it would be too tedious thus to explain them all one by one.

AC 1663. They made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, this is Zoar. That these signify so many kinds of cupidities of evil and of persuasions of falsity, against which the Lord fought, may likewise be seen from the signification of the kings and nations here named, and also from what follows. What cupidity of evil and what persuasion of falsity is signified by each one, it would also be too tedious to set forth. Of the signification of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Admah and Zeboiim, and of Zoar, we have already briefly treated. They are the most general or the most universal kinds of evils and falsities; and these, being signified in the internal sense, here follow in their series.

[2] That the Lord underwent and endured the most grievous temptations--temptations more grievous than have ever been endured by any one--is not so well known from the Word, where it is only mentioned that He was in the wilderness forty days, and was tempted by the devil. The temptations themselves which He then had, are described in a few words only; but these few involve them all; as that it is said in (Mark 1:12, 13), that He was there with the beasts, by which are signified the worst of the infernal crew; and the things which are mentioned (in Matthew and in Luke), that He was taken by the devil upon the pinnacles of the temple, and upon a high mountain, are nothing but representatives of most grievous temptations which He had in the wilderness; concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter.

AC 1664. That the wars here mentioned signify nothing else, in the internal sense, than spiritual wars, or temptations, was said above, at the beginning of this chapter. By the wars mentioned in the Word, especially in the Prophets, nothing else is signified. The wars of men can have no place in the internals of the Word for such things are not spiritual and celestial, such as alone belong to the Word. That combats with the devil, or what is the same, with hell, are signified by the wars mentioned in the Word, may be seen from the passages that now follow, besides many others. In John:--

They are spirits of demons, doing signs, to go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of that great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14);

where every one can see that no other war is signified, on the "great day of God Almighty."

[2] Again:--

The beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war (Rev. 11:7);

where "the abyss" is hell. Again:--

The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:17).


It was given unto him to make war with the saints (Rev. 13:7).

All of these "wars" are combats such as are those of temptations. The wars of the kings of the south and of the north, and the other wars mentioned in Daniel chapters 10 and 11), also the things said of Michael (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Rev. 12:7), mean the same.

[3] That "wars" signify nothing else, is evident also from the other Prophets. As in Ezekiel:--

Ye have not gone up into the breaches, neither have ye built up the fence for the house of Israel, to stand in the war in the day of Jehovah (Ezekiel 12:5);

where this is said concerning the prophets. In Isaiah:--

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isaiah 2:4);

where it is plain that no other wars are meant; and consequently that by the weapons of war, as by swords, spears, shields, and others, nothing else is meant in the Word than the things that pertain to such wars.

[4] Again in Isaiah:--

Bring ye water to him that is thirsty ye inhabitants of the land of Tema, meet with his bread him that is wandering; for they shall wander before the swords, before the drawn sword, and before the bent bow, and before the grievousness of war (Isaiah 21:14, 15).

In Jeremiah:--

Shepherds and their flocks shall come unto the daughter of Zion; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed down every one his space; sanctify a war against her arise, and let us go up at noon (Jeremiah 6:3-5)

where no other war is meant, for it is against the daughter of Zion, that is, the church.

[5] Again:--

How is the city of praise not forsaken, the city of my joy therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day (Jer. 49:25, 26);

"the city of praise and of joy" denotes the things which are of the church; "the men of war," those who combat.

[6] In Hosea:--

In that day will I make a covenant for them with the wild beast of the field, and with the fowl of the heavens, and with the creeping thing of the ground; and I will break the how, and the sword, and war out of the land, and will make them to lie down in confidence (Hosea 2:18)

where in like manner "war" denotes combats, and the various arms of war those things which pertain to spiritual combat; these are "broken" when, cupidities and falsities ceasing, the man comes into the tranquillity of Peace.

[7] In David:--

Behold the works of Jehovah, who hath made solitudes in the earth, making wars to cease unto the end of the earth He breaketh the how, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire (Ps. 46:8, 9)

where the meaning is similar. Again

In Salem is the habitation of God, and His dwelling place in Zion. There He brake the fiery shafts of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the war (Ps. 76:2, 3).

As the priests represented the Lord, who alone combats for man, their service is called "warfare" (Num. 4:23, 35, 39, 43, 47).

[8] That Jehovah alone, that is, the Lord, combats and overcomes the devil that is with man when he is in the combats of temptations, although it does not so appear to the man, is a constant truth; for not even the smallest thing can be brought upon a man by evil spirits that is not by permission; and nothing, however small, can be averted by angels, except from the Lord; so that it is the Lord alone who sustains all the combat, and who overcomes; which also is everywhere represented by the wars waged by the sons of Israel against the nations. That it is the Lord alone, is also declared in Moses:--

Jehovah your God who walketh before you, He shall fight for you (Deut. 1:30).


Jehovah your God is He that walketh with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you (Deut. 20:4; Joshua 23:3, 5).

[9] For the wars there that were carried on against the idolatrous inhabitants of the land of Canaan, all represented the Lord’s combats with hell; and consequently those of His church, and those of the men of His church. This also accords with the following words in Isaiah:--

As the lion roareth, and the young lion, over his prey, when a multitude of shepherds come running against him, he will not be dismayed at their voice, nor afflicted by their tumult so Jehovah Zebaoth shall come down to fight upon Mount Zion, and upon the bill thereof (Isaiah 31:4).

[10] For this reason, also, Jehovah or the Lord is also called a "Man of War." As in Moses:--

Jehovah is a Man of War, Jehovah is His name (Exod. 15:3).

And in Isaiah:--

Jehovah shall go forth as a Hero, He shall stir up zeal like a Man of wars; He shall cry, yea, He shall shout aloud, He shall prevail against His enemies (Isaiah 42:13).

This also is why many things that pertain to war are attributed to the Lord; as here to "cry" and" shout aloud."

[11] Spirits and angels also appear as men of war when a representation is made. As in Joshua:--

Joshua lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him, and his sword drawn in his hand. And he said unto Joshua, I am the prince of Jehovah‘s army. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth (Joshua 5:13, 14).

These things were so seen because they were representative; and for the same reason the posterity of Jacob called their wars the Wars of Jehovah.

[12] The same also was the case in the Ancient Churches; and among them were books which also were called The Wars of Jehovah; as is evident in Moses:--

It is said in the Book of the Wars of Jehovah (Num. 21:14, 15).

This was written in a manner not unlike that in which wars are treated of in this chapter but the wars of the church were signified. Such a mode of writing was familiar in those times; for then there were interior men, and they thought of exalted things.

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