Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 14:4
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Verse 4. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. "Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer," signifies that the evils and falsities did not appear in childhood, but that they served the apparent goods and truths; "and in the thirteenth year they rebelled," signifies the beginning of temptations in childhood.

AC 1667. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer. That this signifies that the evils and falsities did not appear in childhood, but that they served the apparent goods and truths, is evident from the representation and signification of "Chedorlaomer," and also of those who served (verse 1); and also from the signification of "twelve." "Chedorlaomer," together with those named above (verse 2), signifies the apparent goods and truths in the Lord, thus His external man in respect to these things. "Chedorlaomer" here denotes all that are named above (verse 2) in the complex, as is evident also from what follows, as also from the circumstance that he was king of Elam, the signification of which has been given already, as being faith from charity; here therefore truth and good; for faith and the things of faith are nothing but truths, and charity and the things of charity are goods

[2] but here the goods of infancy, which, although they appear good, are not good so long as hereditary evil contaminates them. That which is inherent and which adheres is from the love of self and the love of the world. Whatever is of the love of self and of the love of the world then appears as good, but is not good; but still it is to be called good so long as it is in an infant or a child who does not yet know what is truly good. The ignorance excuses, and the innocence makes it appear as good. But the case is different when the man has been instructed, and knows what good and evil are. Such good and truth as are in a child before he has been instructed, are signified by "Chedorlaomer."

[3] By their "serving twelve years" is signified all the time that there are such good and truth; for in the internal sense "twelve" signifies all things that pertain to the faith of charity, or to faith from charity, much the same as "Elam" (Gen. 10:22). And so long as such good and truth are in a man, whether it be in his childhood or at any other age, evils and falsities can effect nothing; that is, evil spirits do not venture to do anything, or to introduce any evil; as is evident with infants, well disposed children, and the simple in heart; with whom, even though evil spirits, or the worst of the diabolic crew, were present, they could effect nothing at all, but are in subjection; which is here signified by their serving chedorlaomer twelve years.

[4] The reason of their being then in subjection and serving is that the man has not yet acquired to himself a sphere of cupidities and falsities. For evil spirits and genii are not allowed to operate except into those thing which a man has procured to himself by his acts, and not into those which are from inheritance; and therefore before the man procures such spheres to himself, the evil spirits serve; but as soon as he procures them, they pour themselves in upon him, and endeavor to rule; for they are then in his very sphere, and find there a certain delight, or their very life. Where the carcass is, there are the eagles.

AC 1668. And in the thirteenth year they rebelled. That this signified the beginning of temptations in childhood, is evident from the signification of "the thirteenth year," and from the signification of "rebelling." The thirteenth year is intermediate between the twelfth and the fourteenth. What is signified by "twelve" has been stated; and what by "fourteen" will be stated presently. The intermediate between no temptation and temptation is "thirteen." What "rebelling" signifies may be seen when it is predicated of the evils in a man, or of evil spirits, when they have been in subjection or are serving, and begin to rise up and infest.

[2] Evils or evil spirits rebel in proportion as the man who desires to be in good and truth confirms in himself any evils and falsities, that is, in proportion as cupidities and falsities insinuate themselves into his goods and truths. In cupidities and falsities is the life of evil spirits, and in goods and truths is the life of angels; and hence come infestation and combat. This is so with all who have conscience; and much more was it the case with the Lord when a child, who had perception. With those who have conscience there arises therefrom a dull pain; but with those who have perception, a sharp one, and the more interior the perception is, the sharper is the pain. From this we may see what was the nature of the Lordís temptation in comparison with that of men, for He had interior and inmost perception.

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