Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 15:1
AC 1783. The things which are here contained, are as before said true historicals, namely, that Jehovah spoke thus with Abram, and that the land of Canaan was promised him as an inheritance; that he was commanded so to place the heifer, the she-goat, ram, turtledove, and young pigeon that the fowls came down upon the bodies that a deep sleep fell upon him, and in the sleep a terror of darkness; and that when the sun had set, there was seen by him as it were a furnace of smoke with a torch of fire between the parts; besides the other historicals. These are true historicals, but still each and all of them, even to the least of what was done, are representative; and the words themselves by which they are described, are, as to the smallest iota, significative. That is to say, in each and all of these things there is an internal sense; for each and all of the things contained in the Word are inspired, and being inspired they cannot but be from a heavenly origin; that is, they must necessarily store up within them celestial and spiritual things, for otherwise it could not possibly be the Word of the Lord.
 These are the things contained in the internal sense and when this sense lies open, the sense of the letter is obliterated, as if there were none; and on the other hand, when attention is given solely to the historical sense or that of the letter, the internal sense is obliterated, as if there were none. These two are related as is heavenly light to the light of the world; and, conversely, as is the light of the world to heavenly light. When heavenly light appears, then the light of the world is as thick darkness; as has been made known to me by experience; but when any one is in the light of the world, then heavenly light, if it appeared, would be as thick darkness; the same as with human minds: to him who places everything in human wisdom, or in memory-knowledges, heavenly wisdom appears as an obscure nothing; but to him who is in heavenly wisdom, human wisdom is as a kind of obscure general affair, which, if there were not heavenly rays in it, would be as thick darkness.
AC 1784. Verse 1. After these words, the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to thee, thy exceeding great reward. "After these words, the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision," signifies that after the combats in childhood there was revelation; "a vision" denotes inmost revelation, which is that of perception " Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to thee," signifies protection against evils and falsities, which is to be trusted; "thy great reward," signifies the end or purpose of the victories.
AC 1785. After these words, the word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision. That this signifies that after the combats in childhood there was revelation, is evident from the signification of "words," also of "the word of Jehovah to Abram," and also from the signification of "a vision." By "words," in the Hebrew language, are signified actual things here the things accomplished, which are the Lord’s combats of temptations, treated of in the preceding chapter. "The word of Jehovah to Abram" is nothing else than the Lord‘s word with Himself but in childhood, and in the combats of temptations, when the Essences were not yet united as a one, it could not appear otherwise than as a revelation. What is internal, when it acts into what is external, in a state and at moments when this is far away, is presented in no other manner. This is the state which is called the Lord’s state of humiliation.
AC 1786. That "a vision" denotes inmost revelation, which is that of perception, may be seen from the nature of visions, which take place in accordance with the man‘s state. To those whose interiors are closed, a vision is very different from what it is to those whose interiors are open. For example: when the Lord appeared to the whole congregation in Mount Sinai, the appearing was a vision that was different to the people from what it was to Aaron, and that was different to Aaron from what it was to Moses; and again, visions were different to the prophets from what they were to Moses. There are many kinds of visions, concerning which, of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter. The more interior the visions, the more perfect they are With the Lord they were the most perfect of all; because He then had perception of all things in the world of spirits and in the heavens, and also had immediate communication with Jehovah. This communication is represented, and in the internal sense is signified, by the vision in which Jehovah appeared to Abram.
AC 1787. Fear not, Abram, I am a shield to thee. That this signifies protection against evils and falsities, which is to be trusted, is evident from the signification of "a shield," to be explained presently. These words, namely, that Jehovah is a shield, and that He is an exceeding great reward, are words of consolation after temptations. Every temptation is attended with some kind of despair (otherwise it is not a temptation), and therefore consolation follows. He who is tempted is brought into anxieties, which induce a state of despair as to what the end is to be. The very combat of temptation is nothing else. He who is sure of victory is not in anxiety, and therefore is not in temptation.
 The Lord also, as He endured the most dire and cruel temptations of all, could not but be driven into states of despair, and these He dispelled and overcame by His own power; as may be clearly seen from His temptation in Gethsemane, thus recorded in Luke:--
When Jesus was at the place, He said unto the disciples, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. But He was parted from them about a stone‘s cast and kneeling down He prayed, saying, Father, if Thou be willing let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine, be done. And there appeared unto Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him; and being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly and His sweat became as drops of blood falling down upon the ground (Luke 22:40-45).
He began to be sorrowful and sore troubled. Then saith He unto the disciples, My whole soul is sorrowful even unto death. And going forward a little He fell on His face, praying, and saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt. Again a second time He went away, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cup cannot pass except I drink it, Thy will be done. And He prayed a third time, saying the same word (Matthew 26:37-44).
He began to be terrified, and sore troubled, and said to the disciples, My soul is encompassed with sorrow even unto death. He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from Him. He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; remove this cup from Me; howbeit, not as I will, but as Thou wilt: and He spake thus a second time and a third (Mark 14:33-41).
 From these passages we may see what was the nature of the Lord’s temptations-that they were the most terrible of all; and that He felt anguish from the very inmosts, even to the sweating of blood; and that He was then in a state of despair concerning the end and the event; and also that He had consolations. The words now under consideration, "I, Jehovah, am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward," involve in like manner consolation after the combats of temptations treated of in the foregoing chapter.
AC 1788. That a "shield" means protection against evils and falsities, which is trusted in, is evident without explication; for from common usage the expression has become familiar that Jehovah is a shield and a buckler. But what is specifically signified by "a shield," may be seen from the Word, in that as regards the Lord it signifies protection, and as regards man, trust in the Lord‘s protection. As war" signifies temptations (n. 1664), so all the weapons of war signify some specific thing belonging to temptation, and to defence against evils and falsities, that is, against the diabolical crew that induce the temptation, and that tempt. Therefore a shield" signifies one thing, a "buckler" signifies another, and a "target" another, a "helmet" another, a "spear" and a "lance" another, a "sword" another, a "bow and arrows" another, a "coat of mail" another; concerning each of which of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter.
 The reason why a "shield" in relation to the Lord signifies protection against evils and falsities, and in relation to man trust in the Lord; is that it was a protection to the breast; and by the breast good and truth are signified good because the heart is there, and truth because the lungs are there. That this is the signification of a "shield," is evident in David:--
Blessed be Jehovah my rock, who teacheth my hands combat, my fingers war; my mercy and my fortress, my fortified citadel and my deliverer, my shield, and He in whom I trust (Ps. 144:1, 2),
where the "combat" and "war" are those of temptations, and in the internal sense, the Lord‘s temptations; the "shield," with reference to Jehovah, is protection; and with reference to man is trust, as is plainly evident.
 In the same:--
O Israel, trust thou in Jehovah; He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust ye in Jehovah; He is their help and their shield. Ye that fear Jehovah, trust in Jehovah; He is their help and their shield (Ps. 115:9-11),
where the meaning is similar. Again:--
Jehovah is my fortress, my God in whom I trust. He shall cover thee with His wing; and under His wings shalt thou trust; His truth is a shield and a buckler (Ps. 91:2, 4),
where "a shield" and "a buckler" denote protection against falsities.
Jehovah is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my strong rock in whom I trust, my shield, and the horn of my salvation. Jehovah is a shield unto all that trust in Him (Ps. 18:2, 30),
where the meaning is similar. Again:--
Thou that provest the hearts and reins, a just God; my shield is upon God who saveth the upright in heart (Ps. 7:9, 10),
meaning trust. Again:--
Thou hast given me the shield of Thy salvation, and Thy right hand will hold me up (Ps. 18:35),
also signifying trust. Again:--
The shields of the earth belong unto God; He is greatly exalted (Ps. 47:9),
where trust is again meant.
Jehovah God is a sun and a shield; Jehovah will give grace and glory; good shall not be withheld from them that walk in integrity (Ps. 84:11),
signifying protection. In Moses:--
Thy blessings, O Israel; who is like unto thee, a people saved in Jehovah, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency, and thine enemies shall be mistaken in regard to thee (Deut. 33:29);
"the shield" denoting protection.
 As weapons of war are spoken of with reference to those who are in the combats of temptations, so also the same weapons of war are attributed to the enemies who assail and tempt, and then they signify the contrary things; thus a "shield" signifies the evils and falsities from which they fight, and which they defend, and in which they trust. As in Jeremiah:--
Make ye ready the shield and buckler, and draw near to battle. Harness the horses, and go up, ye horsemen, and stand forth in helmets, furbish the lances, put on the coats of mail (Jer. 46:3, 4).
Besides many other passages.
AC 1789. Thy great reward. That this signifies the end and purpose of the victories, is evident from the signification of " reward," as being the prize after the combats of temptations; here the end and purpose of the victories, because the Lord never looked for any prize of victory for Himself. His prize of victories was the salvation of the whole human race; and it was from love toward the entire human race that He fought. He who fights from this love demands for himself no prize, because this love is such that it wills to give and transfer all its own to others, and to have nothing for itself; so that it is the salvation of the whole human race that is here signified by the "reward." GENESIS 15:1 - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|