Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 15:4
AC 1800. Verse 4. And behold the word of Jehovah came unto him, saying, This one shall not be thine heir; but he that shall go forth out of thy bowels shall be thine heir. "Behold the word of Jehovah came unto him," signifies an answer: "saying, This one shall not be thine heir" signifies that what is external shall not be the heir of His kingdom; "but he that shall go forth out of thy bowels," signifies those who are in love to Him and in love toward the neighbor; he shall be thine heir," signifies that they shall be made heirs.
AC 1801. Behold the word of Jehovah came unto him. That this signifies an answer, namely that there should not be what is external of the church, but that there should be what is internal, is evident from what follows. "The word of Jehovah," or this answer, is the consolation.
AC 1802. Saying, This one shall not be thine heir. That this signifies that what is external shall not be the heir of His kingdom, is evident from the signification of becoming an heir, or inheriting, explained just above. The heir of the Lord‘s kingdom is not what is external, but what is internal. What is external is so too, but through What is internal, for they then act as a one. That it may be known how the case herein is, it is to be kept in mind that all who are in the heavens-as well those who are in the first and in the second, as those who are in the third,-that is, as well those who are external and those who are interior, as those who are internal-are heirs of the Lord’s kingdom; for they all make one heaven. In the Lord‘s heavens, the internals and the externals are circumstanced exactly as they are in man. The angels in the first heaven are subordinate to those in the second, and these are subordinate to the angels in the third heaven. The subordination however is not that of command, but is, as in a man, the influx of things internal into things more external; that is, the Lord’s life inflows through the third heaven into the second, and through this into the first, in the order of their succession, besides that it inflows immediately into all the heavens. The inferior or subordinate angels do not know that this is so unless reflection is given them by the Lord; thus there is no subordination of command.
 In proportion to the existence of what is internal in an angel of the third heaven is he an heir of the Lord‘s kingdom; and in proportion to the same in an angel of the second heaven is he an heir; and in like manner, in proportion to the existence of what is internal in an angel of the first heaven, is he too an heir. It is that which is internal that causes any one to be an heir. With the interior angels there is more of what is internal than there is with the more external angels, and therefore the former are nearer to the Lord, and are more fully heirs. That which is internal is love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor in proportion therefore to the love and the charity which they have, in the same proportion are they sons and heirs, for in the same proportion are they partakers of the Lord’s life.
 But no one can possibly be taken up from the first or external heaven into the second or interior heaven until he has been instructed in the goods of love and the truths of faith. So far as he has been instructed, so far he can be taken up, and can come among angelic spirits. It is the same with angelic spirits before they can be taken up or come into the third heaven, or among angels. By instruction the interiors are formed, and thereby the internals, and are adapted to receiving the goods of love and the truths of faith, and thereby the perception of what is good and true. No one can perceive what he does not know and believe, consequently he cannot be gifted with the faculty of perceiving the good of love and the truth of faith except by means of knowledges, so as to know what they are and of what nature. It is so with all, even with infants, who are all instructed in the Lord‘s kingdom. But these are easily instructed, because they are imbued with no principles of falsity; they are however instructed in general truths only; and when they receive these they perceive things without number or limit.
 The case in this respect is the same as it is with one who has been persuaded respecting any truth in general: the particulars of the general truths, and the singulars of the particulars, which are confirmatory, he easily learns, as it were of himself, or spontaneously; for he is affected by the truth in general, and thence also by the particulars and singulars of the same truth, which confirm for these enter into the general affection with delight and pleasantness, and thus constantly perfect it. These are the internal things on account of which they are called "heirs," or by means of which they can inherit the Lord’s kingdom. But they first begin to be heirs, or to have a heritage, when they are in the affection of good, that is, in mutual love, into which they are introduced by the knowledges of good and truth, and by the affections of them; and in proportion as they are in the affection of good, or in mutual love, in the same proportion are they "heirs," or have an inheritance. For mutual love is the veriest life (vitale) which they receive from the Lord‘s essence, as from their Father. These things may be seen from what follows in the next verse.
AC 1803. But he that shall go forth out of thy bowels. That this signifies those who are in love to the Lord and in love toward the neighbor, is evident from the signification of "bowels," and of "going forth out of the bowels," which is to be born; and here it means those who are being born of the Lord. They who are being born of the Lord, that is, who are being regenerated, receive the Lord’s life. The Lord‘s life, as before said, is the Divine love, that is, love toward the whole human race; or His will to eternally save, if possible, the whole of it, or all men. They who have not the Lord’s love, that is, who do not love the neighbor as themselves, never have the Lord‘s life, and therefore are never born of Him, that is, have not "come forth out of His bowels;" and therefore they cannot be heirs of His kingdom.
 From which it is evident that by "to go forth out of the bowels," in the internal sense, are here signified those that are in love to Him and in love toward the neighbor. So in Isaiah:--
Thus said Jehovah thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am Jehovah thy God, who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee in the way that thou shouldest walk. Oh that thou hadst hearkened to My commandments, and thy peace had been as a river, and thy righteousness as the billows of the sea, and thy seed had been as the sand, and those who go forth out of thy bowels as the gravel thereof (Isaiah 48:17-19).
The "seed as the sand," denotes good; and "those who go forth out of the bowels as the gravel," truth; thus those who have love, for these alone are in the love of good and truth.
 Moreover, in the Word "bowels" signify love or mercy for the reason that the bowels of generation, especially the mother’s womb, represent and thus signify chaste conjugial love, and the love for children that is derived from it. As in Isaiah:--
The stirring of Thy bowels and of Thy compassions toward me have restrained themselves (Isaiah 63:15).
Is not Ephraim a dear son unto Me? Is he not a child of delights? Therefore My bowels are troubled for him; in mercy I will have mercy upon him (Jeremiah 31:20).
 It is evident from this that the Lord‘s love itself, or mercy itself, and compassion toward the human race, are what are signified in the internal sense by "bowels," and by "going forth out of the bowels;" consequently by "them that go forth out of the bowels" are signified those who have love. (That the Lord’s kingdom is mutual love, may be seen above, n. 548, 549, 684, 693, 694).
AC 1804. He shall be thine heir. That this signifies that they shall become heirs, is evident from the signification of an "heir," already treated of. GENESIS 15:4 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|