Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 15:5
AC 1805. Verse 5. And He led him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them; and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. "He led him forth abroad," signifies the sight of the interior man which from external things sees internal; "and said, Look now toward heaven," signifies a representation of the Lord‘s kingdom in a mental view of the universe; "and number the stars," signifies a representation of things good and true in a mental view of the constellations "if thou canst number them," signifies the fruitfulness of love and the multiplication of faith; "and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be," signifies the heirs of the Lord’s kingdom.
AC 1806. He led him forth abroad. That this signifies the sight of the interior man which from things external sees things internal, may be seen from the signification of "leading forth abroad," in connection with what follows. Things internal are led forth, when with the eyes of the body a man contemplates the starry heaven, and thence thinks of the Lord‘s kingdom. Whenever a man sees anything with his eyes, and sees the things that he looks upon as if he saw them not, but from them sees or thinks of the things which are of the church or of heaven, then his interior sight, or that of his spirit or soul, is "led forth abroad." The eye itself is properly nothing but the sight of his spirit led forth abroad, and this especially to the end that he may see internal things from external; that is, that he may, from the objects in the world, reflect continually upon those which are in the other life; for this is the life for the sake of which he lives in the world. Such was the sight in the Most Ancient Church; such is the sight of the angels who are with man; and such was the Lord’s sight.
AC 1807. And said, Look now toward heaven. That this signifies a representation of the Lord‘s kingdom in a mental view of the universe, may be seen from the signification of "heaven." "Heaven" in the Word, in the internal sense, does not signify the heavens which appear to the eyes; but the Lord’s kingdom, universally and particularly. When a man who is looking at internal things from external sees the heavens, he does not think at all of the starry heaven, but of the angelic heaven; and when he sees the sun, he does not think of the sun, but of the Lord, as being the Sun of heaven. So too when he sees the moon, and the stars also; and when he sees the immensity of the heavens, he does not think of their immensity, but of the immeasurable and infinite power of the Lord. It is the same when he sees all other things, for there is nothing that is not representative.
 In like manner as regards the things on the earth; as when he beholds the dawning of the day he does not think of the dawn, but of the arising of all things from the Lord, and of progression into the day of wisdom. So when he sees gardens, groves, and flower-beds, his eye remains not fixed on any tree, its blossom, leaf, and fruit; but on the heavenly things which these represent; nor on any flower, and its beauty and pleasantness; but on what they represent in the other life. For there is nothing beautiful and delightful in the skies or on the earth, which is not in some way representative of the Lord‘s kingdom (n. 1632). This is the "looking toward heaven" which signifies a representation of the Lord’s kingdom in a mental view of the universe.
 The reason why all things in the sky and on earth are representative, is that they have come forth and do continually come forth, that is, subsist, from the influx of the Lord through heaven. It is with these things as it is with the human body, which comes forth and subsists by means of the soul; on which account all things in the body both in general and in particular are representative of the soul. The soul is in the use and the end; but the body is in the performance of them. All effects, whatever they may be, are in like manner representatives of the uses which are the causes; and the uses are representative of the ends which belong to the first principles.
 They who are in Divine ideas never come to a stand in the objects of the external sight; but from them and in them constantly see internal things. The veriest internal things themselves are those which are of the Lord‘s kingdom, thus those which are in the veriest end itself. It is the same with the Word of the Lord; he who is in Divine things never regards the Lord’s Word from the letter; but regards the letter and the literal sense as being representative and significative of the celestial and spiritual things of the church and of the Lord‘s kingdom. To him the literal sense is merely an instrumental means for thinking of these. Such was the Lord’s sight.
AC 1808. And number the stars. That this signifies a representation of what is good and true in a mental view of the constellations, is evident from what has just been said; and also from the representation and signification of "the stars," as being things good and true. The "stars" are frequently mentioned in the Word, and everywhere they signify things good and true, and also, in the contrary sense, things evil and false; or what is the same, they signify angels or societies of angels, and also in the contrary sense evil spirits and their associations. When they signify angels or societies of angels, they are then fixed stars; but when evil spirits and their associations, they are wandering stars, as I have very frequently seen.
 That all things in the skies and on the earth are representative of celestial and spiritual things, has been evidenced by this plain indication, that things similar to those which appear before the eyes in the sky and on the earth, are also presented to view in the world of spirits, and this as plainly as in clear day; and there they are nothing but representatives. For instance, when the starry heaven appears, and the stars therein are fixed, it is instantly known that they signify things good and true; and when the stars appear wandering, it is instantly known that they signify things evil and false. From the very glow and sparkle of the stars it may also be known of what kind they are; besides numberless other things. Hence, if one is willing to think wisely, he may know what is the origin of all things on the earth, namely, that it is the Lord; and the reason why they come forth on the earth not ideally but actually, is that all things, both celestial and spiritual, which are from the Lord, are living and essential, or as they are called substantial, and therefore they come forth into actual existence in ultimate nature (n. 1632).
 That the stars represent and signify things good and true, may be seen from the following passages in the Word. In Isaiah:--
The stars of the heavens and the constellations thereof shine not with their light; the son has been darkened in his going forth, and the moon doth not cause her light to shine; and I will visit evil upon the world, and their iniquity upon the wicked (Isaiah 13:10, 11)
where the day of visitation is treated of. Every one can see that by "the stars" and "constellations" here are not meant the stars and constellations, but things true and good; and by "the sun," love; and by "the moon," faith for the evils and falsities which cause darkness are treated of.
 In Ezekiel:--
When I shall extinguish thee I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof black; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not make her light to shine all the luminaries of light I will make black over thee, and will set darkness upon thy land (Ezekiel 32:7, 8),
where the meaning is similar. In Joel:--
The earth quaked before Him, the heavens trembled, the sun and the moon were blackened, and the stars withdrew their shining (Joel 2:10; 3:15),
where the meaning is similar. In David:--
Praise Jehovah, sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars of light; praise Him, ye heavens of heavens (Ps. 148:3, 4),
meaning the same.
 That by the "stars" are not meant the stars, but things good and true, or what is the same, those who are in things good and true, as the angels are, is plainly said in John:--
I saw the Son of man; and He had in His right hand seven stars. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest upon My right hand, and the seven candlesticks: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches (Rev. 1:13, 16, 20).
The fourth angel sounded, so that the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; that the third part of them should be darkened, and the day shone not for the third part of it, and the night in like manner (Rev. 8:12),
where it is clearly evident that what is good and true was darkened. In Daniel:--
There came forth a little horn, which grew exceedingly toward the south and toward the east and toward adornment (decus) and it grew even to the army of the heavens; and some of the army and of the stars it cast down to the earth, and trampled upon them (Daniel 8:9, 10),
which words plainly show that "the army of the heavens" and "the stars" are things good and true, which were trampled upon.
 From these passages may be seen what is meant by the words of the Lord in Matthew:--
In the consummation of the age, immediately after the affliction of those days, the son shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (Matthew 24:29).
And in Luke:--
There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations in despair, the sea and the waves roaring (Luke 21:25);
where by "the sun" the sun is not meant at all, nor by "the moon" the moon, nor by "the stars" the stars, nor by "the sea" the sea; but the things which they represent, namely, by "the son" the celestial things of love, by "the moon" the spiritual things, by "the stars" things good and true, that is, the knowledges of what is good and true, which are thus darkened near the consummation of the age, when there is no faith, that is, no charity.
AC 1809. If thou canst number them. That this signifies the fruitfulness of love and the multiplication of faith, or what is the same, the fruitfulness of good and the multiplication of truth, may be seen without explication; for the words plainly mean that they cannot be numbered.
AC 1810. So shall thy seed be. That this signifies the heirs of the Lord‘s kingdom, is evident from the signification of "seed," as being love and the faith derived from it, or what is the same, those who are in love and faith, both angels and men. That "seed" has this signification has already in various places been stated and shown. These words signify in general the Lord’s kingdom, which is so vast and numerous that no one can ever credit it; so that it can only be expressed by IMMENSE. Its immensity will of the Lord‘s Divine mercy be treated of elsewhere; it is what is here signified by the words of this verse, "Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou canst number them; and He said unto him, so shall thy seed be." These words also signify the innumerable goods and truths of wisdom and intelligence, together with their attendant happiness, in every angel. GENESIS 15:5 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|