Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 16:1
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AC 1892. Verse 1. And Sarai, Abram‘s wife, did not bear unto him; and she had a handmaid, an Egyptian, and her name was Hagar. "Sarai, Abram’s wife, did not bear unto him," signifies that as yet there was no rational man; " Sarai" is truth adjoined to good; "Abram" is the Lord‘s internal man, which was Jehovah. "And she had a handmaid, an Egyptian," signifies the affection of memory-knowledges; "and her name was Hagar," signifies the life of the exterior or natural man.

AC 1893. Sarai, Abram’s wife, did not bear unto him. That this signifies that the rational man was not yet, will be evident from what follows, where Isaac is treated of. For, as has been said, there are in every man an internal man, a rational man that is intermediate, and an external, which is properly called the natural man. With the Lord these were represented by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the internal man by Abraham, the rational by Isaac, and the natural by Jacob. The internal man in the Lord was Jehovah Himself, for He was conceived of Jehovah; on this account He so often called Him His "Father," and in the Word He is called the "Only-begotten of God," and the only "Son of God." The rational man is not born with man, but only the capacity for becoming rational, as all may see from the fact that new-born infants are not endowed with any reason, but become rational in process of time by means of things of sense external and internal, as they are imbued with knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones). In children indeed there is an appearance of rationality, yet it is not rationality, but is only a kind of rudiment of it, which is known from the fact that reason belongs to adults and men of years.

[2] The rational man in the Lord is treated of in this chapter. The Divine Rational itself is represented by Isaac; but the first rational before it was made Divine, by Ishmael; and therefore that "Sarai, Abram‘s wife, did not bear unto him" here signifies that hitherto there was no Divine rational. As before said, the Lord was born as are other men, and as regards all that He drew from Mary the mother He was like other men; and as the rational is formed by means of knowledges (scientifica et cognitiones), which enter through things of the external senses, or those of the external man, therefore His first rational was born as with any other man; but as by His own power He made Divine all the human things that appertained to Him, so did He also make the rational Divine. His first rational is described in this chapter, and also in chapter 21, where Hagar and Ishmael are likewise treated of (Genesis 21:9-21), and it is said that Ishmael was expelled when Isaac grew up, by whom is represented the Divine rational.

AC 1894. That Sarai is truth adjoined to good, has been said and shown before (n. 1468), as also that Abram is the Lord’s internal man, which is Jehovah. The Lord‘s internal man, which is Jehovah, is called Man, because no one is man except Jehovah alone; for man, in the genuine sense, signifies that Esse from which man is. The Esse itself from which man is, is the Divine, consequently the celestial and the spiritual. Without the Divine celestial and spiritual, there is nothing human in man, but only a sort of animal nature, such as there is in beasts. It is from the Esse of Jehovah, or of the Lord, that every man is man; and from this also he is called man. The celestial which makes the man is that he loves the Lord and loves the neighbor; in this way is he man, because he is an image of the Lord, and because he has this from the Lord; otherwise he is a wild beast.

[2] That Jehovah or the Lord is the only Man, and that men have it from Him that they are called men, also that one is more man than another, may be seen above (n. 49, 288, 477, 565); and the same may also be seen from the fact that Jehovah, or the Lord, appeared as Man to the fathers of the Most Ancient Church, and afterwards also to Abraham and to the prophets; and on this account also the Lord, after there was no man any longer on the earth, or no longer anything celestial and spiritual among men, deigned to assume the human nature by being born as are other men, and to make that nature Divine; and in this way also He is the only Man. Besides, the universal heaven presents before the Lord the image of a man, because it presents Himself. From this, heaven is called the Grand Man, and this especially from the fact that the Lord there is all in all.

AC 1895. And she had a handmaid, an Egyptian. That this signifies the affection of memory-knowledges (scientiae), is evident from the signification of a "handmaid," and from the signification of "Egypt." Sarai, who was the mistress or lady, represents and signifies truth adjoined to good, as already said. Truth adjoined to good is intellectual truth in the genuine sense, but rational truth is beneath this and therefore is lower; and this rational truth is born from knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones) vivified by the affection that corresponds to them, and this affection, being of the exterior man, ought to serve the intellectual truth that appertains to the inmost man, as a handmaid serves her lady, or a household servant her mistress; and therefore this affection is what is represented and signified by the "handmaid Hagar."

[2] How these things stand cannot well be stated to the apprehension, for it must first be known what intellectual truth in the genuine sense is, and also how the rational is born, namely, from the internal man as a father, and from the exterior or natural man as a mother, for without the conjunction of these two nothing rational can possibly come forth. The rational is not born (as is supposed) of knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones), but of the affection of these knowledges, as may be seen from the mere fact that no one can ever become rational unless some delight or affection of these knowledges aspires thereto. The affection is the maternal life itself; and the celestial and spiritual itself, in the affection, is the paternal life; therefore in proportion to the affection, and in accordance with the quality of the affection, in the same proportion, and in the same quality, does the man become rational. In themselves these knowledges are nothing but dead things, or instrumental causes, which are vivified by the life of affection; and such is the conception of the rational man in everyone. The reason why the handmaid was an Egyptian, and the reason why this fact is stated, is that "Egypt" signifies memory-knowledges (scientiae) (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462).

AC 1896. And her name was Hagar. That this signifies the life of the exterior or natural man, may be seen from what has been said, and also from the meaning of "Hagar," which is "a stranger" or "sojourner." Strangers represented those who were to be instructed, and sojourning represented instruction and also principles of life (vitae instituta) (n. 1463). When any one’s name is stated in the Word, as here that "her name was Hagar," it signifies that something is involved in the name to which attention should be given, for to "call by name" means to know a person‘s quality (n. 144, 145, 340). No syllable in the Word is there without a cause, or without a signification in the internal sense of some actual thing.

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