Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 16:11
previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AC 1942. Verse 11. And the Angel of Jehovah said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Ishmael: because Jehovah hath hearkened to thine affliction. "The Angel of Jehovah said unto her," signifies the thought of the interior man; "Behold, thou art with child," signifies the life of the rational man; "and shalt bear a son," signifies the truth of the same; "and thou shalt call his name lshmael," signifies the state of its life "because Jehovah hath hearkened to thine affliction," signifies while it was submitting itself.

AC 1943. The Angel of Jehovah said. That this signifies the thought of the interior man, is evident from what is said above at (verses 7, 9, and 10).

AC 1944. Behold, thou art with child. That this signifies the life of the rational man, is evident from what is said above concerning the conception of this and from what follows concerning Ishmael, namely, that by him is signified the first rational in the Lord. It is to be known concerning the rational man in general that it is said to receive life, to be in the womb, and to be born, when the man begins to think that the evil and falsity in himself is that which contradicts and is opposed to truth and good, and still more is this the case when he wills to remove and subjugate this evil and falsity. Unless he can perceive and become sensible of this, he has no rational, however much he may imagine that he has. For the rational is the medium that unites the internal man with the external, and thereby perceives from the Lord what is going on in the external man, and reduces the external man to obedience, nay, elevates it from the corporeal and earthly things in which it immerses itself, and causes the man to be man, and to look to heaven to which he belongs by birth; and not, as do brute animals, solely to the earth in which he is merely a sojourner, still less to hell. These are the offices of the rational, and therefore a man cannot be said to have any rational unless he is such that he can think in this manner; and whether the rational is coming into existence is known from his life in his use or function.

[2] To reason against good and truth, while they are denied at heart, and only known by hearing about them, is not to have a rational, for many can do this who openly rush without any restraint into all wickedness. The only difference is that those who suppose that they have a rational and have it not, maintain a certain decorum in their discourse and act from a pretended honorableness, in which they are held by external bonds, such as fear of the law, of the loss of property, of honor, of reputation, and of life. If these bonds, which are external, were to be taken away, some of these men would rave more insanely than those who rush into wickedness without restraint, so that no one can be said to have a rational merely because he can reason. The fact is that those who have no rational usually discourse from the things of sense and of memory-knowledge much more skillfully than those who have it.

[3] This is very clearly evident from evil spirits in the other life, who although accounted as being preeminently rational while they have lived in the body, yet when the external bonds which caused their decorum of discourse and their pretended honorableness of life are taken away, as is usual with all in the other life, they are more insane than those who in this world are openly so, for they rush into all wickedness without horror, fear, or shame. Not so those who while they lived in this world had been rational, for when the external bonds are taken away from them, they are still more sane, because they have had internal bonds-bonds of conscience-by which the Lord kept their thoughts bound to the laws of truth and good, which were their rational principles.

AC 1945. And shalt bear a son. That this signifies the truth, namely, of the rational here referred to, and which is signified by "Ishmael," is evident from the signification of a "son," as being truth (n. 264, 489, 491, 533, 1147). This truth is described in the next verse.

AC 1946. And thou shalt call his name Ishmael. This signifies the state of the life. In ancient times names were bestowed on sons and daughters that were significant of the state in which the parents were, especially the mothers when they conceived, or while they were with child, or when they brought forth; or the state in which the infants were when born, so that the names were significative. From what Ishmael had his name is here explained, namely, "because Jehovah hearkened to the affliction referring to his mother’s state. But what Ishmael represents is described in the verse following.

AC 1947. Because Jehovah hath hearkened to thine affliction. That this signifies while it was submitting itself, is evident (n. 1937), in that to "humble and afflict one‘s self" denotes to submit to the sovereign control of the internal man, which submission was there treated of, and it is shown that this is to compel one’s self; also that in compelling one‘s self there is freedom, that is, what is spontaneous and voluntary, by which compelling one’s self is distinguished from being compelled. It was also shown that without this freedom, that is, spontaneity or willingness, man cannot possibly be reformed and receive any heavenly Own; and further that there is more of freedom in temptations than out of them, although the contrary appears to be the case, for the freedom is then stronger in proportion to the assaults of evils and falsities, and is strengthened by the Lord in order that a heavenly Own may be conferred upon the man; and for this reason the Lord is more present with us while we are in temptations. It was shown further that the Lord never compels any one; for he who is compelled to think what is true and do what is good is not reformed, but thinks falsity and wills evil all the more. All compulsion has this effect, as we may see from the records and examples of life, for from them we know these two things: that consciences do not suffer themselves to be compelled, and that we strive after what is forbidden. Moreover every one desires to pass from non-freedom into freedom, for this belongs to man‘s life.

[2] Hence it is evident that anything which is not from freedom, that is, which is not from what is spontaneous or voluntary, is not acceptable to the Lord; for when any one worships the Lord from what is not free, he worships from nothing that is his own, and in this case it is the external which moves, that is, which is moved, from being compelled, while the internal is null, or resistant, or is even contradictory to it. While man is being regenerated, he, from the freedom with which he is gifted by the Lord, exercises self-compulsion, and humbles and even afflicts his rational, in order that it may submit itself, and thereby he receives a heavenly Own, which is afterwards gradually perfected by the Lord, and is made more and more free, so that it becomes the affection of good and thence of truth, and has delight, and in both the freedom and the delight there is happiness like that of angels. This freedom is what the Lord speaks of in John:--

The truth shall make you free; if the Son made you free, he shall be free indeed (John 8:32, 36).

[3] The nature of this freedom is utterly unknown to those who do not possess conscience, for they make freedom consist in doing as they please and in the license of thinking and speaking what is false, of willing and doing what is evil, and of not compelling and humbling, still less of afflicting such desires; when yet the very reverse is the case, as the Lord also teaches in the same gospel:--

Every one that committeth sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34).

This slavish freedom they receive from the infernal spirits who are with them and who infuse it, and when they are in the life of these spirits they are also in their loves and cupidities, and an impure and excrementitious delight breathes upon them, and when they are being as it were carried away by the torrent, they suppose themselves to be in freedom, but it is infernal freedom. The difference between this infernal freedom and heavenly freedom is that the one is that of death, and drags them down to hell, while the other, or heavenly freedom, is of life and uplifts them to heaven.

[4] That all true internal worship comes from freedom, and none from compulsion, and that if worship is not from freedom it is not internal worship, is evident from the Word, as from the sacrifices that were freewill offerings or vows, or offerings of peace or of thanksgiving; which were called "gifts" and "offerings" (Num. 15:3; Deut. 12:6; 16:10, 11; 23:23, 24). So in David:

With a free-will offering will I sacrifice unto Thee I will confess to Thy name, O Jehovah, for it is good (Ps. 54:6).

So again from the contribution or collection which they were to make for the Tabernacle, and for the garments of holiness, spoken of in Moses:--

Speak unto the sons of Israel, and let them take for Me an offering; from every man whom his heart impels willingly ye shall take My offering (Exod. 25:2).

And again:--

Whosoever is of a willing heart let him bring it, Jehovah’s offering (Exod. 35:5).

[5] Moreover the humiliation of the rational man, or its affliction (from freedom, as before said), was also represented by the affliction of souls on days of solemnity, as mentioned in Moses:--

It shall be a statute of eternity unto you; in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, ye shall afflict your souls (Lev. 16:29).

And again:--

On the tenth of the seventh month, this is the day of expiations; there shall be a holy convocation unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; even soul that shall not have afflicted itself in that same day, shall be cut off from his peoples (Lev. 23:27, 29).

It was for this reason that the unleavened bread, in which there was nothing fermented, is called the "bread of affliction," (Deut. 16:2, 3).

[6] "Affliction" is thus spoken of in David:--

Jehovah, who shall sojourn in Thy tent? who shall dwell in the mountain of Thy holiness? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness; he that sweareth to afflict himself, and changeth not (Ps. 15:1, 2, 4).

That "affliction" denotes the mastering and subjugation of the Evils and falsities that rise up from the external man into the rational, may be seen from what has been said. Thus "affliction" does not mean that we should plunge ourselves into poverty and wretchedness, or that we should renounce all bodily delights, for in this way evil is not mastered and subjugated; and moreover some other evil may be aroused, namely, a sense of merit on account of the renunciation; and besides, man‘s freedom suffers, in which alone, as in ground, the good and truth of faith can be inseminated. Concerning "affliction" as denoting also temptation, (n. 1846).

GENESIS 16:11    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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