Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 16:2
AC 1897. Verse 2. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold I pray, Jehovah hath shut me up from bearing; go in I pray unto my handmaid; it may be that I shall be built up by her; and Abram harkened to the voice of Sarai. "Sarai said unto Abram," signifies that it was so perceived; "Behold I pray, Jehovah hath shut me up from bearing," signifies the state before the interior or Divine rational man was born; "go in I pray unto my handmaid," signifies conjunction with the exterior man; "it may be that I shall be built up by her," signifies that in this way the rational could be born. "And Abram harkened to the voice of Sarai," signifies that it could not be done in any other way.
AC 1898. Sarai said unto Abram. That this signifies that it was so perceived, is evident from the signification of "Sarai" and of "Abram," namely, that " Sarai" is truth adjoined to good, and "Abram" is the internal man; and therefore that "Sarai said to Abram," in the internal sense cannot signify any conversation, but perception. The Lord’s perception at that time was from truth adjoined to good, which dictated to Him how the case was. There is something similar with a celestial man who receives perception for there is something of truth adjoined to good which dictates afterwards there is good from which or through which the truth is perceived. (That "to say," in the internal sense, signifies to perceive, may be seen above, n. 1791, 1815, 1819, 1822).
AC 1899. Behold I pray, Jehovah hath shut me up from bearing. That this signifies the state before the interior or Divine rational man was born, is evident from what has been already said about the conception and birth of the rational man, namely, that the Lord‘s Divine rational man is represented by Isaac, but His first rational man, which was to become Divine, by Ishmael. In order that these things might be represented, Sarai remained so long barren, even until Ishmael had become a lad (spoken of in chapter 21) on which account it is here said that "Jehovah shut her up from bearing."
AC 1900. Go in I pray unto my handmaid. That this signifies conjunction with the exterior man, is also evident from what has been said before, namely, that man’s rational is conceived and born of the internal man as a father, and of the exterior man as a mother. Man‘s very life is from the internal man, which cannot have communication with the external, except a most obscure communication, until the receiving vessels that are of the memory have been formed, which is effected by means of knowledges (cognitiones et scientiae).
 The influx of the internal man goes into the knowledges of the exterior man; affection being the means. Meanwhile, before there are these knowledges, there is indeed a communication, but through affections alone, by which the external man is governed; but from this there exist only the most general motions, and certain appetites, also certain blind inclinations, such as show themselves in infants. But this life becomes by degrees more distinct in proportion as the vessels of the memory are formed by means of knowledges, and the vessels of the interior memory by means of rational things. As these vessels are formed, and are arranged in series--and indeed in such series that they mutually regard each other, comparatively like relationships by blood and by marriage, or like societies and families--thereby is perfected the correspondence of the external man with the internal, and still better is this done by means of rational things, which are intermediate.
 But still there is a want of congruity unless the knowledges by which the vessels are formed are truths for the celestial and spiritual things of the internal man find no correspondence for themselves except in truths. These are the genuine vessels in the organic forms of each memory, and to which the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith can be fitted in; for they are there arranged by the Lord according to the idea and image of the societies of heaven, or of His kingdom, insomuch that the man becomes, in least form, a heaven, or a kingdom of the Lord, as also the minds of those who are in the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith are called in the Word. But these things have been said for those who love to think more deeply.
AC 1901. It may be that I shall be built up by her. That this signifies that in this way the rational could be born, may be seen from the signification of being "built up," when predicated of generation, and thus without explication. By "Sarai," as has been said, is signified intellectual truth which has been adjoined as a wife to good. Intellectual truth, which appertains to the inmost, is altogether barren, or like a childless mother, when as yet there is not any rational into which and through which it may inflow; for without the rational as a medium intellectual truth cannot inflow with any truth into the exterior man, as may be seen from the case of little children, who can know nothing whatever of truth until they have been imbued with knowledges; but, as before said, the better and more perfectly they are imbued with knowledges, so much the better and more perfectly can intellectual truth which appertains to the inmost, or to good, be communicated.
 This intellectual truth, represented by Sarai, is the spiritual itself which flows in through heaven, and this by an internal way, and with every man; and it continually meets the knowledges that are instituted by means of the things of sense, and are implanted in the memory. Man is not aware of this intellectual truth because it is too pure to be perceived by a general idea. It is like a kind of light that illuminates the mind, and confers the faculty of knowing, thinking, and understanding. As the rational cannot come into existence except by means of the influx of the intellectual truth represented by Sarai, it stands related to this truth as a son. When the rational is being formed from truths that have been adjoined to good, and still more when it is being formed from the goods from which are truths, it is then a genuine son. Before this it is indeed acknowledged as a son, yet not as a genuine son, but as coming from a handmaid; and still it is adopted, which is the reason why it is here said that she might be built up by her.
AC 1902. And Abram harkened to the voice of Sarai. That this signifies that it could not be done in any other way, may be seen from the connection in the internal sense, and from the necessity that exists for the rational to be born in this way. If man were imbued with no hereditary evil, the rational would then be born immediately, from the marriage of the celestial things of the internal man with its spiritual things, and the faculty of knowing would be born through the rational, so that on coming into the world a man would at once have in himself all the faculty of reason and of knowing, for this would be in accordance with the order of influx, as may be inferred from the fact that all animals whatever are born into all the faculty of knowing that is necessary and helpful in securing food, safety, habitation, and procreation, because their nature is in accordance with order. Why then is man not born into it, except for the reason that order has been destroyed in him, for he alone is born into no knowledge?
 The cause of his being so born is evil inherited from his father and mother. By reason of this all his faculties are turned in a contrary direction in regard to truths and goods, and therefore cannot be reduced into correspondent forms by the immediate influx of what is celestial and spiritual from the Lord. This is the reason why man’s rational must be formed by an altogether different process, that is, in a different way, namely, by means of knowledges (scientifica et cognitiones) introduced throw the senses, thus flowing in by an external way, and so in inverted order. Man is thus made rational by the Lord in a miraculous manner. This is meant by "going in unto the handmaid," by which is signified the conjunction of the internal man with the exterior man; and also by "Abram‘s hearkening to the voice of Sarai," which signifies that it could not be done in any other way.
 The Lord, being born as are other men, and because He had a nature inherited from the mother, was like other men also in respect to the miraculous formation of the rational by means of knowledges, to the end that by combats of temptations and by victories He might reduce all things into order. Therefore was His rational conceived and born in the same way as with other men, but with the difference that inmostly in all things that were His, in both general and particular, there was the Divine, or Jehovah, and thus the life of love toward the whole human race, for whom and for whose salvation He fought in all His temptations.GENESIS 16:2 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|