Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 16:3
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AC 1903. Verse 3. And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after ten years of Abram‘s dwelling in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram, her man, for a woman to him. "Sarai, Abram’s wife, took," signifies the affection of truth, which in the genuine sense is "Sarai the wife;" "Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid," signifies the life of the exterior man, and the affection of memory-knowledges; "after ten years of Abram‘s dwelling in the land of Canaan," signifies the remains of good and of the derivative truth which the Lord procured to Himself, and by means of which that rational was conceived; "and gave her to Abram, her man, for a woman to him," signifies conjunction through the incitation of the affection of truth.

AC 1904. Sarai, Abram’s wife, took. That this signifies the affection of truth, which in the genuine sense is "Sarai the wife," is evident from the signification of "Sarai," as being truth adjoined to good, and from the signification of a "wife," as being affection (n. 915, 1468). There are two affections distinct from each other,--affection of good, and affection of truth. When a man is being regenerated the affection of truth has the lead, for he is affected with truth for the sake of good; but when he has been regenerated the affection of good has the lead, and from good he is affected with truth. The affection of good is of the will; the affection of truth is of the understanding. Between these two affections the most ancient people instituted as it were a marriage. Good, or the love of good, they called man as a husband; truth, or the love of truth, they called man as a wife. The comparison of good and truth with marriage has its origin in the heavenly marriage.

[2] Regarded in themselves, good and truth have no life, but they derive their life from love or affection. They are only instrumentalities of life; and such as is the love that affects the good and truth, such is the life; for the whole of life is of love, or affection. Hence it is that Sarai the wife," in the genuine sense, signifies the affection of truth. And because in the case before us the intellectual desired the rational as an offspring, and because that which she speaks is of this desire or affection, it is therefore expressly said in this verse, "Sarai, Abram‘s wife, gave to Abram, her man," which there would have been no need of repeating if it did not involve such things in the internal sense, for in themselves these words would be superfluous.

[3] Intellectual truth is distinguished from rational truth, and this from truth in the form of memory-knowledge, as are what is internal, what is intermediate, and what is external. Intellectual truth is internal, rational truth is intermediate, truth of memory-knowledge is external. These are most distinct from each other, because one is more internal than another. With any man whatever, intellectual truth, which is internal, or in his inmost, is not the man’s, but is the Lord‘s with the man. From this the Lord flows into the rational, where truth first appears as belonging to man; and through the rational into the memory-knowledge; from which it is evident that man cannot possibly think as of himself from intellectual truth, but only from rational truth and truth of memory-knowledge, because these appear as if they were his.

[4] The Lord alone, when He lived in the world, thought from intellectual truth, for this was His Divine truth in conjunction with Good, or the Divine spiritual in conjunction with the Divine celestial, and herein was the Lord distinguished from every other man. To think from what is Divine as from himself is never possible to man, nor in man, but only in Him who was conceived of Jehovah. Because He thought from intellectual truth, that is, from the love or affection of intellectual truth, from it also He desired the rational, and this is why it is here said that "Sarai, Abram’s wife" (by whom is meant the affection of intellectual truth) "took Hagar the Egyptian, and gave her to Abram her husband, for a woman to him."

[5] The rest of the arcana that are herein cannot be unfolded and explained to the apprehension, because man is in the greatest obscurity, and in fact has no idea at all of the internal things within him, for he makes both the rational and the intellectual to consist in memory-knowledge, and is not aware that these are distinct from each other, so distinct indeed that the intellectual can exist apart from the rational, and also the rational that is derived from the intellectual, apart from the memory-knowledge. This cannot but seem a paradox to those who are in memory-knowledges, but still it is the truth. It is however impossible for any one to be in the truth that is in the form of memory-knowledge (that is, in the affection of this and the belief in it), unless he is in rational truth, into which and through which the Lord inflows from the intellectual. These arcana do not open to man except in the other life.

AC 1905. Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid. That this signifies the life of the exterior man, and the affection of memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification of "Hagar," (n. 1895, 1896); and from the signification of an "Egyptian," and also of a "handmaid," likewise explained there.

AC 1906. After ten years of Abram‘s dwelling in the land of Canaan. That this signifies the remains of good and of the derivative truth which the Lord procured to Himself, and by means of which that rational was conceived, is evident from the signification of "ten," as being remains, spoken of before (n. 576). What remains are, has been stated and shown above (n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 660, 661, 798, 1050), namely, that they are all the states of the affection of good and truth with which a man is gifted by the Lord, from earliest infancy even to the end of life; which states are stored up for him for the use of his life after death; for in the other life all the states of his life return in succession, and are then tempered by the states of good and truth with which he has been gifted by the Lord. The more remains therefore that a man has received in the life of the body, that is, the more of good and truth, the more delightful and beautiful do the rest of his states appear when they return. That this is really so may be evident to every one, if he will consider. When a man is born he has not a particle of good of himself, but is wholly defiled throughout with hereditary evil, and all that is good flows in, such as his love for his parents, his nurses, his companions; and this from innocence. Such are the things that flow in from the Lord through the heaven of innocence and peace, which is the inmost heaven, and thus is man imbued with them in his infancy.

[2] Afterwards, when he grows up, this good, innocent, and peaceful state of infancy recedes little by little and so far as he is introduced into the world, he comes into its pleasures, and into cupidities, and thus into evils and so far the celestial or good things of the age of infancy begin to disappear; but still they remain, and the states which the man afterwards puts on or acquires are tempered by them. Without them a man can never be a man, for the states of the cupidities, or of evil, if not tempered by states of the affection of good, would be more atrocious than those of any animal. These states of good are what are called remains, given by the Lord and implanted in one’s natural disposition, and this when the man is not aware of it.

[3] In after life he is also gifted with new states; but these are not so much states of good as states of truth, for as he is growing up he is imbued with truths, and these are in like manner stored up in him in his interior man. By these remains, which are those of truth, born of the influx of spiritual things from the Lord, man has the ability to think, and also to understand what the good and the truth of civic and moral life are, and also to receive spiritual truth or faith; but he cannot do this except by means of the remains of good that he had received in infancy. That there are remains, and that they are stored up in a man in his interior rational, is wholly unknown to man; and this because he supposes that nothing flows in, but that everything is natural to him, and born with him, thus that it is all in him when an infant, when yet the real case is altogether different. Remains are treated of in many parts of the Word, and by them are signified those states by which man becomes a man, and this from the Lord alone.

[4] But the remains that appertained to the Lord were all the Divine states which He procured for Himself, and by which He united the Human Essence to the Divine Essence. These cannot be compared to the remains that pertain to man, for the latter are not Divine, but human. It is the remains appertaining to the Lord that are signified by the "ten years in which Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan." When angels hear the Word, they do not know what the number ten is, but as soon as it is named by man the idea of remains occurs to them; for by "ten" and "tenths" in the Word are signified remains, as is evident from what was shown above (n. 576, 1738); and when a perception comes to them based on the idea of the end of the ten years that Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, the idea of the Lord comes to them, and at the same time innumerable things that are signified by the remains in the Lord during the time that He was in the world.

AC 1907. And gave her to Abram her man for a woman to him. That this signifies conjunction through the incitation of the affection of truth, is evident from what has already been said concerning Sarai, the wife of Abram, as being the affection of truth in the genuine sense; and from what has been said respecting the conjunction of the internal man with the life and affection of the exterior man, whence comes the rational. Hagar was not given to Abram for a wife, but for a woman; and this because it is according to a law of Divine order that it is not marriage unless it is that of one man and one wife. Conjugial love can never be divided. The love that is divided among a number is not conjugial love, but is that of lasciviousness, on which subject, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter.

GENESIS 16:3    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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