Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 16:6
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AC 1918. Verse 6. And Abram said unto Sarai, Behold thy handmaid is in thy hand, do to her that which is good in thine eyes; and Sarai humbled her, and she fled from her face. "Abram said unto Sarai," signifies perception; "Behold thy handmaid is in thy hand," signifies that the rational that was conceived was in the power of truth adjoined to good "do to her that which is good in thine eyes," signifies absolute control; "and Sarai humbled her," signifies subjugation; "and she fled from her face," signifies the indignation of this rational that was first conceived.

AC 1919. Abram said unto Sarai. That this signifies perception, is evident from what was said above (n. 1898). The Lord’s perception was represented and is here signified by this which Abram said to Sarai; but His thought from the perception, by that which Sarai said to Abram. The thought was from the perception. They who are in perception think from nothing else; but still perception is one thing and thought another. To show that this is the case, take conscience as an illustration.

[2] Conscience is a kind of general dictate, and thus an obscure one, of the things that flow in through the heavens from the Lord. Those which flow in present themselves in the interior rational man and are there as in a cloud, which cloud is from appearances and fallacies concerning the truths and goods of faith. But thought is distinct from conscience, and yet it flows from conscience; for they who have conscience think and speak according to it, and the thought is little else than an unfolding of the things which are of conscience, and thereby the partition of them into ideas and then into words. Hence it is that they who have conscience are kept by the Lord in good thoughts respecting the neighbor, and are withheld from thinking evil; and therefore conscience can have no place except with those who love their neighbor as themselves, and think well concerning the truths of faith. From what has been advanced we may see what the difference is between conscience and thought; and from this we may know what the difference is between perception and thought.

[3] The Lord‘s perception was immediately from Jehovah, and thus from the Divine good; but His thought was from intellectual truth and the affection of it, as before said (n. 1904, 1914). The Lord’s Divine perception cannot he apprehended by any idea, not even of angels, and therefore it cannot be described. The perception of the angels (n. 1384, 1394, 1395) is scarcely anything in comparison with the perception which the Lord had. The Lord‘s perception, being Divine, was a perception of all things in the heavens, and therefore also of all things on earth, for such is the order, connection, and influx, that he who is in the perception of the former is also in the perception of the latter.

[4] But after the Lord’s Human Essence had been united to His Divine Essence, and at the same time had become Jehovah, the Lord was then above that which is called perception, because He was above the order that is in the heavens and thence on the earth. It is Jehovah who is the source of order, and hence it may be said that Jehovah is Order itself, for He from Himself governs order; not as is supposed in the universal only, but also in the veriest singulars, for the universal comes from these. To speak of the universal, and to separate from it the singulars, could be nothing else than to speak of a whole in which there are no parts, and therefore to speak of a something in which there is nothing. So that to say that the Lord‘s Providence is universal, and is not a Providence of the veriest singulars, is to say what is utterly false, and is what is called an ens rationis (that is, a figment of the imagination). For to provide and govern in the universal, and not in the veriest singulars, is to provide and govern absolutely nothing. This is true philosophically, and yet wonderful to say, philosophers themselves, even those who soar the highest, apprehend the matter differently, and think differently.

AC 1920. Behold thy handmaid is in thy hand. That this signifies that the rational that was conceived was in the power of the affection of truth that is adjoined to good, is evident from the signification of the "hand," as being power (n. 878); and from the signification of "Hagar the Egyptian," as being the affection of memory-knowledges. After the rational had been conceived by the influx of the internal man into the life of the affection of memory-knowledges of the exterior man, then by the "handmaid" is also meant that tender rational which was in the womb, but which when born and grown, is represented by Ishmael, who is treated of in what follows. That the Lord had sovereign control over the rational that was in Him, and that He subjugated it by His own power, will be seen from what will be said presently.

AC 1921. Do to her that which is good in thine eyes. That this signifies absolute control, is evident without explication. In the internal sense these words represent and signify that the Lord, from His own power, conquered, subjugated, and expelled the evil which from His hereditary nature had insinuated itself also into this first rational, for as has been said the rational was conceived of the internal man, which was Jehovah, as a father, and was born of the exterior man as a mother. Whatever was born from the exterior man had the hereditary nature with it, and therefore it had evil with it. It was this that the Lord conquered, subjugated, and expelled, and at let made Divine (His rational) by His own power. That it was by His own power is evident from everything contained in this verse, as from its being said, "Thy handmaid is in thy hand," by which is signified that rational was in His sovereign power; and now, "Do to her that which is good in thine eyes," by which is signified absolute control over it; and then, "Sarai humbled her," by which is signified subjugation.

[2] The words now under consideration were said to Sarai, by whom is represented the intellectual truth that belonged to the Lord Himself, and from which He thought (n. 1904, 1914), and from which He had absolute control over the rational and also over the natural that was of the exterior man. He who thinks from intellectual truth, and perceives from Divine good-which good also was His, because the Father’s, for the Father was His soul and He had no other-cannot do otherwise than act from His own power. And therefore, because by His own power He subdued and cast out the evil of His hereditary nature, He also by His own power united the Human Essence to the Divine Essence, for the one is a consequence of the other.

[3] He who is conceived of Jehovah has no other internal, that is no other soul, than Jehovah; and therefore as to His veriest life the Lord was Jehovah Himself. Jehovah, or the Divine Essence, cannot be divided, as can the soul of a human father, from which offspring is conceived. So far as this offspring recedes from the likeness of the father, so far it recedes from the father, and this it does more and more as age advances. It is from this that a father‘s love for his children diminishes with their advance in age. It was not so with the Lord; as age advanced He did not recede as to the Human Essence, but continually drew nearer, even to perfect union. Hence it is evident that He is the same as Jehovah the Father, as He also clearly teaches (John 14:6, 8-11).

AC 1922. And she humbled her. That this signifies subjugation, follows from what has been said.

AC 1923. And she fled from her face. That this signifies the indignation of this rational that was first conceived, is also evident without explication, for to flee from any one’s face is nothing else than not to endure his presence, and pertains to indignation. Here is described the indignation of this rational against intellectual truth, because intellectual truth, or the Lord, willed to humble or subjugate it. When the rational rises up against the intellectual, an intestine combat arises together with indignation on the part of that which is being subjugated, as is the case in temptations, which are nothing but intestine combats, being disputes and contentions about sovereign power and control, between evils on the one side and goods on the other.

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