Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 16:9
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AC 1934. Verse 9. And the Angel of Jehovah said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and humble thyself under her hands. "The Angel of Jehovah said," signifies the response of the Lord‘s interior man; " Return to thy mistress," signifies that it was observed that it ought not to trust to itself, but to interior truth and to the affection of it; "and humble thyself under her hands," signifies that it ought to compel itself to be under its sovereign power.

AC 1935. The Angel of Jehovah said. That this signifies the response of the Lord’s interior man, is evident from the signification of "the Angel of Jehovah," as being the Lord‘s interior thought (n. 1925) and because it is thought, it is also response. The Lord’s interior thought was from the section of intellectual truth, and this affection was from the Divine good itself. Such thought, as before said, never exists in any man, nor can do so. In man also there is interior thought that flows in from the Lord through his internal man into the interior rational, with those who have conscience‘. as may be seen from the fact that they can observe the evil and falsity in their external man that is in conflict with the good and truth in the interior man. This thought is much lower and is not in any way to be compared to that of the Lord, which was from the affection of intellectual truth and was proper and peculiar to Him. But they who have not conscience cannot have interior thought, and therefore there is no conflict, the reason of which is that their rational acts as one and the same with the corporeal sensual; and though there is in them also a continual influx of good and truth from the Lord, yet they have no perception of it, because they forthwith extinguish and suffocate it, and this is why they do not believe any truth of faith.

AC 1936. Return to thy mistress. That this signifies that it was observed that it ought not to trust to itself, but to interior truth and the affection of it, is evident from the signification of her "mistress," as being the affection of interior truth. But what is specially signified by " Sarai" (by Sarai as a "wife," and by Sarai as a mistress"’) cannot be described, for it can be grasped by no idea; the things signified are, as before said, above the understanding, even that which is angelic. It is only suggested here how the Lord thought concerning the appearances that had engaged the attention of His first rational, namely, that they were not to be trusted, but Divine truths themselves, however incredible these might appear in the view of that rational. For such is the case with all truths Divine if the rational be consulted respecting them, they cannot possibly be believed, for they surpass all its comprehension. For example: that no man, spirit, or angel, lives from himself, but the Lord only; and that the life of a man, spirit, or angel is an appearance of life in him this is repugnant to the rational, which judges from fallacies, but still it is to be believed because it is the truth.

[2] It is a truth Divine that in every expression of the Word, which appears so simple and rude to man, there are things illimitable, nay, more than the universal heaven; and that the arcana which are therein may be presented before the angels by the Lord with perpetual variety to eternity. This is so incredible to the rational that it is unwilling to give it any credence at all; but still it is true.

[3] It is a truth Divine that no one is ever rewarded in the other life for good deeds, if he placed merit in them, or if he did them for the sake of gain, honor, and reputation; also that no one is ever punished for evil deeds if he acted from a truly good end; the ends being what are regarded, and from them the deeds. This too cannot be believed by the rational; but as it is true, the rational is not to be trusted, for it does not form its conclusions from internal things, but from external things.

[4] It is a truth Divine that he who aspires to the least joy in the other life, receives from the Lord the greatest, and that he who aspires to the greatest has the least, also that in heavenly joy there is never anything connected with being pre-eminent to others, and that in proportion as there is this, there is hell; also that in heavenly glory there is nothing whatever of worldly glory. These things also are repugnant to the rational, but still are to be believed, because they are true.

[5] It is also a truth Divine that the more any one believes nothing of wisdom to be from himself, the wiser he is; and that the more he believes it to be from himself, and thus the more he attributes prudence to himself, the more insane he is. This also the rational denies, because it supposes that what is not from itself is nothing. There are innumerable such things. From these few examples it may be seen that the rational is not to be trusted; for the rational is in fallacies and appearances, and it therefore rejects truths that are stripped of fallacies and appearances; and it does this the more, the more it is in the love of self and its cupidities, and the more it is in reasonings, and also in false principles respecting faith. See also the examples adduced above, (n. 1911).

AC 1937. Humble thyself under her hands. That this signifies that it ought to compel itself to be under its sovereign power, is evident without explication. "To humble, one‘s self" is expressed in the’ original tongue by a word which signifies "to afflict." That "to afflict one‘s self" is, in the internal sense, to compel one’s self, may be seen from very many passages in the Word, and will be treated of in what follows. That man ought to compel himself to do what is good, to obey the things commanded by the Lord, and to speak truths, which is to "humble himself under‘ the Lord’s hands, or to submit himself to the sovereign power of the Divine good and truth, involves more arcana than can be explained in a few words.

[2] There are certain spirits who during their life in the world, because they had been told that all good is from the Lord, and that a man can do nothing of himself, had held it as a principle not to compel themselves in anything, but to cease from all effort, thinking that as the case was so, all effort would be in vain; and therefore they had waited for immediate influx into the effort of their will, and did not compel themselves to do anything good, going so far that when anything evil crept in, as they felt no resistance from within, they resigned themselves to it also, supposing that it was permissible to do so. But these spirits are as it were devoid of what is their own, so that they have no determination to anything, and are therefore among the more useless, for they suffer themselves to be led alike by the evil and by the good, and suffer much from the evil.

[3] But they who have compelled themselves to resist what is evil and false- although at first they supposed that this was from themselves or from their own power, but were afterwards enlightened to see that their effort was from the Lord, even to the least of all the particulars of the effort - these in the other life cannot be led by evil spirits, but are among the happy. Thus we may see that a man ought to compel himself to do what is good and to speak what is true. The arcanum herein contained is that a man is thus gifted by the Lord with a heavenly Own, for this heavenly Own of man is formed in the effort of his thought; and if he does not maintain this effort by compelling himself (as the appearance is), he certainly does not maintain it by not compelling himself.

[4] That we may see how this is, let it be observed that in all self-compulsion to what is good there is a certain freedom, which is not discerned as such while the man is engaged in this self-compulsion, but still it is within. For instance, in one who is willing to undergo the risk of death for the sake of a certain end, or in one who is willing to suffer bodily pain for the sake of health, there is a willingness and thus a certain freedom from which the man acts, although the dangers and the pains, while he is in them, take away his perception of this willingness or freedom; and such is the case also with those who compel themselves to do what is good: there is a willingness within, and thus a freedom, from which and for the sake of which they compel themselves, that is to say, they do so for the sake of obedience to what the Lord has commanded, and for the sake of the salvation of their souls after death, within which although the man is not aware of it, there is still more interiorly a regard for the Lord‘s kingdom, and even for the Lord Himself.

[5] This is the case most of all during temptations, for in these-when the man compels himself to resist the evil and falsity which are infused and suggested by evil spirits there is more of freedom than is possible in any state out of temptations-although at the time the man cannot comprehend this-for there is an interior freedom, from which he wills to subjugate evil, and which is so great as to equal the force and strength of the evil that is assailing him, for otherwise he could not possibly wage the combat. This freedom is from the Lord, who insinuates it into the man’s conscience, and by means of it causes him to overcome the evil as from what is his own. Through this freedom man acquires an Own in which the Lord can work what is good. Without an Own acquired, that is, given, through freedom, no man can possibly be reformed, because he cannot receive the new will, which is conscience. The freedom thus given is the very plane into which there is an influx of good and truth from the Lord. Hence it is that they who in temptations do not resist from their own will, or in freedom, give way.

[6] In all freedom there is man‘s life, because there is his love. Whatever a man does from love appears to him free. But in this freedom, when the man is compelling himself to resist what is evil and false, and to do what is good, there is heavenly love, which the Lord then insinuates, and through which He creates the man’s Own; and therefore the Lord wills that it should appear to the man as his, although it is not his. This Own which man during his bodily life thus receives through what is apparently compulsory, is filled by the Lord in the other life with illimitable delights and happinesses. Such persons are also by degrees enlightened to see and even to be confirmed in the truth, that of themselves they have not compelled themselves one atom, but that all things of the effort of their will, even the smallest, had been from the Lord; and that the reason why it had appeared as if it was of themselves was in order that a new will might be given them by the Lord as their own, and that in this way the life of heavenly love might be appropriated to them. For the Lord wills to communicate to every one what is His, and therefore He wills to communicate what is heavenly, so that it may appear as the man‘s, and in him, although it is not his. The angels are in such an Own; and in proportion as they are in the truth that all good and truth are from the Lord, they are in the delight and happiness of this Own.

[7] But they who despise and reject all good and truth, and who are willing to believe nothing that is repugnant to their cupidities and reasonings, cannot compel themselves; and thus cannot receive this Own of conscience, or new will. From what has been said above it is also evident that to compel one’s self is not to be compelled; for no good ever comes from compulsion, as when a man is compelled by another man to do what is good; but it is evident that in the case we are now considering the self-compulsion comes from a certain freedom that is unknown to the man, since from the Lord there is never any compulsion. Hence it is a universal law that all that which is good and true is inseminated in freedom, for otherwise the ground cannot possibly receive and cherish that which is good, and in fact there is no ground in which the seed can grow.

GENESIS 16:9    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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