Spiritual background for GENESIS 16    previous  -  next  -  text  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AC 1886. This chapter treats of Hagar and Ishmael. But what is represented and signified in the internal sense by Hagar and Ishmael has not hitherto been known to any one, nor could be, because the world, even the learned world, has hitherto supposed the histories of the Word to be nothing but histories, and to involve nothing deeper. And although they have said that every iota is Divinely inspired, they have meant nothing further than that the historical facts have been disclosed, and that something of a doctrinal nature that could be applied to the doctrine of faith may be deduced from them and be of use to both teachers and learners; and that because these have been Divinely inspired they have Divine power in the mind, and work for good above all other history. Regarded in themselves, however, historical matters effect but little toward man’s amendment, and nothing at all for his eternal life, since in the other life they are forgotten. For what would it amount to there to know respecting the maid Hagar that she was given by Sarai to Abram? Or to know about Ishmael, or even about Abram? Nothing but what belongs to the Lord and is from the Lord is necessary to souls in order that they may enter into heaven and enjoy its happiness, that is, eternal life. It is for the sake of these things that the Word exists, and these are the things that are contained in its interiors.

AC 1887. Inspiration implies that in every particular of the Word (as well in the historicals as in the other parts) there are celestial things which are of love or good, and spiritual things which are of faith or truth, thus Divine things. For that which is inspired by the Lord descends from Him, and does so through the angelic heaven, and so through the world of spirits down to man, with whom it is presented such as it is in the letter; but in its first origin it is altogether different. In heaven there is never any worldly history, but all is representative of Divine things, and there is no perception there of anything else, as may also be known from the fact that the things which are there are unutterable. Unless therefore the historicals were representative of Divine things, and in this way were heavenly, they could not possibly be Divinely inspired. The Word as it exists in the heavens can be known solely from the internal sense, for the internal sense is the Word of the Lord in the heavens.

AC 1888. That the sense of the letter of the Word is representative of Divine arcana, and that it is the receptacle and thus the repository of the Lord‘s celestial and spiritual things, may be illustrated by two examples first, that by "David" is not meant David, but the Lord; second, that the names signify nothing but actual things, and therefore it must be the same with all the rest of the Word. Concerning David it is said in Ezekiel:--

My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall dwell upon the land, they and their sons and their sons’, even to eternity and David My servant shall be their prince to eternity (Ezekiel 37:24, 25).

And in Hosea:--

The sons of Israel shall return, and shall seek Jehovah their God, and David their king (Hosea 3:5).

These things were written by the prophets after the time of David, and yet it is plainly said that he shall be their king and prince, from which all may see that in the internal sense it is the Lord who is meant by "David." And the case is the same in all other passages, even those which are historical, where David is named.

[2] That the names of kingdoms, regions, cities, and men, signify actual things, may be clearly seen in the Prophets. Take merely this example in Isaiah:--

Thus said the Lord, Jehovih Zebaoth, O My people, thou inhabitant of Zion, be not afraid of Asshur he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff upon thee in the way of Egypt. Jehovah of Armies shall stir up a scourge for him according to the plague of Midian at the rock of Horeb and as His rod was upon the sea, so shall He lift it up in the way of Egypt. He shall come against Aiath, He shall pass over to Migron, at Michmash shall He command His arms; they shall pass over Mabarah; Geba is a lodging-place for us; Ramah shall tremble; Gibeah of Saul shall flee; cry aloud with thy voice, O daughter of Gallim; hearken, O Laish; O thou poor Anathoth; Madmenah shall wander; the inhabitants of Gebim shall gather themselves together as yet there is a day for a stand at Nob the mountain of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem, shall shake her hand He shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a magnificent one (Isaiah 10:24, 26-34).

[3] Here there is almost nothing but names, from which no sense would appear unless all the names signified actual things and if the mind were to abide in the names, this would never be acknowledged to be the Word of the Lord. But who will believe that in the internal sense they all contain arcana of heaven? and that by them is described the state of those who are endeavoring to enter into the mysteries of faith by reasonings from memory-knowledges (scientifica)? some special thing belonging to that state being described by each name; and that the meaning is that these reasonings are dispersed by the Lord by means of the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith. That the reasoning here treated of is signified by "Asshur," may be clearly seen from what has been already shown concerning Asshur (n. 119, 1186); also that memory-knowledges are signified by "Egypt" (n. 1164, 1165, 1462); which see and examine. The case is the same with all other names, and also with all the several words.

AC 1889. In this chapter it is the same with the names Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and Ishmael; and what they involve may be seen from the CONTENTS, and further on from the explication of each name in its place. But these matters are of a nature that does not admit of easy explication, for the subject treated of in connection with these names is the Lord‘s rational, and how it was conceived and born, and what its quality was before it was united to the Lord’s Internal, which was Jehovah. The reason why this subject is not of easy explication, is that at this day it is not known what the internal man is, what the interior, and what the exterior. When the rational is spoken of, or the rational man, some idea can be formed of it; but when it is said that the rational is the intermediate between the internal and the external, few if any comprehend it. Yet as the subject here treated of in the internal sense is the Lord‘s Rational Man, and how it was conceived and born by the influx of the internal man into the external, and as it is these very matters that are involved in the historical facts stated concerning Abram, Hagar, and Ishmael, therefore in order to prevent what we have to say in the following explication from being utterly unintelligible, be it known that in every man there is an internal man, a rational man which is intermediate, and an external man, and that these are most distinct from one another. (n. 978).


AC 1966. Few know how the case is with visions, and what visions are genuine; but as for some years I have been almost continually with those who are in the other life and have there seen amazing things, I have in this way been informed by experience itself in regard to visions and dreams, concerning which I may relate what follows.

AC 1967. Much has been said about the visions of certain persons who have declared that they have seen many things, and who did see them, but in phantasy. I have been instructed about them, and it was likewise shown how they take place. There are spirits who by means of phantasies induce appearances that seem to be real. For example, if anything is seen in shadow, or in moonlight, or even in daylight, if the object be in a dark place, these spirits keep the mind of the beholder fixedly and continually in the thought of some one thing, be it an animal, a monster, a forest, or any other thing; and so long as the mind is held in this thought, the phantasy is increased, and it grows to such a degree that the person is persuaded, and sees just as if the things themselves were there, whereas they are nothing but illusions. Such things befall those who indulge much in fancies, and are subject to infirmity of mind, and have thereby become credulous. These are visionaries.

AC 1968. Enthusiastic spirits are similar, but these have visions about things to be believed, of which they are persuaded and persuade others so strongly as to be ready to swear that what is false is true, and that a fallacy is a reality. Concerning this nature of spirits, many things might be related from experience; but of the Lord’s Divine mercy they will be treated of specifically. They have contracted this nature from persuasions and false principles, while they lived in the world.

AC 1969. Evil spirits in the other life are scarcely anything but cupidities and phantasies. They have acquired to themselves no other life. Their phantasies are such that they have no perception whatever but that the case is so. Men‘s phantasies cannot be compared with theirs, for their state surpasses that of men even in regard to such things. Such phantasies are perpetual with the infernals, among whom one miserably torments another by means of phantasies.

AC 1970. By genuine visions are meant visions or sights of such things in the other life as have real existence, and are nothing but actual things that can be seen by the eyes of the spirit and not by the eyes of the body, and that appear to a man when his interior sight is opened by the Lord (that is, the sight which his spirit has), and into which he comes when, separated from the body, he passes into the other life; for a man is a spirit clothed with a body. Such were the visions of the prophets. When this sight is opened, then those things which have actual existence with spirits are seen in clearer day than that of noon in this world, not only the representatives, but also the spirits themselves, together with a perception of who they are, also what they are, where they are, whence they come, whither they I are going; also of what affection, what persuasion, nay. of what faith they are (n. 1388, 1394), all confirmed by living speech, I exactly as if it were human speech, and this free from all fallacy.

AC 1971. The visions that come forth before good spirits are representatives of the things that are in heaven; for when that which exists in heaven before the angels passes down into the world of spirits, it is turned into representatives, from which and in which it may be plainly seen what they signify. Such things are perpetual with good spirits, and are attended with a beauty and pleasantness than can hardly be expressed.

AC 1972. As regards the visions, or rather sights, that appear before the eyes of the spirit, not before the eyes of the body, they are more and more interior. Those which I have seen in the world of spirits I have seen in clear light, but those in the heaven of angelic spirits I have seen more obscurely, and still more obscurely those in the heaven of angels, for the sight of my spirit has rarely been opened to me so far, but it has been given me to know what they were saying, by a certain perception, the nature of which cannot be described, and frequently through intermediate spirits; the things which are there have sometimes appeared in the shade of the light of heaven, which is not like the shade of the light of the world, for it is light growing thin and faint from its incomprehensibility equally as discerned by the understanding and by the sight.

AC 1973. To describe all the kinds of visions would be too tedious, for there are many. For the sake of illustration, I may describe two visions, from which their character may be seen; and also at the same time how spirits are affected by the things which they see, and how evil spirits are tormented when the ability to see the things that others are seeing and hearing is stolen away from them, for they cannot bear to have any such thing taken away from them; for spirits have not the sense of taste, but in place of it they have a desire, or a kind of appetite, for knowing and learning. This is as it were their food by which they are nourished (n. 1480). The nature of their distress, therefore, when this food is taken away may be seen from the example that follows.

AC 1974. After a troubled sleep, about the first watch, a very pleasant sight was presented. There were wreaths as of laurel, quite fresh, in most beautiful order, with motion as if alive: of such form and elegance of arrangement that description fails to express their beauty and harmony, and the affection of bliss that flowed forth from them. They were in a double series, at a little distance from each other, and running on together to a considerable length, and constantly varying the state of their beauty. This was plainly seen by spirits, even by evil ones. This was afterwards followed by another sight still more beautiful, in which there was heavenly happiness, but it was only dimly visible: there were infants in their heavenly sports, that affected the mind in a manner inexpressible.

[2] I afterwards spoke with spirits concerning these sights, who confessed that they saw the first as much as I did, but the second only so dimly that they could not tell what it was. This caused them to feel indignation, and afterwards by degrees envy, from the fact that it was said that angels and little children had seen it; and this envy of theirs it was given me to perceive sensibly, so that nothing escaped me so far as concerned my instruction. The envy was of such a nature as to cause in them not merely the utmost annoyance, but also a feeling of anguish and interior pain and this merely because they did not see the second vision also, and the consequence was that they were led through varieties of envy until they were in pain in the region of the heart.

[3] While they were in this state I spoke with them about the envy, telling them that they might be content with having seen the first vision, and that they would have been able to see the second also if they had been good; but this excited in them a feeling of indignation which intensified their envy, causing it to increase further to such a degree that they could not afterwards bear the least recollection of the matter without being affected with pain. The states and progressions of the envy, together with its degrees, aggravations, and varied and mingled distresses of mind and heart, cannot be described. It was thus shown how much the wicked are tormented by envy merely, when they see from afar the blessedness of the good, and even when they merely think of it.

AC 1975. As regards dreams, it is known that the Lord revealed the arcana of heaven to the prophets, not only by visions, but also by dreams, and that the dreams were as fully representative and significative as the visions, being almost of the same class; and that to others also as well as the prophets things to come were disclosed by dreams; as by the dreams of Joseph, and of those who were in prison with him, and by those of Pharaoh, of Nebuchadnezzar, and others, from which it may be seen that dreams of this kind, equally with visions, flow in from heaven; with this difference, that dreams occur when the corporeal is asleep, and visions when it is not asleep. How prophetic dreams, and such as are found in the Word, flow in, nay, descend from heaven, has been shown me to the life; concerning which I may relate the following particulars, from experience.

AC 1976. There are three kinds of dreams. The first kind come from the Lord mediately through heaven; such were the prophetic dreams that are treated of in the Word. The second kind come through angelic spirits, especially those who are in front above at the right, where there are paradisal scenes; from this source the men of the Most Ancient Church had their dreams, which were instructive (n. 1122). The third kind come through the spirits who are near when man is sleeping, which are likewise significative. But fantastic dreams come from a different source.

AC 1977. In order that I might fully know how dreams flow in, I was put to sleep, and I dreamed that a ship came laden with delicacies and savory food of every kind. The things in the ship were not seen, but were stowed away. Upon the ship stood two armed guards, besides a third who was its captain. The ship passed into a kind of arched dock. So I awoke and thought about the dream. The angelic spirits, who were above in front to the right, then addressed me, and told me that they had introduced this dream; and in order that I might know with certainty that it was from them, I was put into a state as of sleep and at the same time of wakefulness; and they introduced in the same way various things that were pleasant and delightful; for instance, an unknown little animal which was dispersed in a likeness of blackish and shining rays, that darted with marvelous quickness into my left eye. They also presented men and also little children adorned in various ways; and other things besides, with inexpressible pleasantness, about which I also spoke with them. This was done, not once, but many times, and each time I was instructed by them with the living voice.

[2] The angelic spirits who are at the entrance to the paradisal scenes, are they who insinuate such dreams; and to them is also intrusted the duty of watching over certain men when they sleep, lest they should then be infested by evil spirits. They perform this duty with the greatest delight, so that there is rivalry among them as to who shall be present, and they love to affect the man with the enjoyable and delightful things which they see in his affection and genius. They who have become angelic spirits are from those who in the life of the body had delighted and had loved in every way and with the utmost pains, to make the life of others delightful. When the hearing is opened sufficiently far, there is heard from them, as from a distance, a sweetly modulated sound, as it were of singing. They said that they do not know whence such things, and representatives so beautiful and pleasant, come to them in a moment; but it was said that it was from heaven. They belong to the province of the cerebellum; for, as I have been informed, the cerebellum is awake in time of sleep, when the cerebrum sleeps. From this source the men of the Most Ancient Church had their dreams, together with a perception of what they signified; from whom in great part came the representatives and significatives of the ancients, under which were set forth things that are deeply hidden.

AC 1978. Moreover there are other spirits, who belong to the province of the left side of the chest, by whom they are often interfered with; as well as by others whom they disregard.

AC 1979. After such dreams I have very frequently been permitted to speak with the spirits and angels who had introduced them; and they told what they had introduced, and I what I had seen. But it would be too tedious to relate all my experience of these matters.

AC 1980. It is worthy of mention that when after waking I related what I had seen in a dream, and this in a long series, certain angelic spirits (not of those spoken of above) then said that what I related wholly coincided, and was identical, with the subjects they had been conversing about, and that there was absolutely no difference; but still that they were not the very things they had discoursed about, but were representatives of the same things, into which their ideas were thus turned and changed in the world of spirits; for in the world of spirits the ideas of the angels are turned into representatives; and therefore each and all things they had conversed about were so represented in the dream. They said, further, that the same discourse could be turned into other representatives, nay, into both similar and dissimilar ones, with unlimited variety. The reason they were turned into such as have been described, was that it took place in accordance with the state of the spirits around me, and thus in accordance with my own state at the time. In a word, very many dissimilar dreams might come down and be presented from the same discourse, and thus from one origin; because, as has been said, the things that are in a man’s memory and affection are recipient vessels, in which ideas are varied and received representatively in accordance with their variations of form and changes of state.

AC 1981. I may relate one more instance of‘ a similar kind. I dreamed a dream, but a common one. When I awoke, I related it all from beginning to end. The angels said that it coincided exactly with what they had spoken of together; not that the things seen in the dream were the same, for they were wholly different, being things into which the thoughts of their conversation were turned, but in such a way that they were representative and correspondent; and this in every particular, so that nothing was wanting. I then spoke with them about influx, as to how such things flow in and are varied. There was a person of whom I had the idea that he was in natural truth, which idea I had gathered from the acts of his life. There was a conversation among the angels about natural truth, and on this account that person was represented to me; I and the things he said to me, and did, in my dream, followed in order representatively and correspondently from the discourse of the angels with one another. But still there was nothing precisely alike, or the same.

AC 1982. Some souls recently from the world who long to see the glory of the Lord before they are qualified to be admitted, are lulled in regard to the exterior senses and lower faculties in a kind of sweet sleep, and then their interior senses and faculties are aroused into a high degree of wakefulness, and thereby they are admitted into the glory of heaven, but when wakefulness is restored to their exterior senses and faculties, they return into their former state.

AC 1983. Evil spirits most vehemently desire and burn to infest and attack man when he is sleeping, but man is then especially guarded by the Lord, for love does not sleep. The spirits who infest are miserably punished. I have heard their punishments oftener than I can tell; they consist in rendings (n. 829, 957, 959), under the heel of the left foot, and this sometimes for hours together. Sirens, who are interior enchantresses, are they who are especially insidious in the night time, and then try to insinuate themselves into a man’s interior thoughts and affections, but are as often driven away by the Lord by means of angels, and are at last deterred by the severest punishments. They have also spoken with others in the night time, exactly as if they spoke from me, and as it were with my speech, so like that it could not be distinguished, pouring in filthy things, and persuading false ones.

[2] I was once in a very sweet sleep, in which I had nothing but soft repose. When I awoke, some good spirits began to chide me for having (as they said) infested them so atrociously that they supposed they were in hell--throwing the blame upon me. I answered them that I knew nothing whatever about the matter, but had been sleeping most quietly, so that by no possibility could I have been troublesome to them. Astonished at this, they at last had a perception that it had been done by the magic arts of sirens. The like was also shown afterwards, in order that I might know the quality of the crew of sirens.

[3] They are chiefly of the female sex, who in the life of the body had studied to allure male companions to themselves by interior artifices insinuating themselves by means of outward things, captivating their lower minds in every possible way, entering into each one‘s affections and delights, but with an evil end, especially that of exercising command. Hence they have such a nature in the other life that they seem able of themselves to do all things, imbibing and inventing various arts, which thy absorb as easily as sponges do waters, whether clean or filthy. So do they imbibe and put into act things profane as well as holy, with the end, as before said, of exercising command. It has been granted me to perceive their interiors, and to see how foul they are, being defiled by adulteries and hatreds. It has also been granted me to perceive how powerful in its effects is their sphere. They reduce their interiors into a state of persuasion, in order that these may conspire with their exteriors toward such things as they intend. They thus compel and violently draw spirits to think exactly as they do.

[4] No reasonings appear in connection with them, but they make use of a kind of simultaneous rush of reasonings that are breathed into the person’s evil affections and so they work by applying themselves to the natural inclinations, and thereby they get into the lower minds of others, whom they lead on, and by persuasion either overwhelm or captivate them. They study nothing more than to destroy the conscience, and when it is destroyed they get possession of men‘s interiors, and even obsess the men, although these are ignorant of it. At this day there are not as formerly external obsessions, but there are internal ones, by spirits of this class. They who have no conscience have become obsessed in this way. The interiors of their thoughts are insane in a manner not unlike this, but are concealed and veiled over by an external decorum and a pretended honorableness, for the sake of their own honor, gain, and reputation. And this such men may know, if they pay attention to their thoughts.

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