Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 17:12
AC 2043. Verse 12. And a son of eight days shall be circumcised unto you, every male in your generations, he that is born in the house, and he that is bought with silver from every son that is a stranger who is not of thy seed. "A son of eight days," signifies any beginning of purification whatever; "shall be circumcised unto you," signifies the purification; " every male," signifies those who are in the truth of faith "in your generations," signifies the things which are of faith; "he that is born in the house," signifies those who are celestial; "he that is bought with silver," signifies those who are spiritual, who are within the church; "from every son that is a stranger who is not of thy seed," signifies those who are outside the church.
AC 2044. And a son of eight days. That this signifies any beginning of purification whatever, is evident from the signification of "the eighth day." A "week," which is seven days, signifies an entire period of any state or time, as of reformation, of regeneration, of temptation, whether of man in particular, or of the church in general thus a period is called a "week," whether it be one of a thousand years, of a hundred, of ten, or of as many days, hours, minutes, and so on (n. 728). And as the eighth day is the first day of a new week, it signifies any beginning whatever. This shows also that, as circumcision was itself a representative of purification, so also was the time of it, namely, the eighth day; not that they then entered into a purer state, and were purified on that account, but for the reason that, as circumcision" signified purification, so "the eighth day" signified that this ought to be effected at all times, and thus always, as from a new beginning.
AC 2045. Shall be circumcised unto you. That this signifies purification, is evident from the representation and signification of "circumcision," as being purification from filthy loves (n. 2039). They who are in the loves of self and of the world cannot possibly believe that they are in things so filthy and unclean as they actually are in, for there is a certain pleasure and delight that soothes, favors, and allures, and causes them to love that life, to prefer it to all other life, and thereby to suppose that there is nothing of evil in it; for whatever favors any one‘s love and the life thence derived is believed to be good. Hence also the rational consents, and suggests falsities which confirm and cause such blindness that they see nothing of the nature of heavenly love; and if they were to see it they would say in their hearts that it is a wretched affair, or a thing of naught, or something of the nature of a phantasy that takes hold of the mind, as in sickness.
 But that the life of the love of self and of the world, together with its pleasures and delights, is filthy and unclean, may be seen by every one who is willing to think from the rational faculty with which he is gifted. The love of self is the source of all the evils that destroy civic society. From it as from an unclean pit spring all hatreds, all revenges, all cruelties, nay, all adulteries for he who loves himself, despises, vituperates, or hates, all others who do not serve him, or do him honor, or favor him; and when he hates, he breathes nothing but revenges and cruelties, and this in proportion to the degree in which he loves himself, so that this love is destructive of society and of the human race. That such is its nature may be seen from what is said of it in (n. 693, 694, 760, 1307, 1308, 1321, 1506, 1594, 1691, 1862). That in the other life the love of self is most filthy, and that it is diametrically opposite to the mutual love in which heaven consists, shall of the Lord’s Divine mercy be told in what follows.
 And as the love of self is the source of hatreds, revenges, cruelties, and adulteries, it is the source of all things that are called sins, wickednesses, abominations, and profanations, and therefore when this love is in the rational part of man, and is in the cupidities and phantasies of his external man, the influx of heavenly love from the Lord is continually repelled, perverted, and contaminated. It is like foul excrement, which dissipates, nay, defiles, all sweet odor; it is like an object that turns the continually inflowing rays of light into dark and repulsive colors; and it is like a tiger, or a serpent, which repels all fondling, and kills with bite and poison those who offer it food; or like a vicious man who turns even the best intentions of others, and their very kindnesses, into what is blameworthy and malicious. Hence it is evident that these loves-of self and of the world-are what are represented and signified by the foreskins that were to be cut off.
AC 2046. Every male. That this signifies those who are in the truth of faith, is evident from the signification of a "male," as being truth (n. 672, 749). The "male:" by which is signified the truth of faith, is named here because no one can be purified from those filthy loves except one who is in truth. From truth he knows (cognoscit) what is pure and what impure, and what is holy and what profane. Before he has learned this, there are no mediums into which and through which the heavenly love continually flowing in from the Lord can operate, as this cannot be received except in truths; and therefore man is reformed and regenerated by means of the knowledges of truth, and this not until he has been imbued with them. Conscience itself is formed by means of the truths of faith; for the conscience with which the regenerate man is gifted is a conscience of what is true and right (n. 977, 986, 1033, 1076, 1077). This also is the reason why knives of stone, or "swords of rocks," as they are called, were employed in circumcising. That these signify truths (n. 2039).
AC 2047. Throughout your generations. That this signifies the things which are of faith, is evident from the signification of "generations" and of "births," as being the things that are of faith (n. 613, 1145, 1255, 2020, 2035).
AC 2048. That "he that is born in the house" signifies those who are celestial, and that "he that is bought with silver‘ signifies those who are spiritual, and that they thus signify those who are within the church, is evident from the signification of one "born in the house," as being those who are within the house. A "house," in the Word, signifies what is celestial, because this is the inmost; whence by the "house of God" in a universal sense is signified the Lord’s kingdom; in a sense less universal, His church; and in a particular sense, the man himself in whom there is the Lord‘s kingdom or church. When man is called a "house," the celestial of faith in him is signified; and when he is called a "temple," the truth of faith in him is signified; thus here by one "born in the house" those who are celestial are signified. But that "he that is bought with silver" signifies those who are spiritual, is evident from the signification of "silver," as being truth, thus the spiritual of faith (n. 1551).
 Those are called celestial who are in love to the Lord; and as the Most Ancient Church, which was before the flood, was in this love, it was a celestial church. Those are called spiritual who are in love toward the neighbor and thereby in the truth of faith, as was the Ancient Church, which was after the flood. The distinction between the celestial and the spiritual has been treated of many times in before. Every one can see that there are heavenly arcana in what is here said, namely, that those born in the house were to be circumcised, and those bought with silver, and also the sons that were strangers; and also from their being repeatedly mentioned (verses 13, 23, 27); which arcana do not appear except from the internal sense, which shows that by those born in the house and those bought with silver are signified the celestial and the spiritual, the those who are within the church; and that by "a son that is a stranger who is not of thy seed" are signified those who are outside the church.
AC 2049. From every son that is a stranger who is not of thy seed. That this signifies those who are outside the church, is evident from the signification of "son that is a stranger," as being those who are not born within the church, thus are not in the goods and truths of faith, because not in the knowledges of them. " Sons that are strangers" also signify those who are in external worship (n. 1097); but when this is the meaning, those who are within the church are treated of, whereas in the passage before us the Lord’s church in the universal is treated of, and therefore "sons that are strangers" signify those who are not born within the church, as is the case with the Gentiles. Gentiles, who are outside the church, may be in truths, but not in the truths of faith. Their truths, like the precepts of the decalogue, are that parents are to be honored, that men are not to kill, steal, commit adultery, or covet things that belong to others; also that the Deity is to be worshiped. But the truths of faith are all doctrinal things concerning eternal life, the Lord‘s kingdom, and the Lord Himself, which cannot be known to the Gentiles because they have not the Word.
 These are they who are signified by "sons that are strangers who are not of thy seed," and yet were to be circumcised, that is purified, together with them. This shows that they can be purified, equally with those within the church; as was represented by their being circumcised. They are purified when they reject filthy loves, and live with one another in charity; for then they live in truths, since all truths are of charity; but in the truths already mentioned. They who live in these truths readily imbibe the truths of faith, if not in the life of the body, yet in the other life, because the truths of faith are the interior truths of charity, and they then love nothing more than to be admitted into the interior truths of charity. The interior truths of charity are those in which the Lord’s kingdom consists (n. 932, 1032, 1059, 1327, 1328, 1366)
 In the other life a memory-knowledge of the knowledges of faith is of no avail, for the worst, nay, the infernals, can be in the memory-knowledge of them, sometimes more than others; but that which avails is a life according to the knowledges, for all knowledges have life as their end. Unless knowledges were learned for the sake of life, they would be of no use except that men might talk about them, and thereby be esteemed learned in the world, be exalted to honors, and gain reputation and wealth. From this it is evident that a life of the knowledges of faith is no other than a life of charity; for the Law and the Prophets, that is, the universal doctrine of faith together with all its knowledges, consists in love to the Lord and in love toward the neighbor; as is manifest to all from the Lord‘s words in (Matthew 22:34-39; Mark 12:28-35);
 but still doctrinal things, that is, the knowledges of faith, are most necessary for forming the life of charity, which cannot be formed without them. This is the life that saves after death, and by no means any life of faith without it; for without charity there cannot be any life of faith. They who are in the life of love and charity are in the Lord’s life, and by no other life can any one be conjoined with Him. Hence also it is evident that the truths of faith can never be acknowledged as truths, that is, the acknowledgment of them so much talked of is impossible, except outwardly, and by the mouth, unless they are implanted in charity; for inwardly or in the heart they are denied, since, as already said, they all have charity as their end; and if this is not within them they are inwardly rejected. When the exteriors are taken away-as is done in the other life-the interiors are manifest in their true character, in that they are utterly contrary to all the truths of faith. When men have had no life of charity-that is, no mutual love-during their bodily life, it is utterly impossible to receive it in the other life, because they are averse to and hate it, for after death the same life remains with us that we have lived here. When such persons merely approach a society where there is the life of mutual love, they tremble, shudder, and feel torture.
 Such persons, although born within the church, are called "sons that are strangers, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh," who are not to be admitted into the sanctuary, that is, into the Lord‘s kingdom; and who are also meant in Ezekiel:--
No son that is a stranger, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into My sanctuary (Ezekiel 44:7, 9).
To whom art thou thus become like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? and thou shalt be brought down with the trees of Eden into the lower earth, thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised with them that are slain by the sword (Ezekiel 31:18)
where Pharaoh is treated of, by whom are signified memory-knowledges in general (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462); by "the trees of Laden" with which they should go down into the lower earth, are also signified memory-knowledges, but those of the knowledges of faith. All this shows what "the uncircumcised" is in the internal sense, namely, one who is in filthy loves and the life of them.GENESIS 17:12 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|