Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 17:17
AC 2070. Verse 17. And Abraham fell upon his faces, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall there be born to a son of a hundred years? and shall Sarah that is a daughter of ninety years bear? "Abraham fell upon his faces," signifies adoration; "and laughed," signifies the affection of truth; "and said in his heart," signifies that He so thought; "shall there be born to a son of a hundred years?" signifies that the rational of the Lord’s Human Essence should then be united to His Divine Essence; "and shall Sarah that is a daughter of ninety years hear?" signifies that truth conjoined with good will do this.
AC 2071. Abraham fell upon his faces. That this signifies adoration, is evident from the signification of "falling upon the faces," as being to adore (n. 1999).
AC 2072. And laughed. That this signifies the affection of truth, may be seen from the origin and essence of laughter, for its origin is nothing but the affection of truth, or else the affection of what is false, from which come the gladness and merriment that in laughter display themselves in the face, which shows that the essence of laughter is nothing else. Laughter is indeed an external thing that belongs to the body because to the face; but in the Word interior things are expressed and signified by exterior things; just as all the interior affections of the mind are expressed and signified by means of the face, interior hearing and obedience being signified by the ear, interior sight or understanding by the eye, power and strength by the hand and arm, and so on, and in the same way the affection of truth by laughter.
 In man‘s rational there is truth, which is its chief characteristic, and there is also the affection of good, but this is in the very affection of truth as its soul. The affection of good which is in the rational does not display itself by means of laughter, but by means of a certain joy and consequent pleasurable delight which does not laugh; for in laughter there is usually something that is not so good. The reason why truth is the chief characteristic in man’s rational, is that the rational is formed by means of the knowledges of truth, for by no other means can any one ever become rational. The knowledges of good are truths, equally as much as are the knowledges of truth.
 That "laughter" here signifies the affection of truth, may be seen from its being related that Abraham laughed; and in like manner Sarah, both before Isaac was born, and afterwards; and also from Isaac‘s being named from "laughter," for the word "Isaac" means "laughter." That Abraham laughed when he heard about Isaac, is evident from this verse, for it is said that Abraham laughed when he heard about a son from Sarah. That Sarah also laughed before Isaac’s birth, when she heard from Jehovah that she should bear a son, is told in the words, "When Sarah heard at the door of the tent, Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am grown old shall I have pleasure? and my lord old? And Jehovah said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, and I am become old? Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was, afraid. And He said, Nay, but thou didst laugh" (Gen. 18:12, 13, 15). And later, when Isaac had been born, "Abraham called the name of his son Isaac" (meaning "laughter"); and Sarah said, "God hath made laughter for me; every one that heareth shall laugh with me" (Gen. 21:3, 6). Unless "laughing" and the name "Isaac," meaning "laughter," involved such things, these matters would never have been related.
AC 2073. And said in his heart. That this signifies that he so thought, is evident without explication.
AC 2074. Shall there be born to a son of a hundred years? That this signifies that the rational of the Lord‘s Human Essence should then be united to the Divine Essence, is evident from the signification of "a hundred" (n. 1988).
AC 2075. And shall Sarah that is a daughter of ninety years bear? That this signifies that truth conjoined with good will do this, is evident from the representation and signification of "Sarah," as being truth conjoined with good, that is, truth Divine; and from the signification of the number "ninety," or what is the same, of "nine." One cannot but wonder that the number "a hundred years," which was Abraham’s age, signifies that the rational of the Lord‘s Human Essence should be united to His Divine Essence; and that the number "ninety years," which was Sarah’s age, signifies that truth conjoined with good would do this. But as there is nothing in the Lord‘s Word which is not heavenly and Divine, so must it be with the very numbers contained in it. It was shown that in the Word all numbers whatever signify actual things, equally as do all the names (n. 482, 487, 488, 493, 575, 647, 648, 755, 813, 893, 1988).
 Now that the number "nine" signifies conjunction, and still more the number "ninety," which is the product of the multiplication of nine into ten (for "ten" signifies the remains by which conjunction is effected, as is evident from what was said above, n. 1988, at the end), may also be seen from the representatives and significatives which now follow. It was commanded that on the tenth day of the seventh month there should be a day of expiations, and that this should be a Sabbath of a Sabbath; and on the ninth day of the seventh month at evening, from evening even to evening, they should celebrate a Sabbath (Lev. 23:27, 32).
 In the internal sense these things signify conjunction by means of remains - "nine" signifying conjunction, and "ten" signifying remains. That a Divine arcanum lies hidden in these numbers, is clearly evident from the months and the days of the year that were to be held holy; as that every seventh day there was a Sabbath; and that every seventh month, as just stated, there should be a Sabbath of a Sabbath; in like manner the seventh year; and also that on the seven times seventh year the jubilee should commence. The case is the same with all other numbers in the Word; as with "three," the signification of which is nearly the same as that of "seven;" and with "twelve," which signifies all things of faith; and with "ten," which signifies the same as "tenths," that is, remains (n. 576); and so on. Thus in the passage here quoted from Leviticus, unless the number "ten" and the number "nine" involved arcana, it would by no means have been commanded that this Sabbath of a Sabbath should be on the tenth day of the seventh month, and that on the ninth of the month they should celebrate it. Such is the Word of the Lord in the internal sense, although in the historical sense nothing of the kind appears.
 In the same way it is related of Jerusalem that it was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar in the ninth year of Zedekiah, and that a breach was made in the eleventh year, on the ninth day of the month; concerning which we read as follows in the second book of Kings:--
It came to pass in the ninth year of the reign of Zedekiah, in the tenth month, in the tenth of the month, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon against Jerusalem, and the city was besieged until the eleventh year of king Zedekiah on the ninth of the month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land, and a breach was made in the city (2 Kings 25:1, 3, 4).
By the "ninth year" and the "tenth month," and by the "eleventh year" and the "ninth of the month," when the famine prevailed in the city and there was no bread for the people of the land, is signified in the internal sense that there was no longer any conjunction by means of the things of faith and of charity; "famine in the city and no bread for the people of the land," signifies that there was nothing of faith and nothing of charity left. This is the internal sense of these words, which does not at all appear in the letter; and such things shine forth from the historical portions of the Word still less than from the prophetical, because the histories so captivate the mind that it is scarcely believed that anything deeper lies hidden within; when yet all things are representative, and the words themselves are everywhere significative. These things are hard to believe, but still they are true (n. 1769-1772).GENESIS 17:17 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|