Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 17:4
AC 2002. Verse 4. I, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be for a father of a multitude of nations. "I, behold, My covenant is with thee," signifies the union of the Divine Essence with the Human Essence; "and thou shalt be for a father of a multitude of nations," signifies the union of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence; "father" signifies that it would be from the Lord Himself; "a multitude" signifies truth; "of nations" signifies the good thence derived.
AC 2003. I, behold, My covenant is with thee. That this signifies the union of the Divine Essence with the Human Essence, is evident from the signification of a "covenant," as being conjunction (n. 665, 666, 1023, 1038). That here "covenant" signifies the union of the Divine Essence with the Human Essence, is evident from this signification, and also from the internal sense of what precedes, consequently from the very words, "My covenant is with thee."
AC 2004. And thou shalt be for a father of a multitude of nations. That this signifies the union of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence, cannot be seen so well from an unfolding of the several words in the internal sense, unless they are viewed in a kind of general idea, by which this sense is presented, for such is sometimes the nature of the internal sense, and when it is so, it may be called more universal, because more remote. From the explication of the several words there results this proximate sense: that all truth and all good come from the Lord, for, as we shall see presently, the expression "father" here signifies from Him, that is, from the Lord; "multitude" signifies truth; and "of nations" signifies the good thence derived. But because these--that is, truths and goods--are the means through which the Lord united the Human Essence to the Divine Essence, there arises from this that more universal and more remote sense. The angels perceive these words in this way, and have at the same time a perception of reciprocal union, namely, that of the Lord‘s Divine Essence with the Human Essence and of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence; for, as before said, "I, My covenant is with thee" signifies the union of the Divine Essence with the Human Essence; and consequently the words now under consideration signify the union of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence.
 That the union was effected reciprocally, is an arcanum which has not yet been disclosed, and it is such an arcanum as can scarcely be explained to the apprehension; for as yet no one knows what influx is, and without a knowledge of influx no idea can possibly be formed in regard to what is reciprocal union. Yet this may in some measure be illustrated from the influx in the case of man, for with man too there is a reciprocal conjunction. From the Lord, through man’s internal (n. 1999), life continually flows into man‘s rational, and through this into his external, and in fact into his knowledges (scientifica et cognitiones), and this life not only adapts them to receive the life, but also disposes them into order, and so enables the man to think, and finally to be rational. Such is the conjunction of the Lord with man, without which man could not think at all, still less be rational, as every one can see from the fact that there are in man’s thoughts numberless arcana of science and analytical art-- too numerous to render their exploration possible to all eternity--and which do by no means flow in through the senses or through the external man, but through the internal. Man however, on his part, by means of knowledges (scientifica et cognitiones), advances to meet this life which is from the Lord, and thereby reciprocally conjoins himself.
 But as regards the union of the Lord‘s Divine Essence with His Human Essence, and of His Human Essence with His Divine Essence, this infinitely transcends the reciprocal conjunction between man and the Lord, for the Lord’s internal was Jehovah Himself and therefore was life itself; whereas man‘s internal is not the Lord, and therefore is not life but a recipient of life. Between the Lord and Jehovah there was union, but between man and the Lord there is not union, but conjunction. The Lord united Himself to Jehovah by His own power, and He therefore also became Righteousness; whereas man by no means conjoins himself by his own power, but by the power of the Lord; so that the Lord conjoins man with Himself. It is this reciprocal union that is meant by the Lord, where He attributes what is His own to the Father, and what is the Father’s to Himself, as in John:--
Jesus said, He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me: I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me may not abide in the darkness (John 12:44-46),
in which words lie hidden the deepest arcana,--arcana concerning the union of good with truth, and of truth with good; or what is the same, concerning the union of the Divine Essence with the Human Essence, and of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence; and therefore the Lord says, "He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me;" and then almost immediately adds, "He that believeth on Me;" with words between that refer to this union, namely, "he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me."
 Again in the same gospel:--
The words that I speak unto you I speak not from Myself; the Father that abideth in Me, He doeth the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. Verily I say unto you, He that believeth in Me, the works that I do shall he do also (John 14:10-12).
In these words are contained the same arcana, namely, those concerning the union of good with truth, and of truth with good; or what is the same, of the Lord‘s Divine Essence with His Human Essence, and of His Human Essence with His Divine Essence; and He therefore says, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not from Myself; the Father who is in Me doeth the works;" and then He almost immediately adds, "the works that I do;" and here, as before, there are intervening words concerning the union, which declare, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." This is the mystical union of which many speak.
 From all this it is evident that the Lord was not another than the Father, although He spoke of the Father as of another, and this on account of the reciprocal unition that was to be effected and that was effected; for He so many times openly says that He is one with the Father, as in the passages just cited: "He that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me" (John 12:45) also, "The Father that abideth in Me; believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me" (John 14:10, 11); and in the same, "If ye had known Me, ye would have known My Father also" (John 8:19); and again,
"If ye have known Me, ye have known My Father also; and from henceforth ye have known Him, and have seen Him; Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father; Jesus saith unto him, Am I so long time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?" (John 14:7-10)
" I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).
Hence it is that in heaven they know no other Father than the Lord, because the Father is in Him, and He is one with the Father; and when they see Him, they see the Father, as He Himself says (n. 15).
AC 2005. That "father" signifies that it would be from the Lord Himself, is evident from the signification of "father," as just explained, namely, that whatever was from the Father was from Him, because they were one. Every man’s internal is from his father, and his external from his mother; or what is the same thing, the soul itself is from the father, and the body with which the soul is clothed is from the mother. The soul together with the body, although two, make a one; for the soul is the body‘s, and the body is the soul’s; and therefore they are inseparable. The Lord‘s internal was from the Father, and therefore was the Father Himself, and hence it is that the Lord says that "the Father is in Him;" also, "I am in the Father and the Father in Me;" also, "He that seeth Me seeth the Father; I and the Father are one;" as may be seen in the passages cited above. In the Word of the Old Testament also the Lord is called "the Father," as in Isaiah:--
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
It is evident to every one that the "Child" born to us and the "Son" given to us is the Lord, who is called the Father of Eternity." Again in Isaiah:--
Thou art our Father, for Abraham knoweth us not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us. Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father, our Redeemer, from eternity is Thy name (Isaiah 63:16);
where also it is the Lord who is called "Jehovah our Father," for there is no other "Redeemer." In Malachi:--
Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? (Malachi 2:10).
To "create" denotes to regenerate (n. 16, 88, 472). Besides that everywhere in the Word of the Old Testament, by "Jehovah" is meant the Lord, because all the rites of the church represented Him; and in the internal sense all things in the Word regard Him.
AC 2006. That "a multitude" signifies truth, is evident from the signification of "multitude" as being truth (n. 1941); and from the signification of "being multiplied," which is predicated of truth (n. 43, 55, 913, 983).
AC 2007. Of nations. That this signifies the good thence derived, is evident from the signification of "nations" as being good (n. 1159, 1258-1260, 1416, 1849). GENESIS 17:4 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|