Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 18:1
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AC 2142. Verse 1. And Jehovah appeared unto him in the oak groves of Mamre, and he was sitting at the door of the tent, as the day was growing hot. "Jehovah appeared unto him," signifies the Lordís perception; "in the oak-groves of Mamre," signifies the quality of the perception; "he was sitting at the door of the tent," signifies the holiness which at that time appertained to Him; "as the day was growing hot," signifies from love.

AC 2143. Jehovah appeared unto him. That this signifies the LordĎs perception, may be seen from the fact that the historicals of the Word are merely representative, and the words therein significative, of those things which are in the internal sense. In the internal sense of the passage before us the subject treated of is the Lord and His perception, which perception was represented by the appearing to Abraham of Jehovah; for such is the representative nature in the historicals of the Word of every appearing, of every discourse, and of every deed. But what they represent does not appear unless the historicals are attended to simply as objects, like those of sight, from which there is given the occasion and the opportunity for thinking about things more lofty; for instance, from gardens, as we behold them, for thinking about fruits, their uses, and also the derivative delight of life, and, still more loftily, about paradisal or heavenly happiness. When such things are thought of, the several objects of the garden are indeed seen, but so slightly that they are not attended to. The case is the very same with the historicals of the Word, for when the celestial and spiritual things that are in the internal sense of these historicals are thought of, these, together with the words themselves, are attended to just as little.

AC 2144. In the oak-groves of Mamre. That this signifies the quality of the perception, is evident from the representation and signification of "oak-groves," and also from the representation and signification of "Mamre." What "oak-groves" represented and signified in general, see (n. 1442, 1443); and what "the oak-groves of Mamre" represented and signified specifically (n. 1616), namely, perceptions, but such as are human from memory-knowledges (scientific), and from the first rational things thence derived.

[2] What perception is, is at this day utterly unknown, because at this day no one has perception like that of the ancients, especially like that of the most ancients for these latter knew from perception whether a thing was good, and consequently whether it was true. There was an influx into their rational from the Lord through heaven, whereby, when they thought about any holy thing, they instantly perceived whether it was so, or was not so. Such perception afterwards perished with man, when he began to be no longer in heavenly ideas, but solely in worldly and corporeal ones; and in place of it there succeeded conscience, which also is a kind of perception; for to act contrary to conscience and according to conscience is nothing else than to perceive from it whether a thing is so or is not so, or whether it is to be done.

[3] But the perception of conscience is not from good that flows in, but it is from the truth that from infancy has been implanted in the rational of men in accordance with the holy of their worship, and which has afterwards been confirmed, for this alone do they in such case believe to be good. Hence it is that conscience is a kind of perception, but from such truth; and when charity and innocence are insinuated into this truth by the Lord, there comes into existence the good of this conscience. From these few observations we can see what perception is. But between perception and conscience there is much difference. See what is said about perception in (n. 104, 125, 371, 483, 495, 503, 521, 536, 597, 607, 784, 865, 895, 1121, 1616); about the perception of spirits and angels, (n. 202, 203, 1008, 1383, 1384, 1390-1392, 1394, 1397, 1504); and that the learned do not know what perception is, (n. 1387).

[4] As regards the Lord when He lived in the world, all His thought was from Divine perception, because He alone was a Divine and Celestial Man; for He was the only one in whom was Jehovah Himself, from whom was His perception, see (n. 1616, 1791). His perceptions were more and more interior in proportion as He approached more nearly to union with Jehovah. Of what quality His perception was at the time here treated of, see (n. 1616); and of what quality it became when He perceived the things that are contained in this chapter, is described in what now follows.

AC 2145. He was sitting at the door of the tent. That this signifies the holy which at that time appertained to Him, namely, the holy of love,--which is signified by the day growing hot, as explained in what follows, is evident from the signification of a "tent," as being what is holy (n. 414, 1102, 1566), where also the reason of this signification of "tents" is explained. As the Lord was then in the perception which is signified by the oak-groves of Mamre, which is a lower rational perception, but yet is a perception more internal than that which is signified by the oak-grove of Moreh (n. 1442, 1443), it is here represented and therefore signified by His sitting at the door of the tent, that is, at the entrance to what is holy. How the case is with perceptions, as being less or more interior, may be illustrated by the perceptions of the most ancient people, from whom I have heard that the more they were in memory-knowledges from the things which are objects of hearing and sight, the lower were their perceptions; but that the more they were uplifted above them to the celestial things of charity and love, the more interior their perceptions were, because they were then nearer to the Lord.

AC 2146. As the day was growing hot. That this signifies from love, is evident from the signification of "heat," as being in the internal sense love; and since heat belongs either to the day or to the year, love is represented either by the heat of the day or by the heat of the year, according to what is related in the historicals. That "heat" signifies love may be seen from the fact that love is called spiritual heat, and that growing warm is predicated of all affection, even in common speech; and further from the fact that love and its affections, in manís interiors, as also in his exteriors, and even in his very corporeals, make themselves manifest under the guise of heat; in fact heat has no other origin in connection with man when it flows forth from his interiors. Such however as is the love, such is the heat. Celestial love and spiritual love are what give genuine heat. All other heat, namely, that which is from the loves of self and of the world, and also from other filthy loves, is unclean, and in the other life sinks into what is excrementitious (n. 1773). Be it known moreover that holiness is never predicated except of love and charity; not of faith except in so far as love and charity are in the truths of faith. Except from this the truths of faith are not holy (n. 2049).

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