Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 18:16
AC 2217. Verse 16. And the men rose up thence, and looked toward the faces of Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them away "The men rose up thence," signifies that that perception came to an end; "and looked toward the faces of Sodom," signifies the state of the human race; "Sodom" is all evil from the love of self; "and Abraham went with them," signifies that the Lord still remained with them in perception, but concerning the human race; "to send them away," signifies that He willed to withdraw from that perception.
AC 2218. The men rose up. That this signifies that that perception came to an end, is evident from the signification of "rising up," as being to go away; and from that of the "men," described above. By the coming of the three men, or of Jehovah, to Abraham, was represented the Lord’s Divine perception, as shown above. The Lord‘s perception from the Divine at that time was first concerning the Divine Trine, which is the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Proceeding. Afterwards it was concerning His Human, that it should put on the Divine. Now follows a perception from the Divine concerning the human race, as regards its quality. These three things are what are treated of in this chapter, and they follow in order, namely, that the Divine assumed the Human, and made this Divine, in order that it might save the human race. Concerning the former two it is said that the perception came to an end, which is meant in the internal sense by the "men rising up;" but the perception concerning the human race, as regards its quality, is signified in the internal sense by their "looking to the faces of Sodom, and by Abraham going with them;" and that the Lord did not will to remain in that perception, is signified by Abraham "going with them to send them away." How the case is with these things can be better seen from the Contents which were premised, as also from the explication of what follows.
AC 2219. They looked toward the faces of Sodom. That this signifies the state of the human race, is evident from the signification of "looking to the faces," here, to the faces of Sodom. By "faces" are signified all man’s interiors, both good and evil, for the reason that they shine forth from the face (n. 358). Here therefore "faces," because predicated of Sodom, signify interior evils, which are those of the love of self, and which evils in general are meant by "Sodom," as will be evident from what now follows. That the worst evils of all originate from the love of self, is because the love of self is destructive of human society (n. 2045), and of heavenly society (n. 2057); and since the perversity of the human race is thence known, by the "faces of Sodom" is here signified the state of the human race.
 Moreover it has been shown in various places, what the love of self is, namely, that it is diametrically contrary to the order into which man was created. Man is distinguished above beasts by having a rational given him, to the end that every one may will well and do well to others, as in general so in particular. This is the order into which man has been created, consequently it is love to God and love toward the neighbor that should be man‘s life, and by which he should be distinguished from brute animals. This is also the order of heaven, in which it was intended man should be while he lives in the world; thus in the Lord’s kingdom; and into this kingdom he would pass when he had put off the body that had been of service to him upon the earth, and there he would rise into a state continually advancing in heavenly perfection.
 But the love of self is the primary and indeed the only thing that destroys all this; and not so much so the love of the world, for this is indeed opposite to the spiritual things of faith, but the love of self is diametrically opposite to the celestial things of love; for he who loves himself loves no others, but endeavors to destroy all persons whatever that do not pay reverence to him; nor does he will well and do well to anyone, except to him who is a part of himself, or can be captivated so as to be a part of himself, like something inoculated as it were with his cupidities and phantasies. Hence it is evident that from the love of self there gush forth all hatreds, all revenges and cruelties, as also all infamous simulations and deceits, and thus all heinous things against the order of human society and against the order of heavenly society.
 Nay, so heinous is the love of self, that when its bonds are relaxed, that is, when opportunity of free range is given it, even with those who are in the lowest condition, it so rushes on, that it not only wills to exercise dominion over neighbors and those near at hand, but also over the universe, and even over the Supreme Divine Itself. Of this the man is indeed ignorant, because he is kept in bonds not well known to him, but in so far as these bonds are slackened (as before said), so far he rushes on; and this it has been given me to know from much experience in the other life. As these things lie hidden in the love of self, they who are in the love of self, and are not endowed with the bonds of conscience, above all others hold the Lord in hatred, consequently all the truths of faith, for these are the very laws of order in the Lord‘s kingdom, and these they reject so as to abominate them, which also shows itself openly in the other life. This love is also the "serpent’s head," which the "Seed of the woman" (that is, the Lord) "treads down" (n. 257).
 But the love of self is not always that which appears in the outward form as pride and haughtiness, for sometimes such persons are able to hold the neighbor in charity, for with some such an external is born, and with some it is contracted in early life, but is afterwards subjugated, the external still remaining. But those are in the love of self who despise others and make them of no account in comparison with themselves, and who care nothing for the common good, unless it is for them, and they themselves, as it were, are it, especially those who hate all by whom they are not favored and served, persecuting them, and so far as they are able depriving them of their possessions, honor, reputation, and even life. Let those who breathe such things in intention know that they are pre-eminently in the love of self.
AC 2220. That "Sodom" is all evil from the love of self, is evident from the signification of" Sodom" in the Word. Although in the following chapter it appears as if the evil of the worst adultery was signified by " Sodom," nevertheless in the internal sense nothing else than evil from the love of self is signified by it. In the Word also the abominations that well forth from the love of self are represented by adulteries of various kinds. That "Sodom" signifies in general all evil from the love of self, and "Gomorrah" all falsity therefrom, has been shown (n. 1212, 1663, 1682, 1689), and is further evident from the following passages in the Word. In Jeremiah:--
A sword upon the Chaldeans, and upon the inhabitants of Babel, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbor cities thereof, saith Jehovah, there shall not a man dwell there, and there shall not a son of man sojourn therein (Jeremiah 50:35, 40).
This passage treats of those signified by the Chaldeans, who are such as have profane falsity in their worship (n. 1368); and of those signified by Babel, who are such as have profane evil in their worship (n. 1182, 1326). Their condemnation is described by the "overthrow of Sodom," that is, of evil in general, and by the "overthrow of Gomorrah," that is, of falsity in general; because they also have in their worship the evil of the love of self, and the derivative falsity.
 In Amos:--
I have overthrown you as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah; and ye became as a brand plucked out of the burning (Amos 4:11),
where Samaria is treated of, by which is signified the perverted spiritual church, and which in respect to evils in general contrary to the goods of charity is called "Sodom," and in respect to falsities in general contrary to the truths of faith is called" Gomorrah;" and in respect to both (here as previously) is called the "overthrowing of God." In Zephaniah:
Moab shall be as Sodom, and the sons of Ammon as Gomorrah, a forsaken place of the nettle, and a pit of salt, and a desolation even to eternity this shall they have for their pride, because they have reproached and have enlarged upon the people of Jehovah Zebaoth (Zephaniah 2:9, 10),
where" Sodom" denotes evil from the love of self, and "Gomorrah" the derivative falsity, of both of which "desolation‘s is here predicated, as previously was "overthrow." "Pride" is the love of self; to "reproach the people of Jehovah Zebaoth," is to bring evil upon truths; and to "enlarge upon the people," is to bring falsity upon them.
 In Ezekiel:--
Thine elder sister is Samaria, that dwelleth at thy left hand, she and her daughters and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters. Thy sister Sodom hath not done, she and her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters. Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, satiety of bread, and security of ease, were in her and her daughters, and she did not strengthen the hand of the wretched and needy and they became haughty, and committed abomination before Me (Ezekiel 16:46-50),
where the abominations of Jerusalem are treated of, and are described by " Samaria" and " Sodom;" by " Samaria," instead of Gomorrah, as to falsities, and by "Sodom" as to evils; and it is stated what is specifically signified by " Sodom," for it is said, "this was the iniquity of Sodom," to wit that it was the love of self, which is there signified by "pride." That they turned away from the goods of charity, is signified by the "satiety of bread;" that they had acquiesced in these things, is signified by the " security of ease;" that they had no mercy, is described by their "not having strengthened the hand of the poor and needy;" and that all the cupidities thence derived are imbued with the love of self, is signified by their "daughters having become haughty;" the "daughters" are cupidities.
 Hence it is manifestly evident what " Sodom" is, thus that it is not according to the historic sense in the following chapter, but that such things are there signified in the internal sense as are described here by the prophet, namely, those which are of the love of self. But Sodom is here described more mildly because the abominations of Jerusalem are treated of as having been greater than those of Sodom, as is also evident from the Lord’s words in Matthew:--
Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city (Matthew 10:15; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:12).
Their bodies shall lie upon the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11:8),
where it is evident that by "Sodom" is not meant Sodom, nor Egypt by "Egypt," for it is said that it is "spiritually called Sodom and Egypt;" Sodom" denotes all evil from the love of self, and "Egypt" (instead of Gomorrah) all derivative falsity.
AC 2221. Abraham went with them. That this signifies that the Lord still remained with them in perception, but concerning the human race, is evident from the series of things in the internal sense; for to "go with the three men" (that is, with Jehovah) is to be still in perception.
AC 2222. To send them away. That this signifies that He willed to withdraw from that perception, is evident without explication. The reason is also manifest, namely, that the perception from the Divine, and the thought therefrom concerning the human race that such was their quality, struck Him with horror, for the Lord‘s love toward the human race was so great that He willed to save all to eternity by the unition of His Human Essence with the Divine, and of the Divine with the Human, on which account, when He perceived that they were such, He willed to withdraw from the perception and derivative thought, which is signified by Abraham desiring to "send the men away." GENESIS 18:16 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|