Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 18:29
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AC 2270. Verse 29. And he added yet to speak unto Him, and said, Peradventure forty shall be found there; and He said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. "He added yet to speak unto Him," signifies thought; "and said, Peradventure forty shall be found there," signifies those who have been in temptations; "and He said, I will not do it for forty‘s sake," signifies that they shall be saved.

AC 2271. He added yet to speak unto Him. That this signifies thought, is evident from the signification in the internal sense of "speaking." To "speak" or "speaking" is nothing else than that which flows forth from the thought; and as internal things are signified by external things--like understanding by "seeing," the understanding by the "eye," obedience by the "ear," and so forth--so thinking is signified by "speaking."

AC 2272. And he said, Peradventure forty shall be found there. That this signifies those who have been in temptation, is evident from the signification of the number forty, as being temptations (n. 730). How these things follow on in a series may be seen from temptations. Temptations take place to the end not only that the man may be confirmed in truths, but also that truths may be more closely conjoined with goods; for man is then battling for truths against falsities, and as he is then in interior distress and in torment, the delights of the life of cupidities and their derivative pleasures come to a cessation; and then goods flow in from the Lord, the consequence of which is that evils are at the same time regarded as abominable, and the effect of this is new thoughts of a nature contrary to those possessed before, to which the man may afterwards be bent, thus from evils to goods, and these goods be conjoined with truths. And as the conjunction of good with truth is effected by means of temptations, and as it has been said in a former verse that those would be saved with whom goods can be conjoined with truths, therefore there follows what is here said; and indeed in such words as to signify that goods and truths can be conjoined by means of temptations. This is the connection of the subject matters for those who are in the internal sense.

AC 2273. And He said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. That this signifies that they will be saved, is evident without any unfolding of the meaning. As regards those who in the preceding verse are signified by "forty-five," it was said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty and five," and the signification was that they should not perish if goods were able to be conjoined with truths, and there here follows a statement concerning the forty: "I will not do it for forty‘s sake;" by which is not signified that they should be saved on account of temptations, for there are some who even undergo temptations and who yield in them; and therefore with these goods are not conjoined. I would even say that a man is not saved on account of temptations if he places anything of merit in them; for if he does this, it is from the love of self, in that he congratulates himself on their account, and believes that he has merited heaven more than others, and at the same time he is thinking of his own preeminence over others by despising others in comparison with himself; all of which things are contrary to mutual love, and therefore to heavenly blessedness.

[2] The temptations in which a man overcomes are attended with a belief that all others are more worthy than himself, and that he is infernal rather than heavenly; for while in temptations such ideas are presented to him; and therefore when after temptations he comes into thoughts contrary to these, it is an indication that he has not overcome; for the thoughts which the man has had in temptations are those to which can be bent the thoughts which he has after the temptations and if the latter cannot be bent to the former, the man has either yielded in the temptation, or he again comes into similar ones, and sometimes into more grievous ones, until he has been reduced to such sanity that he believes he has merited nothing. Hence it is evident that by "forty" are here signified those with whom by means of temptations goods have been conjoined with truths.

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