Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 18:4
AC 2160. Verse 4. Let I pray a little water be taken, and wash ye your feet, and lie down under the tree. "Let I pray a little water be taken," signifies that they should draw near, and let themselves down from things Divine nearer to His intellectual things; "and wash ye your feet," signifies that they should put on something natural, in order that in the state in which He then was, He might the better perceive; "and lie down under the tree," signifies near to the perception of His state in which He was; "tree" is perception.
AC 2161. Let I pray a little water be taken. That this signifies that they should draw near, and let themselves down from things Divine nearer to His intellectual things, cannot be so evident from these words alone--that they should take a little water--but it is evident from the series of things in this verse, and from their connection with those which go before and those which follow. From what is said in this verse no one would ever know that the words "Let I pray a little water be taken, and wash ye your feet, and lie down under the tree" signify that the Divine should let itself down nearer to the state of perception in which the Lord then was, and should put on something natural in order that He might the better perceive; for not a trace of this arcanum is manifest in the words as understood historically; but that nevertheless such in the internal sense is their signification, and that the angels so perceive them, I know for certain.
 This shows what great and deep arcana lie hidden in the Word. Moreover that such is the signification, may be seen from the signification in the internal sense of the several words, namely, from the signification of "water" as being intellectual things, from the signification of "feet" as being natural things, and from the signification of a "tree" as being perception. then these things are understood, the signification in the internal sense (to wit, that which has been stated) can be seen from the series of things, and from their connection with those which precede and those which follow. That "waters" signify memory-knowledges and rational things, consequently the things of the understanding, see (n. 28, 680), and very many other passages in the Word.
AC 2162. Wash ye your feet. That this signifies that (the Divine) should put on something natural, in order that, in the state in which the Lord then was, He might the better perceive, may be seen from the signification of "feet," as being natural things, and also likewise from the series of things. That arcana here lie hidden may to some extent be seen from the fact that Abraham prayed the three men to take a little water and wash their feet, and to recline under a tree; when yet he knew that it was the Lord or Jehovah; and also from the fact that otherwise such things would not have been mentioned.
 That "feet" signify natural things, is evident from the representatives in the other life, and from the derivative representatives among the most ancient people, and thus in the Word. Celestial and spiritual things are represented by the head and its belongings; rational things and their belongings, by the breast and its belongings; natural things and their belongings, by the feet and their belongings. Hence it is that the "sole" and the "heel" of the foot signify the lowest natural things (n. 259); and a "shoe" the lowest things of all, which are unclean (n. 1748).
 Similar things are signified by the representations in the dreams and visions in the Prophets--as by the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar, The head of which was good gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, the feet part of iron and part of clay (Dan. 2:32, 33), where the " head" signifies celestial things, which are inmost, and are "gold" (n. 113, 1551, 1552); the "breast and arms" spiritual or rational things, which are "silver" (n. 1551); but the "feet" are the lower things, which are natural, the truths of which are signified by "iron," and the goods by "clay" (argillum seu lutum). "Iron" denotes truth (n. 425, 426); also that "clay" denotes good (n. 1300); in the present case both being natural. Such is the order of succession in the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens, and in the church which is the Lord‘s kingdom on earth, and also in every one who is a kingdom of the Lord.
 The case is similar with the vision that Daniel saw, of which it is said:--
I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold a man clothed in linen, and his loins were girded with gold of Uphaz; his body also was like the beryl (Tarshish), and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like the brightness of burnished brass (Daniel 10:5, 6).
Specifically, by these words are signified the interiors of the Word as to goods and truths; the "arms" and "feet" are its exteriors, which are the sense of the letter, because natural things are therein, for the exterior things of the Word are taken from natural things. What each part signifies besides, namely, the loins, body, face, eyes, and the many other things of man, is evident from the representatives in the other life, concerning which, of the Lord’s Divine mercy more will be said when we come to treat of the Grand Man, which is the Lord‘s heaven, and of the derivative representatives in the world of spirits.
 That which we read concerning Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders-that "they saw the God of Israel, under whose feet there was as it were a work of sapphire stone, and as it were the substance of heaven as to purity" (Exod. 24:9, 10), signifies that they saw only the externals of the church represented in natural things; and also the literal sense of the Word, in which likewise external things are represented by natural things--as before said--which are the "feet under which was as it were a work of sapphire stone, and as it were the substance of heaven." That it was the Lord who was seen by them, but only in those lower or natural things, is evident, for He is called "the God of Israel," whom all things of the church represented, and all things of the Word in the internal sense signified. For the Lord is presented to view in accordance with the things which are at the time signified--in John, as a Man upon a white horse, when He signified the Word, as is plainly said (Rev. 19:11, 13).
 The animals seen by Ezekiel, which were cherubs, are described as to celestial and spiritual things, among other representatives, by their faces and wings, but as to natural things, as follows:--
Their feet, a straight foot; and the sole of their feet as the sole of a calf’s foot; and they glittered like the brightness of burnished brass (Ezek. 1:7).
The feet (that is, the natural things) are said to have "glittered like burnished brass," for the reason that "brass" signifies natural good (n. 425, 1551). It was much the same with the Lord‘s appearance to John as the "Son of man:"--
Whose eyes were as a flame of fire, and His feet like unto burnished brass (Rev. 1:14, 15; 2:18).
 That the "feet" signify natural things, may be further evident from the passages that now follow. In John:--
I saw a strong angel coming down out of heaven, encompassed with a cloud, and a rainbow about his head, and his face as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire and he had in his hand a little book open; and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth (Rev. 10:1, 2).
By this angel there is in like manner signified the Word; the quality of which in the internal sense is signified by the "rainbow about his head," and by "his face being as the sun;" but the external sense, or that of the letter, by the "feet." The "sea" denotes natural truths, the "earth" natural goods, which shows what is signified by his putting "his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth."
 A "footstool" is mentioned in various passages of the Word; but it is not known what it signifies in the internal sense. As in Isaiah:--
Jehovah said, The heavens are My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is that house which ye will build unto Me? and where is that place of My rest? (Isaiah 66:1).
The "heavens" are the celestial and spiritual things (thus the inmost things) of both the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens, and of the Lord‘s kingdom on the earth, that is, in the church, and also in every man who is a kingdom of the Lord or a church; thus they also denote celestial and spiritual things as regarded in themselves, which are those of love and charity and of the derivative faith; and thus are all things which are of internal worship, and in like manner all things which are of the internal sense of the Word: these are the "heavens," and are called the Lord’s "throne." But the "earth" is all lower things that correspond to these--as the lower rational and natural things, whereof also things celestial and spiritual are predicated from correspondence; such as are the things which are in the lower heavens, also those in the church and in external worship, and in the literal sense of the Word; in short, all such things as proceed from things internal and are presented in things external--these, being natural things, are called the " earth" and the Lord‘s "footstool." What "heaven and earth" denote in the internal sense, may be seen above, (n. 82, 1733); also what the "new heaven and the new earth" denote, (n. 2117, 2118); and that man is a little heaven, (n. 911, 978, 1900).
 In like manner in Jeremiah:--
The Lord covereth the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger; He hath cast down from the heavens unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and hath not remembered His footstool in the day of His anger (Lam. 2:1).
Also in David:--
Exalt ye Jehovah our God, and bow yourselves down at His footstool, Holy is He (Ps. 99:5).
We will enter into His tabernacles, we will bow down at His footstool (Ps. 132:7).
In the Representative Church--thus among the Jews--it was supposed that the house of God and the temple were His footstool, for they knew not that external representative worship was signified by the house of God and the temple; and what the internals of the church were (which were signified by "heaven," or God’s "throne"), they were utterly ignorant of.
The saying of Jehovah unto my Lord: Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool (Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:42-45; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42, 43).
Here in like manner a "footstool" signifies natural things both those which are sensuous, and those of memory-knowledge, and the derivative rational things of man, which are called "enemies" when they pervert worship, and do this from the literal sense of the Word, so that there is worship solely in externals, and either no internal worship, or else that which is filthy (n. 1094, 1175, 1182). When things natural and rational are thus perverted and defiled, they are called "enemies;" but because, regarded in themselves, they have reference to internal worship-when this is restored, they become as before said a "footstool," whether they are things of external worship, or of the literal sense of the Word.
 In Isaiah:--
The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine, and the box together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary, and I will make the place of My feet honorable (Isaiah 60:13),
where the subject is the Lord‘s kingdom and church, the celestial spiritual things of which are the "glory of Lebanon" (that is, the cedars), and its celestial natural things are the "fir-tree, the pine, and the box" (as also in the Word elsewhere), and thus the things which are of external worship; of which it is said, "I will make the place of My feet honorable;" and this cannot be made honorable by the fir, the pine, and the box, but by the things which they signify.
 That the "feet" signify these things, is evident also from the representatives in the Jewish Church-as from Aaron and his sons washing their hands and their feet before entering into the tabernacle (Exod. 30:19, 20; 40:31, 32). No one can fail to see that arcana were thus represented, for what is the washing of the hands and feet but an external affair which is of no avail unless the internal is clean and pure? Nor can the internal be cleaned and purified by such a washing. But as all the rites of that church were significative of internal things, which are celestial and spiritual, such is the case here also: it is cleanness of external worship that is here signified, and external worship is clean when there is internal worship within it. Hence their lavers were of brass, and also that great laver that was called the brazen sea, and the ten smaller lavers of brass around the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7:23, 38); because "brass" represented the good of external worship, which is the same as natural good, concerning which signification of "brass," see (n. 425, 1551).
 In like manner it was a representative that,
A man of the seed of Aaron in whom there was a fracture of the foot or a fracture of the hand, should not approach to offer the offering made by fire to Jehovah (Lev. 21:19, 21).
By those who had a "fracture" in the feet or hands were represented such as are in perverted external worship.
 That "feet" signify natural things, is further evident in other passages that occur in the Prophets, as in these propheticals in Moses:--
Blessed be Asher above sons; let him be accepted of his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil; the iron and brass of thy shoe (Deut. 33:24, 25).
No one can understand these words unless it is known what " oil," the " foot," "iron," "brass," and a "shoe" signify in the internal sense. That "foot" is the natural, and "shoe" the still lower natural, such as is the corporeal sensual, may be seen above (n. 1748); also that "oil" is the celestial (n. 886), " iron" natural truth (n. 425, 426), and "brass" natural good (n. 425, 1551), which shows what these words involve.
 In Nahum:--
The way of Jehovah is in the storm and tempest, and the clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3),
where the "dust of the feet" signifies the natural and corporeal things with man, whence come the "clouds." The same also is signified by these words in David:--
Jehovah bowed the heavens, and came down, and thick darkness was under His feet (Ps. 18:9).
 When the goods and truths of faith are perverted by means of natural light, as it is called, this is described in the Word by the "feet" and " hoofs" of a beast, whereby waters are disturbed, and food is trampled upon. As in Ezekiel:--
Thou hast come forth into the rivers, and hast troubled the waters with thy feet and trampled the streams thereof. I will destroy every beast thereof from off many waters; and the foot of man shall not trouble them any more, nor the hoof of beast (Ezekiel 32:2, 13).
Egypt is here treated of, by which are signified memory-knowledges (scientiae) (n. 1164, 1165, 1462), so that by the "feet" and "hoofs" by which the streams and eaters are troubled, are signified memory-knowledges (scientific) derived from sensuous and natural things, from which they reason about the arcana of faith; nor do they believe until these arcana are comprehended by means of such knowledges; and this is not to believe at all, for the more such persons reason, the less do they believe (n. 128-130, 215, 232, 233, 1072, 1385). From all this it is now evident that by "feet" in the Word are signified natural things but what more is signified, is evident from the series of things.
AC 2163. And lie down under the tree. That this signifies near to the perception of His state in which He then was, is evident from the signification of a "tree," as being perception (n. 103); bearing which in mind the series of things shows that the above is the real sense of the words. That "trees" signified perceptions, originated in the fact that the celestial man was compared and likened to Paradise, or the garden in Eden; from which the perceptions of celestial things with him were likened to the trees therein. GENESIS 18:4 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
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