Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 18:6
previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AC 2170. Verse 6. And Abraham hastened toward the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of meal of fine flour, knead, and make cakes. "Abraham hastened toward the tent unto Sarah," signifies the Lord’s rational good conjoined with His truth; "Abraham" is here the Lord in that state as to good; " Sarah," as to truth; the "tent," as to the holy of love: "and said," signifies the state of perception relatively at that time; "make ready quickly three measures of meal of fine flour, knead, and make cakes," signifies the celestial of His love in that state; "three" denotes what is holy; "meal of fine flour," is the spiritual and the celestial of the rational which were then with the Lord; "cakes" denote the same when both are conjoined.

AC 2171. Abraham hastened toward the tent unto Sarah. That this signifies the Lord‘s rational good conjoined with His truth, is evident from the representation of "Abraham," and also of "Sarah," and from the signification of a "tent," concerning which presently. As each and all things bear relation to the subject treated of in the internal sense, so do these words bear relation to the Divine perception into which the Lord came when He was in the perception of the human. But those who do not know what perception is, cannot know either how the case is with it, still less that there exists a perception that is more and more interior, namely, natural perception, then rational perception, and finally internal perception, which is Divine, and which the Lord alone had. They who are in perception, as are the angels, know very well in which perception they are; whether in natural, in rational, or in a still more interior perception which to them is Divine. What then must have been the case with the Lord, who had a perception from the Supreme and Infinite Divine, concerning which see (n. 1616, 1791), in which no angels ever are, for perception flows into them from the Lord’s Supreme or Infinite Divine through His Human Essence.

[2] The reason why the Lord‘s perception is described, is that when He was in the human, it was thus made known to Him how the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding were to be united in Him; then, how His rational was to be made Divine; and finally what was the quality of the human race--that it was to be saved by Him, that is, by the union of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence in Him; which are the subjects treated of in this chapter. On these accounts the Lord’s perception is first described, as also on account of the union itself which was to be effected.

AC 2172. That "Abraham" is here the Lord in that state as to good, is evident from the representation of Abraham. When he is speaking with Jehovah, as here, Abraham represents the Lord in the Human (n. 1989), where he represented the Lord in the state and at the age there described, because then also he spoke with Jehovah. In other cases Abraham represents the Lord‘s Divine good, and Sarah His Divine truth; hence Abraham now represents the Lord’s rational good.

AC 2173. That "Sarah" is here the Lord as to truth, is evident from the representation of Sarah, as being intellectual truth adjoined to good; here, as being rational truth, for the same reason as just now stated in regard to Abraham. That Sarah represents truth may be seen above, (n. 1468, 1901, 2063, 2065). In the historicals of the Word good and truth cannot be represented otherwise than by a marriage, for this is really the case with them, for there is a Divine marriage between things celestial and spiritual, or what is the same, between those which are of love and those which are of faith, or again what is the same, between those of the will and those of the understanding. The former are of good, the latter are of truth. There is such a marriage in the Lord‘s kingdom in the heavens such also in the Lord’s kingdom on the earth (that is, in the church); such a marriage in every man, in every single thing of him, nay, in the veriest singulars of all. That which is not in such a marriage does not live. Nay, from that Divine marriage there is such a marriage in universal nature, and in every particular of it, but under other form and appearance, otherwise nothing whatever would there subsist. Because there is such marriage in everything, therefore with the Prophets every matter is expressed in a twofold manner especially in Isaiah--one expression referring to what is celestial, or to good, and the other to what is spiritual, or to truth (n. 683, 793, 801). That in everything there is a resemblance of a marriage, may be seen above (n. 718, 747, 917, 1432). Hence it is that the Lord‘s good is represented by Abraham, and His truth by Sarah.

AC 2174. That a "tent" is the Lord as to the holy of love, is evident from the signification of a "tent," as being what is holy (n. 414, 1102, 1566, 2145).

AC 2175. And he said. That this signifies the state of the perception relatively at that time, is evident from the signification in the historical sense of " saying" as being to perceive (n. 1898, 1919, 2080).

AC 2176. Make ready quickly three measures of meal of fine flour, knead, and make cakes. That this signifies the celestial of His love in that state, is evident from the signification of "meal," "fine flour," and "cakes," which will be treated of in what next follows. That such things are involved, no one can believe who keeps his mind intent on the literal sense, or that of the words, still less if on the historical things described by them; for he is thinking not only about this preparation, but also about the men who came to Abraham, and not about these matters involving more secret things. This is the reason why he can still less believe that the historicals of the Word in every detail store up within them such arcana equally as do the propheticals; for the historicals draw the mind strongly to themselves, and darken the interiors. Nevertheless that there really are arcana deeply hidden in these historicals is evident from the mere fact that it is the Word of the Lord, written not only for man, but at the same time also for heaven; and this in such a manner, that when a man is reading it, the angels have heavenly ideas therefrom; so that in this way heaven is conjoined with the human race by means of the Word. What is meant in the internal sense by "meal," "fine flour," and "cakes," will now be shown.

AC 2177. That the "meal of fine flour" denotes the spiritual and the celestial which were then with the Lord, and that "cakes" denote the same when both are conjoined, is very evident from the sacrifices of the Representative Church, and from the meat-offering then made use of, which consisted of fine flour mingled with oil and made into cakes. The chief part of representative worship consisted in burnt-offerings and sacrifices. What these represented has already been stated, where bread is treated of (n. 2165), namely, the celestial things of the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens and of the Lord‘s kingdom on the earth (that is, in the church), and also those of the Lord’s kingdom or church with each person; and in general all the things of love and charity, because these are celestial. All these offerings and sacrifices were at that time called "bread," and to them was adjoined the meat-offering also, which, as already said, consisted of fine flour mingled with oil to which frankincense was likewise added, as well as a libation of wine.

[2] What these represented is also evident, namely, similar things as the sacrifices, but in a less degree, thus the things which are of the spiritual church, and like wise those of the external church. Every one can see that such things would never have been commanded unless they had represented Divine things, and also that each one represents something special and peculiar, for unless they had represented Divine things, they would not have differed from similar things in use among the Gentiles, among whom also there were sacrifices--meat-offerings, libations, frankincense, perpetual fires, and many other things, derived to them from the Ancient Church, and especially from the Hebrew Church. But as internal things (that is, the Divine things that were represented) were separated from these Gentile rites, they were merely idolatrous, as also they became with the Jews, who for this reason fell into all kinds of idolatry. From what has been said every one can see that there were heavenly arcana in every rite, especially in the sacrifices and all their particulars.

[3] As regards the meat-offering, the nature of it and how it was to be prepared into cakes, is described in a whole chapter in Moses (Lev. 2; Num. 15). The law of the meat-offering is described in Leviticus in these words:--

Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually, it shall not go out. And this is the law of the meat-offering: the sons of Aaron shall bring it before Jehovah to the faces of the altar; and he shall take therefrom his handful of the fine flour of the meat-offering, and of the oil thereof, and all the frankincense which is upon the meat-offering, and shall burn it upon the altar, an odor of rest, for a memorial unto Jehovah; and the residue thereof Aaron and his sons shall eat; unleavened shall they be eaten in a holy place in the court of the tent of meeting shall they eat it. It shall not be baked leavened; I have given it as their portion of My offerings made by fire; it is a holy of holies (Leviticus 6:13-17).

[4] The fire which must be kept burning upon the altar continually, represented the love, that is, the mercy of the Lord, perpetual and eternal. That in the Word "fire" signifies love, see (n. 934); hence "offerings made by fire for an odor of rest" signify the Lord‘s pleasure in the things which are of love and charity. That "odor" denotes what is well-pleasing, that is, what is grateful, see (n. 925, 1519). Their "taking a handful" represented that they should love with all the strength, or with all the soul; for the hand, or the palm of the hand, signifies power (n. 878), from which "handful" also signifies power. The fine flour, with the oil and the frankincense, represented all things of charity--the fine flour the spiritual, and the oil the celestial of charity, the frankincense what was in this manner grateful. That fine flour represents what is spiritual, is evident from what has just been said, and from what follows; that oil represents what is celestial, or the good of charity, may be seen above, (n. 886); and also that frankincense, from its odor, represents what is grateful and acceptable, (n. 925).

[5] Its being "unleavened," or not fermented, signifies that it should be sincere, and thus from a sincere heart, and free from uncleanness. That Aaron and his sons should eat the residue, represented man’s reciprocality and his appropriation, thus conjunction through love and charity; on which account it was commanded that they should eat it in a holy place. Hence it is called a "holy of holies." These were the things that were represented by the meat-offering; and the representatives themselves were so perceived in heaven; and when the man of the church so apprehended them, he was then in an idea similar to the perception of the angels, thus he was in the Lord‘s kingdom itself in the heavens although he was on earth.

[6] The meat-offering is further treated of, as regards what it ought to be in connection with each kind of sacrifice, and how it should be baked into cakes, also what kind should be offered by those who were being cleansed, and what on other occasions; to mention and explain all of which would be too tedious; but concerning all these matters see (Exod. 29:39-41; Lev. 5:11-13; 6:14-23; 10:12, 13; 23:10-13, 16, 17; Num. 5:15; 6:15-17, 19, 20; 7:1-89; 28:5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 20, 21, 28, 29; 29:3, 4, 9, 10, 14, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 37).

[7] Fine flour made into cakes in general represented the same as bread, namely, the celestial of love, and meal the spiritual of it, as is evident from the passages cited above. The "breads" (or loaves) that were called the "bread of faces," or the "show bread" (panis propositionis), were made of fine flour, which was prepared in cakes and placed upon the table, for a perpetual representation of the love, that is, the mercy, of the Lord toward the universal human race, and the reciprocality of man. Concerning these loaves we read as follows in Moses:--

Thou shalt take fine flour and shalt bake it into twelve cakes; of two tenths shall one cake be; and thou shalt set them in two rows, six in a row, upon the clean table, before Jehovah; and thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, and it shall be to the breads for a memorial, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. On every Sabbath day he shall set it in order before Jehovah continually, from the sons of Israel in a covenant of eternity. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, for it is a holy of holies unto him, of the offerings made by fire unto Jehovah by a statute of eternity (Lev. 24:5-9).

Every particular in this description and all the smallest details represented the holy of love and of charity, the "fine flour" the same as the "meal of fine flour," namely, the celestial and its spiritual, and the "cake" the two conjoined.

[8] Hence it is evident what is the holiness of the Word to those who are in heavenly ideas, nay, what holiness there was in this very representative rite, on account of which it is called a holiness of holinesses; and on the contrary, how void of holiness it is to those who suppose that there is nothing heavenly in these things, and who abide solely in the externals; as do they who perceive the meal here merely as meal, the fine flour as fine flour, and the cake as a cake, and who suppose these things to have been stated without each particular involving something of the Divine. These do in like manner as do those who think the bread and wine of the Holy Supper to be nothing but a certain rite, containing nothing holy within; whereas there is such holiness that human minds are by that Supper conjoined with heavenly minds, when from internal affection they are thinking that the bread and wine signify the Lord’s love and the reciprocality of man, and are thus in holiness from interior thought and feeling.

[9] The like was involved in that the sons of Israel on their coming into the land of Canaan were to offer a cake of the first of their dough, as a heave-offering unto Jehovah (Num. 15:20). That such things are signified is also evident in the Prophets, from which we may at present adduce only this from Ezekiel:--

Thou wast decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was fine linen and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, honey, and oil, and thou wast become beautiful very exceedingly, and thou wast prospered unto a kingdom (Ezekiel 16:13);

where the subject treated of is Jerusalem, by which is signified the church, that was so decked in its earliest time--that is, the Ancient Church--and which is described by the garments and other ornaments; as also its affections of truth and good by the fine flour, honey, and oil. Every one can see that all these things have a very different meaning in the internal sense from that in the sense of the letter. And so have these words which Abraham said to Sarah: "Make ready quickly three measures of the meal of fine flour, knead, and make cakes." That "three" signifies holy things has been shown before, (n. 720, 901).

GENESIS 18:6    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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