Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 19:2
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AC 2328. Verse 2. And he said, Behold I pray my lords, turn aside I pray to the house of your servant, and pass the night, and wash your feet; and in the morning ye shall rise and go on your way; and they said, Nay, for we will pass the night in the street. "And he said, Behold I pray my lords," signifies in interior acknowledgment and confession of the Lord’s Divine Human and Holy proceeding; "turn aside I pray to the house of your servant, and pass the night," signifies an invitation to have an abode with him; "to the house of a servant," means in the good of charity; "and wash your feet," signifies application to his natural; "and in the morning ye shall rise and go on your way," signifies confirmation thereby in good and truth; "and they said, Nay," signifies a doubting, which is wont to attend temptation; "for we will pass the night in the street," signifies that He was as it were willing to judge from truth.

AC 2329. He said, Behold I pray my lords. That this signified an interior acknowledgment and confession of the Lord‘s Divine Human and Holy proceeding, is evident from the acknowledgment and humiliation spoken of just before; here confession immediately follows, for this is meant by Lot’s saying, "Behold I pray my lords." Interior confession is of the heart and comes forth in humiliation, and at the same time in the affection of good; but exterior confession is of the lips, and may possibly come forth in a feigned humiliation and a feigned affection of good, which is none at all, being such as exists with those who confess the Lord for the sake of their own honor, or rather their own worship, and their own gain. That which these confess with the lips, they deny in the heart.

[2] Its being said in the plural, "my lords," is for the same reason that in the preceding chapter it is said "three men;" for just as the "three" there signify the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding, so here the "two" signify the Lord‘s Divine Human and Holy proceeding, as was said above. That these are one is known to every one within the church; and because they are one, they are also named in the singular in what follows, as in (verse 17), "It came to pass when they had led them forth abroad, that He said, Escape for thy life;" (verse 19), "Behold I pray thy servant hath found grace in thine eyes, and thou hast made thy mercy great which thou hast done with me;" (verse 21), "And be said unto him, Behold I have accepted thy face as to this word also, that I will not overthrow the city;" and (verse 22), "For I cannot do anything until thou be come thither."

[3] That the Divine Itself, the Divine Human, and the Holy proceeding are Jehovah, is evident from the foregoing chapter, where the three men are called "Jehovah," as in (verse 13), "Jehovah said unto Abraham;" (verse 14)," Shall anything be too wonderful for Jehovah;" (verse 22), "Abraham, he stood yet before Jehovah;" (verse 33), "Jehovah went His way when He made an end of speaking with Abraham." Consequently the Divine Human and Holy proceeding are Jehovah, as also He is named in this chapter, (verse 24), "And Jehovah caused it to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven;" the internal sense of which words will be seen in what follows. That the Lord is Jehovah Himself, who is so often named in the histories and prophecies of the Old Testament, may be seen above, (n. 1736).

[4] They who are truly men of the church, that is, who are in love to the Lord and in charity toward the neighbor, are acquainted with and acknowledge a Trine; but still they humble themselves before the Lord and adore Him alone, for the reason that they know that there is no access to the Divine Itself which is called the "Father" except through the Son; and that all the Holy which is of the Holy Spirit proceeds from Him. When they are in this idea they adore no other than Him through whom and from whom all things are, thus One;

[5] nor do they spread out their ideas among Three, as many within the church are wont to do, as can be seen from many in the other life, even the learned, who in the life of the body had supposed that they possessed the arcana of faith more than others. When these were explored in the other life as to what idea they had concerning the one God-whether of Three Uncreates, Three Infinites, Three Eternals, Three Almighties, Three Lords, it was plainly perceived that they had the idea of Three (for there is a communication of ideas there), when yet it is part of the creed, being stated in plain words, that there are not Three Uncreates, not Three Infinites, not Three Eternals, not Three Almighties, not Three Lords, but One; as also is the truth. The result was that they confessed that with the mouth they had indeed said that there is one God, yet still had thought, and some had believed, that there are three, whom in idea they could separate, but not join together, the reason of which is that all arcana whatever, even the deepest, are attended with an idea; for without an idea nothing can be thought of, nor indeed can anything be kept in the memory.

[6] Hence in the other life it is manifest as in clear day what thought, and thence what belief, each person has formed for himself concerning the One God. Indeed the Jews in the other life, when they hear that the Lord is Jehovah and that there is but One God, can say nothing. But when they perceive that the ideas of Christians are divided among Three, they say that they themselves worship One God, but Christians Three; and this the more since none can join together the Three thus separated in idea, except those who are in the faith of charity; for the Lord applies the minds of these to Himself.

AC 2330. Turn aside I pray to the house of your servant and pass the night. That this signifies an invitation for the Divine Human and Holy proceeding to have an abode with him, is evident without unfolding the meaning.

AC 2331. That "to the house of a servant" denotes in the good of charity, is evident from the signification of a "house," as being celestial good, which is of love and charity alone (n. 2048, 2233).

AC 2332. Wash your feet. That this signifies application to his natural, is evident from what was said in the preceding chapter (n. 2162), where are the same words. In former times, when they saw an angel of Jehovah, they believed that they were about to die (Exod. 19:12, 21, 24; 20:19; Judges 6:22, 23; 13:22, 23), for the reason that when the Divine Holy flows into the profane that is with man, its virtue is such as to cause it to be a devouring and consuming fire; and therefore when the Lord presents Himself to the view of any man, or even of any angel, He miraculously moderates and tempers the Holy that proceeds from Him, so that they may be able to endure it; or what is the same, He applies Himself to their natural. This then is what is signified in the internal sense by these words which Lot said to the angels: "Wash your feet." And this shows what is the nature of the internal sense, for that this is the signification cannot be seen from the sense of the letter.

AC 2333. And in the morning ye shall rise and go on your way. That this signifies confirmation in good and truth, may be seen from the signification of "rising in the morning," and also from the signification of "going on the way." In the Word "morning" signifies the Lord’s kingdom and whatever belongs to the Lord‘s kingdom, thus principally the good of love and of charity, as will be confirmed from the Word at (verse 15); and a "way" signifies truth (n. 627); for which reason it is said that after they had been in his house and had passed the night there (by which is signified that they had an abode in the good of charity that was with him), they should "rise in the morning and go on their way," by which is signified being thereby thus confirmed in good and truth.

[2] From this, as from other passages, it is evident how remote from the sense of the letter, and consequently how much unseen, is the internal sense, especially in the historical parts of the Word; and that it does not come to view unless the meaning of every word is unfolded in accordance with its constant signification in the Word. On this account, when the ideas are kept in the sense of the letter, the internal sense appears no otherwise than as something obscure and dark; but on the other hand when the ideas are kept in the internal sense, the sense of the letter appears in like manner obscure, nay, to the angels as nothing. For the angels are no longer in worldly and corporeal things, like those of man, but in spiritual and celestial things, into which the words of the sense of the letter are wonderfully changed, when it ascends from a man who is reading the Word to the sphere in which the angels are, that is, to heaven; and this from the correspondence of spiritual things with worldly, and of celestial things with corporeal. This correspondence is most constant, but its nature has not yet been disclosed until now in the unfolding of the meaning of the words, names, and numbers in the Word, as to the internal sense.

[3] That it may be known what is the nature of this correspondence, or what is the same, how worldly and corporeal ideas pass into corresponding spiritual and celestial ideas when the former are elevated to heaven, take as an example "morning" and "way." When " morning" is read, as in the passage before us to "rise in the morning," the angels do not get an idea of any morning of a day, but an idea of morning in the spiritual sense, thus such a one as is described in Samuel: "The Rock of Israel He is as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, a morning without clouds" (2 Sam. 23:3, 4); and in Daniel "The holy one said unto me, Until evening, when morning comes, two thousand three hundred" (Daniel 8:14, 26). Thus instead of "morning" the angels perceive the Lord, or His Kingdom, or the heavenly things of love and charity; and these in fact with variety according to the series of things in the Word which is being read.

[4] In like manner where "way" is read-as here, to "go on your way"-they can have no idea of a way, but another idea which is spiritual or celestial, namely, like that in John, where the Lord said: "I am the way and the truth" (John 14:6); and as in David: "Make Thy ways known to me, O Jehovah, lead my way in truth" (Ps. 25:4, 5); and in Isaiah: "He made Him to know the way of understanding" (Isaiah 40:14). Thus instead of "way" the angels perceive truth, and this in both the historical and the prophetical parts of the Word. For the angels no longer care for the historical things, as these are altogether inadequate to their ideas; and therefore in place of them they perceive such things as belong to the Lord and His kingdom, and which also in the internal sense follow on in a beautiful order and well-connected series. For this reason, and also in order that the Word may be for the angels, all the historical things therein are representative, and each of the words is significative of such things; which peculiarity the Word has above all other writing.

AC 2334. And they said, Nay. That this signifies the doubting which is wont to attend temptation, may be seen from their declining and yet going into his house. In all temptation there is somewhat of doubt concerning the Lord’s presence and mercy, and concerning salvation and the like things; for those who are in temptation are in interior anxiety, even to despair; in which they are for the most part kept, to the end that they may be at length confirmed in the fact that all things are of the Lord‘s mercy; that they are saved by Him alone; and that with themselves there is nothing but evil; in respect to which they are confirmed by means of conflicts in which they overcome. After the temptation there remain from it many states of truth and good to which their thoughts may afterwards be bent by the Lord, which would otherwise rush into insane things, and draw away the mind into opposition to what is true and good.

[2] Since by "Lot" there is here treated of the first state of the church which is in the good of charity but in external worship, and since before a man comes into this state he is to be reformed, which is also done by a certain kind of temptation (but they who are in external worship undergo only a light temptation), therefore these things which involve something of temptation are said, namely, that the angels at first said they would pass the night in the street, and that Lot urged them, and so they turned aside to him, and came into his house.

AC 2335. For we will pass the night in the street. That this signifies that he was as it were desirous to judge from truth, may be seen from the signification of a "street," and from the signification of "passing the night." A "street" is often named in the Word, and in the internal sense signifies the same as a "way," namely, truth-for a street is a way in a city-as will be evident from the passages that will soon follow. That "to pass the night" is here to judge, may be seen from the signification of "night." It was shown (n. 2323) that "evening" signifies the state of the church before the last, when there begins to be no faith; and also the visitation which precedes the Judgment. From this it is evident that "night," which succeeds, is the last state, when there is no faith; also that it is the Judgment. It is clear from this that to "pass the night in the street," in the internal sense denotes to judge from truth.

[2] As regards Judgment it is twofold, namely, from good and from truth. The faithful are judged from good, but the unfaithful from truth. That the faithful are judged from good, is plainly evident in (Matthew 25:34-40), and that the unfaithful are judged from truth (Matthew 25:41 to 46). To be judged from good is to be saved because they have received it; but to be judged from truth is to be condemned because they have rejected good. Good is the Lord’s, and they who acknowledge this in life and faith are the Lord‘s, and therefore are saved; but they who do not acknowledge it in life, and consequently not in faith, cannot be the Lord’s, and therefore cannot be saved. They are therefore judged according to the acts of their life and according to their thoughts and ends; and when they are judged according to these, they cannot but be condemned; for it is a truth that of himself a man does, thinks, and intends nothing but evil, and of himself rushes to hell in so far as he is not withheld therefrom by the Lord.

[3] But as regards judgment from truth the case is this: The Lord never judges anyone except from good; for He desires to raise all into heaven, however many they may be, and indeed, if it were possible, even to Himself; for the Lord is mercy itself and good itself. Mercy itself and good itself can never condemn anyone; but it is the man who condemns himself, because he rejects good. As in the life of the body he had shunned good, so does he shun it in the other life; consequently he shuns heaven and the Lord, for the Lord cannot be in anything except good. He is likewise in truth, but not in truth separated from good. That the Lord condemns no one, nor judges any to hell, He says in John:--

God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. This is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their works were evil (John 3:17, 19).

and in the same:--

If anyone hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world (John 12:47).

(n. 223, 245, 592, 696, 1093, 1683, 1874, 2258).

[4] Where Judgment was treated of above (n. 2320, 2321), it was shown that all Judgment belongs to the Lord‘s Divine Human and Holy proceeding, according to His words in John:--

The Father judgeth not anyone, but hath given all judgment unto the Son (John 5:22);

and yet it is now said that the Lord does not judge by condemning anyone. From this it is evident what is the nature of the Word in the letter: that unless it were understood from another sense, namely, from the internal sense, it would not be comprehended. From the internal sense alone is it manifest how the case is with judgment.

AC 2336. That a "street" signifies truth, may be seen from many passages in the Word, as in John, where the New Jerusalem is treated of:--

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, every gate was one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass (Rev. 21:21).

[2] The "New Jerusalem" is the Lord’s kingdom, which, being described as to good and truth, is described by "walls," "gates," and "streets." By the " streets" are meant all things of truth which lead to good, or all things of faith which lead to love and charity; and because truths then become of good, thus transparent from good, the street is said to be "gold, as it were transparent glass." Again:--

In the midst of the street of it and of the river, on this side and on that, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits (Rev. 22:2);

where also the New Jerusalem or the Lord‘s kingdom is treated of. The "midst of the street" denotes the truth of faith, by means of which’ comes good, and which afterwards comes from good; the "twelve fruits" are what are called the fruits of faith; for "twelve" signifies all the things of faith (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130).

[3] In Daniel:--

Know and perceive that from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, even unto Messiah the Leader, shall be seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks, and it shall be restored and built with street and moat (Daniel 9:25),

where the Lord‘s advent is treated of; "it shall be restored with street and moat," denotes that there will then be what i" true and good. That Jerusalem was not then restored and built is well known; and that it is not to be restored and built anew every one may also know provided he does not keep his ideas fixed on a worldly kingdom, but on the heavenly kingdom that is meant by "Jerusalem" in the internal sense.

[4] In Luke:--

The master of the house said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind (Luke 14:21).

They who remain in the sense of the letter apprehend from this nothing else than that the servant should go everywhere, and that this is signified by the "streets and lanes;" and that he should bring in everybody, and that this is signified by the "poor, maimed, lame, and blind." But each of these words contains deep secrets within it, for they are the Lord’s words. That he should "go into the streets and lanes," signifies that he should seek everywhere for some genuine truth, or truth which shines from good, or through which good shines. That he should "bring in the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind," signifies such as were so called in the Ancient Church and were such as to the faith, but were in the life of good, who should thus be informed about the Lord‘s kingdom-thus the nations which were not yet instructed.

[5] As "streets" signified truths, it was a representative rite among the Jews to teach in the streets (Matt. 6:2, 5; Luke 13:26, 27). In the Prophets, "streets," wherever named, signify in the internal sense either truths, or things contrary to truths, as in Isaiah:--

Judgment is cast away backward, and righteousness standeth afar off; for truth hath stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter (Isaiah 59:14).


Thy sons have fainted, and have lain at the head of all the streets (Isaiah 51:20).

In Jeremiah:--

Death is come up into our windows, it is entered into our palaces, to cut off the child from the street, the young men from the roads (Jeremiah 9:21).

[6] In Ezekiel:--

Nebuchadnezzar shall tread down all thy streets with the hoofs of his horses (Ezekiel 26:11),

speaking of Tyre, by which are signified the knowledges of truth (n. 1201), the "hoofs of the horses" denote the memory-knowledges that pervert truth. In Nahum:--

The chariots rave in the streets, they run to and fro in the roads (Nahum 2:4);

the "chariots" denote the doctrine of truth, which is said to "rave in the streets," when falsity is in the place of truth. In Zechariah:--

There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls, playing in the streets (Zechariah 8:4, 5),

speaking of the affections of truth, and the consequent gladnesses and joys. Besides other places, as (Isa. 24:11; Jer. 5:1; 7:34; 49:26; Lam. 2:11, 19; 4:8, 14; Zeph. 3:6).

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