Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 19:26
previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AC 2453. Verse 26. And his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. "His wife looked back behind him," signifies that truth turned itself away from good, and looked to doctrinal things; "and she became a pillar of salt," signifies that all the good of truth was vastated.

AC 2454. His wife looked back behind him. That this signifies that truth turned itself away from good, and looked to doctrinal things, is evident from the signification of "looking back behind him," and from the signification of a "wife." It has been already said (n. 2417) that to "look back behind him" is to look to doctrinal things, which are of truth, and not to a life according to doctrinal things, which is of good; for that is said to be "behind" him, which is posterior; and that is said to be "before" him, which is prior. It has been frequently shown that truth is posterior, and good prior; for truth is of good, because good is the essence and life of truth; and therefore to "look back behind him" is to look to truth, which is of doctrine, and not to good, which is of life according to doctrine. That this is the signification is very evident from the Lordís words (where also He is speaking of the last time of the church, or of the consummation of the age) in Luke:--

In that day he that shall be upon the house, and his vessels in the house, let him not go down to take them away and let him that is in the field likewiseĎ not turn back behind him: Remember Lotís wife (Luke 17:31, 32).

[2] These words of the Lord are not at all intelligible without the internal sense, thus unless it is known what is signified by being upon the house, what by the vessels in the house, what by going down to take them away, and what by the field, and lastly what by turning back behind him. According to the internal sense, to be "upon the house" is to be in good. That a "house" denotes good may be seen above, (n. 710, 2233, 2234). The "vessels" in a house denote the truths which are of good. That truths are the vessels of good, may be seen above, (n. 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2269). To "go down to take them away" denotes to turn oneĎs self away from good to truth, as we can see; for as good is prior it is also higher; and as truth is posterior it is lower. That a "field" denotes the church, being so called from the seed which it receives into it, consequently that those are "fields" who are in the good of doctrine, is evident from many passages in the Word. This shows what is signified by "turning back behind him," namely, to turn oneís self away from good, and to look to doctrinal things; wherefore, because these things are signified by LotĎs wife, it is added, "Remember Lotís wife." It is not said that she "looked back behind herself," but "behind him;" because "Lot" signifies good (n. 2324, 2351, 2370, 2399). Hence it is that when Lot was told what to do (verse 17), it was said, "Look not back behind thee."

[3] The reason why it is said in Luke, "Let him not turn back behind him," and not "to the things that are behind him," is that the celestial are not willing even to mention anything of a doctrinal nature (n. 202, 337); which is the reason why nothing specific is mentioned, but it is merely said "behind him." These same things are thus described in Matthew:--

When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, foretold by Daniel the prophet, then let them that are in Judea flee into the mountains; let him that is upon the house not go down to take anything out of his house and let him that is in the field not return back to take his garments (Matthew 24:15-17);

[4] where the "abomination of desolation" denotes the state of the church when there is no love and no charity, for when these are desolated, abominable things predominate. That "Judea" denotes the church, and indeed the celestial church, is evident from the Word of the Old Testament throughout, both the historic and the prophetic. That the "mountains" into which they shall flee, denote love to the Lord and the consequent charity toward the neighbor, may be seen above (n. 795, 1430, 1691). That "he who is upon the house," denotes the good of love, has just been stated. That to "go down to take anything out of his house," denotes to turn oneĎs self away from good to truth, has also just been stated. That " they who are in the field" denote those who are in the spiritual church, is evident from the signification in the Word of a "field." That "let him not return back to take his garments," denotes that he should not turn himself away from good to the truth that is of doctrine, is because "garments" signify truths, for truths act as garments in clothing good (n. 1073). Every one can see that very different things are meant and that arcana are involved by all that the Lord there said concerning the consummation of the age, as that they who were in Judea should flee into the mountains, that they who were upon the house should not go down to take anything out of the house, and that they who were in the field should not return back to take their garments; and in like manner by its being said that Lot should not look back behind himself (verse 17), and here that his wife did look back behind him. This is further evident from the signification of a "wife," as being truth (n. 915, 1468); and from the signification of "Lot," as being good (n. 2324, 2351, 2370, 2399); hence it is said "behind him."

[5] Truth is said to turn itself away from good, and to look to doctrinal things, when the man of the church no longer has at heart what kind of a life he lives, but what kind of a doctrine he possesses when yet it is a life according to doctrine that makes a man of the church, but not doctrine separate from life; for when doctrine is separated from life, then because good, which is of the life, is laid waste, truth, which is of doctrine, is also laid waste, that is, becomes a pillar of salt; which every one may know who looks only to doctrine and not to life, when he considers whether, although doctrine teaches them, he believes in the resurrection, in heaven, in hell, even in the Lord, and in the rest of the things that are of doctrine.

AC 2455. And she became a pillar of salt. That this signifies that all the good of truth was laid waste, is evident from the signification of a "pillar," and from the signification of "salt." In the original language a "pillar" is expressed by a word which signifies a standing still, not by one that means a pillar erected for worship or for a sign, or for a witness so that by the "pillar of salt" is here signified that it, namely, the truth signified by Lotís wife, stood vastated (n. 2454). Truth is said to be vastated, or laid waste, when there is no longer any good in it, vastation itself being signified by "salt."

[2] As most things in the Word have a double sense, namely, the genuine sense and its opposite, so also has " salt;" in the genuine sense it signifies the affection of truth; in the opposite sense, the vastation of the affection of truth, that is, of good in truth. "Salt" signifies the affection of truth (Exod. 30:35; Lev. 2:13; Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:49, 50; Luke 14:34, 35); and it signifies the vastation of the affection of truth, which is evident from the following passages. In Moses:--

The whole land shall be brimstone and salt, a burning; it shall not be sown, it shall not bear, neither shall any herb spring up therein like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim (Deut. 29:23);

where "brimstone" denotes the vastation of good; and "salt" the vastation of truth: that the subject is vastation is evident from every particular.

[3] In Zephaniah:--

Moab shall be as Sodom, and the sons of Ammon as Gomorrah a place that is left to the nettle, and a pit of salt, and an eternal desolation (Zephaniah 2:9);

where a "place that is left to the nettle" denotes vastated good, and a "pit of salt" vastated truth; for the expression "place left to the nettle" refers to Sodom, by which is signified evil or vastated good, and a "pit of salt" to Gomorrah, by which is signified falsity or vastated truth, as already shown. That the subject is vastation is manifest, for it is said an "eternal desolation." In Jeremiah:--

He that maketh flesh his arm shall be like a bare shrub in the solitude, and shall not see when good cometh, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land, and not inhabited (Jeremiah 17:5, 6);

where "parched places" denote vastated goods, and a "salt land" vastated truths.

[4] In David:--

Jehovah maketh rivers into a wilderness, and water springs into dry ground, a fruitful land into a salt one, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein (Ps. 107:33, 34);

a "fruitful land made into a salt one" denotes the vastation of good in truth. In Ezekiel:--

The miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given up to salt (Ezekiel 47:11);

to be " given up to salt" denotes being altogether vastated as to truth. As "salt" signified vastation, and "cities" the doctrinal things of truth (n. 402, 2268, 2428, 2451), in ancient times when cities were destroyed they were sown with salt, in order to prevent their being rebuilt (Judges 9:45). The words before us therefore denote the fourth state of that church which was represented by Lot, which state was that all truth was vastated as to good.

GENESIS 19:26    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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