Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 2:10-14
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AC 107. Verse 10. And a river went out of Eden, to water the garden, and from thence it was parted, and was into four heads. A "river out of Eden," signifies wisdom from love, for "Eden" is love; "to water the garden," is to bestow intelligence; to be "thence parted into four heads," is a description of intelligence by means of the four rivers, as follows.

AC 108. The most ancient people, when comparing man to a "garden," also compared wisdom, and the things relating to wisdom, to "rivers;" nor did they merely compare them, but actually so called them, for such was their way of speaking. It was the same afterwards in the Prophets, who sometimes compared them, and sometimes called them so. As in Isaiah:--

Thy light shall arise in darkness, and thy thick darkness shall be as the light of day; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like an outlet of waters, whose waters lie not (Isaiah 58:10, 11).

Treating of those who receive faith and love. Again, speaking of the regenerate:--

As the valleys are they planted, as gardens by the river‘s side; as lignaloes which Jehovah hath planted, as cedar-trees beside the waters (Num. 24:6).

In Jeremiah:--

Blessed is the man who trusteth in Jehovah; he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that sendeth forth her roots by the river (Jeremiah 17:7, 8).

In Ezekiel the regenerate are not compared to a garden and a tree, but are so called:--

The waters made her to grow, the deep of waters uplifted her, the river ran round about her plant, and sent out its channels to all the trees of the field; she was made beautiful in her greatness, in the length of her branches, for her root was by many waters. The cedars in the garden of God did not hide her; the fir-trees were not like her boughs, and the plane-trees were not like her branches, nor was any tree in the garden of God equal to her in her beauty; I have made her beautiful by the multitude of her branches, and all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God envied her (Ezekiel 31:4, 7-9).

From these passages it is evident that when the most ancient people compared man, or the things in man, to a "garden," they added the "waters" and "rivers" by which he might be watered, and by these waters and rivers meant such things as would cause his growth.

AC 109. That although wisdom and intelligence appear in man, they are, as has been said, of the Lord alone, is plainly declared in Ezekiel by means of similar representatives:--

Behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward for the face of the house is the east; and he said, These waters issue out to the border toward the east, and go down into the plain, and come to the sea, which being led into the sea, the waters shall be healed; and it shall come to pass that every living soul which creepeth, whithersoever the water of the rivers shall come, shall live. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, there come up all trees for food, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it is born again in its months, because these its waters issue out of the sanctuary, and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for medicine (Ezekiel 47:1, 8, 9, 12).

Here the Lord is signified by the "east," and by the "sanctuary," whence the waters and rivers issued. In like manner in John:--

He showed me a pure river of water of life, bright as crystal, going forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and of the river on this side and that, was the tree of life, which bare twelve (manner of) fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaf of the tree was for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1, 2).

AC 110. Verses 11, 12. The name of the first is Pishon; that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone. The " first" river, or "Pishon," signifies the intelligence of the faith that is from love "the land of Havilah" signifies the mind; "gold" signifies good; "bdellium and the onyx stone," truth. " Gold" is mentioned twice because it signifies the good of love and the good of faith from love; and "bdellium and the onyx stone" are mentioned because the one signifies the truth of love, and the other the truth of faith from love. Such is the celestial man.

AC 111. It is however a very difficult matter to describe these things as they are in the internal sense, for at the present day no one knows what is meant by faith from love, and what by the wisdom and intelligence thence derived. For external men scarcely know of anything but memory-knowledge (scientia), which they call intelligence and wisdom, and faith. They do not even know what love is, and many do not know what the will and understanding are, and that they constitute one mind. And yet each of these things is distinct, yea, most distinct, and the universal heaven is ordinated by the Lord in the most distinct manner according to the differences of love and faith, which are innumerable.

AC 112. Be it known moreover that there is no wisdom which is not from love, thus from the Lord; nor any intelligence except from faith, thus also from the Lord; and that there is no good except from love, thus from the Lord; and no truth except from faith, thus from the Lord. What are not from love and faith, and thus from the Lord, are indeed called by these names, but they are spurious.

AC 113. Nothing is more common in the Word than for the good of wisdom or of love to be signified and represented by "gold." All the gold in the ark, in the temple, in the golden table, in the candlestick, in the vessels, and upon the garments of Aaron, signified and represented the good of wisdom or of love. So also in the Prophets, as in Ezekiel:--

In thy wisdom and in thine intelligence thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver in thy treasures (Ezekiel 18:4),

where it is plainly said that from wisdom and intelligence are "gold and silver," or the good and the true, for " silver here signifies truth, as it does also in the ark and in the temple. In Isaiah:--

The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of Jehovah (Isaiah 60:6).

Thus also:--

The wise men from the east, who came to Jesus when He was born, fell down and worshiped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:1, 11).

Here also "gold" signifies good; "frankincense and myrrh," things that are grateful because from love and faith, and which are therefore called "the praises of Jehovah." Wherefore it is said in David:--

He shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba; prayer also shall be made for him continually, and every day shall He bless him (Ps. 72:15).

AC 114. The truth of faith is signified and represented in the Word by precious "stones," as by those in the breast-plate of judgment, and on the shoulders of Aaron’s ephod. In the breast-plate, "gold, blue, bright crimson, scarlet double-dyed, and fine-twined linen," represented such things as are of love, and the precious "stones" such as are of faith from love; as did likewise the two "stones of memorial" on the shoulders of the ephod, which were onyx stones, set in ouches of gold (Exod. 28:9-22). This signification of precious stones is also plain from Ezekiel, where, speaking of a man possessed of heavenly riches, which are wisdom and intelligence, it is said:--

Full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the ruby, the topaz, the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the sapphire, the chrysoprase, the emerald, and gold; the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared; thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created (Ezekiel 28:12, 13, 15),

which words it must be evident to every one do not signify stones, but the celestial and spiritual things of faith; yea, each stone represented some essential of faith.

AC 115. When the most ancient people spoke of "lands," they understood what was signified by them, just as those at the present day who have an idea that the land of Canaan and Mount Zion signify heaven, do not so much as think of any land or mountain when these places are mentioned, but only of the things which they signify. It is so here with the "land of Havilah," which is mentioned again in (Genesis 25:18), where it is said of the sons of Ishmael, that they "dwelt from Havilah even unto Shur, which is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria." Those who are in a heavenly idea perceive from these words nothing but intelligence, and what flows from intelligence. So by to "compass"-as where it is said that the river Pishon "compasseth the whole land of Havilah"-they perceive a flowing in; as also in the onyx stones on the shoulders of Aaron‘s ephod being encompassed with ouches of gold (Exod. 28:11), they perceive that the good of love should inflow into the truth of faith. And so in many other instances.

AC 116. Verse 13. And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush. The "second river," which is called "Gihon," signifies the knowledge (cognitio) of all things that belong to the good and the true, or to love and faith, and the "land of Cush" signifies the mind or faculty. The mind is constituted of the will and the understanding; and what is said of the first river has reference to the will, and what of this one to the understanding to which belong the knowledges (cognitiones) of good and of truth.

AC 117. The "land of Cush," or Ethiopia, moreover, abounded in gold, precious stones, and spices, which, as before said, signify good, truth, and the things thence derived which are grateful, such as are those of the knowledges of love and faith. This is evident from the passages above cited (n. 113) from (Isa. 60:6; Matt. 2:1, 11; Ps. 72:15). That similar things are meant in the Word by "Cush" or "Ethiopia," and also by " Sheba," is evident from the Prophets, as in Zephaniah, where also the " rivers of Cush" are mentioned:--

In the morning He will give His judgment for light; for then will I turn to the people with a clear language, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve Him with one shoulder; from the passage of the rivers of Cush My suppliants shall bring Mine offering (Zephaniah 3:5, 9, 10).

And in Daniel, speaking of the king of the north and of the south:--

He shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the desirable things of Egypt; and the Lybians and the Ethiopians shall be under his steps (Daniel 11:43),

where "Egypt" denotes memory-knowledges (scientifica), and the "Ethiopians" knowledges (cognitiones).

[2] So in Ezekiel:--

The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, these were thy merchants, in the chief of all spices, and in every precious stone, and in gold (Ezekiel 27:22),

by whom in like manner are signified knowledges (cognitiones) of faith. So in David, speaking of the Lord, consequently of the celestial man:--

In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace until there shall be no moon; the kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer a gift (Ps. 72:7, 10).

These words, as is plain from their connection with the preceding and subsequent verses, signify celestial things of faith. Similar things were signified by the queen of Sheba, who came to Solomon, and proposed hard questions, and brought him spices, gold, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1, 2). For all things contained in the historical parts of the Word, as well as in the Prophets, signify, represent, and involve arcana.

AC 118. Verse 14. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth eastward toward Asshur; and the fourth river it is Phrath. The "river Hiddekel" is reason, or the clearsightedness of reason. "Asshur" is the rational mind; the " river which goeth eastward toward Asshur," signifies that the clearsightedness of reason comes from the Lord through the internal man into the rational mind, which is of the external man "Phrath," or Euphrates, is memory-knowledge (scientia), which is the ultimate or boundary.

AC 119. That "Asshur" signifies the rational mind, or the rational of man, is very evident in the Prophets, as in Ezekiel:--

Behold, Asshur was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches and a shady grove, and lofty in height; and her offshoot was among the thick boughs. The waters made her grow, the deep of waters uplifted her, the river ran round about her plant (Ezekiel 31:3, 4).

The rational is called a "cedar in Lebanon;" the "offshoot among the thick boughs," signifies the knowledges of the memory, which are in this very plight. This is still clearer in Isaiah:--

In that day shall there be a path from Egypt to Asshur, and Asshur shall come into Egypt, and Egypt into Asshur, and the Egyptians shall serve Asshur. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Asshur, a blessing in the midst of the land, that Jehovah Zebaoth shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Asshur the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance (Isaiah 19:23-25).

By "Egypt" in this and various other passages is signified memory-knowledges, by "Asshur" reason, and by "Israel" intelligence.

AC 120. As by "Egypt," so also by "Euphrates," are signified memory-knowledges (scientiae seu scientifica), and also the sensuous things from which these knowledges come. This is evident from the Word in the Prophets, as in Micah:--

My she-enemy hath said, Where is Jehovah thy God? The day in which He shall build thy walls (macerias), that day shall the decree be far removed; that day also He shall come even to thee from Asshur, and to the cities of Egypt, and to the river (Euphrates) (Micah 7:10-12).

So did the prophets speak concerning the coming of the Lord who should regenerate man so that he might become like the celestial man. In Jeremiah:--

What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of Asshur, to drink the waters of the river (Euphrates)? (Jeremiah 2:18),

where "Egypt" and "Euphrates" likewise signify memory-knowledges, and "Asshur" reasonings thence derived. In David:--

Thou hast made a vine to go forth out of Egypt; Thou hast cast out the nations; Thou hast planted her; Thou hast sent out her shoots even to the sea, and her twigs to the river (Euphrates) (Ps. 80:8, 11),

where also the "river Euphrates" signifies what is sensuous and of the memory (sensuali et scientifico). For the Euphrates was the boundary of the dominions of Israel toward Assyria, as the knowledge of the memory is the boundary of the intelligence and wisdom of the spiritual and celestial man. The same is signified by what was said to Abraham:--

Unto thy seed will I give this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18).

These two boundaries have a like signification.

AC 121. The nature of celestial order, or how the things of life proceed, is evident from these rivers, namely, from the Lord, who is the "East," and that from Him proceeds wisdom, through wisdom intelligence, through intelligence reason, and so by means of reason the knowledges of the memory are vivified. This is the order of life, and such are celestial men; and therefore, since the elders of Israel represented celestial men, they were called "wise, intelligent, and knowing" (Deut. 1:13, 15). Hence it is said of Bezaleel, who constructed the ark, that he was Filled with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge (scientia), and in all work (Exod. 31:3; 35:31; 36:1, 2).

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