Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 2:21-25
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AC 147. Verse 21. And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the place thereof. By a "rib," which is a bone of the chest, is meant man’s Own, in which there is but little vitality, and indeed an Own which is dear to him; by "flesh in the place of the rib," is meant an Own in which there is vitality; by a "deep sleep" is meant the state into which he was let so that he might seem to himself to have what is his own, which state resembles sleep, because while in it he knows not but that he lives, thinks, speaks, and acts, from himself. But when he begins to know that this is false, he is then roused as it were out of sleep, and becomes awake.

AC 148. The reason why what is man‘s own (and indeed an Own which is dear to him) is called a "rib," which is a bone of the chest, is that among the most ancient people the chest signified charity, because it contains both the heart and the lungs; and bones signified the viler things, because they possess a minimum of vitality; while flesh denoted such as had vitality. The ground of these significations is one of the deepest arcana known to the men of the most Ancient Church, concerning which of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter.

AC 149. In the Word also, man‘s Own is signified by "bones," and indeed an Own vivified by the Lord, as in Isaiah:--

Jehovah shall satisfy thy soul in droughts, and make thy bones alert, and thou shalt be like a watered garden (Isaiah 58:11).


Then shall ye see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall sprout as the blade (Isaiah 66:14).

In David:--

All my bones shall say, Jehovah, who is like unto Thee? (Ps. 35:10).

This is still more evident from Ezekiel, where he speaks of bones receiving flesh, and having spirit put into them:--

The hand of Jehovah set me in the midst of the valley, and it was full of bones; and He said to me, prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah; thus saith the Lord Jehovih to these bones; behold, I bring breath (spiritus) into you, and ye shall live, and I will lay sinews upon you, and will make flesh come upon you, and cover you with skin, and I will put breath (spiritus) in you, and ye shall live, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah (Ezekiel 37:1, 4-6).

[2] The Own of man, when viewed from heaven, appears like a something that is wholly bony, inanimate, and very ugly, consequently as being in itself dead, but when vivified by the Lord it looks like flesh. For man’s Own is a mere dead thing, although to him it appears as something, indeed as everything. Whatever lives in him is from the Lord‘s life, and if this were withdrawn he would fall down as dead as a stone for man is only an organ of life, and such as is the organ, such is the life’s affection. The Lord alone has what is His Own; by this Own He redeemed man, and by this Own He saves him. The Lord‘s Own is Life, and from His Own, man’s Own, which in itself is dead, is made alive. The Lord‘s Own is also signified by the Lord’s words in Luke:--

A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have (Luke 24:39).

It was also meant by not a bone of the paschal lamb being broken (Exod. 12:46).

AC 150. The state of man when in his Own, or when he supposes that he lives from himself, is compared to "deep sleep," and indeed by the ancients was called deep sleep; and in the Word it is said of such that they have "poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep" (Isa. 29:10), and that they sleep a sleep (Jer. 51:57). That man‘s Own is in itself dead, and that no one has any life from himself, has been shown so clearly in the world of spirits, that evil spirits who love nothing but their Own, and obstinately insist that they live from themselves, were convinced by sensible experience, and were forced to confess that they do not live from themselves. For a number of years I have been permitted in an especial manner to know how the case is with what is man’s own, and it has been granted to me to perceive clearly that I could think nothing from myself, but that every idea of thought flows in, and sometimes I could perceive how and whence it flowed in. The man who supposes that he lives from himself is therefore in what is false, and by believing that he lives from himself appropriates to himself everything evil and false, which he would never do if his belief were in accordance with the real truth of the case.

AC 151. Verse 22. And the rib which Jehovah God had taken from the man He built into a woman, and brought her to the man. By to "build" is signified to raise up what has fallen; by the "rib," man‘s Own not vivified; by a "woman," man’s own vivified by the Lord; by "He brought her to the man," that what is his own was granted him. The posterity of this church did not wish, like their parents, to be a celestial man, but to be under their own self-guidance; and, thus inclining to their Own, it was granted to them, but still an Own vivified by the Lord, and therefore called a "woman," and afterwards a " wife."

AC 152. It requires but little attention in any one to discern that woman was not formed out of the rib of a man, and that deeper arcana are here implied than any person has heretofore been aware of. And that by the "woman" is signified man‘s Own, may be known from the fact that it was the woman who was deceived; for nothing ever deceives man but his Own, or what is the same, the love of self and of the world.

AC 153. The rib is said to be "built into a woman," but it is not said that the woman was "created," or "formed," or "made," as before when treating of regeneration. The reason of this is that to "build" is to raise up that which has fallen; and in this sense it is used in the Word, where to "build" is predicated of evils; to "raise up," of falsities; and to "renew," of both; as in Isaiah:--

They shall build the wastes of eternity, they shall set up again the ancient desolations, and they shall renew the cities of the waste, the desolations of generation and generation (Isaiah 61:4).

"Wastes" in this and other passages signify evils; "desolations," falsities; to "build" is applied to the former, to "set up again" to the latter, and this distinction is carefully observed in other places by the prophets, as where it is said in Jeremiah:--

Yet still will I build thee, and thou shall be built, O virgin of Israel (Jeremiah 31:4).

AC 154. Nothing evil and false is ever possible which is not man’s Own, and from man‘s Own, for the Own of man is evil itself, and consequently man is nothing but evil and falsity. This has been evident to me from the fact that when the things of man’s Own are presented to view in the world of spirits, they appear so deformed that it is impossible to depict anything more ugly, yet with a difference according to the nature of the Own, so that he to whom the things of the Own are visibly exhibited is struck with horror, and desires to flee from himself as from a devil. But truly the things of man‘s Own that have been vivified by the Lord appear beautiful and lovely, with variety according to the life to which the celestial of the Lord can be applied; and indeed those who have been endowed with charity, or vivified by it, appear like boys and girls with most beautiful countenances; and those who are in innocence, like naked infants, variously adorned with garlands of flowers encircling their bosoms, and diadems upon their heads, living and sporting in a diamond-like aura, and having a perception of happiness from the very inmost.

AC 155. The words "a rib was built into a woman," have more things inmostly concealed in them than it is possible for any one ever to discover from the letter; for the Word of the Lord is such that its inmost contents regard the Lord Himself and His kingdom, and from this comes all the life of the Word. And so in the passage before us, it is the heavenly marriage that is regarded in its inmost contents. The heavenly marriage is of such a nature that it exists in the Own, which, when vivified by the Lord, is called the "bride and wife" of the Lord. Man’s Own thus vivified has a perception of all the good of love and truth of faith, and consequently possesses all wisdom and intelligence conjoined with inexpressible happiness. But the nature of this vivified Own, which is called the "bride and wife" of the Lord, cannot be concisely explained. Suffice it therefore to observe that the angels perceive that they live from the Lord, although when not reflecting on the subject they know no other than that they live from themselves; but there is a general affection of such a nature that at the least departure from the good of love and truth of faith they perceive a change, and consequently they are in the enjoyment of their peace and happiness, which is inexpressible, while they are in their general perception that they live from the Lord. It is this Own also that is meant in Jeremiah, where it is said:--

Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man (Jeremiah 31:22)

It is the heavenly marriage that is signified in this passage also, where by a "woman" is meant the Own vivified by the Lord, of which woman the expression "to compass" is predicated, because this Own is such that it encompasses, as a rib made flesh encompasses the heart.

AC 156. Verse 23. And the man said, This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; therefore she shall be called wife, because she was taken out of man (vir). "Bone of bones and flesh of flesh," signify the Own of the external man; "bone," this Own not so much vivified, and "flesh," the Own that is vivified. Man (vir), moreover, signifies the internal man, and from his being so coupled with the external man as is stated in the subsequent verse, the Own which was before called " woman," is here denominated "wife." "Now," signifies that it was thus effected at this time because the state was changed.

AC 157. Inasmuch as "bone of bones and flesh of flesh" signified the Own of the external man in which was the internal, therefore in ancient times all those were called "bone of bones and flesh of flesh" who could be called their own (proprii), and were of one house, or of one family, or in any degree of relationship. Thus Laban said of Jacob,

Surely thou art my bone and my flesh (Gen. 29:14).

And Abimelech said of his mother‘s brethren, and of the family of the house of his mother’s father,

Remember that I am your bone and your flesh (Judges 9:2).

The tribes of Israel also said of themselves to David,

Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh (2 Sam. 5:1).

AC 158. That man (vir) signifies the internal man, or what is the same, one who is intelligent and wise, is plain from Isaiah:--

I behold, and there is no man (vir), even among them, and there is no counselor (Isaiah 41:28),

meaning none wise and intelligent. Also in Jeremiah:--

Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see if ye can find a man, if there be any executing judgment, seeking the truth (Jeremiah 5:1)

"One who executes judgment" means a wise person; and "one who seeks the truth," an intelligent one.

AC 159. But it is not easy to perceive how the case is with these things unless the state of the celestial man is understood. In the celestial man the internal man is distinct from the external, indeed so distinct that the celestial man perceives what belongs to the internal man, and what to the external, and how the external man is governed through the internal by the Lord. But the state of the posterity of this celestial man, in consequence of desiring their Own, which belongs to the external man, was so changed that they no longer perceived the internal man to be distinct from the external, but imagined the internal to be one with the external, for such a perception takes place when man inclines to his Own.

AC 160. Verse 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. To "leave father and mother," is to recede from the internal man, for it is the internal which conceives and brings forth the external; to " cleave unto his wife," is that the internal may be in the external; to "be one flesh," that they are there together; and because before, the internal man, and the external from the internal, was spirit, but now they have become flesh. Thus was celestial and spiritual life adjoined to the Own, that they might be as one.

AC 161. This posterity of the Most Ancient Church was not evil, but was still good; and because they desired to live in the external man, or in their Own, this was permitted them by the Lord, what is spiritual celestial however being mercifully insinuated therein. How the internal and external act as a one, or how they appear as a one, cannot be known unless the influx of the one into the other is known. In order to conceive some idea of it, take for example an action. Unless in an action there is charity, that is, love and faith, and in these the Lord, that action cannot be called a work of charity, or the fruit of faith.

AC 162. All the laws of truth and right flow from celestial beginnings, or from the order of life of the celestial man. For the whole heaven is a celestial man because the Lord alone is a celestial man, and as He is the all in all of heaven and the celestial man, they are thence called celestial. As every law of truth and right descends from celestial beginnings, or from the order of life of the celestial man, so in an especial manner does the law of marriages. It is the celestial (or heavenly) marriage from and according to which all marriages on earth must be derived; and this marriage is such that there is one Lord and one heaven, or one church whose head is the Lord. The law of marriages thence derived is that there shall be one husband and one wife, and when this is the case they represent the celestial marriage, and are an exemplar of the celestial man. This law was not only revealed to the men of the Most Ancient Church, but was also inscribed on their internal man, wherefore at that time a man had but one wife, and they constituted one house. But when their posterity ceased to be internal men, and became external, they married a plurality of wives. Because the men of the Most Ancient Church in their marriages represented the celestial marriage, conjugial love was to them a kind of heaven and heavenly happiness, but when the Church declined they had no longer any perception of happiness in conjugial love, but in pleasure from a number, which is a delight of the external man. This is called by the Lord "hardness of heart," on account of which they were permitted by Moses to marry a plurality of wives, as the Lord Himself teaches:--

For the hardness of your heart Moses wrote you this precept, but from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh; wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh; what therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder (Mark 10:5-9).

AC 163. Verse 25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Their being "naked, and not ashamed," signifies that they were innocent, for the Lord had insinuated innocence into their Own, to prevent its being unacceptable.

AC 164. The Own of man, as before stated, is mere evil, and when exhibited to view is most deformed, but when charity and innocence from the Lord are insinuated into the Own, it then appears good and beautiful (n. 154). Charity and innocence not only excuse the Own (that is, what is evil and false in man), but as it were abolish it, as may be observed in little children, in whom what is evil and false is not merely concealed, but is even pleasing, so long as they love their parents and one another, and their infantile innocence shows itself. Hence it may be known why no one can be admitted into heaven unless he possesses some degree of innocence; as the Lord has said:--

Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And He took them up in His arms, put His hands upon them, and blessed them (Mark 10:14-16).

AC 165. That the "nakedness of which they were not ashamed" signifies innocence, is proved by what follows, for when integrity and innocence departed they were ashamed of their nakedness, and it appeared to them disgraceful, and they therefore hid themselves. The same is evident also from the representations in the world of spirits, for when spirits wish to exculpate themselves and prove their guiltlessness, they present themselves naked in order to testify their innocence. Especially is it evident from the innocent in heaven, who appear as naked infants decorated with garlands according to the nature of their innocence; while those who have not so much innocence are clad in becoming and shining garments (of diamond silk as you might say), as the angels were occasionally seen by the prophets.

AC 166. Such are some of the things contained in this chapter of the Word, but those here set forth are but few. And as the celestial man is treated of, who at the present day is known to scarcely any one, even these few things cannot but appear obscure to some.

AC 167. If any one could know how many arcana each particular verse contains, he would be amazed, for the number of arcana contained is past telling, and this is very little shown in the letter. To state the matter shortly: the words of the letter, exactly as they are, are vividly represented in the world or spirits, in a beautiful order. For the world of spirits is a world of representatives, and whatever is vividly represented there is perceived, in respect to the minute things contained in the representatives, by the angelic spirits who are in the second heaven; and the things thus perceived by the angelic spirits are perceived abundantly and fully in inexpressible angelic ideas by the angels who are in the third heaven, and this in boundless variety in accordance with the Lord‘s good pleasure. Such is the Word of the Lord.