Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 2:7-8
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AC 94. Verse 7. And Jehovah God formed man, dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spiraculum) of lives, and man became a living soul. To "form man, dust from the ground," is to form his external man, which before was not man; for it is said in (verse 5) that there was "no man to till the ground." To "breathe into his nostrils the breath of lives," is to give him the life of faith and love; and by "man became a living soul," is signified that his external man also was made alive.

AC 95. The life of the external man is here treated of-the life of his faith or understanding in the two former verses, and the life of his love or will in this verse. Hitherto the external man has been unwilling to yield to and serve the internal, being engaged in a continual combat with him, and therefore the external man was not then "man." Now, however, being made celestial, the external man begins to obey and serve the internal, and it also becomes "man," being so rendered by the life of faith and the life of love. The life of faith prepares him, but it is the life of love which causes him to be "man."

AC 96. As to its being said that "Jehovah God breathed into his nostrils," the case is this: In ancient times, and in the Word, by "nostrils" was understood whatever was grateful in consequence of its odor, which signifies perception. On this account it is repeatedly written of Jehovah, that He "smelled an odor of rest" from the burnt-offerings, and from those things which represented Him and His kingdom; and as the things relating to love and faith are most grateful to Him, it is said that "He breathed through his nostrils the breath of lives." Hence the anointed of Jehovah, that is, of the Lord, is called the "breath of the nostrils" (Lam. 4:20). And the Lord Himself signified the same by "breathing on His disciples," as written in John:--

He breathed on them and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).

AC 97. The reason why life is described by "breathing" and by "breath," is also that the men of the Most Ancient Church perceived states of love and of faith by states of respiration, which were successively changed in their posterity. Of this respiration nothing can as yet be said, because at this day such things are altogether unknown. The most ancient people were well acquainted with it, and so are those who are in the other life, but no longer any one on this earth, and this was the reason why they likened spirit or life to "wind." The Lord also does this when speaking of the regeneration of man, in John:--

The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit (John 3:8).

So in David:--

By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all the army of them by the breath of His mouth (Ps. 33:6).

And again:--

Thou gatherest their breath, they expire, and return to their dust; Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created, and Thou renewest the faces of the ground (Ps. 104:29, 30).

That the "breath (spiraculum)" is used for the life of faith and of love, appears from Job:--

He is the spirit in man, and the breath of Shaddai giveth them understanding (Job 32:8).

Again in the same:--

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of Shaddai hath given me life (Job 33:4).

AC 98. Verse 8. And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward (ab oriente) in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. By a "garden" is signified intelligence; by "Eden," love; by the "east," the Lord; consequently by the "garden of Eden eastward," is signified the intelligence of the celestial man, which flows in from the Lord through love.

AC 99. Life, or the order of life, with the spiritual man, is such that although the Lord flows in, through faith, into the things of his understanding, reason, and memory (in ejus intellectualia, rationalia, et scientifica), yet as his external man fights against his internal man, it appears as if intelligence did not flow in from the Lord, but from the man himself, through the things of memory and reason (per scientifica et rationalia). But the life, or order of life, of the celestial man, is such that the Lord flows in through love and the faith of love into the things of his understanding, reason, and memory (in ejus intellectualia, rationalia, et scientifica), and as there is no combat between the internal and the external man, he perceives that this is really so. Thus the order which up to this point had been inverted with the spiritual man, is now described as restored with the celestial man, and this order, or man, is called a "garden in Eden in the east." In the supreme sense, the "garden planted by Jehovah God in Eden in the east" is the Lord Himself. In the inmost sense, which is also the universal sense, it is the Lord‘s kingdom, and the heaven in which man is placed when he has become celestial. His state then is such that he is with the angels in heaven, and is as it were one among them; for man has been so created that while living in this world he may at the same time be in heaven. In this state all his thoughts and ideas of thoughts, and even his words and actions, are open, even from the Lord, and contain within them what is celestial and spiritual; for there is in every man the life of the Lord, which causes him to have perception.

AC 100. That a "garden" signifies intelligence, and "Eden" love, appears also from Isaiah:--

Jehovah will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Jehovah; joy and gladness shall be found therein, confession and the voice of singing (Isaiah 51:3).

In this passage, "wilderness," "joy," and "confession," are terms expressive of the celestial things of faith, or such as relate to love; but "desert," "gladness," and "the voice of singing," of the spiritual things of faith, or such as belong to the understanding. The former have relation to "Eden," the latter to "garden;" for with this Prophet two expressions constantly occur concerning the same thing, one of which signifies celestial, and the other spiritual things. What is further signified by the "garden in Eden," may be seen in what follows at (verse 10).

AC 101. That the Lord is the "east" also appears from the Word, as in Ezekiel:--

He brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh the way of the east, and behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east; and His voice was as the voice of many waters, and the earth shone with His glory (Ezekiel 43:1, 2, 4).

It was in consequence of the Lord’s being the "east" that a holy custom prevailed in the representative Jewish Church, before the building of the temple, of turning their faces toward the east when they prayed.

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