Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 20:16
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AC 2573. Verse 16. And unto Sarah he said, Behold I have given thy brother a thousand of silver; behold it is unto thee a covering of the eyes to all that are with thee, and with all; and she was vindicated. "And unto Sarah he said," signifies perception from spiritual truth; "behold I have given thy brother a thousand of silver," signifies an abundance of rational truth adjoined to celestial good; "behold it is unto thee a covering of the eyes to all that are with thee," signifies that rational truths are like a covering or clothing to spiritual truths; "and with all," signifies that so also are the derivative truths; "and she was vindicated," signifies that thus there was no fault and no harm.

AC 2574. And unto Sarah he said. That this signifies perception from spiritual truth, is evident from the representation of "Sarah a wife," as being Divine spiritual truth (n. 2507), and of the same as a " sister," as being rational truth (n. 2508); and from the signification of " saying," as being to perceive (n. 2506). Sarah is here addressed as a wife, and also as a sister; as a wife, inasmuch as she had been restored (n. 2569), and as a sister, inasmuch as it is said, "I have given thy brother a thousand of silver;" and that which was said by Abimelech was perceived by Sarah in the former relation; therefore by "saying to Sarah" is signified to perceive from spiritual truth.

[2] It is evident that these things involve deeper arcana than can be set forth to the apprehension; and even if they were set forth merely to some extent, it would be necessary to explain many things first that are as yet unknown; such as what spiritual truth is, and what perception from spiritual truth is; that the Lord alone had perception from spiritual truth; that as the Lord had implanted rational truth in rational good, so had He implanted spiritual truth in celestial good, thus continually the Human in the Divine, so that there might be in everything a marriage of the Human with the Divine, and of the Divine with the Human. These and many more things must come first, before the things in this verse can be unfolded to the apprehension. These things are chiefly adapted to the minds of angels who are in the understanding of such things, and for whom is the internal sense of the Word. To them these things are represented in a heavenly manner, and thereby, and by the things contained in this chapter, it is insinuated how the Lord by degrees cast out the human from the mother, until at last He was no longer her son. That He did not acknowledge her as His mother, is manifest in (Matthew 12:46-49; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:20, 21; John 2:4); also how He made the Human Divine by His own power, even until He was one with the Father, as He Himself teaches in (John 14:6, 8-11).

[3] These things are presented by the Lord to the angels in clear light by means of myriads of ideas and representations, all ineffable. The reason as before said is that such things are adapted to their minds, and when in them they are in the blessedness of their intelligence and the happiness of their wisdom. Moreover as there are angels who when they were men had conceived an idea of the Lord‘s Human as of the human with another man, in order that in the other life these may be able to be with the celestial angels (for there ideas inspired by the affection of good conjoin), such things are dispersed by means of the spiritual sense of the Word, and in this way they are perfected. This shows how precious to the angels is that which is contained in the internal sense of the Word, although perchance it may appear as but of little consequence to man, who has so obscure an idea about such things that it is scarcely any idea at all.

AC 2575. Behold I have given to thy brother a thousand of silver. That this signifies an infinite abundance of rational truth adjoined to good, is evident from the signification of a "thousand," as being much and countless; here infinite, or an infinite abundance, because predicated of the Lord (concerning which signification see below); from the signification of "silver," as being rational truth (n. 1551, 2048); and from the signification of "brother," as being celestial good adjoined to rational truth, as a brother to a sister (n. 2524, 2557). From all this it is evident that "I have given to thy brother a thousand of silver" signifies an infinite abundance of rational truth adjoined to good. Its being given to good, which is the "brother," but not to truth, is because truth is from good, not good from truth. Concerning this infinite abundance, see (n. 2572).

[2] That in the Word a "thousand" signifies much and countless, and when predicated of the Lord what is infinite, is manifest from the following passages. In Moses:--

I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments (Exod. 20:5, 6; 34:7; Deut. 5:9, 10).

And in Jeremiah:--

Jehovah showeth mercy unto thousands, and recompenseth the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their sons after them (Jeremiah 32:18).

In these passages by " thousands" is not signified any definite number, but what is infinite, for the Lord’s mercy is infinite, because Divine. In David:--

The chariots of God are two myriads, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, Sinai in holiness (Ps. 68:17);

where "myriads" and "thousands" denote things innumerable.

[3] In the same:--

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and a myriad at thy right hand; it shall not come nigh thee (Ps. 91:7);

where also a "thousand" and a " myriad" denote things innumerable; and as it is concerning the Lord, who in the Psalms is meant by "David," they denote all who are His enemies. In the same:--

Our garners are full, affording all manner of food, our flocks bring forth a thousand and ten thousand in our streets (Ps. 144:13);

where also a "thousand," and "ten thousand," that is, a myriad, denote things innumerable. In the same:--

A thousand years in Thine eyes are as yesterday when it is past (Ps. 90:4);

a "thousand years" denote what is without time, and therefore eternity, which is infinity of time. In Isaiah:--

One thousand from before the rebuke of one, from before the rebuke of five shall ye flee, until ye be left as a mast upon the top of a mountain (Isaiah 30:17);

where "one thousand" denotes many without any definite number; and "five" a few (n. 649). In Moses:--

Jehovah the God of your fathers make you a thousand times as many more as ye are, and bless you (Deut. 1:11);

where a "thousand times" denotes numberless, as in common speech, in which also a "thousand" is used for many; as when it is said that a thing has been said a thousand times, or done in a thousand ways. In like manner in Joshua:--

One man of you shall chase a thousand, for Jehovah your God fighteth for you (Joshua 23:10).

[4] As in computation a "thousand" is a definite number, it appears in the prophecies, especially when connected with history, as if a "thousand" meant simply a thousand, when yet it signifies many or innumerable, apart from any fixed number; for historical matters are of such a nature as to determine the ideas into the nearest and proper significations of the words, as also to the names given; when yet real things are signified in the Word by numbers as well as by names (n. 482, 487, 575, 647, 648, 755, 813, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2252). Hence also it is supposed by some that by the "thousand years" in (Revelation 20:1-7) there are meant a thousand years or a thousand periods, for the reason as already said that things prophetic are there described under the form of history; when yet by the "thousand years" nothing is there meant except an indeterminate large amount, as elsewhere also infinity of time, or eternity.

AC 2576. Behold it is unto thee a covering of the eyes to all that are with thee. That this signifies that rational truths are like a covering or clothing to spiritual truths, is evident from the signification of a "covering"; and from the signification of the "eyes," as being things intellectual (as is evident from very many passages in the Word); and also from the signification of "seeing," as being to understand (n. 2150, 2325). Every one can see that in everything in this verse there are arcana which cannot be revealed except by some interior sense; such as the statement that he gave a thousand of silver, and that this is said to have been given, not to her husband, but to her brother; that it was a covering of the eyes both to her and to all that were with her, and also with all; and that thereby she was vindicated. Many historical conjectures might possibly be drawn from the sense of the letter, but without having anything spiritual in them, still less anything Divine; and yet this is what the Word is.

[2] As regards rational truths being like a covering or clothing to spiritual truths, the case is this: Man‘s inmost things are those of his soul, and his outer things are those of his body; the former are goods and truths, from which the soul has its life, for otherwise the soul would not be a soul: the latter draw their life therefrom, and are all like a body, or what is the same, a covering or clothing. This is especially evident from the things that appear in the other life; as from angels when presented to view; for their interiors shine forth from their faces; their exteriors being represented in both their bodies and their dress; and this so fully that everyone there can know their quality from their garments alone; for these are real substances, and thus essences in form. The same is the case with the angels seen and described in respect to their faces and dress in the Word, such as those seen in the Lord’s sepulchre (Matt. 28:3; Mark 16:5); and the four and twenty elders around the throne (Rev. 4:4); and others. Nor is this the case with the angels only, but also with all other things that are mentioned in the Word, even those which are inanimate; in all cases their exteriors are a covering or clothing; as for example the ark of the covenant and the tent that was round about it; the ark, being the inmost, represented the Lord Himself, for therein was the Testimony; and the tent outside of it represented the Lord‘s kingdom. The clothing, that is, the veils and coverings, each and all represented the more exterior celestial and spiritual things in His kingdom, that is, in the three heavens; as is evident from the fact that the form of the Tent was shown to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod. 25:9; 26:30). From this it had its holiness, and not from the gold, the silver, and the carvings, that were in it.

[3] Since rational truths are now treated of, as being a kind of veil or clothing to spiritual truths, and as the tent is described in Moses in respect to its clothing or coverings, and also in respect to its veils which were before the entrance, for the sake of illustration we may explain what was specifically signified by the veils; but what was signified by the encompassing coverings will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be told elsewhere. The veils of the tent were three: the first, which made the division between the Holy and the Holy of Holies; the second, which is called the hanging for the door of the tent; and the third, which was the hanging for the gate of the court.

[4] Concerning the veil itself, which was the first, before the ark, we read in Moses:--

Thou shalt make a veil of hyacinthine, and bright crimson, and double-dyed scarlet, and fine-twined linen, the work of a designer, thou shall make it with cherubim; and thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold, and their hooks of gold upon four bases of silver; and thou shalt hang the veil under the clasps; and thou shalt bring in thither, within the veil, the Ark of the Testimony and the veil shall divide unto you between the Holy and the Holy of Holies (Exod. 26:31-34; 36:35, 36).

This veil represented the nearest and inmost appearances of rational good and truth, in which are the angels of the third heaven; which appearances are described by the hyacinthine, the bright crimson, the double-dyed scarlet, and the fine-twined linen; in which the red color represented the goods of love, and the white its truths. The same is true also of the gold and silver with which the pillars were overlaid, and of which the books and the bases were made. That colors are representative see (n. 1042, 1043, 1053, 1624); that "gold" is the good of love, (n. 113, 1551, 1552); and that "silver" is truth, (n. 1551, 2048).

[5] From this we can see what is signified by the veil of the temple being rent in twain (Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45), namely, that the Lord entered into the Divine Itself by dispersing all appearances; and that He at the same time opened the way to His Divine Itself through His Human made Divine.

[6] Concerning the second veil, or the hanging for the door of the tent, we read in Moses:--Thou shalt make a hanging for the door of the tent, of hyacinthine, and bright crimson, and double-dyed scarlet, and fine-twined linen, the work of the embroiderer; and thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim-wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold and thou shalt cast for them five bases of brass (Exod. 26:36, 37; 36:37, 38). By this hanging were represented appearances of good and truth that are lower or more external than the former, that is, the middle ones of the rational, in which are the angels of the second heaven; which appearances are described almost in the same manner as the first, with the difference however that for this hanging there were five pillars and five bases, by which number is signified what is comparatively but little; for these appearances do not so cohere together, or are not so heavenly, as are the appearances of the inmost or third heaven. Concerning the number five as meaning a little, see (n. 649, 1686). And because these appearances look to natural things, it was commanded that the bases should be cast of brass; for by brass was represented and signified natural good (n. 425, 1551).

[7] Concerning the third veil, or the hanging for the gate of the court, we read in Moses:--For the gate of the court shall be a hanging of twenty cubits, of hyacinthine, and bright crimson, and double-dyed scarlet, and fine-twined linen, the work of the embroiderer their pillars four, and their bases four all the pillars of the court round about shall be filleted with silver, their hooks of silver, but their bases of brass (Exod. 27:16, 17; 38:18, 19). By this hanging were represented still lower or more external appearances of good and truth, which are the lowest ones of the rational, in which are the angels of the first heaven. As these appearances correspond to interior things, they are described in a similar manner, yet with the difference that these pillars were not overlaid with gold, but filleted with silver, and that the hooks were of silver, by which are signified rational truths that derive their origin immediately from memory-knowledges and the bases were of brass, by which are signified natural goods. All this shows that there was nothing in the Tent that was not representative of the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord‘s kingdom, or that all things were made according to the type of celestial and spiritual things in the three heavens; also that the veilings or coverings signified the things that are like a body or dress around or without the inmost.

[8] Moreover that "veilings," "coverings," "clothing," or "garments" signify relatively lower truths, is evident from many passages in the Word, as in Ezekiel:--

Fine linen with broidered work from Egypt was thy spread of sail; hyacinthine and bright crimson from the isles of Elishah was thy covering (Ezekiel 27:7);

where Tyre is treated of, by which are signified interior knowledges of celestial and spiritual things, and consequently those who are in them (n. 1201); "broidered work from Egypt" denotes what is of memory-knowledge. That "Egypt" denotes this see (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462); "hyacinthine and bright crimson from the isles of Elishah, which was the covering," denote the rituals that correspond to internal worship (n. 1156).

AC 2576a.

[9] In the same:--

All the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones, and lay aside their robes, and put off their broidered garments they shall be clothed with tremblings, they shall sit upon the earth (Ezekiel 26:16);

also speaking of Tyre "robes" and "broidered garments" denote knowledges derived from the contents of the memory (cognitionibus ex scientificis), and thus lower truths.

[10] In the same:--

I clothed thee with broidered work, and shod thee with badger, and girded thee about with fine linen, and covered thee with silk; I decked thee also with ornaments, and put bracelets upon thy hands, and a necklace upon thy throat. Thou didst take of thy garments, and madest for thee high places with divers colors, and didst commit whoredom upon them; thou tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them (Ezekiel 16:10, 11, 16, 18);

speaking of Jerusalem, which is the spiritual church, described as it was of old, and such as it was afterwards, when perverted: its lower spiritual things and its doctrinal matters are the "garments of broidered work, fine linen, and silk."

[11] In Isaiah:--

The Lord Jehovih Zebaoth doth take away from Jerusalem the whole staff of bread and the staff of water. Then shall a man take hold of his brother, of the house of his father-Thou hast a garment, be thou our prince. In that day he shall lift up his voice, saying, I will not be a binder up, and in my house there is neither bread, nor garment; ye shall not make me a prince of the people. The Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion; and in that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their anklets, and their network, and crescents, and their collars, and chains, and plates and the headtires, and the ankle chains, and the sashes, and the soul houses, and the ear-drops; the rings, and the nose jewels, the festival garments, and the mantles, and the robes, and the satchels, the mirrors, and the fine linen, and the turbans, and the cloaks (Isaiah 3:1, 6, 7, 17-24).

"Jerusalem" denotes the spiritual church; " Judah" the celestial church; the " staff of bread and the staff of water, which will be removed," denote good and truth; the "garment which the prince should have," the truths which are of doctrine; the clothing and various ornaments of the daughters of Zion, which are enumerated, all and each, the kinds and varieties of good and truth, of which they would be deprived. Unless everything here mentioned signified something peculiar to the church, they would not be of the Word, in every expression of which there is what is Divine; but they are predicated of the daughters of Zion, and by these are signified the things of the church, as may be seen above (n. 2362).

[12] In the same:--

Awake! awake! put on thy strength, O Zion; put on the garments of thy beauty, O Jerusalem, the city of holiness for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean (Isa. 52:1, 2);

"Zion" denotes the celestial church; "Jerusalem" the spiritual church; and "garments of beauty" the holy things of faith. In the same:--

Their webs shall not become a garment, neither shall they cover themselves with their works their works are works of iniquity (Isa. 59:6);

"webs" denote fictitious truths that do not become a garment; a "garment" denotes the exterior truths of doctrine and of worship; hence it is said, "neither shall they cover themselves with their works."

[13] In the same:--

Rejoicing I will rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall exult in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10);

the "garments of salvation" denote the truths of faith; and the "robe of righteousness" the good of charity. In John:--

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy be that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment (Rev. 3:4, 5).

In the same:--

Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked (Rev. 16:15).

In the same:--

Upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white garments (Rev. 4:4);

where it is manifest that the "garments" are not garments, but the spiritual things of truth.

[14] So where the Lord said in reference to the consummation of the age that they should not return back to take their garments (Matt. 24:18; Mark 13:16), where that "garments" are truths may be seen above (n. 2454). Also in regard to the one not clothed in a wedding garment (Matt. 22:11, 12). And concerning John:--

What went ye out to see? a man clothed in bright garments? Behold they that wear bright garments are in kings’ houses (Matt. 11:8; Luke 7:25);

meaning that they were not in the externals of doctrine and worship, but in the internals; on which account He adds:--

What went ye out to see? a prophet? yea, I say unto you and more than a prophet (Matt. 11:9);

a "prophet" denotes the externals of doctrine and of worship.

[15] As "garments" signified truths of every kind, it was commanded that the sons of Israel on going out of Egypt should borrow gold and silver, and garments, and put them upon their sons (Exod. 3:22; 12:35, 36) also that garments of various kinds, or mixed garments, should not be worn (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:11); and that they should make for themselves fringes on the borders of their garments, and should put a blue thread there, and that when they saw it they should call to mind the commandments, and do them (Num. 15:38-40).

[16] Formerly also they rent their garments (Josh. 7:6; Judges 11:35; 1 Sam. 4:12; 2 Sam. 1:2, 11, 12; 3:31; 13:30, 31; 15:32; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 5:7, 8; 6:30; 22:11, 14, 19; Isa. 36:22; 37:1); by which was signified zeal for doctrine and truth, which was thus torn to pieces; and also humiliation, because there was nothing appertaining to them that is signified by the adornment of garments.

[17] That such things are signified by "veilings," "coverings," "clothing," or "garments," is also manifest from the prophecy of Jacob, then Israel:--

He shall bind his foal to the vine, and his ass‘s colt unto the choice vine he shall wash his garments In wine, and his clothes In the blood of grapes (Gen. 49:11);

what these words signify can be known to none except from the internal sense; namely a "vine," a "choice vine," a "foal," an "ass’s colt," "wine," the "blood of grapes," "garments," and "clothes;" but it is evident that they are predicated of the Lord, who is here called "Shiloh." The subject spoken of is Judah, by whom is represented the Lord‘s Divine celestial; and by the " garments he should wash in wine," and "the vesture he should wash in the blood of grapes," are signified the Lord’s rational and natural, which He should make Divine.

[18] In like manner in Isaiah:--

Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, marching in the multitude of His strength? Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garment like him that treadeth in the wine-vat? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the peoples there was none with Me their victory is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My raiment (Isaiah 63:1-3);

where also "garments" and "raiment" denote the Lord‘s Human which of His own power He made Divine by combats of temptations and by victories; on which account it is said, "I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the peoples there was none with Me." Isaac’s smelling the smell of Esau‘s garments, and so blessing him (Gen. 27:27), involved the same.

[19] The Holy itself of the Lord’s Divine Human was also a garment which appeared as the light, and as white and glistening, when He was transfigured, concerning which we read in Matthew:--

When Jesus was transfigured, His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became as the light (Matthew 17:2).

In Luke:--

When Jesus prayed, the appearance of His countenance was changed, and His raiment became white and glistening (Luke 9:29).

And in Mark:--

When Jesus was transfigured, His garments became shining, exceeding white like snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them (Mark 9:3).

The garments of holiness with which Aaron was clothed when he entered within the veil, and which were of linen, had a similar representation (Lev. 16:2, 4): likewise the garments of holiness that were for glory and for beauty; and those of his ministry (Exod. 28:2-43; 39:1-43): for in these there was not one whit that was not representative.

AC 2577. And with all. That this signifies that so also are the derivative truths, namely, those of memory and of the senses, is evident from what has been said above, and from the series itself; for it is said just above, " behold it shall be unto thee a veiling of the eyes unto all who are with thee;" by which are signified rational truths, which are like a veil to spiritual truths; and it is now said again, " with all;" by which are therefore signified still lower truths which are derived from rational truths; these being no other than what are called memory truths and sensuous truths. That these truths are derived from rational truths is evident from the order of influx. Interior things flow into exterior things; or what is the same, higher things into lower; but not the reverse. It indeed appears otherwise, namely, that man becomes rational by means of the things of sense and of memory, but this is a fallacy. Good from the Lord is constantly flowing in through man‘s rational faculty, and it meets and adopts to itself the knowledges in the memory; and in so far as it can do this, and dispose them in due order, so far the man becomes rational. The case herein is the same as with the good and truths which are called those of faith: good from the Lord flows into truths, and adopts them, and in so far as it can do this the man becomes spiritual; although it appears as if truths, called the truths of faith, flow in, and render the man spiritual. It is also owing to this appearance that the truth of faith is so much cultivated at this day, while the good of charity is not thought of.

AC 2578. And she was vindicated. That this signifies that thus there was no fault and no harm, is evident from all that precedes, of which this is a brief conclusion.

GENESIS 20:16    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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