Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 20:17
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AC 2579. Verse 17. And Abraham prayed unto God, and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they brought forth. "Abraham prayed unto God," signifies a revelation; "and God healed Abimelech," signifies soundness of the doctrine in respect to good; "and his wife," signifies in respect to truth; "and his maidservants," signifies in respect to the affections of doctrinal things; "and they brought forth," signifies their fruitfulness.

AC 2580. Abraham prayed unto God. That this signifies revelation, is evident from the signification of "praying" when predicated of the Lord, as being to be revealed (n. 2535); and from the representation of Abraham, as being the Lord- often shown above. Here in the sense of the letter there are two, namely, one who prayed, and another to whom he prayed; for it is said, "Abraham prayed unto God." But in the internal sense there are not two, but one; for it was God or Jehovah in the Lord who made the revelation, because He was conceived of Jehovah; yet in so far as He had that which belonged to the maternal human, so far He was another. How the case is herein can with difficulty fall into the ideas so as to be understood. These things can indeed fall into angelic ideas, which are presented in the light of heaven; but not so well into human ideas, which do not perceive unless illuminated by things that are of the light of the world; still less can they fall into the ideas of those to whom everything that is of the light of heaven is thick darkness, so as to be nothing at all.

AC 2581. And God healed Abimelech. That this signifies the soundness of the doctrine in respect to good, is evident from the signification of "healing," as being to make sound; and from the representation of Abimelech, as being the doctrine of faith looking to rational things (n. 2510). That it is in respect to good is evident from the fact that his wife also is said to be healed, by which is meant the soundness of the doctrine in respect to truth; for when in the Word a husband is called "husband," and also when he is called by name, he then signifies good, and his wife truth; but when a husband is called a "man," he then signifies truth, and his wife good (n. 915, 1468, 2517).

AC 2582. And his wife. That this signifies in respect to truth, is evident from the signification of a "wife," as being truth (n. 2581).

AC 2583. And his maidservants. That this signifies in respect to the affections of the derivative doctrinal things, is evident from the signification of "maidservants," as being the affections of the things of the reason and of the memory (n. 1895, 2567); here of doctrinal things, because they are predicated of the doctrine of faith, for they belonged to Abimelech, by whom is signified the doctrine of faith, (n. 2509, 2510); for the signification of everything is determined by what is being treated of.

AC 2584. And they brought forth. That this signifies fruitfulness, is evident from the signification of "bringing forth" and of "birth." In the internal sense of the Word none but spiritual and celestial things are signified; on which account where mention is made of "conception" or of " conceiving;" of "bearing" or of "bringing forth;" of "birth" or of "being born;" of "generation" or of "generating," as well as of those who beget, as "father and mother;" and of those who are begotten, as "sons and daughters," all these are meant in none but a spiritual sense, for in itself the Word is spiritual and celestial; and such is the case here in regard to "bringing forth," by which is signified fruitfulness in respect to the things of doctrine.

[2] That in the Word "birth" means no other kind of birth than this, is evident from the passages that follow. In Samuel:--

The full have hired out themselves for bread, and the hungry have ceased, until the barren hath borne seven, and she that hath many children hath languished; Jehovah killeth and maketh alive. He causeth to go down into hell, and bringeth up (1 Sam. 2:5, 6).

In Jeremiah:--

She that hath borne seven languisheth, she breatheth out her soul; her sun is gone down while it is yet day (Jeremiah 15:9).

In Isaiah:--

Sing, O barren, that did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, that did not travail with child; for more are the sons of the desolate than the sons of the married wife, saith Jehovah (Isaiah 54:1).

In David:--

The voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds to calve, and strippeth the forests and in His temple every one speaketh glory (Ps. 29:9).

In Isaiah:--

Blush O Zidon, for the sea hath spoken, the stronghold of the sea, saying, I have not travailed, nor brought forth, neither have I brought up young men, nor caused maids to grow up as with the report of Egypt, they shall travail according to the report of Tyre (Isaiah 23:4, 5).

In the same:--

Before she travailed she brought forth, and before her pain came she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Does the earth travail in one day, and shall I not cause to bring forth? saith Jehovah shall I cause to bring forth, and close up? said thy God (Isaiah 66:7-9).

In Jeremiah:--

Ask I pray and see whether a man bringeth forth; wherefore have I seen every man with his hands on his loins, as one that bringeth forth (Jeremiah 30:6).

In Ezekiel:--

I will set a fire in Egypt, and Sin travailing shall travail, and No may be... (Ezekiel 30:16).

In Hosea:--

Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from conception (Hosea 9:11).

In the same:--

The pains of one that travaileth came upon Ephraim; he is an unwise son, for at the time he will not stand in the place of the breaking forth of sons (Hosea 13:13).

In John:--

A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars and she being with child cried, travailing, and pained to bring forth. The dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, that when she brought forth her son, he might devour him. And she brought forth a man child, who was to pasture all nations with a rod of iron; but the child was caught up unto God and to His throne (Rev. 12:1-5).

[3] Who cannot see from all these passages that no other conceptions and births are signified than those which are of the church? And the same is the case with what is here said concerning Abimelech, that "God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants, and they brought forth;" and that "Jehovah closing had closed up every womb of the house of Abimelech, because of the word of Sarah, Abrahamís wife." What is signified by these things in the internal sense is evident from the explication of the same, namely, the quality of the doctrine of faith when regarded from Divine truths, and when regarded from the rational: when it is regarded from Divine truths, that is, from the Word, then each and all things, of both reason and memory, confirm it; but this is not the case when it is regarded from human things, that is, from reason and memory-knowledges; for then nothing of good and nothing of truth is conceived; for to regard it from the Word is to regard it from the Lord, whereas to regard it from reason and memory-knowledge is to regard it from man. From the former comes all intelligence and wisdom; from the latter all insanity and folly.

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