Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 20:4
AC 2518. Verse 4. And Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, Lord, wilt Thou slay also a righteous nation? "Abimelech had not come near her," signifies that in the doctrine of faith rational truth had not been consulted in any manner; "and he said, Lord, wilt Thou slay also a righteous nation?" signifies whether would the good and truth of doctrine he extinguished.
AC 2519. Abimelech had not come near her. That this signifies that in the doctrine of faith rational truth had not been consulted in any manner, is evident from the signification of "Abimelech," as being the doctrine of faith (n. 2504, 2509, 2510); and from the signification of "coming near her," namely to Sarah as a sister, as being to touch, or in any manner to consult rational truth, which is a "sister" (n. 1495, 2508). The reason why the rational had not been consulted in any manner, is that which has been stated before, namely, that the doctrinal things of faith are in their entirety from the Divine, which is infinitely above the human rational. It is from the Divine that the rational receives its good and its truth. The Divine can enter into the rational, but not the rational into the Divine; as the soul can enter into the body, and form it, but not the body into the soul; or as light can enter into shade, and modify it variously into colors; but not shade into light. But as it appears at first as if the rational ought to be present, because the rational is the very thing that receives the doctrine, it is here shown that the first subject of thought was, whether it also should not be consulted at the same time. But the Lord revealed and answered to Himself that doctrine would thus become null and void; and therefore the rational was not consulted; which is here signified by "Abimelech not coming near her."
AC 2520. And he said, Lord, wilt Thou slay also a righteous nation? That this signifies whether would the good and truth be extinguished, is evident from the signification of "nation," as being good (n. 1259, 1260, 1416); and as it is predicated of the nation of Abimelech, by whom is signified the doctrine of faith, by a "righteous nation" is here signified both good and truth; for both are of doctrine.
 That this was said from the zeal of affection or of love toward the whole human race, is manifest. This love directed the Lord’s thoughts while He was still in the maternal human; and although He perceived from the Divine that the doctrine of faith was from a celestial origin only, nevertheless in order that the human race might be provided for, which does not receive anything of which it cannot have some idea from its rational, it is therefore said, " Wilt Thou slay also a righteous nation?" by which is signified whether would the good and truth of doctrine be extinguished. That man does not receive anything of which he cannot have some idea from his rational, is evident from the ideas which man cherishes respecting Divine arcana. Some idea from worldly things or from things analogous to these always adheres to them, by which they are retained in the memory, and by which they are reproduced in the thought; for without an idea from worldly things man can think nothing at all. If therefore truths from a Divine origin were set forth naked, they would never be received, but would completely transcend man‘s comprehension, and therefore his belief, and most especially with those who are in external worship.
 To illustrate this take the following examples: The Divine Itself can be in nothing but the Divine, thus in nothing but the Lord’s Divine Human, and with man through this. If the rational were consulted it would say that the Divine Itself can be in the human of every one. Again: Nothing is holy which does not proceed from the Lord, thus from the Divine, which is one. If the rational were consulted it would say that there may be what is holy from other sources also.
 Again: Man does not live, nor do good, nor believe truth, from himself, nay, does not even think from himself; but the good and truth are from the Lord, while the evil and falsity are from hell; and what is more, hell, that is, they who are in hell, do not think from themselves, but receive the Lord‘s good and truth in the manner indicated. If the rational were consulted it would reject this, because it does not comprehend it. In like manner it would reject the truth that no one is rewarded on account of doing what is good and teaching what is true; and that the external contributes nothing, but only the internal in so far as there is the affection of good in doing what is good, and in so far as there is from that the affection of truth in teaching what is true, and this not from self. And so in a thousand other instances.
 It is because the human rational is of such a character that the Word has spoken in accordance with man’s apprehension, and also in accordance with his genius. This therefore is the reason why the internal sense of the Word is different from its literal sense; which is very evident in the Word of the Old Testament, where most things have been written in accordance with the apprehension and genius of the people who then lived. On this account almost nothing is said concerning the life after death, salvation, and the internal man. For the Jewish and Israelitish people with whom the church then was, were of such a character that if these things had been disclosed they would not only not have understood them, but would also have derided them. And it would have been the same if it had been disclosed to them that the Messiah or Christ was to come to eternally save their souls: this also they would have rejected as a matter of no moment; as is also evident from the same nation at the present day; for if what is internal or spiritual is mentioned in their presence even now, and it is said that the Messiah will not be the greatest king on the earth, they deride it
 This is why the Lord sometimes spoke like the Prophets, and taught the rest of what He had to say by parables, as He Himself has declared in Matthew:--
Jesus said, I speak unto them by parables, because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Matthew 13:13).
By "those who see and hear" are meant those within the church who although they see and hear, still do not understand. Also in John:--
He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them (John 12:40).
Their being "converted" and "healed" implies that nevertheless they would afterwards reject, and so would profane, which involves eternal condemnation (n. 301-303, 582, 1008, 1010, 1059, 1327, 1328, 2051, 2426). Nevertheless the Lord has disclosed the interior things of the Word in many places, but only for the wise.GENESIS 20:4 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|