Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 20:8
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AC 2539. Verse 8. And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and spake all these words in their ears; and the men feared greatly. "Abimelech rose early in the morning," signifies clear perception, and the light of confirmation from celestial good; "and called all his servants," signifies things rational and of memory-knowledge; "and spake all these words in their ears," signifies an exhortation to the things thence derived that confirm, even until they should become obedient; "and the men feared greatly," signifies until they were also averse.

AC 2540. Abimelech rose early in the morning. That this signifies clear perception, and the light of confirmation from celestial good, is evident from the signification of "rising in the morning," also of "Abimelech," and also of "early." What "morning" signifies has been shown above (n. 2333, 2405): that it is here clear perception is manifest in itself, as well as from the series; that the perception was at first obscure (n. 2513, 2514); and that afterwards it was less obscure (n. 2528). That "Abimelech" signifies the doctrine of faith looking to rational things, may be seen above (n. 2509, 2510); and what "early" signifies is manifest from the signification of "morning." As it is here said that he "rose early in the morning," this not only signifies clear perception, but also the light of confirmation from celestial good; for it is celestial good from which comes the confirming light of truth; all of which shows that this is the signification.

[2] The reason why the perception which the Lord had when in the Human, and His thought concerning what is rational in the doctrine of faith, are so much treated of in the internal sense, is that which has been stated above; as well as that it is angelic to think with distinctiveness of various things concerning the Lord‘s life in the world, and how He put off the human rational, and made the rational Divine from His own power; and at the same time concerning the doctrine of charity and faith, such as it is when the rational mixes itself with it; besides many more things dependent on these, which are interior things of the church and of man. To the man whose mind and heart are set upon worldly and corporeal things, these things appear as unimportant, and perchance as of no advantage to him; yet to the angels, whose minds and hearts are set upon celestial and spiritual things, these same things are precious; and their ideas and perceptions respecting them are ineffable. This shows that very many things which seem unimportant to man, because they transcend his comprehension, are held in the highest estimation by the angels, because they enter into the light of their wisdom; and on the other hand, things that are most highly esteemed by man, because they are of the world, and therefore come within his comprehension, are unimportant to the angels, for they pass outside of the light of their wisdom. And such is the case with the internal sense of the Word, relatively to angels and to men, in many places.

AC 2541. And called all his servants. That this signifies rational things and memory-knowledges, is evident from the signification in the Word of "servants", concerning which hereafter at (verse 14), (n. 2567). In a man who is in the Lord’s kingdom, or who is the Lord‘s kingdom, there are celestial things, spiritual things, rational things, memory-knowledges, and things of sense; and these are in subordination to one another. Celestial and spiritual things hold the first place, and are the Lord’s; to these rational things are subordinate, and are subservient; to these again memory-knowledges are subordinate and subservient; and lastly the things of sense are subordinate and subservient to these, that is to memory-knowledges. The things which are subservient, or which serve, are relatively servants, and in the Word are called "servants." That there is such a subordination, the man who thinks only from sense and memory-knowledge is ignorant; and he who knows anything of them nevertheless has a most obscure idea, because he is still in corporeal things; but the angels have a most distinct idea; for thousands, nay myriads, of ideas that to the angels are distinct, present nothing but a single obscure idea to men. For example, in regard to Abimelech calling his servants and speaking all the words in their ears, and the men fearing greatly, the angels perceive deeper arcana than man can possibly apprehend, or can even believe--namely, how the Lord reduced rational things and memory-knowledges to obedience; and indeed in such manner that He reduced to obedience not the rational things and memory-knowledges themselves, but the affections that rose up against the celestial and spiritual things of doctrine, for on the subjugation of these the rational things and memory-knowledges were reduced to obedience, and at the same time into order. To the angels, these are among the most common things; but to man they are perchance among those which are most obscure or unintelligible to him.

AC 2542. And spake all these words in their ears. That this signifies an exhortation to the things thence derived that confirm, even until they should become obedient, is evident from the series in the internal sense, as well as from the signification of "ears." From the series: There are many confirmatory things that support whatever the rational acknowledges; for it is precisely from these confirmatory things that its acknowledgment comes; and therefore it is that when rational things are being reduced to obedience exhortation is made to the things that confirm; for these are ever pressing in, and as it were rising up. From the signification of "ears:" In the internal sense of the Word "ears" signify obedience, by reason of the correspondence between hearing and obeying; which correspondence is moreover latent in the very word "hear," and still more in "hearken;" the origin of which correspondence is from the other life, where they who are willing and obedient belong to the province of the ear, and indeed correspond to the hearing itself; which is an arcanum not yet known. But these things will become more clearly manifest when in what follows, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy, correspondence will be treated of. That "ears" have this signification is evident from many passages in the Word. For the present we may adduce a single passage from Isaiah:--

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes lest peradventure they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and their heart should understand (Isaiah 6:10).

Here to "see with the eyes" is to understand; and to "hear with the ears" is to perceive with affection, consequently to obey. And nothing else is signified where the Lord says, "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 43; Luke 8:8; 14:35).

AC 2543. The men feared greatly. That this signifies even until they should become averse, is evident from the signification here of "fearing;" and from the signification of the "men." "Fearing," or" fear," like all other emotions, though in appearance simple, involves in itself many things, namely, in worldly matters the loss of life, of reputation, of honor, and of gain; and in heavenly matters the loss of what is good and true, and of the life thence derived. As fear involves these things it also involves aversion to whatever endeavors to destroy them; and this the more in proportion as the man is in the affection of what is good and true. To this very affection aversion is the opposite or contrary, and therefore by "fearing" is here signified to become averse. How great was the Lord’s aversion is evident from the zeal with which the things in the next verse are said; which zeal was for doctrine, that it might be free from contamination by anything rational or by anything of memory-knowledge. "Men" signify rational things and memory-knowledges, or all intellectual things whatever (n. 158, 265, 749, 915, 1007).

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