Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 21:21
AC 2711. Verse 21. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. "He dwelt in the wilderness of Paran," signifies the life of the spiritual man as to good; the "wilderness" here as before is what is relatively obscure; "Paran" is illumination from the Lord’s Divine Human; "and his mother took him," signifies the affection of truth; "a wife out of the land of Egypt," signifies the affection of memory-knowledges which the man of the spiritual church has.
AC 2712. He dwelt in the wilderness of Paran. That this signifies the life of the spiritual man as to good, is evident from the signification of "dwelling," as being predicated of the good of truth, or of spiritual good, that is, of the good of the spiritual man. What its quality is, is described by his "dwelling in the wilderness of Paran" which is to be treated of presently. That "to dwell" is predicated of the good, that is, of the affection, of truth, is evident from many passages in the Word where cities are treated of, by which truths are signified, and as being without an inhabitant, by whom good is signified (n. 2268, 2450, 2451); for truths are inhabited by good; and truths without good are like a city in which there is no one dwelling. So in Zephaniah:--
I have made their streets waste, that none passeth by their cities are desolated, so that there is no inhabitant (Zephaniah 3:6).
 In Jeremiah:--
Jehovah led us through the wilderness, where no man passed through, and where no man dwelt; they had made his land a waste, his cities are burned up, so that there is no inhabitant (Jeremiah 2:6, 15).
In the same:--
Every city is forsaken, and no one dwelleth therein (Jeremiah 4:29).
In the same:--
In the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast (Jeremiah 33:10);
"streets" denote truths (n. 2336); "without man" denotes no celestial good; "without inhabitant," no spiritual good; and "without beast," no natural good. In the same:--
The cities of Moab shall become a desolation, without any to dwell therein (Jeremiah 48:9).
 In the Prophets in every expression there is the marriage of truth and good; and therefore where a city is said to be desolate, it is also added that there is no inhabitant in it; for the reason that the city signifies truths, and the inhabitant good; otherwise it would be superfluous to say that there was no inhabitant, when it has been said that the city was desolate. So likewise the expressions are constant that signify the things of celestial good, those of spiritual good, and those of truth; as in Isaiah:--
Thy seed shall possess the nations, and they shall dwell in the desolate cities (Isaiah 54:3);
where to "possess" is predicated of celestial goods; and to "dwell in," of spiritual good. In the same:--
Mine elect shall possess it, and my servants shall dwell there (Isaiah 65:9);
where the signification is the same.
 In David:--
God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah and they shall dwell there, and shall possess it; the seed also of His servants shall inherit it, and they that love His name shall dwell therein (Ps. 69:35, 36);
"dwelling" and at the same time "possessing," is predicated of celestial good; but "dwelling," of spiritual good. In Isaiah:--
Saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited, and to the cities of Judah, ye shall be built (Isaiah 44:26);
where "dwelling," or "inhabiting," is predicated of the good of the spiritual church, which is "Jerusalem." To such a degree are the expressions in the Word predicated of their own goods and their own truths, that merely from a knowledge of the predication of these expressions it can be known what subject in general is treated of.
AC 2713. That a "wilderness" here signifies what is relatively obscure, is evident from the signification of a "wilderness," when predicated of the spiritual man, as being what is obscure in comparison with the celestial man (n. 2708).
AC 2714. That "Paran" is illumination from the Lord‘s Divine Human, is evident from the signification of "Paran," as being the Lord’s Divine Human, which is manifest from the passages in the Word where it is named, as in the prophet Habakkuk:--
O Jehovah, I have heard Thy fame, I was afraid; O Jehovah, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known, in zeal remember mercy. God will come from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran; Selah: His honor covered the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise; and His brightness shall be as the light. He had horns going out from His hand, and there was the hiding of His strength (Habakkuk 3:2-4);
where the Lord‘s advent is plainly treated of, which is signified by "reviving in the midst of the years," and by "making down in the midst of the years." His Divine Human is described by "God coming from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran." He is said to " come from Teman" as to celestial love, and "from Mount Paran" as to spiritual love; and that illumination and power are from these is signified by saying that there shall be "brightness and light," and by His having "horns going out from His hand;" the "brightness and light" are illumination, and the "horns" are power.
 In Moses:--
Jehovah came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came from the ten thousands of holiness; from His right hand was a fire of law unto them; yea, He loveth the peoples; all His saints are in thy hand, and they were gathered together at thy foot, and he shall receive of thy words (Deut. 33:2, 3).
Here also the Lord is treated of, whose Divine Human is described by His "rising from Seir, and shining forth from Mount Paran"-- from "Seir" as to celestial love, and from "Mount Paran" as to spiritual love. The spiritual are signified by the "peoples whom He loves," and by their being "gathered together at His foot." The "foot" signifies what is lower, and thus more obscure, in the Lord’s kingdom.
 In the same:--
Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him smote the Horites in their Mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is in the wilderness (Gen. 14:5, 6);
that the Lord‘s Divine Human is here signified by "Mount Seir," and by "El-paran," may be seen above (n. 1675, 1676). In the same:--
It came to pass in the second year, in the second month, in the twentieth day of the month, that the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony and the sons of Israel set forward according to their journeys, out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud abode in the wilderness of Paran (Num. 10:11, 12).
 That the journeys of the people in the wilderness all signify the state of a combating church and its temptations, in which man yields but the Lord conquers for him--consequently the very temptations and victories of the Lord-will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be shown elsewhere; and because the Lord from His Divine Human sustained temptations, the Lord‘s Divine Human is here signified in like manner by the "wilderness of Paran." And so again by these words in the same:--
The people afterwards journeyed from Hazeroth, and pitched their camp in the wilderness of Paran. And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, and let them explore the land of Canaan, which I give unto the sons of Israel and Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of Jehovah. And they returned, and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and showed them the fruit of the land (Num. 12:16; 13:1-3, 26).
 By their setting out from the wilderness of Paran and exploring the land of Canaan, is signified that through the Lord’s Divine Human the sons of Israel, that is, the spiritual, have the heavenly kingdom, which is signified by the land of Canaan; but their also succumbing at that time signifies their weakness, and that the Lord therefore fulfilled all things in the Law, and endured temptations, and conquered; and that they who are in the faith of charity, as also they who are in temptations in which the Lord conquers, have salvation from His Divine Human. On which account also, when the Lord was tempted, He was in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1); (n. 2708).
AC 2715. There are two arcana here, one, that the good of the spiritual man is comparatively obscure; and the other, that this obscurity is illuminated by the Lord‘s Divine Human. As regards the first, that good with the spiritual man is comparatively obscure, this is evident from what was said above concerning the state of the spiritual man in comparison with the state of the celestial man (n. 2708); for by comparing these states the fact becomes manifest. With the celestial, good itself is implanted in their will part, and light comes therefrom into their intellectual part; but with the spiritual all the will part has been destroyed, so that they have nothing of good from it; and therefore good is implanted by the Lord in their intellectual part (n. 863, 875, 895, 927, 928, 1023, 1043, 1044, 2124, 2256). The will part is what chiefly lives in man, while the intellectual lives from it. As therefore the will part has been so destroyed with the spiritual man as to be nothing but evil, and yet evil flows in from it perpetually and continually into his intellectual part, that is, into his thought, it is evident that the good there is comparatively obscured.
 Hence it is that the spiritual have not love to the Lord, as have the celestial, and consequently they have not the humiliation which is essential in all worship, and by means of which good can flow in from the Lord; for an elated heart does nod receive at all, but a humble heart. Neither have the spiritual love toward the neighbor, as the celestial have for the love of self and the world continually flows in from their will part, and obscures the good of that love; as must also be evident to every one if he reflects, by considering that when he does good to anyone it is for the sake of an end in the world; and that therefore, although he is not doing so consciously, still he is thinking of a recompense, either from those to whom he does good, or from the Lord in the other life; thus that his good is defiled by the idea of merit,--as also by considering that when he has done any good, if he can make it known and thus set himself above others, he is in the delight of his life. But the celestial love the neighbor more than themselves; nor do they think at all of recompense, nor in any manner set themselves up above others.
 Moreover the good that is with the spiritual has been obscured by persuasions from various principles arising also from the love of self and of the world. The quality of their persuasion even of faith may be seen above (n. 2682, 2689 at the end); this likewise is from the influx of evil from their will part.
 Moreover that the good with the spiritual man is obscure in comparison, is evident from the fact that he does not know what is true from any perception, as the celestial do, but from instruction from parents and masters, and also from the doctrine into which he was born; and when he superadds anything from himself and from his thought, then for the most part the sensuous and its fallacies, and the rational and its appearances, prevail, and cause him to be scarcely able to acknowledge any pure truth, such as the celestial acknowledge. Nevertheless in those seeming truths the Lord implants good, even if the truths are fallacious, or appearances of truth; but the good becomes obscure from them, being qualified by the truths with which it is conjoined. The case with this is as with the light of the sun flowing into objects. The quality of the objects which receive it causes the light to appear there under the aspect of color, beautiful if the quality of the form and of the reception is becoming and correspondent, but unbeautiful if the quality of the form and of the reception is not becoming, and thus not correspondent. In this manner the good itself is qualified according to the truth.
 The same is also manifest from the fact that the spiritual man does not know what evil is. He scarcely believes any other things to be evil than those which are contrary to the precepts of the Decalogue, and is not aware of the evils of affection and thought, which are innumerable; nor does be reflect upon them, nor call them evils. All delights whatever of cupidities and pleasures he regards no otherwise than as good; and the very delights of the love of self he both seeks after, and approves, and excuses, being ignorant that such things affect his spirit, and that he becomes altogether such in the other life.
 From this it is in like manner evident that though scarcely anything else is treated of in the whole Word than the good of love to the Lord and of love toward the neighbor, still the spiritual man does not know that good is the essential of faith, nor even what love and charity are in their essence; and that as to what he has learned of faith, which he makes essential, he nevertheless discusses whether it be so, unless he has been confirmed by much experience of life. This the celestial never do, for they know and perceive that it is so. Hence it is said by the Lord in Matthew:--
Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; what is more than these is of evil (Matthew 5:37).
For the celestial are in the truth itself respecting which the spiritual dispute whether it be so; hence, as the celestial are in the truth itself, they can see from it endless things which belong to that truth, and thus from light see as it were the whole heaven. But as the spiritual dispute whether it be so, they cannot, so long as they do this, come to the first boundary of the light of the celestial, still less look at anything from their light.
AC 2716. As regards the second arcanum, namely, that the obscurity with the spiritual is illuminated by the Lord’s Divine Human, it is one which cannot be explained to the comprehension, for it is the influx of the Divine that would have to be described. But some idea of it may be obtained by considering that if the Supreme Divine Itself were to flow into such a good as has been described, defiled by so many evils and falsities, it could not be received; and if anything were received by the man who had such good, he would feel infernal torture and would thus perish. But the Lord‘s Divine Human can flow in with such men and can illuminate such good, as the sun shines into the dense clouds and transforms them in the early morning into the glories of the dawn; and yet the Lord cannot appear before them as the light of the sun, but as the light of the moon. Hence it is evident that the cause of the Lord’s coming into the world was that the spiritual might be saved (n. 2661).
AC 2717. And his mother took him. That this signifies the affection of truth, is evident from the signification of "mother," as being the church (n. 289); and because the spiritual church that is here represented is in the affection of truth, and is a church by virtue of the affection of truth, this affection is here signified by "mother."
AC 2718. A wife out of the land of Egypt. That this signifies the affection of memory-knowledges belonging to the man of the spiritual church, is evident from the signification of a "wife," as being affection or good (n. 915, 2517); and from the signification of "Egypt," as being memory-knowledge (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462). In this verse the man of the spiritual church is described in regard to his quality as to good, that is, as to the essence of his life, namely, that the good that is with him is obscure, but is illuminated by the Lord‘s Divine Human; from which illumination there comes forth in his rational the affection of truth, and in his natural the affection of memory-knowledges. The reason why the affection of good cannot come forth with the spiritual man such as it is with the celestial, but in place of it the affection of truth, is that the good which is in him is implanted in his intellectual part and is comparatively obscure (n. 2715), from which no other affection can be produced and derived in his rational than the affection of truth, and thereby in his natural the affection of memory-knowledges. By truth here no other truth is meant than such as he believes to be true, though it he not true in itself; and by memory-knowledges are not meant such as the learned have, but everything of knowledge with which one can be imbued from experience and by hearing, from civic life, from doctrine, and from the Word. The man of the spiritual church is in the affection of such things.
 That it may be known what it is to be in the affection of truth, and what to be in the affection of good, we will briefly state that they who are in the affection of truth, think, search out, and discuss whether a thing be true, or whether it be so; and when they are confirmed that it is true, or that it is so, they think, search out, and discuss what it is, and thus stick fast at the first threshold; nor can they be admitted into wisdom until they are free from doubt. But they who are in the affection of good, from the good itself in which they are, know and perceive that the thing is so; and thus are not at the first threshold, but are in the inner chamber, being admitted into wisdom.
 Take as an example that it is celestial to think and act from the affection of good, or from good: They who are in the affection of truth discuss whether this be so, whether it be possible, and what it is; and so long as they are occupied with doubts about it they cannot be admitted; but they who are in the affection of good do not discuss, nor busy themselves with doubts, but affirm that it is so, and are therefore admitted; for they who are in the affection of good, that is, who are celestial, begin where they who are in the affection of truth, that is, who are spiritual, stop; so that the furthest boundary of the latter is the first of the former. For this reason it is given to them to know, to recognize, and to perceive that there are innumerable affections of good (as many, in fact, as there are societies in heaven); and that they are all conjoined by the Lord into a heavenly form, so as to constitute as it were one man; and it is also given them to distinguish by perception the kind and variety of each affection.
 Or take this example: That all delight, blessedness, and happiness, are solely of love; and that such as the love is, such is the delight, the blessedness, and the happiness. The spiritual man keeps his natural mind fixed on the question whether it be so, and whether the happiness be not from some other source, as from social intercourse, conversation, meditation, and learning, or from possessions and the honor, reputation, and glory of them; not confirming himself in the fact that these effect nothing, but only the affection of love such as there is in them. But the celestial man does not stick in these preliminaries, but affirms that it is so, and is therefore in the end itself and the use, that is, in the very affections of the love, which are innumerable, and in every one of which there are ineffable things--and this with variation of delight, blessedness, and happiness, to eternity.
 Take also as an example that the neighbor is to be loved for the good that is in him: They who are in the affection of truth, think, search out, and discuss whether this be true, or whether it be so; what the neighbor is, and what good is; nor do they go any further, and therefore they close to themselves the gate to wisdom; but they who are in the affection of good affirm that it is so, and therefore do not close that gate to themselves, but enter in, and know, and recognize, and perceive, from good, who is more the neighbor than another, also in what degree he is the neighbor, and that all are neighbors in different degrees; and thus they perceive ineffable things beyond those who are only in the affection of truth.
 Take further this example: That he who loves his neighbor for the good that is in him, loves the Lord. They who are in the affection of truth examine carefully whether it be so; and if they are told that he who loves his neighbor for the good that is in him, loves the good, and that--as all good is from the Lord and the Lord is in the good--when anyone loves good he also loves Him from whom it is and in which He is, they examine whether it be so; also what good is, and whether the Lord is in good more than in truth; and so long as they stick in such things they cannot see wisdom even at a distance. But they who are in the affection of good know from perception that it is so; and they immediately see the field of wisdom, leading even to the Lord.
 From all this we can see why they who are in the affection of truth (that is, the spiritual) have obscurity in comparison with those who are in the affection of good (that is, the celestial). Nevertheless the spiritual can come from obscurity into light, provided they are willing to be in the affirmative that all good is of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor; and that love and charity are spiritual conjunction; and that all blessedness and happiness are from these; and thus that heavenly life is in the good of love from the Lord, but not in he truth of faith separate from it.
AC 2719. In this chapter the Lord’s rational has first been treated of, as being made Divine, which rational is "Isaac;" then the merely human rational, as being separated, which is the "son of Hagar the Egyptian;" and afterwards the spiritual church, which was saved by the Lord‘s Divine Human, which church is "Hagar" and her "child." Now the doctrine of faith is treated of, which is to be serviceable to that church; namely, that human reasonings from memory-knowledges are adjoined to it, which are "Abimelech" and "Phicol." This conjunction is signified by the "covenant" which Abraham made with them. These reasonings are appearances, not from a Divine but from a human origin, which are adjoined for the reason that without them the spiritual church would not comprehend doctrine, and thus would not receive it For, as was shown above (n. 2715), the man of the spiritual church is relatively in obscurity; and doctrine is therefore to be clothed with such appearances as are of human thought and affection, and is not to be in discrepancy to such a degree that the Divine good cannot have in them some kind of receptacle. As Abimelech is again treated of in the following twenty-sixth chapter, and also a covenant (but with Isaac); and in the internal sense, the reasonings and memory-knowledges added to the doctrine of faith a second time, only a summary may here be given of the things contained in the internal sense, which will become clearer by the explication of that chapter. GENESIS 21:21 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|