Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 21:4
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AC 2631. Verse 4. And Abraham circumcised Isaac his son, a son of eight days, as God commanded him. "Abraham circumcised Isaac his son," signifies the purification of the rational; "a son of eight days," signifies a beginning and continuance; "as God had commanded him," signifies according to Divine order.

AC 2632. Abraham circumcised Isaac his son. That this signifies the purification of the rational, is evident from the signification of "being circumcised," which is to be purified (n. 2039); and from the representation of "Isaac," as being the Divine rational (n. 2630).

[2] That the Lord‘s first rational was born as with others, namely, by means of knowledges (scientifica et cognitiones), has been stated before, where Ishmael was treated of, by whom that rational is represented. As this was born by means of knowledges, thus by the external way, which is that of the senses, and as with others, it could not but have in itself many things from the outward world, for from them are the ideas of the rational procured; and this the more because it had its hereditary from the mother. It was these worldly things and this hereditary which the Lord successively expelled from His rational, and this until it was such as to be able to receive the Divine (n. 2624, 2625). The Lord’s Divine rational was then born, which is represented by Isaac (n. 2630); not however by the external way, which is that of the senses, as the former rational was; but by the internal way from the Divine Itself (n. 2628, 2629). As this was not done at once, but successively (n. 1690, 2033), it was purified, and this continually; which is signified by "Abraham‘s circumcising his son, a son of eight days." That the Lord made His rational Divine by successive steps, and continually purified it, is evident also in John:--

Jesus said, Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven: I have both glorified, and will glorify again (John 12:28).

That to "glorify" is to make Divine, may be seen above (n. 1603, 1999).

[3] In the Ancient Church nothing else was represented and signified by circumcision than that a man should be purified from the loves of self and of the world, and this also by successive steps and continually (n. 2039, 2046, 2049, 2056); especially when he has been born a new man, that is, when he has been regenerated; for the Lord then flows in by the internal way, that is, by the good of conscience, and successively and continually separates the things which adhere both from hereditary and from actual evil.

AC 2633. A son of eight days. That this signifies a beginning and continuance, is evident from the signification of the "eighth day," on which they were circumcised, as being any beginning, and thus continuance (n. 2044).

AC 2634. As God had commanded him. That this signifies according to Divine order, is evident from the signification of "God commanding," or of His precepts. God’s precepts, or the things which God has commanded, are all things that are of Divine order both in general and in particular; so that Divine order is nothing but the perpetual precept of God; and therefore to live according to the precepts of God, and to live in the precepts of God, is to live according to Divine order and in Divine order. Hence it is that by "as God commanded," is signified according to Divine order. It was according to Divine order that every male should be circumcised on the eighth day from his birth; not that circumcision was of any avail, or that they who were circumcised would enter into the kingdom of God before the uncircumcised; but because in the representative church such a rite corresponded to the purification of the heart; which correspondence will of the Lord‘s Divine mercy be spoken of elsewhere. It is of Divine order that the heart, that is, man’s interiors, should be purified gradually and continually from the evils of cupidities, and from the falsities of the phantasies thence derived. The precepts relating to the purification of the heart are all things of Divine order both in general and in particular. In so far therefore as a man lives in those precepts, so far he lives in Divine order; and in so far as he lives in this, so far all things in him, both of reason and memory, are disposed by the Lord according to the order which is from Him in the heavens. Hence the man becomes a little heaven corresponding to the greatest.

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