Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 23:17-18
AC 2968. Verses 17, 18. And the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave that was therein, and every tree that was in the field, that was in all the border thereof round about, were made sure unto Abraham for an acquisition to the eyes of the sons of Heth, of all that went in at the gate of his city. "The field of Ephron," signifies that which belonged to the church; "which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre," signifies the quality and amount of regeneration; "the field and the cave that was therein," signifies as to the good and truth of faith; "and every tree that was in the field," signifies interior knowledges of the church; "that was in all the border thereof round about," signifies exterior knowledges "were made sure unto Abraham for an acquisition," signifies that they were ascribed to the Lord alone "to the eyes of the sons of Heth," signifies according to their understanding; "of all that went in at the gate of his city," signifies as to all doctrinal things.
AC 2969. The field of Ephron. That this signifies that which belonged to the church, is evident from the signification of "field," as being the church and also doctrine (n. 368, 2936); and from the representation of "Ephron," as being those with whom the good and truth of faith, which belong to the church, could be received (n. 2933); hence the "field of Ephron" signifies that which belonged to the church.
AC 2970. Which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre. That this signifies the quality and amount of regeneration, is evident from the signification of "Machpelah" as being regeneration by means of the truth which is of faith; and from the signification of "Mamre," as being its quality and amount. By "Machpelah" when the word "cave" is joined to it, or when it is said the "cave of Machpelah," is signified faith which is in obscurity (n. 2935); but by "Machpelah" when named without the word "cave," and it is stated afterwards that there is a "field with a cave" there, is meant regeneration; for by the "field" and "cave" are signified the good and truth of faith by which the regeneration is effected; and besides, Machpelah was a tract of land in which there was a sepulchre, by which last is signified regeneration (n. 2916). But "Mamre," because it was Hebron, as is said in (verse 19) that follows presently, and was in Hebron, as is said in (Genesis 13:18), signifies nothing else than the quality and amount, here, of regeneration, when joined with "Machpelah;" but of the church when joined with "Hebron;" and likewise of perception when joined with "oak-groves" (n. 1616). Thus "Mamre" is simply the determination of the state of the thing; for it was a place where Abraham dwelt (Gen. 13:18); and where Isaac dwelt, and to which Jacob came (Gen. 35:27).
AC 2971. The field and the cave that was therein. That this signifies as to the good and the truth of faith, is evident from the signification of "field" as being the church, also the good itself of the church. The celestial, or good, which is of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor, is compared to "ground," and also to "field;" it is also called "ground" and "field;" because the celestial or good is that which receives the truths of faith, which are compared to seeds and are also called seeds." The same is evident also from the signification of a "cave," as being the truth of faith which is in obscurity (n. 2935); it is said to be in obscurity because it is with the spiritual (n. 1043, 2708, 2715).
AC 2972. And every tree that was in the field. That this signifies interior knowledges of the church, is evident from the signification of a "tree," as being perceptions when the celestial church is treated of (n. 103, 2163), but knowledges when the spiritual church is treated of (n. 2722); here interior knowledges, because it is said "every tree that was in the field," and there then follows "that was in all the border thereof round about," by which is signified exterior knowledges; also from the signification of "field," as being the church (of which above). Mention is made of the tree that was in the field and in the borders thereof round about, on account of that internal sense; otherwise it would not be worthy of mention in a Word that is Divine.
AC 2973. That was in all the border thereof round about. That this signifies exterior knowledges, is evident from the signification of "borders" and of "round about," as being things which are exterior (n. 2936); so that here the "tree that was in the border round about" signifies exterior knowledges. Exterior knowledges are those of the ritual and doctrinal things that are the externals of the church; but interior knowledges are those of the doctrinal things that are the internals of the church. What the externals of the church are, and what the internal, has already been repeatedly stated.
 Moreover in various places in the Word mention is made of the "midst" and of that which is "round about;" as when speaking of the land of Canaan, that was called the "midst" where were Zion and Jerusalem, but the country "round about" was where the surrounding nations were. By the "land of Canaan" was represented the kingdom of the Lord; its celestial by "Zion," and its spiritual by "Jerusalem," where was the dwelling place of Jehovah or the Lord. The country "round about," even to the borders, represented the celestial and spiritual things flowing forth in their order and derived therefrom; and in the furthest boundaries the representatives of celestial and spiritual things ceased. These representatives had their origin from those in the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens; there the Lord as a Sun is in the midst; from this is all celestial flame and spiritual light; they who are nearest are in the highest light, but they who are more remote are in less light, and they who are most remote are in the least; and there are the boundaries, and hell begins, which is outside of heaven.
 With celestial flame and spiritual light the case is this: The celestial things of innocence and love, and the spiritual things of charity and faith, are in the like ratio as are the heat and light the angels have; for all the heat and light in the heavens are therefrom. It is from this therefore that the "midst" signifies the inmost, and the circumference signifies the outermost, and the things which proceed in order from the inmost to the outermost are in such degrees of innocence, love, and charity as is their distance from the center. And so it is in every heavenly society; they who are in the midst are the best of that kind, and the love and charity of that kind decreases with them according to their remoteness from the center; that is, it decreases with those who are at a distance from the center, in proportion to the distance.
 The case is the like with man; his inmost is where the Lord dwells with him, and from this inmost governs the things which are round about. When man suffers the Lord to dispose the things round about to correspondence with the inmost ones, then man is in such a state that he can be received into heaven; and then the inmost, the interior, and the external things act as one; but when man does not suffer the Lord to dispose the things round about to correspondence, then he recedes from heaven in the measure in which he does not suffer it. That the soul of man is in the midst, or in his inmost, and that the body is round about or in the outmosts, is well known; for it is the body that encompasses and invests his soul or his spirit.
 With those who are in celestial and spiritual love, good from the Lord flows in through the soul into the body, and thence the lady becomes full of light; but with those who are in bodily and worldly love, good from the Lord cannot flow in through the soul into the body, but their interiors are in darkness; whence also the body becomes full of darkness, according to what the Lord teaches in Matthew:--
The lamp of the body is the eye if the eye be single, the whole body is full of light but if the eye be evil, the whole body is full of darkness. If therefore the light be darkness, how great is the darkness (Matthew 6:22, 23);
by the "eye" is signified the intellectual which belongs to the soul (n. 2701).
 But the case is worse still with those whose interiors are darkness, and whose exteriors appear as full of light. These are such as outwardly counterfeit angels of light, but are devils inwardly, and they are called " Babel;" and when with such persons the things that are "round about" are destroyed, they are carried headlong into hell. These things were represented by the city Jericho, in that its walls fell and the city was given to the curse when the priests had gone about it seven times, and had sounded the trumpets (Joshua 6:1-17). They are meant also in Jeremiah:--
Set yourselves in array against Babel round about, all ye that bend the bow; sound the trumpet against her round about; she hath given her hand; her foundations are fallen; her walls are thrown down (Jeremiah 50:14, 15).
It is now plain what "round about" means. Moreover in the Word mention is sometimes made of that which is "round about" (Jer. 21:14; 32:44; 46:14; 49:5; Ezek. 36:3, 4, 7; Amos 3:11), and by the things "round about" are signified those which are exterior; concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy more elsewhere.
AC 2974. Were made sure unto Abraham for an acquisition. That this signifies that they were ascribed to the Lord alone, that is, everything of regeneration as to both quality and quantity, in regard to the good and truth of faith, and therefore in regard to all knowledges interior and exterior, is evident from the representation of "Abraham" as being the Lord (of which frequently above); and from the signification of an "acquisition," as being His, and thus ascribed to Him alone. It is a primary article of faith that all good and all truth are the Lord’s, thus from the Lord alone. The more interiorly anyone acknowledges this, the more interiorly he is in heaven; for in heaven it is perceived to be so, and there is there a sphere of perception that it is so; for they are in good which is from the Lord alone, and this is what is called being it, the Lord. The degrees of this perception decrease from the midst even to the circumferences (n 2973).
AC 2975. To the eyes of the sons of Heth. That this signifies to their understanding, that is to say, to the understanding of those who are of the new spiritual church, is evident from the signification of the "eyes," as being the understanding (n. 212, 2701) and from the signification of the "sons of Heth," as being those who are of the new spiritual church (n. 2913, 2928). It was said above (verse 16), that Abraham spake "in the ears" of the sons of Heth, by which was signified that it was according to their capacity (n. 2965, 2967) here however it is said "to the eyes" of the sons of Heth, by which is signified to their understanding. What was said before involves application to their will; but what is said here, to their understanding, for man is reformed as to both parts for if the will and understanding do not agree, even so as to make a one, the man has not been regenerated; that is, if good and truth, or what is the same, charity and faith, are not a one; for charity is of the will, and faith is of the understanding. It is because of this that it was before said "in the ears of the sons of Heth;" but here, " before the eyes of the sons of Heth."
AC 2976. Of all that went in at the gate of his city. That this signifies as to all doctrinal things, is evident from what was said above (n. 2943), where the same words occur. GENESIS 23:17-18 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|