Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 23:2
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AC 2907. Verse 2. And Sarah died in Kiriath-arba, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. "Sarah died," signifies night as to the truths of faith; "in Kiriath-arba, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan," signifies in the church; "and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her," signifies the Lord’s state of grief.

AC 2908. Sarah died. That this signifies night as to the truths of faith, is evident from the signification of "dying," of "dead," and of "death," when these are predicated of the church, as denoting its last time, when all faith, that is, charity, has expired; which time, throughout the Word, is called "night" (n. 221, 709, 1712, 2353); that "dying" denotes ceasing to be such, may be seen above (n. 494). The same is further evident from the representation of Sarah, as being truth Divine (n. 2904), and thus it is plain that the signification is as has been said.

AC 2909. In Kiriath-arba, the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. That this signifies in the church, is evident from the signification of "Kiriath-arba," as being the church as to truth; and from the signification of "Hebron in the land of Canaan," as being the church as to good. In the Word, and especially in the prophetical parts, where truth is treated of, good is treated of also, because of the heavenly marriage in everything of the Word (n. 683, 793, 801, 2173, 2516, 2712); therefore here, when Kiriath-arba is mentioned, it is also said, "the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan." That the "land of Canaan" denotes the Lord‘s kingdom, see (n. 1413, 1437, 1607); also that the places in that land were variously representative, (n. 1585, 1866).

[2] In regard to Kiriath-arba which is Hebron, it was the region where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwelt. That Abraham dwelt there, appears from what was said in a preceding chapter: "Abraham came and dwelt in Mamre, which is in Hebron" (Gen. 13:18). That Isaac dwelt there, appears from what is said in a later chapter: "Jacob came unto Isaac his father, to Mamre, to Kiriath-arba, the same is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned" (Gen. 35:27). That Jacob dwelt there is evident from Joseph being sent to his brethren by Jacob his father, from the valley of Hebron (Gen. 37:14). From the representation of the three, as spoken of above, it is plain that Kiriath-arba which is Hebron represented the church before Jerusalem did.

[3] That every church in process of time decreases, until it has nothing left of faith and charity, and then is destroyed, was also represented by Kiriath-arba which is Hebron, in its being possessed by the Anakim, by whom were signified dire persuasions of falsity (n. 581, 1673). That it was possessed by the Anakim, may be seen in several places (Num. 13:21, 22; Josh. 11:21; 14:15; 15:13, 14; Judges 1:10); and that it came to its end or consummation and was destroyed, was represented by all things therein being given by Joshua to the curse (Josh. 10:36, 37; 11:21); and the Anakim being smitten by Judah and Caleb (Judges 1:10; Josh. 14:13-15; 15:13, 14). And that there was again a new church, was represented by Hebron being assigned to Caleb for an inheritance, as to field and villages (Josh. 21:12); but the city itself was made a city of refuge (Josh. 20:7; 21:13); and a priestly city for the sons of Aaron (Josh. 21:10, 11); in the inheritance of Judah (Josh. 15:54).

[4] Hence it is evident that Hebron represented the Lord’s spiritual church in the land of Canaan. And likewise on this account David was required by the command of Jehovah to go to Hebron, and was there anointed to be king over the house of Judah; and after he had reigned there seven years and six months, he went to Jerusalem and took possession of Zion (2 Sam. 2:1-11; 5:5; 1 Kings 2:11); and then for the first time the spiritual church of the Lord began to be represented by Jerusalem, and the celestial church by Zion.

AC 2910. And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. That this signifies the Lord‘s state of grief on account of the night as to truths of faith in the church, is evident from the representation of Abraham, as being the Lord (n. 1893, 1965, 1989, 2011, 2172, 2501, 2833, 2836). That to "mourn" and to "weep" signify a state of grief is evident without explication; to "mourn" has respect to grief on account of night as to good in the church, and to "weep" as to truths. These two verses treat of the end of the church; its end is when there is no longer any charity. This state is treated of in many places in the Word, especially in the Prophets, and in John in the Apocalypse; the Lord also describes this end by many things in the Evangelists, and calls it the "consummation of the age," and also "night."

[2] For with churches the case is this: In the beginning charity is fundamental with them; every one then loves another as a brother, and is affected from good, not for his own sake, but for the sake of the neighbor, the community, the kingdom of the Lord, and above all things for the Lord’s sake. But in process of time charity begins to grow cold and to become naught. Afterwards comes hatred of one another; which, although it does not appear outwardly, because in civic society men are under laws, and are under outward bonds of restraint, still is nourished inwardly. These outward bonds of restraint come from the love of self and of the world; they are the love of honor and eminence, the love of gain and hence also of power, thus the love of reputation. Under these loves hatred against the neighbor conceals itself, which is of such a nature that men desire to have command over all, and to possess all things that are another‘s; and when these desires are opposed, they treasure in their hearts contempt for the neighbor, they breathe revenge, they take delight in his ruin, and even practise cruelties so far as they dare. Into things like these does the charity of the church at its end at last decline, and then it is said of it that there is no longer any faith, for where there is no charity there is no faith, as has been shown many times.

[3] There have been a number of churches, known to us from the Word, that had such an end. The Most Ancient Church thus expired about the time of the flood; in like manner the Ancient Church which was after the flood; also a second Ancient Church, called the Hebrew Church; and at last the Jewish Church, which was by no means a church that commenced from charity, but was only the representative of a church, to the intent that by representatives communication with heaven might survive, until the Lord came into the world. Afterwards a new church was raised up by the Lord, called the Church of the Gentiles, which was internal, for interior truths had been revealed by the Lord; but this church is now at its end, because now there is not only no charity, but there is hatred instead of charity; which hatred, though it does not appear outwardly, yet is within, and breaks out whenever possible with anyone, that is, whenever outward bonds do not restrain.

[4] Besides these churches there have been very may others that are not so fully described, which in like manner decreased and destroyed themselves. There are many causes for such decrease and self-destruction; one is that parents accumulate evils, and by frequent practice, and at length by habit, they implant them in their nature, and so by inheritance transcribe them upon their offspring; for what parents acquire from actual life by frequent use is rooted in their nature and is transmitted by inheritance to posterity; and unless the posterity is reformed or regenerated, it is continued to successive generations and is all the time increasing; and thus the will becomes more prone to evils and falsities. But when a church is consummated and perishes, then the Lord always raises up a new church somewhere; but rarely, if ever from the people of the former church; but from nations that have been in ignorance. Concerning these in what follows.

GENESIS 23:2    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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