Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 3:11-13
AC 229. Verses 11-13. And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And Jehovah God said unto the woman, Why hast thou done this? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. The signification of these words is evident from what has been explained before, namely, that the rational of man suffered itself to be deceived by its Own, because this was dear to him (that is, by the love of self), so that he believed nothing but what he could see and feel. Every one can see that Jehovah God did not speak to a serpent, and indeed that there was no serpent, neither did He address the sensuous part that is signified by the "serpent;" but that these words involve a different meaning, namely, that they perceived themselves to be deluded by the senses, and yet, in consequence of self-love, were desirous of ascertaining the truth of what they had heard concerning the Lord, and concerning faith in Him, before they believed it.
AC 230. The ruling evil of this posterity was the love of self, without their having at the same time so much of the love of the world as exists at the present day; for they dwelt within their own households and families, and had no desire to accumulate wealth.
AC 231. The evil of the Most Ancient Church which existed before the flood, as well as that of the Ancient Church after the flood, and also that of the Jewish Church, and subsequently the evil of the new church, or church of the Gentiles, after the coming of the Lord, and also that of the church of the present day, was and is that they do not believe the Lord or the Word, but themselves and their own senses. Hence there is no faith, and where there is no faith there is no love of the neighbor, consequently all is false and evil.
AC 232. At this day however it is much worse than in former times, because men can now confirm the incredulity of the senses by memory-knowledges (scientifica) unknown to the ancients, and this has given birth to an indescribable degree of darkness. If men knew how great is the darkness from this cause they would be astounded.
AC 233. To explore the mysteries of faith by means of memory-knowledges (scientifica) is as impossible as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, or for a rib to govern the finest fibrils of the chest and of the heart. So gross, yea, much more so, is that which pertains to our senses and memory-knowledge (sensuale et scientificum) relatively to what is spiritual and celestial. He who would investigate the hidden things of nature, which are innumerable, discovers scarcely one, and while investigating them falls into errors, as is well known. How much more likely is this to be the case while investigating the hidden truths of spiritual and celestial life, where myriads of mysteries exist for one that is invisible in nature!
 As an illustration take this single example: Of himself man cannot but do what is evil, and turn away from the Lord. Yet man does not do these things, but the evil spirits who are with him. Nor do these evil spirits do them, but the evil itself which they have made their own. Nevertheless man does evil and turns himself away from the Lord, and is in fault; and yet he lives only from the Lord. So on the other hand, of himself man cannot possibly do what is good, and turn to the Lord, but this is done by the angels. Nor can the angels do it, but the Lord alone. And yet man is able as of himself to do what is good, and to turn himself to the Lord. These facts can never be apprehended by our senses, memory-knowledge, and philosophy, but if these are consulted will be denied in spite of their truth. And it is the same all through.
 From what has been said it is evident that those who consult sensuous things and memory-knowledges (sensualia et scientifica) in matters of belief, plunge themselves not only into doubt, but also into denial, that is, into thick darkness, and consequently into all cupidities. For as they believe what is false, they also do what is false. And as they believe that what is spiritual and celestial has no existence, so they believe that there is nothing else but what is of the body and the world. And so they love all that belongs to self and the world, and in this way do cupidities and evils spring from what is false.
AC 241. The most ancient people, being celestial men, were so constituted that every object they beheld in the world or upon the face of the earth, they indeed saw, but they thought about the heavenly and Divine things the objects signified or represented. Their sight was merely an instrumental agency, and so consequently was their speech. Any one may know this was from his own experience, for if he attends closely to the meaning of a speaker‘s words, he does indeed hear the words, but is as if he did not hear them, taking in only the sense; and one who thinks more deeply does not attend even to the sense of the words, but to a more universal sense. But the posterities that are here treated of were not like their fathers, for when they beheld the objects in the world and on the face of the earth, as they loved them, their minds cleaved to them, and they thought about them, and from them about things heavenly and Divine. Thus with them what is sensuous began to be the principal, and not as with their fathers the instrumental. And when that which is of the world and of the earth becomes the principal, then men reason from this about the things of heaven, and so blind themselves. How this is may also be known by any one from his own experience; for he who attends to the words of a speaker, and not to the sense of the words, takes in but little of the sense, and still less of the universal import of the sense, and sometimes judges of all that a man says from a single word, or even from a grammatical peculiarity. GENESIS 3:11-13 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|