Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 3:20-21
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AC 287. Verse 20. And the man called his wife‘s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. By the "man (homo)" is here meant the man of the Most Ancient Church, or the celestial man, and by the "wife" and the "mother of all living" is meant the church. She is called "mother," as being the first church; and "living," in consequence of possessing faith in the Lord, who is life itself.

AC 288. That by "man" is meant the man of the Most Ancient Church, or the celestial man, was previously shown; and at the same time it was also shown that the Lord alone is Man, and that from Him every celestial man is man, because in His likeness. Hence every member of the church, without exception or distinction, was called a "man," and at length this name was applied to any one who in body appeared as a man, to distinguish him from beasts.

AC 289. It has also been shown above that by "wife" is meant the church, and in the universal sense the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens and on earth; and from this it follows that the same is meant by "mother." In the Word the church is very frequently called "mother," as in Isaiah:--

Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement? (Isaiah 50:1).

In Jeremiah:--

Your mother is greatly ashamed: she that bare you was suffused with shame (Jeremiah 50:12).

In Ezekiel:--

Thou art thy mother‘s daughter that loathed her man and her sons; your mother was a Hittite, and your father an Amorite (Ezekiel 16:45),

where "man (vir)" denotes the Lord and all that is celestial; "sons," the truths of faith; a "Hittite," what is false: and an "Amorite," what is evil. In the same:--

Thy mother is like a vine in thy likeness, planted near the waters; she was fruitful and full of leaves because of many waters (Ezekiel 19:10).

Here "mother" denotes the Ancient Church. The term "mother" is more especially applicable to the Most Ancient Church, because it was the first church, and the only one that was celestial, and therefore beloved by the Lord more than any other.

AC 290. That she was called the "mother of all living" in consequence of possessing faith in the Lord, who is Life itself, is also evident from what has been already shown. There cannot be more than one Life, from which is the life of all, and there can be no life, which is life, except through faith in the Lord, who is the Life; nor can there be faith in which is life, except from Him, consequently unless He is in it. On this account, in the Word, the Lord alone is called "Living," and is named the "Living Jehovah" (Jer. 5:2; 12:16; 16:14, 15; 23:7; Ezek. 5:11); "He that liveth to eternity" (Dan. 4:34;Rev. 4:10; 5:14; 10:6); the "Fountain of Life" (Ps. 36:9); the "Fountain of living waters" (Jer. 17:13). Heaven (which lives by or from Him) is called the "Land of the living" (Isa. 38:11; 53:8; Ezek. 26:20; 32:23-27, 32; Ps. 27:13; 52:5; 142:5). And those are called "Living," who are in faith in the Lord; as in David:--

Who putteth our soul among the living (Ps. 66:9).

And those who possess faith are said to be "in the Book of lives" (Ps. 69:28), and "in the book of life" (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:15). Wherefore also those who receive faith in Him are said to be "made alive" (Hos. 6:2; Ps. 85:6). On the other hand it follows that those who are not in faith are called "dead;" as in Isaiah:--

The dead shall not live; the Rephaim shall not rise again, because Thou hast visited and destroyed them (Isaiah 26:14),

meaning those who are puffed up with the love of self; to "rise again" signifies to enter into life. They are also said to be "pierced" (Ezek. 32:23-26, 28-31). They are also called "dead" by the Lord (Matt. 4:16; John 5:25; 8:21, 24, 51, 52) Hell also is called "death" (Isa. 25:8; 28:15).

AC 291. In this verse is described the first time, when the church was in the flower of her youth, representing the heavenly marriage, on which account she is described by a marriage, and is called " Eve," from a word meaning "life."

AC 292. Verse 21. And Jehovah God made for the man (homo) and for his wife coats of skin, and clothed them. These words signify that the Lord instructed them in spiritual and natural good; His instructing them is expressed by "making" and "clothing," and spiritual and natural good, by the "coat of skin."

AC 293. It could never appear from the letter that these things are signified; and yet there is evidently here enfolded some deeper meaning, for every one must be aware that Jehovah God did not make a coat of skin for them.

AC 294. Neither would it be evident to any one that a "coat of skin" signifies spiritual and natural good, except by a revelation of the internal sense, and a subsequent comparison of passages in the Word where similar expressions occur. The general term "skin" is here used, but that of a kid, sheep, or ram, is understood, which animals in the Word signify affections of good, charity, and that which is of charity, as was likewise signified by the sheep used in the sacrifices. Those are called "sheep" who are endowed with the good of charity, that is, with spiritual and natural good, and hence the Lord is called the "Shepherd of the sheep," and those who are endowed with charity are called His "sheep," as everybody knows.

AC 295. The reason why they are said to be "clothed with a coat of skin," is that the most ancient people were said to be "naked," on account of their innocence; but when they lost their innocence they became conscious that they were in evil, which also is called "nakedness." That all things might appear to cohere historically (in accordance with the way of speaking of the most ancient people), they are here said to be "clothed lest they should be naked," or in evil. Their being in spiritual and natural good is evident from what was remarked above concerning them, from (verse 1-13) of this chapter, as well as from its being here related that "Jehovah God made them a coat of skin, and clothed them;" for it here treats of the first-and more especially of the second and third-posterities of the church, who were endowed with such good.

AC 296. That the skins of kids, sheep, goats, badgers, and rams signify spiritual and natural goods, is evident from the internal sense of the Word, where Jacob is treated of, and also where the ark is treated of. Of Jacob it is said that he was "clothed with the raiment of Esau," and on his hands and on his neck, where he was naked, "with skins of kids of the goats," and when Isaac smelled them, he said, "the smell of my son is as the smell of a field" (Gen. 27:15, 16, 27). That these skins signify spiritual and natural goods, will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be seen in that place. Of the ark it is said that the covering of the tent was "of rams‘ skins and badgers’ skins" (Exod. 26:14; 36:19), and that when they set forward Aaron and his sons covered the ark with a covering "of badgers‘ skins," and likewise the table and its vessels, the candlestick and its vessels, the altar of gold, and the vessels of ministry and of the altar (Num. 4:6-14). Of the Lord’s Divine mercy it will in that place also be seen that these skins signify spiritual and natural good, for whatever was in the ark, the tabernacle, or the tent, yea, whatever was upon Aaron when clothed with the garments of holiness, signified what is celestial spiritual, so that there was not the least thing that had not its own representation.

AC 297. Celestial good is not clothed, because it is inmost, and is innocent; but celestial spiritual good is that which is first clothed, and then natural good, for these are more external, and on that account are compared to and are called "garments;" as in Ezekiel, speaking of the Ancient Church:--

I clothed thee with broidered work, and shod thee with badger, I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk (Ezekiel 16:10).

In Isaiah:--

Put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the city of holiness (Isaiah 52:1).

In the Revelation:--

Who have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy (Revelation 3:4, 5),

where it is likewise said of the four and twenty elders that they were "clothed in white raiment" (Revelation 4:4). Thus the more external goods, which are celestial spiritual, and natural, are "garments;" wherefore also those who are endowed with the goods of charity appear in heaven clothed in shining garments; but here, because still in the body, with a "coat of skin."

GENESIS 3:20-21    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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