Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 3:6-7
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AC 207. Verse 6. And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to give intelligence, and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and she gave also to her husband (vir) with her, and he did eat. "Good for food," signifies cupidity; " pleasant to the eyes," phantasy; and" desirable to give intelligence," pleasure: these are of the Own, or "woman:" by the "husband eating," is signified the consent of the rational (n. 265).

AC 208. This was the fourth posterity of the Most Ancient Church, who suffered themselves to be seduced by self-love (amore proprio) and were unwilling to believe what was revealed, unless they saw it confirmed by the things of sense and of memory-knowledge.

AC 209. The expressions here employed, as that "the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirable for giving intelligence," are such as were adapted to the genius of those who lived in that most ancient time, having especial reference to the will, because their evils streamed out from the will. Where the Word treats of the people who lived after the flood, such expressions are used as relate not so much to the will as to the understanding; for the most ancient people had truth from good, but those who lived after the flood had good from truth.

AC 210. What man’s Own is may be stated in this way. Man‘s Own is all the evil and falsity that springs from the love of self and of the world, and from not believing in the Lord or the Word but in self, and from supposing that what cannot be apprehended sensuously and by means of memory-knowledge (sensualiter et scientifice) is nothing. In this way men become mere evil and falsity, and therefore regard all things pervertedly; things that are evil they see as good, and things that are good as evil; things that are false they see as true, and things that are true as false; things that really exist they suppose to be nothing, and things that are nothing they suppose to be everything. They call hatred love, darkness light, death life, and the converse. In the Word, such men are called the "lame" and the "blind." Such then is the Own of man, which in itself is infernal and accursed.

AC 211. Verse 7. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Their "eyes being opened," signifies their knowing and acknowledging, from an interior dictate, that they were "naked," that is, no longer in innocence, as before, but in evil.

AC 212. That by having the "eyes opened" is signified an interior dictate, is evident from similar expressions in the Word, as from what Balaam says of himself, who in consequence of having visions calls himself the "man whose eyes are opened" (Num. 24:3). And from Jonathan, who when he tasted of the honey-comb and had a dictate from within that it was evil, said that his "eyes saw," that is, were enlightened, so that he saw what he knew not (1 Sam. 14:29). Moreover in the Word, the "eyes" are often used to denote the understanding, and thus an interior dictate therefrom, as in David:--

Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death (Ps. 13:3),

where "eyes" denote the understanding. So in Ezekiel, speaking of those who are not willing to understand, who "have eyes to see, and see not" (Ezekiel 12:2). In Isaiah:--

Shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes (Isaiah 6:10),

denotes that they should be made blind, lest they should understand. So Moses said to the people,

Jehovah hath not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear (Deut. 29:4),

where "heart" denotes the will, and "eyes" denote the understanding. In Isaiah it is said of the Lord, that "He should open the blind eyes" (Isaiah 42:7). And in the same Prophet: "The eyes of the blind shall see out of thick darkness and out of darkness" (Isaiah 29:18).

AC 213. By "knowing that they were naked" is signified their knowing and acknowledging themselves to be no longer in innocence as before, but in evil, as is evident from the last verse of the preceding chapter, where it is said "and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed," and where it may be seen that "not to be ashamed because they were naked" signifies to be innocent. The contrary is signified by their "being ashamed," as in this verse, where it is said that they "sewed fig-leaves together, and hid themselves;" for where there is no innocence, nakedness is a scandal and disgrace, because it is attended with a consciousness of thinking evil. For this reason "nakedness" is used in the Word as a type of disgrace and evil, and is predicated of a perverted church, as in Ezekiel:--

Thou wast naked and bare, and trampled on in thy blood (Ezekiel 16:22).


They shall leave her naked and bare, and the nakedness shall be uncovered (Ezekiel 23:29).

In John:--

I counsel thee to buy of Me white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear (Rev. 3:18).

And concerning the last day:--

Blessed is he who watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame (Rev. 16:15).

In Deuteronomy:--

If a man hath found some nakedness in his wife, let him write her a bill of divorcement (Deuteronomy 24:1).

For the same reason Aaron and his sons were commanded to have linen breeches when they came to the altar, and to minister, to "cover the flesh of their nakedness, lest they should bear iniquity, and die" (Exod. 28:42, 43).

AC 214. They are called "naked" because left to their Own; for they who are left to their Own, that is, to themselves, have no longer anything of intelligence and wisdom, or of faith, and consequently are "naked" as to truth and good, and are therefore in evil.

AC 215. That man’s Own is nothing but evil and falsity has been made evident to me from the fact that whatever spirits have at any time said from themselves has been so evil and false that whenever it was made known to me that they spoke from themselves I at once knew that it was false, even though while speaking they were themselves so thoroughly persuaded of the truth of what they said as to have no doubt about it. The case is the same with men who speak from themselves. And in the same way, whenever any persons have begun to reason concerning the things of spiritual and celestial life, or those of faith, I could perceive that they doubted, and even denied, for to reason concerning faith is to doubt and deny. And as it is all from self or their Own, they sink into mere falsities, consequently into an abyss of thick darkness, that is, of falsities, and when they are in this abyss the smallest objection prevails over a thousand truths, just as a minute particle of dust in contact with the pupil of the eye shuts out the universe and everything it contains. Of such persons the Lord says in Isaiah:--

Woe unto those who are wise in their own eyes, and intelligent before their own faces (Isaiah 5:21).

And again:--

Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath turned thee away, and thou hast said in thine heart, I, and none else besides me; and evil shall come upon thee, thou shalt not know from whence it riseth, and mischief shall fall upon thee, which thou shalt not be able to expiate, and vastation shall come upon thee suddenly, of which thou art not aware (Isaiah 47:10, 11).

In Jeremiah:--

Every man is made stupid by knowledge (scientia), every founder is confounded by the graven image, for his molten image is falsehood, neither is there breath in them (Jeremiah 51:17).

A "graven image" is the falsity, and a "molten image" the evil, of man‘s Own.

AC 216. And they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves girdles. To "sew leaves together," is to excuse themselves; the "fig-tree" is natural good; and to "make themselves girdles," is to be affected with shame. Thus spake the most ancient people, and thus they described this posterity of the church, signifying that instead of the innocence they had formerly enjoyed, they possessed only natural good, by which their evil was concealed; and being in natural good, they were affected with shame.

AC 217. That the "vine" is used in the Word to signify spiritual good, and the "fig-tree" natural good, is at this day utterly unknown, because the internal sense of the Word has been lost; nevertheless, wherever these expressions occur, they signify or involve this meaning; as also in what the Lord spake in parables concerning a "vineyard" and a "fig-tree;" as in Matthew:--

Jesus seeing a fig-tree in the way, came to it, but found nothing thereon save leaves only, and He said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee hence-forward forever; and presently the fig-tree withered away (Matthew 21:19),

by which is meant, that no good, not even natural good, was to be found upon the earth. Similar is the meaning of the "vine" and "fig-tree" in Jeremiah:--

Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, and they knew not how to blush; therefore I will surely gather them, saith Jehovah; there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig-tree, and the leaf hath fallen (Jeremiah 8:12, 13),

by which is signified that all good, both spiritual and natural, had perished, since they were so depraved as to have lost even the sense of shame, like those at the present day who are in evil, and who, so far from blushing for their wickedness, make it their boast. In Hosea:--

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree in the beginning (Hosea 9:10).

And in Joel:--

Be not afraid, ye beasts of My fields, for the tree shall bear its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine shall yield their strength (Joel 2:22).

The "vine" here denotes spiritual good, and the "fig-tree" natural good.

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