Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 3:8-10
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AC 218. Verse 8. And they heard the voice of Jehovah God going to itself in the garden in the air of the day; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the face of Jehovah God in the midst the tree of the garden. By the "voice of Jehovah God going to itself in the garden," is signified an internal dictate which caused them to feel afraid, this dictate being the residue of the perception which they had possessed; by the "air" or "breath" of the "day," is denoted a period when the church still possessed some residue of perception; to "hide themselves from the face of Jehovah God," is to fear the dictate, as is wont to be the case with those who are conscious of evil; by the "midst of the tree of the garden," in which they hid themselves, is signified natural good; that which is inmost is called the "midst;" the "tree" denotes perception as before; but because there was little perception remaining, the tree is spoken of in the singular number, as if there were only one remaining.

AC 219. That by the "voice of Jehovah God going to itself in the garden," is meant an internal dictate of which they were afraid, is evident from the signification of "voice" in the Word, where the "voice of Jehovah" is used to designate the Word itself, the doctrine of faith, conscience or a taking notice inwardly, and also every reproof thence resulting; whence it is that thunders are called the "voices of Jehovah," as in John:--

The angel cried with a loud voice, as a lion roareth, and when he had cried seven thunders uttered their voices (Rev. 10:3),

denoting that there was then a voice both external and internal. Again:--

In the days of the voice of the seventh angel the mystery of God shall be consummated (Rev. 10:7).

In David:--

Sing unto God, sing praises unto the Lord, who rideth upon the heavens of heavens which were of old; lo, He shall send out His voice, a voice of strength (Ps. 68:32, 33).

The "heavens of heavens which were of old," denote the wisdom of the Most Ancient Church; "voice," revelation, and also an internal dictate. Again:--

The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters; the voice of Jehovah is in power; the voice of Jehovah is in glory; the voice of Jehovah breaketh the cedars; the voice of Jehovah divideth the flames of fire; the voice of Jehovah maketh the wilderness to shake; the voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds to calve, and uncovereth the forests (Ps. 29:3-5, 7-9).

And in Isaiah:--

Jehovah shall cause the excellency of His voice to be heard, for through the voice of Jehovah shall Asshur be beaten down (Isaiah 30:30, 31).

AC 220. By the "voice going to itself," is meant that there was but little perception remaining, and that alone as it were by itself and unheard, as is manifest also from the following verse where it is said, "Jehovah called to the man." So in Isaiah:--

The voice of one crying in the wilderness; the voice said, Cry (Isaiah 40:3, 6).

The "wilderness" is a church where there is no faith; the "voice of one crying," is the annunciation of the Lordís advent, and in general every announcement of His coming, as with the regenerate, with whom there is an internal dictate.

AC 221. That by the "air" or "breath" "of the day," is signified a period when the church had still somewhat of perception remaining, is evident from the signification of "day" and of "night." The most ancient people compared the states of the church to the times of the day and of the night, to the times of the day when the church was still in light, wherefore this state is compared to the breath or air "of the day," because there was still some remnant of perception by which they knew that they were fallen. The Lord also calls the state of faith "day," and that of no faith "night;" as in John:--

I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work (John 9:4).

The states of the regeneration of man were for the same reason called "days" in chapter 1.

AC 222. That to "hide themselves from the face of Jehovah, means to be afraid of the dictate, as is wont to be the case with those who are conscious of evil, is evident from the reply (verse 10): "I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked." The "face of Jehovah," or of the Lord, is mercy, peace, and every good, as is clearly evident from the benediction:--

Jehovah make His faces to shine upon thee, and be merciful unto thee; Jehovah lift up His faces upon thee, and give thee peace (Num. 6:25, 26).

And in David:--

God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His faces to shine upon us (Ps. 67:1).

And in another place:--

There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Jehovah, lift Thou up the light of Thy faces upon us (Ps. 4:6).

The mercy of the Lord is therefore called the "angel of faces," in Isaiah:--

I will make mention of the mercies of Jehovah; He hath requited them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His mercies; and He became their Saviour. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His faces saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them (Isaiah 63:7-9).

AC 223. As the "face of the Lord" is mercy, peace, and every good, it is evident that He regards all from mercy, and never averts His countenance from any; but that it is man, when in evil, who turns away his face, as is said by the Lord in Isaiah:--

Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you (Isaiah 59:2);

and here, "they hid themselves from the face of Jehovah, because they were naked."

AC 224. Mercy, peace, and every good, or the "faces of Jehovah," are the cause of the dictate with those who have perception, and also, although in a different manner, with those who have conscience, and they always operate mercifully, but are received according to the state in which the man is. The state of this man, that is, of this posterity of the Most Ancient Church, was one of natural good; and they who are in natural good are of such a character that they hide themselves through fear and shame because they are naked: while such as are destitute of natural good do not hide themselves, because they are insusceptible of shame; concerning whom, in (Jeremiah 8:12, 13). (n. 217).

AC 225. That the "midst of the tree of the garden," signifies natural good, in which there is some perception which is called a "tree," is also evident from the "garden" in which the celestial man dwelt; for everything good and true is called a "garden," with a difference according to the man who cultivates it. Good is not good unless its inmost is celestial, from which, or through which, from the Lord, comes perception. This inmost is here called the "midst," as also elsewhere in the Word.

AC 226. Verses 9, 10. And Jehovah God cried unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. The meaning of "crying," of the "voice in the garden," of their "being afraid because they were naked," and of "hiding themselves," has been previously explained. It is common in the Word for man to be first asked where he is and what he is doing, although the Lord previously knew all things; but the reason for asking is that man may acknowledge and confess.

AC 227. As it is desirable that the origin of perception, internal dictate, and conscience, should be known, and as at the present day it is altogether unknown, I may relate something on the subject. It is a great truth that man is governed by the Lord by means of spirits and angels. When evil spirits begin to rule, the angels labor to avert evils and falsities, and hence arises a combat. It is this combat of which the man is rendered sensible by perception, dictate, and conscience. By these, and also by temptations, a man might clearly see that spirits and angels are with him, were he not so deeply immersed in corporeal things as to believe nothing that is said about spirits and angels. Such persons, even if they were to feel these combats hundreds of times, would still say that they are imaginary, and the effect of a disordered mind. I have been permitted to feel such combats, and to have a vivid sense of them, thousands and thousands of times, and this almost constantly for several years, as well as to know who, what, and where they were that caused them, when they came, and when they departed; and I have conversed with them.

AC 228. It is impossible to describe the exquisite perception whereby the angels discover whether anything gains admission that is contrary to the truth of faith and the good of love. They perceive the quality of what enters, and when it enters, a thousand times more perfectly than the man himself, who scarcely knows anything about it. The least of thought in a man is more fully perceived by the angels than the greatest is by himself. This is indeed incredible, yet is most true.

GENESIS 3:8-10    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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