Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 4:11-12
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AC 378. Verse 11. And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened its mouth to receive thy brother‘s bloods from thy hand. "Cursed art thou from the ground," signifies that through the schism he had become averted; "which hath opened its mouth," signifies that the heresy taught them; to "receive thy brother’s bloods from thy hand," signifies that it did violence to charity, and extinguished it.

AC 379. That these things are signified, is evident from what has gone before; and that to be "cursed" is to be averse to good, has been already shown (n. 245). For iniquities and abominations, or hatreds, are what avert man, so that he looks downward only, that is, to bodily and earthly things, thus to those which are of hell. This takes place when charity is banished and extinguished, for then the bond which connects the Lord with man is severed, since only charity, or love and mercy, are what conjoin us with Him, and never faith without charity, for this is no faith, being mere knowledge, such as the infernal crew themselves may possess, and by which they can craftily deceive the good, and feign themselves angels of light; and as the most wicked preachers are sometimes wont to do, with a zeal like that of piety, although nothing is further from their hearts than that which proceeds from their lips. Can any one be of judgment so weak as to believe that faith alone in the memory, or the thought thence derived, can be of any avail, when everybody knows from his own experience that no one esteems the words or assenting of another, no matter of what nature, when they do not come from the will or intention? It is this that makes them pleasing, and that conjoins one man with another. The will is the real man, and not the thought or speech which he does not will. A man acquires his nature and disposition from the will, because this affects him. But if any one thinks what is good, the essence of faith, which is charity, is in the thought, because the will to do what is good is in it. But if he says that he thinks what is good, and yet lives wickedly, he cannot possibly will anything but what is evil, and there is therefore no faith.

AC 380. Verse 12. When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee its strength; a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth. To "till the ground," signifies to cultivate this schism or heresy; "it shall not yield unto thee its strength," signifies that it is barren. To be a " fugitive and a wanderer in the earth," is not to know what is good and true.

AC 381. That to "till the ground" means to cultivate this schism or heresy, appears from the signification of "ground," of which we have just now spoken; and that its "not yielding its strength" denotes its barrenness, is evident both from what was said concerning ground, and from the words themselves, as well as from this consideration, that those who profess faith without charity, profess no faith, as was said above.

AC 382. That to be a "fugitive and a wanderer in the earth" signifies not to know what is good and true, is evident from the signification of "wandering" and "fleeing away" in the Word. As in Jeremiah:--

The prophets and priests wander blind in the streets, they have been polluted in blood; the things they cannot do they touch with garments (Lam. 4:13, 14),

where "prophets" are those who teach, and "priests," those who live accordingly; to "wander blind in the streets," is not to know what is true and good.

[2] In Amos:--

A part of the field was rained upon, and the part of the field whereupon it rained not withered; so two or three cities shall wander unto one city to drink waters, and shall not be satisfied (Amos 4:7, 8),

where by the "part of the field on which it rained" is signified the doctrine of faith from charity; and by the "part" or "piece" "of the field on which it did not rain," the doctrine of faith without charity. To "wander to drink the waters," likewise denotes to seek after truth.

[3] In Hosea:--

Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit; my God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations (Hosea 9:16, 17).

"Ephraim" here denotes the understanding of truth, or faith, because he was the firstborn of Joseph; the "root which was dried up," denotes charity that cannot hear fruit; "wanderers among the nations," are those who do not know what is true and good.

[4] In Jeremiah:--

Go ye up against Arabia, and devastate the sons of the east. Flee, wander ye exceedingly; the inhabitants of Hazor have let themselves down into the deep for a habitation (Jeremiah 49:28, 30).

"Arabia" and the "sons of the east," signify the possession of celestial riches, or of the things that are of love, which, when vastated, are said to "flee," and "wander," that is, to be "fugitives and wanderers," when they do nought of what is good. Of the "inhabitants of Hazor," or those who possess spiritual riches, which are those of faith, it is said that they "let themselves down into the deep," that is, they perish.

[5] In Isaiah:--

All thy foremost ones wander together, they are bound before the bow, they have fled from far (Isaiah 22:3),

speaking of the "valley of vision," or the phantasy that faith is possible without charity. Hence appears the reason why it is said, in a subsequent (verse 14), that he who professes faith that is apart from charity is a "fugitive and a wanderer," that is, knows nothing of good and truth.

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