Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 4:2
AC 341. Verse 2. And she added to bear his brother Abel; and Abel was a shepherd of the flock, and Cain was a tiller of the ground. The second offspring of the church is charity, signified by "Abel" and "brother;" a "shepherd of the flock," denotes one who exercises the good of charity; and a "tiller of the ground," is one who is devoid of charity, however much he may be in faith separated from love, which is no faith.
AC 342. That the second offspring of the church is charity, is evident from the fact that the church conceives and brings forth nothing else than faith and charity. The same is signified by the first children of Leah from Jacob; "Reuben" denoting faith; " Simeon," faith in act; and "Levi," charity (Gen. 29:32, 33, 34), wherefore also the tribe of Levi received the priesthood, and represented the "shepherd of the flock." As charity is the second offspring of the church, it is called "brother," and is named "Abel."
AC 343. That a "shepherd of the flock" is one who exercises the good of charity, must be obvious to every one, for this is a familiar figure in the Word of both Old and New Testaments. He who leads and teaches is called a "shepherd," and those who are led and taught are called the "flock." He who does not lead to the good of charity and teach it, is not a true shepherd; and he who is not led to good, and does not learn what is good, is not of the flock. It is scarcely necessary to confirm this signification of "shepherd" and "flock" by quotations from the Word; but the following passages may be cited. In Isaiah:--
The Lord shall give the rain of thy seed, wherewith thou sowest the ground, and bread of the increase of the ground; in that day shall He feed thy cattle in a broad meadow (Isaiah 30:23),
where "bread of the increase of the ground," denotes charity. Again:--
The Lord Jehovih shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs into His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:11).
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that sittest on the cherubim, shine forth (Ps. 80:1).
I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman; the shepherds and their flocks shall come unto her, they shall pitch tents near her round about, they shall feed every one his own space (Jeremiah 6:2, 3).
Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, I will multiply them as a flock of man, as a hallowed flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her appointed times; so shall the waste cities be filled with the flock of man (Ezekiel 36:37, 38).
All the flocks of Arabia shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee (Isaiah 60:7).
They who lead the flock to the good of charity are they who "gather the flock;" but they who do not lead them to the good of charity "scatter the flock;" for all gathering together and union are of charity, and all dispersion and disunion are from want of charity.
AC 344. What avails faith, that is, the memory-knowledge (scientia), the knowledge (cognitio), and the doctrine of faith, but that the man may become such as faith teaches? And the primary thing that it teaches is charity (Mark 12:28-35; Matt. 22:34-39). This is the end of all it has in view, and if this be not attained, what is all knowledge or doctrine but a mere empty nothing?
AC 345. That a "tiller of the ground" is one who is devoid of charity, however much he may be in faith separated from love, which is no faith, is evident from what follows: that Jehovah had no respect to his offering, and that he slew his brother, that is, destroyed charity, signified by "Abel." Those were said to "till the ground" who look to bodily and earthly things, as is evident from what is said in (Gen. 3:19, 23), where we read that the man was "cast out of the garden of Eden to till the ground." GENESIS 4:2 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|