Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 4:20
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AC 412. Verse 20. And Adah bare Jabal; he was the father of the dweller in tents, and of cattle. By "Adah" is signified, as before, the mother of the celestial and spiritual things of faith; by "Jabal", the father of the dweller in tents, and of cattle," is signified doctrine concerning the holy things of love, and the goods thence derived, which are celestial.

AC 413. That by "Adah" is signified the mother of the celestial things of faith, is evident from her firstborn Jabal being called the "father of the dweller in tents, and of cattle," which are celestial because they signify the holy things of love and the goods thence derived.

AC 414. That to "dwell in tents" signifies what is holy of love, is evident from the signification of "tents" in the Word. As in David:--

Jehovah, who shall abide in Thy tent? Who shall dwell in the mountain of Thy holiness? He that walketh upright, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart (Ps. 15:1, 2),

in which passage, what it is to "dwell in the tent," or "in the mountain of holiness," is described by holy things of love, namely, the walking uprightly, and working righteousness. Again:--

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their discourse to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tent for the sun (Ps. 19:4),

where the "sun" denotes love. Again:--

I will abide in Thy tent to eternities, I will trust in the covert of Thy wings (Ps. 61:4),

where the "tent" denotes what is celestial, and the "covert of wings" what is spiritual thence derived. In Isaiah:--

By mercy the throne has been made firm, and one hath sat upon it in truth, in the tent of David, judging and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness (Isaiah 16:5),

where also the "tent" denotes what is holy of love, as may be seen by the mention of "judging judgment," and "hasting righteousness." Again:--

Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feast; thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tent that shall not be moved away (Isaiah 33:20),

speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem.

[2] In Jeremiah:--

Thus said Jehovah, Behold, I bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and will have mercy on his dwelling places, and the city shall be builded upon her own heap (Jeremiah 30:18);

the "captivity of tents" signifies the vastation of what is celestial, or of the holy things of love. In Amos:--

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David which is fallen, and will fence up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of eternity (Amos 9:11),

where the "tabernacle" in like manner denotes what is celestial and the holy things thereof. In Jeremiah:--

The whole land is laid waste, suddenly are My tents laid waste, and My curtains in a moment (Jeremiah 4:20).

And in another place:--

My tent is laid waste, and all My cords are plucked out, My sons are gone forth from Me, and they are not; there is none to stretch My tent any more, and to set up My curtains (Jeremiah 10:20),

where the "tent‘ signifies celestial things, and "curtains" and "cords" spiritual things thence derived. Again:--

Their tents and their flocks shall they take; they shall carry off for themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels (Jeremiah 49:29),

speaking of Arabia and the sons of the east, by whom are represented those who possess what is celestial or holy. Again:--

Into the tent of the daughter of Zion the Lord hath poured out His wrath like fire (Lam. 2:4),

speaking of the vastation of the celestial or holy things of faith.

[3] The reason why the term "tent" is employed in the Word to represent the celestial and holy things of love, is that in ancient times they performed the holy rites of worship in their tents. But when they began to profane the tents by profane kinds of worship, the tabernacle was built, and afterwards the temple, and therefore tents represented all that was subsequently denoted first by the tabernacle, and afterwards by the temple. For the same reason a holy man is called a "tent," a "tabernacle," and a "temple" of the Lord. That a "tent," a "tabernacle," and a "temple" have the same signification, is evident in David:--

One thing have I asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after, that I may remain in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold Jehovah in sweetness, and to visit early in His temple; for in the day of evil He shall hide me in His tabernacle; in the secret of His tent shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall my head be lifted up against mine enemies round about me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices of shouting (Ps. 27:4, 5, 6).

[4] In the supreme sense, the Lord as to His Human essence is the "tent," the " tabernacle," and the "temple;" hence every celestial man is so called, and also everything celestial and holy. Now as the Most Ancient Church was better beloved of the Lord than the churches that followed it, and as men at that time lived alone, that is, in their own families, and celebrated so holy a worship in their tents, therefore tents were accounted more holy than the temple, which was profaned. In remembrance thereof the feast of tabernacles was instituted, when they gathered in the produce of the earth, during which, like the most ancient people, they dwelt in tents (Lev. 23:39-44; Deut. 16:13; Hosea 12:9).

AC 415. That by the "father of cattle" is signified the good that is derived from the holy things of love, is evident from what was shown above, at (verse 2) of this chapter, where it was shown that a "shepherd of the flock" signifies the good of charity. Here however the term "father" is employed instead of "shepherd," and "cattle" instead of "flock;" and the word "cattle," of which Jabal is said to be the "father," follows immediately after "tent," whence it is evident that it signifies the good that comes from the holy of love, and that there is meant a habitation or fold for cattle, or the father of them that dwell in tents and in folds for cattle. And that these expressions signify goods from the celestial things of love, is evident from various passages in the Word. As in Jeremiah:--

I will gather the remnants of My flock out of all lands whither I have scattered them, and I will bring them again to their folds, that they may be fruitful and multiply (Jeremiah 23:3).

In Ezekiel:--

I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be; there shall they lie down in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel (Ezekiel 34:14),

where "folds" and "pastures" denote the goods of love, of which "fatness" is predicated. In Isaiah:--

He shall give the rain of thy seed wherewith thou shalt sow the ground; and bread of the increase of the ground shall be fat and full of oil; in that day shall He feed thy cattle in a broad meadow (Isaiah 30:23),

where by "bread" is signified what is celestial, and by the "fat" whereon the cattle should feed, the goods thence derived. In Jeremiah:--

Jehovah hath redeemed Jacob, and they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the good of Jehovah, for the wheat, and for the new wine, and for the oil, and for the sons of the flock, and of the herd; and their soul shall be as a watered garden (Jeremiah 31:11, 12),

where the Holy of Jehovah is described by "wheat" and "oil," and the goods derived from it by "new wine" and the "sons of the flock and of the herd," or of "cattle." Again:--

The shepherds and the flocks of their cattle shall come unto the daughter of Zion; they shall pitch their tents toward her round about; they shall feed every one his own space (Jeremiah 6:3).

The "daughter of Zion" denotes the celestial church, of which "tents" and "flocks of cattle" are predicated.

AC 416. That the holy things of love and the derivative goods are signified, is evident from the fact that Jabal was not the first of those who "dwelt in tents and in folds of cattle," for it is said likewise of Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, that he was "a shepherd of the flock," and Jabal was the seventh in the order of descent from Cain.

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