Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 4:22
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AC 421. Verse 22. And Zillah, she also bare Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron; and the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. By "Zillah" is signified, as previously stated, the mother of the natural things of the new church; by "Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron," the doctrine of natural good and truth, "brass" denoting natural good, and "iron" natural truth. By "Naamah, the sister of Tubal-Cain," is signified a similar church, or the doctrine of natural good and truth outside of that church.

AC 422. How the case was with this new church may be seen from the Jewish Church, which was both internal and external; the internal church consisting of celestial and spiritual things, and the external church of natural things. The internal church was represented by Rachel, and the external by Leah. But as Jacob, or rather his posterity understood by "Jacob" in the Word, were such as to desire only external things, or worship in externals, therefore Leah was given to Jacob before Rachel; and by blear-eyed Leah was represented the Jewish Church, and by Rachel a new church of the Gentiles. For this reason "Jacob" is taken in both senses in the Prophets, in one denoting the Jewish Church in its perverted state, and in the other the true external church of the Gentiles. When the internal church is signified, he is called "Israel;" but of these matters, by the Divine mercy of the Lord, more will be said hereafter.

AC 423. Tubal-Cain is called the "instructor of every artificer," and not the "father," as was the case with Jabal and Jubal; and the reason is that before there were no celestial and spiritual or internal things. And the term "father" is applied to Jabal and Jubal, to denote that such internal things then first began to exist; whereas natural or external things did exist before, but were now applied to internal things, so that Tubal-Cain is not called the "father," but the "instructor, of every artificer."

AC 424. By an "artificer" in the Word is signified a wise, intelligent, and well-informed (sciens) man, and here by "every artificer in brass and iron" are signified those who are acquainted with natural good and truth. As in John:--

With violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in her; and no artificer, of whatsoever craft, shall be found any more in her (Rev. 18:21, 22).

"Harpers" here as above signify truths; "trumpeters," the goods of faith; an "artificer of any craft," one who knows, or the memory-knowledge (scientia) of truth and good. In Isaiah:--

The artificer melteth a graven image, and the smelter spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains; he seeketh unto him a wise artificer, to prepare a graven image that shall not be moved (Isaiah 40:19, 20),

speaking of those who from phantasy forge for themselves what is false-a "graven image"-and teach it so that it appears true. In Jeremiah:--

At the same time as they are infatuated they grow foolish, the doctrine of vanities, it is but a stock. Silver beaten out is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the artificer, and of the lands of the smelter; blue and raiment; they are all the work of the wise (Jeremiah 10:1, 8, 9),

signifying one who teaches falsities, and collects from the Word things with which to forge his invention, wherefore it is called a "doctrine of vanities," and the "work of the wise." Such persons were represented in ancient times by artificers who forge idols, that is, falsities, which they adorn with gold, that is, with a semblance of good; and with silver, or an appearance of truth; and with blue and with raiment, or such natural things as are in apparent agreement.

AC 425. It is unknown to the world at the present day that "brass" signifies natural good, and also that every metal mentioned in the Word has a specific signification in the internal sense-as "gold," celestial good; "silver," spiritual truth; "brass," natural good; "iron," natural truth; and so on with the other metals, and in like manner "wood" and "stone." Such things were signified by the "gold," "silver," "brass," and "wood," used in the ark and in the tabernacle and in the temple, concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter. That such is their signification is manifest from the Prophets, as from Isaiah:--

Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings. For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron; I will also make thy tribute peace, and thine exactors righteousness (Isaiah 60:16, 17),

treating of the Lord’s advent, of His kingdom, and of the celestial church. "For brass gold," signifies for natural good celestial good; "for iron silver," signifies for natural truth spiritual truth; "for wood brass," signifies for corporeal good natural good; "for stones iron," signifies for sensuous truth natural truth. In Ezekiel:--

Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, these were thy merchants, in the soul of man, and vessels of brass they gave thy trading (Ezekiel 27:13),

speaking of Tyre, by which are signified those who possess spiritual and celestial riches; "vessels of brass" are natural goods. In Moses:--

A land whose stones are iron, and out of whose mountains thou mayest hew brass (Deut. 8:9),

where also "stones" denote sensuous truth; "iron," natural, that is, rational truth; and "brass," natural good. Ezekiel saw Four living creatures, or cherubs, whose feet sparkled like the appearance of burnished brass (Ezekiel 1:7), where again "brass" signifies natural good, for the "foot" of man represents what is natural. In like manner there appeared to Daniel,

A man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with gold of Uphaz, his body also was like the beryl, and his arms and his feet like the appearance of burnished brass (Daniel 10:5, 6).

That the "brazen serpent" (Num. 21:9) represented the sensuous and natural good of the Lord, may be seen above.

AC 426. That "iron" signifies natural truth, is further evident from what Ezekiel says of Tyre:--

Tarshish was thy trader by reason of the multitude of all riches; in silver, iron, tin, and lead, they gave thy traffickings. Dan, and Javan, and Meusal furnished bright iron in thy tradings; cassia and calamus were in thy mart (Ezekiel 27:12, 19).

From these words, as well as from what is said both previously and subsequently in the same chapter, it is very evident that celestial and spiritual riches are signified; and that every particular expression, and even the names mentioned, have some specific signification, for the Word of the Lord is spiritual, and not verbal.

[2] In Jeremiah:--

Can one break iron, even iron from the north, and brass? Thy substance (facultates) and thy treasures will I give for a spoil without price, and this for all thy sins (Jeremiah 15:12, 13),

where "iron" and "brass" signify natural truth and good; that it came from the "north," signifies what is sensuous and natural; for what is natural, relatively to what is spiritual and celestial, is like thick darkness (that is, the "north") relatively to light or the " south;" or like shade, which is also signified here by "Zillah," who is the "mother." That the "substance" and "treasures" are celestial and spiritual riches, is also very evident.

[3] Again in Ezekiel:--

Take thou unto thee a pan of iron, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city, and set thy faces toward it, and let it be for a siege, and thou shalt straiten against it (Ezekiel 4:3),

where also it is evident that "iron" signifies truth. Strength is attributed to truth, because it cannot be resisted, and for this reason it is said of iron-by which is signified truth, or the truth of faith-that it "breaks in pieces" and "crushes;" as in (Daniel 2:34, 40), and in John:--

He that overcometh, to him will I give sovereign power over the nations, that he may pasture them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers (Rev. 2:26, 27).


The woman brought forth a man child, who should pasture all nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5).

[4] That a "rod of iron" is the truth which is of the Word of the Lord, is explained in John:--

I saw heaven open, and behold a white horse, and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and fight; He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God; out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations; and He shall pasture them with a rod of iron (Rev. 19:11, 13, 15).

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