Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 4:3
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AC 346. Verse 3. And at the end of days it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to Jehovah. By the "end of days" is meant in process of time; by the "fruit of the ground," the works of faith without charity; and by "an offering to Jehovah," worship thence derived.

AC 347. That by the "end of days" is signified in process of time, is evident to all. At first, and while there was simplicity in it, the doctrine here called "Cain" does not appear to have been so unacceptable as it became afterwards, as is evident from the fact that they called their offspring a "man Jehovah." Thus at first faith was not so far separated from love as at the "end of days," or in process of time; as is wont to be the case with every doctrine of true faith.

AC 348. That by the "fruit of the ground" are meant the works of faith without charity, appears also from what follows; for the works of faith devoid of charity are works of no faith, being in themselves dead, for they are solely of the external man. Of such it is written in Jeremiah:--

Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? Thou hast planted them, they also have taken root; they have gone on, they also bear fruit; Thou art near in their mouth, and far from their reins; how long shall the land mourn, and the herb of every field wither? (Jeremiah 12:1, 2, 4).

"Near in the mouth, but far from the reins," denotes those who are of faith separated from charity, concerning whom it is said that "the land mourns." In the same Prophet such works are called the "fruit of works:"--

The heart is deceitful (supplantativum) above all things, and it is desperate, who can know it? I Jehovah search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his works (Jer. 17:9, 10).

In Micah:--

The land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their works (Micah 7:13).

That such "fruit" is no fruit, or that the "work" is dead, and that both fruit and root perish, is thus declared in Amos:--

I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath (Amos 2:9).

And in David:--

Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from the sons of man (Ps. 21:10).

But the works of charity are living, and of them it is declared that they "take root downward, and bear fruit upward;" as in Isaiah:--

The remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward (Isaiah 37:31).

To "bear fruit upward," is to act from charity. Such fruit is called the "fruit of excellence," in the same Prophet:--

In that day shall the shoot of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel (Isa. 4:2).

It is also the "fruit of salvation," and is so called by the same Prophet:--

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth the fruit of salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I Jehovah will create it (Isa. 45:8).

AC 349. That by an "offering" is meant worship, is evident from the representatives of the Jewish Church, in which, sacrifices of every kind, as well as the first fruits of the earth and of all its produce, and the oblation of the firstborn, were called "offerings," in which their worship consisted. And as they all represented heavenly things, and all had reference to the Lord, it must be obvious to every one that true worship was signified by these offerings. For what is a representative without the thing it represents? or what is an external religion without an internal but a kind of idol and a thing of death? The external has life from things internal, that is, through these from the Lord. From these considerations it is evident that all the offerings of a representative church signify the worship of the Lord; and concerning these of the Lordís Divine mercy we shall treat in particular in the following pages. That by "offerings" in general is meant worship, is evident in the Prophets throughout, as in Malachi:--

Who shall abide the day of His coming? He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, and they shall offer unto Jehovah an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and of Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah, as in the days of eternity, and as in ancient years (Malachi 3:2, 3, 4).

An "offering in righteousness" is an internal offering, which the "sons of Levi," that is, holy worshipers, will offer. The "days of eternity," signify the Most Ancient Church, and the "ancient years," the Ancient Church. In Ezekiel:--

In the mountain of My holiness, in the mountain of the height of Israel, there shall all the house of Israel, all that land, worship Me; there will I accept them, and there will I require your oblations, and the first-fruits of your offerings, in all your sanctifyings (Ezekiel 20:40).

"Oblations," and the "first fruits of the offerings in the sanctifyings," are likewise works sanctified by charity from the Lord. In Zephaniah:--

From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My suppliants shall bring Mine offering (Zephaniah 3:10).

"Ethiopia" denotes those who are in possession of celestial things, which are love, charity, and the works of charity.

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