Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 4:9-10
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AC 370. Verse 9. And Jehovah said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not, am I my brother‘s keeper? "Jehovah said unto Cain," signifies a certain perceptivity from within that gave them a dictate concerning charity or the brother Abel." Cain’s reply, "I know not, am I my brother‘s keeper?" signifies that faith considered charity as nothing, and was unwilling to be subservient to it, consequently that faith altogether rejected everything of charity. Such did their doctrine become.

AC 371. By the "speaking of Jehovah" the most ancient people signified perception, for they knew that the Lord gave them the faculty to perceive. This perception could continue no longer than while love was the principal. When love to the Lord ceased, and consequently love toward the neighbor, perception perished; but in so far as love remained, perception remained. This perceptive faculty was proper to the Most Ancient Church, but when faith became separated from love, as in the people after the flood, and charity was given through faith, then conscience succeeded, which also gives a dictate, but in a different way, of which, by the Lord’s Divine mercy, hereafter. When conscience dictates, it is in like manner said in the Word that "Jehovah speaks;" because conscience is formed from things revealed, and from knowledges, and from the Word; and when the Word speaks, or dictates, it is the Lord who speaks; hence nothing is more common, even at the present day, when referring to any matter of conscience, or of faith, than to say, "the Lord says."

AC 372. To be a "keeper" signifies to serve, like the "door-keepers" and "porters" (that is, the keepers of the threshold), in the Jewish Church. Faith is called the "keeper" of charity, from the fact that it ought to serve it, but it was according to the principles of the doctrine called "Cain," that faith should rule, as was said in (verse 7).

AC 373. Verse 10. And He said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother‘s bloods crieth to Me from the ground. The "voice of thy brother’s bloods," signifies that violence had been done to charity; the "crying of bloods," is the accusation of guilt, and "ground" signifies a schism, or heresy.

AC 374. That the "voice of bloods" signifies that violence had been done to charity, is evident from many passages in the Word, in which "voice" denotes anything that accuses, and "blood" any kind of sin, and especially hatred; for whosoever bears hatred toward his brother, kills him in his heart; as the Lord teaches:--

Ye have heard that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother rashly shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire (Matt. 5:21, 22),

by which words are meant the degrees of hatred. Hatred is contrary to charity, and kills in whatever way it can, if not with the hand, yet in spirit, and is withheld only by external restraints from the deed of the hand. Therefore all hatred is "blood," as in Jeremiah:--

Why makest thou thy way good to seek love? Even in thy skirts are found the bloods of the souls of the needy innocent ones (Jeremiah 2:33, 34).

[2] And as hatred is denoted by "blood," so likewise is every kind of iniquity, for hatred is the fountain of all iniquities. As in Hosea:--

Swearing falsely, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they rob, and bloods, in bloods have they touched; therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish (Hosea 4:2, 3).

And in Ezekiel, speaking of unmercifulness:--

Wilt thou judge the city of bloods, and make known to her all her abominations? a city that sheddeth bloods in the midst of it. Thou art become guilty through thy blood that thou hast shed (Ezekiel 22:2, 3, 4, 6, 9).

In the same:--

The land is full of the judgment of bloods, and the city is full of violence (Ezekiel 7:23).

And in Jeremiah:--

For the sins of the prophets of Jerusalem, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the righteous in the midst of her, they wander blind in the streets, they have been polluted with blood (Lam. 4:13, 14).

In Isaiah:--

When the Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the bloods of Jerusalem from the midst, with the spirit of judgment, and with the spirit of burning (Isaiah 4:4).

And again:--

Your palms are defiled in blood, and your fingers in iniquity (Isaiah 59:3).

In Ezekiel, speaking of the abominations of Jerusalem, which are called "bloods:"--

I passed by thee, and saw thee trampled in thine own bloods, and I said unto thee, Live in thy bloods, yea, I said unto thee, Live in thy bloods (Ezekiel 16:6, 22).

[3] The unmercifulness and hatred of the last times are also described by "blood" in the (Revelation 16:3, 4). "Bloods" are mentioned in the plural, because all unjust and abominable things gush forth from hatred, as all good and holy ones do from love. Therefore he who feels hatred toward his neighbor would murder him if he could, and indeed does murder him in any way he can; and this is to do violence to him, which is here properly signified by the "voice of bloods."

AC 375. A "voice crying," and the "voice of a cry," are common forms of expression in the Word, and are applied to every case where there is any noise, tumult, or disturbance, and also on the occasion of any happy event (Exod. 32:17, 18; Zeph. 1:9, 10; Isa. 65:19; Jer. 48:3). In the present passage it denotes accusation.

AC 376. From this it follows that the "crying of bloods" signifies the accusation of guilt; for those who use violence are held guilty. As in David:--

Evil shall slay the wicked, and they that hate the righteous shall be guilty (Ps. 34:21).

In Ezekiel:--

Thou city art become guilty by the blood which thou hast shed (Ezekiel 22:4).

AC 377. That the "ground" here signifies a schism or heresy, is evident from the fact that a "field" signifies doctrine, and therefore the "ground," having the field in it, is a schism. Man himself is the "ground," and also the "field," because these things are inseminated in him, for man is man from what is inseminated in him, a good and true man from goods and truths, an evil and false man from evils and falsities. He who is in any particular doctrine or heresy is named from it, and so in the passage before us the term "ground" is used to denote a schism or heresy in man.

GENESIS 4:9-10    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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