Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 6:1
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AC 560. Before proceeding further we may mention how the case was with the church before the flood. Speaking generally, it was as with succeeding churches, as with the Jewish Church before the Lord‘s advent, and the Christian Church after His advent, in that it had corrupted and adulterated the knowledges of true faith; but specifically, as regards the man of the church before the flood, he in course of time conceived direful persuasions, and immersed the goods and truths of faith in foul cupidities, insomuch that there were scarcely any remains in them. When they came into this state they were suffocated as if of themselves, for man cannot live without remains; for, as we have said, it is in the remains that the life of man is superior to that of brutes. From remains, that is, through remains from the Lord, man is able to be as man, to know what is good and true, to reflect upon matters of every kind, and consequently to think and to reason; for in remains alone is there spiritual and celestial life.

AC 561. But what are remains? They are not only the goods and truths that a man has learned from the Lord’s Word from infancy, and has thus impressed on his memory, but they are also all the states thence derived, such as states of innocence from infancy; states of love toward parents, brothers, teachers, friends; states of charity toward the neighbor, and also of pity for the poor and needy; in a word, all states of good and truth. These states together with the goods and truths impressed on the memory, are called remains, which are preserved in man by the Lord and are stored up, entirely without his knowledge, in his internal man, and are completely separated from the things that are proper to man, that is, from evils and falsities. All these states are so preserved in man by the Lord that not the least of them is lost, as I have been given to know from the fact that every state of a man, from his infancy to extreme old age, not only remains in the other life, but also returns, in fact his states return exactly as they were while he lived in this world. Not only do the goods and truths of memory thus remain and return, but also all states of innocence and charity. And when states of evil and falsity recur-for each and all of these, even the smallest, also remain and return-then these states are tempered by the Lord by means of the good states. From all this it is evident that if a man had no remains he must necessarily be in eternal damnation. (n. 468).

AC 562. The people before the flood were such that at last they had almost no remains, because they were of such a genius that they became imbued with direful and abominable persuasions concerning all things that occurred to them or came into their thought, so that they would not go back from them one whit, for they were possessed with the most enormous love of self, and supposed themselves to be as gods, and that whatever they thought was Divine. No such persuasion has ever existed in any people before or since, for it is deadly or suffocative, and therefore in the other life the antediluvians cannot be with any other spirits, for when they are present they take away from them all power of thought by injecting their fearfully determined persuasions, not to mention other matters which of the Lord‘s Divine mercy shall be spoken of in what follows,

AC 563. When such a persuasion takes possession of a man, it is like a glue which catches in its sticky embrace the goods and truths that otherwise would be remains, the result of which is that remains can no longer be stored up, and those which have been stored up can be of no use; and therefore when these people arrived at the summit of such persuasion they became extinct of their own accord, and were suffocated by an inundation not unlike a flood; and therefore their extinction is compared to a "flood," and also, according to the custom of the most ancient people, is described as one.

AC 564. Verse 1. And it came to pass that man began to multiply himself upon the faces of the ground, and daughters were born unto them. By "man (homo)" is here signified the race of mankind existing at that time. By the "faces of the ground" is signified all that tract where the church was. By "daughters" are here signified the things appertaining to the will of that man, consequently cupidities.

AC 565. That by "man" is here signified the race of mankind existing at that time, and indeed a race which was evil or corrupt, appears from the following passages: "My spirit shall not reprove man forever, for that he is flesh" (verse 3). "The evil of man was multiplied on the earth, and the imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil" (verse 5). "I will destroy man whom I have created" (verse 7); and in the following chapter (Genesis 7:21, 22), "All flesh died that crept upon the earth, and every man, in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of lives." Of man it has already been said that the Lord alone is Man, and that from Him every celestial man, or celestial church, is called "man." Hence all of other churches are called men; and so is every one, no matter of what faith, to distinguish him from the brutes. But still a man is not a man, and distinct from the brutes, except by virtue of remains, which are of the Lord. From these also a man is called man, and inasmuch as he is so called by reason of remains, which belong to the Lord, it is from Him that he has the name of man be he ever so wicked, for a man is by no means man, but the vilest of brutes, unless he has remains.

AC 566. That by the "faces of the ground" is signified all that region where the church was, is evident from the signification of "ground;" for in the Word there is an accurate distinction made between "ground" and "earth;" by "ground" is everywhere signified the church, or something belonging to the church; and from this comes the name of "man," or "Adam," which is "ground;" by "earth" in various places is meant where there is no church, or anything belonging to the church, as in the first chapter, where "earth" only is named, because as yet there was no church, or regenerate man. The "ground" is first spoken of in the second chapter, because then there was a church. In like manner it is said here, and in the following chapter (Genesis 7:4, 23), that "every substance should be destroyed from off the faces of the ground," signifying in the region where the church was; but in (Genesis 7:3), speaking of a church about to be created, it is said, "to keep seed alive on the faces of the ground." "Ground" has the same signification everywhere in the Word; as in Isaiah:--

Jehovah will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and will set them upon their own ground, and the peoples shall take them, and shall bring them to their place, and the house of Israel shall inherit them on the ground of Jehovah (Isaiah 14:1, 2),

speaking of the church that has been made; whereas where there is no church it is in the same chapter called "earth" (Isaiah 14:9, 12, 16, 20, 21, 25, 26).

[2] Again:--

And the ground of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt; in that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt speaking with the lip of Canaan (Isaiah 19:17, 18),

where "ground" signifies the church, and "land" where there is no church. In the same:--

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard; Jehovah shall visit upon the army of the height in the height, and upon the kings of the ground on the ground (Isaiah 24:20, 21).

In Jeremiah:--

Because of the ground that is worn, because there was no rain on the earth, the husbandmen were ashamed, they covered their heads, yea, the hind also calved in the field (Jeremiah 14:4, 5),

where "earth" is that which contains the "ground," and "ground" that which contains the "field."

[3] In the same:--

He brought the seed of the house of Israel from the northern land, from all the lands whither I have driven them, and they shall dwell on their own ground (Jeremiah 23:8),

where "land" and "lands" are where there are no churches; "ground" where there is a church or true worship. Again:--

I will give the remains of Jerusalem, them that are left in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt, and I will deliver them to commotion, for evil to all the kings of the earth, and I will send the sword, the famine, and pestilence among them, till they be consumed from off the ground which I gave to them and to their fathers (Jeremiah 24:8, 9, 10),

where "ground" signifies doctrine and the worship thence derived; and in like manner in (Jeremiah 25:5).

[4] In Ezekiel:--

I will gather you out of the lands wherein ye have been scattered, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah when I shall bring you again into the ground of Israel, into the land for which I lifted up My hand to give it to your fathers (Ezekiel 20:41, 42),

where "ground" signifies internal worship; it is called "land" when there is no internal worship. In Malachi:--

I will rebuke him that consumeth for your sakes, and he shall not corrupt for you the fruit of the ground, nor shall the vine be bereaved for you in the field; and all nations shall call you blessed, because ye shall be a delightsome land (Malachi 3:11, 12),

where "land" denotes the containant, and therefore it plainly denotes man, who is called "land" when "ground" denotes the church, or doctrine.

[5] In Moses:--

Sing, O ye nations, His people, He will make expiation for His ground, His people (Deut. 32:43),

evidently signifying the Church of the Gentiles, which is called "ground." In Isaiah:--

Before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the ground shall be forsaken, which thou abhorrest in presence of both her kings (Isaiah 7:16),

speaking of the advent of the Lord; that the "ground will be forsaken" denotes the church, or the true doctrine of faith. That "ground" and "field" are so called from being sown with seed, is evident; as in Isaiah:--

Then shall he give rain of thy seed wherewith thou shalt sow the ground; the oxen also and the young asses that labor on the ground (Isaiah 30:23, 24).

And in Joel:--

The field is laid waste, and the ground hath mourned, because the corn is laid waste (Joel 1:10).

Hence then it is evident that "man," who in the Hebrew tongue is called "Adam," from "ground," signifies the church.

AC 567. All that region is called the region of the church where those live who are instructed in the doctrine of true faith; as the land of Canaan, when the Jewish Church was there, and Europe, where the Christian Church now is; the lands and countries outside of this are not the region of the church, or the "faces of the ground." Where the church was before the flood, may also appear from the lands which the rivers encompassed that went forth from the garden of Eden, by which in various parts of the Word are likewise described the boundaries of the land of Canaan; and also from what follows concerning the Nephilim that were "in the land;" and that these Nephilim dwelt in the land of Canaan is evident from what is said of the sons of Anak: that they were "of the Nephilim" (Num. 13:33).

AC 568. That "daughters" signify such things as are of the will of that man, consequently cupidities, is evident from what was said and shown concerning "sons and daughters" in the preceding chapter (Genesis 5:4), where "sons" signify truths, and "daughters," goods. "Daughters," or goods, are of the will, but such as a man is, such is his understanding and such his will, thus such are the "sons and daughters." The present passage treats of man in a corrupt state, who has no will, but mere cupidity instead of will, which is supposed by him to be will, and is also so called. What is predicated is in accordance with the quality of the thing whereof it is predicated, and that the man of whom the daughters are here predicated was a corrupt man, has been shown before. The reason why "daughters" signify the things of the will, and, where there is no will of good, cupidities; and why "sons" signify the things of the understanding, and, where there is no understanding of truth, phantasies, is that the female sex is such, and so formed, that the will or cupidity reigns in them more than the understanding. Such is the entire disposition of their fibers, and such their nature, whereas the male sex is so formed that the intellect or reason rules, such also being the disposition of their fibers and such their nature. Hence the marriage of the two is like that of the will and the understanding in every man; and since at this day there is no will of good, but only cupidity, and still something intellectual, or rational, can be given, this is why so many laws were enacted in the Jewish Church concerning the prerogative of the husband (vir), and the obedience of the wife.

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