Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 6:14
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AC 638. Verse 14. Make thee an ark of gopher woods, mansions shalt thou make the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. By the "ark" is signified the man of that church; by "gopher wood" his concupiscences; by the "mansions" are signified the two parts of the man, which are the will and the understanding; by "pitching it within and without" is signified his preservation from an inundation of cupidities.

AC 639. That by the "ark" is signified the man of that church, or the church called "Noah," is sufficiently evident from the description of it in the following verses; and from the fact that the Lord‘s Word everywhere involves spiritual and celestial things; that is, that the Word is spiritual and celestial. If the ark with its coating of pitch, its measurement, and its construction, and the flood also, signified nothing more than the letter expresses, there would be nothing at all spiritual and celestial in the account of it, but only something historical, which would be of no more use to the human race than any similar thing described by secular writers. But because the Word of the Lord everywhere in its bosom or interiors involves and contains spiritual and celestial things, it is very evident that by the ark and all the things said about the ark, are signified hidden things not yet revealed.

[2] It is the same in other places, as in the case of the little ark in which Moses was concealed, which was placed among the sedge by the river side (Exod. 2:3); and to take a more lofty instance, it was the same with the holy ark in the wilderness, that was made after the pattern shown to Moses on Mount Sinai. If each and all things in this ark had not been representative of the Lord and His kingdom, it would have been nothing else than a sort of idol, and the worship idolatrous. In like manner the temple of Solomon was not holy at all of itself, or on account of the gold, silver, cedar, and stone in it, but on account of all the things which these represented. And so here--if the ark and its construction, with its several particulars, did not signify some hidden thing of the church, the Word would not be the Word of the Lord, but a kind of dead letter, as in the case of any profane writer. Therefore it is evident that the ark signifies the man of the church, or the church called "Noah."

AC 640. That by "gopher woods" are signified concupiscences, and by the "mansions" the two parts of this man, which are the will and the understanding, no one has hitherto known. Nor can any one know how these things are signified, unless he is first told how the case was with that church. The Most Ancient Church, as has often been said, knew from love whatever was of faith; or what is the same, from a will of good had understanding of truth. But their posterity received also by inheritance that cupidities, which are of the will, ruled over them, in which they immersed the doctrinal things of faith, and thus became "Nephilim." When therefore the Lord foresaw that if man continued to be of such a nature he would perish eternally, He provided that the will should be separated from the understanding, and that man should be formed, not as before by a will of good, but through an understanding of truth should be endowed with charity, which appears as a will of good. Such did this new church become which is called "Noah," and thus it was of an entirely different nature from the Most Ancient Church. Besides this church, there were other churches also at that time, as that which is called "Enosh" (Genesis 4:26), and others also of which no such mention and description is extant. Only this church "Noah" is here described, because it was of another and entirely different nature from the Most Ancient Church.

AC 641. As this man of the church must be reformed as to that part of man which is called the understanding, before he could be reformed as to the other part which is called the will, it is here described how the things of the will were separated from those of the understanding, and were as it were covered over and reserved, lest anything should touch the will. For if things of the will, that is of cupidity, had been excited, the man would have perished, as will appear, of the Lords Divine mercy, hereafter. These two parts--the will and the understanding--are so distinct in man that nothing could be more distinct, as has been given me also to know with certainty from the fact that things of the understanding of spirits and angels flow into the left part of the head or brain, and things of the will into the right; and it is the same with respect to the face. When angelic spirits flow in, they do so gently like the softest breaths of air; but when evil spirits flow in, it is like an inundation into the left part of the brain with dreadful phantasies and persuasions, and into the right with cupidities, their influx being as it were an inundation of phantasies and cupidities.

AC 642. From all this it is evident what this first description of the ark involves, with its construction of gopher wood, its mansions, and its coating within and without with pitch, namely, that one part, that of the will, was preserved from inundation; and only that part opened which is of the understanding, and is described, in (verse 16), by the window, the door, and the lowest, second, and third stories. These things are not easily believed, because hitherto no one has had any idea of them. And yet they are most true. But these are the least and most general of the hidden meanings which man is ignorant of. If the individual particulars were told him, he could not apprehend even one of them.

AC 643. But as regards the signification itself of the words: that "gopher wood" signifies concupiscences, and the "mansions" the two parts of man, is evident from the Word. Gopher wood is a wood abounding in sulphur, like the fir, and others of its kind. On account of its sulphur it is said that it signifies concupiscences, because it easily takes fire. The most ancient people compared things in man (and regarded them as having a likeness) to gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood--his inmost celestial to gold, his lower celestial to brass, and what was lowest, or the corporeal therefrom, to wood. But his inmost spiritual they compared (and regarded as having a likeness) to silver, his lower spiritual to iron, and his lowest to stone. And such in the internal sense is the signification of these things when they are mentioned in the Word, as in Isaiah:--

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 thine officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness (Isaiah 60:17).

Here the Lord’s kingdom is treated of, in which there are not such metals, but spiritual and celestial things; and that these are signified is very evident from the mention of "peace" and "righteousness." "Gold," "brass," and "wood" here correspond to each other, and signify things celestial or of the will, as before said; and "silver," "iron," and "stone" correspond to each other, and signify things spiritual or of the understanding.

[2] In Ezekiel:--

They shall make a spoil of thy riches and make a prey of thy merchandise; thy stones, and thy wood (Ezekiel 26:12).

It is very manifest that by "riches" and "merchandise" are not meant worldly riches and merchandise, but celestial and spiritual; and the same by the "stones" and "wood"-the "stones" being those things which are of the understanding, and the "wood" those which are of the will. In Habakkuk:--

The stone crieth out of the wall, and the beam out of the wood answereth (Habakkuk 2:11).

The "stone" denotes the lowest degree of the understanding; and the "wood" the lowest of the will, which "answers" when anything is drawn from sensuous knowledge (scientifico sensuali). Again:--

Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; and to the dumb stone, Arise, this shall teach. Behold it is fastened with gold and silver, and there is no breath in the midst of it. But Jehovah is in the temple of His holiness (Habakkuk 2:19, 20).

Here also "wood" denotes cupidity; "stone" denotes the lowest of the understanding, and therefore to be "dumb" and to "teach" are predicated of it; "there is no breath in the midst of it," signifies that it represents nothing celestial and spiritual, just as a temple wherein are stone and wood, and these bound together with gold and silver, is to those who think nothing of what they represent.

[3] In Lamentations:--

We drink our waters for silver; our wood cometh for price (Lam. 5:4).

Here "waters" and "silver" signify the things of the understanding; and "wood" those of the will. Again:--

Saying to wood, Thou art my father; and to the stone, Thou hast brought us forth (Jer. 2:27).

Here "wood" denotes cupidity, which is of the will, whence is the conception; and "stone" the sensuous knowledge (scientifico sensuali), from which is the "bringing forth." Hence, in different places in the Prophets, "serving wood and stone" is put for worshiping graven images of wood and stone, by which is signified that they served cupidities and phantasies; and also "committing adultery with wood and stone," as in (Jeremiah 3:9). In Hosea:--

My people inquire of their wood, and the staff thereof declareth unto them; because the spirit of whoredoms hath led them away (Hosea 4:12),

meaning that they make inquiry of graven images of wood, or of cupidities.

[4] In Isaiah:--

Topheth is prepared from yesterday, the pile thereof is fire and much wood, the breath of Jehovah is like a stream of burning sulphur (Isaiah 30:33).

Here "fire," "sulphur," and "wood" stand for foul cupidities. In general, "wood" signifies the things of the will which are lowest; the precious woods, such as cedar and the like, those which are good, as for example the cedar wood in the temple, and the cedar wood employed in the cleansing of leprosy (Lev. 14:4, 6, 7) also the wood cast into the bitter waters at Marah, whereby the waters became sweet (Exod. 15:25), concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy in those places. But woods that were not precious, and those which were made into graven images, as well as those used for funeral piles and the like, signify cupidities; as in this place does the gopher wood, on account of its sulphur. So in Isaiah:--

The day of vengeance of Jehovah; the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into sulphur, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch (Isaiah34:9).

"Pitch" stands for dreadful phantasies; "sulphur" for abominable cupidities.

AC 644. That by the "mansions" are signified the two parts of man, which are the will and the understanding, is evident from what has been stated before: that these two parts, the will and the understanding, are most distinct from each other, and that for this reason, as before said, the human brain is divided into two parts, called hemispheres. To its left hemisphere pertain the intellectual faculties, and to the right those of the will. This is the most general distinction. Besides this, both the will and the understanding are distinguished into innumerable parts, for so many are the divisions of the intellectual things of man, and so many those of the will, that they can never be described or enumerated even as to the universal genera, still less as to their species. A man is a kind of least heaven, corresponding to the world of spirits and to heaven, wherein all the genera and all the species of the things of the understanding and of the will are distinguished by the Lord in the most perfect order, so that not even the least of them is undistinguished, concerning which, of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter. In heaven these divisions are called Societies, in the Word "habitations," and by the Lord "mansions" (John 14:2). Here also they are called "mansions," because they are predicated of the ark, which signifies the man of the church.

AC 645. That to "pitch it within and without with pitch," signifies preservation from an inundation of cupidities, is evident from what has been said before. For the man of this church was first to be reformed as to the things of his understanding, and therefore he was preserved from an inundation of cupidities, which would destroy all the work of reformation. In the original text it is not indeed said that it was to be "pitched with pitch," but a word is used which denotes "protection," derived from "expiate" or " propitiate," and therefore it involves the same. The expiation or propitiation of the Lord is protection from the inundation of evil.

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