Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 6:17
AC 659. Verse 17. And I, behold I do bring the flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of lives from under the heavens; everything that is on the earth shall expire. By the "flood" is signified an inundation of evil and falsity; "to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of lives from under the heavens," signifies that the whole posterity of the Most Ancient Church would destroy themselves; "everything that is in the earth shall expire," signifies those who were of that church and had become such.
AC 660. That by the "flood" is signified an inundation of evil and falsity, is evident from what has been stated before concerning the posterity of the Most Ancient Church: that they were possessed with foul cupidities, and that they immersed the doctrinal things of faith in them, and in consequence had persuasions of falsity which extinguished all truth and good, and at the same time closed up the way for remains, so that they could not operate; and therefore it could not be otherwise than that they would destroy themselves. When the way for remains is closed, the man is no longer man, because he can no longer be protected by angels, but is totally possessed by evil spirits, whose sole study and desire it is to extinguish man. Hence came the death of the antediluvians, which is described by a flood, or total inundation. The influx of phantasies and cupidities from evil spirits is not unlike a kind of flood; and therefore it is called a "flood" or inundation in various places in the Word, as of the Lord‘s Divine mercy will be seen in what is premised to the following chapter.
AC 661. To destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of lives from under the heavens. That this signifies that the whole posterity of the Most Ancient Church would destroy themselves, is evident from what is said above, and from the description of them given before: that they derived by inheritance from their parents in succession such a genius that they more than others were imbued with direful persuasions; and especially for the reason that they immersed the doctrinal things of faith that they possessed in their cupidities. It is otherwise with those who have no doctrinal things of faith, but live entirely in ignorance; these cannot so act, and therefore cannot profane holy things, and thereby close up the way for remains; and consequently they cannot drive away from themselves the angels of the Lord.
 Remains, as has been said, are all things of innocence, all things of charity, all things of mercy, and all things of the truth of faith, which from his infancy a man has had from the Lord, and has learned. Each and all of these things are treasured up; and if a man had them not, there could be nothing of innocence, of charity, and of mercy, and therefore nothing of good and truth in his thought and actions, so that he would be worse than the savage wild beasts. And it would be the same if he had had the remains of such things and had closed up the way by foul cupidities and direful persuasions of falsity, so that they could not operate. Such were the antediluvians who destroyed themselves, and who are meant by "all flesh wherein is the breath of lives, under the heavens."
 "Flesh," as before shown, signifies every man in general, and the corporeal man in particular. The "breath of lives" signifies all life in general, but properly the life of those who have been regenerated, consequently in the present case the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church. Although there was no life of faith remaining among them, yet as they derived from their parents something of seed therefrom which they stifled, it is here called the "breath of lives," or, "in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives." (Genesis 7:22) "Flesh under the heavens," signifies what is merely corporeal; the "heavens" are the things of the understanding that are of truth and the things of the will that are of good, on the separation of which from the corporeal a man can no longer live. What sustains man is his conjunction with heaven, that is, through heaven with the Lord.
AC 662. Everything that is in the earth shall expire. This signifies those who were of that church and had become of this quality. It has been shown before that the "earth" does not mean the whole world, but only those who were of the church. Thus no deluge was meant here, still less a universal deluge, but the expiring or suffocation of those who existed there, when they were separated from remains, and thereby from the things of the understanding that are of truth and the things of the will that are of good, and therefore from the heavens. That the "earth" signifies the region where the church is, and therefore those who live there, may be confirmed by the following passages from the Word, in addition to those already cited. In Jeremiah:--
Thus hath said Jehovah, The whole earth shall be desolate; yet will I not make a consummation. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above shall be black (Jeremiah 4:27, 28).
Here the "earth" denotes those who dwell where the church is that is vastated. In Isaiah:--
I will move the heavens, and the earth shall be shaken out of her place (Isaiah 13:13).
The "earth" denotes the man who is to be vastated, where the church is. In Jeremiah:--
The slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from the end of the earth even unto the end of the earth (Jeremiah 25:33).
Here the "end of the earth" does not signify the whole world, but only the region where the church was, and consequently the men who were of the church. Again:--
I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth; a tumult shall come even to the end of the earth; for Jehovah hath a controversy with the nations (Jeremiah 25:29, 31).
In this passage, in like manner, the whole world is not meant, but only the region where the church is, and therefore the inhabitant or man of the church; the "nations" here denote falsities. In Isaiah:--
Behold, Jehovah cometh forth out of His place to visit the iniquity of the inhabitant of the earth (Isaiah 26:21).
Here the meaning is the same. Again:--
Have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood the foundations of the earth? (Isaiah 40:21).
Jehovah, that createth the heavens, God Himself that formeth the earth and maketh it, He establisheth it (Isaiah 45:18).
The "earth" denotes the man of the church. In Zechariah:--
The saying of Jehovah, who stretcheth out the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man in the midst of him (Zechariah 12:1),
where the "earth" manifestly denotes the man of the church. The "earth" is distinguished from the "ground" as are the man of the church and the church itself, or as are love and faith.GENESIS 6:17 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|