Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:14-15
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AC 772. Verses 14, 15. They, and every wild animal after its kind, and every beast after its kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind; and every fowl after its kind, every flying thing, every winged thing. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two, of all flesh wherein is the breath of lives. By "they" is signified the man of the church in general; by "every wild animal after its kind," is signified every spiritual good; by "every beast after its kind," every natural good; by "every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind," every sensuous and corporeal good; by "fowl after its kind," every spiritual truth; by "flying thing," natural truth; by "winged thing," sensuous truth. That "they went in unto Noah into the ark," signifies as before that they were saved; "two and two," signifies as before, pairs; "of all flesh wherein is the breath of lives," signifies a new creature, or that they received new life from the Lord.

AC 773. That by "they" is signified the man of the church in general, or all that was of that church, is evident from its referring to those who were named just before, that is, to Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, who, although they are four, yet together constitute a one. In "Noah," by whom the Ancient Church in general is meant, are contained, as in a parent or seed, the churches that were derived from that church; and for this reason by "they" is signified the Ancient Church. All those churches which were called "Shem, Ham, and Japheth," together constitute the church which is called the Ancient Church.

AC 774. That by the "wild animal after its kind," is signified every spiritual good, and by "beast after its kind," every natural good, and by "creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth," every sensuous and corporeal good, has been stated and shown before (n. 45, 46, 142, 143, 246). At first view it may appear as if it could not be that the "wild animal" signifies spiritual good; yet that this is the true signification appears from the series of expressions, in that mention is first made of "they," meaning the man of the church; next of "wild animal;" then of "beast;" and lastly of "creeping thing." So that "wild animal" involves what is of higher worth and excellence than "beast," the reason of which is that in the Hebrew language the expression "wild animal" means also an animal in which there is a living soul. And so it does not here mean every wild animal, but every animal in which there is a living soul, for it is the same word. That by "animals," "beasts," and "creeping things that creep upon the earth," are signified things pertaining to the will, has been stated and shown before, and will be further shown in what presently follows, where birds will be spoken of.

AC 775. It is said of each "after its kind," because there are genera and species of all goods, both spiritual and natural, and also of the derivative sensuous and corporeal goods. So many genera are there of spiritual goods, and so many genera likewise of spiritual truths, that they cannot be numbered; still less can the species of the genera. In heaven all goods and truths, celestial and spiritual, are so distinct in their genera, and these in their species, that there is not the least of them which is not most distinct; and so innumerable are they, that the specific differences may be said to be unlimited. From this it may be seen how poor and almost nonexistent is human wisdom, which scarcely knows that there is such a thing as spiritual good or spiritual truth, much less what it is. From celestial and spiritual goods and their derivative truths, issue and descend natural goods and truths. For there is never any natural good and truth that does not spring from spiritual good, and this from celestial, and also subsist from the same. If the spiritual should withdraw from the natural, the natural would be nothing. The origin of all things (rerum) is in this wise: all things, both in general and in particular, are from the Lord; from Him is the celestial; from Him through the celestial comes forth the spiritual; through the spiritual the natural; through the natural the corporeal and the sensuous. And as they all come forth from the Lord in this way, so also do they subsist from Him, for, as is well known, subsistence is a perpetual coming into existence. They who have a different conception of the coming into existence and rise of things, like those who worship nature and deduce from her the origins of things, are in principles so deadly that the phantasies of the wild beasts of the forest may be called far more sane. Such are very many who appear to themselves to excel others in wisdom.

AC 776. That "every fowl after its kind" signifies every spiritual truth, "flying thing" natural truth, and "winged thing" sensuous truth, is evident from what has been stated and shown before concerning "birds" (n. 40). The most ancient people likened manís thoughts to birds, because relatively to the things of the will, thoughts are like birds. As mention is made here of "fowl," "flying thing," and "winged thing," and of these in succession, like things intellectual, rational, and sensuous in man, in order that no one may doubt that they signify these things, some passages from the Word may be adduced in confirmation, from which it will also be plain that "beasts" signify such things as have been stated.

[2] Thus in David:--

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things under his feet; all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the fields, the fowl of the heaven, and the fish of the sea (Ps. 8:6-8).

This is said of the Lord, whose dominion over man, and over the things pertaining to man, is thus described. Otherwise what would be the dominion over "beasts" and "fowls?" Again:--

Fruitful trees and all cedars, the wild animal and every beast, creeping things and flying fowl, let them praise the name of Jehovah (Ps. 148:9, 10, 13).

The "fruitful tree" denotes the celestial man the "cedar," the spiritual man. The "wild animal," and "beast," and "creeping thing," are their goods, as in the history before us; the "flying fowl" is their truths; from all of which they can "praise the name of Jehovah." By no means can the wild animal, the beast, the creeping thing, and the bird do this. In profane writings such things may be said by hyperbolism, but there are no hyperbolisms in the Word of the Lord, but things significative and representative.

[3] In Ezekiel:--

The fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the wild animal of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at My presence (Ezekiel 38:20).

That such things are here signified by "beasts" and "fowls" is very manifest; for how would it be to the glory of Jehovah if fishes, birds, and beasts should shake? Can any one suppose that such sayings would be holy if they did not involve holy things? In Jeremiah:--

I beheld, and lo there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled (Jeremiah 4:25),

denoting all good and truth; "man" also denotes here the good of love. Again:--

They are burned up, so that none passeth through, neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled, they are gone (Jeremiah 9:10),

denoting in like manner that all truth and good have departed.

[4] And again:--

How long shall the land mourn, and the herb of every field wither? for the wickedness of them that dwell therein the beasts are consumed and the birds, because they said, He shall not see our latter end (Jeremiah 12:4).

Here the "beasts" denote goods, and the "birds" truths, which perished. In Zephaniah:--

I will consume man and beast, I will consume the fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the face of the ground (Zephaniah 1:3).

Here "man and beast" denote the things which are of love and of its good; the "fowls of the heaven and the fishes of the sea," the things which are of the understanding, thus which are of truth. These are called "stumbling blocks" because goods and truths are stumbling blocks to the wicked, but not beasts and birds; and they are also plainly spoken of "man." In David:--

The trees of Jehovah are satisfied, the cedars of Lebanon which He hath planted, where the birds make their nests (Ps. 104:16, 17).

The "trees of Jehovah" and the "cedars of Lebanon" denote the spiritual man; the "birds" his rational or natural truths, which are as "nests."

[5] It was moreover a common form of expression that "birds would make their nests in the branches," signifying truths, as in Ezekiel:--

In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it, and it shall lift up its bough, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar; and under it shall dwell every bird of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell (Ezekiel 17:23),

denoting the Church of the Gentiles, which was spiritual. This is "the goodly cedar;" the "bird of every wing" denotes truths of every kind. Again:--

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches all the wild animals of the field brought forth, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations (Ezekiel 31:6).

This is said of Asshur, which is the spiritual church and is called a "cedar;" the " birds of the heavens" denote its truths; the "beasts" its goods. In Daniel:--

The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and it was meat for all; the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of heaven dwelt in the branches thereof (Daniel 4:12, 21).

Here the "beasts" denote goods, the "fowls of the heavens" truths, as must be evident to every one; for otherwise of what concern is it that the bird and the beasts dwelt there? And it is the same with what the Lord says:--

The kingdom of God is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew, and became a tree, and the birds of the heaven lodged in the branches thereof (Luke 13:19; Matt. 13:31, 32; Mark 4:31, 32).

AC 777. It is now evident that the "fowl" signifies spiritual truth, the "flying thing" natural truth, and the "winged thing" sensuous truth; and that truths are distinguished in this way. Sensuous truths, which are those of the sight and hearing, are called "winged things," because they are outermost; and such is the signification of "wing" as applied to other things also.

AC 778. Now as the "fowls of the heavens" signify truths of the understanding, and thus thoughts, they also signify their opposites, such as phantasies or falsities, which being of manĎs thought are also called "fowls," as for example when it is said that the wicked "shall be given for meat to the fowls of heaven and to the wild beasts," meaning phantasies and cupidities (Isa. 18:6; Jer. 7:33; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20; Ezek. 29:5; 39:4). The Lord Himself also compares phantasies and false persuasions to "fowls," where He says:--The seed that fell by the wayside was trodden under foot, and the fowls of heaven came and devoured it (Matt. 13:4; Luke 8:5; Mark 4:4, 15), where the "fowls of heaven" are nothing else than falsities.

AC 779. And they went in unto Noah into the ark. That this signifies that they were saved, has been already shown. That "two and two" signify pairs, and what they are, may be seen at (Genesis 6:19).

AC 780. Of all flesh wherein is the breath of lives. That this signifies a new creature, or that they received new life from the Lord, is evident from the signification of "flesh" as being in general all mankind, and specifically the corporeal man, as before said and shown. Hence "flesh wherein is the breath of lives," signifies a regenerated man, for in his Own there is the Lordís life, which is the life of charity and faith. Every man is only "flesh;" but when the life of charity and faith is breathed into him by the Lord, the flesh is made alive, and becomes spiritual and celestial, and is called a "new creature" (Mark 16:15), from having been created anew.

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