Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:17-18
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AC 785. Verses 17, 18. And the flood was forty days upon the earth, and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up from off the earth; and the waters were strengthened, and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. By "forty days," is signified the duration of the church called "Noah;" by "the flood," falsities which still inundated it; that "the waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up from off the earth," signifies that such was its fluctuation; "the waters were strengthened and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark went upon the face of the waters," signifies that its fluctuations thus increased in frequency and strength.

AC 786. That by "forty days" is signified the duration of the church called "Noah," was shown above at (verse 4). Here it is "forty days," there "forty days and forty nights;" because in that place the duration of temptation was signified, in which the "nights" are anxieties.

AC 787. That by the "flood" are signified falsities which still inundated the church, also follows from what was shown above; for a "flood" or "inundation" is nothing else than an inundation of falsities. Before at (verse 6), the "flood of waters" signified temptation, as was there shown; which also is an inundation of falsities that evil spirits then excite in man. The case is the same here, but without temptation, and therefore it is said here simply the "flood," not the "flood of waters."

AC 788. The waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up from off the earth. That this signifies that such was its fluctuation, and that "the waters were strengthened and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark went upon the face of the waters," signifies that its fluctuations thus increased in frequency and strength, cannot be evident unless there be first explained what was the state of this church which is called "Noah." "Noah" was not the Ancient Church itself, but was as the parent or seed of that church, as before said. "Noah" together with "Shem, Ham, and Japheth," constituted the Ancient Church, which immediately succeeded the Most Ancient. Every man of the church called "Noah" was of the posterity of the Most Ancient Church, and with respect to hereditary evil was therefore in a state nearly like that of the rest of the posterity, which perished; and those who were in such a state could not be regenerated and made spiritual as could those who did not derive such quality by inheritance. What their hereditary quality was, has been stated above (n. 310).

[2] For example (that the matter may be more clearly understood): they who, like the Jews, are of the seed of Jacob, cannot so well be regenerated as can the Gentiles, for they have an inherent opposition to faith, not only from principles imbibed from infancy and afterwards confirmed, but from hereditary disposition also. That this inheres also from hereditary disposition, may in some measure be evident from their being of a different genius, of different manners, and also of different features, from other men, whereby they are distinguishable from others; and these characteristics they have from inheritance. And it is the same with the interior qualities, for manners and features are types of the interiors. Therefore converted Jews fluctuate more than others between truth and falsity. It was the same with the first men of the Ancient Church, who were called "Noah" because they were of the race and seed of the most ancient men. These are the fluctuations described here, and also in what follows: that Noah was a husbandman and planted a vineyard; and that he drank of the wine, and was drunken, and lay uncovered within his tent (Genesis 9:20, 21). That they were few, was made evident from the fact that the man of that church was represented in the world of spirits as a tall and slender man, clothed in white, in a chamber of small dimensions. And yet it was they who preserved and had among them the doctrinal things of faith.

AC 789. The fluctuations of the man of this church are described here; first, by its being said that the "waters (that is, falsities) increased;" then, that they "bare up the ark," and that it was "lifted up from off the earth;" afterwards, that the "waters were strengthened, and increased greatly upon the earth;" and finally, that the "ark went upon the face of the waters." But to explain each degree of the fluctuation would be too prolix, and unnecessary. It is sufficient to know that they are here described. We will merely mention what is signified by the statement that the ark was lifted up from off the earth, and went upon the face of the waters. As no one can know this unless he is informed how man is withheld from evils and falsities, and as this is a hidden thing, it shall be briefly explained. Speaking generally, every man, even the regenerate, is such that if the Lord did not withhold him from evils and falsities he would cast himself headlong into hell. The very moment he is not withheld, be rushes headlong into it. This has been made known to me by experience, and was also represented by a horse (n. 187, 188). This withholding from evils and falsities is in effect a lifting up, so that evils and falsities are perceived below, and the man above. Concerning this elevation, of the Lordís Divine mercy hereafter. It is this elevation which is signified by the "ark being lifted up from off the earth, and going upon the face of the waters."

AC 790. That the "waters" here and in the following verses signify falsities, is evident from the passages of the Word adduced at the beginning of this chapter, and at (verse 6), where a "flood" or inundation of waters is treated of. It is there shown that inundations of waters signify desolations and temptations, which involve the same as falsities; for desolations and temptations are nothing else than inundations of falsities that are excited by evil spirits. That such "waters" signify falsities, is because in the Word "waters" in general signify what is spiritual, that is, what is of understanding, of reason, and of memory-knowledge (intellectuale, rationale, et scientificum); and as they signify these they also signify their contraries, for every falsity is a something pertaining to memory-knowledge, and appears as a thing of reason and understanding, because it is of the thought.

[2] That "waters" signify spiritual things, is evident from many passages in the Word; and that they also signify falsities, let the following passages, in addition to those already cited, serve for confirmation. In Isaiah:--

This people hath refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly; therefore behold the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, and he shall go over all his banks (Isaiah 8:6, 7).

The "waters that go softly," here denote things spiritual, "waters strong and many," falsities. Again:--

Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia; that sendeth ambassadors upon the sea, and in vessels of papyrus upon the waters. Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled (Isaiah 18:1, 2),

denoting the falsities which are of the "land shadowing with wings."

[3] Again:--

When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee (Isaiah 43:2).

The "waters" and "rivers" denote difficulties, and also falsities. In Jeremiah:--

What hast thou to do with the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Shihor? And what hast thou to do with the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? (Jeremiah 2:18),

where "waters" denote falsities from reasonings. Again:--

Who is this that riseth up as a river? as the rivers his waters are in commotion. Egypt riseth up as a river, and as the rivers his waters toss themselves; and he said, I will rise up, I will cover the earth, I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof (Jeremiah 46:7, 8),

where again "waters" denote falsities from reasonings.

[4] In Ezekiel:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and the great waters shall cover thee, then will I bring thee down with them that descend into the pit (Ezekiel 26:19, 20).

"Waters" here denote evils and the falsities therefrom. In Habakkuk:--

Thou didst tread the sea with thine horses, the mire of many waters (Habakkuk 3:15),

where "waters" denote falsities. In John:--

And the serpent cast forth after the woman, out of his mouth, water as a river, that he might cause her to be carried away by the stream (Rev. 12:15, 16).

Here "waters" denote falsities and lies. In David:--

Send Thine hand from above, rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, out of the hand of the sons of the stranger, whose mouth speaketh a lie, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood (Ps. 144:7, 8).

" Great waters" here manifestly denote falsities; the "sons of the stranger" also signify falsities.

AC 791. Thus far "Noah" has been treated of, or the regenerate men called "Noah," who were in the "ark," and were "lifted up above the waters." The subject will now be those descendants of the Most Ancient Church who were under the waters, or were submerged by the waters.

GENESIS 7:17-18    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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