Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:19-20
AC 792. Verses 19, 20. And the waters were strengthened very exceedingly upon the earth, and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and covered the mountains. "And the waters were strengthened very exceedingly upon the earth," signifies that persuasions of falsity thus increased; "and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered," signifies that all goods of charity were extinguished; "fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and covered the mountains," signifies that nothing of charity remained; "fifteen" signifies so few as to be scarcely any.
AC 793. The subject now treated of, up to the end of this chapter, is the antediluvians who perished, as is evident from the particulars of the description. They who are in the internal sense can know instantly, and indeed from a single word, what subject is treated of; and especially can they know this from the connection of several words. When a different subject is taken up, at once the words are different, or the same words stand in a different connection. The reason is that there are words peculiar to spiritual things, and words peculiar to celestial things; or, what is the same, there are words peculiar to matters of understanding, and others to matters of will. For example: the word "desolation" is predicated of spiritual things, and " vastation" of celestial things; "city" is predicated of spiritual things, "mountain" of celestial things; and so on. The case is the same with the connective expressions. And (what cannot fail to be a matter of surprise) in the Hebrew language the words are very often distinguishable by their sound; for in those which belong to the spiritual class the first three vowels are usually dominant, and in words that are of the celestial class, the last two vowels. That in these verses a different subject is now treated of, appears also from the repetition already spoken of (in that it is here again said, as in the preceding verse, "and the waters were strengthened very exceedingly upon the earth"), and the same is evident also from what follows.
AC 794. And the waters were strengthened very exceedingly upon the earth. That this signifies that persuasions of falsity thus increased, is evident from what has been said and shown just above about "waters," namely, that the waters of a flood, or inundations, signify falsities. Here, because falsities or persuasions of what was false were still more increased, it is said that the "waters were strengthened very exceedingly," which in the original language is the superlative. Falsities are principles and persuasions of what is false, and that these had increased immensely among the antediluvians, is evident from all that has been said before concerning them. Persuasions immensely increase when men mingle truths with cupidities, or make them favor the loves of self and of the world; for then in a thousand ways they pervert them and force them into agreement. For who that has imbibed or framed for himself a false principle does not confirm it by much that he has learned; and even from the Word? Is there any heresy that does not thus lay hold of things to confirm it? and even force, and in divers ways explain and distort, things that are not in agreement, so that they may not disagree?
 For example, he who adopts the principle that faith alone is saving, without the goods of charity; can he not weave a whole system of doctrine out of the Word? and this without in the least caring for, or considering, or even seeing, what the Lord says, that "the tree is known by its fruit," and that "every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10; 7:16-20; 12:33). What is more pleasing than to live after the flesh, and yet be saved if only one knows what is true, though he does nothing of good? Every cupidity that a man favors forms the life of his will, and every principle or persuasion of falsity forms the life of his understanding. These lives make one when the truths or doctrinals of faith are immersed in cupidities. Every man thus forms for himself as it were a soul, and such after death does his life become. Nothing therefore is of more importance to a man than to know what is true. When he knows what is true, and knows it so well that it cannot be perverted, then it cannot be so much immersed in cupidities and have such deadly effect. What should a man have more at heart than his life to eternity? If in the life of the body he destroys his soul, does he not destroy it to eternity?
AC 795. All the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. That this signifies that all the goods of charity were extinguished, is evident from the signification of mountains among the most ancient people. With them mountains signified the Lord, for the reason that they held their worship of Him on mountains, because these were the highest places on earth. Hence "mountains" signified celestial things (which also were called the "highest"), consequently love and charity, and thereby the goods of love and charity, which are celestial. And in the opposite sense those also are called "mountains" who are vain glorious; and therefore a "mountain" stands for the very love of self. The Most Ancient Church is also signified in the Word by "mountains," from these being elevated above the earth and nearer as it were to heaven, to the beginnings of things.
 That "mountains" signify the Lord, and all things celestial from Him, or the goods of love and charity, is evident from the following passages in the Word, from which it is plain what they signify in particular cases, for all things in the Word, both in general and in particular, have a signification according to the subject to which they are applied. In David:--
The mountains shall bring peace, and the hills, in righteousness (Ps. 72:3).
"Mountains" denote here love to the Lord; "hills," love toward the neighbor, such as was with the Most Ancient Church, which because of this character is also signified in the Word by "mountains" and "hills." In Ezekiel:--
In the mountain of My holiness, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovih, there shall all the house of Israel serve Me, that whole land (Ezekiel 20:40).
The "mountain of holiness" here denotes love to the Lord; the "mountain of the height of Israel," charity toward the neighbor. In Isaiah:--
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills (Isaiah 2:2),
where "mountains" denote the Lord, and thence all that is celestial. Again:--
In this mountain shall Jehovah Zebaoth make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, and He will take away in this mountain the face of the covering (Isaiah 25:6, 7).
"Mountain" here denotes the Lord, and hence all that is celestial.
And there shall be upon every lofty mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers, streams of waters (Isaiah 30:25),
where "mountains" denote goods of love; "hills," goods of charity, from which are truths of faith, which are the "rivers and streams of waters." Again:--
Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy feast is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of Jehovah, to the flock of Israel (Isaiah 30:29).
The "mountain of Jehovah" here denotes the Lord with reference to the goods of love; the "Rock of Israel," the Lord with reference to the goods of charity. Again:--
Jehovah Zebaoth shall come down to fight upon Mount Zion and upon the hill thereof (Isaiah31:4).
"Mount Zion," here and elsewhere in many places, denotes the Lord, and hence all that is celestial and which is love; and "hills" denote what is celestial of lower degree, which is charity.
O Zion that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength (Isaiah 40:9).
To "go up into the high mountain and bring good tidings," is to worship the Lord from love and charity, which are inmost, and are therefore also called "highest," because what is inmost is called highest. Again:--
Let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains (Isaiah 42:11).
The "inhabitants of the rock" denote those who are in charity; to "shout from the top of the mountains" is to worship the Lord from love. Again:--
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation (Isaiah 52:7).
To "bring good tidings upon the mountains," is likewise to preach the Lord from the doctrine of love and charity, and from these to worship Him. Again:--
The mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12)
denoting worship of the Lord from love and charity, which are "the mountains and the hills;" and from the faith thence derived, which are the "trees of the field."
I will make all My mountains a way, and My highways shall be exalted (Isaiah 49:11)
where "mountains" denote love and charity; and "way" and "highways," the truths of faith thence derived, which are said to be "exalted" when they are from love and charity as their inmost. Again:--
He that putteth his trust in Me shall possess the land as a heritage, and shall inherit the mountain of My holiness (Isaiah 57:13)
denoting the Lord‘s kingdom, wherein is nothing but love and charity. Again:--
I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of My mountains, and Mine elect shall possess it (Isaiah 65:9).
"Mountains" here denote the Lord’s kingdom and celestial goods; "Judah," the celestial church. And again:--
Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I dwell in the high and holy place (Isaiah 57:15).
"High" here denotes what is holy; and hence it is that on account of their height above the earth, mountains signify the Lord and His holy celestial things. And it was for this reason that the Lord promulgated the Law from Mount Sinai. Love and charity are also meant by the Lord, by "mountains," where, speaking of the consummation of the age, He says:--
Then let them that are in Judea flee into the mountains (Matt. 24:16; Luke 21:21; Mark 13:14),
where "Judea" denotes the vastated church.
AC 796. As the Most Ancient Church held holy worship upon mountains, the Ancient Church did the same. And hence in all the representative churches of that time, and in all the nations too, the custom prevailed of sacrificing upon mountains and of building high places, as is evident from what is related of Abram (Gen. 12:1; 22:2); and of the Jews before the building of the temple (Deut. 27:4-7; Josh. 8:30; 1 Sam. 9:12-14, 19; 10:5; 1 Kings 3:2-4); of the nations (Deut. 12:2; 2 Kings 17:9-11); and of the idolatrous Jews (Isa. 57:7; 1 Kings 11:7; 14:23; 22:43; 2 Kings 12:3; 14:4; 15:3, 4, 34, 35; 16:4; 17:9-11; 21:5; 23:5, 8, 9, 13, 15).
AC 797. From all this it is now evident what is signified by the "waters with which the mountains were covered," namely, persuasions of falsity, which extinguished all the good of charity.
AC 798. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail, and covered the mountains. That this signifies that nothing of charity remained; and that "fifteen" signifies so few as to be scarcely any, is evident from the signification of the number "five" (Genesis 6:15), where it was shown that in the style of the Word, or in the internal sense, "five" signifies a few; and since the number "fifteen" is composed of five, signifying a few, and of ten, which signifies remains (Genesis 6:3), therefore "fifteen" signifies remains, which with this people were scarcely any. For so many were the persuasions of falsity that they extinguished every good. As for the remains with man, the fact was, as already said, that principles of falsity, and still more, persuasions of falsity, such as were with these antediluvians, had so entirely shut in and hidden away the remains that these could not be brought out, and if brought out they would forthwith have been falsified. For such is the life of persuasions that it not only rejects every truth and absorbs every falsity, but also perverts every truth that comes near. GENESIS 7:19-20 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|