Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:2
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AC 713. Verse 2. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the man and his wife; and of the beast that is not clean by twos, the man and his wife. By "every clean beast," are signified affections of good; by "sevens," is signified that they are holy; by "man and his wife," that the truths were conjoined with goods. By the "beast not clean," are signified evil affections; by "two," that they are relatively profane; by "man and wife," falsities conjoined with evils.

AC 714. That affections of good are signified by "every clean beast" is evident from what has been said and shown before respecting beasts (n. 45, 46, 142, 143, 246). The reason why affections are thus signified is that man in himself, and regarded in what is his own, is nothing but a beast. He has very similar senses, appetites, desires; and all his affections are very similar. His good, nay, even his best loves, are very similar; as the love for companions of his own kind, the love of his children, and of his wife; so that they do not at all differ. But his being man, and more than beast, consists in his having an interior life, which beasts never have nor can have. This life is the life of faith and love from the Lord. And if this life were not within everything that he has in common with beasts, he would not be anything else. Take only one example-love toward companions: if he should love them only for the sake of himself, and there were nothing more heavenly or Divine in his love, he could not from this be called a man, because it is the same with beasts. And so with all the rest. If therefore there were not the life of love from the Lord in his will, and the life of faith from the Lord in his understanding, he would not be a man. By virtue of the life which he has from the Lord he lives after death; because the Lord adjoins him to Himself. And thus he can be in His heaven with the angels, and live to eternity. And even if a man lives as a wild beast, and loves nothing whatever but himself and what regards himself, yet so great is the Lord’s mercy-for it is Divine and Infinite-that He does not leave him, but continually breathes into him His own life, through the angels; and even supposing that he receives it no otherwise, it still causes him to be able to think, to reflect, to understand whether a thing is good or evil-in relation to what is moral, civil, worldly, or corporeal-and therefore whether it is true or false.

AC 715. As the most ancient people knew, and when they were in self-humiliation acknowledged, that they were nothing but beasts and wild beasts, and were men solely by virtue of what they had from the Lord, therefore whatever pertained to themselves they not only likened to but called beasts and birds; things of the will they compared to beasts, and called beasts; and things of the understanding they compared to and called birds. But they distinguished between good affections and evil affections. Good affections they compared to lambs, sheep, kids, she-goats, he-goats, rams, heifers, oxen-for the reason that they were good and gentle, and serviceable to life, since they could be eaten, and their skins and wool could furnish clothing. These are the principal clean beasts. But those which are evil and fierce, and not serviceable to life, are unclean beasts.

AC 716. That holy things are signified by "seven" is evident from what has been said before respecting the seventh day, or the sabbath (n. 84-87), namely, that the Lord is the seventh day; and that from Him every celestial church, or celestial man, is a seventh day, and indeed the celestial itself, which is most holy because it is from the Lord alone. For this reason, in the Word, "seven" signifies what is holy; and in fact, as here, in the internal sense partakes not at all of the idea of number. For they who are in the internal sense, as angels and angelic spirits are, do not even know what number is, and therefore not what seven is. Therefore it is not meant here that seven pairs were to be taken of all the clean beasts; or that there was so much of good in proportion to evil as seven to two; but that the things of the will with which this man of the church was furnished were goods, which are holy, whereby he could be regenerated, as was said above.

[2] That "seven" signifies what is holy, or holy things, is evident from the rituals in the representative church, wherein the number seven so frequently occurs. For example, they were to sprinkle of the blood and the oil seven times, as related in Leviticus:--

Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them; and he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, to sanctify them (Leviticus 8:10, 11).

Here "seven times" would be entirely without significance if what is holy were not thus represented. And in another place: When Aaron came into the holy place it is said:--

He shall take of the blood of the bullock and sprinkle with his finger upon the faces of the mercy-seat toward the east; and before the mercy-seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times (Lev. 16:14).

And so at the altar:--

He shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and sanctify it (Lev. 16:19).

The particulars here, each and all, signify the Lord Himself, and therefore the holy of love; that is to say, the "blood," the "mercy-seat," and also the "altar," and the "east," toward which the blood was to be sprinkled, and therefore also "seven."

[3] And likewise in the sacrifices, of which in Leviticus:--

If a soul shall sin through error, and if the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, he shall slay the bullock before Jehovah, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before Jehovah, toward the veil of the sanctuary (Leviticus 4:2, 3, 6).

Here in like manner "seven" signifies what is holy; because the subject treated of is expiation, which is of the Lord alone, and therefore the subject treated of is the Lord. Similar rites were also instituted in respect to the cleansing of leprosy, concerning which in Leviticus:--

Of the blood of the bird, with cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop, the priest shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall make him clean. In like manner he was to sprinkle of the oil that was upon the palm of his left hand seven times before Jehovah. And so in a house where there was leprosy, he was to take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and with the blood of the bird sprinkle seven times (Leviticus 14:6, 7, 27, 51).

Here any one may see that there is nothing at all in the "cedar wood," the "scarlet," the "oil," the "blood of a bird," nor yet in "seven," except from the fact that they are representative of holy things. Take away from them what is holy, and all that remains is dead, or profanely idolatrous. But when they signify holy things there is Divine worship therein, which is internal, and is only represented by the externals. The Jews indeed could not know what these things signified; nor does any one at the present day know what was signified by the "cedar wood," the "hyssop," the "scarlet," and the "bird." But if they had only been willing to think that holy things were involved which they did not know, and so had worshiped the Lord, or the Messiah who was to come, who would heal them of their leprosy-that is, of their profanation of holy things-they might have been saved. For they who so think and believe are at once instructed in the other life, if they desire, as to what each and all things represented.

[4] And in like manner it was commanded respecting the red heifer:--

The priest shall take of her blood with his finger and sprinkle of her blood toward the face of the tent of meeting seven times (Num. 19:4).

As the "seventh day" or "sabbath" signified the Lord, and from Him the celestial man, and the celestial itself, the seventh day in the Jewish Church was of all religious observances the most holy; and hence came the "sabbath of sabbath," in the seventh year (Lev. 25:4), and the "jubilee" that was proclaimed after the seven sabbaths of years, or after seven times seven years (Lev. 25:8, 9). That in the highest sense "seven" signifies the Lord, and hence the holy of love, is evident also from the golden candlestick and its seven lamps (Exod. 25:31-33, 37; 37:17-19, 23; Num. 8:2, 3; Zech. 4:2) and of which it is thus written by John:--

Seven golden lampstands; and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like unto the Son of man (Rev. 1:12, 13).

It very clearly appears in this passage that the "lampstand with the seven lamps" signifies the Lord, and that the "lamps" are the holy things of love, or celestial things; and therefore they were "seven."

[5] And again:--

Out of the throne went forth seven torches of fire, burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God (Rev. 4:5).

Here the "seven torches" that went forth out of the throne of the Lord are the seven lights, or lamps. The same is signified wherever the number "seven" occurs in the Prophets, as in Isaiah:--

The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that Jehovah bindeth up the breach of His people (Isaiah 30:26).

Here the "sevenfold light, as the light of seven days," does not signify sevenfold, but the holy of the love signified by the "sun." See also what was said and shown above respecting the number "seven" (Genesis 4:15). From all this again it is clearly evident that whatever numbers are used in the Word never mean numbers as was also shown before (Genesis 6:3).

AC 717. It is also evident from all this that the subject here treated of is the things of man‘s will, or the good and holy things in him which are predicated of the will. For it is said that he should "take of the clean beast by sevens;" and the same is said in the following verse concerning the "fowl." But in the preceding chapter (Genesis 6:19, 20), it is not said that he should "take by sevens," but by "twos," or pairs; because there things of the understanding are treated of, which are not holy in themselves, but are holy from love, which is of the will.

AC 718. That by "man (vir) and wife" is signified that the truths were conjoined with goods, is evident from the signification of "man" as being truth, which is of the understanding, and from the signification of "wife" as being good, which is of the will (concerning which before), and also from the fact that man has not the least of thought, nor the least of affection and action, in which there is not a kind of marriage of the understanding and the will. Without a kind of marriage, nothing ever exists or is produced. In the very organic forms of man, both composite and simple, and even in the most simple, there is a passive and an active, which, if they were not coupled as in a marriage, like that of man and wife, could not even be there, still less produce anything, and the case is the same throughout universal nature. These incessant marriages derive their source and origin from the heavenly marriage; and thereby there is impressed upon everything in universal nature, both animate and inanimate, an idea of the Lord’s kingdom.

AC 719. That evil affections are signified by the "beasts not clean," is evident from what has been said and shown before respecting the clean beasts. They are called "clean" because they are gentle, good, and useful. The unclean-of which there are genera and species-are the contrary, being fierce, evil, and not useful. In the Word also they are described as wolves, bears, foxes, swine, and many others; and various cupidities and evil dispositions are signified by them. As to its being here said that unclean beasts also (that is, evil affections) should be brought into the ark, the truth is that the man of that church is here described such as he was in character, and this by the ark, and therefore by the things that were in the ark, or that were brought into the ark; that is to say, the things are described that were in the man before he was regenerated. There were in him the truths and goods with which he had been furnished and gifted by the Lord before regeneration; for without truths and goods no one can ever be regenerated. But here the evils that were in him are spoken of, and are signified by the unclean beasts. There are evils in man which must be dispersed while he is being regenerated, that is, which must be loosened and attempered by goods; for no actual and hereditary evil in man can be so dispersed as to be abolished. It still remains implanted; and can only be so far loosened and attempered by goods from the Lord that it does not injure, and does not appear, which is an arcanum hitherto unknown. Actual evils are those which are loosened and attempered, and not hereditary evils; which also is a thing unknown.

AC 720. That "pairs" signify things relatively profane, is evident from the signification of the number "two." A "pair," or "two," not only signifies marriage (and is, when predicated of the heavenly marriage, a holy number), but it also signifies the same as "six." That is to say, as the six days of labor are related to the seventh day of rest, or the holy day, so is the number "two" related to "three;" and therefore the third day in the Word is taken for the seventh, and involves almost the same, on account of the Lord‘s resurrection on the third day. And hence the Lord’s coming into the world, and in glory, and every coming of the Lord, is described equally by the "seventh" and by the "third" day. For this reason the two days that precede are not holy, but relatively are profane. Thus in Hosea:--

Come and let us return unto Jehovah, for He hath wounded, and He will heal us; He hath smitten and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live before Him (Hosea 6:1, 2).

And in Zechariah:--

It shall come to pass in all the land, saith Jehovah, that two parts therein shall be cut off and die, and the third shall be left therein; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined (Zechariah 13:8, 9).

And that silver was most pure when purified seven times appears in (Psalms 12:6); from all of which it is plain that as "seven" does not signify seven, but things that are holy, so by "pairs" are signified not pairs, but things relatively profane; and therefore the meaning is not that the unclean beasts, or evil affections, in comparison with the clean beasts, or good affections, were few in the proportion of two to seven, for the evils in man are far more numerous than the goods.

AC 721. That by "man and wife" are signified falsities conjoined with evils, is evident from what was said just above. For here "man and wife" is predicated of the unclean beasts; but before of the clean; and therefore the expression there signified truths conjoined with goods, but here falsities conjoined with evils. Such as is the subject, such is the predication.

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