Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:21-22
AC 799. Verses 21, 22. And all flesh died that creepeth upon the earth, as to fowl, and as to beast, and as to wild animal, and as to every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; and every man; all in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives, of all that was in the dry land, died. "All flesh died that creepeth upon the earth," signifies that they who were of the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church became extinct; "as to fowl, and as to beast, and as to wild animal, and as to every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth," signifies their persuasions, wherein the "fowl" signifies affections of what is false, "beast" cupidities, "wild animal" pleasures, and "creeping thing" corporeal and earthly things. These in one complex are called "every man." "All in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives," signifies the men who were of the Most Ancient Church in whose nostrils was the "breathing of the breath of lives," that is, in whom was the life of love and of the derivative faith; "of all that was in the dry land," signifies those men in whom there was no longer such life; that they "died," signifies that they expired.
AC 800. And all flesh died that creepeth upon the earth. That this signifies that they who were of the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church became extinct, is evident from what follows, where they are described as to their persuasions and their cupidities. They are here first called " flesh that creepeth upon the earth," for the reason that they had become altogether sensuous and corporeal. Sensuous and corporeal things, as has been said, were likened by the most ancient men to creeping things; and therefore when "flesh moving upon the earth" is spoken of, such a man is signified as has become merely sensuous and corporeal. That "flesh" signifies all mankind in general, and specifically the corporeal man, has been said and shown before.
AC 801. From the description of these antediluvians as here given, it is evident what was the style of writing among the most ancient people, and thus what the prophetic style was. They are described here and up to the end of this chapter; in these verses they are described in respect to their persuasions, and in (verse 23) in respect to their cupidities; that is, they are first described in respect to the state of the things of their understanding, and then in respect to the state of the things of their will. And although with them there were in reality no things of understanding or of will, still the things contrary to them are so to be called; that is to say, such things as persuasions of falsity, which are by no means things of understanding, and yet are things of thought and reason; and also such things as cupidities, which are by no means things of will. The antediluvians are described, I say, first as to their false persuasions, and then as to their cupidities, which is the reason why the things contained in (verse 21) are repeated in (verse 23), but in a different order. Such also is the prophetic style.
 The reason is that with man there are two lives: one, of the things of the understanding; the other, of the things of the will, and these lives are most distinct from each other. Man consists of both, and although at this day they are separated in man, nevertheless they flow one into the other, and for the most part unite. That they unite, and how they unite, can be established and made clear by many illustrations. Since man therefore consists of these two parts (the understanding and the will, of which the one flows into the other), when man is described in the Word, he is described with distinctiveness as to the one part and as to the other. This is the reason of the repetitions, and without them the description would be defective. And the case is the same with every other thing as it is here with the will and the understanding, for things are circumstanced exactly as are their subjects, seeing that they belong to their subjects because they come forth from their subjects; a thing separated from its subject, that is, from its substance, is no thing. And this is the reason why things are described in the Word in a similar way in respect to each constituent part, for in this way the description of each thing is full.
AC 802. That persuasions are here treated of, and cupidities in (verse 23), may be known from the fact that in this verse "fowl"is first mentioned, and then "beast." For "fowl" signifies what is of the understanding, or of reason, and "beast" what is of the will. But when things belonging to cupidities as described, as in (verse 23), "beast" is first mentioned, and then "fowl;" and this for the reason, as was said, that the one thus reciprocally flows into the other, and so the description of them is full.
AC 803. As to fowl, and as to beast, and as to wild animal, and as to every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. That these signify the persuasions of those in whom "fowl" signifies affections of what is false, "beast" cupidities, "wild animal" pleasures, and "creeping thing" things corporeal and earthly, is evident from what has been already shown respecting the signification of "fowls" and of "beasts" (concerning "fowls" in n. 40, and above at (verses 14 and 15) of this chapter; concerning "beasts" also in the same place, and in (n. 45, 46, 142, 143, 246). As "fowls" signify things of understanding, of reason, and of memory-knowledge, they signify also the contraries of these, as what is of perverted reason, falsities, and affections of what is false. The persuasions of the antediluvians are here fully described, namely, that there were in them affections of what is false, cupidities, pleasures, things corporeal and earthly. That all these are within persuasions, man is not aware, believing a principle or a persuasion of what is false to be but a simple thing, or one general thing; but he is much mistaken, for the case is very different. Every single affection of a man derives its existence and nature from things of his understanding and at the same time from those of his will, so that the whole man, both as to all things of his understanding and all things of his will, is in his every affection, and even in the most individual or least things of his affection.
 This has been made evident to me by numerous experiences, as for example (to mention only one) that the quality of a spirit can be known in the other life from one single idea of his thought. Indeed angels have from the Lord the power of knowing at once, when they but look upon any one, what his character is, nor is there any mistake. It is therefore evident that every single idea and every single affection of a man, even every least bit of his affection, is an image of him and a likeness of him, that is, there is present therein, nearly and remotely, something from all his understanding and from all his will. In this way then are described the direful persuasions of the antediluvians: that there were in them affections of what is false, and affections of what is evil, or cupidities, and also pleasures, and finally things corporeal and earthly. All these are within such persuasions; and not only in the persuasions in general, but also in the most individual or least things of the persuasions, in which things corporeal and earthly predominate. If man should know how much there is within one principle and one persuasion of what is false, he would shudder. It is a kind of image of hell. But if it be from innocence or from ignorance, the falsities therein are easily shaken off.
AC 804. It is added, "every man," by which is signified that these things were in that man. This is a general concluding clause which includes all that goes before. Such clauses are often added.
AC 805. All in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives. That this signifies the men who were of the Most Ancient Church in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives, that is, the life of love and of the derivative faith, is evident from what has been said before (n. 96, 97). Among the most ancient people, life was signified by the "breath in the nostrils," or by "breathing," which is the life of the body corresponding to spiritual things, as the motion of the heart is the life of the body corresponding to celestial things.
 It is here said, "in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives," because the antediluvians are treated of, in whom by inheritance from their progenitors there was seed from the celestial, but extinct or suffocated. There is also a deeper meaning that lies hidden in these words, of which we have already spoken (n. 97), namely, that the man of the Most Ancient Church had internal respiration, and thus respiration concordant with and similar to that of angels, concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter. This respiration was varied in accordance with all the states of the internal man. But in process of time it was changed in their posterity, until this last generation, wherein all that was angelic perished. Then they could no longer respire with the angelic heaven. This was the real cause of their extinction; and therefore it is now said that they "expired," and that they in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives, "died."
 After these times internal respiration ceased, and with it communication with heaven and thereby celestial perception, and external respiration succeeded. And because communication with heaven thus ceased, the men of the Ancient (or new) Church could no longer be celestial men like the Most Ancient, but were spiritual. But concerning these things, of the Lord’s Divine mercy hereafter.
AC 806. Of all that was in the dry (land). That this signifies those in whom there was no longer such life, and that their "dying" signifies that they expired, now follows from what has been shown. And because all the life of love and faith was extinguished, it is here said the "dry (land)." "Dry (land)" is where there is no water, that is, where there is no longer anything spiritual, still less celestial. A persuasion of falsity extinguishes and as it were suffocates everything spiritual and celestial; as every one may know from much experience, if he pays attention. They who have once conceived opinions, though most false, cling to them so obstinately that they are not even willing to hear anything that is contrary to them; so that they never suffer themselves to be informed, even if the truth be placed before their eyes. Still more is this the case when they worship the false opinion from a notion of its sanctity. Such are they who spurn every truth, and that which they admit they pervert, and thus immerse in phantasies. It is they who are signified here by the "dry (land)," wherein there is no water and no grass. So in Ezekiel:--
I will make the rivers dry, and will sell the land into the hand of evil men; and I will make the land desolate, and the fullness thereof (Ezekiel 30:12).
To "make the rivers dry," signifies that there is no longer anything spiritual. And in Jeremiah:--
Your land is become dry (land) (Jeremiah 44:22).
"Dry (land)" here denotes land that is desolated and laid waste, so that there is no longer anything of truth and good.GENESIS 7:21-22 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|