Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:4-5
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AC 727. Verse 4. For in yet seven days I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every substance that I have made will I destroy from off the faces of the ground. "In yet seven days," signifies the beginning of temptation; "to rain," signifies temptation; "forty days and nights," signifies the duration of temptation; "I will destroy every substance that I have made from off the faces of the ground," signifies the Own of man, which is as it were destroyed when he is being regenerated. The same words signify also the extinction of those of the Most Ancient Church who destroyed themselves.

AC 728. That "in yet seven days" here signifies the beginning of temptation, is evident from the internal sense of all things mentioned in this verse, in that the temptation of the man called "Noah" is treated of. It treats in general both of his temptation and of the total vastation of those who were of the Most Ancient Church and had become such as has been described. Therefore "in yet seven days," signifies not only the beginning of temptation, but also the end of vastation. The reason why these things are signified by "in yet seven days," is that " seven" is a holy number, as was said and shown before (Gen. 7:2; 4:15, 24); (n. 84-87). "In seven days," signifies the Lord’s coming into the world, also His coming into glory, and every coming of the Lord in particular. It is an attendant feature of every coming of the Lord that it is a beginning to those who are being regenerated, and is the end of those who are being vastated. Thus to the man of this church the Lord‘s coming was the beginning of temptation; for when man is tempted he begins to become a new man and to be regenerated. And at the same time it was the end of those of the Most Ancient Church who had become such that they could not but perish. Just so when the Lord came into the world-the church at that time was in its last state of vastation, and was then made new.

[2] That these things are signified by "in yet seven days," is evident in Daniel:--

Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people, and upon the city of thy holiness, to consummate the transgression, to seal up sins, and to purge away iniquity, and to bring in the righteousness of the ages, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies. Know therefore and perceive, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks (Daniel 9:24, 25).

Here "seventy weeks" and "seven weeks" signify the same as "seven days," namely, the coming of the Lord. But as here there is a manifest prophecy, the times are still more sacredly and certainly designated by septenary numbers. It is evident then not only that "seven" thus applied to times signifies the coming of the Lord, but that the beginning also of a new church at that time is signified by the "anointing of the holy of holies," and by Jerusalem being "restored and built." And at the same time the last vastation is signified by the words, "Seventy weeks are decreed upon the city of holiness, to consummate the transgression, and to seal up sins."

[3] So in other places in the Word, as in Ezekiel, where be says of himself:--

I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that sat by the river Chebar, and I sat there astonished among them seven days; and it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of Jehovah came unto me (Ezekiel 3:15, 16).

Here also "seven days" denote the beginning of visitation; for after seven days, while he sat among those who were in captivity, the word of Jehovah came unto him. Again:--

They shall bury Gog, that they may cleanse the land, seven months; at the end of seven months they shall search (Ezekiel 39:12, 14).

Here likewise "seven" denotes the last limit of vastation, and the first of visitation. In Daniel:--

The heart of Nebuchadnezzar shall they change from man, and the heart of a beast shall be given unto him, and seven times shall pass over him (Daniel 4:16, 25, 32),

denoting in like manner the end of vastation, and the beginning of a new man.

[4] The "seventy years" of Babylonish captivity represented the same. Whether the number is "seventy" or "seven" it involves the same, be it seven days or seven years, or seven ages which make seventy years. Vastation was represented by the years of captivity; the beginning of a new church by the liberation and the rebuilding of the temple. Similar things were also represented by the service of Jacob with Laban, where these words occur:--

I will serve thee seven years for Rachel; and Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and Laban said, Fulfill this week, and I will give thee her also, for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years; and Jacob did so, and fulfilled this week (Gen. 29:18, 20, 27, 28).

Here the "seven years" of service involve the same, and also that after the days of seven years came the marriage and freedom. This period of seven years was called a "week," as also in Daniel.

[5] The same was represented too in the command that they should compass the city of Jericho "seven times," and the wall would then fall down; and it is said that:--

On the seventh day they rose with the dawn and compassed the city after the same manner seven times, and it came to pass at the seventh time the seven priests blew the seven trumpets and the wall fell down (Josh. 6:10-20).

If these things had not likewise had such a signification, the command that they should compass the city seven times, and that there should be seven priests and seven trumpets would never have been given. From these and many other passages (Job 2:13; Rev. 15:1, 6, 7; 21:9),

it is evident that "in seven days" signifies the beginning of a new church, and the end of the old. In the passage before us, as it treats both of the man of the church called "Noah" and his temptation, and of the last posterity of the Most Ancient Church, which destroyed itself, "in yet seven days," can have no other signification than the beginning of Noah’s temptation and the end or final devastation and expiration of the Most Ancient Church.

AC 729. That by "raining" is signified temptation, is evident from what was said and shown in the introduction to this chapter, namely, that a "flood" or "inundation" of waters, which is here described by "rain," signifies not only temptation, but also vastation. And the same will also appear from what is to be said concerning the flood in the following pages.

AC 730. That by "forty days and nights" is signified the duration of temptation, is plainly evident from the Word of the Lord. That "forty" signifies the duration of temptation, comes from the fact that the Lord suffered Himself to be tempted for forty days (Matthew 4:1, 2; Luke 4:2; Mark 1:13). And as the things instituted in the Jewish and the other representative churches before the coming of the Lord were each and all types of Him, so also were the forty days and nights,-in that they represented and signified in general all temptation, and specifically the duration of the temptation, whatever that might be. And because a man when in temptation is in vastation as to all things that are of his Own, and of the body (for the things that are of his Own and of the body must die, and this through combats and temptations, before he is born again a new man, or is made spiritual and heavenly), for this reason also "forty days and nights" signify the duration of vastation; and it is the same here where the subject is both the temptation of the man of the new church, called "Noah," and the devastation of the antediluvians.

[2] That the number "forty" signifies the duration of both temptation and vastation, whether greater or less, is evident in Ezekiel:--

Thou shalt lie on thy right side, and shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days, each day for a year have I appointed it unto thee (Ezekiel 4:6).

"Forty" denotes here the duration of the vastation of the Jewish Church, and also a representation of the Lord‘s temptation; for it is said that he should " bear the iniquity of the house of Judah." Again:--

I will make the land of Egypt wastes, a waste of desolation; no foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, and it shall not be inhabited forty years; and I will make the land of Egypt a desolation in the midst of the desolate lands, and her cities in the midst of the cities that are laid waste shall be a solitude forty years (Ezekiel 29:10-12).

Here also "forty" denotes the duration of vastation and desolation; and in the internal sense forty years are not meant, but only, in general, the desolation of faith, whether within a less or greater time. In John:--

The court that is without the temple cast out and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations, who shall tread the holy city under foot forty and two months (Rev. 11:2).

[3] And again:--

There was given unto the beast a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and there was given unto him power to make war forty and two months (Rev. 13:5),

denoting the duration of vastation, for any one may know that forty-two months of time is not meant. But the origin of the use of the number "forty-two" in this passage (which has the same signification as the number "forty") is that "seven days" signify the end of vastation, and a new beginning, and "six days" signify labor, from the six days of labor or combat. Seven are therefore multiplied by six, and thus give rise to the number forty-two, which signifies the duration of the vastation and the duration of the temptation, or the labor and combat, of the man who is to be regenerated, in which there is holiness. But, as is evident from these passages in the Apocalypse, the round number "forty" was taken for the not so round number "forty-two."

[4] That the Israelitish people were led about for forty years in the wilderness before they were brought into the land of Canaan, in like manner represented and signified the duration of temptation, and also the duration of vastation; the duration of temptation, by their being afterwards brought into the holy land; the duration of vastation, by the fact that all above the age of twenty years, who went out of Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb, died in the wilderness (Num. 14:33-35; 32:8-14). The things against which they so often murmured signify temptations, and the plagues and destruction that so frequently came upon them signify vastations. That these signify temptations and vastations will of the Lord’s Divine mercy be shown in that place. Of these things it is written in Moses:--

Thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee, to tempt thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no (Deut. 8:2, 3, 16).

That Moses was forty days and forty nights upon Mount Sinai, likewise signifies the duration of the temptation, that is, it signifies the Lord‘s temptation, as is evident from his abiding in the mount forty days and forty nights, neither eating bread nor drinking water, supplicating for the people that they might not be destroyed (Deut. 9:9, 11, 18, 25-29; 10:10).

[5] The reason why "forty days" signify the duration of temptation is, as just said, that the Lord suffered Himself to be tempted of the devil forty days. And therefore-as all things were representative of the Lord-when the idea of temptations was present with the angels, that idea was represented in the world of spirits by such things as are in this world, as is the case with all angelic ideas during their descent into the world of spirits: they being presented representatively. And in the same way the idea of temptation was presented by the number "forty" because the Lord was to be tempted forty days. With the Lord, and consequently with the angelic heaven, it is the same whether a thing is present or is to come; what is to come is present, or what is to be done is done. From this came the representation of temptations, as also of vastations, in the representative church, by "forty." But these things cannot as yet be very well comprehended, because the influx of the angelic heaven into the world of spirits is not known, nor that such is the nature of this influx.

AC 731. Every substance that I have made will I destroy from off the faces of the ground. That this signifies man’s Own, which is as if destroyed when vivified, is evident from what has been said before respecting this Own. Man‘s Own is all evil and falsity. So long as this continues, the man is dead; but when he comes into temptations it is dispersed, that is, loosened and tempered by truths and goods from the Lord, and thus is vivified and appears as if it were not present. That it does not appear and is no longer hurtful, is signified by "destroyed;" and yet it is not destroyed, but remains. It is almost as with black and white, which when variously modified by the rays of light are turned into beautiful colors-such as blue, yellow, and purple- whereby, according to their arrangement are presented lovely and agreeable tints, as in flowers, yet remaining radically and fundamentally black and white. But as here at the same time the final vastation of those who were of the Most Ancient Church is treated of, by "I will destroy every existing thing that I have made, from off the face of the ground," are signified those who perished, as likewise in the following (verse 23). The "substance that I have made," is all that, or every man, in which there was heavenly seed, or who was of the church; and therefore, both here and in the following verse, "ground" is mentioned, which signifies the man of the church in whom good and truth have been implanted. This seed, in those called "Noah"-evils and falsities being dispersed, as before said-gradually grew up; but with the antediluvians who perished it was extinguished by tares.

AC 732. Verse 5. And Noah did according to all that Jehovah commanded him. This signifies as before, that thus it came to pass. Compare the preceding chapter (Genesis 6:22), where it is said twice that Noah "did," here only once; and there the name "God" is used, but here "Jehovah." The reason is that there things of the understanding are treated of, and here those of the will. Things of the understanding regard those of the will as being different and distinct from themselves; but things of the will regard those of the understanding as being united, or as one, with them; for the understanding is from the will. This is the reason why it is there twice said he "did," and here only once; and also why the name "God" is used, and here "Jehovah."

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