Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 7:6
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AC 733. Verse 6. And Noah was a son of six hundred years, and the flood of waters was upon the earth. "Noah was a son of six hundred years," signifies his first state of temptation; "the flood of waters was upon the earth," signifies the beginning of temptation.

AC 734. In the preceding chapter (Genesis 6:13-22) the truths of the understanding are treated of, in which the man of the church called "Noah" was instructed by the Lord before he was regenerated; and next in this chapter (verses 1-5), the goods of the will are treated of, with which also he was endowed by the Lord. As both are treated of, it appears like a repetition. But now in (verses 6 to 11) his temptation is treated of, and here the first state and thus the beginning of temptation; and, as every one can see, a repetition occurs again. For it is said in this verse that "Noah was a son of six hundred years," when the flood came upon the earth; and in (verse 11) that it was "in the six hundredth year of his life, in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month." And so in (verse 7) it is said that Noah went into the ark with his sons and their wives, and likewise in (verse 13). Again it is said in (verses 8 and 9) that the beasts went in unto Noah into the ark; and also in (verses 14 to 16). From which it is evident that here too there is a repetition of what was said before. Those who abide in the sense of the letter alone cannot know but that it is a matter of history thus repeated. But here as elsewhere there is not the least word that is superfluous and vain; for it is the Word of the Lord. There is therefore no repetition, except with another signification. And here, in fact, as before, the signification is that it is the first temptation, which is temptation as to things of his understanding; but afterwards it is his temptation as to things of the will. These temptations follow one after the other with him who is to be regenerated. For to be tempted as to things of the understanding is quite another thing from being tempted as to what is of the will. Temptation as to things of the understanding is light; but temptation as to things of the will is severe.

AC 735. The reason why temptation as to things of the understanding, or as to the falsities in a man, is light, is that man is in the fallacies of the senses, and the fallacies of the senses are such that they cannot but enter, and are therefore also easily dispelled. Thus it is with all who abide in the sense of the letter of the Word where it speaks according to the apprehension of man, and therefore according to the fallacies of his senses. If they simply have faith in these things because it is the Word of the Lord, then notwithstanding their being in fallacies they easily suffer themselves to be instructed. As for example: a man who believes that the Lord is angry and punishes and does evil to the wicked, as he has derived this belief from the sense of the letter, he can easily be informed what the real truth is. And so if one simply believes that he can do good of himself, and that if of himself he is good he will receive reward in the other life, he also can easily be instructed that the good which he does is from the Lord, and the Lord in His mercy gives the reward gratuitously. And therefore when such come into temptation as to matters of the understanding, or as to such fallacies, they can be only lightly tempted. And this is the first temptation-and it hardly appears as temptation-which is now treated of. But it is otherwise with those who do not in simplicity of heart believe the Word, but confirm themselves in fallacies and falsities because they favor their cupidities; and who being impelled by this motive bring together many reasonings from themselves and their memory-knowledges (scientificis), and afterwards confirm the same by the Word, and thus impress upon themselves, and persuade themselves, that what is false is true.

AC 736. As regards "Noah," or the man of this new church, he was of such character that he believed in simplicity what he had from the Most Ancient Church, which were matters of doctrine, collected and reduced to some doctrinal form by those who were called "Enoch." And he was of an entirely different genius from the antediluvians who perished, called "Nephilim," who immersed the doctrinal things of faith in their foul cupidities, and thereby conceived direful persuasions, from which they would not recede, however much instructed by others and shown the falsity of those persuasions. There are at this day also men of the one genius, or nature, and men of the other. Those of the one may easily be regenerated, but those of the other with difficulty.

AC 737. Noah was a son of six hundred years. That this signifies his first state of temptation, is evident, because here and as far as to Heber in the eleventh chapter, numbers and periods of years and names mean nothing else than actual things; just as do also the ages and all the names in the fifth chapter. That "six hundred years" here signify the first state of temptation, is evident from the dominant numbers in six hundred, which are ten and six, twice multiplied into themselves. A greater or less number from the same factors changes nothing. As regards the number "ten," it has been shown already (Gen. 6:3) that it signifies remains; and that "six" here signifies labor and combat is evident from many passages in the Word. For the case is this: In what has gone before the subject is the preparation of the man called "Noah" for temptation-that he was furnished by the Lord with truths of the understanding and goods of the will. These truths and goods are remains, which are not brought out so as to be recognized until the man is being regenerated. In the case of those who are being regenerated through temptations, the remains in a man are for the angels that are with him, who draw out from them the things wherewith they defend the man against the evil spirits who excite the falsities in him, and thus assail him. As the remains are signified by "ten," and the combats by "six," for this reason the years are said to be "six hundred," in which the dominant numbers are ten and six, and signify a state of temptation.

[2] As regards the number "six" in particular that it signifies combat is evident from the first chapter of Genesis, where the six days are described in which man was regenerated, before he became celestial, and in which there was continual combat, but on the seventh day, rest. It is for this reason that there are six days of labor and the seventh is the sabbath, which signifies rest. And hence it is that a Hebrew servant served six years, and the seventh year was free (Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12; Jer. 34:14); also that six years they sowed the land and gathered in the fruits thereof, but the seventh year omitted to sow it (Exod. 23:10-12), and dealt in like manner with the vineyard; and that in the seventh year was "a sabbath of sabbath unto the land, a sabbath of Jehovah" (Lev. 25:3, 4). As "six" signifies labor and combat, it also signifies the dispersion of falsities, as in Ezekiel:--Behold six men came from the way of the upper gate which looketh toward the north, and every one had his weapon of dispersion in his hand (Ezekiel 9:2); and again, against Gog:--

I will make thee to turn again, and will make thee a sixth, and will cause thee to come up from the sides of the north (Ezekiel 39:2).

Here "six" and "to reduce to a sixth," denote dispersion; the "north," falsities; "Gog," those who derive matters of doctrine from things external, whereby they destroy internal worship. In Job:--

In six troubles He shall deliver thee, yea, in the seventh there shall no evil touch thee (Job 5:19),

meaning the combat of temptations.

[3] But "six" occurs in the Word where it does not signify labor, combat, or the dispersion of falsities, but the holy of faith, because of its relation to "twelve," which signifies faith and all things of faith in one complex; and to "three," which signifies the holy; whence is derived the genuine signification of the number "six;" as in (Ezekiel 40:5), where the reed of the man, with which he measured the holy city of Israel, was "six cubits;" and in other places. The reason of this derivation is that the holy of faith is in the combats of temptation, and that the six days of labor and combat look to the holy seventh day.

AC 738. Noah is here called "a son of six hundred years," because a "son" signifies truth of the understanding, as before shown. But in (verse 11) he is not called a "son," because there his temptation as to things of the will is treated of.

AC 739. That by the "flood of waters" is signified the beginning of temptation, is evident from temptation as to things of the understanding being here treated of, which temptation precedes, and, as before said, is light; and for this reason it is called a "flood of waters," and not simply "a flood" as in (verse 17). For "waters" signify especially the spiritual things of man, the intellectual things of faith, and the opposites of these, which are falsities; as may be confirmed by very many passages from the Word.

[2] That a "flood" or "inundation" of waters signifies temptation, is evident from what was shown in the introduction to this chapter. So also in Ezekiel:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, I will make a stormy wind to break through in My fury, and an inundating rain shall there be in Mine anger, and hailstones in wrath, unto the consummation, that I may destroy the wall that ye have daubed with what is unfit (Ezekiel 13:13, 14).

Here a "stormy wind," and an "inundating rain," denote the desolation of falsities; the "wall daubed with what is unfit," denotes fiction appearing as truth. In Isaiah:--

Jehovah God is a protection from inundation, a shadow from the heat, for the breath of the violent is as an inundation against the wall (Isaiah 25:4)

. An "inundation" here denotes temptation as to things of the understanding, and is distinguished from temptation as to things of the will, which is called "heat."

[3] Again:--

Behold the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, as an inundation of hail, a destroying storm, as an inundation of mighty waters, overflowing (Isaiah 28:2),

where degrees of temptation are described. And again:--

When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, and the flame shall not kindle upon thee (Isaiah 43:2).

"Waters" and "rivers" here denote falsities and phantasies, "fire" and "flame" evils and cupidities. In David:--

For this shall every one that is holy pray unto Thee at a time of finding: so that in the inundation of many waters they shall not reach unto him; Thou art my hiding place; Thou wilt preserve me from trouble (Ps. 32:6, 7),

where the "inundation of waters" denotes temptation which is also called a "flood." In the same:--

Jehovah sitteth at the flood; yea, Jehovah sitteth King forever (Ps. 29:10).

From these passages, and from what was premised at the beginning of this chapter, it is evident that a "flood" or "inundation" of waters signifies nothing else than temptations and vastations, although described historically, after the manner of the most ancient people.

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