Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 8:17
AC 907. Verse 17. Every wild animal that is with thee of all flesh, as to fowl, and as to beast, and as to every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, bring forth with thee, that they may spread themselves over the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth. "Every wild animal that is with thee of all flesh," signifies all that was made living in the man of this church; "fowl" signifies here as before the things of his understanding; "beast" the things of his will, which are both of the internal man; "every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth," signifies the like corresponding things in the external man; "bring forth with thee," signifies their state of freedom; "that they may spread themselves over the earth," signifies the operation of the internal man upon the external; "and be fruitful," signifies increasings of good; "and multiply," signifies increasings of truth; "upon the earth," signifies in the external man.
AC 908. Every wild animal that is with thee of all flesh. That this signifies all that was made living in the man of this church, is evident from the fact that "wild animal" is predicated of Noah, or of the man of this church, now regenerated, and manifestly refers to what follows, namely, fowl, beast, and creeping thing; for it is said, "every wild animal that is with thee of all flesh, as to fowl, and as to beast, and as to every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." The word in the original tongue here rendered "wild animal" signifies properly life, or what is living; but in the Word it is used both for what is living and for what is as it were not living, or a wild animal; so that unless one knows the internal sense of the Word, he is sometimes unable to see what is meant. The reason of this twofold meaning is that the man of the Most Ancient Church, in his humiliation before the Lord, acknowledged himself as not living, not even as a beast, but only as a wild animal; for those people knew man to be such when regarded in himself, or in what is his own. Hence this same word means what is living, and also means "wild animal."
 That it means "what is living" is evident in David:--
Thy wild animal shall dwell therein (that is, in God‘s inheritance); Thou, O God, wilt confirm the poor with Thy good (Ps. 68:10).
Here by "wild animal," because he shall dwell in the inheritance of God, no other is meant than the regenerated man; and so here, as in the verse we are considering, what is living in this man is meant. Again:--
Every wild animal of the forest is Mine, and the beasts upon the mountains where thousands are; I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild animals of My field are with Me (Ps. 50:10, 11).
Here "the wild animals of My field with Me," or with God, denote the regenerated man, thus what is living in him. In Ezekiel:--
All the fowls of the heavens made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches all the wild animals of the field brought forth (Ezekiel 31:6),
where the spiritual church is signified, as implanted, and what is living, in the man of that church. In Hosea:--
In that day will I make a covenant for them with the wild animal of the field and with the fowl of the heavens (Hosea 2:18),
where those who are to be regenerated are meant, with whom a covenant is to be made. Indeed, so fully does "wild animal" signify "what is living," that the cherubim, or angels, seen by Ezekiel, are called the "four wild animals," or "living creatures" (Ezek. 1:5, 13-15, 19; 10:15).
 That "wild animal" in the opposite sense is taken in the Word for what is not living, is evident from many passages, of which only the following will be cited, for confirmation. In David:--
O deliver not the soul of Thy turtle-dove unto the wild animal (Ps. 74:19).
How is the city become a desolation, a place for wild animals to lie down in (Zephaniah 2:15).
And they shall no more be a prey to the nations, neither shall the wild animal of the earth eat them (Ezekiel 34:28).
Upon his ruin all the fowl of the heavens shall dwell, and every wild animal of the field shall be upon his branches (Ezekiel 31:13).
There will I consume them like a lion; the wild animal of the field shall tear them (Hosea 13:8).
I have given thee for meat to the wild animals of the earth, and to the fowl of the heaven (Ezekiel 29:5),
an expression often occurring. And since the Jews remained in the sense of the letter only, and understood by "wild animal" a wild animal, and by "fowl" a fowl, not knowing the interior things of the Word, nor having any willingness to acknowledge them and so to be instructed, they were so cruel and such wild animals that they found their delight in not burying enemies killed in battle, but exposing them to be devoured by birds of prey and wild beasts; which also shows what a wild animal man is.
AC 909. That the "fowl" signifies the things of his understanding, and the "beast" the things of his will, which are of the internal man, and that "every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" signifies like corresponding things in his external man, is evident from the signification of "fowl," as shown above (n. 40, 776), and of "beast" (n. 45, 46, 142, 143, 246). That the "creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" signifies corresponding things in the external man, is now evident, for the creeping thing here bears relation both to the "fowl," or things of the understanding, and to the "beast," or things of the will. The most ancient people called sensuous things and the pleasures of the body creeping things that creep, because they are just like creeping things that creep on the earth. They also likened man’s body to the earth or ground, and even called it earth or ground, as in this passage, where nothing else than the external man is signified by the "earth."
AC 911. As to "the creeping thing that creeps" signifying like corresponding things in the external man, the case is this. In the regenerated man external things correspond to internal things, that is, do their bidding. External things are reduced to obedience when man is being regenerated, and he then becomes an image of heaven. But before man has been regenerated, external things rule over internal, and he is then an image of hell. Order consists in celestial things ruling over spiritual things, through these over natural things, and through these over corporeal things; but when corporeal and natural things rule over spiritual and celestial things, order is destroyed, and then the man is an image of hell; and therefore the Lord restores order by means of regeneration, and then the man becomes an image of heaven. Thus does the Lord draw a man out of hell, and thus does He uplift him to heaven.
 A few words shall be said about the correspondence of the external man to the internal. Every regenerated man is a kind of little heaven, that is, he is an effigy or image of the universal heaven, and therefore in the Word his internal man is called "heaven." There is such order in heaven that the Lord rules spiritual things through celestial things, and natural things through spiritual things, and in this way He rules the universal heaven as one man, for which reason heaven is called the Grand Man; and there is the like order in every one who is in heaven. Man too, when like this, is a little heaven, or, what is the same, he is a kingdom of the Lord, because the kingdom of the Lord is in him; and then in him external things correspond to internal, that is, they obey them, just as they do in heaven; for in the heavens (which are three, and all of which together stand related as one man) spirits constitute the external man, angelic spirits the interior man, and angels the internal man (n. 459).
 It is the reverse with those who make life consist solely in corporeal things, that is, in cupidities, pleasures, appetites, and matters of sense, perceiving no delight other than that which is of the love of self and of the world, that is to say, which is of hatred against all who do not favor and serve them. With such, because corporeal and natural things rule over spiritual and celestial things, there is not only no correspondence or obedience of external things, but the very reverse, and thus order is utterly destroyed; and because order is so destroyed, they cannot be other than images of hell.
AC 912. Bring forth with thee. That this signifies their state of freedom, is evident from what was said under the preceding verse about "going forth from the ark," as signifying freedom.
AC 913. That they may spread themselves over the earth. That this signifies the operation of the internal man on the external, and that "being fruitful" signifies increasings of good, " multiplying," increasings of truth, and "upon the earth," in the external man, is evident from the connection of the things, and also from what has been before said and shown about the signification of "being fruitful," which in the Word is predicated of goods, and about that of "multiplying," which is predicated of truths. That "earth" signifies the external man has likewise been shown before; so that we need not dwell longer on these significations in order to confirm them. Here the subject is the operation of the internal man on the external after the man has been regenerated, showing that good is for the first time made fruitful, and truth multiplied, when the external man has been reduced to correspondence or obedience. This can never be so before, because what is corporeal opposes what is good, and what is sensuous opposes what is true, the one extinguishing the love of good, and the other extinguishing the love of truth. The fructification of good and the multiplication of truth take place in the external man; the fructification of good in his affections, and the multiplication of truth in his memory. The external man is here called "the earth," over which they spread themselves, and upon which they become fruitful and multiply. GENESIS 8:17 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|