Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 8:18-19
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AC 914. Verse 18, 19. And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons‘ wives with him; every wild animal, every creeping thing, and every fowl, everything that creepeth upon the earth, according to their families, went forth out of the ark. "Went forth," signifies that it was so done; by "Noah and his sons," is signified the man of the Ancient Church; by "his wife and his sons’ wives with him," is signified that church itself. " Every wild animal, every creeping thing," signify his goods "wild animal" the goods of the internal man; " creeping thing" the goods of the external man; "and every fowl, everything that creepeth upon the earth," signify truths; "fowl" the truths of the internal man; "that creepeth upon the earth," the truths of the external man; "according to their families," signifies pairs; "went forth out of the ark," signifies as before that it was so done, and at the same time it signifies a state of freedom.

AC 915. That by his "going forth" is signified that it was so done; that by "Noah and his sons" is signified the man of the Ancient Church; and that by "his wife and his sons‘ wives" is signified that church itself, is evident from the series of the things, which involves that thus was the Ancient Church formed, for these are the last or closing statements to what has gone before. When the church is described in the Word, it is described either by "man (vir) and wife," or by "man (homo) and wife;" when by "man (vir) and wife," by "man" is signified what is of the understanding, or truth, and by "wife" what is of the will, or good; when by "man (homo) and wife," by "man" is signified the good of love, or love, and by "wife" the truth of faith, or faith, thus by "man (homo)" is signified what is essential of the church, and by "wife" the church itself. It is so throughout the Word. In this place, because up to this point the formation of a new church has been treated of, on the perishing of the Most Ancient Church, by "Noah and his sons" is signified the man (homo) of the Ancient Church, and by his "wife and his sons’ wives with him" that church itself. Here therefore they are named in an order different from that in the previous (verse 16), where it is said: "Go forth from the ark, thou and thy wife, and thy sons and thy sons‘ wives with thee," where "thou" and " thy "wife" are joined together, and "thy sons" and "thy sons’ wives," and thus by "thou" and "sons" is signified truth, and by "wife" and "sons‘ wives" good. But in the verse we are now considering the order is different, for the reason, as we have said, that by "thou and thy sons" is signified the man of the church, and by "his wife and his sons’ wives" the church itself, since it is the conclusion to what goes before. Noah did not constitute the Ancient Church, but his sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, as said before. For three churches, so to speak, formed this Ancient Church, concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter. And these churches came forth as the offspring of one, which is called "Noah;" hence it is here said, "thou and thy sons," and also "thy wife and thy sons’ wives."

AC 916. That "every wild animal and every creeping thing," signify the goods of the man of the church; "wild animal," the goods of the internal man; " creeping thing," those of the external man; and that "every fowl and everything that creepeth upon the earth," signify truths; "fowl," the truths of the internal man and "thing that creepeth upon the earth," those of the external man, is evident from what was said and shown under the preceding verse in regard to wild animal, fowl, and creeping thing, where it is said "creeping thing that creepeth," because both good and truth of the external man were signified. Inasmuch as what is here said is the conclusion to what goes before, these things which are of the church are added, namely, its goods and truths; and by them is indicated the quality of the church, that it is spiritual, and that it became such that charity or good was the principal thing; and therefore "wild animal and creeping thing" are here first mentioned, and afterwards "fowl and thing that creepeth."

[2] The church is called spiritual when it acts from charity, or from the good of charity-never when it says that it has faith without charity, for then it is not even a church. For what is the doctrine of faith but the doctrine of charity? And to what purpose is the doctrine of faith, but that men should do what it teaches? It cannot be merely to know and think what it teaches, but only that what it teaches should be done. The spiritual church is therefore first called a church when it acts from charity, which is the very doctrine of faith. Or, what is the same thing, the man of the church is then first a church. Just in the same way, what is a commandment for? not that a man may know, but that he may live according to the commandment. For then he has in himself the kingdom of the Lord, since the kingdom of the Lord consists solely in mutual love and its happiness.

[3] Those who separate faith from charity, and make salvation consist in faith without the good works of charity, are Cainites who slay the brother Abel, that is, charity. And they are like birds which hover about a carcass; for such faith is a bird, and a man without charity is a carcass. Thus they also form for themselves a spurious conscience, so that they may live like devils, hold the neighbor in hatred and persecute him, pass their whole life in adulteries, and yet be saved, as is well known in the Christian world. What can be more agreeable to a man than to hear and be persuaded that he may be saved, even if he live like a wild beast? The very Gentiles perceive that this is false, many of whom abhor the doctrine of Christians because they see their life. The real quality of such a faith is evident also from the fact that nowhere is there found a life more detestable than in the Christian world.

AC 917. According to their families. That this signifies pairs, is evident from what was said before, namely, that there entered into the ark "of the clean by sevens," and "of the unclean by twos" (Genesis 7:2, 3, 15); while here it is said that they went out of it "according to their families," the reason of which is that all things had now been so reduced into order by the Lord that they could represent families. In the regenerated man, goods and truths, or the things of charity and faith, are related to each other as with relationships by blood and by marriage, thus as families from one stock or parent, in like manner as they are in heaven (n. 685), an order into which goods and truths are brought by the Lord. Specifically, it is here signified that all goods both in general and in particular have regard to their own truths, as though these were conjoined with them in marriage; and just as in general charity regards faith, so in every particular good regards truth; for the general, unless it exists from the particular, is not the general, seeing that it is from the particulars that the general has its existence, and from them is called general. So in every man, such as is the man in general, such is he in the minutest particulars of his affection and of his idea. Of these he is composed, or of these he becomes such as he is in general; and therefore they who have been regenerated become such in the smallest particulars as they are in general.

AC 918. Went forth out of the ark. That this involves also a state of freedom, is evident from what was said above at (verse 16) about going out of the ark. The quality of the freedom of the spiritual man appears from the consideration that he is ruled by the Lord through conscience. He who is ruled by conscience, or who acts according to conscience, acts freely. Nothing is more repugnant to him than to act against conscience. To act against conscience is hell to him, but to act according to conscience is heaven to him; and from this any one may see that acting according to conscience is freedom. The Lord rules the spiritual man through a conscience of what is good and true; and this conscience is formed, as already said, in man‘s understanding, and is thus separated from what is of his will. And because it is wholly separated from what is of the will, it is very evident that man never does anything good of himself; and since all the truth of faith is from the good of faith, it is evident that man never thinks anything true from himself, but that this is from the Lord alone. That he seems to do these things from himself is only an appearance; and because it is so, the really spiritual man acknowledges and believes it. From this it is evident that conscience given to the spiritual man by the Lord is as it were a new will, and thus that the man who has been created anew is endowed with a new will and from this with a new understanding.

GENESIS 8:18-19    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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