Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 8:2-3
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AC 843. Verse 2. The fountains also of the deep and the cataracts of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. These words signify that temptation ceased; "the fountains also of the deep," signify evils of the will; "the cataracts of heaven," falsities of the understanding; and "rain" signifies temptation itself in general.

AC 844. From this to (verse 6) the first state of the man of this church is treated of, after temptation; and what is said in the present verse signifies the cessation of temptation. His temptation, both as to what is of the will and as to what is of the understanding, has been previously treated of; and its cessation as to what is of the will is here meant by "the fountains of the deep being stopped;" and its cessation as to what is of the understanding, by "the cataracts of heaven being stopped." That these expressions have such a signification has been stated and shown in the preceding chapter (Genesis 7:11); and also that "rain" signifies temptation itself (Genesis 7:12), wherefore there is no need to dwell longer in confirmation.

AC 845. The reason why the "fountains of the deep" signify temptation as to what is of the will, and the " cataracts of heaven," temptation as to what is of the understanding, is that it is what is of the will of man that is influenced by hell, and not so much what is of the understanding, unless this has been immersed in cupidities, which are of the will. Evils, which are of the will, are what condemn man and thrust him down to hell, and not so much falsities, unless they become conjoined with evils, for then the one follows the other. The truth of this statement may be seen from the case of very many of those who are in falsities, and are yet saved, which is the case with many among the Gentiles, who have lived in natural charity and in mercy, and with Christians who have believed in simplicity of heart. Their ignorance and simplicity excuse them, because in these there can be innocence. But it is otherwise with those who have confirmed themselves in falsities, and have thus contracted such a life of falsity that they refuse and reject all truth; for this life of falsity must be vastated before anything of truth and thus of good can be inseminated. It is however still worse with those who have confirmed themselves in falsities under the influence of their cupidities, so that the falsities and the cupidities have come to constitute one life; for these are they who plunge themselves into hell. This is the reason why temptation as to what is of the will is signified by the "fountains of the deep," which are the hells, and temptation as to what is of the understanding by the "cataracts of heaven,". which are the clouds, from which comes rain.

AC 846. Verse 3. And the waters receded from off the earth, going and returning; and after the end of a hundred and fifth days the waters failed. "The waters receded from off the earth, going and returning," signifies fluctuations between what is true and what is false; and "after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters failed," signifies that the temptations ceased; "a hundred and fifty days," here as above signify a termination.

AC 847. And the waters receded from off the earth, going and returning. That this signifies fluctuations between what is true and what is false, is evident from what has been said: that the waters of the flood, or inundations, with respect to Noah, signified temptations; for as the subject is here the first state after temptation, the "waters receding, going and returning," can signify nothing else than fluctuation between truths and falsities. The nature of this fluctuation however cannot be known unless it is known what temptation is, for such as is the temptation, such is the fluctuation after it. When the temptation is celestial, then the fluctuation is between good and evil; when it is spiritual, the fluctuation is between what is true and what is false; and when it is natural, the fluctuation is between the things that belong to and those which are contrary to the cupidities.

[2] There are many kinds of temptations, which are in general the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural; and these ought never to be confounded. Celestial temptations can exist only with those who are in love to the Lord, and spiritual ones with those only who are in charity toward the neighbor. Natural temptations are altogether distinct from these, and indeed are not temptations, but merely anxieties arising from natural loves being assailed by misfortunes, diseases, or a depraved condition of the blood and other fluids of the body. From this brief account it may in some degree be known what temptation is, namely, anguish and anxiety occasioned by whatever opposes oneĎs loves. Thus with those who are in love to the Lord, whatever assails this love produces an inmost torture, which is celestial temptation; with those who are in love toward the neighbor, or charity, whatever assails this love occasions torment of conscience, and this is spiritual temptation;

[3] but with those who are natural, what they frequently call temptations and the pangs of conscience, are not temptations, but only anxieties arising from their loves being assailed, as when they foresee and are sensible of the loss of honor, of the good things of the world, of reputation, pleasures, bodily life, and the like; nevertheless these troubles are wont to be productive of some good. Temptations are moreover experienced by those who are in natural charity, and consequently by all kinds of heretics, Gentiles, and idolaters, arising from assaults on the life of their faith which they cherish. But these are distresses that are merely emulous of spiritual temptations.

AC 848. When the temptations are over, there is as it were a fluctuation, and if the temptation was spiritual, it is a fluctuation between what is true and what is false, which may be sufficiently evident from this, that temptation is the beginning of regeneration; and as all regeneration has for its end that man may receive new life, or rather that he may receive life, and from being no man may become man, or from dead be made living, therefore when his former life, which is merely animal, is destroyed by temptations, he cannot but fluctuate between what is true and what is false. Truth is of the new life, falsity of the old; and unless the former life is destroyed, and this fluctuation takes place, it is impossible for any spiritual seed to be sown, because there is no ground.

[2] When however the former life is destroyed and such fluctuation results, the man scarcely knows what is true and good, and indeed scarcely whether there is any such thing as truth. Thus, for example, when he reflects about the goods of charity, or, as they are called, good works, and considers whether or no he can do them from himself and have merit in himself, he is in such obscurity and darkness, that when informed that no one can do good from himself or from his Own, and that still less can any one possess merit, but that all good is from the Lord, and all merit is His alone, he must be lost in wonder. And so it is in all other matters of faith; but still the obscurity and darkness of his mind become sensibly and gradually enlightened.

[3] It is with regeneration exactly as with manís birth as an infant. His life is then very obscure; he knows almost nothing, and therefore at first receives only general impressions of things, which by degrees become more distinct as particular ideas are inserted in them, and in these again still more minute particulars. Thus are generals illustrated by particulars, so that the child may learn not only the existence of things, but also their nature and quality. So it is with every one who emerges out of spiritual temptation; and the state of those in the other life who have been in falsities and are being vastated, is also similar. This state is called Fluctuation, and is here described by "the waters receding, going and returning."

AC 849. And after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters failed. That this signifies that temptations ceased, now follows plainly from what has been said. That "a hundred and fifty days" signifies a termination, is evident from what was said of this number in the foregoing chapter (Genesis 7:24); thus here it is the termination of the fluctuation and the beginning of a new life

GENESIS 8:2-3    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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