Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 8:21
AC 924. Verse 21. And Jehovah smelled an odor of rest; and Jehovah said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more on man’s account; because the imagination of man‘s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. "And Jehovah smelled an odor of rest," signifies that worship therefrom was grateful to the Lord, that is, worship from charity and the faith of charity; "and Jehovah said in His heart," signifies that it would happen so no more; "I will not again curse the ground any more," signifies that man would not any more so turn himself away; "on man’s account," signifies as did the man of the posterity of the Most Ancient Church; "because the imagination of man‘s heart is evil from his youth," signifies that man’s will is altogether evil; "neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done," signifies that man would not be able any more so to destroy himself.
AC 925. And Jehovah smelled an odor of rest. That this signifies that worship therefrom was grateful to the Lord, that is, worship from charity and the faith of charity, which is signified by "burnt-offering," has been stated under the preceding verse. It is often said in the Word that Jehovah "smelled an odor of rest," especially from burnt-offerings; and this always means what is grateful or acceptable; as that He "smelled an odor of rest" from burnt-offerings (Exod. 29:18, 25, 41; Lev. 1:9, 13, 17; 23:12, 13, 18; Num. 28:6, 8, 13; 29:2, 6, 8, 13, 36), and also from other sacrifices (Lev. 2:2, 9; 6:15, 21; 8:21, 28; Num. 15:3, 7, 13). They are also called "made by fire for an odor of rest unto Jehovah," by which is signified that they are from love and charity. "Fire" in the Word and "made by fire," when predicated of the Lord and of the worship of Him, signifies love. So also does "bread," and for this reason representative worship by burnt-offerings and sacrifices is called "the bread of the offering made by fire for an odor of rest" (Lev. 3:11, 16).
 That an "odor" signifies what is grateful and acceptable, and thus that an odor in the Jewish Church was a representative of what is grateful, and is ascribed to Jehovah or the Lord, is because the good of charity and the truth of faith from charity correspond to sweet and delightful odors. The fact of this correspondence and the nature of it is demonstrable from the spheres of spirits and angels in heaven, where there are spheres of love and faith which are plain perceived. The spheres are such that when a good spirit or angel, or a society of good spirits or of angels, comes near, then, whenever the Lord pleases, it is at once perceived, even at a distance, but more sensibly on a nearer approach, what is the quality in respect to love and faith of that spirit, angel, or society. This is incredible, yet is perfectly true. Such is the communication in the other life, and such is the perception. Wherefore, when it pleases the Lord, there is no need to explore in many ways the quality of a soul or spirit; for it may be known at his first approach. To these spheres correspond the spheres of odors in the world. That they do so correspond is evident from the fact that when it pleases the Lord the spheres of love and faith in the world of spirits are turned into spheres of sweet and pleasing odors, and are plainly perceived.
 From these things it is now evident whence and why "an odor of rest" signifies what is grateful, and why an odor became representative in the Jewish Church, and why "an odor of rest" is here ascribed to Jehovah or the Lord. An odor of rest is one of peace, or a grateful sense of peace. Peace taken in the complex embraces all things of the Lord‘s kingdom both in general and in particular, for the state of the Lord’s kingdom is a state of peace, and in a state of peace there come forth all the happy states that result from love and faith in the Lord. From what has now been said it is plain not only how it is with representatives, but also why in the Jewish Church incense was used, for which there was an altar before the veil and the mercy-seat; why there were offerings of frankincense in the sacrifices; also why so many spices were used in the incense, in the frankincense, and in the oil for anointing; and thus what is signified in the Word by "an odor of rest," "incense," and "spices," namely, the celestial things of love and the spiritual things of faith therefrom; in general, whatever is grateful from love and faith.
 As in Ezekiel:--
In the mountain of My holiness, in the mountain of the height of Israel, there shall all the house of Israel in the whole land serve Me; there will I accept them, and there will I seek your oblations and the first fruits of your gifts, with all your holy things; as an odor of rest will I accept you (Ezekiel 20:40, 41).
Here "an odor of rest" is predicated of burnt-offerings and gifts, that is, of worship from charity and its faith, which is signified by the burnt-offerings and gifts, and is consequently acceptable, which is meant by the "odor." In Amos:--
I hate, I have rejected your feasts, and I will not receive the odor of your holidays, for if ye shall offer Me your burnt-offerings and gifts, they shall not be acceptable (Amos 5:21, 22).
Here "odor" manifestly signifies what is grateful or acceptable. Of Isaac when blessing Jacob instead of Esau it is said:--
And Jacob came near, and he kissed him; and be smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which Jehovah hath blessed (Gen. 27:27).
The "smell of his raiment" signifies natural good and truth, which is grateful from its agreement with celestial and spiritual good and truth, the gratefulness of which is described by the "smell of a field."
AC 926. Jehovah said in His heart. That this signifies that it would happen so no more, is evident from what follows. When it is predicated of Jehovah that He "says," nothing else is meant than that what He says is or takes place so, or not so, for of Jehovah nothing else can be said than that He is. Whatever is predicated of Jehovah in various places in the Word, is so expressed for the sake of those who can apprehend nothing except from such things as are in man, and therefore the sense of the letter is of this nature. The simple in heart may be instructed from the appearances with man, for they scarcely go beyond the knowledges that are derived from things of sense, and therefore the language of the Word is adapted to their apprehension; as here, where it is said that "Jehovah said in His heart."
AC 927. I will not again curse the ground any more on man‘s account. That this signifies that man would not any more so turn away, as did the man of the posterity of the Most Ancient Church, is evident from what has been said before about this posterity. That "to curse" signifies in the internal sense to turn one’s self away, may be seen above (n. 223, 245). How the case is with this and with what follows: that man would not any more so turn away, as did the man of the Most Ancient Church, and that he would not again be able so to destroy himself, is evident from what has been already said about the posterity of the Most Ancient Church who perished, and about the new church which is called "Noah."
 It has been shown that the man of the Most Ancient Church was so Constituted that the will and understanding with him formed one mind, or that with him love was implanted in his will part, and thus at the same time faith, which filled the other or intellectual part of his mind. From this their posterity inherited the condition that the will and the understanding made a one; and therefore when the love of self and the consequent insane cupidities began to take possession of their will part (where previously there had been love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor), not only did their will part or will become utterly perverted, but so also together with it did their intellectual part or understanding, and this was still more the case when the last posterity immersed their falsities in their cupidities, and so became "Nephilim," for thereby they became of such a nature that they could not be restored, because both parts of the mind (that is, the whole mind) had been ruined. But as this had been foreseen by the Lord, He had also provided for man‘s upbuilding, in this way, that he might be reformed and regenerated in respect to the second or intellectual part of the mind, in which there might be implanted a new will which is conscience, and through which the Lord might work the good of love (that is, of charity), and the truth of faith. Thus of the Lord’s Divine mercy has man been restored. These are the things that are signified in this verse by, "I will not again curse the ground any more on man‘s account; because the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I smite any more everything living, as I have done."
AC 928. Because the imagination of man‘s heart is evil from his youth. That this signifies that man’s will part is utterly evil, is evident from what has just been said. The "imagination of the heart" signifies nothing else. Man supposes that he has a will for what is good, but he is quite mistaken. When he does good, it is not from his will, but from a new will which is the Lord‘s; thus it is from the Lord that he does it. Consequently when he thinks and speaks what is true, it is from a new understanding, which is from the new will, and it is from the Lord that he does this also. For the regenerate man is an altogether new man formed by the Lord, and this is why he is said to be created anew.
AC 929. Neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. That this signifies that man would not be able any more so to destroy himself, is now evident, for such is the case when man is regenerated, seeing that he is then withheld from the evil and falsity that is with him, and then perceives no otherwise than that he does what is good and thinks what is true from himself. This however is an appearance, or fallacy, owing to his being withheld (as indeed he is, powerfully), and in consequence of being thus withheld from evil and falsity, he cannot destroy himself; but if he were in the least let go, or left to himself, he would rush into all evil and falsity. GENESIS 8:21 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|