Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 8:7
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AC 864. Verse 7. And he sent forth a raven, and it went forth, going and returning, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. "And he sent forth a raven, and it went forth, going and returning," signifies that falsities still made disturbance; by a "raven" are signified falsities; and by "going forth, going and returning," is signified that such was their state; "until the waters were dried up from off the earth," signifies the apparent dissipation of falsities.

AC 865. And he sent forth a raven, and it went forth, going and returning. That by this is signified that falsities still made disturbance, is evident from the signification of a "raven" and of "going forth, going and returning," concerning which more will be said hereafter. In this passage is described the second state of the man who is to be regenerated, after temptation, when the truths of faith, like the first dawning of light, begin to appear. Such is the nature of this state that falsities are continually making disturbance, so that it resembles the morning twilight, while somewhat of the obscurity of night still remains, as is here signified by a "raven." Falsities with the spiritual man, especially before his regeneration, are like the dense spots of a cloud. The reason is that he can know nothing of the truth of faith except from what is revealed in the Word, where all things are stated in a general way; and generals are but as the spots of a cloud, for every general comprehends in it thousands and thousands of particulars, and each particular thousands and thousands of singulars, all generals being illustrated by the singulars of the particulars. These have never been so revealed to man, because they are both indescribable and inconceivable, and so can neither be acknowledged nor believed in; for they are contrary to the fallacies of the senses in which man is, and which he does not easily permit to be destroyed.

[2] It is altogether otherwise with the celestial man, who possesses perception from the Lord; for in him particulars and singulars of particulars can be insinuated. For example: that true marriage is that of one man with one wife; and that such marriage is representative of the heavenly marriage, and therefore heavenly happiness can be in it, but never in a marriage of one man with a plurality of wives. The spiritual man, who knows this from the Word of the Lord, acquiesces in it, and hence admits as a matter of conscience that marriage with more wives than one is a sin; but he knows no more. The celestial man however perceives thousands of things which confirm this general, so that marriage with more wives than one excites his abhorrence. As the spiritual man knows generals only, and has his conscience formed from these, and as the generals of the Word have been accommodated to the fallacies of the senses, it is evident that innumerable falsities, which cannot be dispersed, will adjoin and insinuate themselves into them. These falsities are here signified by "the raven which went forth, going and returning."

AC 866. That a "raven" signifies falsities, is evident in a general way from what has been said and shown above concerning birds, that they signify things of understanding, of reason, and of memory-knowledge, and also the opposite, which are reasonings and falsities. Both of these are described in the Word by various species of birds; truths of understanding by birds which are gentle, beautiful, and clean; and falsities by those which are ravenous, ugly, and unclean, in each case varying according to the species of truth or falsity. Gross and dense falsities are described by owls and ravens; by owls because they live in the darkness of night, and by ravens, because they are of a black color. As in Isaiah:--

The owl also and the raven shall dwell therein (Isaiah 34:11),

there the Jewish Church is described as being the habitation of mere falsities, represented by the owl and the raven.

AC 867. That "going and returning" signifies that such was their state, is evident from the falsities with man while in his first and second state after temptation, namely, that the falsities thus fly about, going and returning, for the reason mentioned above, that man at that time is and can be only in the knowledge of the most general things, into which flow phantasies arising from corporeal, sensuous, and worldly things, which do not agree with the truths of faith.

AC 868. Until the waters were dried up from off the earth. That this signifies the apparent dissipation of falsities, is evident from the state of man when he is being regenerated. Every one believes at the present day that the evils and falsities in man are entirely separated and abolished during regeneration, so that when he becomes regenerate, nothing of evil or falsity remains, but he is clean and righteous, like one washed and purified with water. This notion is, however, utterly false; for not a single evil or falsity can be so shaken off as to be abolished; but whatever has been hereditarily derived from infancy, and acquired by act and deed, remains; so that man, notwithstanding his being regenerate, is nothing but evil and falsity, as is shown to the life to souls after death. The truth of this may be sufficiently manifest from the consideration, that there is nothing of good and nothing of truth in man except from the Lord, and that all evil and falsity are man’s from his Own; and that man, and spirit, and even angel, if left in the least to himself, would rush of himself into hell; wherefore also it is said in the Word that heaven is not pure. This is acknowledged by angels, and he who does not acknowledge it cannot be among angels. It is the Lord‘s mercy alone that liberates them, and even draws them out of hell and keeps them from rushing thither of themselves. That they are kept by the Lord from rushing into hell, is manifestly perceived by the angels, and even in a measure by good spirits. Evil spirits however, like men, do not believe this; but it has often been shown them, as of the Lord’s Divine mercy will be told from experience hereafter.

[2] Since therefore the state of man is such that no evil and falsity can ever be so shaken off as to be abolished, because the life that is proper to him consists in evil and falsity, the Lord, from Divine mercy, while He regenerates man, through temptations so subdues his evils and falsities that they appear as if dead, though they are not dead, but are only subdued so that they cannot fight against the goods and truths which are from the Lord. At the same time also the Lord through temptations gives man a new faculty of receiving goods and truths, by gifting him with ideas and affections of good and of truth, to which evils and falsities can be bent, and by inserting in his generals (of which above) particulars, and in these singulars, which are stored up in man and which he knows nothing about, for they are interior to the sphere of his apprehension and perception. These are of a nature to serve for receptacles or vessels, so that charity can be insinuated into them by the Lord, and into charity innocence. By their wonderful tempering with man, spirit, and angel, a kind of rainbow may be represented, and for this reason the rainbow was made the sign of the covenant (Genesis 9:12-17), concerning which, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy we shall speak under that chapter. When man has been thus formed, he is said to be regenerate, all his evils and falsities still remaining, yet at the same time all his goods and truths being preserved. With an evil man all his evils and falsities, just as he had them in the life of the body, return in the other life and are turned into infernal phantasies and punishments. But with a good man, all his states of good and truth, such as those of friendship, of charity, and of innocence, are recalled in the other life, and together with their delights and happinesses, are there immensely augmented and multiplied. These things then are what is signified by the drying of the waters, which is the apparent dissipation of falsities.

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