Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 8:9
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AC 873. Verse 9. And the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him to the ark, for the waters were on the faces of the whole earth; and he put forth his hand and took her, and brought her in unto him into the ark. "And the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot," signifies that nothing of the good and truth of faith could yet take root; "and she returned unto him to the ark," signifies good and truth appearing with him as though they were of faith; "for the waters were on the faces of the whole earth," signifies that falsities were still overflowing; "and he put forth his hand," signifies his own power; "and took her and brought her in unto him into the ark," signifies that he did what was good and thought what was true from himself.

AC 874. Here is described the first state of the regeneration of the man of this church after temptation, which state is common to all who are being regenerated, namely, that they suppose they do what is good and think what is true from themselves; and because they are as yet in great obscurity, the Lord also leaves them so to imagine. But still all the good they do and all the truth they think while in such imagination, is not the good and truth of faith. For whatever man produces of himself cannot be good, because it is from himself, that is, from a fountain which is impure and most unclean. From this impure and unclean fountain no good can ever go forth, for the man is always thinking of his own merit and righteousness; and some go so far as to despise others in comparison with themselves, as the Lord teaches in (Luke 18:9-14), and others err in other ways. Man’s own cupidities intermingle themselves, so that while it appears outwardly to be good, it is inwardly filthy. For this reason the good which man does in this state is not the good of faith, and the case is the same with the truth that he thinks, for although that which he thinks may be very true, yet so long as it is from what is his own it is indeed in itself the truth of faith, but the good of faith is not in it; and all truth, in order to be the truth of faith, must have in it from the Lord the good of faith. Then for the first time there are good and truth.

AC 875. But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot. That this signifies that nothing of the good and truth of faith could yet take root, is evident from the signification of a "dove," as being the truth of faith, and from the signification of "rest for the sole of the foot," as being to take root. The reason that it could not take root is told in what follows, namely, that falsities were still overflowing. But how this is cannot be understood unless it be known how the regeneration of the spiritual man is effected.

[2] With this man the knowledges of faith are to be implanted in his memory from the Word of the Lord, or from doctrinal things therefrom (which the Ancient Church had from what was revealed to the Most Ancient Church), and thereby his intellectual mind is to be instructed. But as long as falsities overflow therein, the truths of faith, howsoever sown, cannot take root. They remain on the surface only, that is, in the memory; nor does the ground become fit for them until the falsities have been shaken off so as not to appear, as before said.

[3] The real "ground" with this man is prepared in his intellectual mind, and when it has been prepared the good of charity is insinuated by the Lord, and from this, conscience, from which he afterwards acts, that is, through which the Lord works the good and truth of faith. Thus the Lord makes the intellectual things of this man distinct from those of his will, so that they are never united; for if they should be united, he could not but perish eternally.

[4] With the man of the Most Ancient Church the things of the will were united to those of the understanding, as they also are with the celestial angels. But with the man of this Ancient Church they were not united, nor are they with any spiritual man. It appears indeed as if the good of charity which he does were of his will, but this is only an appearance and fallacy. All the good of charity that he does is of the Lord alone, not through the will, but through conscience. If the Lord should let go ever so little and suffer the man to act from his own will, instead of good he would do evil from hatred, revenge, and cruelty.

[5] The case is the same with the truth that the spiritual man thinks and speaks: unless he were to think and speak from conscience, and thus from the good that is of the Lord, he could never think and speak truth otherwise than as do the devils of hell when they feign themselves angels of light. All this is clearly manifest in the other life. From these things it is evident in what manner regeneration is effected, and what the regeneration of the spiritual man is: that in fact it is the separation of his intellectual part from the will part, by means of conscience, which is formed by the Lord in his intellectual part; and whatever is done from this appears as if done by the man‘s will, but is really done by the Lord.

AC 876. And she returned unto him to the ark. That this signifies good and truth appearing as though they were of faith, is evident from what has been said, and also from what follows. In the internal sense, to "return to the ark" does not signify liberation, for this is signified by being sent forth from the ark and not returning, as is evident from what follows, in (verse 12), that he sent forth the dove and she returned not again to him any more; and further from (verses 15 and 16), that Noah was commanded to go forth from the ark; and from the eighteenth, that he went forth. The "ark" signifies the state of the man of this church before regeneration, in which he was in captivity, or in prison, beset on all sides by evils and falsities, or by the waters of the flood. And so the dove’s returning unto Noah to the ark, signifies that the good and truth meant by the dove returned again to the man. For whatever good a man supposes that he does from himself, returns to him, since it regards himself; as he does it either that it may appear before the world, or before the angels, or that he may merit heaven, or that he may be greatest in heaven. Such things are in man‘s Own and in every one of its ideas, though in outward form there is an appearance as of the good and truth of faith. The good and truth of faith is inwardly good and true from the very inmosts; that is, all the good and truth of faith flows in from the Lord through man’s inmosts. But when what a man does is from his Own, or from merit, then the interiors are filthy and the exteriors appear clean; just as with a filthy harlot who appears fair in the face; or like an Ethiopian, or rather an Egyptian mummy, wrapped in a white garment.

AC 877. For the waters were on the faces of the whole earth. That this signifies that falsities were still overflowing, is evident from the signification of the "waters" of the flood, as being falsities (which has been sufficiently shown before), and also from the very words.

AC 878. And he put forth his hand and took her, and brought her in unto him into the ark. That this signifies his own power, and that he did what was good and thought what was true from himself, is evident from the signification of "hand," as being power, and thus here his own power from which he did these things. For to "put forth his hand and take the dove and bring her in to himself," is to apply and attribute to himself the truth meant by the "dove." That by "hand" is signified power, also authority (potestas), and the derivative self confidence, is evident from many passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:--

I will visit upon the fruit of the greatness of heart of the king of Assyria, because he hath said, By the strength of my hand I have done it and by my wisdom, for I am intelligent (Isaiah 10:12, 13),

where "hand" manifestly denotes his own strength to which he attributed what he did, and this was the cause of the visitation upon him. Again:--

Moab shall spread forth his hands in the midst of him, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim, and he shall lay low his pride together with the cataracts of his hands (Isaiah 25:11);

where "hands" denote man‘s own power, from regarding himself as above others, thus from pride.

[2] Again:--

Their inhabitants were short of hand, they were dismayed and put to shame (Isaiah 37:27);

"short of hand" meaning of no power. Again:--

Shall the clay say to the potter, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (Isaiah 45:9).

Here "he hath no hands," means that he has no power. In Ezekiel:--

The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with stupefaction, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled (Ezekiel 7:27),

where "hands" denote power. In Micah:--

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds; when the morning is light they practise it, because their hand is their god (Micah 2:1),

where "hand" denotes their own power in which they trust as their god. In Zechariah:--

Woe to the worthless shepherd that leaveth the flock; the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye; his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened (Zechariah 11:17).

[3] Because "hands" signify powers, man’s evils and falsities are continually called in the Word "the works of his hands." Evils are from the Own of man‘s will, falsities are from the Own of his understanding. That this is the source of evils and falsities is evident enough from the nature of man’s Own, which is nothing but evil and falsity (n. 39, 41, 141, 150, 154, 210, 215). As "hands" in general signify power, "hands" are many times in the Word attributed to Jehovah, or the Lord, and then by "hands" is understood in the internal sense Omnipotence, as in Isaiah:--

Jehovah, Thy hand is lifted up (Isaiah 26:11),

denoting the Divine power. Again:--

Jehovah stretched out His hand, all are consumed (Isaiah 31:3),

denoting the Divine power. Again:--

Concerning the work of My hands command ye Me; My hands have stretched out the heavens and all their army have I commanded (Isaiah 45:11, 12),

denoting the Divine power. The regenerate are often called in the Word "the work of the hands of Jehovah." In the same:--

Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath measured the heavens with the palm (Isaiah 48:13),

where "hand" and "right hand" denote omnipotence.

[4] Again:--

Is My hand shortened at all that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? (Isaiah 50:2),

denoting the Divine power. In Jeremiah:--

Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and by Thy stretched out arm; and didst bring forth Thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm (Jeremiah 32:17, 21),

denoting the Divine power; "power" being named in (verse 17), and "band" in the twenty-first. That Israel was brought out of Egypt with "a strong hand and with a stretched out arm," is often said. In Ezekiel:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up Mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made My self known unto them in the land of Egypt; I lifted up Mine hand unto them, to bring them forth out of the land of Egypt (Ezekiel 20:5, 6, 23).

In Moses:--

Israel saw the great hand which Jehovah executed upon the Egyptians (Exod. 14:31).

[5] That by "hand" is signified power is now plainly manifest from these passages. Indeed "hand" was so significant of power that it became also its representative, as is evident from the miracles that were done in Egypt, when Moses was commanded to stretch forth his rod, or hand, and so they were done; as in Exodus:--

Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven, and Jehovah rained hail upon the land of Egypt (Exodus 9:22, 23);

Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness (Exodus 10:21, 22);

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and Jehovah made the sea dry land; and Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned (Exodus 14:21, 27).

No one with mental capacity for right thinking can believe that there was any such power in the hand or rod of Moses, but because the lifting up and stretching forth of the hand signified the Divine power, it became a representative in the Jewish Church.

[6] It was similar when Joshua stretched out his javelin, as in Joshua:--

And Jehovah said unto Joshua, Stretch out the javelin that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand; and Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city, and they entered into the city and took it; for Joshua drew not back his hand, wherewith he stretched out the javelin, until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai (Joshua 8:18, 26).

From this it is also evident how the case is with the representatives that were the externals of the Jewish Church; and also how it is with the Word: that the things in its external sense do not appear to be representative of the Lord and His kingdom, as here the stretching forth of the hand, and likewise all the other things, which bear no appearance of being representative while the mind is fixed only on the historic details of the letter. It is evident also how far the Jews had fallen away from a true understanding of the Word and of the rites of the church, while making all worship consist in externals only, even to the extent of attributing power to the rod of Moses and the javelin of Joshua, when yet there was no more power in them than in wood. But because the omnipotence of the Lord was signified, and this was understood in heaven when they stretched forth their hand or rod, the signs and miracles followed.

[7] So too it was when Moses on the top of the hill held up his hands, and Joshua prevailed; and when he let down his hands, and Joshua was overcome; and therefore they stayed up his hands (Exod. 17:9-13). Thus it was that hands were laid upon those who were being consecrated, as on the Levites by the people (Num. 8:9, 10, 12), and on Joshua by Moses, when he was substituted in his place (Numbers 27:18, 23), in order that power might so be given. Hence also come the rites still observed of inauguration and benediction by the laying on of hands. To what extent the hand signified and represented power, is evident from what is said in the Word concerning Uzzah and Jeroboam. Concerning Uzzah it is said that he put forth (his hand) to the ark of God, and took hold of it, and therefore he died (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). The "ark" represented the Lord, thus all that is holy and celestial. Uzzah‘s putting forth (his hand) to the ark, represented man’s own power, or what is his own; and as this is profane, the word "hand" is understood, but is not expressed in the original, lest it should be perceived by the angels that such a profane thing had touched what is holy.

[8] And because Uzzah put it forth, he died. Concerning Jeroboam it is said:--

And it came to pass, when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar, that Jeroboam put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him; and his hand which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back again to him; and he said unto the man of God, Intreat now the faces of Jehovah thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again; and the man of God intreated the faces of Jehovah, and the king‘s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before (1 Kings 13:4-6).

Here in like manner by "putting forth the band" is signified man’s own power, or his Own, which is profane, and that it wished to violate what is holy by putting forth the hand against the man of God; wherefore the hand was dried up; but as Jeroboam was an idolater and therefore could not commit profanation, his hand was restored. That the "hand" signifies and represents power, is evident from the representatives in the world of spirits, where a naked arm sometimes comes into view, in which there is strength enough to crush one‘s bones and squeeze their inmost marrow to nothing, causing such terror as to melt the heart; and in fact this strength is actually in it.

GENESIS 8:9    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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