Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 9:12-13
AC 1036. Verses 12-13. And God said, This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living soul that is with you, for the generations of an age: I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. "And God said," signifies that it was so; "this is the sign of the covenant," signifies an indication of the presence of the Lord in charity; "which I make between Me and you," signifies the conjunction of the Lord with man by charity; "and every living soul that is with you," signifies as before all things in man that have been regenerated; "for the generations of an age," signifies all perpetually who are being created anew; "I have set My bow in the cloud," signifies the state of the regenerated spiritual man, which is like a rainbow; "the cloud" signifies the obscure light in which is the spiritual man relatively to the celestial; "and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth," signifies as before an indication of the presence of the Lord in charity; "the earth" is here that which is man‘s own. All these things regard the regenerate spiritual man, or the spiritual church.
AC 1037. And God said. That this signifies that it was so, has been said and shown before; for the "saying of God" or "of Jehovah," signifies that it was so. The most ancient people arranged the things of the church in the form of history; and when they wished to affirm that a thing was so, they said that "God said," or "Jehovah said," and this was their form of asseveration and confirmation.
AC 1038. This is the sign of the covenant. That this signifies an indication of the presence of the Lord in charity, is evident from the signification of a "covenant" and of a "sign of a covenant." That a "covenant" signifies the presence of the Lord in charity, has been shown before (Genesis 6:18), and above in the present chapter, (verse 9). That a "covenant" is the presence of the Lord in love and charity, is evident from the nature of a covenant. Every covenant is for the sake of conjunction, that is, for the sake of living in mutual friendship, or love. Marriage also is for this reason called a covenant. There is no conjunction of the Lord with man except in love and charity; for the Lord is love and mercy itself. He wills to save every one and to draw him with mighty power to heaven, that is, to Himself. From this every one may know and conclude that no one can ever be conjoined with the Lord except through that which He Himself is, that is, except by becoming like or making one with Him-in ether words, by loving the Lord in return and loving the neighbor as himself. By this alone is the conjunction effected. This is the veriest essence of a covenant. When there is conjunction from this, it then follows manifestly that the Lord is present. There is in deed the very presence of the Lord with every man, but it is nearer or more remote exactly according to the approach to love or the distance from love.
 Because the "covenant" is the conjunction of the Lord with man by love, or what is the same, the presence of the Lord with man in love and charity, it is called in the Word the covenant of peace " for "peace" signifies the kingdom of the Lord, and the kingdom of the Lord consists in mutual love, in which alone is peace. As in Isaiah:--
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My mercy shall not depart from thee, neither shall My covenant of peace be removed, saith Jehovah that hath mercy on thee (Isaiah54:10),
where mercy, which is of love, is called a covenant of peace." In Ezekiel
I will raise up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd and I will make with them a covenant of peace (Ezekiel 34:23, 25),
where by "David" is plainly meant the Lord; and His presence with the regenerate man is described by His feeding" them.
My servant David shall be king over them and there shall be to them all one shepherd, and I will make a covenant of peace with them it shall be an everlasting covenant with them and I will set them, and will cause them to multiply, and will put My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Ezekiel 37:24, 20, 27),
where in like manner the Lord is meant by "David;" love, by "His sanctuary in the midst of them;" the presence and conjunction of the Lord in love, by" His being their God and by their being His people," which is called a " covenant of peace," and an "everlasting covenant." In Malachi:--
Ye shall know that I have sent this commandment into you, that My covenant might be with Levi, saith Jehovah of armies My covenant was with him of lives and peace; and I gave them to him in fear, and he shall fear Me (Malachi 2:4, 5).
"Levi in the supreme sense is the Lord, and hence the man who has love and charity, and therefore the covenant of lives and peace with Levi is in love and charity.
 In Moses, speaking of Phinehas
Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace; and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an eternal priesthood (Num. 25:12, 13),
where by "Phinehas" is not meant Phinehas, but the priesthood which was represented by him, which signifies love and what is of love, as does all the priesthood of that church. Every one knows that Phinehas did not have an eternal priesthood. Again Jehovah thy God, He is God; the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments, to the thousandth generation (Deut. 7:9, 12), where it is plain that the presence of the Lord with man in love is the covenant," for it is said that He keepeth it with them that love Him and keep His commandments.
 Since a "covenant’ is the conjunction of the Lord with man by love, it follows that it is also by all things that pertain to love, which are the truths of faith, and are called precepts; for all precepts, indeed the Law and the Prophets, are founded on the one Law, to love the Lord above all things and the neighbor as one‘s self, as is evident from the words of the Lord (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34). And therefore the tables on which were written the ten commandments, are called the "Tables of the Covenant." Since a covenant, or conjunction, is effected through the laws or precepts of love, it was effected also through the laws of society given by the Lord in the Jewish Church, which are called "testimonies;" and also through the rites of the church enjoined by the Lord, called "statutes." All these things are said to be of the "covenant" because they regard love and charity, as we read of Josiah the king:--
The king stood upon the pillar, and made a covenant before Jehovah, to walk after Jehovah, and to keep His commandments, and His testimonies, and His statutes, with all the heart and with all the soul, to establish the words of this covenant (2 Kings 23:3).
 From these things it is now evident what a "covenant" is, and that the covenant is internal; for the conjunction of the Lord with man takes place by what is internal, and never by what is external separate from what is internal. External things are only types and representatives of internal, as the action of a man is a type representative of his thought and will; and as the work of charity is a type representative of the charity which is within, in the heart and mind. So all the rites of the Jewish Church were types representative of the Lord, consequently of love and charity, and of all things therefrom. Wherefore it is through the internals of man that a covenant and conjunction is made, and’ externals are only signs of the covenant, as indeed they are called. That a covenant and conjunction is made through internals is plainly evident, as in Jeremiah:--
Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, forasmuch as they made vain My covenant but this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after these days, saith Jehovah; I will put My law in their inward parts and write it on their heart (Jeremiah 31:31-33),
where a new church is treated of. It is clearly stated that the veriest covenant is through the internals, and indeed in conscience on which the Law is inscribed, all of which is of love, as has been said
 That external things are not the "covenant," unless internal things are adjoined to them, and thus by union act as one and the same cause; but are only " signs" of the covenant by means of which as by representative types the Lord might be kept in remembrance, is evident from the fact that the Sabbath and circumcision are called" signs" of the covenant. That the Sabbath is so called, we read in Moses:--
The sons of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant it is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel eternally (Exod. 31:16, 17).
And that circumcision also is so called, in the same:--
This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee that every male be circumcised unto you and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and you (Gen. 17:10, 11).
Hence also blood is called the "blood of the covenant" (Exod. 24:7, 8).
 External rites are called "signs of a covenant," for the reason chiefly that interior things may be kept in mind by them, that is, the things signified by them. All the rites of the Jewish Church were nothing else. And for this reason they were also called "signs," that the people might be reminded by them of interior things-as for instance, the binding of the chief commandment on the hand and on the forehead, as in Moses:--
Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might and these words thou shalt bind for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes (Deut. 6:5, 8; 11:13, 18).
Here "hand" signifies the will because it signifies power, for power is of the will; " frontlets between the eyes," signify the understanding thus the " sign" signifies remembrance of the chief commandment, or of the Law in sum, that it may be continually in the will and in the thought, that is, that the presence of the Lord and of love may be in all the will and in all the thought. Such is the presence of the Lord and of mutual love from Him with the angels, which continual presence will be further described, by the Divine mercy of the Lord, hereafter. In like manner, in the present verse its being said: "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you: I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth," signifies no other sign than an indication of the presence of the Lord in charity, thus the remembrance of Him in man. But how there is thence, or from the bow in the cloud, a sign and remembrance, will be told, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy, in what follows.
AC 1039. Which I make between Me and you. That this signifies the conjunction of the Lord with man by charity, is evident from what has now been said of the covenant and the sign of the covenant. For the "covenant" is the presence of the Lord in charity. "Between Me and you," is conjunction therefrom. "Making" is causing to be.
AC 1040. And every living soul that is that with you. That this signifies all things in man that have been regenerated, is evident from the signification of "living soul," shown above at (verse 10). For "soul" in the Word signifies, as before said, all man’s life both internal and external, and even that of animals from their signifying what is in man. But that is properly a "living soul" which receives life from the Lord, that is, which is regenerate, because this alone is living. And because "soul" signifies man‘s life both internal and external, "living soul" signifies in one complex all things in man that have been regenerated. In man there are things of the will and things of the understanding, the two being most distinct; and with a living man all of these both in general and in particular are also living; for the fact is that such as a man is, such are all things in him both in general and in particular; his general life itself is in everything.
 For every general is derived from all the component items, as from its own particulars; in no other way can any general come into existence, for it is called a general because it comes forth from particulars. Therefore such as is a man’s life in general, such is it in the most minute atoms of his effort and intention-that is, of his will and in the most minute atoms of his thought; so that there cannot be the smallest bit of an idea in which the life is not the same. As for example with a haughty man in every single effort of his will and in every single idea of his thought there is haughtiness; with him who is covetous there is in like manner covetousness, and so with him who hates his neighbor; just as with the stupid man there is stupidity in everything of his will and everything of his thought, and with him who is insane there is insanity. Since this is the nature of man, in the other life his quality is known from a single idea of his thought.
 When a man has been regenerated, then all things in him, both in general and in particular, have also been regenerated, that is, have life, and the life they have bears an exact proportion to the degree in which his own will-which is foul and dead-could be separated from the new will and intellectual that he has received from the Lord. Therefore as the subject here treated of is the regenerated man, the "living soul" signifies all things in the man that have been regenerated, which, in general, are all the things of his understanding and of his will, both interior and exterior, and which were expressed before, in (verse 10), by the "fowl, the beast, and the wild animal of the earth;" for it is said, "I establish My covenant with every living soul that is with you, the fowl, the beast, and the wild animal of the earth."
AC 1041. For the generations of an age. That this signifies all perpetually who are being created anew, is evident from the signification of the "generations of an age." "Generations" are posterities which are from those which have preceded, as from their parents. " Of an age," is what is perpetual. The subject here is the things that have been regenerated, and therefore by the "generations of an age" are meant those who thereby are perpetually being regenerated, that is, who are being created anew. In the internal sense, all things bear a signification that is determined by what is being treated of.
AC 1042. I have set My bow in the cloud. This signifies the state of the regenerated spiritual man, which is like a rainbow. Any one may wonder that the "bow in the cloud," or the rainbow, is taken in the Word for a token of the covenant, seeing that the rainbow is nothing but an appearance arising from the modification of the rays of sunlight in raindrops, and thus only something natural, unlike other signs of the covenant in the church, mentioned just above. And that the "bow in the cloud" represents regeneration, and signifies the state of the regenerated spiritual man, cannot be known to any one unless it be given him to see and hence to know how the case is. Spiritual angels, who have all been regenerated men of the spiritual church, when presented to sight as such in the other life, appear with as it were a rainbow about the head. But the rainbows seen are in accordance with their state, and thus from them their quality is known in heaven and in the world of spirits. The reason that the appearance of a rainbow is seen is that their natural things corresponding to their spiritual present such an appearance. It is a modification of spiritual light from the Lord in their natural things. These angels are those who are said to be regenerated "of water and the spirit," but the celestial angels are said to be regenerated "with fire."
 As regards natural colors, the existence of color requires something both dark and light, or black and white. When rays of sunlight fall on this, according to the varied tempering of the dark and the light, or of the black and the white, from the modification of the inflowing rays of light colors are produced, some of which partake more and some less of the dark and black, and some more and some less of the light and white; and hence is their diversity. To speak comparatively, it is the same in spiritual things. The darkness in this case is the Own of man‘s intellectual part, or falsity; and the blackness is the Own of his will part, or evil; which absorb and extinguish the rays of light. But the lightness and whiteness is the truth and good that the man supposes he does of himself, which reflects and throws back from itself the rays of light. The rays of light that fall upon these, and as it were modify them, are from the Lord, as from the Sun of wisdom and intelligence; for rays of spiritual light are no other and from no other source. It is because natural things correspond to spiritual that when what is about a regenerate spiritual man is presented to view in the other life, it appears like the bow in the cloud, this bow being the representation of his spiritual things in his natural things There is in the regenerate spiritual man an Own of the understanding into which the Lord insinuates innocence, charity and mercy. According to the reception of these gifts by the man is the appearance of his rainbow when presented to view-beautiful in proportion to the degree in which the Own of his will is removed, subdued, and reduced to obedience.
 By the prophets also, when they were in the vision of God, there was seen a bow as in a cloud. As by Ezekiel:--
Above the expanse that was over the head of the cherubs was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a Man upon it above and I saw as the appearance of burning coal, as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of His loins and upward and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about Him as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about this was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah (Ezekiel 1:26-28).
It must be evident to every one that it is the Lord who was thus seen, and also that by Him was represented heaven, for He is heaven, that is, He is the all in all things of heaven. He is the "Man" here spoken of; the "throne" is heaven; the "burning coal as the appearance of fire from the loins and upward" is the celestial of live; the "brightness as of fire round about from the loins downward, as the bow in the cloud," is the celestial spiritual. Thus the celestial heaven, or the heaven of the celestial angels, is represented from the loins upward, and the spiritual heaven, or the heaven of the spiritual angels, is represented from the loins downward. For in the Grand Man what is below, from the loins down through the feet to the soles, signifies what is natural. Hence also it is evident that the natural things of man thus illuminated by spiritual light from the Lord, appear as the bow in the cloud. The like was seen also by John (Rev. 4:2, 3; 10:1).
AC 1043. That the "cloud" signifies the obscure light in which is the spiritual man as compared with the celestial man, is evident from what has just been said about the "bow;" for the bow, or the color of the bow, has no existence except in the cloud. As before said, it is the darkness of the cloud, through which the sun’s rays shine, that is turned into colors; and thus the color is such as is the darkness which is touched by the brightness of the rays. The case is the same with the spiritual man. With him, the darkness which is here called a "cloud," is falsity, which is the same as the Own of his understanding. When innocence, charity, and mercy are insinuated into this Own by the Lord, then this cloud appears no longer as falsity, but as an appearance of truth, together with truth from the Lord. Hence there is the likeness of a colored bow. There is a certain spiritual modification which can by no means be described, and unless it be perceived by man by means of colors and their origin, I do not know how it can be set forth to his apprehension.
 The nature of this " cloud" with the regenerate man may be seen from his state before regeneration. Man is regenerated through what he supposes to be truths of faith. Every one supposes his own dogma to be true, and from this he acquires a conscience, for which reason after he has acquired a conscience, to act contrary to what has been impressed upon him as truths of faith, is to him contrary to conscience. Such is every regenerated man. For many are regenerated by the Lord in every dogma, and when they have been regenerated they do not receive any immediate revelation, but only what is insinuated into them through the Word and the preaching of the Word. But because they receive charity, the Lord works through charity upon their cloud, from which there springs light, as when the sun strikes a cloud, which then becomes more luminous and is variegated with colors. Thus also there arises in the cloud the likeness of a bow. The thinner the cloud, that is, the more numerous are the intermingled truths of faith of which it consists, the more beautiful is the bow. But the denser the cloud, that is, the fewer the truths of faith of which it consists, the less beautiful is the bow. Innocence adds much to its beauty, giving as it were a living brightness to the colors.
 All appearances of truth are clouds in which man is when he is in the sense of the letter of the Word, for the language of the Word is according to appearances. But when he believes the Word with simplicity, and has charity, even though he remains in appearances, this cloud is comparatively thin. It is in this cloud that conscience is formed by the Lord with a man who is within the church. All ignorances of truth are also clouds, in which man is when he does not know what the truth of faith is; in general, when he does not know what the Word is, and still more when he has not heard about the Lord. In this cloud conscience is formed by the Lord with a man who is outside the church; for in his very ignorance there may be innocence, and thus charity. All falsities also are clouds; but these clouds are darkness, and are either with those who have a false conscience described elsewhere-or with those who have none. These are, in general, the qualities of clouds. As regards their mass, there are with man clouds so great and so dense that if he knew of them, he would wonder that rays of light could ever shine through from the Lord, and that man could be regenerated. He who supposes himself to have the least cloud, has sometimes a very great one; and he who believes that he has very much cloud, has less.
 There are such clouds with the spiritual man, but not so great with the celestial, because he has love to the Lord implanted in his will part, and therefore receives from the Lord, not conscience, as does the spiritual man, but perception of good and thence of truth. When man‘s will part is such that it can receive the rays of celestial Same, then his intellectual part is enlightened thereby, and from love he knows and perceives all things that are truths of faith. His will part is then like a little sun, from which rays shine into his intellectual part. Such was the man of the Most Ancient Church. But when man’s will part is wholly corrupt and infernal, and therefore a new will, which is conscience, is formed in his intellectual part (as was the case with the man of the Ancient Church, and is so with every regenerated man of the spiritual church), then his cloud is dense, for he needs to learn what is good and true, and has no perception whether it is so. Then also falsity continually flows in (which is the darkness of cloud) from his black will part, that is, through it from hell. This is the reason why the intellectual part can never be enlightened in the spiritual man as it is in the celestial. Hence it is that the "cloud" here signifies the obscure light in which the spiritual man is in comparison with the celestial.
AC 1044. And it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. That this signifies a sign of the presence of the Lord in charity, and that the "earth" here denotes the Own of man, is evident from what has been already said. That the "earth" signifies the Own of man, is evident also from the internal sense and from the connection in which it here occurs. For it was said before: "this is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living soul that is with you," by which was signified whatever has been regenerated. But here it is said, differently "it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth." From this, and also from the repetition of the words "sign of a covenant," it is plain that here something else is signified, and in fact that the "earth" means that which is not and can not be regenerated, which is the Own of man‘s will part.
 For man when regenerated is as to the intellectual part the Lord’s, but as to his will part is his own, these two parts in the spiritual man being opposed. But though the will part of man is opposed, yet it cannot but be present for all the obscurity in his intellectual part, or all the density of his cloud, is from it. It continually flows in from it, and in proportion as it flows in, the aloud in his intellectual part is thickened; but in proportion as it is removed, the cloud is made thin. Thus it is that by the "earth" is here signified the Own of man. (That by the "earth" is signified the corporeal part of man, as well as many other things, has been shown before.)
 This condition of things between the will and the understanding is as if two who were formerly conjoined by a covenant of friendship, as were the will and the understanding in the man of the Most Ancient Church, had their friendship broken, and enmity had arisen-as took place when man wholly corrupted his will part-and then when a covenant is again entered into, the hostile part is set forth as if the covenant were with it, but it is not with it, because it is utterly opposite and contrary, but it is with that which flows in from it-as already said-that is, with the Own of the understanding. The "token" or " sign" of the covenant is this, that in proportion as there is the presence of the Lord in the Own of the understanding, in the same proportion the Own of the will be removed. The case herein is exactly as it is with heaven and hell. The intellectual part of the regenerated man, from charity, in which the Lord is present, is heaven; his will part is hell. So far as the Lord is present in this heaven, so far is this hell removed. For of himself man is in hell, and of the Lord is in heaven. And man is being continually uplifted from hell into heaven, and so far as he is uplifted, so far his hell is removed. The "sign" therefore, or indication, that the Lord is present, is that man‘s will part is being removed. The possibility of its removal is effected by means of temptations, and by many other means of regeneration.
AC 1045. What has now been presented regards the regenerated spiritual man, or the spiritual church. What is to follow regards all men in general; and afterwards, specifically, the man who can be regenerated. GENESIS 9:12-13 previous - next - text - summary - Genesis - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|