Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 9:21
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AC 1070. Verse 21. And he drank of the wine and was drunken; and he was uncovered in the midst of his tent. "And he drank of the wine," signifies that he desired to investigate the things which are of faith; "and was drunken," signifies that he thereby fell into errors; "and he was uncovered in the midst of his tent," signifies the consequent perverted things; the "midst of a tent," is the principal of faith.

AC 1071. And he drank of the wine. That this signifies that he desired to investigate the things which are of faith, is evident from the signification of "wine." The "vineyard," or the "vine," as has been shown, is the spiritual church, or the man of the spiritual church; the "grape," "bunches," and clusters" are its fruit, and signify charity and what is of charity. But "wine" signifies the faith thence derived, and all things that belong to it. Thus the "grape" is the celestial of that church, and the "wine" is the spiritual of that church. The former, or the celestial, is of the will, as has been said before the latter, or the spiritual, is of the understanding. That his "drinking of the wine" signifies that he desired to investigate the things of faith, and this by reasonings, is evident from his becoming drunken, that is, fallen into errors. For the man of this church had no perception, as had the man of the Most Ancient Church, but had to learn what was good and true from the doctrinal things of faith collected and preserved from the perception the Most Ancient Church, which doctrinal things were the Word of the Ancient Church. Like the Word, the doctrinal things of faith were in many cases such as without perception could not be believed; for spiritual and celestial things infinitely transcend human apprehension, and hence arises reasoning. But he who will not believe them until he apprehends them, can never believe, as has been often shown before. (n. 128-130, 195, 196, 215, 232, 233).

[2] That "grapes" in the Word signify charity and what is of charity, and that "wine" signifies the faith thence derived and the things that belong to it, is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:

My beloved had a vineyard in a horn of the son of oil, and he that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes (Isaiah 5:1, 2, 4),

where grapes" denote charity and its fruits. In Jeremiah:--

Gathering I will gather them, saith Jehovah there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig-tree (Jeremiah 7:13),

where the "vine" denotes the spiritual church; "grapes" charity. In Hosea:--

I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree, at the beginning (Hosea 9:10).

"Israel" denotes the Ancient Church,; "grapes," its being endued with charity. The sense is opposite when "Israel" denotes the sons of Jacob. In Micah:--

There is no cluster to eat; my soul desireth the first-ripe fig. The holy man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men (Micah 7:1).

"Cluster" denotes charity, or what is holy; "first-ripe fig" faith, or what is right.

[3] In Isaiah:--

Thus saith Jehovah, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it (Isaiah 65:8)

where "cluster" denotes charity, and "new wine" the goods of charity and the truths thence derived. In Moses:--

He washed His garment in wine, and His vesture in the blood of grapes (Gen. 49:11);

a prophecy relating to the Lord. "Wine" denotes the spiritual from the celestial, the "blood of grapes" the celestial relatively to spiritual churches. Thus "grapes" denote charity itself, "wine" faith itself. In John:--

The angel said, Put forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe (Rev. 14:18).

Here the subject is the last times when there is no faith, that is, when there is no charity; for faith is no other than of charity, and essentially is charity itself; so that when it is said that there is no longer any faith, as in the last times, it is meant that there is no charity.

[4] As "grapes" signify charity, so "wine" signifies the faith thence derived, for wine is from grapes. This will be evident from the passages already cited about the vineyard and the vine, and also from the following. In Isaiah:--

Gladness is taken away, and exultation, from Carmel; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither joyful noise; no treader shall tread out wide in the presses; I have made the vintage shout to cease (Isaiah 16:10),

meaning that the spiritual church, which is "Carmel," is vastated; "not treading out wine in the presses," means that there are no longer any who are in faith. Again:--

The inhabitants of the earth are burned, and man shall be left feeble the new wine shall mourn, the vine shall languish; they shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it; there is a crying in the streets because of the wine (Isaiah 24:6, 7, 9, 11).

The subject here is the vastated church, and "wine" denotes the truths of faith, there held to be of no value. In Jeremiah:--

They will say to their mothers, where is the corn and the wine? when they faint as one wounded in the streets of the city (Lam. 2:12).

"Where is the corn and the wine," signifies where is love and faith; the "streets of the city," signify here, as elsewhere in the Word, truths; "being wounded in them," signifies not to know what the truths of faith are.

[5] In Amos:--

I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof (Amos 9:14).

This is said of the spiritual church, or "Israel," of which planting vineyards and drinking the wine thereof is predicated, when it becomes such as to have faith from charity. In Zephaniah:--

They shall build houses, but shall not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but shall not drink the wine thereof (Zephaniah 1:13; Amos 5:11).

Here is described the opposite condition, when the spiritual church is vastated. In Zechariah:--

They shall be as the mighty Ephraim, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine yea, their sons shall see it and be glad (Zechariah 10:7);

said of the house of Judah, that it should be such from the goods and truths of faith. In John:--

That they were not to hurt the oil and the wine (Rev. 6:6),

meant that no injury is to be done to the celestial and the spiritual, or to what is of love and faith.

[6] As "wine" signified faith in the Lord, in the Jewish Church faith was represented in the sacrifices by a libation of wine (Num. 15:2-15; 28:11-15, 18-31; 29:7-39; Lev. 23:12, 13; Exod. 29:40). Wherefore it is said in Hosea:--

The threshing-floor and the wine-press shall not feed them, and the new wine shall deceive therein they shall not dwell in the land of Jehovah; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat what is unclean in Assyria they shall not pour out wine to Jehovah, neither shall (their libations) he pleasing to Him (Hosea 9:2-4).

Here the subject is Israel, or the spiritual church, and those in it who pervert and defile the holy and true things of faith by desiring to investigate them by means of knowledges and reasonings. "Egypt" is memory-knowledge, "Assyria" reasoning, "Ephraim" one who reasons.

AC 1072. And was drunken. That this signifies that he thereby fell into errors, is evident from the signification of a "drunkard" in the Word. They are called "drunkards" who believe nothing but what they apprehend, and for this reason search into the mysteries of faith. And because this is done by means of sensuous things, either of memory or of philosophy, man being what he is, cannot but fall thereby into errors. For man‘s thought is merely earthly, corporeal, and material, because it is from earthly, corporeal, and material things, which cling constantly to it, and in which the ideas of his thought are based and terminated. To think and reason therefore from these concerning Divine things, is to bring one’s self into errors and perversions; and it is as impossible to procure faith in this way as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. The error and insanity from this source are called in the Word "drunkenness." Indeed the souls or spirits who in the other life reason about the truths of faith and against them, become like drunken men and act like them; concerning whom, of the Lord‘s Divine mercy hereafter.

[2] Spirits are perfectly well distinguished from each other, as to whether they are in the faith of charity or not. Those who are in the faith of charity do not reason about the truths of faith, but say that the thing is so, and also as far as possible confirm it by things of sense and of memory, and by the analysis of reason; but as soon as anything obscure comes in their way the truth of which they do not perceive, they defer it, and never suffer such a thing to bring them into doubt, saying that there are but very few things they can apprehend, and therefore to think that anything is not true because they do not apprehend it, would be madness. These are they who are in charity. But--on the contrary--those who are not in the faith of charity desire merely to reason whether a thing be so, and to know how it is, saying that unless they can know how it is, they cannot believe it to be so. From this alone they are known at once as being in no faith, a mark of which is that they not only doubt concerning all things, but also deny in their hearts; and when they are instructed how the case is, they still cling to their disbelief and start all kinds of objections, and never acquiesce, were it to eternity. Those who thus persist in their contumacy heap errors upon errors.

[3] These, or such as these, are they who are called in the Word "drunken with wine or strong drink." As in Isaiah:--

These err through wine, and through strong drink are gone astray; the priest and the prophet err through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are gone astray through strong drink; they err in vision; all tables are full of vomit and filthiness. Whom will He teach knowledge? and whom will He make to understand the report? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts (Isaiah 28:7-9).

That such are meant here is evident. Again:--

How say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? where then are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now; Jehovah hath mingled a spirit of perversities in the midst of her; and they have caused Egypt to go astray in every work thereof, as a drunken man goeth astray in his vomit (Isaiah 19:11, 12, 14).

A "drunken man" here denotes those who desire, from memory-knowledges (scientifica), to investigate spiritual and celestial things. "Egypt" signifies these knowledges, and therefore calls itself the "son of the wise." In Jeremiah:--

Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more (Jeremiah 25:27),

meaning falsities.

[4] In David:--

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and all their wisdom is swallowed up (Ps. 107:27).

In Isaiah:--

Come ye, I will take wine, and we will be drunken with strong drink; and there shall be to-morrow, as this day, great abundance (Isaiah 56:12),

said of what is contrary to the truths of faith. In Jeremiah:--

Every bottle shall be filled with wine all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness (Jeremiah 13:12, 13);

"wine" denotes faith; "drunkenness" errors. In Joel:--

Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth for a nation is come up upon My land; he hath laid My vine waste (Joel 1:5-7),

said of the church when vastated as to the truths of faith. In John:--

Babylon hath made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. They that dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her fornication (Rev. 14:8, 10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3; 19:15).

The "wine of fornication" means adulterated truths of faith, of which "drunkenness" is predicated. So in Jeremiah:--

Babylon hath been a golden cup in the hand of Jehovah, that made all the earth drunken; the nations have drunk of her wine, therefore the nations are mad (Jeremiah 51:7).

[5] Because "drunkenness" signified insanities about the truths of faith, it also became representative and was forbidden to Aaron and his sons, thus:--

Drink no wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting, that ye die not; that ye may put a difference between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean (Lev. 10:8, 9).

Those who believe nothing but what they apprehend by things of sense and memory (scientifica) are also called "heroes to drink." In Isaiah:--

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and intelligent before their own faces woe unto them that are heroes to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink! (Isaiah 5:21, 22).

They are called "wise in their own eyes and intelligent before their own faces," because those who reason against the truths of faith think themselves wiser than others.

[6] But those who care nothing for the Word and the truths of faith, and thus are not willing to know anything about faith, denying its first principles, are called "drunken without wine." In Isaiah:--

They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink; for Jehovah hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes (Isaiah 29:9, 10).

That such is their quality is evident from what goes before and what follows, in that Prophet. Such "drunken men" think themselves more wide awake than others, but they are in deep sleep. That the Ancient Church in the beginning was such as is described in this verse, especially those who were of the stock of the Most Ancient Church, is evident from what has been said before (n. 788).

AC 1073. And he was uncovered in the midst of his tent. That this signifies things thereby perverted, is evident from the signification of "uncovered," that is, naked. For he is called "uncovered and naked from the drunkenness of wine," in whom there are no truths of faith, and still more so is he in whom they are perverted. The truths of faith themselves are compared to garments which cover the goods of charity, or charity itself; for charity is the body itself, and therefore truths are its garments; or what amounts to the same thing, charity is the soul itself and the truths of faith are as the body, which is the clothing of the soul. The truths of faith are also called in the Word "garments," and a "covering," and therefore it is said in (verse 23) that Shem and Japheth took a garment and covered the nakedness of their father. Spiritual things relatively to celestial are as a body that clothes the soul, or as garments that clothe the body; and in heaven they are represented by garments. In this verse, because it is said that he lay uncovered, it is signified that he stripped himself of the truths of faith by desiring to investigate them by means of the things of sense and by reasonings therefrom. The like is signified in the Word by lying naked from drunkenness with wine, as in Jeremiah:--

Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz; the cup shall pass through unto thee also; thou shalt be drunken, and shalt make thyself naked (Lam. 4:21).

And in Habakkuk:--

Woe unto him that maketh his companion drink, and also maketh him drunken, in order to look upon their nakednesses (Habakkuk 2:15).

AC 1074. That "the midst of a tent" signifies the principal of faith, is evident from the signification of the "midst," and from that of a "tent." In the Word the "midst" signifies the inmost, and a "tent" charity, or worship from charity. Charity is the inmost, that is, is the principal of faith and of worship, and thus is "the midst of the tent." (That the "midst" signifies the inmost, has been shown before, and that a "tent" is the holy of love, that is, is charity, may be seen above, (n. 414).

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