Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 9:22
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AC 1075. Verse 22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. "Ham" and "Canaan" have the same signification here as before; "Ham," the church corrupted; "Canaan," worship in externals without internal worship; "saw the nakedness of his father," signifies that he observed the errors and perversions mentioned above; "and told his two brethren without," signifies that he derided. They are called his "brethren" because he professed faith.

AC 1076. That "Ham" signifies the church corrupted, is evident from what has been said before about Ham. A church is said to be corrupted when it acknowledges the Word and has a certain worship like that of a true church, but yet separates faith from charity, thus from its essential and from its life, whereby faith becomes a kind of dead affair; the result of which necessarily is that the church is corrupted. What the men of the church then become, is evident from the consideration that they can have no conscience; for conscience that is really conscience cannot possibly exist except from charity. Charity is what makes conscience, that is, the Lord through charity. What else is conscience than not to do evil to any one in anyway; that is, to do well to all in every way? Thus conscience belongs to charity, and never to faith separated from charity. If such persons have any conscience, it is a false conscience (concerning which see above); and because they are without conscience, they rush into all wickedness, so far as outward bonds are relaxed. They do not even know what charity is, except that it is a word significant of something. And as they are without charity, they do not know what faith is. When questioned, they can only answer that it is a kind of thinking; some, that it is confidence; others, that it is the knowledges of faith; a few, that it is life according to these knowledges, and scarcely any that it is a life of charity or of mutual love. And if this is said to them, and opportunity is given them for reflection, they answer only that all love begins from self, and that he is worse than a heathen who does not take care of himself and his own family. They therefore study nothing but themselves and the world. Hence it comes to pass that they live in their Own, the nature of which has been described before. These are they who are called "Ham."

AC 1077. That they who are here called "Ham," and "Canaan," that is, those who separate faith from charity and hence make worship consist in externals alone, cannot know what and whence is conscience, needs to be briefly shown. Conscience is formed by means of the truths of faith, for that which a man has heard, acknowledged, and believed makes the conscience in him; and afterwards to act contrary to this is to him to act contrary to conscience, as may be sufficiently evident to every one; so that unless it is the truths of faith that a man hears, acknowledges, and believes, he cannot possibly have a true conscience. For it is through the truths of faith (the Lord working in charity) that man is regenerated, and therefore it is through the truths of faith that he receives conscience, conscience being the new man himself. From this it is evident that the truths of faith are the means by which this may take place, that is, that the man may live according to what faith teaches, the principal of which is to love the Lord above all things, and the neighbor as himself. If he does not so live, what is his faith but an empty affair, and a mere high-sounding word, or a thing that is separated from heavenly life, and in which when thus separated there is no possible salvation?

[2] For to believe that no matter how a man lives, he may yet be saved provided he has faith, is to say that he may be saved if he has no charity, and no conscience (that is, if he passes his life in hatred, revenge, robbery, adultery, in a word, in all things contrary to charity and conscience) provided only that he has faith, even if it be but at the hour of death. Let such persons consider, when they are in such a false principle, what truth of faith there is that can form their conscience, and whether it be not what is false. If they suppose that they have anything of conscience, it must be only outward bonds--such as fear of the law, of loss of honor, of gain, or of reputation for the sake of these--that make, with them, what they call conscience, and which lead them not to injure the neighbor, but to do him good. But as this is not conscience, because not charity, therefore when these restraints are loosened or taken away, such persons rush into most wicked and obscene things. Very different is the case with those who, although they have declared that faith alone saves, have still lived a life of charity; for in their faith there has been charity from the Lord.

AC 1078. That the "father of Canaan" signifies worship in externals without internal worship, has been stated before. From faith separated from charity no other worship can come forth; for the internal man is charity, never faith without charity; so that he who is destitute of charity can have no other worship than external worship without internal. And because such worship comes forth from faith separated from charity, Ham is called "the father of Canaan," and in what follows Ham is not treated of, but Canaan.

AC 1079. Saw the nakedness of his father. That this signifies that he observed the errors and perversions, is evident from the signification of "nakedness", concerning which see just above, and also before at (n. 213, 214), as being what is evil and perverted. Here, those who are in faith separated from charity are described by "Ham," in his "seeing the nakedness of his father," that is, his errors and perversions for they who are of this character see nothing else in a man; whereas--very differently--those who are in the faith of charity observe what is good, and if they see anything evil and false, they excuse it, and if they can, try to amend it in him, as is here said of Shem and Japheth. Where there is no charity, there there is the love of self, and therefore hatred against all who do not favor self. Consequently such persons see in the neighbor only what is evil, and if they see anything good, they either perceive it as nothing, or put a bad interpretation upon it. It is just the other way with those who are in charity. By this difference these two kinds of men are distinguished from one another, especially when they come into the other life; for then with those who are in no charity, the feeling of hatred shines forth from every single thing; they desire to examine every one, and even to judge him; nor do they desire anything more than to find out what is evil, constantly cherishing the disposition to condemn, punish, and torment. But they who are in charity scarcely see the evil of another, but observe all his goods and truths, and put a good interpretation on what is evil and false. Such are all the angels, which they have from the Lord, who bends all evil into good.

AC 1080. And told his two brethren without. That this signifies that he derided, follows as a consequence from what has been said. For with those who are in no charity, there is continual contempt for others, or continual derision, and on every occasion a publishing of their errors. That they do not act openly, is solely owing to the restraining influence of external bonds, namely, fear of the law, of loss of life, of honor, of gain, and of reputation, on their account; and this is why they inwardly cherish such things, while outwardly they pretend friendship. In this way they acquire two spheres, which are plainly perceived in the other life: the one, interior, full of hatreds; the other, exterior, simulative of what is good. These spheres, being as they are utterly discordant, cannot but be in conflict with each other; and therefore when the exterior sphere is taken away from them, so that they cannot dissemble, they rush into all wickedness; and when it is not taken away, hatred lurks in every word they utter; and this is perceived. From this come their punishments and torments.

AC 1081. That they are called his "brethren" because he professed faith, is evident from what has been shown above (n. 367), namely, that charity is the brother of faith.

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