Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 9:24-25
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AC 1089. Verse 24. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. "And Noah awoke from his wine," signifies when he was better instructed; "and knew what his younger son had done unto him," signifies that external worship separate from internal is such that it derides.

AC 1090. And Noah awoke from his wine. That this signifies when he was better instructed, is evident from the signification of "awaking" after drunkenness. When he was "drunken" (verse 21) it signified that he had fallen into errors, and therefore his "awaking" is nothing else than coming out of errors.

AC 1091. What his younger son had done unto him. This signifies that external worship separate from internal is such that it derides. From the literal or historic sense it appears as if Ham were meant by his younger son, but from the following verse it is evident that Canaan is meant, for it is said, "Cursed be Canaan," and in the subsequent (verses 26 and 27), it is said that Canaan should be a servant. The reason nothing is said of Ham will be explained under the next verse. Here we shall merely mention why the order is such that Shem is named first, Ham second, Japheth third, and Canaan fourth. Charity is the first of the church, or Shem; faith is the second, or Ham; worship from charity is the third, or Japheth; worship in externals without faith and charity is the fourth, or Canaan. Charity is the brother of faith, and therefore so also is worship from charity; but worship in externals without charity is "a servant of servants."

AC 1092. Verse 25. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren. "Cursed be Canaan," signifies that external worship separate from internal averts itself from the Lord; "a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren," signifies the vilest thing in the church.

AC 1093. Cursed be Canaan. That this signifies that external worship separate from internal averts itself from the Lord, is evident from the signification of "Canaan" and from that of "being cursed." That "Canaan" is external worship separate from internal, is evident from what has been said before about Canaan, and also from his being said to be "cursed," and from what follows about his being a servant of servants; moreover one who is a servant to both Shem and Japheth cannot signify anything else than something that is separated from the church itself, such as is worship in externals alone. This is evident from the signification of being "cursed," as being to avert oneĎs self, because the Lord never curses any one, nor is even angry; but it is man who curses himself by averting himself from the Lord. See what was stated and shown above, (n. 223, 245, 592). The Lord is as far from cursing any one and being angry with him as heaven is from earth. Who can believe that the Lord, who is omniscient and omnipotent, and by His wisdom rules the universe, and is thus infinitely above all infirmities, is angry with such wretched dust as men, who scarcely know anything of what they do, and can of themselves do nothing but evil? It is, therefore, never possible for the Lord to be angry, or be other than merciful.

[2] That arcana are here contained, may be seen merely from this, that Ham is not cursed, when yet it was he who saw the nakedness of his father and told it to his brethren, but his son Canaan, who was not his only son nor his firstborn, but the fourth in order, as is evident from (Genesis 10:6), where the sons of Ham are named Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. It was also of the Divine Law that a son should not bear the iniquity of his father, as is evident in Ezekiel:--

The soul that sinneth, it shall die the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son (Ezekiel 18:20; Deut. 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6).

The same appears also from the consideration that this iniquity seems so light (that is to say, Hamís seeing the nakedness of his father and telling it to his brethren), that a whole posterity could not be cursed for it. From all this it is evident that there are arcana contained here.

[3] That "Ham" is not now named, but "Canaan," is because "Ham" signifies faith separated from charity in the spiritual church; and this cannot be cursed, since in that church there is holiness in faith, because there is truth. Hence although there is no faith when there is no charity, still as man is regenerated by means of the knowledges of faith, this faith without charity may be joined to charity, and thus is in a certain sense a brother, or may become a brother; therefore not Ham but Canaan was cursed. Furthermore, the inhabitants of the land of Canaan were in great part of such a nature that they made all worship consist in externals, the Jews as well as the Gentiles. Such are the arcana here contained, and unless this were so, Canaan would never have been substituted in place of Ham. That external worship separated from internal averts itself and thus curses itself, is sufficiently evident from the consideration that those who are in external worship regard nothing but what is worldly, corporeal, and earthly; thus they look downward, and immerse their minds and their life in these things, of which we shall have more to say presently.

AC 1094. A servant of servants shall he be to his brethren. That this signifies the vilest thing in the church, is evident from the nature of external worship when separated from internal. That, regarded in itself, external worship is nothing, unless there he internal worship to make it holy, must be evident to every one. For what is external adoration, without adoration of the heart, but a gesture? Or what is prayer of the lips, if the mind is not in it, but mere babbling? And what is any work, if there is no intention in it, but a thing of nought? So that in itself every external thing is an inanimate affair, and lives solely from what is internal.

[2] The nature of external worship when separated from what is internal, has been made evident to me from many things in the other life. The sorceresses there had in the world frequented churches and the sacraments equally with others; and so had the deceitful, in fact these had done so more than others; and so also had those who had been delighted with robbery, and the avaricious; and yet they are infernals, and bear the greatest hatred against the Lord and the neighbor. Their internal worship in external had been either that they might be seen by the world; or that they might gain worldly, earthly, and corporeal things which they desired; or that they might deceive under the appearance of sanctity; or from a certain acquired habit. That such persons are very prone to adore any god or any idol that favors them and their desires is very manifest, especially from the Jews, who in consequence of making their worship to consist in nothing but externals, so often lapsed into idolatry. The reason is that such worship is in itself merely idolatrous, for the external is what is worshiped by them.

[3] The Gentiles also in the land of Canaan, who worshiped Baal and other gods, had a nearly similar external worship; for they had not only temples and altars, but also sacrifices; so that their external worship differed but little from the worship of the Jews, except that they gave the names of Baal, Ashtaroth, and others, to their god; and the Jews gave to him the name Jehovah, as is the case also at this day, for they suppose that the mere naming of Jehovah will make them holy and elect; when yet this has tended rather to condemn them more than others; for in this way they have been able to profane what is holy, which the Gentiles cannot do. Such worship is what is called "Canaan," who is said to be a "servant of servants." That a "servant of servants" denotes the vilest thing in the church, may be seen in the following verse.

GENESIS 9:24-25    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Genesis  -  Full Page

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