Spiritual Meaning of GENESIS 9:4
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AC 998. Verse 4. Only the flesh with the soul thereof, the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. "Flesh" signifies the will part of man; the "soul" signifies the new life; the "blood" signifies charity; "not to eat" signifies not to mingle together; wherefore by "not eating flesh with the soul thereof, the blood thereof," is meant not mingling profane things with holy.

AC 999. That "flesh" signifies the will part of man, is evident from the signification of "flesh" in its proper sense in reference to man when corrupt. "Flesh," in general, signifies the whole man, and specifically the corporeal man, as may be seen above (n. 574); and since it signifies the whole man, and specifically the corporeal man, it signifies what is proper to man, consequently his will part. Man’s will part, or will, is nothing but evil; and therefore "flesh," predicated of man, because he is such, signifies all cupidity, or all concupiscence, for man‘s will is nothing but cupidity, as occasionally shown before. And because "flesh" has this signification, such was also the representation of the flesh which the people lusted after in the desert- as in Moses:--

The mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting; whence they wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? (Num. 11:4).

Here flesh is plainly called lust, for it is said that they fell a lusting, saying, Who shall give us flesh? The same is likewise evident from what follows:--

While the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the anger of Jehovah was kindled against the people, and Jehovah smote the people with a very great plague; and the name of that place was called the Graves of Lust, because there they buried the people that lusted (Numbers 11:33, 34).

[2] It must be evident to every one that such a plague would never have been sent among the people on account of their lusting after flesh, thus not on account of a lust for flesh, since this is natural when a man has been kept from eating it for a long time, as the people then had in the wilderness. But a deeper reason lies hidden, which is spiritual, namely, that the people were of such a nature as to loathe what was signified and represented by the manna - as is evident also from (verse 6)-and to desire only such things as were signified and represented by "flesh," the things of their own will, which are of those of cupidities, and in themselves are excrementitious and profane. It was because that church was representative, from the representation of such things, that the people were afflicted with so great a plague; for what was done among the people was represented spiritually in heaven. The manna represented in heaven what is heavenly, and the flesh which they lusted after, the unclean things of their own will. For this reason, because they were of such a nature, they were punished. From these and other passages in the Word, it is evident that by "flesh" is signified what is of the will, and here of the will of man, the uncleanness of which may be seen under (verse 2) of this chapter, where the beast of the earth is treated of.

AC 1000. That the "soul" signifies life, is evident from the signification of "soul" in the Word, in many places. "Soul" in the Word signifies in general all life, as well internal, or that of the internal man, as external, or that of the external man. And because it signifies all life, it signifies such life as is that of the man of whom the soul is predicated. Here it is predicated of the life of the regenerate man, which is separate from man’s will; for, as already said, the new life which the regenerate spiritual man receives from the Lord is entirely separate from the will or Own of the man, that is, from the life that is his own, which is not life, though so called, but is death, because it is infernal life. Here therefore "flesh with the soul thereof," which they should not eat, signifies flesh together with its soul; that is, they should not mingle this new life, which is of the Lord, with the evil or excrementitious life which is of man, that is, with his will or Own.

AC 1001. That the "blood" signifies charity, is evident from many things. Thus it signifies the new will part which the regenerate spiritual man receives from the Lord, and which is the same as charity, for the new will is formed of charity. Charity or love is the very essential or life of the will, for no one can say that he wills anything, except from choosing or loving it. To say that one thinks a thing is not to will it, unless willing is in the thought. This new will which is of charity is here the "blood," and this will is not the man‘s, but the Lord’s in the man. And because it is the Lord‘s, it is never to be mingled with the things of man’s will, and which are so foul, as has been shown. For this reason it was commanded in the representative church that they should not eat flesh with the soul or blood thereof, that is, should not mingle the two together.

[2] The "blood," because it signified charity, signified what is holy; and the "flesh," because it signified man‘s will, signified what is profane. And because these things are separate, being contrary, they were forbidden to eat blood; for by eating flesh with the blood was then represented in heaven profanation, or the mingling of what is sacred with what is profane; and this representation in heaven could not then but strike the angels with horror; for at that time all things existing with the man of the church were turned, among the angels, into corresponding spiritual representations, in accordance with the signification of the things in the internal sense. As the nature of all things is determined by that of the man of whom they are predicated, so also is the signification of "blood." Relatively to the regenerate spiritual man, "blood" signifies charity, or love toward the neighbor; relatively to the regenerate celestial man it signifies love to the Lord; but relatively to the Lord it signifies all His Human essence, consequently Love itself, that is, His mercy toward the human race. Hence "blood," in general, because it signifies love and what is of love, signifies celestial things, which are of the Lord alone; and thus relatively to man the celestial things which he receives from the Lord. The celestial things which the regenerate spiritual man receives from the Lord, are celestial spiritual-of which, by the Divine mercy of the Lord, elsewhere.

[3] That "blood" signifies what is celestial, and in the supreme sense signified the Human essence of the Lord, thus love itself, or His mercy toward the human race, is evident from the sanctity in which it was commanded that blood should be held in the Jewish representative church. For this reason blood was called the blood of the covenant, and was sprinkled upon the people, as also upon Aaron and his sons, together with the anointing oil; and the blood of every burnt-offering and sacrifice was sprinkled upon and around the altar (Exod. 12:7, 13, 22, 23; 24:6, 8; Lev. 1:5, 11, 15; 4:6, 7, 17, 18, 25, 30, 34; 5:9; 16:14, 15, 18, 19; Num. 18:17; Deut. 12:27).

[4] And because blood was held so sacred and man’s will is so profane, the eating of blood was severely prohibited, on account of its representation of the profanation of what is holy. As in Moses:--

It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that ye shall eat neither fat nor blood (Lev. 3:17).

"Fat" here denotes celestial life, and "blood" celestial spiritual life. The celestial spiritual is the spiritual which is from the celestial; as in the Most Ancient Church love to the Lord was their celestial, because implanted in their will; their celestial spiritual was the faith therefrom, of which see above (n. 30-38, 337, 393, 398). With the spiritual man, however, the celestial does not exist, but the celestial spiritual, because charity has been implanted in his intellectual part. Again in Moses:--

Whosoever of the house of Israel, or of the sojourner sojourning among them, eateth any manner of blood, I will set My faces against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people; for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul. The soul of all flesh, it is the blood thereof; whosoever eateth it shall be cut off (Lev. 17:10, 11, 14).

Here it is plainly shown that the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and that the soul of the flesh is the blood, or the celestial, that is, the holy, which is the Lord‘s.

[5] Again:--

Be sure that thou eat not the blood; for the blood is the soul, and thou shalt not eat the soul with the flesh (Deut. 12:23-25).

From this passage also it is evident that the blood is called the soul, that is, celestial life, or the celestial, which was represented by the burnt-offerings and sacrifices of that church. And in the same way, that what is celestial, which is the Lord’s Own (Domini Proprium) - which alone is celestial and holy, was not to be commingled with that which is man‘s own, which is profane-was also represented by the command that they should not sacrifice or offer the blood of the sacrifice on what was leavened (Exod. 23:18; 34:25). What was leavened signified what is corrupt and defiled. That blood is called the soul and signifies the holy of charity, and that the holy of love was represented in the Jewish Church by blood, is because the life of the body consists in the blood. And as the life of the body consists in the blood, this is its ultimate soul, so that the blood may be said to be the corporeal soul, or that in which is the corporeal life of man; and inasmuch as in the representative churches internal things were represented by external, the soul or celestial life was represented by the blood.

AC 1002. Shall ye not eat. That this signifies not to mingle together, follows from what has just been said. Eating the flesh of animals, regarded in itself, is something profane, for in the most ancient time they never ate the flesh of any beast or bird, but only seeds, especially bread made from wheat, also the fruit of trees, vegetables, various milks and what was made from them, such as various butters. To kill animals and eat their flesh was to them a wickedness, and like wild beasts. They took from them only service and use, as is evident from (Genesis 1:29, 30). But in process of time, when men began to be as fierce as wild beasts, and even fiercer, they then for the first time began to kill animals and eat their flesh; and because such was man’s nature, it was permitted him to do this, and is still permitted, to this day; and so far as he does it from conscience, so far it is lawful for him, since his conscience is formed of all that he supposes to be true and thus lawful. No one therefore is at this day condemned because of eating flesh.

AC 1003. From these things it is now evident that "not to eat flesh with the soul thereof, the blood thereof," is not to mingle profane things with holy. Profane things are not mingled with holy by one‘s eating blood with flesh, as the Lord clearly teaches in Matthew:--

Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man for the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart (Matthew 15:11, 18-20).

But in the Jewish Church it was forbidden because, as has been said, by the eating of blood with the flesh there was then in heaven represented profanation. All things done in that church were turned in heaven into corresponding representatives-blood into the holy celestial; flesh, outside of the sacrifices, because it signified cupidities, into what is profane; and the eating of both into the mingling of the holy with the profane. For this reason it was then so severely interdicted. But after the coming of the Lord, when external rites were abolished, and thus representatives ceased, such things were no longer turned in heaven into corresponding representatives. For when man becomes internal and is instructed about internal things, external ones are of no account to him. He then knows what the holy is, namely, charity and the faith therefrom. According to these are his external things then regarded, that is to say, according to the amount of charity and faith in the Lord there is in them. Since the coming of the Lord, therefore, man is not regarded in heaven from external things, but from internal ones. And if any one is regarded from external things it is because he is in simplicity, and in his simplicity there are innocence and charity, which are in his external things, that is, in his external worship, from the Lord, without the man’s knowledge.

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