Sacred Texts  Swedenborg  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1749-56], tr. by John F. Potts [1905-10], at

Arcana Coelestia


A certain spirit, who during his life in the body had possessed authority, retained in the other life the desire to exercise command. But he was told that he was now in another kingdom, which is eternal; that his rule on earth was dead; and that where he was now no one is held in estimation except in accordance with the good and truth, and the mercy of the Lord, in which he is; and further, that it is in that kingdom as it is on earth, where everyone is rated according to his wealth, and his favor with his sovereign; and that there good and truth are wealth, and favor with the sovereign is the Lord's mercy; and that if he desired to exercise command in any other way, he was a rebel, seeing that he was now in the kingdom of another. On hearing this he was ashamed.


I have conversed with spirits who supposed heaven and heavenly joy to consist in being the greatest. But they were told that in heaven he is greatest who is least, because he who would be the least has the greatest happiness, and consequently is the greatest, for what is it to be the greatest except to be the most happy? it is this that the powerful seek by power, and the rich by riches. They were told, further, that heaven does not consist in desiring to be the least in order to be the greatest, for in that case the person is really aspiring and wishing to be the greatest; but that heaven consists in this, that from the heart we wish better for others than for ourselves, and desire to be of service to others in order to promote their happiness, and this for no selfish end, but from love.


Some entertain so gross an idea of heaven that they suppose it to be mere admission, in fact that it is a room into which they are admitted through a door, which is opened, and then they are let in by the doorkeepers.


Some think that heaven consists in a life of ease, in which they are served by others; but they are told that there is no possible happiness in being at rest as a means of happiness, for so everyone would wish to have the happiness of others made tributary to his own happiness; and when everyone wished this, no one would have happiness. Such a life would not be an active life, but an idle one, in which they would grow torpid, and yet they might know that there is no happiness except in an active life. Angelic life consists in use, and in the goods of charity; for the angels know no greater happiness than in teaching and instructing the spirits that arrive from the world; in being of service to men, controlling the evil spirits about them lest they pass the proper bounds, and inspiring the men with good; and in raising up, the dead to the life of eternity, and then, if the souls are such as to render it possible, introducing them into heaven. From all this they perceive more happiness than can possibly be described. Thus are they images of the Lord; thus do they love the neighbor more than themselves; and for this reason heaven is heaven. So that angelic happiness is in use, from use, and according to use, that is, it is according to the goods of love and of charity. When those who have the idea that heavenly joy consists in living at ease, idly breathing in eternal joy, have heard these things, they are given to perceive, in order to shame them, what such a life really is, and they perceive that it is a most sad one, that it is destructive of all joy, and that after a short time they would loathe and nauseate it.


One who in this world had been most learned in regard to the Word, had the idea that heavenly joy consists in being in a glorious light, like that which exists when the solar rays appear of a golden hue, so that he too supposed it to consist in a life of ease. In order that he might know himself to be in error, such a light was granted him, and he, being in the midst of the light, was as delighted as if he were in heaven, as indeed he said. But he could not remain long in it, for it gradually wearied him and became no joy at all.


The best instructed of them all said that heavenly joy consists solely in praising and glorifying the Lord, being a life destitute of any doing of the goods of charity, and that this is an active life. But they were told that praising and celebrating the Lord is not such an active life as is meant, but is an effect of that life; for the Lord has no need of praises, but wills that they should do the goods of charity, and that it is according to these that they will receive happiness from the Lord. But still these best instructed persons could form no idea of joy, but of servitude, in doing these goods of charity. But the angels testified that such a life is the freest of all, and that it is conjoined with happiness unutterable.


Almost all who pass from this world into the other life suppose that hell is the same for everyone, and that heaven is the same for everyone. And yet in both there are endless, diversities and varieties, and neither the heaven nor the hell of one person is ever exactly like that of another; just as no man, spirit, or angel is ever exactly like another. When I merely thought of there being two exactly alike or equal, horror was excited in the inhabitants of the world of spirits and of the angelic heaven, and they said that everyone is formed by the harmony of many components, and that such as is the harmony, such is the one, and that it is impossible for anything to subsist that is absolutely a one, but only a one that results from a harmony of component parts. Thus every society in the heavens forms a one, and so do all the societies together, that is, the universal heaven, and this from the Lord alone, through love. A certain angel enumerated the most universal only of the genera of the joys of spirits, that is, of the first heaven, to about four hundred and seventy-eight, from which we may infer how innumerable must be the less universal genera and the species in each genus. And as there are so many in that heaven, how, illimitable must be the genera of happinesses in the heaven of angelic spirits, and still more so in the heaven of angels.


Evil spirits have sometimes supposed that there is another heaven besides that of the Lord, and they have been permitted to seek for it wherever they could, but to their confusion they could never find any other heaven. For evil spirits rush into insanities both from the hatred they bear against the Lord, and from their infernal suffering, and catch at such phantasies.


There are three heavens: the first is the abode of good spirits; the second, of angelic spirits and the third, of angels. Spirits, angelic spirits, and angels are all distinguished into the celestial and the spiritual. The celestial are those who through love have received faith from the Lord, like the men of the Most Ancient Church treated of above. The spiritual are those who through knowledges of faith have received charity from the Lord, and who act from what they have received. A continuation of this subject will follow at the end of this chapter. CHAPTER 5. 1. This is the book of the births of Man. In the day that God created Man, in the likeness of God made He him. 2. Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Man, in the day when they were created. 3. And Man lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat into his likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth. 4. And the days of Man after he begat Seth were eight hundred years; and he begat sons and daughters. 5. And all the days that Man lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died. 6. And Seth lived a hundred and five years, and begat Enosh. 7. And Seth lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 8. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. 9. And Enosh lived ninety years, and begat Kenan. 10. And Enosh lived after he begat Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years; and begat sons and daughters. 11. And all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died. 12. And Kenan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalalel. 13. And Kenan lived after he begat Mahalalel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters. 14. And all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died. 15. And Mahalalel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared. 16. And Mahalalel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. 17. And all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred ninety and five years; and he died. 18. And Jared lived a hundred sixty and two years, and begat Enoch. 19. And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 20. And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years; and he died. 21. And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah. 22. And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 23. And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years. 24. And Enoch walked with God, and he was no more, for God took him. 25. And Methuselah lived a hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech. 26. And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters. 27. And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years; and he died. 28. And Lamech lived a hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son; 29. And he called his name Noah, saying, He shall comfort us from our work, and the toil of our hands, out of the ground which JEHOVAH hath cursed. 30. And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters. 31. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years; and he died. 32. And Noah was a son of five hundred years; and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.


THE CONTENTS This chapter treats specifically of the propagation of the Most Ancient Church through successive generations, almost to the flood.


The Most Ancient Church itself, which was celestial, is what is called "Man" [homo], and a "likeness of God" (verse 1).


A second church which was not so celestial as the Most Ancient Church, is called "Seth" (verses 2, 3).


A third church was called "Enosh" (verse 6); a fourth "Kenan" (verse 9); a fifth "Mahalalel" (verse 12); a sixth "Jared" (verse 15); a seventh "Enoch" (verse 18); and an eighth church "Methuselah" (verse 21).


The church called "Enoch" is described as framing doctrine from what was revealed to and perceived by the Most Ancient Church, which doctrine, although of no use at that time, was preserved for the use of posterity. This is signified by its being said that "Enoch was no more, because God took him" (verses 22-24).


A ninth church was called "Lamech" (verse 25).


A tenth, the parent of three churches after the flood, was named "Noah." This church is to be called the Ancient Church (verses 28, 29).


"Lamech" is described as retaining nothing of the perception which the Most Ancient Church enjoyed; and "Noah" is described as a new church (verse 29).


THE INTERNAL SENSE. From what has been said and shown in the foregoing chapter, it is evident that by names are signified heresies and doctrines. Hence it may be seen that by the names in this chapter are not meant persons, but things, and in the present instance doctrines, or churches, which were preserved, notwithstanding the changes they underwent, from the time of the Most Ancient Church even to "Noah." But the case with every church is that in course of time it decreases, and at last remains among a few; and the few with whom it remained at the time of the flood were called "Noah." [2] That the true church decreases and remains with but few, is evident from other churches which have thus decreased. Those who are left are in the Word called "remains" and a "remnant" and are said to be "in the midst" or "middle" "of the land." And as this is the case in the universal, so also it is in the particular, or as it is with the church, so it is with every individual man; for unless remains were preserved by the Lord in everyone, he must needs perish eternally, since spiritual and celestial life are in the remains. So also in the general or universal-if there were not always some with whom the church, or true faith, remained, the human race would perish; for, as is generally known, a city, nay, sometimes a whole kingdom, is saved for the sake of a few. It is in this respect with the church as it is with the human body; so long as the heart is sound, life is possible for the neighboring viscera, but when the heart is enfeebled, the other parts of the body cease to be nourished, and the man dies. The last remains are those which are signified by "Noah;" for (as appears from Gen. 6:12, as well as from other places) the whole earth had become corrupt. [3] Of remains as existing in each individual as well as in the church in general, much is said in the Prophets; as in Isaiah: He that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy to Him, even everyone that is written unto lives in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have washed away the bloods of Jerusalem from the midst thereof (Isa. 4:3-4), in which passage holiness is predicated of the remains, by which are signified the remains of the church, and also of a man of the church; for "those left" in Zion and Jerusalem could not be holy merely because they were "left." Again: It shall come to pass in that day, that the remains of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them, but shall stay upon Jehovah the Holy One of Israel in truth. The remains shall return, the remains of Jacob, unto the mighty God (Isa. 10:20-21). In Jeremiah: In those days, and in that time, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found; for I will pardon him whom I shall make a remnant (Jer. 50:20). In Micah: The remains of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, as the dew from Jehovah, as the showers upon the grass (Micah 5:7).[4] The residue or remains of a man, or of the church, were also represented by the tenths, which were holy; hence also a number with ten in it was holy, and "ten" is therefore predicated of remains; as in Isaiah: Jehovah shall remove man, and many things [shall be] left in the midst of the land; and yet in it [shall be] a tenth part, and it shall return, and shall be for exterminating; as an oak, and an ilex, when the stock is cast forth from them, the holy seed is the stock thereof (Isa. 6:12-13); where the residue is called a "seed of holiness." And in Amos: Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, The city that goeth forth a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which goeth forth a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel (Amos 5:3). In these and many other passages, in the internal sense are signified the "remains" of which we have been speaking. That a city is preserved for the sake of the remains of the church, is evident from what was said to Abraham concerning Sodom: Abraham said, Peradventure ten may be found there; and He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake (Gen. 18:32).


Verse 1. This is the book of the births of Man. In the day that God created Man, in the likeness of God made He him. The "book of the births" is an enumeration of those who were of the Most Ancient Church; "in the day that God created Man" denotes his being made spiritual; and "in the likeness of God made He him" signifies that he was made celestial: thus it is a description of the Most Ancient Church.


That the "book of the births" is an enumeration of those who were of the Most Ancient Church, is very evident from what follows, for from this to the eleventh chapter, that is, to the time of Eber, names never signify persons, but actual things. In the most ancient time mankind were distinguished into houses, families, and nations; a house consisting of the husband and wife with their children, together with some of their family who served; a family, of a greater or lesser number of houses, that lived not far apart and yet not together; and a nation, of a larger or smaller number of families.


The reason why they dwelt thus alone by themselves, distinguished only into houses, families, and nations, was that by this means the church might be preserved entire, that all the houses and families might be dependent on their parent, and thereby remain in love and in true worship. It is to be remarked also that each house was of a peculiar genius, distinct from every other; for it is well known that children, and even remote descendants, derive from their parents a particular genius, and such marked characteristics that they can be distinguished by the face, and by many other peculiarities. Therefore, in order that there might not be a confounding, but an exact distinction, it pleased the Lord that they should dwell in this manner. Thus the church was a living representative of the kingdom of the Lord; for in the Lord's kingdom there are innumerable societies, each one distinct from every other, according to the differences of love and faith. This, as observed above, is what is meant by "living alone" and by "dwelling in tents." For the same reason also it pleased the Lord that the Jewish Church should be distinguished into houses, families, and nations, and that everyone should contract marriage within his own family; but concerning this, of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter.


That by the "day in which God created Man" is signified his being made spiritual, and that by "God making him in His likeness" is signified his being made celestial, appears from what was said and shown above. The expression to "create" properly relates to man when he is being created anew, or regenerated; and the word "make" when he is being perfected; wherefore in the Word there is an accurate distinction observed between "creating" "forming" and "making" as was shown above in the second chapter, where it is said of the spiritual man made celestial that "God rested from all His work, which God created in making;" and in other passages also, to "create" relates to the spiritual man, and to "make" that is, to perfect, to the celestial man. (See n. 16 and 88.)


That a "likeness of God" is a celestial man, and an "image of God" a spiritual man, has also been previously shown. An "image" is preparatory to a "likeness" and a "likeness" is a real resemblance, for a celestial man is entirely governed by the Lord, as His "likeness."


Since therefore the subject here treated of is the birth or propagation of the Most Ancient Church, this is first described as coming from a spiritual to a celestial state, for the propagations follow from this.


Verse 2. Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Man, in the day when they were created. By "male and female" is signified the marriage between faith and love; by "calling their name Man" is signified that they were the church, which, in an especial sense, is called "Man [homo]."


That by "male and female" is signified the marriage between faith and love was declared and proved above, where it was shown that the male or man [vir] signifies the understanding and whatever belongs to it, consequently everything of faith; and that the female or woman signifies the will, or the things appertaining to the will, consequently whatever has relation to love; wherefore she was called Eve, a name signifying life, which is of love alone. By the female therefore is also signified the church, as has been previously shown; and by the male, a man [vir]of the church. The subject here is the state of the church when it was spiritual, and which was afterwards made celestial, wherefore "male" is mentioned before "female" as also in chapter 1:26, 27. The expression to "create" also has reference to the spiritual man but afterwards when the marriage has been effected, that is, when the church has been made celestial, it is not said "male and female" but "man [homo]" who, by reason of their marriage, signifies both; wherefore it presently follows, "and He called their name Man" by which is signified the church.


That "Man" is the Most Ancient Church has been often said and shown above; for in the supreme sense the Lord Himself alone is Man. From this the celestial church is called Man, as being a likeness, and from this the spiritual church is afterwards so called because it was an image. But in a general sense everyone is called a man who has human understanding; for man is man by virtue of understanding, and according thereto one person is more a man than another, although the distinction of one man from another ought to be made according to his faith as grounded in love to the Lord. [2] That the Most Ancient Church, and every true church, and hence those who are of the church, or who live from love to the Lord and from faith in Him, are especially called "man" is evident from the Word, as in Ezekiel: I will cause man to multiply upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; I will cause to multiply upon you man and beast, that they may be multiplied and bear fruit; and I will cause you to dwell according to your antiquities and I will do better unto you than at your beginnings and I will cause man to walk upon you, My people Israel (Ezek. 36:10, 11, 12), where by "antiquities" is signified the Most Ancient Church; by "beginnings" the Ancient Churches; by the "house of Israel" and "people Israel" the primitive church, or Church of the Gentiles; all which churches are called "man." [3] So in Moses: Remember the days of eternity, understand ye the years of generation and generation; when the Most High would give the nations an inheritance, when He would set apart the sons of man, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (Deut. 32:7, 8), where by the "days of eternity" is meant the Most Ancient Church; by "generation and generation" the Ancient Churches; the "sons of man" are those who were in faith toward the Lord, which faith is the "number of the sons of Israel." That a regenerate person is called "man" appears from Jeremiah: I beheld the earth, and lo it was empty and void; and the heavens, and they had no light; I beheld, and lo, no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled (Jer. 4:23, 25), where "earth" signifies the external man; "heaven' the internal; "man" the love of good; the "birds of the heavens" the understanding of truth. [4] Again: Behold the days come that I will sow the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, with the seed of man, and with the seen of beast (31:27), where "man" signifies the internal man, "beast" the external. In Isaiah: Cease ye from man in whose nostrils is breath, for wherein is he to be accounted of (Isa. 2:22), where by "man" is signified a man of the church. Again: Jehovah shall remove man far away, and many things shall be left in the midst of the land (Isa. 6:12), speaking of the vastation of man, in that there should no longer exist either good or truth. Again: The inhabitants of the earth shall be burned, and man shall be left very little (Isa. 24:6), where "man" signifies those who have faith. Again: The paths have been desolated, the farer on the path hath ceased, he hath made vain the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he hath not regarded man, the earth mourneth and languisheth (Isa. 33:8-9), denoting the man who in the Hebrew tongue is "Enosh." Again: I will make a man more precious than fine gold, and a man than the gold of Ophir; therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall be moved out of her place (Isa. 13:12-13),where the word for man in the first place is "Enosh" and in the second is "Adam."


The reason why he is called "Adam" is that the Hebrew word "Adam" signifies "man;" but that he is never properly called "Adam" by name, but "Man" is very evident from this passage and also from former ones, in that [in some cases] he is not spoken of in the singular number, but in the plural, and also from the fact that the term is predicated of both the man and the woman, both together being called "Man." That it is predicated of both, everyone may see from the words, for it is said, "He called their name Man, in the day that they were created;" and in like manner in the first chapter: "Let us make man in our image, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea" (Gen. 1:27-28). Hence also it may appear that the subject treated of is not the creation of some one man who was the first of mankind, but the Most ancient Church.


By "calling a name" or "calling by name" is signified in the Word to know the quality of things, as was shown above, and in the present case it has relation to the quality of the Most Ancient Church, denoting that man was taken from the ground, or regenerated by the Lord, for the word "Adam" means "ground;" and that afterwards when he was made celestial he became most eminently "Man" by virtue of faith originating in love to the Lord.


That they were called "Man" in the day that they were created, appears also from the first chapter (Gen.1:26-27), that is, at the end of the sixth day, which answers to the evening of the sabbath, or when the sabbath or seventh day began; for the seventh day, or sabbath, is the celestial man, as was shown above.


Verse 3. And Man lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat into his likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth. By a "hundred and thirty years" there is signified the time before the rise of a new church, which, being not very unlike the Most Ancient, is said to be born "into its likeness, and after its image;" but the term "likeness" has relation to faith, and "image" to love. This church was called "Seth."


What the "years" and the "numbers of years" which occur in this chapter, signify in the internal sense, has hitherto been unknown. Those who abide in the literal sense suppose them to be secular years, whereas from this to the twelfth chapter there is nothing historical according to its appearance in the literal sense, but all things in general and every single thing in particular contain other matters. And this is the case not only with the names, but also with the numbers. In the Word frequent mention is made of the number three, and also of the number seven, and wheresoever they occur they signify something holy or most sacred in regard to the states which the times or other things involve or represent; and they have the same signification in the least intervals of time as in the greatest, for as the parts belong to the whole, so the least things belong to the greatest, for there must be a likeness in order that the whole may properly come forth from the parts, or the greatest from its leasts. Thus in Isaiah: Now hath Jehovah spoken, saying, Within three years, as the years of a hireling, and the glory of Moab shall be rendered worthless (Isa. 16:14). Again: Thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, according to the years of a hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall be consumed (Isa. 21:16), where both the least and the greatest intervals are signified. in Habakkuk: Jehovah, I have heard Thy renown, and was afraid; O Jehovah, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known (Hab. 3:2),where the "midst of the years" signifies the Lord's advent. In lesser intervals it signifies every coming of the Lord, as when man is being regenerated; in greater, when the church of the Lord is arising anew. It is likewise called the "year of the redeemed" in Isaiah: The day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed is come (Isa. 63:4). So also the thousand years in which Satan was to be bound (Rev. 20:2, 7), and the thousand years of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-6), by no means signify a thousand years, but their states; for as "days" are used to express states, as shown above, so also are "years," and the states are described by the number of the years. Hence it is evident that the times in this chapter also involve states; for every church was in a different state of perception from the rest, according to the differences of genius, hereditary and acquired.


By the names which follow: "Seth" "Enosh" "Kenan" "Mahalalel" "Jared" "Enoch" "Methuselah" "Lamech" "Noah" are signified so many churches, of which the first and principal was called "Man." The chief characteristic of these churches was perception, wherefore the differences of the churches of that time were chiefly differences of perception. I may here mention concerning perception, that in the universal heaven there reigns nothing but a perception of good and truth, which is such as cannot be described, with innumerable differences, so that no two societies enjoy similar perception; the perceptions there existing are distinguished into genera and species, and the genera are innumerable, and the species of each genus are likewise innumerable; but concerning these, of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter. Since then there are innumerable genera, and innumerable species in each genus, and still more innumerable varieties in the species, it is evident how little-so little that it is almost nothing the world at this day knows concerning things celestial and spiritual, since they do not know even what perception is, and if they are told, they do not believe that any such thing exists; and so with other things also. The Most Ancient Church represented the celestial kingdom of the Lord, even as to the generic and specific differences of perception; but whereas the nature of perception, even in its most general aspect, is at this day utterly unknown, any account of the genera and species of the perceptions of these churches would necessarily appear dark and strange. They were at that time distinguished into houses, families, and nations, and contracted marriage within their houses and families, in order that genera and species of perceptions might exist, and be derived from the parents precisely as are the propagations of native character; wherefore those who were of the Most Ancient Church dwell together in heaven.


That the church called "Seth" was very nearly like the Most Ancient Church, is evident from its being said that the man begat in his likeness, according to his image, and called his name Seth; the term "likeness" having relation to faith, and "image" to love; for that this church was not like the Most Ancient Church with regard to love and its derivative faith, is plain from its being said just before, "Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Man" by which is signified the spiritual man of the sixth day, as was said above, so that the likeness of this man was to the spiritual man of the sixth day, that is, love was not so much the principal, but still faith was conjoined With love.


That a different church is here meant by "Seth" from that which was described above (4:25), may be seen at n. 435. That churches of different doctrine were called by the same name, is evident from those which in the foregoing chapter (verses 17 and 18) were called "Enoch" and "Lamech" while here other churches are in like manner called "Enoch" and "Lamech" (verses 21, 30).


Verse 4. And the days of Man after he begat Seth were eight hundred years, and he begat sons and daughters. By "days" are signified times and states in general; by "years" times and states in special; by "sons and daughters" are signified the truths and goods which they perceived.


That by "days" are signified times and states in general, was shown in the first chapter, where the "days" of creation have no other signification. In the Word it is very usual to call all time "days" as is manifestly the case in the present verse, and in those which follow (5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 27, 31); and therefore the states of the times in general are likewise signified by "days;" and when "years" are added, then by the seasons of the years are signified the qualities of the states, thus states in special. The most ancient people had their numbers, by which they signified various things relating to the church, as the numbers "three" "seven" "ten" "twelve" and many that were compounded of these and others, whereby they described the states of the church; wherefore these numbers contain arcana which would require much time to explain. It was an account or reckoning of the states of the church. The same thing occurs in many parts of the Word, especially the prophetical. In the rites of the Jewish Church also there were numbers, both of times and measures, as for instance in regard to the sacrifices, meat-offerings, oblations, and other things, which everywhere signify holy things, according to their application. The things here involved, therefore, in the number "eight hundred" and in the next verse, in the number "nine hundred and thirty" and in the numbers of years in the verses following-namely, the changes of state of their church as applied to their own general state-are too many to be recounted. In a future part of this work, of the Lord's Divine mercy we shall take occasion to show what the simple numbers up to "twelve" signify, for until the signification of these is known, it would be impossible to apprehend the signification of the compound numbers.


That "days" signify states in general, and "years" states in special, appears from the Word, as in Ezekiel: Thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come even unto thy years (Ezek. 22:4), speaking of those who commit abominations, and fill up the measure of their sins, of whose state in general are predicated "days" and in special "years." So in David: Thou shalt add days to the days of the king, and his years as of generation and generation (Ps. 61:6), speaking of the Lord and of His kingdom, where also "days" and "years" signify the state of His kingdom. Again: I have considered the days of old" the years of the ages (Ps. 77:5), where "days of old" signify states of the Most Ancient Church, and "years of the ages" states of the Ancient Church. In Isaiah: The day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed is come (Isa. 63:4), speaking of the last times, where the "day of vengeance" signifies a state of damnation, and the "year of the redeemed" a state of blessedness. Again: To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isa. 61:2), where both "days" and "years" signify states. In Jeremiah: Renew our days as of old (Lam. 5:21), where state is plainly meant. [2] In Joel: The day of Jehovah cometh, for it is nigh at hand, a day of darkness and of thick darkness, a day of cloud and of obscurity; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be after it, even to the years of generation and generation (Joel 2:1-2), where "day" signifies a state of darkness and of thick darkness, of cloud and of obscurity, with each one in particular, and with all in general. In Zechariah: I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day; in that day shall ye cry a man to his companion under the vine, and under the fig tree (Zech. 3:9-10). And in another place: It shall be one day which is known to Jehovah, not day nor night, and it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light (Zech. 14:7), where it is plain that state is meant, for it is said that there shall be a day that is "neither day nor night, at evening time it shall be light." The same appears from expressions in the Decalogue: Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may be well with thee upon the ground (Deut. 5:16; 25:15), where to have the "days prolonged" does not signify length of life, but a happy state. [3] In the literal sense it must needs appear as if "day" signifies time, but in the internal sense it signifies state. The angels, who are in the internal sense, do not know what time is, for they have no sun and moon that distinguish times; consequently they do not know what days and years are, but only what states are and the changes thereof; and therefore before the angels, who are in the internal sense, everything relating to matter, space, and time disappears, as in the literal sense of this passage in Ezekiel: The day is near, even the day of Jehovah is near, a day of cloud; it shall be the time of the nations (Ezek. 30:3), and of this in Joel: Alas for the day for the day of Jehovah is at hand, and as vastation shall it come (Joel 1:15), where a "day of cloud" signifies a cloud, or falsity; the "day of the nations" signifies the nations, or wickedness; the "day of Jehovah" signifies vastation. When the notion of time is removed, there remains the notion of the state of the things which existed at that time. The case is the same with regard to the "days" and "years" that are so often mentioned in this chapter.


That by "sons and daughters" are signified the truths and goods which they had a perception of, and indeed by "sons" truths, and by "daughters" goods, is evident from many passages in the Prophets; for in the Word, as also in olden time, the conceptions and births of the church are called "sons and daughters" as in Isaiah: The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising; lift up thine eyes round about and see; all they gather themselves together and come to thee; thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side; then thou shalt see and flow together, and thy heart shall be amazed, and shall be enlarged (Isa. 60:3-5), in which passage "sons" signify truths, and "daughters" goods. [2] In David: Deliver me and rescue me from the hand of the sons of the stranger, whose mouth speaketh vanity; that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth, that our daughters may be as corner-stones hewn in the form of a temple (Ps. 44:11-12), where the "sons of the stranger" signify spurious truths, or falsities; "our sons" signify doctrinals of truth; "our daughters" doctrinals of good. [3] In Isaiah: I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; bring forth the blind people, and they shall have eyes; the deaf, and they shall have ears (Isa. 43:6, 8), in which passage "sons" signify truths; "daughters" goods; the "blind" those who would see truths; and the "deaf" those who would obey them. [4] In Jeremiah: Shame hath devoured the labor of our fathers from our youth; their flocks, their herds, their sons, and their daughters (Jer. 3:24), where "sons" and "daughters" signify truths and goods. That "children" and "sons" signify truths, is plain from Isaiah: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale; for when he shall see his children the work of My hands in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My name, and shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel; they also that erred in spirit shall know understanding (Isa. 29:22-24), where the "Holy One of Jacob, the God of Israel" signifies the Lord; "children" signify the regenerate, who have the understanding of good and truth, as is indeed explained. [5] Again: Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear, for more are the sons of the desolate than the sons of the married wife (Isa. 54:1), where the "sons of the desolate" signify the truths of the primitive Church, or that of the Gentiles; the "sons of the married wife" the truths of the Jewish Church. [6] In , Jeremiah: My tent is laid waste and all My cords are plucked out; My sons are gone forth of Me, and are not (Jer. 10:20), where "sons" signify truths. Again: His sons shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before Me (Jer. 30:20), where "sons" signify the truths of the Ancient Church. In Zechariah: I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, with thy sons, O Javan, and make thee as the sword of a mighty man (Zech. 9:13), signifying the truths of the faith of love.


In the Word "daughters" frequently denote goods; as in David: Kings' daughters were among thy precious ones; at thy right hand doth stand the queen in the best gold of Ophir; the daughter of Tyre with a gift; the king's daughter is all glorious within; of eyelet work of gold is her raiment; instead of thy fathers shall be thy sons (Ps. 45:10-17),where the good and beauty of love and faith are described by the "daughter." Hence churches are called "daughters" by virtue of goods, as the "daughter of Zion" and the "daughter of Jerusalem" (Isa. 37:22, and in many other places); they are also called "daughters of My people" (Isa. 22:4), the "daughter of Tarshish" (Isa. 23:10), the "daughter of Sidon" (verse 12), and "daughters in the field" (Ezek. 26:6, 8).


The same things are signified by "sons" and "daughters" in this chapter (verses 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 26, 30), but such as is the church, such are the "sons and daughters" that is, such are the goods and truths; the truths and goods here spoken of are such as were distinctly perceived, because they are predicated of the Most Ancient Church, the principal and parent of all the other and succeeding churches.


Verse 5. And all the days that Man lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. By "days" and "years" are here signified times and states, as above by "Man's dying" is signified that such perception no longer existed.


That by "days" and "years" are signified times and states needs no further explication, except to say that in the world there must needs be times and measures, to which numbers may be applied because they are in the ultimates of nature; but whenever they are applied in the Word, the numbers of the days and years, and also of the measures, have a signification abstractedly from the times and measures, in accordance with the signification of the number; as where it is said that there are six days of labor, and that the seventh is holy, of which above; that the jubilee should be proclaimed every forty-ninth year, and should be celebrated in the fiftieth; that the tribes of Israel were twelve, and the apostles of the Lord the same; that there were seventy elders, and as many disciples of the Lord; and so in many other instances where the numbers have a special signification abstractedly from the things to which they are applied; and when thus abstracted, then it is states that are signified by the numbers.


That he "died" signifies that there was no longer such perception, is evident from the signification of the word "die" which is, that a thing ceases to be such as it has been. Thus in John: Unto the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things saith He that hath the seven spirits, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou art said to live, but art dead; be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God (Rev. :3:1-2). In Jeremiah: I will cast out thy mother that bare thee, into another country where ye were not begotten, and there shall ye die (Jer. 22:26), where "mother" signifies the church. For as we have said, the case with the church is that it decreases and degenerates, and loses its pristine integrity, chiefly by reason of the increase of hereditary evil, for every succeeding parent adds new evil to that which he has inherited. All the actual evil in the parents puts on a kind of nature, and when it often recurs, becomes natural to them, and is added to their hereditary evil, and is transmitted into their children, and so to posterity. In this way the hereditary evil is immensely increased in the descendants. That this is so is evident from the fact that the evil dispositions of children are exactly like those of their progenitors. Quite false is the opinion of those who think that there is no hereditary evil except that which they allege to have been implanted in us from Adam (see n. 313). The truth is that everyone makes hereditary evil by his own actual sins, and adds it to the evils that he has inherited, and in this way it accumulates, and remains in all the descendants, nor is it abated except in those who are being regenerated by the Lord. In every church this is the principal cause of degeneration, and it was so in the Most Ancient Church.


How the Most Ancient Church decreased cannot appear unless it be known what perception is, for it was a perceptive church, such as at this day does not exist. The perception of a church consists in this, that its members perceive from the Lord what is good and true, like the angels; not so much what the good and truth of civic society is, but the good and truth of love to the Lord and of faith in Him. From a confession of faith that is confirmed by the life it can be seen what perception is, and whether it has any existence.


Verse 6. And Seth lived a hundred and five years, and begat Enosh. "Seth" as was observed, is a second church, less celestial than the Most Ancient Church, its parent, yet one of the most ancient churches; that he "lived a hundred and five years" signifies, as before, times and states; that he "begat Enosh" signifies that from them there descended another church that was called "Enosh."


That "Seth" is a second church less celestial than the Most Ancient Church, its parent, yet one of the most ancient churches, may appear from what was said above concerning Seth (verse 3). The case with churches, as we have said, is that by degrees, and in process of time, they decrease as to essentials, owing to the cause above mentioned.


That he "begat Enosh" signifies that from them there descended another church called "Enosh" is evident from the fact that in this chapter the names signify nothing else than churches.


Verses 7, 8. And Seth lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died. The "days" and numbers of "years" signify here as before the times and states. "Sons and daughters" too have the same signification as before; and so likewise as the statement that he "died."


Verse 9. And Enosh lived ninety years, and begat Kenan. By "Enosh" as before said, is signified a third church, still less celestial than the church "Seth" yet one of the most ancient churches; by "Kenan" is signified a fourth church, which succeeded the former ones.

Next: 501-550