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

Arcana Coelestia


That the man who was left from the Most Ancient Church could not be regenerated, on account of his direful persuasions and foul cupidities (verses 11, 12) whereby he would utterly destroy himself (verse 13).


But the man of the church called "Noah" who is described by the "ark" was not so (verse 14); and the remains with him are described by the measures (verse 15); the things of his understanding, by the "window" "door" and "mansions" (verse 16).


That he would be preserved when the rest would perish by an inundation of evil and falsity (verse 17).


And that the truths and goods which were with him would be saved (verse 18); and thus whatever was of the understanding and whatever was of the will, by regeneration (verses 19, 20); for receiving which he was to be prepared (verse 21); and that it was so done (verse 22).


THE INTERNAL SENSE The subject now treated of is the formation of a new church, which is called "Noah;" and its formation is described by the ark into which living things of every kind were received. But as is wont to be the case, before that new church could arise it was necessary that the man of the church should suffer many temptations, which are described by the lifting up of the ark, its fluctuation, and its delay upon the waters of the flood. And finally, that he became a true spiritual man and was set free, is described by the cessation of the waters, and the many things that follow. No one can see this who adheres to the sense of the letter only, in consequence (and especially is this the case here) of all things being historically connected, and presenting the idea of a history of events. But such was the style of the men of that time, and most pleasing to them it was that all things should be wrapped up in representative figures, and that these should be arranged in the form of history; and the more coherent the historical series, the better suited it was to their genius. For in those ancient times men were not so much inclined to memory-knowledges [scientiis] as at this day, but to profound thoughts, of which the offspring was such as has been described. This was the wisdom of the ancients.


That the "flood" the "ark" and therefore the things described in connection with them, signify regeneration, and also the temptations that precede regeneration, is in some degree known among the learned at this day, who also compare regeneration and temptations to the waters of a flood.


But the character of this church will be described hereafter. That an idea of it may be presented here, it shall be briefly said that the Most Ancient Church was celestial, as already shown, but this church became spiritual. The Most Ancient Church had a perception of good and truth; this, or the Ancient Church, had not perception, but in its place another kind of dictate, which may be called conscience. [2] But what is as yet unknown in the world, and is perhaps difficult to believe, is that the men of the Most Ancient Church had internal respiration, and only tacit external respiration. Thus they spoke not so much by words, as afterwards and as at this day, but by ideas, as angels do; and these they could express by innumerable changes of the looks and face, especially of the lips. In the lips there are countless series of muscular fibers which at this day are not set free, but being free with the men of that time, they could so present, signify, and represent ideas by them as to express in a minute's time what at this day it would require an hour to say by articulate sounds and words, and they could do this more fully and clearly to the apprehension and understanding of those present than is possible by words, or series of words in combination. This may perhaps seem incredible, but yet it is true. And there are many others, not of this earth, who have spoken and at this day speak in a similar manner; concerning whom, of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter. [3] It has been given me to know the nature of that internal respiration, and how in process of time it was changed. As these most ancient people had a respiration such as the angels have, who breathe in a similar manner, they were in profound ideas of thought, and were able to have such perception as cannot be described; and even if it could be described such as it really was, it would not be believed, because it would not be comprehended. But in their posterity this internal respiration little by little came to an end; and with those who were possessed with dreadful persuasions and phantasies, it became such that they could no longer present any idea of thought except the most debased, the effect of which was that they could not survive, and therefore all became extinct.


When internal respiration ceased, external respiration gradually succeeded, almost like that of the present day; and with external respiration a language of words, or of articulate sound into which the ideas of thought were determined. Thus the state of man was entirely changed, and became such that he could no longer have similar perception, but instead of perception another kind of dictate which may be called conscience, for it was like conscience, though a kind of intermediate between perception and the conscience known to some at this day. And when such determination of the ideas of thought took place, that is to say, into spoken words, they could no longer be instructed, like the most ancient man, through the internal man, but through the external. And therefore in place of the revelations of the Most Ancient Church, doctrinal things succeeded, which could first be received by the external senses, and from them material ideas of the memory could be formed, and from these, ideas of thought, by which and according to which they were instructed. Hence it was that this church which followed possessed an entirely different genius from that of the Most Ancient Church, and if the Lord had not brought the human race into this genius, or into this state, no man could have been saved.


As the state of the man of this church which is called "Noah" was altogether changed from that of the man of the Most Ancient Church, he could no longer-as said before-be informed and enlightened in the same way as the most ancient man; for his internals were closed, so that he no longer had communication with heaven, except such as was unconscious. Nor, for the same reason, could he be instructed except as before said by the external way of sense or of the senses. On this account, of the Lord's providence, doctrinal matters of faith, with some of the revelations to the Most Ancient Church, were preserved for the use of this posterity. These doctrinal things were first, collected by "Cain" and were stored up that they might not be lost; and therefore it is said of Cain that a "mark was set upon him, lest anyone should slay him" (concerning which see what was said at that place, Gen. 4:15). These doctrinal matters were afterwards reduced into doctrine by "Enoch;" but because this doctrine was of use to no one at that time, but was for posterity, it is said that "God took him." (See also Gen. 5:24.) These doctrinal matters of faith are what were preserved by the Lord for the use of this posterity or church; for it was foreseen by the Lord that perception would be lost, and therefore it was provided that these doctrinal things should remain.


Verse 9. These are the births of Noah; Noah was a man righteous and perfect in his generations: Noah walked with God. By "the births of Noah" is signified a description of the reformation or regeneration of the new church. That "Noah was a man just and perfect in his generations" signifies that he was such that he could be endowed with charity; "just" (or "righteous") has relation to the good of charity, and "perfect" to the truth of charity. The "generations" are those of faith. To "walk with God" signifies here as before, when said of Enoch, the doctrine of faith.


That by "the births of Noah" is signified a description of the reformation or regeneration of the new church, is evident from what has been said before (Gen. 2:4; Gen. 5:1).


Noah was a man righteous and perfect 612-1 in his generations. That this signifies that he was such that he could be endowed with charity, is evident from the signification of "just and perfect" "just" (or "righteous") having regard to the good of charity, and "perfect" to the truth of charity; and also from the essential of that church being charity, concerning which, of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter. That "just" (or "righteous") has regard to the good of charity, and "perfect" to the truth of charity, is evident from the Word, as in Isaiah: They will seek Me daily and desire knowledge of My ways, as a nation that doeth righteousness, and forsaketh not the judgment of their God; they will ask of Me the judgments of righteousness, and will long for the approach of God (Isa. 58:2). Here "judgment" denotes the things which are of truth, and "righteousness" those which are of good. "Doing judgment and righteousness" became as it were an established formula for doing what is true and good (as in Isa. 56:1; Jer. 22:3, 13, 15; 23:5; 33:14, 16, 19). The Lord said: The righteous 612-2 shall shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of My father (Matt. 13:43), "the righteous" meaning those who are endowed with charity; and concerning the consummation of the age He said: The angels shall go forth and shall sever the wicked from among the righteous (Matt. 13:49). Here also the "righteous" denote those who are in the good of charity. [2] But "perfect" signifies the truth which is from charity, for there is truth from many another origin; but that which is from the good of charity from the Lord is called "perfect" and a "perfect man" as in David: Who shall sojourn in Thy tent, who shall dwell in the mountain of Thy holiness? He that walketh perfect, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart (Ps. 15:1-2). The "perfect" [or "complete"] man is here described. Again: With the holy Thou wilt show Thyself holy; with the perfect man Thou wilt show Thyself perfect (Ps. 18:25), where the "perfect man" is one who is so from holiness, or the good of charity. And again: Jehovah will withhold no good from them that walk in perfectness [integritate] (Ps. 84:11). [3] That a "perfect man" is one who is true from good, or who speaks and does truth from charity, is evident from the words "walk" and "way" being often applied to what is perfect, that is, to wholeness or entirety, and also the words "upright" or "uprightness" which words pertain to truth. As in David: I will teach the perfect in the way how far he shall come unto me. I will walk within my house in the perfectness of my heart (Ps. 101:2); and in the sixth verse: He that walketh in the way of the perfect, he shall minister unto me (Ps. 101:6). Again: Blessed are the perfect in the way, who walk in the law of Jehovah (Ps. 119:1). And again: Perfectness and uprightness shall guard me (Ps. 25:21). And in another place: Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace (Ps. 37:37). It is evident from these passages that he is called "righteous" who does what is good, and that he is called "perfect" who does what is true therefrom, which also is to "do righteousness and judgment." "Holiness" and "righteousness" are the celestial of faith; "perfectness" and "judgment" are the spiritual thence derived.


That the "generations" are those of faith, does not appear from the sense of the letter, which is historical; but as internal things only are here treated of, generations of faith are signified. It is also evident from the connection that the generations here are no others. It is the same in other passages of the Word, as in Isaiah: They that shall be of thee shall build the waste places of old; thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in (Isa. 58:12). All these things signify what is of faith; the "waste places of old" signify celestial things of faith; the "foundations of generation and generation" spiritual things of faith, which had lapsed from the ancient times that are likewise signified. Again: They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, they shall renew the waste cities, the desolations of generation and generation (Isa. 61:4); with similar signification. And again: They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of Jehovah, and their offspring with them (Isa. 65:23).Here also "bringing forth" [generare] is predicated of the things of faith; "laboring" of those of love. Of the latter it is said that they are "the seed of the blessed of Jehovah;" of the former, that they are "offspring."


That "to walk with God" signifies the doctrine of faith, may be seen from what was said before respecting Enoch (chapter v. 22, 24), of whom also it is said that he "walked with God;" and there it signifies the doctrine of faith preserved for the use of posterity. And as this is the posterity for whose use it was preserved, the subject is now here taken up again.


The quality of the man of this church is here described in general; not that he was such as yet-for his formation is treated of in what follows-but that such he might become: that is to say, that by knowledges of faith he could be endowed with charity, and so act from charity, and from the good of charity know what is true. For this reason the good of charity or "righteous" precedes, and the truth of charity or "perfect" follows. Charity, as before said, is love toward the neighbor and mercy; and it is a lower degree of the love of the Most Ancient Church, which was love to the Lord. Thus love now descended and became more external, and is to be called charity.


Verse 10. And Noah begat three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. "Noah begat three sons" signifies that three kinds of doctrine thence arose, which are meant by "Shem, Ham, and Japheth."


Noah begat three sons. That this signifies that three kinds of doctrine thence arose, is evident from all that has been shown before about names signifying nothing else than churches, or, what is the same, doctrines. So it is here; but here they are merely mentioned for the sake of the series or connection with the things that precede, which are, that it was foreseen by the Lord that the man of this genius could be endowed with charity; but yet that three kinds of doctrines would thence have birth, which doctrines, of the Lord's Divine mercy, shall be described hereafter, where Shem, Ham, and Japheth are treated of.


That "Noah was righteous and perfect" that he "walked with God" and in this verse that he "begat three sons" is all said in the past tense, and yet these expressions look to the future. It should be known that the internal sense is such that it has no relation to times; and this the original language favors, where sometimes one and the same word is applicable to any time whatever, without using different words, for by this means interior things appear more evidently. The language derives this from the internal sense, which is more manifold than anyone could believe; and therefore it does not suffer itself to be limited by times and distinctions.


Verse 11. And the earth was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. By the "earth" is signified the race mentioned before. It is said to be "corrupt" on account of their dreadful persuasions; and to be "filled with violence" on account of their foul cupidities. Here and in the following verses of this chapter it is said "God" because there was now no church.


That by the "earth" is signified the race which has been treated of before, is evident from what has already been told respecting the signification of "earth" and of "ground." The "earth" 620-1 is a term very often used in the Word; and by it is signified the "land" where the true church of the Lord is, as the "land" of Canaan; also a "land" where there is not a church, as the "land" of Egypt, and of the Gentiles. Thus it denotes the race that dwells there; and as it denotes the race, it denotes likewise everyone of the race who is there. The church is called the "land" from celestial love, as the "land of Canaan;" and the "land of the Gentiles" from impure loves. But it is called "ground" from faith which is implanted; for, as has been said, the land or country is the containant of the ground, and the ground is the containant of the field, just as love is the containant of faith, and faith is the containant of the knowledges of faith which are implanted. Here the "earth" is taken for a race in which everything of celestial love and of the church had perished. What is predicated is known from the subject.


That the earth is said to be "corrupt" on account of their dreadful persuasions, and "filled with violence" because of their foul cupidities, is evident from the signification of the verb to "corrupt" and of the word "violence." In the Word one term is never taken for another, but uniformly that word is employed which fitly expresses the thing of which it is predicated; and this so exactly that from the words alone which are used, what is in the internal sense at once appears, as here from the words "corrupt" and "violence." "Corrupt" is predicated of the things of the understanding when it is desolated; "violence" of the things of the will, when vastated. Thus "to corrupt" is predicated of persuasions; and "violence" of cupidities.


That "to corrupt" is predicated of persuasions, is evident in Isaiah: They shall not hurt, nor corrupt, in all the mountain of My holiness; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah (Isa. 11:9); and so in 65:25, where "to hurt" has relation to the will, or to cupidities, and "to corrupt" to the understanding, or to persuasions of falsity. Again: Woe to the sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, sons that are corrupters (Isa. 1:4). Here, as in other places, "nation" and the "seed of evildoers" denote evils which are of the will, or of cupidities; "people" and "sons that are corrupters" falsities which are of the understanding, or of persuasions. In Ezekiel: Thou wast more corrupt than they in all thy ways (Ezek. 16:47). Here "corrupt" is predicated of things of the understanding, of the reason, or of the thought; for "way" is a word that signifies truth. In David: They have done what is corrupt, and have done abominable work (Ps. 14:1). Here "what is corrupt" denotes dreadful persuasions, and "abominable" the foul cupidities which are in the work, or from which the work is done. In Daniel: After sixty and two weeks shall the Messiah be cut off, and there shall be none belonging to Him; and the people of the leader that shall come shall corrupt the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood (Dan. 9:26). Here likewise "to corrupt" denotes persuasions of what is false, of which a "flood" is predicated.


The earth was filled with violence. That this is said on account of their foul cupidities, and most of all on account of those which come of the love of self, or of inordinate arrogance, is evident from the Word. It is called "violence" when men do violence to holy things by profaning them, as did these antediluvians who immersed the doctrinal things of faith in all kinds of cupidities. As in Ezekiel: My faces will I turn from them, and they shall profane My secret [place], and robbers shall enter into it and profane it. Make the chain; for the land is full of the judgment of bloods, and the city is full of violence (Ezek. 7:22-23). The "violent" are here described as to who they are, and that they are such as we have stated. Again: They shall eat their bread in solicitude, and drink their waters in desolation, that her land may be devastated from its fullness, because of the violence of all them that dwell therein (Ezek. 12:19). The "bread which they shall eat in solicitude" is the celestial things, and the "waters which they shall drink in desolation" are the spiritual things, to which they have done violence, or which they have profaned. [2] In Isaiah: Their webs shall not be for garments; neither shall they be covered in their works; their works are works of iniquity, and the deed of violence is in their hands (Isa. 59:6).Here "webs" and "garments" are predicated of things of the understanding, that is, of the thought; "iniquity" and "violence" of things of the will, that is, of works. In Jonah: Let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands (Jonah 3:8), where the "evil way" is predicated of falsities, which are of the understanding; and "violence" of evils, which are of the will. In Jeremiah: A rumor shall come in one year, and violence in the land (Jer. 51:46). "A rumor" denotes things which are of the understanding, "violence" those which are of the will. In Isaiah: He hath done no violence, neither was there any deceit in His mouth (Isa. 53:9). Here also "violence" denotes the things of the will; "deceit in His mouth" those of the understanding.


That a state not of the church is here treated of, is evident from the fact that here and in the following verses of this chapter the name "God" is used, but in preceding verses "Jehovah." When there is not a church "God" is the term used, and when there is a church "Jehovah;" as in the first chapter of Genesis, when there was no church, it is said "God;" but in the second chapter, when there was a church, it is said "Jehovah God." The name "Jehovah" is most holy, and belongs only to the church; but the name "God" is not so holy, for there was no nation that had not gods, and therefore the name God was not so holy. No one was permitted to speak the name "Jehovah" unless he had knowledge [cognitio] of the true faith; but anyone might speak the name "God."


Verse 12. And God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. "God saw the earth" signifies that God knew man; "it was corrupt" signifies that there was nothing but falsity; "for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth" signifies that the corporeal nature of man had destroyed all the understanding of truth.


God saw the earth. That this signifies that God knew man, is evident to everyone; for God who knows all things and everything from eternity, has no need to see whether man is such. To "see" is human, and therefore-as has been said at the sixth verse and elsewhere-the Word is spoken in accordance with the appearance of things to man; and this to such a degree that God is even said to "see with eyes."


For all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth. That this signifies that man's corporeal nature had destroyed all the understanding of truth, is evident from the signification of "flesh" (concerning which at verse 3), which in general means every man, and in particular the corporeal man, or all that is of the body; and from the signification of a "way" as being the understanding of truth, that is, truth itself. That a "way" is predicated of the understanding of truth, that is, of truth, is evident from passages which have been adduced in different places before, and also from the following. In Moses: Jehovah said, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people have corrupted themselves; they have suddenly turned back out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image (Deut. 9:12, 16), meaning that they had turned away from the commandments, which are truths. [2] In Jeremiah: Whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of man, to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his works (Jer. 32:19).The "ways" here are a life according to the commandments; the "fruit of his works" is a life from charity. Thus a "way" is predicated of truths, which are those of the precepts and commandments. And the meaning of "son of man" [homo] and of "man" [vir] is as has been shown above. So in Jeremiah 7:3, and 17:10. In Hosea: I will visit upon him his ways, and render to him his works (Hos. 4:9). In Zechariah: Return ye from your evil ways, and from your evil works. Like as Jehovah Zebaoth thought to do unto us according to our ways, and according to our works (Zech. 1:4, 6). Here the sense is similar, but the opposite of the former, because they are evil "ways" and evil "works." In Jeremiah: I will give them one heart, and one way (Jer. 32:39). "Heart" denotes goods, and "way" truths. In David: Make me to understand the way of Thy commandments; remove from me the way of falsehood; and grant me Thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth. I will run the way of Thy commandments (Ps. 119:27, 29-30, 32). Here the "way of the commandments" is called the "way of truth"-opposite to which is the "way of falsehood." [3] Again: Make known to me Thy ways, O Jehovah, teach me Thy paths. Lead my way in Thy truth, and teach me (Ps. 25:4-5). Here likewise a "way" manifestly denotes truth. In Isaiah: With whom did Jehovah take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge [scientia], and made Him to know the way of understanding (Isa. 40:14), manifestly for the understanding of truth. In Jeremiah: Thus hath said Jehovah, Stand ye upon the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and go therein (Jer. 6:16). Here likewise "way" is put for the understanding of truth. In Isaiah: I will lead the blind in a way that they knew not, in paths that they have not known I will lead them (Isa. 42:16). The terms "way" "path" [semita], "path" [trames], "street" [platea], and "street" [vicus] are predicated of truth, because they lead to truth; as also in Jeremiah: They have caused them to stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths, to walk in by-paths, in a way not cast up (Jer. 18:15). So in the book of Judges: In the days of Jael the paths ceased, and they that walked in paths went through crooked paths. The streets ceased in Israel (Judg. 5:6).


The internal sense here is that every man whatsoever, in the land where the church was, "had corrupted his way" so that he did not understand truth. For every man had become corporeal, not only those referred to in the preceding verse, but also those called "Noah" who are specifically treated of here and in the following verse, for such they were before they were regenerated. These things are said first, because in the following verses their regeneration is treated of. And because but little of the church remained, "God" is now named, not "Jehovah." In this verse is signified that there was nothing true, and in the following verse, that there was nothing good, except in the remains which they had who are called "Noah" (for without remains there is no regeneration), and also in the doctrinal matters that they knew. But there was no understanding of truth, as there never can be except where there is a will of good. Where the will is not, there is no understanding; and as the will is, such is the understanding. The most ancient people had a will of good, because they had love to the Lord; and from this they had an understanding of truth, but this understanding wholly perished with the will. A kind of rational truth however, as well as natural good, remained with those who are called "Noah" and therefore they could be regenerated.


Verse 13. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence from their faces, and behold I destroy them with the earth. "God said" signifies that it was so; "the end of all flesh is come before Me" signifies that the human race could not but perish: "for the earth is filled with violence" signifies that they no longer had a will of good; "behold I destroy them with the earth" signifies that the human race would perish with the church.


That "God said" signifies that it was so, is evident from the fact that in Jehovah there is nothing but Being [Esse].


That the end of all flesh is come before Me signifies that the human race could not but perish, is evident from the words themselves, and from the signification of "flesh" which means every man in general, and specifically the corporeal man, as already shown.


That the earth is filled with violence signifies that they no longer had a will of good, is evident from what has been said and shown before concerning the signification of "violence" (at verse 11). In the preceding verse the understanding of truth was spoken of, and here the will of good, because both had perished with the man of the church.


The case is this: With no man is there any understanding of truth and will of good, not even with those who were of the Most Ancient Church. But when men become celestial it appears as if they had a will of good and understanding of truth, and yet this is of the Lord alone, as they also know, acknowledge, and perceive. So is it with the angels also. So true is this that whoever does not know, acknowledge, and perceive that it is so, has no understanding of truth or will of good whatever. With every man, and with every angel, even the most celestial, that which is his own is nothing but falsity and evil; for it is known that the heavens are not clean before the Lord [Job 15:15], and that all good and all truth are of the Lord alone. But so far as a man or an angel is capable of being perfected, so far of the Lord's Divine mercy he is perfected, and receives as it were an understanding of truth and a will of good; but his having these is only an appearance. Every man can be perfected-and consequently receive this gift of the Lord's mercy-in accordance with the actual doings of his life, and in a manner suited to the hereditary evil implanted by his parents.


But it is extremely difficult to say, in a manner to be apprehended, what is the understanding of truth and the will of good in the proper sense, for the reason that a man supposes everything he thinks to be of the understanding, since he calls it so; and everything that he desires he supposes to be of the will, since he calls it so. And it is the more difficult to explain this so as to be apprehended, because most men at this day are also ignorant of the fact that what is of the understanding is distinct from what is of the will, for when they think anything they say they will it, and when they will a thing they say they think it. This is one cause of the difficulty, and another reason why this subject can with difficulty be comprehended is that men are solely in what is of the body, that is, their life is in the most external things. [2] And for these reasons they do not know that there is in every man something that is interior, and something still interior to that, and indeed an inmost; and that his corporeal and sensuous part is only the outermost. Desires, and things of the memory, are interior; affections and rational things are interior still to these; and the will of good and understanding of truth are inmost. And these are so distinct from each other that nothing can ever be more distinct. The corporeal man makes all these into a one, and confounds them. This is why he believes that when his body dies all things are to die; though in fact he then first begins to live, and this by his interiors following one another closely in their order. If his interiors were not thus distinct, and did not thus succeed each other, men could never be in the other life spirits, angelic spirits, and angels, who are thus distinguished according to their interiors. For this reason there are three heavens, most distinct from each other. From these considerations it may now in some measure be evident what, in the proper sense, are the understanding of truth and the will of good; and that they can be predicated only of the celestial man, or of the angels of the third heaven.


What is said in the preceding verse and in this signifies that in the end of the days of the antediluvian church all understanding of truth and will of good had perished, so that among the antediluvians who were imbued with dreadful persuasions and filthy cupidities not even a vestige appeared. But with those who are called "Noah" there continued to be remains, which however could not bring forth anything of understanding and will, but only rational truth and natural good. For the operation of remains is according to the nature of the mad Through remains these people could be regenerated; and persuasions did not obstruct and absorb the Lord's operation through remains. Persuasions, or principles of falsity, when rooted in impede all operation; and unless these are first eradicated the man can never be regenerated, concerning which subject, of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter.


I will destroy them with the earth. That this signifies that together with the church the human race would perish, is evident from its being said "with the earth;" for the "earth" in a wide sense signifies love, as before said, and thus the celestial of the church. Here, since no love and nothing whatever that is celestial remained, the "earth" signifies the love of self, and whatever is contrary to the celestial of the church. And yet there was a man of the church, for they had doctrinal things of faith. For, as before stated, the earth is the containant of the ground, and the ground is the containant of the field; as love is the containant of faith, and faith is the containant of the knowledges of faith.


That "I will destroy them with the earth" signified that together with the church the human race would perish, is on this account: If the Lord's church should be entirely extinguished on the earth, the human race could by no means exist, but one and all would perish. The church, as before said, is as the heart: so long as the heart lives, the neighboring viscera and members can live; but as soon as the heart dies, they one and all die also. The Lord's church on earth is as the heart, whence the human race, even that part of it which is outside the church, has life. The reason is quite unknown to anyone, but in order that something of it may be known, it may be stated that the whole human race on earth is as a body with its parts, wherein the church is as the heart; and that unless there were a church with which as with a heart the Lord might be united through heaven and the world of spirits, there would be disjunction; and if there were disjunction of the human race from the Lord, it would instantly perish. This is the reason why from the first creation of man there has always been some church, and whenever the church has begun to perish it has yet remained with some. [2] This was also the reason of the Lord's coming into the world. If in His Divine mercy He had not come, the whole human race on this earth would have perished, for the church was then at its last extremity, and there was scarcely any good and truth surviving. The reason why the human race cannot live unless it is conjoined with the Lord through heaven and the world of spirits, is that in himself regarded man is much viler than the brutes. If left to himself he would rush into the ruin of himself and of all things; for he desires nothing else than what would be for the destruction of himself and of all. His order should be that one should love another as himself; but now everyone loves himself more than others, and thus hates all others. But with brute animals the case is quite different: their order is that according to which they live. Thus they live quite according to the order in which they are, and man entirely contrary to his order. Therefore unless the Lord should have compassion on him, and conjoin him with Himself through angels, he could not live a single moment; but this he does not know.


Verse 14. Make thee an ark of gopher woods, mansions shalt thou make the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. By the "ark" is signified the man of that church; by "gopher wood" his concupiscences; by the "mansions" are signified the two parts of the man, which are the will and the understanding; by "pitching it within and without" is signified his preservation from an inundation of cupidities.


That by the "ark" is signified the man of that church, or the church called "Noah" is sufficiently evident from the description of it in the following verses; and from the fact that the Lord's Word everywhere involves spiritual and celestial things; that is, that the Word is spiritual and celestial. If the ark with its coating of pitch, its measurement, and its construction, and the flood also, signified nothing more than the letter expresses, there would be nothing at all spiritual and celestial in the account of it, but only something historical, which would be of no more use to the human race than any similar thing described by secular writers. But because the Word of the Lord everywhere in its bosom or interiors involves and contains spiritual and celestial things, it is very evident that by the ark and all the things said about the ark, are signified hidden things not yet revealed. [2] It is the same in other places, as in the case of the little ark in which Moses was concealed, which was placed among the sedge by the riverside (Exod. 2:3); and to take a more lofty instance, it was the same with the holy ark in the wilderness, that was made after the pattern shown to Moses on Mount Sinai. If each and all things in this ark had not been representative of the Lord and His kingdom, it would have been nothing else than a sort of idol, and the worship idolatrous. In like manner the temple of Solomon was not holy at all of itself, or on account of the gold, silver, cedar, and stone in it, but on account of all the things which these represented. And so here-if the ark and its construction, with its several particulars, did not signify some hidden thing of the church, the Word would not be the Word of the Lord, but a kind of dead letter, as in the case of any profane writer. Therefore it is evident that the ark signifies the man of the church, or the church called "Noah."


That by "gopher woods" are signified concupiscences, and by the "mansions" the two parts of this man, which are the will and the understanding, no one has hitherto known. Nor can anyone know how these things are signified, unless he is first told how the case was with that church. The Most Ancient Church, as has often been said, knew from love whatever was of faith; or what is the same, from a will of good had understanding of truth. But their posterity received also by inheritance that cupidities, which are of the will, ruled over them, in which they immersed the doctrinal things of faith, and thus became "Nephilim." When therefore the Lord foresaw that if man continued to be of such a nature he would perish eternally, He provided that the will should be separated from the understanding, and that man should be formed, not as before by a will of good, but through an understanding of truth should be endowed with charity, which appears as a will of good. Such did this new church become which is called "Noah" and thus it was of an entirely different nature from the Most Ancient Church. Besides this church, there were other churches also at that time, as that which is called "Enosh" (see Gen. 4:26), and others also of which no such mention and description is extant. Only this church "Noah" is here described, because it was of another and entirely different nature from the Most Ancient Church.


As this man of the church must be reformed as to that part of man which is called the understanding, before he could be reformed as to the other part which is called the will, it is here described how the things of the will were separated from those of the understanding, and were as it were covered over and reserved, lest anything should touch the will. For if things of the will, that is of cupidity, had been excited, the man would have perished, as will appear, of the Lord's Divine mercy, hereafter. These two parts-the will and the understanding-are so distinct in man that nothing could be more distinct, as has been given me also to know with certainty from the fact that things of the understanding of spirits and angels flow into the left part of the head or brain, and things of the will into the right; and it is the same with respect to the face. When angelic spirits flow in, they do so gently like the softest breaths of air; but when evil spirits flow in, it is like an inundation into the left part of the brain with dreadful phantasies and persuasions, and into the right with cupidities, their influx being as it were an inundation of phantasies and cupidities.


From all this it is evident what this first description of the ark involves, with its construction of gopher wood, its mansions, and its coating within and without with pitch, namely, that one part, that of the will, was preserved from inundation; and only that part opened which is of the understanding, and is described, in verse 16, by the window, the door, and the lowest, second, and third stories. These things are not easily believed, because hitherto no one has had any idea of them. And yet they are most true. But these are the least and most general of the hidden meanings which man is ignorant of. If the individual particulars were told him, he could not apprehend even one of them.


But as regards the signification itself of the words: that "gopher wood" signifies concupiscences, and the "mansions" the two parts of man, is evident from the Word. Gopher wood is a wood abounding in sulphur, 643-1 like the fir, and others of its kind. On account of its sulphur it is said that it signifies concupiscences, because it easily takes fire. The most ancient people compared things in man (and regarded them as having a likeness) to gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood-his inmost celestial to gold, his lower celestial to brass, and what was lowest, or the corporeal therefrom, to wood. But his inmost spiritual they compared (and regarded as having a likeness) to silver, his lower spiritual to iron, and his lowest to stone. And such in the internal sense is the signification of these things when they are mentioned in the Word, as in Isaiah: For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron; I will also make thine officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness (Isa. 60:17). Here the Lord's kingdom is treated of, in which there are not such metals, but spiritual and celestial things; and that these are signified is very evident from the mention of "peace" and "righteousness." "Gold" "brass" and "wood" here correspond to each other, and signify things celestial or of the will, as before said; and "silver" "iron" and "stone" correspond to each other, and signify things spiritual or of the understanding. [2] In Ezekiel: They shall make a spoil of thy riches and make a prey of thy merchandise; thy stones, and thy wood (Ezek. 26:12). It is very manifest that by "riches" and "merchandise" are not meant worldly riches and merchandise, but celestial and spiritual; and the same by the "stones" and "wood"-the "stones" being those things which are of the understanding, and the "wood" those which are of the will. In Habakkuk: The stone crieth out of the wall, and the beam out of the wood answereth (Hab. 2:11). The "stone" denotes the lowest degree of the understanding; and the "wood" the lowest of the will, which "answers" when anything is drawn from sensuous knowledge [scientifico sensuali]. Again: Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; and to the dumb stone, Arise, this shall teach. Behold it is fastened with gold and silver, and there is no breath in the midst of it. But Jehovah is in the temple of His holiness (Hab. 2:19-20). Here also "wood" denotes cupidity; "stone" denotes the lowest of the understanding, and therefore to be "dumb" and to "teach" are predicated of it; "there is no breath in the midst of it" signifies that it represents nothing celestial and spiritual, just as a temple wherein are stone and wood, and these bound together with gold and silver, is to those who think nothing of what they represent. [3] In Jeremiah: We drink our waters for silver; our wood cometh for price (Lam. 5:4). Here "waters" and "silver" signify the things of the understanding; and "wood" those of the will. Again: Saying to wood, Thou art my father; and to the stone, Thou hast brought us forth (Jer. 2:27). Here "wood" denotes cupidity, which is of the will, whence is the conception; and "stone" the sensuous knowledge [scientifico sensuali], from which is the "bringing forth." Hence, in different places in the Prophets, "serving wood and stone" is put for worshiping graven images of wood and stone, by which is signified that they served cupidities and phantasies; and also "committing adultery with wood and stone" as in Jeremiah (3:9). In Hosea: My people inquire of their wood, and the staff thereof declareth unto them; because the spirit of whoredoms hath led them away (Hos. 4:12), meaning that they make inquiry of graven images of wood, or of cupidities. [4] In Isaiah: Topheth is prepared from yesterday, the pile thereof is fire and mulch wood, the breath of Jehovah is like a stream of burning sulphur (Isa. 30:33). Here "fire" "sulphur" and "wood" stand for foul cupidities. In general, "wood" signifies the things of the will which are lowest; the precious woods, such as cedar and the like, those which are good, as for example the cedar wood in the temple, and the cedar wood employed in the cleansing of leprosy (Lev. 14:4, 6-7); also the wood cast into the bitter waters at Marah, whereby the waters became sweet (Exod. 15:25), concerning which, of the Lord's Divine mercy in those places. But woods that were not precious, and those which were made into graven images, as well as those used for funeral piles and the like, signify cupidities; as in this place does the gopher wood, on account of its sulphur. So in Isaiah: The day of vengeance of Jehovah; the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into sulphur, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch (Isa. 34:9). "Pitch" stands for dreadful phantasies; "sulphur" for abominable cupidities.


That by the "mansions" are signified the two parts of man, which are the will and the understanding, is evident from what has been stated before: that these two parts, the will and the understanding, are most distinct from each other, and that for this reason, as before said, the human brain is divided into two parts, called hemispheres. To its left hemisphere pertain the intellectual faculties, and to the right those of the will. This is the most general distinction. Besides this, both the will and the understanding are distinguished into innumerable parts, for so many are the divisions of the intellectual things of man, and so many those of the will, that they can never be described or enumerated even as to the universal genera, still less as to their species. A man is a kind of least heaven, corresponding to the world of spirits and to heaven, wherein all the genera and all the species of the things of the understanding and of the will are distinguished by the Lord in the most perfect order, so that not even the least of them is undistinguished, concerning which, of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter. In heaven these divisions are called Societies, in the Word "habitations" and by the Lord "mansions" (John 14:2). Here also they are called "mansions" because they are predicated of the ark, which signifies the man of the church.


That to "pitch it within and without with pitch" signifies preservation from an inundation of cupidities, is evident from what has been said before. For the man of this church was first to be reformed as to the things of his understanding, and therefore he was preserved from an inundation of cupidities, which would destroy all the work of reformation. In the original text it is not indeed said that it was to be "pitched with pitch" but a word is used which denotes "protection" derived from "expiate" or "propitiate" and therefore it involves the same. The expiation or propitiation of the Lord is protection from the inundation of evil.


Verse 15. And thus shalt thou make it: three hundred cubits the length of the ark, fifty cubits its breadth, and thirty, cubits its height. By the numbers here as before are signified remains, that they were few; the "length" is their holiness, the "breadth" their truth, and the "height" their good.


That these particulars have such a signification, as that the numbers "three hundred" "fifty" and "thirty" signify remains, and that they are few; and that "length" "breadth" and "height" signify holiness, truth, and good, cannot but appear strange to everyone, and very remote from the letter. But in addition to what was said and shown above concerning numbers (at verse 3 of this chapter, that a "hundred and twenty" there signify remains of faith), it may be evident to everyone also from the fact that they who are in the internal sense, as are good spirits and angels, are beyond all such things as are earthly, corporeal, and merely of the world, and thus are beyond all matters of number and measure, and yet it is given them by the Lord to perceive the Word fully, and this entirely apart from such things. And this being true, it may therefore be very evident that these particulars involve things celestial and spiritual which are so remote from the sense of the letter that it cannot even appear that there are such things. Such are celestial and spiritual things both in general and in particular. And from this a man may know how insane it is to desire to search into those things which are matters of faith, by means of the things of sense and knowledge [sensualia et scientifica]; and to be unwilling to believe unless he apprehends them in this way.


That in the Word numbers and measures signify things celestial and spiritual, is very evident from the measurement of the New Jerusalem and of the Temple, in John, and in Ezekiel. Anyone may see that by the "New Jerusalem" and the "new Temple" is signified the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens and on earth, and that the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens and on earth is not subject to earthly measurement; and yet its dimensions as to length, breadth, and height are designated by numbers. From this anyone may conclude that by the numbers and measures are signified holy things, as in John: There was given me a reed like unto a rod; and the angel stood, and said unto me, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein (Rev. 11:1). And concerning the New Jerusalem: The wall of the New Jerusalem was great and high, having twelve gates, and over the gates twelve angels, and names written, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, on the west three gates. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. He that talked with me had a golden reed, to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. The city lieth four square, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal. He measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Rev. 21:12-17). [2] The number "twelve" occurs here throughout, which is a very holy number because it signifies the holy things of faith (as said above, at verse 3 of this chapter, and as will be shown, of the Lord's Divine mercy, at the twenty-ninth and thirtieth, chapters of Genesis). And therefore it is added that this measure is the "measure of a man, that is, of an angel." It is the same with the new Temple and new Jerusalem in Ezekiel which are also described as to their measures (40:3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13-14, 22, 25, 30, 36, 42, 47; 41:1 to the end; 42:5-15; Zech. 2:1-2). Here too regarded in themselves the numbers signify nothing but the holy celestial and spiritual abstractedly from the numbers. So with all the numbers of the dimensions of the ark (Exod. 25:10); of the mercy seat; of the golden table; of the tabernacle; and of the altar (Exod. 25:10, 17, 23; 26, and 27:1); and all the numbers and dimensions of the temple (1 Kings 6:2-3), and many others.


But here the numbers or measures of the ark signify nothing else than the remains which were with the man of this church when he was being reformed, and that they were but few. This is evident from the fact that in these numbers five predominates, which in the Word signifies some or a little, as in Isaiah: There shall be left therein gleanings, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the branches of a fruitful one (Isa. 17:6), where "two or three" and "five" denote a few. Again: One thousand at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee; until ye be left as a pole upon the top of a mountain (Isa. 30:17),where also "five" denotes a few. So too the least fine, after restitution, was a "fifth part" (Lev. 5:16; 6:5; 22:14; Num. 5:7). And the least addition when they redeemed a beast, a house, a field, or the tithes, was a "fifth part" (Lev. 27:13, 15, 19, 31).


That "length" signifies the holiness, "breadth" the truth, and "height" the good of whatever things are described by the numbers, cannot so well be confirmed from the Word, because they are each and all predicated according to the subject or thing treated of. Thus "length" as applied to time signifies perpetuity and eternity, as "length of days" in Ps. 23:6, and 21:4; but as applied to space it denotes holiness, as follows therefrom. And the same is the case with "breadth" and "height." There is a trinal dimension of all earthly things, but such dimensions cannot be predicated of celestial and spiritual things. When they are predicated, greater or less perfection is meant, apart from the dimensions, and also the quality and quantity; thus here the quality, that they were remains; and the quantity, that they were few.


612-1 "Perfect" is used here in the sense of "whole," "entire." Swedenborg's word is integer. [Reviser.]

612-2 The Latin has only one word for our two English words "just" and "righteous" and it is the same with "justice" and "righteousness." [Reviser.]

620-1 The Latin word terra means both "earth" and "land." [Reviser.]

643-1 The word "sulphur" was formerly used not exclusively as the name of brimstone, but also as a general term for inflammable substance. The classification of gopher here with the fir (abies), which is a turpentine tree, would seem to imply that the inflammable constituent of the gopher also was turpentine, and that this is what is meant here by "sulphur." See Lord Bacon's "History of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt." [Note in the Rotch edition.]

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