Genesis 12

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1 And Jehovah had said to Abram, Go out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, to the land that I will shew thee.

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4 And Abram departed as Jehovah had said to him. And Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had acquired, and the souls that they had obtained in Haran, and they went out to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

6 And Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

7 And Jehovah appeared to Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land. And there he built an altar to Jehovah who had appeared to him.

8 And he removed thence towards the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, [having] Bethel toward the west, and Ai toward the east; and there he built an altar to Jehovah, and called on the name of Jehovah.

9 And Abram moved onward, going on still toward the south.

10 And there was a famine in the land. And Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was grievous in the land.

11 And it came to pass when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a woman fair to look upon.

12 And it will come to pass when the Egyptians see thee, that they will say, She is his wife; and they will slay me, and save thee alive.

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister, that it may be well with me on thy account, and my soul may live because of thee.

14 And it came to pass when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.

15 And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.

16 And he treated Abram well on her account; and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and bondmen, and bondwomen, and she-asses, and camels.

17 And Jehovah plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.

18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this thou hast done to me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

19 Why didst thou say, She is my sister, so that I took her as my wife. And now, behold, there is thy wife: take [her], and go away.

20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him, and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.


Exploring the Meaning of Genesis 12      

Napsal(a) Joe David

The Inner Meaning of Genesis 12

In the previous chapter, Genesis 11, we met Abram for the first time, as his genealogy was traced down through the generations from Noah. Abram represents the beginning of a new spiritual state of humankind - a new church that would record preserve important external truths. Those external truths contained internal ones - true ideas about God the way people should live.

These external truths were encoded in stories, first preserved in oral traditions then in written scriptures in the time of Moses. In the current , Abram, goes, as commanded by God, the land of Canaan. In doing this, he effectively starts the Hebrew church (from Eber, Abraham's forebear).

All the geographic places in the land of Canaan its environs had been given spiritual significations by the people of the Most Ancient Church. In the new Word that would be written there, these places would be mentioned by name would signify spiritual ideas.

When Abraham is driven by famine in the land seek refuge in Egypt, it symbolizes a state of initial instruction for this new church. That early instruction is of an external type. Egypt, in the Word, represents scientific knowledge - the natural sciences - which teach the natural level in people.

There are two levels of "story" nested in the symbolism of the literal text. One is the spiritual story of humankind. Another, higher one, is the story of the inner spiritual process that would take place in the life of Jesus Christ. Both stories are traced out in Swedenborg's exegesis of the Word.

Here's an excerpt from his capstone work, True Christian Religion:

The Word has two senses hidden in its literal sense; these are called the spiritual the celestial senses. In the spiritual sense the contents of the Word refer chiefly the church in the celestial sense chiefly the Lord. Again in the spiritual sense its contents refer Divine truth in the celestial sense Divine good. (True Christian Religion 248)

A detailed description of the inner meaning of this chapter begins in Arcana Coelestia 1401. Here are some key excerpts:

AC 1401. True historical things begin here, all of which are representative, and each word significative. The things related in this chapter concerning Abram represent the Lord‘s state from earliest childhood up to youth. As the Lord was born in the same way as other men, He also advanced from an obscure state to one more lucid. "Haran" is the first state, which was obscure; " Shechem" is the second; "the oakgrove Moreh" is the third; "the mountain which had Bethel toward the sea and Ai on the east," is the fourth; and the "journey thence toward the south into Egypt," is the fifth.

AC 1402. The things told of Abram’s sojourn in Egypt represent and signify the Lord‘s first instruction. "Abram" is the Lord; " Sarai," as a wife, is truth to be adjoined to the celestial " Sarai," as a sister, is intellectual truth; "Egypt" is memory-knowledge (scientia). The progress from memory-knowledges (a scientificis) even to celestial truths is described; this was according to Divine order, that the Lord’s Human Essence might be conjoined with His Divine Essence, and at the same time become Jehovah.

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