Genesis 12

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1 Now Yahweh said to Abram, "Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.

2 I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. You will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. All of the families of the earth will be blessed in you."

4 So Abram went, as Yahweh had spoken to him. Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 Abram took Sarai his wife, Lot his brother's son, all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls whom they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan. Into the land of Canaan they came.

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

7 Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, "I will give this land to your seed." He built an altar there to Yahweh, who appeared to him.

8 He left from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to Yahweh and called on the name of Yahweh.

9 Abram traveled, going on still toward the South.

10 There was a famine in the land. Abram went down into Egypt to live as a foreigner there, for the famine was severe in the land.

11 It happened, when he had come near to enter Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look at.

12 It will happen, when the Egyptians will see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife.' They will kill me, but they will save you alive.

13 Please say that you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that my soul may live because of you."

14 It happened that when Abram had come into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.

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

16 He dealt well with Abram for her sake. He had sheep, cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

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

18 Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this that you have done to me? Why didn't you tell me that she was your wife?

19 Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now therefore, see your wife, take her, and go your way."

20 Pharaoh commanded men concerning him, and they brought him on the way with 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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