Genesis 12

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1 And Jehovah saith unto Abram, `Go for thyself, from thy land, and from thy kindred, and from the house of thy father, unto the land which I shew thee.

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

3 And I bless those blessing thee, and him who is disesteeming thee I curse, and blessed in thee have been all families of the ground.'

4 And Abram goeth on, as Jehovah hath spoken unto him, and Lot goeth with him, and Abram [is] a son of five and seventy years in his going out from Charan.

5 And Abram taketh Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they have gained, and the persons that they have obtained in Charan; and they go out to go towards the land of Canaan; and they come in to the land of Canaan.

6 And Abram passeth over into the land, unto the place Shechem, unto the oak of Moreh; and the Canaanite [is] then in the land.

7 And Jehovah appeareth unto Abram, and saith, `To thy seed I give this land;' and he buildeth there an altar to Jehovah, who hath appeared unto him.

8 And he removeth from thence towards a mountain at the east of Beth-El, and stretcheth out the tent (Beth-El at the west, and Hai at the east), and he buildeth there an altar to Jehovah, and preacheth in the name of Jehovah.

9 And Abram journeyeth, going on and journeying towards the south.

10 And there is a famine in the land, and Abram goeth down towards Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine [is] grievous in the land;

11 and it cometh to pass as he hath drawn near to enter Egypt, that he saith unto Sarai his wife, `Lo, I pray thee, I have known that thou [art] a woman of beautiful appearance;

12 and it hath come to pass that the Egyptians see thee, and they have said, `This [is] his wife,' and they have slain me, and thee they keep alive:

13 say, I pray thee, thou [art] my sister, so that it is well with me because of thee, and my soul hath lived for thy sake.'

14 And it cometh to pass, at the entering of Abram into Egypt, that the Egyptians see the woman that she [is] exceeding fair;

15 and princes of Pharaoh see her, and praise her unto Pharaoh, and the woman is taken [to] Pharaoh's house;

16 and to Abram he hath done good because of her, and he hath sheep and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and handmaids, and she-asses, and camels.

17 And Jehovah plagueth Pharaoh and his house -- great plagues -- for the matter of Sarai, Abram's wife.

18 And Pharaoh calleth for Abram, and saith, `What [is] this thou hast done to me? why hast thou not declared to me that she [is] thy wife?

19 Why hast thou said, She [is] my sister, and I take her to myself for a wife? and now, lo, thy wife, take and go.'

20 And Pharaoh chargeth men concerning him, and they send him away, and his wife, an all that he hath.


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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