The Bible

 

Genesis 1

English: King James Version      

Study the Inner Meaning

Genesis 2 →

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 2 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, ...

Apocalypse Explained 257

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 402


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 246, 300, 476, 478, 480, 670, 709, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 200, 414

Conjugial Love 132, 156

Divine Love and Wisdom 11, 18, 287, 358

Divine Providence 123, 328

Sacred Scripture 14, 103

Heaven and Hell 137

The Last Judgment 20

True Christian Religion 20, 34, 46, 48, 364, 490


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 229, 294, 401, 513, 526, 527, 555, ...

Canons of the New Church 45

Charity 91

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 23, 25, 28

De Verbo (The Word) 14

Spiritual Experiences 1973, 1974, 5605, 6110

Marriage 20, 34, 46, 48, 71

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:




Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 2:3, 7, 16, 19, 5:1, 2, 6:1, 21, 8:17, 9:1, 2, 3, 6, 11:7

Exodus 20:11

Deuteronomy 4:19, 32:4

2 Kings 19:15

2 Chronicles 2:11

Nehemiah 9:6

Job 12:7, 9, 26:8, 38:8

Psalms 8:4, 7, 19:2, 24:2, 33:6, 7, 9, 74:16, 95:5, 104:6, 14, 19, 25, 115:15, 16, 121:2, 136:5, 7, 9, 148:4, 7

Proverbs 8:29

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Isaiah 40:26, 45:7, 61:11

Jeremiah 4:23, 10:12, 31:35

Jonah 1:9

Zechariah 12:1

Matthew 19:4

Mark 4:28, 10:6

Luke 3:38

Acts of the Apostles 4:24, 17:29

1 Corinthians 11:7, 15:38

2 Corinthians 4:6, 6:14

Colossians 3:10

1 Timothy 4:4

Hebrews 6:8, 11:3

James 3:9

2 Peter 5, 6

Revelation 4:11

Word/Phrase Explanations

Beginning
In the Word, "beginning" doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a spiritual...

God
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

created
The creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis means the new creation of the celestial church called 'Man'.

heaven
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

Earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

form
A person who has yet to be regenerated is called 'a void and an empty earth', and also 'ground where no good or truth has...

Void
A 'void', or 'Vacuity' denotes a person's state before regeneration. From Arcana Coelestia 7: "The first state is the state which precedes, both the state...

darkness
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

Face of the deep
The face of the deep (Gen. 1:2) signifies the lust of the unregenerate man, and the falsities thence originating.

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

spirit
There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

Spirit of God
'The spirit of God,' as in Genesis 1:2, signifies the divine mercy of the Lord. 'The spirit of God' is His emanation. 'The spirit of...

Face of the waters
The face of the water (Gen. 1:2) signifies the knowledges of good and truth.

waters
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

light
Nov. 4, 1879: Thomas Edison filed a patent for a long-burning light bulb. Nov. 5, 1879: The light bulb was universally accepted as the symbol...

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

called
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

the first
'Resurrection' signifies salvation and eternal life. 'The first,' mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, does not mean a first resurrection, but the essence and primary part...

Firmament
The firmament, as in Genesis 1, signifies the internal man. The firmament of heaven is mutual love.

midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

Gathered together
'The waters were gathered together' signifies falsities collected.

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

place
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

Land
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

Grass
Grass signifies the scientific principle. Just as green grass serves animals for support, scientific truth serves men for spiritual nourishment. ‘Grass’ is scientific truth, and...

Herb
Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

Seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

fruit
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

tree
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

after
According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

third
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

Third day
'The third day' signifies the end of a state of preparation for reception, and so an end of purification, as in Exodus 19:16. 'The third...

signs
The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

days
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

Great lights
Great lights, as in luminaries, signify love and faith, and are called in Genesis 1:14-17, the sun, moon, and stars.

stars
'The learned,' or 'wise,' who 'shall shine as the stars,' are people who are in good.

over
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

fourth
'The fourth watch' signifies the first state of the church at break of day, when good begins to act by truth.

life
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

fowl
"Birds" mean rational concepts in the external man and intellectual concepts in the internal man.

Fly
To fly, when spoken of the Lord, signifies to foresee and to provide. To fly, when predicated of the Lord, also signifies omnipresence. To fly...

Open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

Fruitful
To be fruitful is predicated of goodnesses, and to be multiplied, of truths.

multiply
'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

fill
There are two ways something can be filled: It can be filled with something bad against the wishes of its owner, or it can be...

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

cattle
Animals in the Bible generally refer to spiritual activity, the things we actually do on a spiritual level. "Cattle," as typically used in the Bible,...

beast
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

Us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

Image
'An image' signifies falsities from self-derived intelligence.

Fish
Fish signify sensual affections which are the ultimate affections of the natural man. Also, those who are in common truths, which are also ultimates of...

sea
Water generally represents what Swedenborg calls “natural truth,” or true concepts about day-to-day matters and physical things. Since all water ultimately flows into the seas,...

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

female
Female signifies good.

Meat
'Meat,' as in Genesis 40:17, signifies celestial good, because 'the meat of the angels' are nothing but the goods of love and charity, which not...

green
The color green is almost exclusively used in connection with plants in the Bible (the exceptions include two stomach-turning references to moldy plagues in Leviticus),...

sixth
Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Animals and Plants in Heaven
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Celebrating the Seven Days of Creation
Offers a wide array of ideas for play time, art projects, field trips, and more.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Correspondences of Light
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that talk about light. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Creation Chain
Make a paper chain with the names (or pictures) of the people in your family and other things that the Lord has made. Or make a paper chain that illustrates several things in creation that depend on one another. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Diorama
A great family project to build and display in your home.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Mobile
Assemble this lovely mobile to remind you of all the Lord's precious gifts to us.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Poem with Hand Motions
A lovely poem about creation with hand motions.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Creation | Seas to Trees Pop-up
Color cut-and-fold pop-up project showing dry land rising out of the water and then growing a tree illustrating Genesis 1:9-13. Sample activity from Creation: reflection of God, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Creation Sequencing Cards
Children can color and cut out these cards, then practice putting them in order from day 1-7.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Story (circle book project)
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Creation | The First Day - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness game and song, separate light and darkness collage, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 6

 Creation | The First Day - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness experiment with accompanying video, let there be light folding paper project, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Creation | The First Day - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: living in the dark--group blindfold games, video and discussion on the bible, creation and a can of peaches, scripted story discussion, and an illustrated quotation card. Sample Lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Family Worship: The Story of Creation
Ideas for reading and discussing the story of creation in Genesis 1. Includes suggestions for extending the experience such as going for a nature walk.
Religion Lesson | Ages 3 - 15

 God Said What? The Creation Story
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Giving Thanks for Creation
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Life Is Eternal
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Overview of Creation Reflection of God Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14
Overview of Creation: reflection of God, Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Quotes: Giving Thanks for Creation
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Summary of Creation and Thankfulness
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Sun and the Fruit of Creation
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Thankfulness
A Thanksgiving "wreath" to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Thanking the Lord for Creation
How can your words and actions show the Lord that you appreciate His creation?
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Creation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Creation: A General View
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The Fifth and Sixth Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Creation: The First Four Days
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Days of Creation Collage Book or Mural
Ideas from an art teacher for making a creation book or mural.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The First Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fourth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fourth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Greatest Gift
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Meaning of the Tree of Life
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Second Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Second Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Seven Days of Creation
An illustrated story of the seven days of creation.
Story | Ages 3 - 7

 The Sixth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sixth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Story of Creation
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Story of Creation: Family Worship Ideas
Detailed notes on the seven days of creation.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Third Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Third Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Universe
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Word Made Flesh
Like Genesis, the Gospel of John begins with creation. While Genesis describes the creation of natural light, John describes a second creation into spiritual light.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Two Great Lights
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Using the Lord’s Creation
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Where Did Everything Come From?
Grandpa explains to Annika and Peter where everything came from.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 Why Are We Here?
Lesson and activities to explore why we were created - what God intends for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Conjugial Love #156

Conjugial Love (Rogers translation)      

Study this Passage

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156. 14. The state of marriage is preferable to a state of celibacy. This follows from what has been said so far about marriage and celibacy. The state of marriage is preferable because it exists from creation; because the origin of it is the marriage between good and truth; because it corresponds to the marriage of the Lord and the church; because the church and conjugial love are constant companions; and because the use it serves is more excellent than the uses served by anything else in creation, seeing that it results, according to order, in the propagation of the human race, and also of the angelic heaven, since heaven exists from the human race. In addition to this, marriage is the completion of a person, for by marriage a person becomes a complete person, as we show next in the following chapter. 1 None of these things is true of celibacy.

(References: Jeremiah 14:5; Matthew 19:4-5)


[2] On the other hand, if one takes the proposition that a state of celibacy is better than the state of marriage and turns it over to an inquisition to approve and confirm by arguments, then these arguments lead to the following conclusions: That marriage is not sacred, nor can any marriage be chaste. Indeed, that chastity in the female sex is possible only in the case of those who refrain from marrying and take a vow of perpetual virginity. And moreover, that people who take a vow of perpetual celibacy are the kind of people meant by "eunuchs who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:12). Besides many other conclusions which, stemming from an untrue premise, are also untrue.

"Eunuchs who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God" mean spiritual eunuchs, and these are people who in their marriages abstain from the evils of licentious relationships. The statement plainly does not mean Italian castrati. 2

151r. [repeated] 3 To this I will append two narrative accounts. This is the first:

As I was returning home from the school of wisdom spoken of above in no. 132, on the way I saw an angel dressed in blue.

He attached himself to my side and said, "I see that you have come from one of the schools of wisdom and that you were pleased by what you heard there. I perceive, too, that you are not fully in this world, because you are at the same time in the natural world. You are therefore also not acquainted with our Olympian gymnasia, where sages of old meet and learn from newcomers from your world what changes and progressions the state of wisdom has gone through and is presently undergoing. This being the case, if you wish, I will take you to a place where many of the sages of old live, together with their descendants or disciples."

He then took me to a border region between the north and the east. And when from an elevation I looked out toward it, suddenly a city appeared, and on one side of it two hills, with the hill nearer the city being lower than the other.

And the angel said to me, "That city is called Athenaeum, the lower hill Parnassium, and the higher one Heliconeum. They are called by these names because in the city and around it live wise men of old from Greece, such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Aristippus, and Xenophon, along with their disciples and pupils."

I then asked about Plato and Aristotle. The angel said that they and their followers lived in another region, because they taught matters of reason having to do with the intellect, while the ones here taught matters of morality having to do with life.

[2] The angel said that scholarly envoys are frequently sent out from the city of Athenaeum to educated Christians, to find out from them what people presently think about God, the creation of the universe, the immortality of the soul, the nature of man compared to the nature of animals, and other things which are matters of interior wisdom. And the angel said that today a herald had announced an assembly, a sign that the envoys had found newcomers from the earth from whom they had heard some interesting news.

We then saw many people coming out of the city and from the surrounding area, some wearing laurel wreaths on their heads, some holding palm branches in their hands, some with books under their arms, and some with pens under the hair of the left temple.

We slipped in among them and together ascended. And lo, on the hill there was an octagonal palace, which they called the Palladium, and we went in. And behold, we saw there eight hexagonal alcoves, each with a set of bookcases in it, and also a table, at which the people with the laurel wreaths sat. Moreover, in the Palladium itself we saw benches carved out of stone, on which the rest of the people took their seats.

[3] And then a door opened on the left, through which two newcomers from earth were ushered in. And having first greeted them, one of those wearing the laurel wreaths asked: "What news do you have from earth?"

So the newcomers said, "The news is that some people resembling beasts, or beasts resembling people, have been found in a forest. From their facial and physical features, however, it has been reportedly learned that they were born human, and that they were lost or left in the forest when they were about two or three years old.

"According to the report," the newcomers said, "they are unable to express any thought verbally, nor are they able to learn how to articulate sound into the form of any word. Nor did they know what food was suitable for them, as animals do, but they thrust into their mouth things they found in the forest, both things fit to be eaten and things unfit - to mention only some of many other similar discoveries. As a result of these findings, some of the learned among us have formed a number of conjectures, and others conclusions, about the nature of human beings compared to the nature of animals."

[4] When they heard this, some of the sages of old inquired, "What conjectures and conclusions do they draw from these discoveries?"

The two newcomers then replied that there were a number of them, but that they could be reduced to the following:

1. By his own nature and also from birth, the human being is more stupid and thus worse off than any animal, and that is the way he turns out if he is not educated.

2. He can be educated because he learned how to make articulate sounds and thus to speak, and by that means began to express thoughts, and this gradually more and more, until he was able to formulate laws of society, though many of these laws are imprinted on animals from birth.

3. Animals have the same faculty of reason as human beings.

4. Therefore if animals could talk, they would reason on any subject as cleverly as human beings. It is an indication of their ability that they think in accordance with the same reason and prudence as human beings.

5. The intellect is no more than a modified form of light from the sun, aided by warmth, by means of the ether, so that it is only an activity of interior nature, and this activity can be raised to the point that it appears as wisdom.

6. It is therefore vain to believe that a person lives after death any more than an animal - unless perhaps, owing to an exhalation of the life of the body, he may possibly appear for several days after death as a vapor resembling a ghost, before it evaporates back into nature - in much the same way as a bush raised from the ashes appears in a likeness of its prior form.

7. Consequently, religion, which teaches life after death, is an invention to keep simple people in bondage from within by its laws, as they are kept in bondage from without by laws of the state.

To this the newcomers added, that that was merely how some clever people reasoned, but not the intelligent ones.

Their listeners then asked, "What is the reasoning of the intelligent ones?"

The newcomers answered that they had not heard, but it was what they supposed.

152r. [repeated] 3 On hearing these things, the people who were sitting at the tables all said, "Oh, what the times are like on earth now! Alas, what changes wisdom has undergone! Has wisdom become ingenious nonsense? The sun has set and now stands beneath the earth diametrically opposite its zenith!

"From the evidence of the people left and found in the forest, who cannot see that that is what a human being is like without education? Is he not as he is taught? Is he not born in a greater state of ignorance than animals? Does he not have to learn to walk and talk? If he did not learn to walk, would he stand erect upon his feet? And if he did not learn to talk, would he mutter anything he thought? Is everyone not as he is taught, irrational from being taught falsities, and wise from being taught truths? And one who is irrational from being taught falsities - is he not entirely caught up in the fantasy that he is wiser than one who is wise from being taught truths? Are there not fools and lunatics who are no more human than the people found in the forest? Are persons without memory not similar to them?

[2] "From these considerations and observations, we ourselves conclude that a person without education is not human, and not an animal either, but that he is a form of life which can receive into himself that which makes a person human. And thus we conclude that he is not born human, but becomes human; and that a person is born such a form of life in order that he may be an organism receptive of life from God, so that he may become a vessel into which God can introduce every kind of good and which by union with Himself He can bless to eternity.

"We perceive from what you have said that wisdom today has become so nonexistent or nonsensical that people know nothing at all about the nature of the life of human beings compared to the nature of the life of animals. That is why they also do not know the nature of man's life after death. Nevertheless, those who could know it, but do not wish to know it and therefore deny it, as many of your Christians do - we can liken them to the people found in the forest. Not that they have become that stupid from a lack of education; but by relying on misconceptions of the senses, which are dark shadows of truths, they have made themselves that stupid."

153r. [repeated] 3 At this point, however, someone in the middle of the Palladium stood up, holding a palm branch in his hand, and said, "Explain, please, this mystery, how a human being, created in the image of God, could be changed into the form of a devil. I know that angels of heaven are images of God and that angels of hell are images of the devil; and the two forms are opposite each other, angels of hell being forms of madness, angels of heaven forms of wisdom. Tell us, therefore, how a human being, created in the image of God, could pass from the light of day into such darkness of night that he could deny God and eternal life."

[2] To this the masters replied in turn, first the Pythagoreans, then the Socratics, and afterwards the rest.

But there was among them a certain Platonist. He spoke last, and his opinion prevailed. He said that people of the Saturnian period or golden age knew and acknowledged that they were recipient forms of life from God, and wisdom was therefore engraved on their souls and hearts. And consequently, from the light of truth they saw truth, and through truths perceived good from the delight of a love for good.

"However," he said, "in subsequent ages, the human race fell away from acknowledging that all truth of wisdom and consequent goodness of love in them continually flowed in from God; and as they fell away from this acknowledgment, they ceased to be dwelling places of God. Moreover, speech with God and association with angels also then ceased. For the orientation of the inner faculties of their minds, which had been directed upwards by God to God, became more and more bent in a slanting direction outward to the world, so that it was directed by God to God through the world; and finally it was turned upside down in the opposite direction, which is downwards to self. And because God cannot be regarded by a person who is inwardly upside down and thus turned away, people separated themselves from God and became forms of hell or the devil.

[3] "It follows from this that, in the first ages, people acknowledged with their heart and soul that all goodness of love and so truth of wisdom came to them from God, and also that these virtues were virtues of God in them, so that they themselves were merely recipients of life from God and for this reason were called images of God, sons of God, and born of God. But it follows then that, in succeeding ages, they no longer acknowledged this with their heart and soul, but did so owing to a certain conviction of belief, and then as a result of traditional faith, and finally with the lips alone. And to acknowledge something like this with the lips alone is not really acknowledging. Indeed, it is to deny at heart.

"Consequently it can be seen what wisdom is like today on earth among Christians - even though with their written revelation they could be inspired by God - when they do not know the difference between man and animal. And because of this, many of them believe that if a person lives after death, so will an animal. Or, because an animal does not live after death, so neither will a person. Has not our spiritual light, which enlightens the sight of the mind, become darkness in them? And their natural light, which enlightens only the sight of the body - has it not become their refulgence?"

154r. [repeated] 3 After this the people all turned to the two visitors and thanked them for their coming and for their account; and they begged them to report to their comrades what they had heard.

Then the visitors replied that they would convince their friends of this truth, that they are human to the extent that they attribute every good of charity and truth of faith to the Lord and not to themselves; and that in the same measure they become angels of heaven.

155r. [repeated] 3 The second account:

One morning I was awakened by the sound of very sweet singing from some height above me. And being therefore in the first moment of awakening, which is more internal, peaceful and gentle than any other moment of the day, I could be kept for a while in the spirit, as though outside the body, and could attend keenly to the affection which was being expressed in song. (A song in heaven is nothing but an affection of the mind which is expressed vocally as a melody, for it is the sound of one speaking without spoken words, coming from the same affection of love which gives life to speech.)

In that state I perceived that it was an affection having to do with the delights of conjugial love, which was turned into song by wives in heaven. I noticed that this was so from the sound of the singing, in which those delights were variously expressed in marvelous ways.

After this I arose and looked out into the spiritual world. And lo, in the east, beneath the sun there, I saw what seemed to be golden rain. It was morning mist, descending in such quantity that, struck by the rays of the sun, it presented to my eyes the appearance of golden rain. Being still more fully awakened on account of it, I went out in spirit, and then, meeting by chance an angel, I asked him whether he saw the golden rain coming down from the sun.

[2] Answering, he replied that he saw it whenever he was thinking about conjugial love and then turned his eyes in that direction.

He said further, "That rain falls upon a hall where there are three husbands with their wives, who live at the center of an eastern paradise. This kind of rain seems to be falling from the sun upon that hall, because abiding in those husbands and wives is wisdom concerning conjugial love and its delights - in the husbands, wisdom concerning conjugial love, and in the wives, wisdom concerning its delights.

"But since I perceive that you are thinking about the delights of conjugial love, I will take you to that hall and introduce you."

So he led me through areas befitting a paradise to houses which were built with boards of olive wood, with two columns of cedar in front of the entrance; and having introduced me to the husbands, he asked that I be allowed, in their presence, to speak with their wives.

They then nodded and called their wives.

The wives looked searchingly into my eyes. So I asked, "What are you looking at?" They said, "We can see keenly what attraction you feel and therefore what affection you have, which is where your thought concerning love for the opposite sex comes from. And we see that although you are thinking about it intently, still you are thinking chastely." They then said, "What do you want us to tell you about it?"

So I replied, "Please tell me something about the delights of conjugial love."

And the husbands nodded, saying, "Reveal to them something about these delights, if you wish. Their ears are chaste."

[3] So they asked, "Who told you that we were the ones to ask about the delights of that love? Why not our husbands?"

Then I replied, "This angel who is with me, he told me privately that wives are vessels receptive of and sensitive to those delights, because they are born forms of love, and all delights have to do with love."

Smiling at this they answered, "Be discreet, and do not say such a thing unless it can be interpreted in more than one way, because it is a point of wisdom kept deeply hidden in the hearts of our sex, which is not revealed to any husband except to one who is in a state of truly conjugial love. There are many reasons for this, which we conceal within and keep to ourselves."

At that the husbands then said, "Our wives know all the states of our mind, nor is anything hidden from them. They see, perceive and feel whatever comes from our will. And we in turn know nothing of this in our wives. Wives have this gift, because they have very tender loves and feelings of almost blazing zeal for the preservation of the friendship and trust in marriage and thus for the preservation of both partners' happiness of life. This happiness they watch over for their husbands and themselves from a wisdom inherent in their love - wisdom which is so full of discretion that they will not and therefore cannot say that they are the lovers, but that they are the recipients of love."

I then asked why wives will not and so cannot say this.

The wives replied that if the least suggestion of anything like this were to slip from their lips, their husbands would be invaded with coldness, which would separate them from their bed, bedroom, and sight.

"But this happens," they said, "in the case of people who do not hold marriage sacred, and who therefore do not love their wives with a spiritual love. It is different with those who do. This love in their minds is spiritual, and in the body becomes natural as a result of that. We here in this hall experience the natural love as a result of a spiritual one, and consequently we confide to our husbands secrets about the delights we feel having to do with conjugial love."

[4] At this point, I respectfully asked them to reveal something of these secrets to me as well. And immediately they looked toward the window to the south, where suddenly a white dove appeared. Its wings shone as though with silver, and its head was adorned with a crown seemingly of gold. It was standing on a branch, which had an olive growing out from it.

As they saw the dove engaged in an attempt to spread its wings, the wives said, "We will reveal something. When that dove appears, it is a sign to us that we may."

They then said, "Every man has five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. But we have also a sixth sense, which is a sense of all the delights of conjugial love in our husbands. We have this sense in the palms of our hands, whenever we touch our husbands' breasts, arms, hands or cheeks - especially their breasts - and also when we are touched by them. All the happy and pleasant states of the thoughts of their mind, and all the joys and delights of their heart, and the merry and cheerful feelings in their breast - these are then transmitted from them to us, taking form in us and becoming perceptible, discernible, and tangible. Moreover, we discern these things as keenly and as clearly as the ear discerns the melodies of songs, or as the tongue does the flavors of exquisite foods.

"In a word, the spiritual delights of our husbands take on a kind of natural embodiment in us. And for that reason, our husbands call us the sensory organs of chaste conjugial love and therefore of its delights. But this sense in our sex appears, continues, remains, and rises in the measure that our husbands love us for our wisdom and judgment, and in the measure that we love them in return for the same qualities in them. In heaven, this sense in our sex is called the interplay of wisdom with its love and of love with its wisdom."

[5] I was stirred by this with a desire to ask more questions, such as about the variety of the delights.

Answering, they said, "The variety is endless. However, we do not wish to say any more, and therefore we cannot, because the dove outside our window, with the olive branch under its feet, has flown away."

I then waited for its return, but in vain. Meanwhile, I asked the husbands, "Do you have a similar sense of conjugial love?"

And they replied, "We have one in general, but not in particular. We have a general sense of bliss, of delight, and of pleasant contentment, owing to the particular sensations of these in our wives. And this general sense, which we have from them, is like a peaceful serenity."

At these words, suddenly through the window a swan appeared, standing on the branch of a fig tree; and spreading its wings, it flew off.

Seeing this, the husbands said, "That is a sign for us to be silent about conjugial love. Come back from time to time, and perhaps more will be disclosed."

They then withdrew, and we departed.

156r. [repeated] 3 THE CONJUNCTION OF SOULS AND MINDS BY MARRIAGE MEANT BY THE LORD'S SAYING THAT THEY ARE NO LONGER TWO BUT ONE FLESH

An inclination and also a capacity for conjunction as though into one was implanted in man and woman from creation, and man and woman still have this inclination and capacity in them. That this is so appears from the book of creation, and at the same time from what the Lord said. In the book of creation, which we call Genesis, we read:

Jehovah God fashioned the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And the man said, "This one, this time, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman ('ishshah), because she was taken from man ('ish). For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, and they shall be as one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24)

The Lord also said something similar in Matthew:

Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning...male and female..., said, "For this reason a man shall leave father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two shall be as one flesh"? Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Matthew 19:4-6)

[2] It is apparent from these verses that woman was created out of man, and that they each have both an inclination and a capacity for reuniting themselves into one. This means into one person, as is also apparent from the book of creation, where the two together are called "man." For we read:

In the day that God created man..., He created them male and female...and called their name Man.... (Genesis 5:1-2)

We find the reading here, "He called their name Adam," but "Adam" and "man" are the same word in the Hebrew. Moreover, both together are called "man" in Genesis 1:27 and 3:22-24. "One flesh" also means "one person," as is apparent from passages in the Word where the term "all flesh" occurs, meaning "every person" (such as in Genesis 6:12-13,17,19; 4 Isaiah 40:5-6, 49:26, 66:16,23-24; Jeremiah 25:31, 32:27, 45:5; Ezekiel 20:48, 21:4-5; and elsewhere).

[3] But as for the meaning of the rib of the man which was fashioned into a woman, of the flesh which was closed up in its place, and consequently what is meant by "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," also what is meant by the father and mother which a man is to leave when he marries, and by his clinging to his wife - this we showed in Arcana Coelestia (The Secrets of Heaven), where we explained the two books, Genesis and Exodus, in their spiritual sense. We established there that a rib does not mean a rib, nor flesh flesh, nor a bone bone, nor cling cling, but that they mean spiritual things, to which they correspond and which they therefore symbolize. They mean the spiritual things which mold one person out of two, and this is evident from the fact that it is conjugial love which joins them together, and this love is spiritual.

We have said several times above that a man's love of wisdom is transferred into his wife, and this will be more fully established in the chapters that follow next. We cannot go off and thus digress now from the subject matter before us here, which is the conjunction of two married partners into one flesh by a union of their souls and minds. This union, however, will be made clear according to the following outline:

1. Each sex has implanted in it from creation a capacity and inclination that gives them the ability and the will to be joined together as though into one.

2. Conjugial love joins two souls and thus two minds into one.

3. A wife's will unites itself with her husband's understanding, and the husband's understanding in consequence unites itself with his wife's will.

4. A desire to unite her husband to her is constant and continual in a wife, but inconstant and intermittent in a husband.

5. A wife inspires the union in her husband according to her love, and a husband receives it according to his wisdom.

6. This union takes place gradually from the first days of marriage, and in people who are in a state of truly conjugial love, it becomes deeper and deeper to eternity.

7. A wife's union with her husband's intellectual wisdom takes place inwardly, but with his moral wisdom outwardly.

8. In order that this union may be achieved, a wife is given a perception of her husband's affections, and also the highest prudence in knowing how to moderate them.

9. Wives keep this perception in them hidden and conceal it from their husbands for reasons that are necessary in building conjugial love, friendship and trust, so that they may have bliss in living together and happiness of life.

10. This perception is a wisdom that the wife has. A man is not capable of it, neither is a wife capable of her husband's intellectual wisdom.

11. A wife from her love continually thinks about her husband's disposition towards her, with a view to joining him to her. This is not true of a husband.

12. A wife joins herself to her husband by appeals to his will's desires.

13. A wife is joined to her husband by the atmosphere of her life emanating from her love.

14. A wife is joined to her husband by her assimilation of the powers of his manhood, though this depends on the spiritual love they have for each other.

15. A wife thus receives into herself an image of her husband, and from it perceives, sees and feels his affections.

16. A husband has duties appropriate to him, and a wife duties appropriate to her, and a wife cannot enter into duties appropriate to her husband or a husband into duties appropriate to his wife and perform them properly.

17. These duties also join the two into one, and at the same time make a single household, depending on the assistance they render each other.

18. According as the aforementioned conjunctions are formed, married partners become more and more one person.

19. Partners who are in a state of truly conjugial love feel themselves to be a united person and as though one flesh.

20. Truly conjugial love regarded in itself is a union of souls, a conjunction of minds, an effort to conjunction in breasts, and a consequent effort to conjunction in body.

21. The states produced by this love are innocence, peace, tranquillity, inmost friendship, complete trust, and a mutual desire in mind and heart to do the other every good; also, as a result of all these, bliss, felicity, delight, pleasure, and, owing to an eternal enjoyment of states like this, the happiness of heaven.

22. These blessings are not at all possible except in a marriage of one man with one wife.

Explanation of these statements now follows.

-----
Footnotes:

1. See "The Conjunction of Souls and Minds by Marriage," nos. 156[r]ff.

2. Male singers, especially in the 18th century, castrated before puberty to prevent the soprano or contralto voice range from changing.

3. Section numbers 151-156 are used twice. To maintain the proper sequence they are all included after the first number 156. NewSearch98 thus treats them all as part of number 156. However, when referenced it should be to the specific number, such as 154r.

4. "All flesh" in Genesis 6:17,19 seems rather to refer to all animal life.

-----

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Conjugial Love 166, 173, 182, 202, 207, 208, 214, 334


   Parallel Passages:

True Christian Religion 692

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The Bible

 

Genesis 11:7

English: King James Version      

Study the Inner Meaning

← Genesis 11:6    Full Chapter    Genesis 11:8 →

7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 1319, 1320, 1321, 1322


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 1279, 1280, 1285, 1327

Apocalypse Revealed 717

The Last Judgment 54, 58

True Christian Religion 121, 754


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 1029

Last Judgment (Posthumous) 107, 108

Spiritual Experiences 155

Marriage 121

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


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