From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #566

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566. 'The face 1 of the ground' means the whole of that area where the Church was. This is clear from the meaning of 'the ground', for in the Word a careful distinction is made between ground (humus) and land or earth (terra). Whenever 'ground' is used it means the Church or some aspect of the Church. This too is the derivation of the name Man or Adam, which means ground. But when 'land' or earth' occurs in the Word it frequently means where the Church or some aspect of the Church does not exist, as in Chapter 1 where the word 'land' alone is used, because the Church or regenerate person did not as yet exist. Not until Chapter 2 is the word 'ground' used because the Church has by now come into being. The same applies in the present verse and in verses 4, 23, of the next chapter, where it is said that every being was to be wiped off the face 1 of the ground, meaning within that area where the Church was; and in verse 7 of the next chapter, where the subject is the Church that is to be created, 'to keep their seed alive on the face 1 of the ground'. 2 The same applies elsewhere in the Word, as in Isaiah,

Jehovah will have compassion on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and will set them on their own ground. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will inherit them on Jehovah's ground. Isaiah 14:1-2.

This refers to the Church once it has come into being; but when in the same chapter the Church does not exist it is called the land, verses 9, 12, 16, 20, 21, 25, 26.

[2] In the same prophet,

And the ground of Judah will be a terror to Egypt. On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt which speak the language 3 of Canaan. Isaiah 19:17-18.

Here 'the ground' means where the Church exists, and 'the land' where it does not. In the same prophet,

The land will surely stagger like a drunken man. Jehovah will visit the host of the height on high, and the kings of the ground on the ground. Isaiah 24:20-21.

Here the meaning is similar. In Jeremiah,

Because of the ground which was cracked since there was no rain on the land, the farmers were put to shame, and covered their heads. Even the hind in the field has calved. Jeremiah 14:4-5.

Here 'the land' stands for that which includes the ground, and 'the ground' for that which includes the field.

[3] In the same prophet,

He led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north land and out of all the lands to where I have driven them. And they will dwell on their own ground. Jeremiah 23:8.

Here 'land' and 'lands' mean where Churches do not exist, 'the ground' where the Church or true worship does exist. In the same prophet,

I will render the remnants of Jerusalem, those who are left in this land, and those who are dwelling in the land of Egypt, and I will render them as a horror for evil to all the kingdoms of the land. And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they are consumed from the ground which I gave to them and their fathers. Jeremiah 24:8-10.

'The ground' stands for doctrine and worship arising out of it. And something similar is found in 25:5 of the same book.

[4] In Ezekiel,

I will gather you out of the lands into which you have been scattered. And you will acknowledge that I am Jehovah when I bring you back to the ground of Israel, into the land which I lifted up My hand to give to your fathers. Ezekiel 20:41-42.

'The ground' stands for internal worship. It is called 'the land' when internal worship does not exist. In Malachi,

I will rebuke the devourer for you, and he will not ruin for you the fruit of the ground, nor will the vine in the field fail you. And all the nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of that which is pleasing. Malachi 3:11-12.

Here 'land' stands for that which includes, and so plainly stands for man who is actually called 'the land', when 'ground' stands for the Church or doctrine.

[5] In Moses,

Sing, O Nations, His people. He will reconcile His ground, His people. Deuteronomy 32:43.

This clearly stands for the Church of the gentiles, which is called 'the ground'. In Isaiah,

Before the boy knows to refuse evil and to choose good, the ground will be deserted which you loathe in the presence of its two kings. Isaiah 7:16.

This refers to the Coming of the Lord. 'The ground will be deserted' stands for the Church or true doctrine of faith. The words 'ground 'and 'field' are clearly used in this way because they are places that are sown, as in Isaiah,

He will give rain for your seed with which you may sow the ground. Oxen and young asses tilling the ground . . . Isaiah 30:23-24.

And in Joel,

The field has been laid waste, and the ground has been mourning because the corn has been laid waste. Joel 1:10.

From these quotations it is now clear that 'man', who in Hebrew is called Adam from the word for ground, means the Church.

Footnotes:

1. literally, faces

2. The Hebrew in Genesis 7:3 in fact means earth or land. cf 722 below.

3. literally, lip.

  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.

The Bible

 

Genesis 1

Study

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.