2 The Garden of Eden

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HAVE you ever thought what a lovely, happy place this world would be if people were all good and lived as the Lord’s obedient little children? It would be almost like heaven. At first they did live so, and the earth was like a beautiful garden in which people were safe and happy. The Bible is telling of that happy time when it describes a garden planted eastward in Eden. Eden means “delight.”

But we read of something that crept into the garden and brought unhappiness. It is called a serpent, which tempted the people to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The serpent was the same one which brings unhappiness now, the serpent of selfish pleasure, which makes us choose what seems to us good instead of obeying and trusting the Lord. That is what made the world unhappy long ago, and it makes it unhappy now, unless we learn again to be like the Lord’s good; little children. It is a beautiful parable.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth thewhole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die…

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.4 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.—Genesis II. 4-17; III. 1-13; 23, 24.

Author: William L. Worcester 1904

Spiritual Correspondences

Garden of Eden >> Golden Age of Most Ancient Church >> Celestial State

Toward the East >> Innocence

Tree of Life >> The Perception that all Life and Blessing is from the Lord

Tree of Good and Evil >> The Appearance that we Live of Ourselves

Serpent >> The Temptation to Do what Seems Pleasant

Spiritual Meaning


4 These are the nativities of the heavens and of the earth, when He created them, in the day in which Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens.

The “nativities of the heavens and of the earth” are the formations of the celestial man. That his formation is here treated of is very evident from all the particulars which follow, as that no herb was as yet growing; that there was no man to till the ground, as well as that Jehovah God formed man, and afterwards, that He made every beast and bird of the heavens, notwithstanding that the formation of these had been treated of in the foregoing chapter; from all which it is manifest that another man is here treated of. This however is still more evident from the fact, that now for the first time the Lord is called “Jehovah God” whereas in the preceding passages, which treat of the spiritual man, He is called simply “God;” and, further, that now “ground” and “field” are mentioned, while in the preceding passages only “earth” is mentioned. In this verse also “heaven” is first mentioned before “earth” and afterwards “earth” before “heaven;” the reason of which is that “earth” signifies the external man, and “heaven” the internal, and in the spiritual man reformation begins from “earth” that is, from the external man, while in the celestial man, who is here treated of, it begins from the internal man, or from “heaven.”

5, 6. And there was no shrub of the field as yet in the earth, and there was no herb of the field as yet growing, because Jehovah God had not caused it to rain upon the earth; and there was no man to till the ground. And He made a mist to ascend from the earth, and watered all the faces of the ground.

By the “shrub of the field” and the “herb of the field” are meant in general all that his external man produces. The external man is called “earth” while he remains spiritual, but “ground” and also “field” when he becomes celestial. “Rain” which is soon after called “mist” is the tranquility of peace when combat ceases.

But what these things involve cannot possibly be perceived unless it is known what man’s state is while from being spiritual he is becoming celestial, for they are deeply hidden. While he is spiritual, the external man is not yet willing to yield obedience to and serve the internal, and therefore there is a combat; but when he becomes celestial, then the external man begins to obey and serve the internal, and therefore the combat ceases, and tranquility ensues (see n. 87). This tranquility is signified by “rain” and “mist” for it is like a vapor with which the external man is watered and bedewed from the internal; and it is this tranquility, the offspring of peace, which produces what are called the “shrub of the field” and the “herb of the field” which, specifically, are things of the rational mind and of the memory [rationalia et scientifica] from a celestial spiritual origin.

The nature of the tranquility of peace of the external man, on the cessation of combat, or of the unrest caused by cupidities and falsities, can be known only to those who are acquainted with a state of peace. This state is so delightful that it surpasses every idea of delight: it is not only a cessation of combat, but is life proceeding from interior peace, and affecting the external man in such a manner as cannot be described; the truths of faith, and the goods of love, which derive their life from the delight of peace, are then born.

The state of the celestial man, thus gifted with the tranquility of peace-refreshed by the rain-and delivered from the slavery of what is evil and false, is thus described by the Lord in Ezekiel: I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil wild beast to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell confidently in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods; and I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the rain to come down in his season; rains of blessing shall they be. And the tree of the field shall yield its fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be upon their ground in confidence, and shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have broken the reins of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that make them to serve them; and ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, ye are a man, and I am your God (Ezek. 34:25-27, 31). And that this is effected on the “third day” which in the Word signifies the same as the “seventh” is thus declared in Hosea: After two days will He vivify us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live before Him and we shall know, and shall follow on to know Jehovah: His going forth is prepared as the dawn, and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the late rain watering the earth (Hos. 6:2-3). And that this state is compared to the “growth of the field” is declared by Ezekiel, when speaking of the Ancient Church: I have caused thee to multiply as the growth of the field, and thou hast increased and hast grown up, and hast come to excellent ornaments (Ezek. 16:7). And it is also compared to: A shoot of the Lord’s planting, and a work of the hands of Jehovah God (Isa. 60:21).

7 And Jehovah God formed man, dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [spiraculum] of lives, and man became a living soul. To “form man, dust from the ground” is to form his external man, which before was not man; for it is said (verse 5) that there was “no man to till the ground.” To “breathe into his nostrils the breath of lives” is to give him the life of faith and love; and by “man became a living soul” is signified that his external man also was made alive.

The life of the external man is here treated of-the life of his faith or understanding in the two former verses, and the life of his love or will in this verse. Hitherto the external man has been unwilling to yield to and serve the internal, being engaged in a continual combat with him, and therefore the external man was not then “man.” Now, however, being made celestial, the external man begins to obey and serve the internal, and it also becomes “man” being so rendered by the life of faith and the life of love. The life of faith prepares him, but it is the life of love which causes him to be “man.”

As to its being said that “Jehovah God breathed into his nostrils” the case is this: In ancient times, and in the Word, by “nostrils” was understood whatever was grateful in consequence of its odor, which signifies perception. On this account it is repeatedly written of Jehovah, that He “smelled an odor of rest” from the burnt-offerings, and from those things which represented Him and His kingdom; and as the things relating to love and faith are most grateful to Him, it is said that “He breathed through his nostrils the breath of lives.” Hence the anointed of Jehovah, that is, of the Lord, is called the “breath of the nostrils” (Lam. 4:20). And the Lord Himself signified the same by “breathing on His disciples” as written in John: He breathed on them and said, Receive ye the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).

The reason why life is described by “breathing” and by “breath” is also that the men of the Most Ancient Church perceived states of love and of faith by states of respiration, which were successively changed in their posterity. Of this respiration nothing can as yet be said, because at this day such things are altogether unknown. The most ancient people were well acquainted with it, and so are those who are in the other life, but no longer anyone on this earth, and this was the reason why they likened spirit or life to “wind.” The Lord also does this when speaking of the regeneration of man, in John: 97-1 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, and knowest not whence it cometh, or whither it goeth so is everyone that is born of the spirit (John 3:8). So in David: By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all the army of them by the breath of His mouth (Ps. 33:6). And again: Thou gatherest their breath, they expire, and return to their dust; Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created, and Thou renewest the faces of the ground (Ps. 104:29-30).That the “breath” [spiraculum] is used for the life of faith and of love, appears from Job: He is the spirit in man, and the breath of Shaddai giveth them understanding (Job 32:8). Again in the same: The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of Shaddai hath given me life (Job 33:4).

8 And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward [ab oriente] in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. By a “garden” is signified intelligence; by “Eden” love; by the “east” the Lord; consequently by the “garden of Eden eastward” is signified the intelligence of the celestial man, which flows in from the Lord through love.

Life, or the order of life, with the spiritual man, is such that although the Lord flows in, through faith, into the things of his understanding, reason, and memory [in ejus intellectualia, rationalia, et scientifica], yet as his external man fights against his internal man, it appears as if intelligence did not flow in from the Lord, but from the man himself, through the things of memory and reason [per scientifica et rationalia]. But the life, or order of life, of the celestial man, is such that the Lord flows in through love and the faith of love into the things of his understanding, reason, and memory [in ejus intellectualia, rationalia, et scientifica], and as there is no combat between the internal and the external man, he perceives that this is really so. Thus the order which up to this point had been inverted with the spiritual man, is now described as restored with the celestial man, and this order, or man, is called a “garden in Eden in the east.” In the supreme sense, the “garden planted by Jehovah God in Eden in the east” is the Lord Himself. In the inmost sense, which is also the universal sense, it is the Lord’s kingdom, and the heaven in which man is placed when he has become celestial. His state then is such that he is with the angels in heaven, and is as it were one among them; for man has been so created that while living in this world he may at the same time be in heaven. In this state all his thoughts and ideas of thoughts, and even his words and actions, are open, even from the Lord, and contain within them what is celestial and spiritual; for there is in every man the life of the Lord, which causes him to have perception.

That a “garden” signifies intelligence, and “Eden” love, appears also from Isaiah: Jehovah will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Jehovah; joy and gladness shall be found therein, confession and the voice of singing (Isa. 51:3). In this passage, “wilderness” “joy” and “confession” are terms expressive of the celestial things of faith, or such as relate to love; but “desert” “gladness” and “the voice of singing” of the spiritual things of faith, or such as belong to the understanding. The former have relation to “Eden” the latter to “garden;” for with this prophet two expressions constantly occur concerning the same thing, one of which signifies celestial, and the other spiritual things. What is further signified by the “garden in Eden” may be seen in what follows at verse 10.

That the Lord is the “east” also appears from the Word, as in Ezekiel: He brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh the way of the east, and behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east; and His voice was as the voice of many waters, and the earth shone with His glory (Ezek. 43:1-2, 4). It was in consequence of the Lord’s being the “east” that a holy custom prevailed in the representative Jewish Church, before the building of the temple, of turning their faces toward the east when they prayed.

9 And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree desirable to behold, and good for food; the tree of lives also, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge [scientiae] of good and evil. A “tree” signifies perception; a “tree desirable to behold” the perception of truth; a “tree good for food” the perception of good; the “tree of lives” love and the faith thence derived; the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” faith derived from what is sensuous, that is, from mere memory-knowledge [scientia].

The reason why “trees” here signify perceptions is that the celestial man is treated of, but it is otherwise when the subject is the spiritual man, for on the nature of the subject depends that of the predicate.

At this day it is unknown what Perception is. It is a certain internal sensation from the Lord alone, as to whether a thing is true and good; and it was very well known to the Most Ancient church. This perception is so perfect with the angels, that by it they are aware and have knowledge of what is true and good; of what is from the Lord, and what from themselves; and also of the quality of anyone who comes to them, merely from his approach, and from a single one of his ideas. The spiritual man has no perception, but has conscience. A dead man has not even conscience; and very many do not know what conscience is, and still less what perception is.

The “tree of lives” is love and the faith thence derived; “in the midst of the garden” is in the will of the internal man. The will, which in the Word is called the “heart” is the primary possession of the Lord with man and angel. But as no one can do good of himself, the will or heart is not man’s, although it is predicated of man; cupidity, which he calls will, is man’s. Since then the will is the “midst of the garden” where the tree of lives is placed, and man has no will, but mere cupidity, the “tree of lives” is the mercy of the Lord, from whom comes all love and faith, consequently all life.

But the nature of the “tree of the garden” or perception; of the “tree of lives” or love and the faith thence derived; and of the “tree of knowledge” or faith originating in what is sensuous and in mere memory-knowledge, will be shown in the following pages.

10 And a river went out of Eden, to water the garden, and from thence it was parted, and was into four heads. A “river out of Eden” signifies wisdom from love, for “Eden” is love; “to water the garden” is to bestow intelligence; to be “thence parted into four heads” is a description of intelligence by means of the four rivers, as follows.

The most ancient people, when comparing man to a “garden” also compared wisdom, and the things relating to wisdom, to “rivers;” nor did they merely compare them, but actually so called them, for such was their way of speaking. It was the same afterwards in the Prophets, who sometimes compared them, and sometimes called them so. As in Isaiah: Thy light shall arise in darkness, and thy thick darkness shall be as the light of day, and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like an outlet of waters, whose waters lie not (Isa. 58:10-11). Treating of those who receive faith and love. Again, speaking of the regenerate: As the valleys are they planted, as gardens by the river’s side; as lignaloes 108-1 which Jehovah hath planted, as cedar-trees beside the waters (Num. 24:6). In Jeremiah: Blessed is the man who trusteth in Jehovah; he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that sendeth forth her roots by the river (Jer. 17:7-8). In Ezekiel the regenerate are not compared to a garden and a tree, but are so called: The waters made her to grow, the deep of waters uplifted her, the river ran round about her plant, and sent out its channels to all the trees of the field; she was made beautiful in her greatness, in the length of her branches, for her root was by many waters. The cedars in the garden of God did not hide her; the fir-trees were not like her boughs, and the plane-trees were not like her branches, nor was any tree in the garden of God equal to her in her beauty; I have made her beautiful by the multitude of her branches, and all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God envied her (Ezek. 31:4, 7-9). From these passages it is evident that when the most ancient people compared man, or the things in man, to a “garden” they added the “waters” and “rivers” by which he might be watered, and by these waters and rivers meant such things as would cause his growth.

That although wisdom and intelligence appear in man, they are, as has been said, of the Lord alone, is plainly declared in Ezekiel by means of similar representatives: Behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward; for the face of the house is the east; and he said, These waters issue out to the border toward the east, and go down into the plain, and come to the sea, which being led into the sea, the waters shall be healed; and it shall come to pass that every living soul which creepeth, whithersoever the water of the rivers shall come, shall live. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, there come up all trees for food, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed; it is born again in its months, because these its waters issue out of the sanctuary, and the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for medicine (Ezek. 47:1, 8-9, 12). Here the Lord is signified by the “east” and by the “sanctuary” whence the waters and rivers issued. In like manner in John: He showed me a pure river of water of life, bright as crystal, going forth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and of the river on this side and that, was the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaf of the tree was for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:1-2).

11, 12. The name of the first is Pishon; that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

The “first” river, or “Pishon” signifies the intelligence of the faith that is from love; “the land of Havilah” signifies the mind; “gold” signifies good; “bdellium and the onyx stone” truth. “Gold” is mentioned twice because it signifies the good of love and the good of faith from love; and “bdellium and the onyx stone” are mentioned because the one signifies the truth of love, and the other the truth of faith from love. Such is the celestial man.

It is however a very difficult matter to describe these things as they are in the internal sense, for at the present day no one knows what is meant by faith from love, and what by the wisdom and intelligence thence derived. For external men scarcely know of anything but memory-knowledge [scientia], which they call intelligence and wisdom, and faith. They do not even know what love is, and many do not know what the will and understanding are, and that they constitute one mind. And yet each of these things is distinct, yea, most distinct, and the universal heaven is ordinated by the Lord in the most distinct manner according to the differences of love and faith, which are innumerable.

Be it known moreover that there is no wisdom which is not from love, thus from the Lord; nor any intelligence except from faith, thus also from the Lord; and that there is no good except from love, thus from the Lord; and no truth except from faith, thus from the Lord. What are not from love and faith, and thus from the Lord, are indeed called by these names, but they are spurious.

Nothing is more common in the Word than for the good of wisdom or of love to be signified and represented by “gold.” All the gold in the ark, in the temple, in the golden table, in the candlestick, in the vessels, and upon the garments of Aaron, signified and represented the good of wisdom or of love. So also in the Prophets, as in Ezekiel: In thy wisdom and in thine intelligence thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver in thy treasures (Ezek. 18:4), where it is plainly said that from wisdom and intelligence are “gold and silver” or the good and the true, for ” silver here signifies truth, as it does also in the ark and in the temple. In Isaiah: The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come, they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall show forth the praises of Jehovah (Isa. 60:6). Thus also: The wise men from the east, who came to Jesus when He was born, fell down and worshiped Him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:1, 11). Here also “gold” signifies good; “frankincense and myrrh” things that are grateful because from love and faith, and which are therefore called “the praises of Jehovah.” Wherefore it is said in David: He shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba; prayer also shall be made for him continually, and every day shall He bless him (Ps. 72:15).

The truth of faith is signified and represented in the Word by precious “stones” as by those in the breast-plate of judgment, and on the shoulders of Aaron’s ephod. In the breast-plate, “gold, blue, bright crimson, scarlet double-dyed, and fine-twined linen” represented such things as are of love, and the precious “stones” such as are of faith from love; as did likewise the two “stones of memorial” on the shoulders of the ephod, which were onyx stones, set in ouches of gold (Exod. 28:9-22). This signification of precious stones is also plain from Ezekiel, where, speaking of a man possessed of heavenly riches, which are wisdom and intelligence, it is said: Full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty, thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the ruby, the topaz, the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the sapphire, the chrysoprase, the emerald, and gold; the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared; thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created (Ezek. 28:12, 13, 15), which words it must be evident to everyone do not signify stones, but the celestial and spiritual things of faith; yea, each stone represented some essential of faith.

When the most ancient people spoke of “lands” they understood what was signified by them, just as those at the present day who have an idea that the land of Canaan and Mount Zion signify heaven, do not so much as think of any land or mountain when these places are mentioned, but only of the things which they signify. It is so here with the “land of Havilah” which is mentioned again in Genesis 25:18, where it is said of the sons of Ishmael, that they “dwelt from Havilah even unto Shur, which is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria.” Those who are in a heavenly idea perceive from these words nothing but intelligence, and what flows from intelligence. So by to “compass”-as where it is said that the river Pishon “compasseth the whole land of Havilah”-they perceive a flowing in; as also in the onyx stones on the shoulders of Aaron’s ephod being encompassed with ouches of gold (Exod. 28:11), they perceive that the good of love should inflow into the truth of faith. And so in many other instances.

13 And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Cush. The “second river” which is called “Gihon” signifies the knowledge [cognitio] of all things that belong to the good and the true, or to love and faith, and the “land of Cush” signifies the mind or faculty. The mind is constituted of the will and the understanding; and what is said of the first river has reference to the will, and what of this one to the understanding to which belong the knowledges [cognitiones] of good and of truth.

The “land of Cush” or Ethiopia, moreover, abounded in gold, precious stones, and spices, which, as before said, signify good, truth, and the things thence derived which are grateful, such as are those of the knowledges of love and faith. This is evident from the passages above cited (n. 113) from Isa. 60:6; Matt. 2:1, 11; Ps. 72:15. That similar things are meant in the Word by “Cush” or “Ethiopia” and also by “Sheba” is evident from the Prophets, as in Zephaniah, where also the “rivers of Cush” are mentioned: In the morning He will give His judgment for light; for then will I turn to the people with a clear language, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve Him with one shoulder; from the passage of the rivers of Cush My suppliants shall bring Mine offering (Zeph. 3:5, 9-10). And in Daniel, speaking of the king of the north and of the south: He shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the desirable things of Egypt; and the Lybians and the Ethiopians shall be under his steps (Dan. 11:43), where “Egypt” denotes memory-knowledges [scientifica], and the “Ethiopians” knowledges [cognitiones]. [2] So in Ezekiel: The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, these were thy merchants, in the chief of all spices, and in every precious stone, and in gold (Ezek. 27:22), by whom in like manner are signified knowledges [cognitiones] of faith. So in David, speaking of the Lord, consequently of the celestial man: In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace until there shall be no moon; the kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer a gift (Ps. 72:7, 10).These words, as is plain from their connection with the preceding and subsequent verses, signify celestial things of faith. Similar things were signified by the queen of Sheba, who came to Solomon, and proposed hard questions, and brought him spices, gold, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-2). For all things contained in the historical parts of the Word, as well as in the Prophets, signify, represent, and involve arcana.

14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth eastward toward Asshur; and the fourth river it is Phrath. The “river Hiddekel” is reason, or the clearsightedness of reason. “Asshur” is the rational mind; the “river which goeth eastward toward Asshur” signifies that the clearsightedness of reason comes from the Lord through the internal man into the rational mind, which is of the external man; “Phrath” or Euphrates, is memory-knowledge [scientia], which is the ultimate or boundary.

That “Asshur” signifies the rational mind, or the rational of man, is very evident in the Prophets, as in Ezekiel: Behold, Asshur was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches and a shady grove, and lofty in height; and her offshoot was among the thick boughs. The waters made her grow, the deep of waters uplifted her, the river ran round about her plant (Ezek. 31:3-4). The rational is called a “cedar in Lebanon;” the “offshoot among the thick boughs” signifies the knowledges of the memory, which are in this very plight. This is still clearer in Isaiah: In that day shall there be a path from Egypt to Asshur, and Asshur shall come into Egypt, and Egypt into Asshur, and the Egyptians shall serve Asshur. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Asshur, a blessing in the midst of the land, that Jehovah Zebaoth shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Asshur the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance (Isa. 19:23-25). By “Egypt” in this and various other passages is signified memory-knowledges, by “Asshur” reason, and by “Israel” intelligence.

As by “Egypt” so also by “Euphrates” are signified memory-knowledges [scientiae seu scientifica], and also the sensuous things from which these knowledges come. This is evident from the Word in the Prophets, as in Micah: My she-enemy hath said, Where is Jehovah thy God? The day in which He shall build thy walls [macerias], that day shall the decree be far removed; that day also He shall come even to thee from Asshur, and to the cities of Egypt, and to the river [Euphrates] (Micah 7:10-12). So did the prophets speak concerning the coming of the Lord who should regenerate man so that he might become like the celestial man. In Jeremiah: What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Asshur, to drink the waters of the river [Euphrates]? (Jer. 2:18), where “Egypt” and “Euphrates” likewise signify memory-knowledges, and “Asshur” reasonings thence derived. In David: Thou hast made a vine to go forth out of Egypt; Thou hast cast out the nations; Thou hast planted her; Thou hast sent out her shoots even to the sea, and her twigs to the river (Euphrates) (Ps. 80:8, 11), where also the “river Euphrates” signifies what is sensuous and of the memory [sensuali et scientifico]. For the Euphrates was the boundary of the dominions of Israel toward Assyria, as the knowledge of the memory is the boundary of the intelligence and wisdom of the spiritual and celestial man. The same is signified by what was said to Abraham: Unto thy seed will I give this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates (Gen. 15:18). These two boundaries have a like signification.

The nature of celestial order, or how the things of life proceed, is evident from these rivers, namely, from the Lord, who is the “East” and that from Him proceeds wisdom, through wisdom intelligence, through intelligence reason, and so by means of reason the knowledges of the memory are vivified. This is the order of life, and such are celestial men; and therefore, since the elders of Israel represented celestial men, they were called “wise, intelligent, and knowing” (Deut. 1:13, 15). Hence it is said of Bezaleel, who constructed the ark, that he was: Filled with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge [scientia], and in all work (Exod. 31:3; 35:31; 36:1-2).

15 And Jehovah God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden, to till it and take care of it. By the “garden of Eden” are signified all things of the celestial man, as described; by to “till it and take care of it” is signified that it is permitted him to enjoy all these things, but not to possess them as his own, because they are the Lord’s.

The celestial man acknowledges, because he perceives, that all things both in general and in particular are the Lord’s. The spiritual man does indeed acknowledge the same, but with the mouth, because he has learned it from the Word. The worldly and corporeal man neither acknowledges nor admits it; but whatever he has he calls his own, and imagines that were he to lose it, he would altogether perish.

That wisdom, intelligence, reason, and knowledge [scientia] are not of man, but of the Lord, is very evident from all that the Lord taught; as in Matthew, where the Lord compares Himself to a householder, who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round, and let it out to husbandmen (21:33); and in John: The Spirit of truth shall guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself, but what things soever He shall hear, He shall speak; He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shall declare it unto you (John 16:13-14). And in another place: A man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven (John 3:27). That this is really so is known to everyone who is acquainted with even a few of the arcana of heaven.

And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden, eating thou mayest eat. To “eat of every tree” is to know from perception what is good and true; for, as before observed, a “tree” signifies perception. The men of the Most Ancient Church had the knowledges of true faith by means of revelations, for they conversed with the Lord and with angels, and were also instructed by visions and dreams, which were most delightful and paradisal to them. They had from the Lord continual perception, so that when they reflected on what was treasured up in the memory they instantly perceived whether it was true and good, insomuch that when anything false presented itself, they not only avoided it but even regarded it with horror: such also is the state of the angels. In place of this perception of the Most Ancient Church, however, there afterwards succeeded the knowledge [cognitio] of what is true and good from what had been previously revealed, and afterwards from what was revealed in the Word.

16 But of the tree of the knowledge [scientia] of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die. These words, taken together with those just explained, signify that it is allowable to become acquainted with what is true and good by means of every perception derived from the Lord, but not from self and the world; that is, we are not to inquire into the mysteries of faith by means of the things of sense and of the memory [per sensualia et scientifica], for in this case the celestial of faith is destroyed.

A desire to investigate the mysteries of faith by means of the things of sense and of the memory, was not only the cause of the fall of the posterity of the Most Ancient Church, as treated of in the following chapter, but it is also the cause of the fall of every church; for hence come not only falsities, but also evils of life.

The worldly and corporeal man says in his heart, If I am not instructed concerning the faith, and everything relating to it, by means of the things of sense, so that I may see, or by means of those of the memory [scientifica], so that I may understand, I will not believe; and he confirms himself in this by the consideration that natural things cannot be contrary to spiritual. Thus he is desirous of being instructed from things of sense in what is celestial and Divine, which is as impossible as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle; for the more he desires to grow wise by such means, the more he blinds himself, till at length he believes nothing, not even that there is anything spiritual, or that there is eternal life. This comes from the principle which he assumes. And this is to “eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” of which the more anyone eats, the more dead he becomes. But he who would be wise from the Lord, and not from the world, says in his heart that the Lord must be believed, that is, the things which the Lord has spoken in the Word, because they are truths; and according to this principle he regulates his thoughts. He confirms himself by things of reason, of knowledge, of the senses, and of nature [per rationalia, scientifica, sensualia et naturalia], and those which are not confirmatory he casts aside.

Everyone may know that man is governed by the principles he assumes, be they ever so false, and that all his knowledge and reasoning favor his principles; for innumerable considerations tending to support them present themselves to his mind, and thus he is confirmed in what is false. He therefore who assumes as a principle that nothing is to be believed until it is seen and understood, can never believe, because spiritual and celestial things cannot be seen with the eyes, or conceived by the imagination. But the true order is for man to be wise from the Lord, that is, from His Word, and then all things follow, and he is enlightened even in matters of reason and of memory-knowledge [in rationalibus et scientificis]. For it is by no means forbidden to learn the sciences, since they are useful to his life and delightful; nor is he who is in faith prohibited from thinking and speaking as do the learned of the world; but it must be from this principle-to believe the Word of the Lord, and, so far as possible, confirm spiritual and celestial truths by natural truths, in terms familiar to the learned world. Thus his starting-point must be the Lord, and not himself; for the former is life, but the latter is death.

He who desires to be wise from the world, has for his “garden” the things of sense and of memory-knowledge [sensualia et scientifica]; the love of self and the love of the world are his “Eden”; his “east” is the west, or himself; his “river Euphrates” is all his memory-knowledge [scientificum], which is condemned; his “second river” where is “Assyria” is infatuated reasoning productive of falsities; his “third river” where is “Ethiopia” is the principles of evil and falsity thence derived, which are the knowledges of his faith; his “fourth river” is the wisdom thence derived, which in the Word is called “magic.” And therefore “Egypt”-which signifies memory-knowledge [scientia]-after the knowledge became magical, signifies such a man, because, as may be seen from the Word, he desires to be wise from self. Of such it is written in Ezekiel: Thus hath said the Lord Jehovih, Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great whale that lieth in the midst of his rivers, who hath said, My river is mine own, and I have made it for myself. And the land of Egypt shall be for a solitude, and a waste, and they shall know that I am Jehovah, because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it (Ezek. 29:3, 9). Such men are also called “trees of Eden in hell” in the same Prophet, where also Pharaoh, or the Egyptian, is treated of in these words: When I shall have made him descend into hell with them that descend into the pit; to whom art thou thus made like in glory and in greatness among the trees of Eden? yet shalt thou be made to descend with the trees of Eden into the lower earth, in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that be slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his crew (Ezek. 31:16, 18), where the “trees of Eden” denote knowledges [scientifica et cognitiones] from the Word, which they thus profane by reasonings. Genesis 2, verses 18-25 18. And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a help as with him. 19. And Jehovah God formed out of the ground every beast of the field, and every fowl of the heavens, and brought it to the man to see what he would call it; and whatsoever the man called every living soul, that was the name thereof. 20. And the man gave names to every beast, and to the fowl of the heavens, and to every wild animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a help as with him. 21. And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the place thereof. 22. And the rib which Jehovah God had taken from the man, He built into a woman, and brought her to the man. 23. And the man said, This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; therefore she shall be called wife, because she was taken out of man [vir]. 24. Therefore shall a man [vir] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. 25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.


1 And the serpent was more subtle than any wild animal of the field which Jehovah God had made; and he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? By the “serpent” is here meant the sensuous part of man in which he trusts; by the “wild animal of the field” here, as before, every affection of the external man; by the “woman” man’s Own; by the serpent’s saying, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree?” that they began to doubt. The subject here treated of is the third posterity of the Most Ancient Church, which began not to believe in things revealed unless they saw and felt that they were so. Their first state, that it was one of doubt, is described in this and in the next following verse.

The most ancient people did not compare all things in man to beasts and birds, but so denominated them; and this their customary manner of speaking remained even in the Ancient Church after the flood, and was preserved among the prophets. The sensuous things in man they called “serpents” because as serpents live close to the earth, so sensuous things are those next the body. Hence also reasonings concerning the mysteries of faith, founded on the evidence of the senses, were called by them the “poison of a serpent” and the reasoners themselves “serpents;” and because such persons reason much from sensuous, that is, from visible things (such as are things terrestrial, corporeal, mundane, and natural), it is said that “the serpent was more subtle than any wild animal of the field.”

[2] And so in David, speaking of those who seduce man by reasonings: They sharpen their tongue like a serpent; the poison of the asp is under their lips (Ps. 140:3). And again: They go astray from the womb, speaking a lie. Their poison is like the poison of a serpent, like the deaf poisonous asp that stoppeth her ear, that she may not hear the voice of the mutterers, of a wise one that charmeth charms [sociantis sodalitia] 195-1 (Ps. 58:3-6). Reasonings that are of such a character that the men will not even hear what a wise one says, or the voice of the wise, are here called the “poison of a serpent.” Hence it became a proverb among the ancients, that “The serpent stoppeth the ear.” In Amos: As if a man came into a house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of Jehovah be darkness and not light? even thick darkness, and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:19-20). The “hand on the wall” means self-derived power, and trust in sensuous things, whence comes the blindness which is here described.

[3] In Jeremiah: The voice of Egypt shall go like a serpent, for they shall go in strength, and shall come to her with axes as hewers of wood. They shall cut down her forest, saith Jehovah, because it will not be searched; for they are multiplied more than the locust, and are innumerable. The daughter of Egypt is put to shame; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north (Jer. 46:22-24). “Egypt” denotes reasoning about Divine things from sensuous things and memory-knowledges [scientifica]. Such reasonings are called the “voice of a serpent;” and the blindness thereby occasioned, the “people of the north.” In Job: He shall suck the poison of asps; the viper’s tongue shall slay him. He shall not see the brooks, the flowing rivers of honey and butter (Job 20:16-17). “Rivers of honey and butter” are things spiritual and celestial, which cannot be seen by mere reasoners; reasonings are called the “poison of the asp” and the “viper’s tongue.” See more respecting the serpent below, at verses 14 and 15.

In ancient times those were called “serpents” who had more confidence in sensuous things than in revealed ones. But it is still worse at the present day, for now there are persons who not only disbelieve everything they cannot see and feel, but who also confirm themselves in such incredulity by knowledges [scientifica] unknown to the ancients, and thus occasion in themselves a far greater degree of blindness. In order that it may be known how those blind themselves, so as afterwards to see and hear nothing, who form their conclusions concerning heavenly matters from the things of sense, of memory-knowledge, and of philosophy, and who are not only “deaf serpents” but also the “flying serpents” frequently spoken of in the Word, which are much more pernicious, we will take as an example what they believe about the spirit.

[2] The sensuous man, or he who only believes on the evidence of his senses, denies the existence of the spirit because he cannot see it, saying, “It is nothing because I do not feel it: that which I see and touch I know exists.” The man of memory-knowledge [scientificus], or he who forms his conclusions from memory-knowledges [scientiae], says, What is the spirit, except perhaps vapor or heat, or some other entity of his science, that presently vanishes into thin air? Have not the animals also a body, senses, and something analogous to reason? and yet it is asserted that these will die, while the spirit of man will live. Thus they deny the existence of the spirit.

[3] Philosophers also, who would be more acute than the rest of mankind, speak of the spirit in terms which they themselves do not understand, for they dispute about them, contending that not a single expression is applicable to the spirit which derives anything from what is material, organic, or extended; thus they so abstract it from their ideas that it vanishes from them, and becomes nothing. The more sane however assert that the spirit is thought; but in their reasonings about thought, in consequence of separating from it all substantiality, they at last conclude that it must vanish away when the body expires. Thus all who reason from the things of sense, of memory-knowledge, and of philosophy, deny the existence of the spirit, and therefore believe nothing of what is said about the spirit and spiritual things. Not so the simple in heart: if these are questioned about the existence of spirit, they say they know it exists, because the Lord has said that they will live after death; thus instead of extinguishing their rational, they vivify it by the Word of the Lord.

Among the most ancient people, who were celestial men, by the “serpent” was signified circumspection, and also the sensuous part through which they exercised circumspection so as to be secure from injury. This signification of a “serpent” is evident from the Lord’s words to His disciples: Behold, I send you forth as sheep into the midst of wolves; be ye therefore prudent as serpents, and simple as doves (Matt. 10:16). And also from the “brazen serpent” that was set up in the wilderness, by which was signified the sensuous part in the Lord, who alone is the celestial man, and alone takes care of and provides for all; wherefore all who looked upon it were preserved.

2, 3. And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the tree of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

The “fruit of the tree of the garden” is the good and truth revealed to them from the Most Ancient Church; the “fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, of which they were not to eat” is the good and truth of faith, which they were not to learn from themselves; “not to touch it” is a prohibition against thinking of the good and truth of faith from themselves, or from what is of sense and “memory-knowledge [sensuali et scientifico]; “lest ye die” is because thus faith, or all wisdom and intelligence, would perish.

That the “fruit of the tree of which they might eat” signifies the good and truth of faith revealed to them from the Most Ancient Church, or the knowledges [cognitiones] of faith, is evident from the fact that it is said to be the “fruit of the tree of the garden of which they might eat” and not the “tree of the garden” as before when treating of the celestial man, or the Most Ancient Church (Gen. 2:16). The “tree of the garden” as it is there called, is the perception of what is good and true; which good and truth, because they are from that source, are here called “fruit” and are also frequently signified by “fruit” in the Word.

The reason why the “tree of knowledge” is here spoken of as being “in the midst of the garden” although previously (Gen. 2:9), the tree of lives was said to be in the midst of the garden, and not the tree of knowledge, is that the “midst” of the garden signifies the inmost; and the inmost of the celestial man, or of the Most Ancient Church, was the “tree of lives” which is love and the faith thence derived; whereas with this man, who may be called a celestial spiritual man, or with this posterity, faith was the “midst” of the garden, or the inmost. It is impossible more fully to describe the quality of the men who lived in that most ancient time, because at the present day it is utterly unknown, their genius being altogether different from what is ever found with anyone now. For the purpose however of conveying some idea of their genius, it may be mentioned that from good they knew truth, or from love they knew what is of faith. But when that generation expired, another succeeded of a totally different genius, for instead of discerning the true from the good, or what is of faith from love, they acquired the knowledge of what is good by means of truth, or what is of love from the knowledges of faith, and with very many among them there was scarcely anything but knowledge [quod scirent]. Such was the change made after the flood to prevent the destruction of the world.

Seeing therefore that such a genius as that of the most ancient people anterior to the flood is not found and does not exist at the present day, it is no easy matter to explain intelligibly what the words of this passage in their genuine sense imply. They are, however, perfectly understood in heaven, for the angels and angelic spirits who are called celestial are of the same genius as the most ancient people who were regenerate before the flood; while the angels and angelic spirits who are termed spiritual are of a similar genius to the regenerate after the flood, although in both cases with indefinite variety.

The Most Ancient Church, which was a celestial man, was of such a character as not only to abstain from “eating of the tree of knowledge” that is, from learning what belongs to faith from sensuous things and memory-knowledges [scientifica], but was not even allowed to touch that tree, that is, to think of anything that is a matter of faith from sensuous things and memory-knowledges, lest they should sink down from celestial life into spiritual life, and so on downward. Such also is the life of the celestial angels, the more interiorly celestial of whom do not even suffer faith to be named, nor anything whatever that partakes of what is spiritual; and if it is spoken of by others, instead of faith they have a perception of love, with a difference known only to themselves; thus whatever is of faith they derive from love and charity. Still less can they endure listening to any reasoning about faith, and least of all to anything of memory-knowledge [scientificum] respecting it; for, through love, they have a perception from the Lord of what is good and true; and from this perception they know instantly whether a thing is so, or is not so. Therefore when anything is said about faith, they answer simply that it is so, or that it is not so, because they perceive it from the Lord. This is what is signified by the Lord’s words in Matthew: Let your communication be Yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (Matt. 5:37). This then is what was meant by their not being allowed to touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge; for if they touched it, they would be in evil, that is, they would in consequence “die.” Nevertheless the celestial angels converse together on various subjects like the other angels, but in a celestial language, which is formed and derived from love, and is more ineffable than that of the spiritual angels.

The spiritual angels, however, converse about faith, and even confirm the things of faith by those of the intellect, of the reason, and of the memory [per intellectualia, rationalia, et scientifica], but they never form their conclusions concerning matters of faith on such grounds: those who do this are in evil. They are also endowed by the Lord with a perception of all the truths of faith, although not with such a perception as is that of the celestial angels. The perception of the spiritual angels is a kind of conscience which is vivified by the Lord and which indeed appears like celestial perception, yet is not so, but is only spiritual perception.

Verses 4, 5. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. Their “eyes being opened by eating of the fruit of the tree” signifies that if they were to examine the things of faith from what is of sense and knowledge [ex sensuali et scientifico], that is, from themselves, they would plainly see those things as if erroneous. And that they would be “as God, knowing good and evil” denotes that if they did so from themselves, they would be as God, and could guide themselves.

Every verse contains a particular state, or change of state, in the church: the preceding verses, that although thus inclined they nevertheless perceived it to be unlawful; these verses, an incipient doubt whether it might not be lawful for them, since they would thus see whether the things they had heard from their forefathers were true, and so their eyes would be opened; at length, in consequence of the ascendancy of self-love, they began to think that they could lead themselves, and thus be like the Lord; for such is the nature of the love of self that it is unwilling to submit to the Lord’s leading, and prefers to be self-guided, and being self-guided to consult the things of sense and of memory-knowledge as to what is to be believed.

Who have a stronger belief that their eyes are open, and that as God they know what is good and evil, than those who love themselves, and at the same time excel in worldly learning? And yet who are more blind? Only question them, and it will be seen that they do not even know, much less believe in, the existence of spirit; with the nature of spiritual and celestial life they are utterly unacquainted; they do not acknowledge an eternal life; for they believe themselves to be like the brutes which perish; neither do they acknowledge the Lord, but worship only themselves and nature. Those among them who wish to be guarded in their expressions, say that a certain Supreme Existence [Ens] of the nature of which they are ignorant, rules all things. These are the principles in which they confirm themselves in many ways by things of sense and of memory-knowledge, and if they dared, they would do the same before all the universe. Although such persons desire to be regarded as gods, or as the wisest of men, if they were asked whether they know what it is not to have anything of their own, they would answer that it is to have no existence, and that if they were deprived of everything that is their own, they would be nothing. If they are asked what it is to live from the Lord, they think it a phantasy. If asked whether they know what conscience is, they would say it is a mere creature of the imagination, which may be of service in keeping the vulgar under restraint. If asked whether they know what perception is, they would merely laugh at it and call it enthusiastic rubbish. Such is their wisdom, such “open eyes” have they, and such “gods” are they. Principles like these, which they think clearer than the day, they make their starting-point, and so continue on, and in this way reason about the mysteries of faith; and what can be the result but an abyss of darkness? These above all others are the “serpents” who seduce the world. But this posterity of the Most Ancient Church was not as yet of such a character. That which became such is treated of from verse 14 to verse 19 of this chapter.

6 And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to give intelligence, and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and she gave also to her husband [vir] with her, and he did eat. “Good for food” signifies cupidity; “pleasant to the eyes” phantasy; and” desirable to give intelligence” pleasure: these are of the Own, or “woman:” by the “husband eating” is signified the consent of the rational (n. 265).

This was the fourth posterity of the Most Ancient Church, who suffered themselves to be seduced by self-love [amore proprio] and were unwilling to believe what was revealed, unless they saw it confirmed by the things of sense and of memory-knowledge.

The expressions here employed, as that “the tree was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirable for giving intelligence” are such as were adapted to the genius of those who lived in that most ancient time, having especial reference to the will, because their evils streamed out from the will. Where the Word treats of the people who lived after the flood, such expressions are used as relate not so much to the will as to the understanding; for the most ancient people had truth from good, but those who lived after the flood had good from truth.

What man’s Own is may be stated in this way. Man’s Own is all the evil and falsity that springs from the love of self and of the world, and from not believing in the Lord or the Word but in self, and from supposing that what cannot be apprehended sensuously and by means of memory-knowledge [sensualiter et scientifice] is nothing. In this way men become mere evil and falsity, and therefore regard all things pervertedly; things that are evil they see as good, and things that are good as evil; things that are false they see as true, and things that are true as false; things that really exist they suppose to be nothing, and things that are nothing they suppose to be everything. They call hatred love, darkness light, death life, and the converse. In the Word, such men are called the “lame” and the “blind.” Such then is the Own of man, which in itself is infernal and accursed.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. Their “eyes being opened” signifies their knowing and acknowledging, from an interior dictate, that they were “naked” that is, no longer in innocence, as before, but in evil.

That by having the “eyes opened” is signified an interior dictate, is evident from similar expressions in the Word, as from what Balaam says of himself, who in consequence of having visions calls himself the “man whose eyes are opened” (Num. 24:3). And from Jonathan, who when he tasted of the honeycomb and had a dictate from within that it was evil, said that his “eyes saw” that is, were enlightened, so that he saw what he knew not (1 Sam. 14:29). Moreover in the Word, the “eyes” are often used to denote the understanding, and thus an interior dictate therefrom, as in David: Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death (Ps. 13:3), where “eyes” denote the understanding. So in Ezekiel, speaking of those who are not willing to understand, who “have eyes to see, and see not” (Ezek. 12:2). In Isaiah: Shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes (Isa. 6:10), denotes that they should be made blind, lest they should understand. So Moses said to the people, Jehovah hath not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear (Deut. 29:4), where “heart” denotes the will, and “eyes” denote the understanding. In Isaiah it is said of the Lord, that “He should open the blind eyes” (Isa. 42:7). And in the same Prophet: “The eyes of the blind shall see out of thick darkness and out of darkness” (Isa. 29:18).

By “knowing that they were naked” is signified their knowing and acknowledging themselves to be no longer in innocence as before, but in evil, as is evident from the last verse of the preceding chapter, where it is said, “and they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” and where it may be seen that “not to be ashamed because they were naked” signifies to be innocent. The contrary is signified by their “being ashamed” as in this verse, where it is said that they “sewed fig-leaves together, and hid themselves;” for where there is no innocence, nakedness is a scandal and disgrace, because it is attended with a consciousness of thinking evil. For this reason “nakedness” is used in the Word as a type of disgrace and evil, and is predicated of a perverted church, as in Ezekiel: Thou wast naked and bare, and trampled on in thy blood (Ezek. 16:22). Again: They shall leave her naked and bare, and the nakedness shall be uncovered (Ezek. 23:29). In John: I counsel thee to buy of Me white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear (Rev. 3:18). And concerning the last day: Blessed is he who watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame (Rev. 16:15). In Deuteronomy: If a man hath found some nakedness in his wife, let him write her a bill of divorcement (Deut. 24:1). For the same reason Aaron and his sons were commanded to have linen breeches when they came to the altar, and to minister, to “cover the flesh of their nakedness, lest they should bear iniquity, and die” (Exod. 28:42-43).

They are called “naked” because left to their Own; for they who are left to their Own, that is, to themselves, have no longer anything of intelligence and wisdom, or of faith, and consequently are “naked” as to truth and good, and are therefore in evil.

That man’s Own is nothing but evil and falsity has been made evident to me from the fact that whatever spirits have at any time said from themselves has been so evil and false that whenever it was made known to me that they spoke from themselves I at once knew that it was false, even though while speaking they were themselves so thoroughly persuaded of the truth of what they said as to have no doubt about it. The case is the same with men who speak from themselves. And in the same way, whenever any persons have begun to reason concerning the things of spiritual and celestial life, or those of faith, I could perceive that they doubted, and even denied, for to reason concerning faith is to doubt and deny. And as it is all from self or their Own, they sink into mere falsities, consequently into an abyss of thick darkness, that is, of falsities, and when they are in this abyss the smallest objection prevails over a thousand truths, just as a minute particle of dust in contact with the pupil of the eye shuts out the universe and everything it contains. Of such persons the Lord says in Isaiah: Woe unto those who are wise in their own eyes, and intelligent before their own faces (Isa. 5:21). And again: Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath turned thee away, and thou hast said in thine heart, I, and none else besides me; and evil shall come upon thee, thou shalt not know from whence it riseth, and mischief shall fall upon thee, which thou shalt not be able to expiate, and vastation shall come upon thee suddenly, of which thou art not aware (Isa. 47:10-11). In Jeremiah: Every man is made stupid by knowledge [scientia], every founder is confounded by the graven image, for his molten image is falsehood, neither is there breath in them (Jer. 51:17). A “graven image” is the falsity, and a “molten image” the evil, of man’s Own.

And they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves girdles. To “sew leaves together” is to excuse themselves; the “fig-tree” is natural good; and to “make themselves girdles” is to be affected with shame. Thus spoke the most ancient people, and thus they described this posterity of the church, signifying that instead of the innocence they had formerly enjoyed, they possessed only natural good, by which their evil was concealed; and being in natural good, they were affected with shame.

That the “vine” is used in the Word to signify spiritual good, and the “fig-tree” natural good, is at this day utterly unknown, because the internal sense of the Word has been lost; nevertheless, wherever these expressions occur, they signify or involve this meaning; as also in what the Lord spoke in parables concerning a “vineyard” and a “fig-tree;” as in Matthew: Jesus seeing a fig-tree in the way, came to it, but found nothing thereon save leaves only, and He said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever; and presently the fig-tree withered away (Matt. 21:19), by which is meant, that no good, not even natural good, was to be found upon the earth. Similar is the meaning of the “vine” and “fig-tree” in Jeremiah: Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, and they knew not how to blush; therefore I will surely gather them, saith Jehovah; there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig-tree, and the leaf hath fallen (Jer. 8:12-13), by which is signified that all good, both spiritual and natural, had perished, since they were so depraved as to have lost even the sense of shame, like those at the present day who are in evil, and who, so far from blushing for their wickedness, make it their boast. In Hosea: I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree in the beginning (Hos. 9:10). And in Joel: Be not afraid, ye beasts of My fields, for the tree shall bear its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine shall yield their strength (Joel 2:22). The “vine” here denotes spiritual good, and the “fig-tree” natural good.

8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God going to itself in the garden in the air of the day; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the face of Jehovah God in the midst the tree of the garden. By the “voice of Jehovah God going to itself in the garden” is signified an internal dictate which caused them to feel afraid, this dictate being the residue of the perception which they had possessed; by the “air” or “breath” of the “day” is denoted a period when the church still possessed some residue of perception; to “hide themselves from the face of Jehovah God” is to fear the dictate, as is wont to be the case with those who are conscious of evil; by the “midst of the tree of the garden” in which they hid themselves, is signified natural good; that which is inmost is called the “midst;” the “tree” denotes perception as before; but because there was little perception remaining, the tree is spoken of in the singular number, as if there were only one remaining.

That by the “voice of Jehovah God going to itself in the garden” is meant an internal dictate of which they were afraid, is evident from the signification of “voice” in the Word, where the “voice of Jehovah” is used to designate the Word itself, the doctrine of faith, conscience or a taking notice inwardly, and also every reproof thence resulting; whence it is that thunders are called the “voices of Jehovah” as in John: The angel cried with a loud voice, as a lion roareth, and when he had cried seven thunders uttered their voices (Rev. 10:3), denoting that there was then a voice both external and internal. Again: In the days of the voice of the seventh angel the mystery of God shall be consummated (Rev. 10:7). In David: Sing unto God, sing praises unto the Lord, who rideth upon the heavens of heavens which were of old; lo, He shall send out His voice, a voice of strength (Ps. 78:32, 33). The “heavens of heavens which were of old” denote the wisdom of the Most Ancient Church; “voice” revelation, and also an internal dictate. Again: The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters; the voice of Jehovah is in power; the voice of Jehovah is in glory; the voice of Jehovah breaketh the cedars; the voice of Jehovah divideth the games of fire; the voice of Jehovah maketh the wilderness to shake; the voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds to calve, and uncovereth the forests (Ps. 29:3-5 and 7-9). And in Isaiah: Jehovah shall cause the excellency of His voice to be heard, for through the voice of Jehovah shall Asshur be beaten down (Isa. 30:30, 31).

By the “voice going to itself” is meant that there was but little perception remaining, and that alone as it were by itself and unheard, as is manifest also from the following verse where it is said, “Jehovah called to the man.” So in Isaiah: The voice of one crying in the wilderness; the voice said, Cry (Isa. 40:3 and 6). The “wilderness” is a church where there is no faith; the “voice of one crying” is the annunciation of the Lord’s advent, and in general every announcement of His coming, as with the regenerate, with whom there is an internal dictate.

That by the “air” or “breath” “of the day” is signified a period when the church had still somewhat of perception remaining, is evident from the signification of “day” and of “night.” The most ancient people compared the states of the church to the times of the day and of the night, to the times of the day when the church was still in light, wherefore this state is compared to the breath or air “of the day” because there was still some remnant of perception by which they knew that they were fallen. The Lord also calls the state of faith “day” and that of no faith “night;” as in John: I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work (John 9:4). The states of the regeneration of man were for the same reason called “days” in chapter 1.

That to “hide themselves from the face of Jehovah” means to be afraid of the dictate, as is wont to be the case with those who are conscious of evil, is evident from the reply (verse 10): “I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked.” The “face of Jehovah” or of the Lord, is mercy, peace, and every good, as is clearly evident from the benediction: Jehovah make His faces to shine upon thee, and be merciful unto thee; Jehovah lift up His faces upon thee, and give thee peace (Num. 6:25, 26). And in David: God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His faces to shine upon us (Ps. 67:1). And in another place: There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Jehovah, lift Thou up the light of Thy faces upon us (Ps. 4:6). The mercy of the Lord is therefore called the “angel of faces” in Isaiah: I will make mention of the mercies of Jehovah; He hath requited them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His mercies and He became their Saviour. In all their affliction He was acted, and the angel of His faces saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them (Isa. 63:7-9).

As the “face of the Lord” is mercy, peace, and every good, it is evident that He regards all from mercy, and never averts His countenance from any; but that it is man, when in evil, who turns away his face, as is said by the Lord in Isaiah: Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you (Isa. 59:2); and here, “they hid themselves from the face of Jehovah, because they were naked.”

Mercy, peace, and every good, or the “faces of Jehovah” are the cause of the dictate with those who have perception, and also, although in a different manner, with those who have conscience, and they always operate mercifully, but are received according to the state in which the man is. The state of this man, that is, of this posterity of the Most Ancient Church, was one of natural good; and they who are in natural good are of such a character that they hide themselves through fear and shame because they are naked: while such as are destitute of natural good do not hide themselves, because they are insusceptible of shame; concerning whom, in Jeremiah 8:12-13. (See above, n. 217.)

That the “midst of the tree of the garden” signifies natural good, in which there is some perception which is called a “tree” is also evident from the “garden” in which the celestial man dwelt; for everything good and true is called a “garden” with a difference according to the man who cultivates it. Good is not good unless its inmost is celestial, from which, or through which, from the Lord, comes perception. This inmost is here called the “midst” as also elsewhere in the Word.

9, 10. And Jehovah God cried unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

The meaning of “crying” of the “voice in the garden” of their “being afraid because they were naked” and of “hiding themselves” has been previously explained. It is common in the Word for man to be first asked where he is and what he is doing, although the Lord previously knew all things; but the reason for asking is that man may acknowledge and confess.

As it is desirable that the origin of perception, internal dictate, and conscience, should be known, and as at the present day it is altogether unknown, I may relate something on the subject. It is a great truth that man is governed by the Lord by means of spirits and angels. When evil spirits begin to rule, the angels labor to avert evils and falsities, and hence arises a combat. It is this combat of which the man is rendered sensible by perception, dictate, and conscience. By these, and also by temptations, a man might clearly see that spirits and angels are with him, were he not so deeply immersed in corporeal things as to believe nothing that is said about spirits and angels. Such persons, even if they were to feel these combats hundreds of times, would still say that they are imaginary, and the effect of a disordered mind. I have been permitted to feel such combats, and to have a vivid sense of them, thousands and thousands of times, and this almost constantly for several years, as well as to know who, what, and where they were that caused them, when they came, and when they departed; and I have conversed with them.

It is impossible to describe the exquisite perception whereby the angels discover whether anything gains admission that is contrary to the truth of faith and the good of love. They perceive the quality of what enters, and when it enters, a thousand times more perfectly than the man himself, who scarcely knows anything about it. The least of thought in a man is more fully perceived by the angels than the greatest is by himself. This is indeed incredible, yet is most true.

11-13. And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And Jehovah God said unto the woman, Why hast thou done this? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

The signification of these words is evident from what has been explained before, namely, that the rational of man suffered itself to be deceived by its Own, because this was dear to him (that is, by the love of self), so that he believed nothing but what he could see and feel. Everyone can see that Jehovah God did not speak to a serpent, and indeed that there was no serpent, neither did He address the sensuous part that is signified by the “serpent;” but that these words involve a different meaning, namely, that they perceived themselves to be deluded by the senses, and yet, in consequence of self-love, were desirous of ascertaining the truth of what they had heard concerning the Lord, and concerning faith in Him, before they believed it.

The ruling evil of this posterity was the love of self, without their having at the same time so much of the love of the world as exists at the present day; for they dwelt within their own households and families, and had no desire to accumulate wealth.

The evil of the Most Ancient Church which existed before the flood, as well as that of the Ancient Church after the flood, and also that of the Jewish Church, and subsequently the evil of the new church, or church of the Gentiles, after the coming of the Lord, and also that of the church of the present day, was and is that they do not believe the Lord or the Word, but themselves and their own senses. Hence there is no faith, and where there is no faith there is no love of the neighbor, consequently all is false and evil.

At this day, however, it is much worse than in former times, because men can now confirm the incredulity of the senses by memory-knowledges [scientifica] unknown to the ancients, and this has given birth to an indescribable degree of darkness. If men knew how great is the darkness from this cause they would be astounded.

To explore the mysteries of faith by means of memory-knowledges [scientifica] is as impossible as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, or for a rib to govern the finest fibrils of the chest and of the heart. So gross, yea, much more so, is that which pertains to our senses and memory-knowledge [sensale et scientificum] relatively to what is spiritual and celestial. He who would investigate the hidden things of nature, which are innumerable, discovers scarcely one, and while investigating them falls into errors, as is well known. How much more likely is this to be the case while investigating the hidden truths of spiritual and celestial life, where myriads of mysteries exist for one that is invisible in nature!

[2] As an illustration take this single example: Of himself man cannot but do what is evil, and turn away from the Lord. Yet man does not do these things, but the evil spirits who are with him. Nor do these evil spirits do them, but the evil itself which they have made their own. Nevertheless man does evil and turns himself away from the Lord, and is in fault; and yet he lives only from the Lord. So on the other hand, of himself man cannot possibly do what is good, and turn to the Lord, but this is done by the angels. Nor can the angels do it, but the Lord alone. And yet man is able as of himself to do what is good, and to turn himself to the Lord. These facts can never be apprehended by our senses, memory-knowledge, and philosophy, but if these are consulted will be denied in spite of their truth. And it is the same all through.

[3] From what has been said it is evident that those who consult sensuous things and memory-knowledges [sensualia et scientifica] in matters of belief, plunge themselves not only into doubt, but also into denial, that is, into thick darkness, and consequently into all cupidities. For as they believe what is false, they also do what is false. And as they believe that what is spiritual and celestial has no existence, so they believe that there is nothing else but what is of the body and the world. And so they love all that belongs to self and the world, and in this way do cupidities and evils spring from what is false.

23 Therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. To be “cast out of the garden of Eden” is to be deprived of all intelligence and wisdom; and to “till the ground from which he was taken” is to become corporeal, as he was previous to regeneration. That to be “cast out of the garden of Eden” is to be deprived of all intelligence and wisdom, is evident from the signification of a “garden” and of “Eden” as above; for a “garden” signifies intelligence, or the understanding of truth; and “Eden” being significative of love, signifies wisdom, or the will of good. That to “till the ground from which he was taken” signifies to become corporeal, such as he was before regeneration, has been shown above (verse 19), where similar words occur.

24 And He cast out the man; and He made to dwell from the east toward the garden of Eden cherubim, and the flame of a sword turning itself to keep the way of the tree of lives. To “cast out the man” is to entirely deprive him of all the will of good and understanding of truth, insomuch that he is separated from them, and is no longer man. To “make cherubim from the east to dwell” is to provide against his entering into any secret thing of faith; for the “east toward the garden of Eden” is the celestial, from which is intelligence; and by “cherubim” is signified the providence of the Lord in preventing such a man from entering into the things of faith. By the “flame of a sword turning itself” is signified self-love [amor proprius] with its insane desires and consequent persuasions, which are such that he indeed wishes to enter, but is carried away to corporeal and earthly things, and this for the purpose of “keeping the way of the tree of lives” that is, of preventing the profanation of holy things.

It here treats of the sixth and seventh posterities, which perished by the flood, and were altogether “cast out of the garden of Eden” that is, from all understanding of truth, and became as it were not men, being left to their insane cupidities and persuasions.

As the signification of the “east” and of the “garden of Eden” were given above, it is needless to dwell longer on them; but that ” cherubim” denote the providence of the Lord lest man should insanely enter into the mysteries of faith from his Own, and from what is of the senses and of memory-knowledge [sensuali et scientifico], and should thus profane them, and destroy himself, is evident from all the passages in the Word where mention is made of “cherubim.” As the Jews were of such a quality that if they had possessed any clear knowledge concerning the Lord’s coming, concerning the representatives or types of the church as being significative of Him, concerning the life after death, concerning the interior man and the internal sense of the Word, they would have profaned it, and would have perished eternally; therefore this was represented by the ” cherubim” on the mercy-seat over the ark, upon the curtains of the tabernacle, upon the vail, and also in the temple; and it was signified that the Lord had them in keeping (Exod. 25:18-21; 26:1, 31; 1 Kings 6:23-29, 32). For the ark, in which was the testimony, signified the same as the tree of lives in this passage, namely, the Lord and the celestial things which belong solely to Him. Hence also the Lord is so often called the “God of Israel sitting on the cherubim” and hence He spake with Moses and Aaron “between the cherubim” (Exod. 25:22; Num. 7:89). This is plainly described in Ezekiel, where it is said: The glory of the God of Israel was uplifted from upon the cherub whereon He was, to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed with linen, and said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who groan and sigh for all the abominations done in the midst thereof. And to the others He said, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity; slay to blotting out the old man, and the young man, and the virgin, the infant, and the women; defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain (Ezek. 9:3-7). And again: He said to the man clothed in linen, Go in between the wheel to beneath the cherub, and fill thy palms with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city; the cherub put forth his hand from between the cherubim unto the fire which was between the cherubim, and took thereof, and put it into the palms of him that was clothed in linen, who took it and went out (Ezek. 10:2, 7). From these passages it is evident that the providence of the Lord in preventing men from entering into the mysteries of faith is signified by the “cherubim;” and that therefore they were left to their insane cupidities, here also signified by the “fire that was to be scattered over the city” and that “none should be spared.”

That by the “flame of a sword turning itself” is signified self-love [amor proprius] with its insane cupidities and persuasions, which are such that they desire to enter [into the mysteries of faith], but are carried away to corporeal and earthly things, might be confirmed by so many passages from the Word as would fill pages; but we will cite only these from Ezekiel: Prophesy and say, Thus saith Jehovah, Say a sword, a sword, it is sharpened, and also burnished to make a sore slaughter; it is sharpened that it may be as lightning. Let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of his slain; the sword of a great slaughter, which entereth into their bed-chambers, that their heart may melt, and their offenses be multiplied, I have set the terror of the sword in all their gates. Alas! it is made as lightning (Ezek. 21:9, 10, 14, 15). A “sword” here signifies the desolation of man such that he sees nothing that is good and true, but mere falsities and things contrary, denoted by “multiplying offenses.” It is also said in Nahum, of those who desire to enter into the mysteries of faith, “The horseman mounting, and the flame of the sword, and the flash of the spear, and a multitude of the slain” (Nah. 3:3). [AC 89-313]

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg