Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1992

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1992. 'I am God Shaddai' means, in the sense of the letter, the name of Abram's God, by means of which the Lord was represented before them at first. This is clear from references in the Word to Abram and his father's house worshipping other gods. Surviving in Syria, where Abram came from, there were remnants of the Ancient Church, and many families there retained its worship, as is clear in the case of Eber who came from those parts and from whom the Hebrew nation descended. They likewise retained the name Jehovah, as is evident from what has been shown in Volume One, in 1343, and from Balaam, who also came from Syria, and who offered sacrifices and called his God Jehovah. That he came from Syria is indicated in Num 23:7; that he offered sacrifices, in Num 22:39, 40; 23:1-3, 14, 29; and that he called his God Jehovah, in Num 2:8, 13, 18, 31; 23:8, 12, 16.

[2] But in the case of the house of Terah, Abram and Nahor's father, this was not so. That house was one of the gentile families there which had not only lost the name of Jehovah but also served other gods; and instead of Jehovah they worshipped Shaddai, whom they called their own god. The fact that they had lost the name of Jehovah is clear from the places quoted in Volume One, in 1343; and the fact that they served other gods is explicitly stated in Joshua,

Joshua said to all the people, Thus said Jehovah, the God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt of old beyond the River, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. Now fear Jehovah, and serve Him in sincerity and truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve Jehovah. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose this day whom you are to serve, whether the gods which your fathers served who were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites. Josh 24:2, 14, 15.
The fact that Nahor as well, Abram's brother, and the nation that descended from him, served other gods is also clear from Laban the Syrian, who lived in the city of Nahor and worshipped the images or seraphim which Rachel stole, Gen 24:10; 31:19, 30, 32, 34 -
see what has been stated in Volume One, in 1356. That instead of Jehovah they worshipped Shaddai, whom they called their god, is plainly stated in Moses,

I, Jehovah, appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Shaddai, and by My name Jehovah I was not known to them. Exod 6:2, 3.

[3] These references show what Abram was by disposition in his younger days, namely an idolater like other gentiles, and that even up to and during the time he was in the land of Canaan he had not cast the god Shaddai away from his mind; and this accounts for the declaration here, 'I am God Shaddai', which in the sense of the letter means the name of Abram's god. And from Exod 6:2, 3, that has just been quoted, it is evident that it was by this name that the Lord was first represented before them - before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

[4] The reason the Lord was willing to be represented before them first of all through the name Shaddai is that the Lord is never willing to destroy quickly, still less immediately, the worship implanted in someone since earliest childhood. He is unwilling to destroy it because it would be an uprooting and so a destroying of the deeply implanted feeling for what is holy which is expressed in adoration and worship, a feeling which the Lord never crushes but bends. The holiness which is expressed in worship and has been inrooted since earliest childhood is such that it does not respond to violence but to gentle and kindly bending. The same applies to gentiles who during their lifetime have worshipped idols and yet have led charitable lives one with another. Because the holiness expressed in their worship has been inrooted since earliest childhood it is not removed all of a sudden in the next life but gradually. For people who have led charitable lives one with another are able to have implanted in them without difficulty the goods and truths of faith; these they subsequently receive with joy, charity being the soil itself. This is what happened in the case of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is to say, the Lord allowed them to retain the name God Shaddai; indeed He went so far as to speak of Himself as God Shaddai, which He did because of what that name meant.

[5] Some translators render Shaddai as the Almighty, others as the Thunderbolt-hurler. But strictly speaking it means the Tempter, and the One who does good following temptations, as is clear in Job who, because he suffered many temptations, mentions Shaddai so many times, such as the following places in his book make clear,

Behold, blessed is the man whom God reproves; and despise not the chastening of Shaddai. Job 5:17.

The arrows of Shaddai are with me, the terrors of God are arrayed against me. Job 6:4.
He will forsake the fear of Shaddai. Job 6:14. I will speak to Shaddai, and I desire to dispute with God. Job 13:3. He has stretched forth his hand against God, and emboldens himself against Shaddai Job 15:25. His eyes will see his destruction and he will drink of the wrath of Shaddai. Job 21:20. As for Shaddai, you will not find him. He is great in power and judgement, and in the abundance of righteousness. He will not afflict. Job 37:23.

Also in Joel,

Alas for the day! For the day of Jehovah is near, and as destruction from Shaddai will it come. Joel 1:15.

This becomes clear also from the actual word Shaddai, which means vastation, thus temptation, for temptation is a variety of vastation. But because the name had its origins among the nations in Syria, he is not called Elohim Shaddai but El Shaddai; and in Job he is called simply Shaddai, with El, or God, mentioned separately.

[6] Because comfort follows temptations people also attributed the good that comes out of temptations to the same Shaddai, as in Job 22:17, 23, 25, 26; and they also attributed to him the understanding of truth which resulted from those temptations 32:8; 33:4. And because in this way he was regarded as a god of truth, for vastation, temptation, chastisement, and reproving belong in no way to good but to truth, and because the Lord was represented by means of it before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the name was retained even among the Prophets. But with the latter Shaddai was used to mean truth, as in Ezekiel,

I heard the sound of the cherubs' wings, like the sound of many waters, like the sound of Shaddai as they were coming, a sound of tumult, like the sound of a camp. Ezek 1:24.

In the same prophet,

The court was full of the brightness of the glory of Jehovah, and the sound of the wings of the cherubs was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of the god Shaddai when he speaks. Ezek 10:4, 5.

Here Jehovah stands for good, Shaddai for truth. 'Wings' likewise in the Word means in the internal sense things that are matters of truth.

[7] Isaac and Jacob too used the name God Shaddai in a similar way, namely as one who tempts, rescues from temptation, and after that does good to them. Isaac addressed his son Jacob when he was about to flee on account of Esau,

God Shaddai bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you. Gen 28:3.

Jacob addressed his sons when they were about to journey into Egypt to buy grain and were so greatly afraid of Joseph,

May God Shaddai grant you mercy before the man, and may He send back with you your other brother and Benjamin. Gen 43:14.

Jacob, by now Israel, when blessing Joseph, who had experienced the evils of temptation more than his brothers and had been released from them, declared,

By the God of your father, and He will help you; and with Shaddai, and He will bless you. Gen. 49. 25.

This then explains why the Lord was willing to be represented at first as God Shaddai whom Abram worshipped when He declared,

I am God Shaddai.

And later on He referred to Himself in a similar way before Jacob, I am God Shaddai; be fruitful and multiply. Gen 35:11.

And a further reason is that the subject of the internal sense in what has gone before has been temptations.

[8] The worship of Shaddai with them had its origin, as it did with a certain nation which in the Lord's Divine mercy will be described later on, and also with those who belonged to the Ancient Church, in the fact that quite often they heard spirits who reproached them and who also afterwards consoled them. The spirits who reproached them were perceived as being on the left side below the arm; at the same time angels were present from the head who overruled the spirits and toned down the reproaching. And because they imagined that everything declared to them through the spirits was Divine, they called the reproaching spirit Shaddai. And because he also afterwards gave consolation they called him God Shaddai. Since they had no understanding of the internal sense of the Word, people in those days, including the Jews, possessed that kind of religion in which they imagined that all evil and so all temptation came from God just as all good and thus all comfort did. But that in actual fact this is not at all the case, see Volume One, in 245, 592, 696, 1093, 1874, 1875.

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