Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 755

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755. That 'the six hundredth year, the second month, and the seventeenth day' means the second state of temptation follows from what has been stated so far, for verse 6 down to this present verse 11 has dealt with the first state of temptation, which was temptation involving things of his understanding. Now however the second state is dealt with, namely temptation involving things of the will. This is the reason why his age is repeated. Previously it was said that 'he was a son of six hundred years', here that the Flood took place in 'the six hundredth year of his life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day'. No one would ever imagine that Noah's age, worked out to the exact year, month, and day, is used to mean a state of temptation involving things of the will. Yet, as has been stated, this was how the most ancient people spoke and wrote. And they found their chief delight in being able to work out periods of time and names and then to organize them into a semblance of history. It was in this that their wisdom consisted.

[2] It was shown at verse 6 above however that 'six hundred years' means nothing other than an initial state of temptation. Here similarly 'six hundred years' is mentioned. But so that it might mean a second state of temptation, months and days have been added - two months in fact, or rather 'in the second month', which means conflict itself, as becomes clear from the meaning of the number two given already at verse 6 of this chapter. As has been shown and may be seen there, two has the same meaning as six, that is, labour and conflict and also dispersion. The number seventeen however means not only the onset of temptation but also the end of temptation, the reason being that it is the sum of the numbers seven and ten. When this number means the onset of temptation it then entails 'seven days' or a week, which means the onset of temptation, as shown already at verse 4 of this chapter. But when it means the end of temptation, as it does later on in 8:4, seven is then a holy number to which ten, meaning remnants, has been added; for without remnants nobody is able to be regenerated.

[3] That seventeen means the onset of temptation is clear in Jeremiah's being commanded to buy the field from Hanamel his cousin who was in Anathoth, and to weigh out seventeen shekels of silver, Jer. 32:9. What comes after that in this chapter of the prophet shows that this number also means their captivity in Babylon, which represents the temptation of people who have faith and the devastation of those who have not. Indeed it represents the onset of temptation and at the same time the end of temptation, which is liberation. That captivity is mentioned in Jer. 32:36, and the liberation in verse 37 onwards. Such a number, like every other word that is used, would never have appeared in this prophet if it did not embody arcana.

[4] That seventeen means the onset of temptation becomes clear also from the age of Joseph, who was seventeen years old when he was sent off to his brothers and was sold into Egypt, Gen. 37:2. His being sold into Egypt represents the same kinds of things, as will in the Lord's Divine mercy be shown in that chapter. There the representative historical events did take place as described; here however they are made-up historical events carrying a spiritual meaning, which did not actually take place as described in the sense of the letter. Nevertheless the former embody arcana of heaven, right down to every word, as is the case here. This is bound to seem strange, for when any historical event occurs, true or made-up, the mind (animus) is confined to the letter from which it cannot extricate itself. Hence the conviction that nothing else is meant or represented.

[5] Yet it may become clear to anyone who is intelligent that some internal sense exists which has the life of the Word in it, but not in the letter, which devoid of the internal sense is dead. Without the internal sense what would any historical description be but history as found in any secular author? And so what would be the use of knowing Noah's exact age, or the month and day when the Flood took place, if it did not embody a heavenly arcanum? And who cannot see that 'all the fountains of the great deep were split open, and the floodgates of heaven were opened' is a prophetic utterance, as is much else besides?

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