The Mysterium Magnum by Jacob Boehme

(1575-1624)

Jacob Boehme

Chapter 32

The Thirty-Second Chapter

Of the Covenant between God and Noah

1. GOD said to Noah, I will establish a covenant with you, and you shall go into the ark with your and your son's wives with you (Gen. vi. 18). A great, pregnant and remarkable example we have here in Noah and his children. The Covenant was made with Noah; for his spirit was a discovery or beaming forth of the formed Word in him, in the beginning and end of time; and the beginning and end was the eternal Word, which had espoused itself in the Covenant. In which Covenant the soul of Noah, viz. the formed Word of the eternal nature, found grace, and obtained the confirmation of the Covenant of grace.

2. As his name does properly and peculiarly signify, in the Language of Nature, a beholding of the beginning and end. In this same beginning and end, viz. in the eternal-speaking Word of the Father, which would manifest and open itself again in the human life, grace was opened and presented to Noah, so that God did establish and confirm the Covenant with him.

3. And here we have a very excellent, and an emphatical example, which is exceedingly worth the mentioning, in the three sons of Noah, which in their properties were sprung forth from the stock of Adam in a threefold line. For we see that three nations [several sorts of people] did arise from them, and that God did include them all three, with their wives, in the Covenant of grace, and commanded them also to go into the ark, into the second monarchy, and did not exclude the fleshly Ham.

4. This is first highly to be considered: that a gate of grace stands open to all men, and that God has not set any election or predestination in nature; but the election or choice doth arise out of the free will, when it turns itself from the good into the evil.

5. Secondly, it is a type of the three Principles, viz. Sem is a type of the spiritual light-world in the Covenant; and Japhet of the fire-world, which should be a sojourner of the light-world, and a mirror of the great joy in the light-world; and Ham is a figure of the limus of the earth, to which the curse and the anger of God does hang. All these three, God took into the Covenant with Noah, and brought them into the ark.

6. For every man has these three worlds upon him, and in him; and the Covenant in the Word was therefore given, that the whole man should be redeemed.

7. For Japhet signifies the fire-soul; and Sem the image of God out of the light-world, viz. the spirit out of the holy Word; and Ham betokens the limus of the earth, with the outward dominion or region of the air, and of the magical ethereal constellations, together with the body, which shall be freed by the Covenant from the curse, and arise again out of the earth. The three brothers were a type of these three Principles.

8. Not that one did wholly arise out of one Principle alone, No! Sem and Japhet had likewise Ham's property in them, as did plainly manifest itself afterwards in the Jews, who became so wicked and vile a people. Only, we speak here of the superior dominion or predominant property, of which Principle the creature has had in the outward life in its figure.

9. Ham has the outward earthly elemental kingdom in the figure, which stood in the curse. Therefore his image [or person] was also cursed of his father, in the spirit; for the earthly image shall not inherit the kingdom of God; but he also had a soul from Adam, which stood in the Covenant; but the free will does very seldom work any good thing in such a lodging, and very easily attains the curse upon the soul. As we see that the curse did afterwards come upon this generation; that Israel must destroy [them] by their entrance into the Land of Promise; albeit they did not wholly destroy [them] all, yet the curse was come upon them.

10. There is a very great mystery in the ark of Noah, which the Lord commanded him to build after that manner, and showed him how high, how long, and how broad it should be, and directed also that it should have three several stories; also concerning the creatures which he commanded him to bring thereinto; which is such a mystery, that the wicked malicious man is not worthy to know it. And we also shall not mention it in the ground [or depth of its meaning]. For it has its time, wherein it shall be opened, viz. in the lily-time, when Babel has its end. But yet to set down somewhat for a furtherance and direction to our fellow-branches, to whom in its due time it shall break forth and grow out of our ens of this lily (which also shall be a rose in the lily-time), we will set it down in a hidden exposition.

11. The mystery of the holy Trinity: also the three Principles: also the three sons of Noah: also the three men that appeared to Abraham in the plain of Mamre: also the vision of the great temple in Ezekiel: and the whole Revelation of John belongs unto this figure: also the temple of Jerusalem.

12. Set before you the figure of the ark, with its three stories, with its height, length, and breadth, and place it in the three Principles. And in the three Principles open the mysteries of the hierarchy [1] of Christ in the three distinctions of heavens, which yet are only one; but in three properties, as fire, light, and air are three, and yet but one. Place in these distinctions [or several differences] the three sons of Noah; and go out of their properties into their monarchy in the world, which continues to the end of days. Also set before you the formed Word according to all the three Principles; and so you will find the ground of all. Especially set before you, Moses, Elias, and Christ, in their appearance and transfiguration upon the mount: the ark of Noah is the first type of all these figures; and the hierarchy of Christ is the fulfilling of them at the end of days. Enough to ours.

[1. Or, hierarchies.]

13. And the Lord said, Come you and your whole house into the ark, for you have I seen righteous before me at this time [2] (Gen. vii. I). The Scripture says elsewhere, before you none living is righteous, if you will impute sin. But here God says, I have seen you righteous before me at this time. The creature was not the righteous one, without evil; but HE, who at this time did in Noah open and manifest himselfout of the Covenant, who grieved at the evil of this time, and introduced his sorrow into God's love and mercy, and so brought the righteousness of the mercy into the sorrow, and manifested the grieving mournful spirit in the ens of the Covenant in the creature. Thus Noah was righteous before God at this time, when the Covenant did move itself in him.

[2. Or, generation.]

14. This time is [or signifies] the motion of the Covenant, which made Noah righteous. For this was the time when Noah received life in the womb. The spirit looked with his first glimpse of life out of the divine ens of the formed Word into the beginning whence the life was come, and into the end which was the kingdom of Christ. In this aspect [or divine glimpse] the life of Noah receives the righteousness in the mark of the Covenant at this time, for that was the time in him wherein he was found righteous.

15. God brought eight persons into the ark, and of the clean beasts seven and seven, [3] the male and its female. The seven persons point at the seven properties of the natural life, that God will have children out of all the properties into his eternal ark. The eighth person was Noah, and in Noah was the Righteous One, that was the Covenant, out of which the kingdom of Christ should come; therein stood the ark of Noah. But the ark has three stories, which are the three Principles in one only divine manifestation, for each property of the three has its own peculiar heaven and certain choir in itself.

[3. Or, seven pair.]

16. The seven pair of clean beasts are even the very same mystery, for the centre has seven properties; and yet they are but one in the divine power. But according to the eternal nature there are seven of them as to the divine manifestation. Which signifies unto us, that the creatures were brought forth into life out of this sevenfold ens, where each degree has again seven in it, to its manifestation, whence the infiniteness, viz. the form of God's wisdom, does appear and shine forth, and that in the formed wisdom, whose image and figure shall not vanish or perish. Although their life, and the creature, which has a temporal beginning, does pass away; but the form shall remain in the divine wisdom, viz. in the ens of the formed Word in the figure, to the praise of God's wondrous deeds. Indeed, not to a restoration of their creature, but for a visible mirror or looking-glass in the formed wisdom of God.

17. But of the unclean beasts God commanded Noah to take only one pair of each kind with him into the ark. Understand it thus: The unclean beasts have, on one part, their original out of the limus of the earth, according to the grossness, viz. according to the dark world's property. Although their spirit takes its rise out of nature, yet we are to consider the difference in nature in respect of that which came forth, in the Verbum Fiat, out of the source of the dark world's property, into a compaction; whence such an ens does adhere unto many an unclean creature. And it signifies unto us, in the right understanding, that the dark world, viz. the unclean world, shall appear before the wisdom of God only in one manifest form, viz. in the darkness. But the properties shall be manifest only in the creatures themselves, each in its own peculiar self and nature.

18. For the formed wisdom as to the darkness is the heaven of them all, which is manifest only according to the darkness, wherein the property lies hidden, according to which God calls himself an angry zealous God. Out of this dark heaven every creature receives its power and virtue according to its property. According as its hunger is, so it sucks with its desire from thence: and it signifies unto us, that the unclean beasts, each kind of them in their form, shall appear only in one form in the wisdom of the darkness, viz. in the figure, as they were created in the beginning, and not in seven properties according to the centre of nature in all properties according to light and darkness, as the rest shall; for they are in the figure of the first Principle, which in the pure heaven shall be manifest only in one property, viz. according to the burning [property] wherein the light is moved, [4] and the wisdom formed.

[4. Movable and formable.]

19. But here I will warn the Reader to understand our sense and meaning aright, and not to put me calves, cows and beasts, in their spirit and body, into heaven. I speak only of the eternal formed wisdom, whence evil and good has been brought to manifestation.

20. Moreover, God said to Noah, For yet seven days, will I cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance which I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. Wherefore did God say, after seven days the flood shall come? why not presently, either sooner or later; why does he set even seven days? In this the seven properties of nature are contained mystically, in which the Verbum Fiat had introduced itself into an ens, viz. into the formed Word; that is, into the creation of the world; in which creation the formed Word repented at the vanity of all creatures, and moved itself through the generatress of nature in the formed Word, to destroy the turba.

21. Now the first motion and information of the Word in the creation, with the six days' works and the day of rest, being seven days, was brought into a form of time, and it yet stood so, in its form. Now then, when the Word (which said it would drown every life with water) did open, disclose and manifest itself through the seven properties of nature to the water's birth, it came to pass in the form wherein the Word had given in itself with the creation, viz. in the same sevenfold operation, which should open itself in its own peculiar order, and not enkindle or elevate any one property above the other; but if all seven would open and manifest themselves according to the water's birth, then the only fountain or head-spring of all the deeps in the centre of nature should break open. And seeing they came in seven days into their outward, formed, working dominion, the speaking Word did also proceed in the opening thereof in seven days unto the limit for its manifestation of that which it desired; as namely, to drown the turba.

22. And let none look upon this as a fiction, or laugh at it, for whosoever does so, does not yet understand our spirit and meaning at all. Nor has [he] any knowledge at all of the formed Word, but has only an external understanding of nature, like [a brute beast or] a bird that flies in the air, and knows not what the essence is.

23. Now says reason, Wherefore did it rain just forty days and forty nights; could not God have drowned the world in one hour? Answer: In the space of forty days the turba was borne in the human property, viz. Adam before his Eve stood in the image of God forty days and nights, which yet in the image of God were only as one day. There he wrought forty days in his desire, viz. in the Fiat, and brought forth the turba in himself; in his lust after the grossness of the earth: the good part of the limus of the earth, which was drawn, in the Verbum Fiat, into a mass, did hunger after the evil, gross part, which was of the dark world's property.

24. And even in forty days the grossness did arise in his imagination in the good ens, viz. a self-full will to the perception or intromission of the gross earthliness, in which evil and good was made manifest. And when this same will's spirit was arisen in the desire, it entered into its own self-full dominion, and in its fiery and earthly might strongly suppressed the holy spiritual ens in the word of power. Even then Adam fell asleep, viz. into an impotency and disability of the angelical spiritual world, and the woman was taken out of him; and both were in this turba formed [5] unto the outward natural life.

[5. Text: figured.]

25. This turba is that wherein God did also set the curse, which with Noah was first at the end, which God said, The end of all flesh is come up before me. And out of this forty-days-produced turba, the fountains of the deep did arise in the water source, and drowned the turba in the flesh of these sexes.

26. For from the sin of Adam came the deluge over the world; and this forty-days-produced turba was the sin in the flesh. Otherwise, if the water-fountain had not opened itself the fire-fountain had proceeded forth out of the turba in the wrath of God. Therefore God said, It repented him, that he had made the creatures; and his sorrow went into the turba, and drowned it.

27. And let the Reader be put in mind, that so often as he finds the number forty in the holy Scripture, that it altogether, in the beginning, points at the forty-days-produced turba. For instance, the forty days of Moses upon Mount Sinai: the forty years in the wilderness: also the forty hours of Christ in the grave. Also the forty days after his resurrection, before his ascension, do all belong unto this; and all the numbers forty in the secret and mystical prophetical sayings of the prophets: for out of this turba the prophet is arisen, with his prophecy.

28. But in that I say, that if the water-fountain had not been opened, the fire-fountain would have broken forth: is also true. For the children in the turba would have also burnt Noah in the ark with fire, if the most high had not hindered and prevented them with the water: for the fire's turba was moved in them. This was the world's end, or the end of all flesh: for at the end all shall be purified and purged in the fire's turba; for it will enkindle itself:

29. There is a very great mystery in that which the spirit says in Moses: Noah was five hundred years old when he begat Sem, Ham and Japhet, which otherwise is against the ordinary course of nature, to beget children in such a natural age. Also there is a very great mystery in that God said that he would give the world an hundred and twenty years respite; and yet the deluge came in the six-hundredth year of Noah, viz. in the hundredth year after the warning or notice thereof: And it signifies the abbreviation of time in its natural course, and also the end of the world, how that there shall be an abbreviation or shortening of time in the circle of the conclusion of all beings, of which we will mention something in a Treatise by itself; if the same be permitted us. [6]

[6. Query: this Treatise by itself.]

30. When Noah entered into the ark, Moses said, The Lord shut him in (Gen. vii. 16). The intimate signification of the spirit here is: He shut up the second time or age of the world, which was at the end, seeing the fire would fain have moved itself: Therefore the Lord shut it up with water, and herewith also [he opened] the gate of his entrance to go forth in the third time, and begin the second monarchy in the outward world: for the first time was in Paradise; the second, under Seth's manifestation: in the third, Enos's manifestation should be opened and set forth.

31. And Moses says further, And the waters stood upon the earth one hundred and fifty days. Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged. And the fountains of the deep and the windows also of heaven were stopped (Gen. viii. 1-3). Moses says, God remembered Noah. Now reason thinks, had he then forgotten him? whereas he is present to all things, and is himself through all, and in all things. The spirit in Moses does here hang a veil before the Mystery, that the natural man does not understand it.

32. God's remembrance here is the beginning of the third time, even the beginning of the second monarchy in the four elements with the creatures. For in the Covenant made with Noah the second monarchy was comprehended, which went forth out of the centre of the generatress through the divine wisdom in nature.

33. And Moses speaks further: When the waters were abated the ark set itself down upon the mount Ararat (Gen. viii. 4). This name [Ararat] does plainly hint unto us, in the Language of Nature, a mountain, or a compacting and an amassing of an essence out of the centre of nature, even out of the wrathfulness, seeing the anger of God had then reposed itself there. The ark stood upon the allayed anger. But the last syllable in this word Ara-RAT, does signify that the wrath of the eternal nature proceeding from the centre has betook or formed itself into an active dominion; and would thence-forward ride through nature, as a warrior, and mightily exercise its power and violence in the human property, whereby they would undertake wars, and advance themselves in pride, pomp and power, and butcher and slay one another, eagerly contending about this mountain of the wrath's might [or severe human authority].

34. This mountain, Ararat, denotes the houses of the great ones or domineering potentates upon the earth, viz. the great castles, forts and bulwarks, the mighty mountains of the power, violence and strength of the rich; and also the high nobility, sprung up from the mystery of the great world; upon which kingdom the ark of Noah has set down itself: But the Covenant with Noah, viz. the kingdom of Christ, has set itself to be an eternal Lord over this mountain of the warlike might and force of arms sprung up from the anger of God; which dominion and reigning power of Christ shall abolish and take away the kingdom of this mountain, and quite suppress it. And it denotes unto us truly, fundamentally and exactly, that this power and authority upon the earth would take upon it, in its own power, the ark of Noah, viz. the divine Covenant, and carry it; yea, put it on as a garment, and proudly perch up itself therein, as if it had the kingdom of Christ in its own power.

35. [And also it shows and denotes unto us] how that this mountain of the wrathful anger of God in the human property [or in man's nature] would beautify, trim up and adorn itself with the ark of Noah; and would proclaim it to be the holy ark of Christ; and yet it would be founded only upon the wrathful anger, and be only an anti-christian kingdom. Which indeed would carry the ark, viz. the name of divine holiness in the mouth but its heart would be only this mountain, a vessel and confused heap of God's wrath; and yet it would make devout shows of holiness, and glory in having the ark upon itself but the aim and intent of the heart would be set upon the strongholds, the preferment, power and riches of the world.

36. Furthermore, it denotes that the potent and mighty of the world would build the ark, viz. the service and worship of God, upon their heart and reason, with great stone houses, and churches, and that these houses thus built up of stone should be their God, whom they would serve in the ark; and they would wage war for the houses of stone of their own contriving and framing, and for their devices and opinions therein maintained, and contend about the figure of the true ark. And not consider that the ark stands upon their mountain, that God has set it above them, and that they ought to walk under God's dominion, in humility, and suffer the ark to stand upon them; and not usurp unto themselves the power of the Holy Ghost, or take it away, and bind him unto their feigned power and hypocritical forms, and command him to be silent, as they do, in that they cry with full mouth: lo! here is an assembly of divines: here is the true Church of Christ: this you must believe and do: this is the law and ordinance of the Church. No, the ark stands above them, they are under, as the mount Ararat was underneath the ark. Christ is the ark, and not the contrived heaps of stone [or any form of man's devised worship or opinion]. All assemblies, congregations, or synods are under the ark Christ, and not above [it], for the ark of Noah placed itself above the mountain: to signify that the mountain must bear the ark. We must bear the ark of Christ upon us, and have the temple of this ark within us.

37. Furthermore, it denotes how the figure of this ark, viz. the spiritual kingdom upon the earth, [7] would place itself upon the mountain of power, domination, and lordliness, and would rule with the mountain in the ark; and take upon itself to meddle with the worldly dominions and authority; and bring the mountain, viz. the power of the secular arm, above the ark: whereas the ark ought to stand upon the mountain, and Noah, with the Covenant, to remain in the ark, till the Lord bid him come forth, that is, till Christ deliver the ark to his Father.

[7. Ecclesiastical, clergical priesthood.]

38. And Moses says further, At the end of forty days, when the ark had set itself down, Noah sent forth a raven, to see whether the water was abated, but the raven flew to and fro till the waters were dried up from off the face of the earth (Gen. viii. 6, 7). The raven denotes the earthly man, and shows how that he would first put forth himself upon the mountain Ararat, that is, advance himself in his selfhood and earthly lust, and build up his kingdom in the second monarchy.

39. And though he came forth out of the ark, yet he would fly to, and again in, the kingdom of his selfhood, and not return into the ark, from whence he departed in Adam, and would be only a covetous muck-worm, and a greedy devourer of fleshly temporal pleasure in his own will; and remain as the raven, and not return to the ark, desiring to enter into it, but mind only to possess the kingdom of this world in glory and state. Also it betokens that the generation of this raven would have the chief place, pre-eminence and government, in the second monarchy (like the devil in the wrath of God), as histories witness that it so came to pass.

40. Afterwards he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated upon the earth; but when the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, she returned again unto him unto the ark; and he put forth his hand and took her to him into the ark (Gen. viii. 8, 9). This set forth and denotes the figure of God's children; who soon after come also under the government of the raven's property, and are brought into the government of this world; for they are also with Adam gone forth out of the ark, to behold and prove this evil corrupt world, and live therein. But when their spirit can find no rest in the earthly dominion, then they come again before the ark of Noah, which is set open in Christ, and Noah receives them again in Christ, into the first ark, whence Adam departed.

41. Moreover, the raven betokens the sharp Law of Moses, in the fiery might under God's anger, which binds and slays man, and brings him not into the ark. But the dove betokens the gospel of Christ, which brings us again into the ark, and saves the life. For the mount Ararat does, as an exact type and figure, point out unto us the kingdom of Moses; and the Ark, wherein the life was kept and preserved, signifies the humanity of Christ.

42. And he stayed yet another seven days; and again he sent forth a dove out of the ark; and it came to him about evening, and lo! she had plucked off an olive leaf, and brought it in her mouth. And he stayed yet another seven days; and let a dove fly forth out of the ark, which returned not to him any more (Gen. viii. 10, 11). The spirit in Moses shows by these three doves, and the raven, which Noah sent forth out of the ark, a great mystery, which albeit he does not clearly unfold, yet for certain is couched therein. The raven does also denote the Law of Moses in nature, which will remain in its selfhood, and will not return in true resignation and self-denial, under the obedience of God, but will enter in to God by its own strength, power, and ways.

43. The first dove signifies the prophetical spirit, which arose under Moses, viz. under the outward Law and offerings, and pointed through the offering into the ark of Noah, and Christ. This prophetical spirit went all along through the office of Moses; it indeed flew under Moses, but it tended again into the ark with its prophecy, as the first dove which Noah sent forth flew indeed into the world, but came again into the ark of Christ.

44. The second dove with the olive branch, which also came again to Noah into the Ark, denotes the Word in the Covenant of Noah, which came forth out of the holy ark of God into this world, viz. into our humanity, and plucked off an olive leaf in the world, and brought it to Noah, that is, it plucked off a branch from our humanity, and took it into the holy Word, viz. the mouth of God, as the dove the olive leaf and brought the branch to holy Noah, that is, to God the Father. But that it was an olive leaf denotes the unction of the holy spirit, that the same should anoint the humanity, and bring it again with this dove into the holy ark.

45. The third dove which Noah let fly, which came not again to the ark, betokens the kingdom of Antichrist upon the earth, which indeed is flown forth with its doctrine out of the ark, but its spirit remains only upon the earth, feeding upon the fat grass [upon the riches, honour, and beauty of this world], and so it stays only in selfhood [and returns not to the ark]; it indeed makes devout shows of holiness to God, and gives good words, but the man, with his senses and reason, will not forsake the world, and return again to the ark. They build themselves stately palaces without the ark, for the pleasure of the flesh, and are very zealous and devout in hypocrisy without the ark; they will be accounted children by an external imputation of grace and adoption; but they will not enter into the ark, but they say, Christ is in the ark, he has purchased and paid all, we need only to comfort ourselves therewith, he will bring us in well enough.

46. The other party says they have Christ in their works of hypocrisy, they take the ark along with them when they fly out in their fleshly pleasure. All these remain without the ark in this world, and return not to the ark. This the third dove denotes: for the Anti-christian kingdom walks demurely in the shape of a dove, and as a sheep, but it is only a figure [and darksome shadow] of Christ's kingdom, which consists in the spirit in power, and is really in the ark.

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